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ERIC Number: ED539707
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Feb
Pages: 72
Abstractor: ERIC
The Path of Many Journeys: The Benefits of Higher Education for Native People and Communities
Institute for Higher Education Policy
The economic and cultural plight of American Indians began when the first White settlers landed on the shores of North America. For American Indians, the "discovery" of America was the beginning of cultural and physical destruction, marginalization, discrimination, and impoverishment. The resulting gap between American Indians and mainstream society is immense. The reduction and eventual elimination of these disparities are vitally important not only to ensure the prosperity of American Indian communities but for American society overall. Access to quality education in general, and higher education in particular, is key to closing the economic and social gap. Historically, higher education has been the main driver of improved social mobility, personal welfare, and economic prosperity. However, traditional forms of western higher education have often been unsuccessful with American Indian populations owing to the striking differences in western and American Indian traditions, pedagogical approaches, and measures of success. Investment in higher education, especially in higher education suitable for the American Indian context, is crucial to bridge the divide between American Indians and the rest of the nation. Currently, American Indians who choose to pursue higher education in the United States have two main options: (1) mainstream two- or four-year postsecondary institutions; or (2) tribally controlled educational institutions, known as Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and based primarily on reservations. The challenges of mainstream institutions in providing higher education to American Indians are similar to the challenges of providing higher education for all students of color. Success often depends on the institution's ability and commitment to provide access to those who aspire to enter college; provide financial, social, and academic support while the students are enrolled; and help provide opportunities to those who have finished their degrees. TCUs have an additional mission: They serve as a venue for educational attainment for American Indian students and are committed to the preservation and resuscitation of native cultures and traditions. This report examines the challenges of access and the benefits of investing in higher education for American Indians, and argues that higher education is one of the main drivers of economic and social development for all American Indian communities, regardless of their geographic location. The report also discusses the role of TCUs on reservations and their contribution to the well-being of tribal communities. (Contains 23 figures and 15 footnotes.) [Contributions to writing of this report was provided by Alisa F. Cunningham, Courtney McSwain and Yuliya Keselman.
Institute for Higher Education Policy. 1825 K Street Suite 720, Washington, DC 20006. Tel: 202-861-8223; Fax: 202-861-9307; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: USA Funds
Authoring Institution: Institute for Higher Education Policy; American Indian Higher Education Consortium; American Indian College Fund