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ERIC Number: EJ771777
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jun-8
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Tribal Colleges Reach beyond the Tribe
Ashburn, Elyse
Chronicle of Higher Education, v53 n40 pA20 Jun 2007
Turtle Mountain Community College was established to serve Chippewa Indians, but, in any given year, roughly 10 percent of its students are not members of any federally recognized tribe. Many of the 34 other public tribal colleges and universities in the United States have similar makeups. In all, such institutions educate about 5,000 non-Indian students each year, most of them white, accounting for more than 15 percent of their total enrollment. The U.S. government, through the Tribally Controlled Community Colleges Act, provided $5,001 per student this year for the colleges' Indian students, but it does not provide money for the other students they serve, students who cannot afford to pay more than $1,000 or $2,000 a year in tuition and fees. So over the years, rather than raising tuition, tribal colleges in these largely rural, impoverished areas have turned to state legislatures for money to cover the costs of serving non-Indian students. These attempts have met with mixed success. Although some lawmakers believe that states should support tribal colleges as providers of higher education to people who otherwise would not have a shot at it, other legislators argue that they should support only state institutions. Only three of the 14 states that have tribal colleges provide money for non-Indian residents to attend them. North Dakota adopted a law last month that will make it the fourth. It has been a long, hard road: similar bills had been defeated in seven sessions since 1989. "The state and state legislators were ignorant in their understanding of this issue," says Cynthia A. Lindquist, president of Cankdeska Cikana Community College. "There was this idea -- this is an Indian issue, and the federal government takes care of that." Many legislators also thought that tribal colleges were not accredited (they are) or authorized by the state to operate (they are). To combat those misperceptions, college leaders courted the state's newspapers and traveled repeatedly to the capitol. The tribal colleges also had the state's teachers lobby and the North Dakota University system in their corner. Although the North Dakota tribal colleges count the state's recent legislative sessions as a success, they acknowledge that $350,000 a year, shared by five institutions, will not go far. Turtle Mountain President Jim L. Davis, who plans to use the money granted to his school to improve technology on the campus and increase graduation rates by providing more tutoring and advising services, points out that, concentrated on one or two things, it can make a difference, and the tribal colleges need to act quickly. The money the legislature gave the tribal colleges is a one-time appropriation. In two years, tribal-college leaders will have to fight for support all over again. It should be easier the second time around, they say, but they will have to show that they have put the money to good use.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North Dakota