Student Writing is a Great Reminder of TCJ’s Mission

May 15th, 1998 | By | Category: 9-4: Pre- K-12 Education
By Marjane Ambler

You will notice that this is the Spring/Summer 1998 issue of Tribal College Journal. This does not mean that we are skipping an issue, only that we’re changing the name of the season to align better with the time of year. For librarians who are considering calling us in alarm, note that this is Volume IX, Number 4. The next issue (Volume X, Number 1), which will be published as usual in late August, will be called Fall 1998. We will continue to publish four issues every year.

Springtime is our favorite time of year at the Tribal College Journal for many reasons, but the Tribal College Student ranks near the top. Sometimes we get bogged down in the never ending piles of paper. Reading the tribal college students’ poetry, short stories, and essays reminds us of why we’re here. Ultimately, students are the raison d’etre for the tribal college movement, including the Tribal College Journal.

Well-known Blackfeet author James Welch was also impressed by their writing, as he expressed in the introduction he wrote for the 1998 edition of Tribal College Student. Welch is the author of several novels and most recently a historical book, Killing Custer. Worried at one time about the future of American Indian writing, he found the tribal college students’ work reassuring: “Judging from the diversity of subject matter and the quality of the writing in this anthology, American Indian writing is alive and well and coming from our tribal colleges.” He predicts that readers will discover a world that will “move you, make you angry, break your heart, and make you laugh.”

In their writing, the students deal often with the dark side of human existence, but their hope and their dedication shine through. For example, Mary Shakespeare says, “I love writing. I worked in a school in Wyoming. I felt bad that the Arapaho students had to read stories and experiences completely alien to themselves and their culture. One day I would like to write books that could help the children be proud of who they are and appreciate their own individuality. I have learned so much here at IAIA (Institute of American Indian Arts) about Native American writers as well as European. I built up the confidence to write my stories, fiction or non-fiction, from the Native American’s point of view.”

Nichole McClure, an education student at Salish Kootenai College, says, “Someday I will be teaching in a classroom of young bubbly students who have only dreams ahead of them, and I will try my hardest to help them realize their potential.” Ruth Hopkins at Cankdeska Cikana Community College writes passionately about the everyday Native American heroes she knows—her response to someone she found on the Internet saying that there were no modern Native American heroes.

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