Wednesday, November 17, 2010

American Indian College Fund's New Blog and Web Site Has Launched!

The American Indian College Fund web site has been redesigned with a new, mod¬ern look and feel and opportunities to interact more with both students and the American Indian College Fund as it pursues its mission to provide scholarships to Native students and support the nation’s tribal college sand universities.

The site will continue to offer multiple social media opportunities for students and donors to follow the American Indian College Fund’s work and weigh in about Native education issues, as well as student and alumni success stories.

As part of the redesign, the site will offer a special portal to connect our corporate and tribal donors with students and alumni. Native students and alumni will be able to share their stories and videos, apply for scholarships, learn more about the support of our tribal and corporate donors, and seek job and internship opportunities. Our new blog will also appear on this site. You can view the new design at the same url,

Our blog now appears at

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fund Employee Recounts Haskell Indian Nations University Visit

by Lindsay Klatt

As an employee of the American Indian College Fund, I recently visited Haskell Indian Nations University. This trip reminded me of the sense of pride I get from working for the Native community and it will continuously ignite my passion for working at the Fund on a daily basis.

All of the tribal colleges we support at the Fund are examples of self determination and are beacons of hope for the future of the American Indian community. But Haskell holds a special significance because of its history, its present state, and its future.

Haskell was established in 1884 for the reform and forced assimilation of American Indian children who were taken from their families and forced to become more like whites. They were forced to abandon their culture, their language and ultimately their own hopes and dreams for the future because their path was decided for them.

Over the years, Haskell changed dramatically. It advanced from a trade school to a high school, a junior college and is now an accredited university offering associates’ and bachelors’ degrees to students who are enrolled tribal members. Rather than assimilating Native students into mainstream culture, Haskell now embraces and teaches Native culture. Students who study here are taught about their Native roots and cultural identity is incorporated into every aspect of their education and future plans. American Indians have taken an institution rooted in negativity that was first designed to erase Native cultures and changed it into a shining symbol of strength designed to preserve and continue their heritage and traditions.

As a result, Haskell students have thrived as scholars and athletes, proving what can be accomplished with a tribally influenced education. They are qualifying for nationals in cross country running and are competing in award-winning basketball and football teams. They are scholars with breakthrough ideas and projects, such as digitizing the Trail of Tears and designing an Apple application that will translate a historic walking tour narrated in a Native language.

Haskell also has an amazing staff of dedicated educators and employees whose passion for these students is both remarkable and infectious. They eat, sleep and breathe the welfare of their students and the improvement and continuation of the university. This is no easy feat and there are always new challenges and temporary roadblocks, but with students and staff so deeply rooted in this cause, the future can only look bright. This school and the magnificent people involved are examples of what can happen when the seeds of self-determination are planted and the care is taken to let this beautiful creation flourish.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Passing of Margaret Teachout

All of us at the American Indian College Fund would like to express our sincere condolences to David, Gerald, and Robert Gipp on the loss of their mother, Margaret Teachout, who entered the Spirit World Thursday, October 28.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tribal College Student Perspective: Speaking at the Gala

In addition to raising $385,000 for student scholarships, our Flame of Hope Gala on Oct. 14 presented our donors with the opportunity to meet many of our tribal college students, who came in for the event.

But from a student's perspective, the event was an opportunity for our tribal college students as well. It was a chance for them to meet other tribal college students from across the country and share their journey, while also giving them the chance to build their confidence as they shared their stories with you and built their public speaking expertise that will be invaluable as they graduate and embark upon their careers.

Colleen Tenas (Kootenai), an honors student in business at Salish Kootenai College, spoke at a private reception for the Fund's supporters prior to the gala, and wrote, "I just want to thank you and the American Indian College Fund staff for the opportunity to attend the Flame of Hope Gala, and for taking the time to listen to my story. I was very glad to be chosen to speak at the Private Reception, and a little scared, but glad I did it."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Meet an American Indian College Fund Scholar

Attending the American Indian College Fund's Flame of Hope Gala this October 14 in Denver, Colorado at the Seawall Grand Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts helps us raise money for student scholarships. But the gala also confers a benefit to attendees. In addition to a gourmet meal and first-class entertainment from Big Head Todd and the Monsters this year, the Flame of Hope Gala presents you with the opportunity to meet several of our tribal college students.

Iva Croff (Blackfeet) is one of those students. Iva is a Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship recipient at Blackfeet Community College (BCC) in Montana, where she is majoring in Blackfeet language. The scholarship meant so much to her, she says. "I practically made the office assistant at the BCC Business Office start to cry because I started to cry. When I received my Pendleton blanket at the Coca Cola Scholars banquet during AIHEC 2009, my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. My husband said he had a lump in his throat because he was so proud of me."

