At 20, We Celebrate the Best and the Brightest of Tribal College Journal

Aug 15th, 2009 | By | Category: 21-1: Celebrating Tribal College Journal's 20th Anniversary, Editor's Essay
By Tina Deschenie

Excerpts from past editorials:

“The publication of Tribal College provides us with a new means to continue our sharing, and expand our circle.” – Lionel Bordeaux, president, Sinte Gleska College, Tribal College, Vol. 1, No. 1, Summer 1989 (Founding Editor Paul Boyer chose Bordeaux to introduce the new publication).

“With this issue I end my tenure as editor of Tribal College… The journal began seven years ago with lofty ambitions…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… to address three questions: Will tribes ultimately return to an era of self-sufficiency and the authority to act as true nations? How will tribal colleges lead this movement? What barriers are still in place? – Paul Boyer, editor, Tribal College, Vol. 7, No. 1, Summer 1995.

“After founding Editor Paul Boyer decided to leave his post, I was selected as editor and moved the Journal to my home here in the Four Corners. In many ways, thanks to modern telecommunications, it doesn’t matter where a magazine is located. Writers send their stories via modem, and we transfer bytes to the distant designer and then the printer.” – Marjane Ambler, editor, Tribal College Journal, Vol.7, No.2, Fall 1995.

“Resigning from this position as editor and publisher was a difficult decision… Eleven years ago, all the TCJ files fit in a shoebox, and there was a staff of one in a home office. Now, TCJ has paid subscribers all over the world and an international presence through our website. Our annual advertising and subscription income has increased by 2,800%.” – Marjane Ambler, editor, Tribal College Journal, Vol.18, No.1, Fall 2006.

Twenty years of Tribal College Journal translates to twenty years of documenting and celebrating the Tribal College Movement. This valued publication has faithfully reported on higher education efforts in Indian country and on the people who make these efforts possible – with the result being a broad community of well-informed readers.

From what you readers have written and said, you want to know about Native education and about Native student success. You care about your communities, your people, the world, and the future. You look for inspiration and hope and real-life examples among Native people. Knowing this, you should smile when you peruse our readers’ accolades – their remarks are a tribute to this magazine’s legacy.

This 88-page issue, fittingly the largest in 20 years, highlights the birth and growth of Tribal College Journal. Patty Talahongva takes us through 80 issues in a retrospective that will hopefully send you to search for hidden treasures. We also share staff favorites among past covers, but there are so many more covers to appreciate among the stacks. Do go there!

I am confident that Juan Avila Hernandez’s insightful stories of how 22-year-old Paul Boyer founded the magazine and of how Marjane Ambler took over and hired visionary women will both impress and inform you. Talahongva also provides colorful insights into the people who contribute to the journal today, including Rachael Marchbanks, publisher, and Marvene Tom, office manager, two dedicated individuals who are building their careers at the Tribal College Journal. Both started working for the journal right out of college and under the tutelage of Ambler. Kim Cox, who sells ads, and Nakota Designs, which does the magazine lay-out, myself as editor, and many others are also mentioned.

This issue’s Student Edition is awesome, too. The students always present an amazing array of experiences, opinions, and perspectives. Thank you to noted writer Joseph Marshall, III for introducing the writings and to poet Esther Belin for editing the Student Edition. Marshall is one of the founders of Sinte Gleska University, and Belen is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts.

The first “Tribal College Student” (renamed “Student Edition” when later merged into TCJ) was published 16 years ago in 1993 by then Editor Paul Boyer. In the introduction he wrote, “…this issue is about new beginnings. It chronicles the changes in the lives of our contributors and in Native American communities across the country.”

The opportunity to have read so many deeply felt poems, personal narratives, and short stories is an experience I will always cherish. Altogether, starting with the 2006 Student Edition, I have read over 400 individual works. Several writers published in the Student Editions have gone on to writing or art careers.

In the Tribal College Movement, I observe many Native leaders who have been in their same jobs for decades, and I do admire that kind of dedication and commitment. I write this because I am the first Native (a Diné/Hopi woman) to assume the editorship of Tribal College Journal in over 17 years of the magazine’s operation, and yet, this is my last issue as editor after three fulfilling years.

Marjane Ambler is editing the next issue. When she announced her resignation, she invited me to apply, and I was hired as editor in 2006. She taught me a great deal and gave me access to this prestigious position.

There are many people who have contributed to TCJ over the years. I am fortunate to have worked with two people I have yet to meet in person: Walt and Allison Pourier, who do the magazine layout as co-owners of Nakota Designs. For the 12 issues I edited, they transformed text and photos I sent them and energized the production process.

To all our contributors and our readers, a huge thank-you. We are all influenced by this magazine.

The most significant aspect of being editor has to be the opportunity to share everyone’s stories and to have met so many people with important history in the valuable work of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) and the tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). I know this not only from being TCJ editor, but also from being a past tribal college student and administrator, and now, from being the parent of a tribal college student.

In the end, for me, as a Native woman and educator by profession, it has simply been inspiring to sit in on the AIHEC board meetings with the college presidents. In my 20+ years of work in Indian education K-12, I have never had the privilege of sitting among a majority Native leadership as I have had in AIHEC. I wonder whether in my lifetime there will ever be a majority of Native superintendents in the public school systems that now serve a majority of Native students across our nation. The oldest TCUs are celebrating 40 years of operation, but in that time very little has changed in the make-up of our K-12 leadership regarding Native representation. Getting a glimpse of what cooperative and collaborative Native leadership means and looks like has been priceless.

So – it has all been good.

I will begin working on my dissertation this summer. I am a firstgeneration college student so this is

important to my entire family. Enjoy this 20th anniversary issue along with the student writings! Remember to catch the other student writings posted at www.tribalcollege

Ákot’éego nihil nahosisne’ dooleel. Ahéhee’ dóó hágoónee’.

Tina Deschenie (Diné/Hopi) has been editor of Tribal College Journal since 2006. She has over 20 years of experience in American Indian education and was Associate Dean of Continuing Education at Navajo Technical College before joining the journal. Deschenie is pursuing her doctoral degree from New Mexico State University.

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