UTTC Celebrates Its 40th Year Serving ND Students

May 15th, 2009 | By | Category: 20-4: Tribal College Leadership and Vision, Tribal College News
By Phil Baird

United Tribes Technical College (UTTC, Bismarck, ND) was born from the collective leadership energies of the five Indian nations with tribal homelands in North Dakota. With a goal to address a mutual need for economic development, the United Tribes of North Dakota Development Corporation was chartered in January 1968. Human resource development through job skills preparation was the initial focus of early programs.

The United Tribes Employment Training Center (UTETC) opened its doors in the summer of 1969. From there and throughout the 1970s, the center hosted monthly ceremonies as trainees completed their short-term programs. The focus on vocational education training distinguished UTETC from other tribal colleges that were getting established at the time.

The center also began the tradition of celebrating American Indian culture with an intertribal event. In late July 1972, the first United Tribes powwow was held. This was an activity that for several years was held twice annually before becoming the major international signature event that showcases our culture today during a gathering each September.

As tribally-controlled higher education evolved in Indian Country, so did UTETC. The center was renamed United Tribes Education Technical Center in 1975 and then became United Tribes Technical College in 1987 as short-term training programs transitioned into accredited one-year certificate and two-year degree programs.

UTTC today stands as one of the premier tribal colleges in the nation, providing access to postsecondary learning opportunities, and so much more, for American Indian people. The college continues to evolve as we look toward establishing upper division coursework and baccalaureate degree programs.

The college has come a long way. People with long-tenured employment at UTTC like Glenna Mueller, Anne Kuyper, Butch Thunderhawk, Ann Kraft, and others can testify about the college’s humble beginnings and its growth over the years. There are many other aspects of the college that are worthy of remembrance and acknowledgement. This year will be an exciting time for students and staff alike as we celebrate our past, present, and future.

Phil Baird is the vice president of academic, career, and technical education at United Tribes Technical College. He has worked there for 25 years.

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