Iva will graduate in the spring of 2011. "I have been so blessed while at Blackfeet Community College, especially by the American Indian College Fund."

We hope you can join us at the American Indian College Fund's Flame of Hope Gala so that you can meet students like Iva and share in the joy of their successes, while helping to support the success of other students to come!

For ticket information, visit our web site.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Vote Now to Help the American Indian College Fund Win Funding!

Please help the American Indian College Fund to win funding from American Express through Members Project®. You can cast your vote at Members Project web site.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Welcome Mellon Fellows!

The American Indian College Fund welcomes our new Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Faculty Research Program and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Tribal College Faculty Career Enhancement Program fellows to Denver, Colorado.

Both graduated and new fellowship participants are gathered to exchange research, information, and vital knowledge, building the intellectual capacity of our tribal colleges and Indian Country itself.

Thank you for doing this sacred and vital work and welcome to Denver!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Message to Our Students for the New School Year

Many of our tribal college students are back in school or are preparing to go back now. We at the American Indian College Fund would like to wish you the best of luck in the new school year. You are on a sacred journey of acquiring knowledge--about your people, your culture, and the wider world.

As you embark on this leg of your journey, we would like to remind you that nothing good comes easy--it takes hard work and sacrifice. We know that you can achieve all of your dreams and goals if you are willing to work hard and go for it.

You have taken the first step. We are cheering for you every step of the way! If you have any questions or concerns as you take this journey, please do not hesitate to contact us at the American Indian College Fund for advice or encouragement.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Calling All Tribal College Alumni

The American Indian College Fund wants your story! If you graduated from a tribal college or university and were an American Indian College Fund scholarship recipient, we want to hear from you. Your stories are inspirational to other students, and your experiences can help others.

Please contact Dina Horwedel at or by e-mail or phone at 303-430-5350 to share your story and help us Educate the Mind and Spirit.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Letter from a Supporter

I'd like to personally thank Sandra Beasley of Cleveland, Ohio, an unenrolled member of the Cherokee tribe who resides in Cleveland, Ohio, for taking the time to write to me about the Think Indian campaign.

Sandra writes that the campaign "is absolutely brilliant, sensational, awesome, tremendous, epic, and life-changing" and that the stories of traditional and non-traditional students were inspiring for her.

Sandra saw the ads in the New York Times at her local public library and copied them and posted them on her bedroom door for inspiration to cause her to reflect on what it means to be American Indian.

She adds, "As I always say, if you change one person's life for the better, you have succeeded, and the American Indian College Fund has done it, time and again."

We'd like to hear from more people. How has the American Indian College Fund's Think Indian campaign helped change your perceptions about what it means to be an American Indian or helped you think about culturally based education?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer is Time for Native Students to Prepare for School in Fall

Summertime. For many people across the nation, summer is a time to kick back, relax, and celebrate! But for many of our students in Indian nations, summer is a time to cobble together several jobs and pinch pennies to ensure they can continue their college education in the fall.

Students like Nahnbah Ciccarello, who finished her first year of studies at Navajo Technical College in New Mexico, wonder whether they will have enough saved to be able to enter school again in the fall. Nahnbah has a small child that she leaves at home with relatives while she commutes the 100-mile round trip journey each day to attend school.

Thanks to your support and encouragement, students like Nahnbah have the funds to complete their education and ensure a better future for themselves and their families.

Thank you for helping American Indian students, who never have a summer vacation from poverty.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Congratulations Graduates!

As June ends, the last of graduations at our nation's 33 tribal colleges and universities are winding down.

Our students have worked long hours, often juggling work and family responsibilities with their studies, to earn their college degrees.

Here at the American Indian College Fund, we understand the hard work, long hours, and dedication it takes to achieve and succeed. We want to congratulate all of you, and wish you the best in your professional careers.

We also want to remind you to keep in touch as you embark on your life's journey. We love hearing about your adventures, your new career paths, and your families. Please drop us a line at to let us know where your journey takes you!

In a good way,
Richard B. Williams
and the American Indian College Fund team

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Native Students Thank You for Sharing Your Summer Bounty

June 21 marked the first day of summer solstice. Summer was traditionally a busy time among Native peoples, as sedentary tribes planted gardens and tended to their crops; and nomadic peoples followed the moving animals across the landscape and hunted and fished. Summers were and still are a time of bounty.

As we enjoy our modern summer and it fades into autumn, I think back on these months of my own youth. Autumn was a time to gather stores and prepare for a long winter, while also preparing to go "back-to-school." Returning to school is an echo of tradition, as preparing one's mind for harvesting ideas to use throughout one's life is one way to guarantee success.

