Writers’ Guidelines

Tribal College Journal Feature Story Themes

(Themes and deadlines subject to change)

We are presently seeking feature articles addressing the following themes. All feature articles must involve tribal colleges in some way. Possible feature article topics are listed, but alternative topics on each theme are welcome. We seek both long features (2500-3000 words) and shorter features (1500-2000 words).

Specific feature subjects are decided upon one month before the deadlines. Before writing an article, send the editor (editor@tribalcollegejounal.org) a brief 100-word abstract explaining your idea and how you plan to approach the topic. The journal’s thematic approach requires us to carefully plan each issue to assure an appropriate mix of articles.

Articles should focus as much as possible on a person or the people involved with the project, or the program being discussed. We prefer for you to use a lot of quotations and/or anecdotes to illustrate your point. For examples of features to emulate, we recommend you consult past editions of TCJ and contact the editor to discuss topics in greater detail.

Please use only 12 point Times New Roman font with no extra formatting. All articles should subscribe to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) writing style guidelines (see http://www.apastyle.org/).

Upcoming themes

FALL 2015

Tribal College Communities (Vol. 27, No. 1)

Tribal colleges and universities are more than just institutions of higher education. They serve as community centers where local people can participate in various programs, engage in ceremonial life, and utilize libraries and other facilities. TCUs often serve as major employers in remote areas where there are few resources or economic opportunities. This issue will explore how TCUs are truly community colleges.

  • Deadline for feature story suggestions: February 27, 2015.
  • Feature deadline: April 17, 2015.
  • On Campus news shorts deadline: April 24, 2015.


Indian Law (Vol. 27, No. 2)

Indian law stands as a cornerstone in securing Native nations’ sovereignty, self-determination, treaty rights, and economic advancement. However, Indian law programs and even the teaching of Indian law has remained the domain of non-Native colleges, universities, and law schools. Does Indian law have a place at tribal colleges and universities? What can TCUs do to prepare students for legal careers?

  • Deadline for feature story suggestions: June 5, 2015.
  • Feature deadline: July 17, 2015.
  • On Campus news shorts deadline: July 31, 2015.


The Trials of Teacher Education (Vol. 27, No. 3)

An increasing number of tribal colleges and universities are offering teacher education programs, empowering the tribes which chartered them, assuming sovereignty over education, and providing career pathways for students. However, many graduates have discovered that standardized state credentialing exams serve as a barrier to actual employment. What cultural dynamics are involved in standardized testing and state credentialing exams? What strategies can TCUs employ to overcome this barrier? How can TCU faculty help prepare students for standardized testing?

  • Deadline for feature story suggestions: August 28, 2015.
  • Feature deadline: October 16, 2015.
  • On Campus news shorts deadline: October 30, 2015.


Good Medicine (Vol. 27, No. 4)

Health care is a major source of concern for communities across Indian Country, and creating an Indigenous health care workforce is an avenue of opportunity for TCUs. Which tribal colleges and universities have nursing or other health care provider programs—and how are they and their graduates impacting communities? What is the relationship between Western and traditional Native medicine?

  • Deadline for feature story suggestions: December 4, 2015.
  • Feature deadline: January 15, 2016.
  • On Campus news shorts deadline: January 29, 2016.

Tribal College Journal Departments

Besides articles addressing an issue’s theme, TCJ also seeks submissions for its regular departments. Below is a listing, with descriptions.

Media Reviews (400 words). The media reviews department illuminates recent publications or films in American Indian studies, including language, history, culture, education, literature, art, research methodology, biography, archaeology, etc. Please include title, author, number of pages, publisher, and year of publication. At the end of your review, please provide a one sentence author blurb about yourself. Follow the format in past issues. We also need a 300 dpi scan of the cover. Keep in mind that many of our readers are college librarians and instructors seeking new materials. Tell them whether you recommend the media item for classroom use or for TCU libraries.

On Campus (250-500 words). This department focuses on news items at tribal colleges. We also accept longer featurettes with a more enduring interest. Since we are quarterly, all pieces for this department should remain interesting and relevant three months from the time they are written. Include contact information at the end.

Profile (1200 words). Focus on a person who has made a contribution to American Indian higher education or the tribal college movement. Use many quotes. The article should address the person’s work, but the focus should be on the person. Note how they solved a central problem. Include tribal affiliation, age, and family information. At least one well-composed, high resolution photo should accompany article. The theme of an issue will influence the profile we select.

