AIHEC Student Congress Celebrates 10 Years

May 15th, 1996 | By | Category: 8-1: Governance, Tribal College News

On the right, Letitia Stewart (United Tribes Technical College), outgoing president of the AIHEC Student Congress, with Robert Moore, advisor (Sinte Gleska University). Stewart handed the gavel to Juan Perez (Salish Kootenai College), not pictured. Photo by Kyle Brehm

Ten years ago, students at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium annual conference in Rapid City, S.D., suggested the idea of a student congress. They wanted an organization to promote student involvement in all aspects of American Indian education and tribal community development.

The concept became a reality following the AIHEC summer retreat at Navajo Community College, according to Phil Baird (Sicangu Lakota), one of the original tribal leadership advisors for the organization. Students met for three days and developed a draft constitution, bylaws, and proposed budget for their organization. The AIHEC board of directors approved, and the AIHEC Student Congress was officially established on July 23, 1986.

Today the organization represents 18,000 students enrolled at tribal colleges in the United States and Canada. The student group coordinates leadership skills training, student government communications, and intercollegiate activities each year. At several of the tribal colleges, the student organization president serves on the college’s governing board. Tribal college students often testify before tribal, state, and federal government leaders about the importance of the tribal colleges.

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