Nebraska College Moves to Macy

Aug 15th, 1996 | By | Category: 8-2: Cultural Property Rights, Tribal College News

Nebraska Indian Community College (NICC) has lost one of its three charter member tribes and added another. NICC was created by the Winnebago, Omaha, and Santee Sioux tribes in 1979. In December 1995, the Winnebago Tribe announced that it would be creating its own separate tribal college. In response, the southernmost tribe in South Dakota–the Yankton Sioux–agreed to join temporarily with the two remaining tribes at NICC.

The separation reflects both longterm educational goals of the Winnebago Tribe and the financial crisis created by Congress’s series of 12 continuing resolutions last year (TCJ, Summer 1996, pp. 38-41). Although the college has an endowment that can be accessed in the future, it was having trouble meeting payroll before the federal funds were eventually released at the end of the school year, according to Miriam Kay Kearnes (Omaha), development officer/acting administrator.

NICC operated classes on all three reservations. Over the summer, NICC moved its administrative offices 13 miles from the Winnebago Reservation to the Omaha Reservation in east-central Nebraska. The Yankton Sioux have been affiliated with NICC for two years, seeking their own accreditation candidacy status with NICC’s help. At press time, the Ponca Tribe was also considering joining NICC.

The Winnebago Tribe wants to streamline its educational system under its own administration, from Head Start through community college, according to Dr. Yvonne Bushyhead, president of the new Winnebago college, Little Priest Tribal College. Bushyhead (Cherokee/Winnebago) says Little Priest will seek its own accreditation.

Despite the regrets accompanying such separations, both institutions are focusing upon educating students. NICC’s fall enrollment is over 170, and Little Priest has over 95 students. The NICC staff blessed the Winnebago buildings with cedar before leaving. Kearnes says they went back to their mission statement; NICC has a commitment to the community to provide education in a culturally sensitive environment. “I don’t think we could do this if we did not live in these communities, and our children didn’t go to school here. We wouldn’t have the commitment or the courage to try,” she says.

Sister colleges came to their assistance: Sinte Gleska University sent two finance officers for a week long training, and Oglala Lakota College helped the librarian.

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