From 1997 to 1998 American Indians received only .6% of all bachelor’s degrees, .5% of all master’s degrees, and .4% of all doctoral degrees conferred in the United States. Traditional institutions are not serving the American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaskan Native populations. They are not creating environments where these students can succeed.
One of the models that the National Council for the Advancement of Natives in Higher Education would like to champion is Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU). Because we feel that they are a model for institutional reform in reference to standards of best practices of policies towards native students and because of the lack of knowledge about their existence, I felt it important that these institutions be defined.
TCU’s are founded by their respective tribal governments. There are more than 75 campuses in 15 states and they serve more than 230 federally recognized Indian tribes. The Department of Education lists the TCU’s.While each TCU is different in their location, student population, size, and focus what what remains constant for all TCU’s is their commitment to tribal identity as “the core of every TCU, and they all share the mission of tribal self-determination and service to their respective communities.”
They are also a leader in partnering with other organizations. These include the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities, the American Indians in Higher Education Consortium, the National Science Foundation, and the National Park Service.
In a recent article for Indian Country Today by Duane Champaign argues that tribal communities are more than ever looking for options that suit the needs of their children. They do not want “a strong assimilation program that emphasizes U.S. history and culture.” Champaign is an advocate for tribally controlled schools because of the control that tribes can have over what is being taught: “In tribally controlled schools, students get not only that attention, but a culturally agreeable environment and a place to learn about their own history and culture, while developing the skills needed to engage in an increasingly competitive market.”
In TCU’s 75% of students who started there went on to get a four year degree. Please let us know what you think about TCU’s and your own experience in mainstream or tribal higher education..