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Tue Aug 28, 2018, 11:56 AM

50 Year Vision: What Does the Future Hold for Tribal Colleges and Universities?

50 Year Vision: What Does the Future Hold for Tribal Colleges and Universities?


In 1968, tribal educators devised a new, revolutionary concept—a tribally controlled institution of higher education. This was a pivotal moment, not just in American Indian education, but for the sovereignty, self-determination, and cultural preservation of Native peoples. Considering how far tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) have come in a half century, Tribal College Journal asked tribal educators and leaders to look into the future and give us their vision of where they see TCUs 50 years from now, in the year 2068.


Cynthia Lindquist, Ph.D. (Dakota), is president of Cankdeska Cikana Community College.

A Unified Tribal College and University System

In 50 years, I see a more unified tribal college and university system, wherein our students transfer to a sister TCU for terminal degrees. I see an overflowing bank of Native faculty who are cultural and language experts with teaching credentials and who are vested within the TCUs as well as their respective community, thus serving to perpetuate Indigenous knowledge as role models. I see an overabundance of funding that meets our needs to provide at least the first two years of college without charging tuition and fees. I see a Native accreditation body for the TCUs and the K- 12 system that is culturally relevant and staffed by Native educators. The TCUs will include a law and medical school. I see healthy and thriving Indian families and communities working cooperatively to help the world be a better place.- Cynthia Lindquist
Robert Martin, Ed.D. (Cherokee), is president of the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Robert Martin, Ed.D. (Cherokee), is president of the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Vibrant Centers of Innovation and Excellence

I envision tremendous growth in the tribal college and university movement by 2068, resulting in the creation of vibrant centers of innovation and excellence supporting tribal sovereignty, culture, languages, art, histories, traditions, and scholarship through undergraduate and graduate education, training, research, and publications. The TCUs will be viewed as thought leaders in creating Indigenous higher education program models that are value-centered and community-based. The American Indian Higher Education Consortium member colleges and universities will enter into agreements to increase learning opportunities for students and to reduce duplication of efforts and resources. The cost savings will be reallocated to academic and student life programs, promoting student success. – Robert Martin
Laurel Vermillion, Ph.D. (Standing Rock Sioux), is president of Sitting Bull College.

Laurel Vermillion, Ph.D. (Standing Rock Sioux), is president of Sitting Bull College.

Commitment to Strong Cultural Foundations Will Build a Bright Future

The majority of the tribal colleges started from humble beginnings. TCU staff and faculty work tirelessly and compassionately to build strong foundations for the future. This dedicated and committed preparation will make our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all future generations stronger, more resilient, proficient, and better prepared to live in two worlds. These worlds include our own Indigenous world filled with prayer, compassion, and love for all living things on Mother Earth. We must also learn to live in a world that is often a deep contrast to our Indigenous world. Our students are successful in this endeavor and so I have tremendous hope for the future of our Native nations. TCUs guided by their missions remain true and committed to their respective cultures, values, languages, and traditional ways. Because of this commitment, the students who have come through our doors leave with a renewed sense of pride and hope for their future. I believe our beautiful Indigenous languages, because of the revitalization happening now, will be spoken on a daily basis, both in and out of the classroom. The majority of our employees, both faculty and staff, will be Native due to the increased degree programs offered at the TCUs. Our TCU graduates will be leaders at all levels. I believe this because it has already begun! – Laurel Vermillion
David Yarlott Jr., Ed.D. (Crow), is president of Little Big Horn College.

David Yarlott Jr., Ed.D. (Crow), is president of Little Big Horn College.

Adapting While Staying True to Core Values

Tribal colleges have come a long way in 50 years, approaching 40 years for Little Big Horn College. With the changing world around us, many of our core tribal and TCU values will remain the same. TCUs will adapt to the advancement of technology, methodologies, and requirements to meet the needs of the environment. However, I anticipate that our cultures, traditions, beliefs, and languages will still be high priorities of our missions. In the year 2068, I see the TCUs being leaders in preserving natural resources. Key people from the TCUs will be relied upon to provide advice and guidance regarding the preservation of natural resources. On a side note, I wonder what resources will look like in 50 years. – David Yarlott Jr.

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https://tribalcollegejournal.org/50-year-vision-what-does-the-future-hold-for-tribal-colleges-and-universities/

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