AIHEC Welcomes Members From Alaska, Oklahoma

Feb 15th, 2008 | By | Category: 19-3: Beyond Our Names: Uncovering Identity, Tribal College News

The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) admitted Ilisagvik College (IC, Barrow, AK) and the College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN, Okmulgee, OK) as new members of the organization.

At its November 2007 meeting in Honolulu, the AIHEC Board of Directors voted to accept IC as a “regular” member after sending a team to visit the college to determine eligibility. To become a regular member of AIHEC, a college must meet several criteria. It must be chartered by a federally recognized American Indian tribe or an American Indian, Eskimo, or Alaska Native community; governed solely by American Indians, Eskimo, or Alaska Natives; and have a majority of American Indian, Eskimo, or Alaska Native students. In addition, regular members must be accredited or a candidate for accreditation.

Established in 1995, IC is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities as a 2-year community college. It serves a largely Iñupiat Eskimo student population.

IC President Beverly Grinage explained, “Ilisagvik College is the only institution dedicated to serving the post-secondary training and education needs of Alaska’s North Slope. We are grounded in Iñupiaq values and committed to helping our residents assume professional control of our homeland. Our goal at Ilisagvik is to help North Slope residents attain permanent employment on the North Slope.”

Ilisagvik is the first and only federally recognized tribal college in Alaska. Ilisagvik means “A Place to Learn” in the Iñupiaq language.

Following a site visit to CMN, the AIHEC Board also voted to accept the College of the Muscogee Nation as an “associate” member, which means the college met general eligibility criteria for AIHEC membership and has taken initial steps toward seeking full accreditation. CMN was established in 2004 to serve as the institution of higher education for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation emphasizing Native culture, values, language, and self-determination.

The nation is supporting the efforts of its tribal college to move forward with accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Currently, the institution has established a partnership with the Oklahoma State University system to utilize their accredited courses.

AIHEC Executive Director Dr. Gerald Gipp (Hunkpapa Lakota) welcomed the new colleges and said, “These two new colleges represent the continuing growth of the tribal college movement. We understand that not all tribal communities can build their own college; however, we expect to see an increase in the number of new tribal colleges over the next decade.”

“With the addition of our first member institution from Alaska, the advocacy base for the tribal college movement and AIHEC is increased to 14 states,” he says.

AIHEC is an organization of tribal colleges and universities with 36 in the United States and one in Canada. AIHEC’s mission is to support the work of these colleges and the movement for tribal self-determination. Founded in 1972 by the presidents of the nation’s first six tribal colleges, AIHEC is based in Alexandria, VA.

The organization provides leadership and influences public policy on American Indian higher education issues through advocacy, research, and program initiatives; promotes and strengthens indigenous languages, cultures, communities and tribal nations; and serves member institutions and emerging tribal colleges and universities.

For additional information, see www.aihec.org.

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