Current and Past TCU Leaders Honored at ANCJun 17th, 2015 | By Rebecca Bishop-Goss | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
Al Chandler had a vision of recognizing five Native leaders who have worked to improve and promote American Indian higher education. In a unique honoring ceremony held at Aaniiih Nakoda Community College in Harlem, Montana, Chandler’s vision was realized.
On May 16, at the college’s Ekib Tsah Ah Tsik Cultural Center, Chandler honored #Dr. Ferlin Clark (Diné), past president of Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona; #Dr. Rick Williams (Oglala Lakota and Northern Cheyenne), retired president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund; #Dr. Sean Chandler (Aaniiih), director of American Indian studies at Aaniiih Nakoda College; #Dr. Lynette Chandler (Aaniiih), founder and director of the White Clay Language Immersion School; and #Dr. Carole Falcon-Chandler (Aaniiih), president of Aaniiih Nakoda College President.
At the ceremony, Al Chandler remarked on the importance of higher education in Native communities: “Years ago Indians had the buffalo. The buffalo fed them, clothed them, provided shelters, and a way to share with others. When Indians were placed on the reservations, Indians became dependent on hand-outs from the government. This dehumanizing event created a loss for Indians. Many forget the language, the culture, the lifeway that was theirs and now we fight suicide, drugs and alcohol, bad health and each other.” Chandler went on to add: “But there is hope and that is education. Education is the ‘returning of the buffalo.’ Education brings back pride, knowledge of language, culture, and self-awareness that will make us grateful for life, work, health, and each other.”
Chandler presented headdresses, beautifully painted hides, and eagle staffs to the honorees. He explained that the headdresses have 32 eagle feathers and tail feathers and that the buffalo hides were a symbol of leadership, specifically in this case, leaders of education. The tanned and painted buffalo robes displayed Sean’s and Al’s culturally relevant artistic talents.
Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC) president, Dr. Cynthia Lindquist (Spirit Lake Dakota), drove all night from North Dakota to attend this event. She brought gifts to give to the honorees, including unique CCCC Pendleton blankets. “I really admire these individuals for their dedication to education and I consider Carole [Falcon-Chandler] a mentor who has taught me so much. Tribal college presidents work together. We help each other, ask and are given advice and support.”
Falcon-Chandler echoed Lindquist and summed up the event: “The people that work in education work together. We don’t stand alone. If we did; it would fail. We believe in growing our own. No matter which tribal college you are at or discussing that is one of the main goals of each and every one of us.”