Wherever you are and whatever your plans, as you enjoy your summer's bounty, we want to thank you for remembering our students by sharing your commitment to their education as they harvest knowledge, their traditions, and cultures at tribal colleges across the land.

Monday, June 14, 2010

On the Road Again-South Dakota

Be sure to watch our blog this week as Jonas Greene and Jaime Aguilar set out for South Dakota to visit tribal colleges, interview students, and learn about their projects, passions, challenges and joys.

Jaime and Jonas will share video, still photography, and many stories here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Thank You to the College of Menominee

Thanks to the staff and students of the College of Menominee, the second portion of our visit was as successful as the first. We were able to interview some amazing students, including Liberal Arts and Sustainable Development major, Justin Gauthier. Justin had a unique perspective with regard to Menominee Nation's natural resources, explaining that while his grandfather's generation had the primary task of harvesting their trees, he and his generation have everything riding on maintaining the successful sustainable practices that have kept the Menominee Forest thriving since time immemorial. We anticipate great things from Justin as he navigates through his academics in preparation for graduate school and a successful career.

In many of the tribal communities we visit, we rely heavily on the tribal college faculty to help us connect with students. Challenges arrive in different forms and are usually rooted in having only a day or two to share time with students whose days are filled with classes, projects, and family obligations. We would like to thank the College of Menominee for not only welcoming us, but accommodating our every need. This is their way and each time we visit the Keshena campus, the faculty do everything they can to help us.

If we had such a thing as a most valuable faculty award it would go to Communication and Project Specialist, Dale Kakkak. A few years ago Dale helped us connect with students and locations for our Think Indian campaign.

As an accomplished photographer and journalist, Dale knows every nook of the Menominee reservation with all of its beautiful vantage points. We would like to say thank you to Dale as well as all of the students and faculty at College of Menominee for making our shoot a success. We will leave you with a few of our most memorable images of our visit.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Arriving at the College of Menominee Nation

We arrived in Wisconsin on this fifth and penultimate leg of our trip to an unseasonably hot and humid climate of Green Bay, then to the thicket of the Menominee Nation. Making our way through the forest, we arrived at the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) in Keshena to meet our our subjects for this project. They were gathered on the steamy afternoon planting their sustainable, permaculture garden under the blue water tower on campus at the entrance to the Menominee Nation Reservation.

Fruit trees, carrots, corn -- all types of veggies and fruits remain from the previous growing season and newly planted foliage are near the walking trail that leads into the forest behind the campus. Some of the beds are plotted to shape out the letters CMN. The garden, set up by a grant from the Clinton Global Initiative, is led by education major Dee Cobb. Using plants that replenish themselves by seed or annual fruit production, this sustainable garden is much like the students we meet to interview, being that they are all looking for their role in what types of seeds they have planted for themselves at this small tribal college.

The college on this reservation and the people here seek to thrive through education to better their community and traditions. One group, coming off a busy day of interviewing from their own video project, hope to learn and study elders' experiences and observations concerning climate change.

We enjoyed a visit with tribal college president Verna Fowler and learned more about the programs at the school and what we could expect from CMN in the future. There is an excitement towards the development of niche, Native American-driven, four-year degree programs beyond the sole four-year major in education currently offered. Many of the students we met are completing their degrees to move on to one of the many other colleges in the state of Wisconsin. Everyone remaining on the campus since classes ended is preparing for their commencement ceremonies on June 5.

One of our highlights of the trip has been the opportunity to talk with Cedar - one of our students featured in our Think Indian PSA campaigns. We found her on campus, no longer a student, but a recent graduate from a nearby university and now employed as an alumni employee of the college. We took time to interview her in a stunning atrium joining Shirley Daly Hall and Glenn Miller Hall in the center of the campus. The glass-paneled room, lined with hand-carved wooden accents, has a large Menominee ancestral bear carving bearing a ceremonial pipe and wearing a headdress, and made from the trunk of a butternut tree.

We also met one of our students and wer honored to be invited to see where he lives. Ironically, we were delayed by troubles with the vehicle he uses to commute to school, underscoring his financial need, but we continued on with our meeting and shared stories and songs along the shores of Legend Lake as he welcomed us into his life.

-Jaime Aguilar and Jonas Greene

Friday, May 21, 2010

Northwest Indian College - Day 2

After an amazing visit in Tulalip, Phillip and I continued north to Lummi where we had the great fortune of taking part in honoring the ruturn of the salmon. During the annual First Salmon Ceremony, the Lummi people celebrate the return of the salmon to the region's rivers. There were hundreds of tribal members and visitors gathered to take part the honoring. The treat of fresh-caught salmon was a delicious detour on our visit to the Northwest Indian College main campus.

