Read Our Students’ Work and Write Your Own Words, Too

Aug 15th, 2005 | By | Category: 17-1: Telling Our Stories
By Gerald E. Gipp, Ph.D.

GERALD E. GIPPEach year at this time, Tribal College Journal features the writing of students. Many of our readers say it is their favorite issue.

One reader told us, “It always amazes me to learn about the difficulties that Native students have to face, just to get a basic education.  I congratulate the students, the colleges, and your journal for the good work.”

A donor said, “Getting to know the students has reinforced my commitment to continue donating to tribal colleges.”

These readers recognize that students gain knowledge that enriches their lives and helps them get jobs and establish careers. Just as importantly, at tribal colleges, students learn to believe in themselves despite the denigrating messages they receive from public school textbooks and Hollywood.

AIHEC is proud of the colleges, and we like to share their stories in this magazine. Thirty years ago, when tribal colleges first sought federal funding, a congressman said, “Indians are good with their hands – you should try chicken farms, not colleges.”

Today we rarely confront such blatant racism, but we continue to meet skeptics who cannot understand why American Indian students need colleges in their own communities or why these colleges need federal and private financial support.

On the other hand, you readers realize that the tribal colleges lack the wealthy alumni and the tax base that other colleges and universities enjoy. Some of the smaller institutions struggle to keep their doors open. You know the colleges often lose talented faculty members to better-paying universities.

Most lack facilities that universities take for granted: gymnasiums, student lounges, day care centers, and dorms, but they make up for these deficiencies by providing caring, attentive faculty and an environment rich with culture.

We appreciate any efforts you can make to help spread the word about tribal colleges. Students at the colleges are organizing a letter writing campaign to their members of Congress. You can write to your congressional delegation and say the tribal colleges are important to the nation as a whole. (Send us a copy for possible publication.)

In addition to writing letters to Congress, you can assist the colleges by helping them support this journal, thus increasing the constituency for the colleges to ever-widening circles. Ask your library to subscribe. Send addresses of potential subscribers, and the TCJ staff will send them a sample. Send a donation to the magazine using the enclosed form.

Over the past 500 years, non-Indians often have demonstrated their compassion and respect for American Indians, and by doing so, they have helped make it possible for us to survive and thrive. We appreciate your support.

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