Thursday, February 26, 2009

Help Tribal Colleges Get Federal Appropriations

In August 2008 former President George W. Bush signed Congress the Higher Education Reauthorization and College Opportunity Act of 2008 into law. The reauthorization will help more students attend tribal colleges across the country and will include funding for tribal colleges across the United States. It also authorizes an annual increase from $6,000 to $8,000 for each student attending a tribal college. However, each year Congress must make appropriations to fund these worthwhile programs.

As you know, most tribal colleges are located on reservations, where they serve nearly 28,000 Native students in geographically isolated communities. On reservations, unemployment rates are high and average family incomes are 27 percent below the federal poverty level. Federal funding is necessary to keep our tribal colleges operational, providing much-needed educational opportunities to Native communities.

Help tribal colleges get the funding they need by contacting your senator to urge them to make appropriations for tribal colleges under the Higher Education Reauthorization and College Opportunity Act of 2008. To contact your senator, go to http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm to find the address and phone number of your elected official.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Moving Forward In a Bleak Economy

Despite the bleak economic indicators, including a high jobs loss report at the end of January, there is reason to be optimistic about American Indian education and the Fund.

Our supporters are some of the most loyal and devoted people in the country. Even when times are tough, they give something. Our students and the Fund are blessed to be able to count on our corporate, foundation, and individual supporters.

Another reason to be optimistic? The amazing projects and results that tribal colleges are producing. Whether it be diabetes research, gathering data about global warming and its effects on local flora and fauna, or building business incubators on some of the most rural and remote areas of the country to spur economic development, tribal colleges, their teachers, and students are producing results that are nothing short of miracles. And the American Indian College Fund continues to support tribal colleges and their students in these endeavors and more.

Be on the lookout in March for stories about these successes in our upcoming newsletters.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

When Old Friends Go On...

I was personally saddened when my friend and former tribal college resident and veteran of the tribal college movement, Sky Houser, passed on on January 29, 2009. Sky died at a hospice facility near his sister’s home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma at age 65. At the time of his death, he was the special projects officer for the Scott Bordeaux Leadership Institute at Sinte Gleska University.

Known as “Sky,” Houser first became acquainted with the Indian community in the mid 1970s when he was a professor at the University of Nebraska, where I first met him, and took his students to a pow wow.

In 1975, he left the University of Nebraska to help help the Santee establish a satellite campus, Northeast Nebraska Indian Satellite Community College, which later became Nebraska Indian Community College.

Sky served as chief executive officer of four tribal colleges (Nebraska Indian Community College, Sisseton Wahpeton Community College, Institute of American Indian Arts, and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College) and worked at three others (Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, Salish Kootenai College’s Spokane branch campus, and Sinte Gleska University).

Sky left a long legacy as a writer of articles and books about American Indian education and tribal issues, in addition to medieval history. He will be deeply missed by all of us in the tribal college movement.

I am deeply touched that Sky's commitment to educated and concern for American Indian students extended beyond his death. Sky's family specified that gifts in his memory could be given to the American Indian College Fund.
 
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