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 want both long features (2000- 2500 words) and short features (500-1000 words).

Specific feature subjects are decided upon one month before the deadlines. Before writing an article, please contact the editor to discuss it. 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 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 read Vol. 16, N.3, “TCUs Probe Identity Questions as They Indigenize Their Institutions,” by Paul Boyer for an example of an article using interviews or Vol. 12. N.2. “Of Science and Spirit: Leech Lake combines culture, inquiry in the lab” by Michael Wassegijig Price for an example of an article describing the author’s own experience. (For a sample of one of these articles, make your request by email or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope.)

Please use only 12 point Times New Roman with no extra formatting, which we will just have to remove. Indent paragraphs.

Upcoming themes

FALL 2014

Tribal College Journal 25th Anniversary Issue (Vol. 26, No. 1)

In this special anniversary edition, Tribal College Journal celebrates 25 years of award-winning writing. Plus, explore the best in Native student writing with the 2014 edition of TCJ Student!

  • Deadline for feature story suggestions: February 28, 2014.
  • Feature deadline: April 18, 2014.
  • On Campus news shorts deadline: April 25, 2014.


Workforce Development (Vol. 26, No. 2)

Many tribal colleges and universities offer degree and certificate programs that train students in a set of skills, preparing them for the workforce.  In doing so, TCUs contribute greatly to local and regional economies. How has such training reduced unemployment rates in tribal communities? How have TCUs led the way by offering a model for workforce development?  Specifically, what are some of these skill-based programs?

  • Deadline for feature story suggestions: June 6, 2014.
  • Feature deadline: July 18, 2014.
  • On Campus news shorts deadline: August 1, 2014.


Global Indigenous Higher Education (Vol. 26, No. 3)

The launch of the World Indigenous Nations University (WINU), sponsored by AIHEC’s sister organization the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium, raises interesting questions about the role of TCUs in global perspective. What role can AIHEC and its member institutions play in WINU and the expansion of international Indigenous education? How do Indigenous peoples worldwide work together to achieve greater self-determination in higher education and how have the tribal colleges led the way? In light of the founding of WINU, how will accreditation and assessment evolve in the 21st century?

  • Deadline for feature story suggestions: August 29, 2014.
  • Feature deadline: October 17, 2014.
  • On Campus news shorts deadline: October 31, 2014.


Tribal College Governance (Vol. 26, No. 4)

Tribal colleges were founded to serve Native communities and offer a culturally relevant education. For accreditation and articulation purposes, however, TCUs have had to adopt Western forms of governance.  How can TCUs assume greater sovereignty over their administration, organization, and structure? Should they establish their own, separate accrediting body?  How are TCU presidents specifically incorporating traditional modes of leadership?

  • Deadline for feature story suggestions: December 5, 2014.
  • Feature deadline: January 16, 2015.
  • On Campus news shorts deadline: January 30, 2015.

Tribal College Journal Departments

Talking Circle (600-1100 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.

Profile (600-1000 words). Focus on a person, and 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 photo should accompany article. For examples of good profiles, read Vol. 16, N.3, “Nick Tilsen: A New Generation of Activists Protects the People, the Land” by Winona LaDuke or Vol. 15, N.4, “Tommy Merino: 40 years of fighting for Indian education” by Juan A. Avila Hernandez.

Campus Shorts (250-350 words). Longer than a calendar listing but shorter than an article, these have a news angle but an enduring interest. Since we are quarterly, all shorts cover past events or programs at tribal colleges that are as interesting three months from now as the day they are written. Include contact information at the end.

Voices (600 words). First person opinions about issues in Native education. We are especially interested in hearing the voices of tribal college students, administrators, and faculty; other voices are welcome.

Resource Guide (2000 words). Must relate to the theme. (Please study a previous issue.) Format includes: introductory paragraph to provide focus, listings for video, web sites, books, other publications, and organizations. Regular paragraph format, no hanging indents. All material must be currently in print. Check all URLs and provide alternative contact (email, phone, or mailing address). Readers use these resource guides extensively, and citations must be as complete as possible.

Media Reviews (150 words). Include title, author, illustrator, publisher, and year. Provide one sentence author blurb about yourself. Follow the format in past issues. We also need an actual cover or 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 resource for classroom use.


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

Style and Technical Requirements

We seek a storytelling, not an academic, style. The first priority is imparting experience; imparting information is secondary.

Whenever an Indian person is mentioned, include the tribal affiliation in parenthesis. Italicize “foreign” or Native language words only the first time they appear. Articles must be submitted by email. Use underlines and italics as necessary, but avoid unnecessary formatting (different sizes and fonts), which has to be removed. When citing electronic sources obtained over the Internet, give information sufficient for retrieval of book/article/material.

A FINAL WORD: Use active verbs. The active voice is usually more direct, concise, and vigorous than the passive (see Strunk and White, The Elements of Style). Keep sentences short. We are counting on you for accuracy, story telling ability, willingness to provide more details or a rewrite upon request, and meeting deadlines. This is a magazine, not a newspaper or a dissertation, so please provide your best work.

Photo Guidelines

For printing purposes, Tribal College Journal requires high resolution images in jpeg or tiff formats. PLEASE DO NOT SEND low resolution images such as those from a web site or GIF images. These may look great on the computer screen but are NOT suitable for magazine printing.

Here are some guidelines; please let us know if you have questions:

Assuming you are using a digital camera, please use the highest image resolution the camera is capable of. This usually means using the “Fine” mode on the camera’s controls. 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.

BASIC COMPOSITION. Do not shoot into the sun. Fill the viewing frame — the people are almost always more important than the background; get close enough so we can see faces. Be sure to shoot your subjects from the front so their faces show. A photo with 2-4 people is usually better than a photo of a group.

LOW LIGHT CONDITIONS. If you are using flash, remember that the built-in flash on most cameras is effective only up to about 20 feet. (For professionals: Your camera may or may not allow you to adjust the ISO setting for different lighting situations. If so, in low light situations ONLY like inside conference rooms, change the ISO from a probable standard setting of ISO 100 to ISO 400. Make sure to change back to ISO 100 for standard outdoor or well-lit situations.)

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.


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 revision.

Bradley Shreve, Ph.D., editor
Tribal College Journal
P.O. Box 720
Mancos, Colo. 81328
Phone (970) 533-9170
Fax (970) 533-9145
Email the editor