Monday, January 26, 2009

Think Indian public service advertisement campaign launches

The Fund is rolling out a new public service announcement campaign titled THINK INDIAN. The campaign tells the story of how America’s 32 accredited tribal colleges and American Indian students are combining traditional Native solutions with modern knowledge to solve contemporary problems.

Tribal colleges and universities preserve the uniquely American Indian way of thinking while celebrating Indian cultures and embracing the latest research and technology. These institutions have become cultural oases where old wisdom and new ideas are fused. Many Native students encounter both their native language and the Internet for the first time at college.

To create the campaign, the Fund and our Portland, Oregon-based advertising partner, Wieden+Kennedy, voted Adweek’s 2008 Global Agency of the Year and known for its signature work for Nike, Target, and Coca-Cola, traveled to Indian Country where we documented the stories of American Indian students studying at tribal colleges.

This body of work not only reflects how American Indian cultural knowledge is being preserved by tribal colleges and used to solve modern-day problems for all people, but it also depicts the depth, beauty, and tenacity inherent in the American Indian students and community that we serve.

The ads have already been run by our supporting partner publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Harper's, and O.

Wieden+Kennedy has created the Fund’s advertising for the past 18 years on a pro bono basis. We are deeply grateful for their longstanding commitment to American Indian education and the Fund and the invaluable contributions they make with helping us to reach our donors through these compelling and moving ads.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gracism or Post-Racial Society?

On the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration, many people across the land are openly excited.

Others may be openly antagonistic.

And still others may exhibit what I call gracism.

Over the years, it has become less politically correct for people to be openly racist (although American Indians still suffer from open racism.) As a result, racism has gone underground—and people are graceful and pleasant to one’s face, while continuing to hold onto their racist attitudes and behaviors behind one’s back. Hence, I coined the term gracist.

As we head to an era in which the country claims it is ready to embrace its plurality and diversity, I hope that we will see not only the end of racism, but also the end of gracism. This means allowing people to follow their own roads, acknowledging that there are many cultures and many ways of knowing, and that those ways are not less important than the dominant culture. This means fully embracing inclusivity while allowing people to pursue their separateness, and for Indian people, this means allowing people to continue pursuing their Indian culture and identity.

One way that Indian people have been pursuing their culture and identity is through the tribal college movement. Yet tribal colleges are the most underfunded education institutions in the country. Despite federal funding appropriations plans, tribal colleges are still 30% underfunded by Congress, showing there is not a commitment to Indian education in our society.

The American Indian College Fund’s mission is to support both the tribal colleges and provide American Indian students with scholarships. But the need is great in Indian Country, and many institutions and students still struggle.

On the eve of Obama’s inauguration, I hope that as America tries to move forward to a post-racial society, that gracism disappears, and Americans of all backgrounds support every American’s right to pursue an education—and that our legislators and the taxpayers support all kinds of education, including tribal colleges and the students they serve.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wondering How to Apply for College Scholarships?

Debra Reed of the American Indian College Fund will be discussing how to prepare for scholarships on Native America Calling Friday, January 16, from 11a.m.-noon MST. Go to to listen online or see a list of stations carrying the program in your area.

You can also call in with questions for Debra.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Fund Marks its 20th Anniversary

Here at the Fund we are celebrating 20 years as the nation's premiere scholarship organization for American Indian students.

The Fund was created in 1989 by the tribal colleges and universities and private partners to raise scholarship funds and funding for America’s tribal colleges. The first tribal college was DinĂ© College, founded as Navajo Community College, in 1968. Today there are 32 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which serve college students and provide much-needed services to American Indian communities.

The Fund has raised millions of dollars for scholarships and capital funding for campus infrastructure in its mission, and last year awarded nearly 4,000 scholarships to American Indian students to encourage students to remain in college, complete a college degree and build a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities.

We hope you will join us this year in celebrating our achievements over the past 20 years, while continuing to help us grow to meet the demands of our community so that they may realize their dreams of earning a college education and helping to effect change in Indian country and our nation.