Proud of Our Heritage

Aug 14th, 2014 | By | Category: 26-1: Celebrating 25 Years
By Bradley Shreve

editors-essayIf you visit Tribal College Journal’s main office in Mancos, Colorado, you’ll be struck by its modesty. That of course is a nice way of saying that 130 East Montezuma Street is a ramshackley, nineteenth-century house in need of a multitude of upgrades. We’ve got plumbing problems: during the cold winter months, we have to keep dripping the hot water tap in the kitchen and the cold water tap in the bathroom—or is it the other way around? If we fail to do so, they freeze up, requiring space heaters (or hair dryers) aimed directly at the pipes to thaw them out. We also have heating and cooling issues: sometimes it seems like we need a mechanical engineer to light the furnace. When we do get it lit, the heater runs non-stop due to the drafts throughout the house, and even then you’ll often find the TCJ staff wearing parkas to keep warm. We also have mice, an overgrown yard, creaky floors, and an unusual odor that seems to be emanating from underneath the house.

Lest anyone think I’m complaining, I want to state unequivocally that I am not. It’s true we don’t work in a state-of-the-art office complex, but I think I speak for all of us at TCJ when I say that’s not our foremost concern. Visit us and when you come through the side entrance (the front door is inoperable) take notice of the picture—whose origin is unknown—tacked next to the door. It features two young Native girls with the words, “Be Proud of Our Heritage.” And therein lies the moral of this story.

editors-essay2For 25 years, Tribal College Journal, like the institutions we represent, has maximized minimal resources to carve out a niche and thrive. As our founding editor Paul Boyer relates in his article, “Origin Story,” the publication commenced operations out of a spare bedroom. Boyer put together early issues using a primitive Macintosh computer and kept track of subscriptions on 3 x 5 note cards. When Marjane Ambler moved TCJ’s office to Mancos in 1995, she too set up office in her home before finding our current address on Montezuma Street. Ultimately, however, our location is trivial because that’s not why we’re here.

What matters to us is providing a voice for and articulating the vision of tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) across North America. We seek to relate stories that underscore how TCUs are transforming Indian nations, one student at a time. Read Marjane Ambler’s article, “Launching Lives of Service,” and see how students who attend TCUs so often go on to serve their respective nations and Indian Country as a whole. Or check out the writing, poetry, and art in this year’s TCJ Student and at to get a glimpse of the creativity that blossoms at tribal colleges from Minnesota to Arizona. The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) recognized the value of a journal when the organization chartered it in 1989—the same year AIHEC founded the American Indian College Fund, as recounted in Dina Horwedel’s article, “Educating the Mind and Spirit.” Like the College Fund, TCJ has relocated, experienced changes in personnel, and undergone the occasional facelift. You can trace the evolution of the journal in the web-exclusive feature, “25 Years of Tribal College Journal,” only at As you’ll discover, transformation and change have been an integral part of our publication throughout its history. And so it’s with pride that we roll out our redesign for this silver anniversary edition. In collaboration with our award-winning designer, Walt Pourier (Oglala Lakota) of Nakota Designs, we concluded the time had come to update our image. We have strived to forge a cleaner, more open layout by widening our margins, reducing unnecessary graphics, and sharpening our fonts. In an effort to represent the institutions the journal serves, we’ve crafted a look that is modern and sophisticated, yet accessible. Our editorial content will remain the same, but we will add a regular student writing and art section toward the back of the journal and move our On Campus news closer to the front.

With this 101st issue, we retire the logo that has appeared on our cover since 2000. “TCJ” is a useful and convenient acronym for our regular readers, but it fails to tell the larger world anything about our content. No doubt our readers will continue to use TCJ, as will we, but for our cover we have opted to embrace our true, original, and copyrighted name, Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education, because we want everyone who catches a glimpse of our publication to know exactly who we are and what we’re about. To borrow the words of Carrie Billy (Diné) from her Dear Readers column, we seek to stress “the transformative power of TRIBAL higher education” with our new masthead.

While it may take some time for our readers to get accustomed to these changes, they are merely the latest steps that we have taken to remain a vibrant, relevant, and dynamic publication. And in this day and age of constant technological advancements and fierce competition, that can be tough, as publisher Rachael Marchbanks, TCJ’s longest-serving employee, makes clear in her feature article, “Leaning In to the Digital Age.”

We are honored to have Lionel Bordeaux (Sicangu Lakota), president of Sinte Gleska University and a founder of AIHEC and the College Fund, introduce this special issue—just as he introduced the very first issue a quarter century ago. Bordeaux states that TCJ has played a critical role in serving as a venue for sharing stories and documenting the history of TCUs. Ryan Winn, a professor at the College of Menominee Nation and a regular TCJ columnist, further investigates this role in his web-exclusive feature, “The Meeting Place.”

Magazine designs and offices may change, but our mission to serve and share the stories of tribal colleges and universities remains the same. We are proud of our heritage and all that we have accomplished over the past 25 years. But most of all, we are proud to be the voice of the tribal college movement.

Bradley Shreve, Ph.D., is managing editor of Tribal College Journal.

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