Research (2000-2500 words). We are happy to announce the return of our research department. We accept submissions on a broad range of topics in a variety of disciplines so long as they pertain to American Indian education, or are studies conducted by tribal college researchers and are relevant to tribal communities. All submissions should contain in-text citations per APA style guidelines. Currently, we do not send articles out for peer review, but rather conduct an in-house evaluation of the article, its methodology, and its suitability for TCJ.

Resource Guide (1500-5000 words). Each issue, TCJ publishes a web-exclusive resource guide that investigates various sources relating to the theme of the corresponding issue. The resource guide typically follows one of two formats: 1.) The guide begins with a short 500-word introduction on the state of the field for a particular theme, followed by a comprehensive bibliography of available sources, including books, journal articles, other scholarly studies, websites, etc. 2.) The guide may also be formatted as an annotated bibliography, which focuses on a shorter list of references and offers a basic, paragraph-long overview for each cited source. Please use regular paragraph format with no hanging indents.

Talking Circle (1200 words). Share a successful intervention, a classroom project, specific methodology, or instructional approach that has worked in a tribal college classroom or department. We are interested in facilitating faculty discussion about their work.

TCJ Student (600-1200 words). This department is devoted to student creative writing, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Students who submit work for this department must be enrolled at a tribal college.

Voices (750 words). This department is devoted to first person opinions about issues in Native education. We are especially interested in hearing the voices of tribal college students, administrators, staff, and faculty; other voices are welcome as well.

Other Pertinent Information for Writers


Tribal College Journal’s audience is quite diverse. While the stories should serve the tribal colleges’ staff, students, faculty, and administrators, TCJ is also read by other educators, legislators, college donors, and the general public.

Style and Technical Requirements

We seek both storytelling and academic styles for our articles. The first priority is readability, engaging our diverse readership with an intriguing, gripping story. Images are vital in this process. TCJ will only publish well-composed, high resolution photographs. Such images draw in readers and will make your article more compelling.

Whenever an Indian person is mentioned, include the tribal affiliation in parentheses when possible. Italicize non-English words only the first time they appear. Articles must be submitted by email as Word.doc attachments; please use the default settings on Microsoft Word as your format, but be sure to use Times Roman font. Use italics as necessary, but avoid unnecessary formatting (different sizes and fonts, boxes, margins, etc.), which we ultimately have to remove. When citing electronic sources obtained over the Internet, give information sufficient for retrieval of book/article/material.

Use active verbs in your writing. The active voice is usually more direct, concise, and vigorous than the passive (see Strunk and White, The Elements of Style). Keep sentences clear and concise. We are counting on you for accuracy, storytelling ability, willingness to provide more details or a rewrite upon request, and meeting deadlines. This is an internationally distributed magazine with thousands of readers, not a newspaper or newsletter, so please provide your best work.

As noted above, be sure to follow the American Psychological Association’s (APA) citation guidelines. See http://www.apastyle.org/.

Photo and Image Guidelines

For printing purposes, Tribal College Journal requires high resolution photos in jpeg or tiff formats. For charts or graphs we also accept high resolution pdf files. Please do not send low resolution images such as those from a website or GIF images. These may look great on the computer screen, but will come out fuzzy and blocky in a print publication.

Assuming you are using a digital camera, please use the highest image resolution on your camera. Choose large file size — more resolution is better. If your camera allows you to choose a pixel size, the minimum should be 1024 x 768. We would prefer 2048 x 1536 or higher. Note for professionals: Please do not provide images larger than 5 MB.

Do not shoot into the sun. Fill the viewing frame — the people are often more important than the background; get close enough so we can see faces. A photo with 2-4 people is usually better than a photo of a group.

If you are using flash, remember that the built-in flash on most cameras is effective only up to about 20 feet. In low light situations like inside conference rooms or classrooms, change the ISO setting to 400 if possible. For outdoor conditions use the standard ISO setting of 100.

Email the photos to: editor@tribalcollegejournal.org in separate messages. If you have a lot of images, please contact us for instructions about our FTP site or about setting up a shared Dropbox link.


The rate of payment varies depending upon the complexity of the story, whether it is submitted on time, the quality of the writing, and whether the work is part of the writer’s job requirements. No payment is made for voices or research articles. Note: Payments are made after publication.


Most articles require editing for length, clarity, or style and will be returned to the writer for at least one round of revisions. TCJ reserves the right to edit submissions as deemed necessary by the editorial staff.


Bradley Shreve, Ph.D., editor
Tribal College Journal
P.O. Box 720
Mancos, Colo. 81328

Phone: (970) 533-9170
Fax: (970) 533-9145

Email: editor@tribalcollegejournal.org