Thinking About the Future

May 15th, 1995 | By | Category: 7-1: Tribal Colleges Looking to the Future, Editor's Essay
By Paul Boyer

With this issue, I end my tenure as editor of Tribal College. Beginning with the fall issue—the next you will receive—the journal will be in the capable hands of Marjane Ambler, a talented and knowledgeable writer who has spent her career covering native American issues.

The journal began seven years ago with lofty ambitions. We hoped to bring national attention to the work of a remarkable group of institutions that had very little visibility. Although tribal colleges were bringing opportunity to long-neglected reservations, few knew of their existence.

We also wanted to describe the new spirit of hope that was taking shape within tribal communities. Even as mainstream media continued to talk about poverty and dysfunction in Indian Country, it was also clear that reservations were entering a new era. Through education, economic empowerment, and a cultural reawakening, they were acknowledging the needs of their communities and offering solutions to their own problems.

Over the years we reported how tribal communities are confronting social ills, such as alcoholism and drug abuse.  We’ve devoted two full issues to the subject of economic development, which, after centuries of failed federal policies, may at last bring opportunity. And we have described in every issue how Native peoples are rediscovering traditional knowledge and applying it to modern life. And, of course, we have explained how this work is supported by tribal colleges.

Change is coming quickly among the colleges and within their communities. Despite all that occurred over the past decade, this is still only the beginning of a new movement. So in this issue we pause for a moment to ponder the future, and to address three questions: Will tribes ultimately return to an era of self sufficiency and have the authority to act as true nations? How will tribal col­leges help lead this movement? What barriers are still in place?

This is, as well, only the beginning for the journal. What began as a small twen­ty-four page publication—a glorified newsletter, really—has grown, but has yet to mature. In the years to come, I am confident that it will become an even stronger voice for the colleges and a larg­er window into the work of contempo­rary Native American communities.

But because it is my turn to leave, I would like to thank some of the people and organizations who have believed in the work of the journal during my seven years of service.

Credit goes, first, to tribal college staff, faculty and students who, over the years, have submitted articles and con­tributed ideas. Their contributions have kept Tribal College Journal relevant. Members of our advisory board, especially, have helped shape the vision of the journal.

Too, it is important to acknowledge the contributions of our financial bene­factors: the Christian A. Johnson Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation, and the Phillips Petroleum Foundation. Special thanks goes to the Lannan Foundation, whose generous support is now helping the journal grow yet again. The American Indian Higher Education Consortium and American Indian College Fund have provided essential support, as well.

For most of its early life, the journal was a one-person enterprise. For the past several years, however, Jennifer Gray Reddish joined the staff part-time as managing editor. She did a wonderful job keeping journal’s business affairs in order and, as a bonus, was an excellent writer. Anne Geddes served as our always enthusiastic designer.

After all these years, it is about time that I thanked my wife, Hilary, who let me start the magazine, even when there was no guarantee that it would ever become more than a labor of love. My son, Avery, has been an active partici­pant in the journal’s work, as well. Callers to the office may have heard him in the background, cooing in a bassinet set next to my desk or, in more recent months, pushing one of his many toy trucks across the floor.

Thanks to all who allowed me to take part in the work of the college dur­ing such an exciting time in their devel­opment.

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