AIHEC Celebrates 40 Years

Aug 13th, 2013 | By | Category: 25-2: Tribal and Behavioral Health, Tribal College News
GREETINGS. Conference-goers greet TCU leaders during AIHEC’s 40th anniversary celebration at Pojoaque Pueblo’s Buffalo Thunder Resort. Photo by Heater Heatley

GREETINGS. Conference-goers greet TCU leaders during AIHEC’s 40th anniversary celebration at Pojoaque Pueblo’s Buffalo Thunder Resort. Photo by Heater Heatley

The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) convened at the Buffalo Thunder Resort in Pojoaque Pueblo, near Santa Fe, New Mexico, to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The celebration began on August 7 with a welcome address from AIHEC chair, Dr. Cynthia Lindquist, president of Cankdeska Cikana Community College (Fort Totten, ND). Jodi Gillette, the White House’s senior policy advisor for Native American affairs, gave the keynote address, while the 1491s rounded out the evening with a special performance.

A variety of breakout groups and plenary sessions marked the following three days. AIHEC founders David Gipp, Lionel Bordeaux, and Perry Horse reminisced about the organization’s early days and the struggles they faced in gaining support and securing funding for tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). Former American Indian College Fund president, Richard Williams, talked about the importance of educational sovereignty, while past TCU students and current political leaders Ernest Stevens Jr., Kevin Killer, Clarena Brockie, and Brandon Stevens discussed how TCUs transformed their lives.

Other presenters included Dr. Wesley Thomas of Navajo Technical University (Crownpoint, NM), Trevor Moeke of the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium, and Dr. Verna Fowler of College of Menominee Nation who spoke on the importance of establishing and expanding global Indigenous networks. Dr. Gregory Cajete, associate professor of American Indian studies at the University of New Mexico, gave a lecture on Indigenous knowledge creation, stressing the need to build cultural economies based on an Indigenous paradigm.

The celebration concluded with a closing ceremony and words of wisdom from the first AIHEC president, Gerald One Feather. Long-time TCU presidents Lionel Bordeaux, David Gipp, Robert Martin, Thomas Shortbull, and Verna Fowler were subsequently honored for their service to Indian Country and their indelible mark on American Indian higher education.

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