Welcome New AIHEC Member Colleges

Feb 15th, 2008 | By | Category: 19-3: Beyond Our Names: Uncovering Identity
By Gerald E. Gipp, Ph.D.

GERALD GIPPAt our fall Board of Directors meeting, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) proudly welcomed two new institutions to our membership: Ilisagvik College in Barrow, AK, and the College of the Muscogee Nation in Okmulgee, OK. Congratulations to the Iñupiaq people in Alaska’s North Slope and to the Muskogee Nation in Oklahoma.

Our AIHEC membership is continuing to grow during a time of severe fiscal constraint in federal budgeting and appropriations. We must remain diligent as we advocate for stable and sufficient federal funding for both institutional operations and academic and community enhancing programs at tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). As part of this effort, we must be vigilant when new, well-meaning proposals could create significant long-term problems for TCUs.

A new Department of Education program was created as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act signed into law last year. This new program for “Native American Serving Non-tribal Institutions” will channel already limited federal funding for developing institutions to a new category of state-supported mainstream colleges and universities. These institutions can have as few as 10% self-determined Native American students, who may or may not have any formal affiliation with federally recognized tribes.

Tribal colleges and universities receive federal resources based on their status as extensions of the federally-recognized Indian tribes that chartered them. These allocations are based on a political treaty-based — not a race-based – distinction. Therefore the TCU funding raises no affirmative action issues.

Despite the fact that TCUs are the most under-funded institutions of higher education in the country, they are producing a new generation of highly trained American Indians as teachers, tribal government leaders, engineers, nurses, computer programmers, and other much-needed professionals.

By teaching the job skills most in demand on their reservations, TCUs are laying a solid foundation for tribal economic growth, with benefits for surrounding communities. Clearly the modest federal investment in the TCUs has paid great dividends in terms of employment, education, and economic development. Continuation of this investment makes sound moral and fiscal sense.

We rely on you, our faithful readers, to join our advocacy efforts by sharing the remarkable successes of the nation’s developing tribal colleges and universities.

Sincerely,

Gerald Gipp

P.S. You will notice that there is no Resource Guide in this issue. From now on, the guide will be published on our website only to save room in the magazine. We welcome feedback. This quarter’s guide focuses on defining ourselves to escape linguistic imperialism and was prepared by Dr. Cornel Pewewardy (Comanche and Kiowa). Click on Current Issue at http://www.tribalcollegejournal.org/.

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