In the few years since my last visit, the vision of the new campus has started to take shape. Three of the new buildings across the road from the original sight are now complete. There is now student housing as well as a new cafeteria and student services building.

We met many amazing American Indian College Fund scholars and were graciously welcomed by students and staff. We even ran into Sunny Guillory, who worked with the College Fund several years ago on a public service piece. Sunny has since graduated from Sitting Bull College as well as University of Mary. She now has a beautiful family of five, and her husband, Justin Guillory, Ph.D., serves as NWIC's dean of academics and distance learning.

On our way out, we stopped to admire the buildings and structures on the original campus. It's always natural to stop and admire the beautiful totem pole next to the NWIC library, one of the community's oldest buildings. Phillip was kind enough to take some time to tell us about this historical work of art.

--Jonas Greene

Northwest Indian College Visit

May 19, 2010

This week the tribal college tour continued to Northwest Indian College. We recruited former College Fund Media Manager Phillip Hillaire (Lummi) to serve as a liaison to his Native community. Of the tribal colleges, Northwest Indian College (NWIC) is very well known for pioneering distance learning programs. The college has several tribal locations in Washington and Idaho, making it possible for students to complete degree programs without having to travel to the Lummi campus.

As we made our way north on I-5 we could feel that this would be a very special trip. Our first stop was in Tulalip, where we met with American Indian College Fund scholar, Jennifer Cordova-James (Tlingit), who attends the Tulalip campus of the Northwest Indian College. Jennifer was more than happy to tell how this distance learning actually works and walk us through a typical day at the Tulalip campus.

--Jonas Greene

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Coaching and Investing in Our Students' Futures

Most of us who have achieved a measure of success in our lives had someone special who believed in us—a family member, teacher, coach, or other caring individual who provided encouragement at a critical time.

I was raised by my grandmother from the time I was five months old. We were very poor, often living on less than $50 per month. At times we went without real food for weeks, subsisting solely on coffee and homemade bread.

When I was six years old and my grandmother was in her mid-fifties, the two of us worked as a team, picking potatoes as migrant workers.

My grandmother was well educated, especially for an American Indian woman born in 1899. Although money was extremely tight, every time she got a buffalo nickel, she put it in a can. “This is your college money,” she would say.

My grandmother died when I was a senior in high school. I was devastated. At 17, I thought my life was over. The person who believed in me and cared about me most was gone. But she had sown a seed—belief in the value of an education. And eventually her dream for me was fulfilled.

I worked my way through college cleaning animal cages. I advocated for Indian prison inmates, mentored Indian kids, and worked at the Native American Rights Fund. In 1975, I became the first American Indian to graduate from the University of Nebraska.

Today, as President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Indian College Fund, I help our country’s Native people take the most important step to controlling their destiny and improving their lives. I help them get an education.

I wanted to share my story to help inspire others. I also want to let all of you know--students, donors, tribal college faculty and staff--that I am proud and grateful to have you as a partner in this important work.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Salish Kootenai College Visit


We arrived in Missoula, Montana on Sunday May 9 on this leg of our video project. It is Mother’s Day and we headed north to Polson to set up our base camp for the next three nights on the southwest side of Flathead Lake. We were only 80 miles away but took longer than expected through the rain and stopping to take the time to capture the picturesque landscape going along roads lined with Salish and Kootenai-translated street signs leading to the reservation. Between the rustic structures surviving in the valley between the mountains to the lake that frames the land in-between, we took the time to photograph the atmosphere. Standing outside the car after trying to photograph an eagle we spotted, I am filled with awe as my senses are filled to the point that the shutter is not taking photos anymore, and I find myself looking up with sprinkles of rain tapping my head.

We finally arrive at the KwaTaqNuk Resort hotel on the lake and are greeted by the warm welcoming smile obscured by a burly mustache of Tribal Council Secretary Steve Lozar. The active tribal member and avid hockey player gave us the run-down of the reservation’s history, the present-day activities and the future of this culture-rich setting in Western Montana. Lozar addressed issues that spanned water management, the hydro-electric dam, ecology, historical treaties, claiming back tribal lands, relations with neighboring tribes, the importance of St. Ignatius hospital, energy production, economics, gaming, healthcare, SKC, the confederation of the tribes and much more useful information. He was absolutely informative to us and spoke with ease as numerous people passing by respectfully greet him or wave as they walk by.


The wind is howling and crashing the waves on this brisk, gusty morning. We wake up to the magic hour of freezing temps, only to be warmed by the dramatic light of the sunrise with Glacier National Monument way far in the horizon’s haze. Jonas, looking for more on the lake, finds his way onto an airboat vessel with Captain Dave Kluttz and a group of researchers studying the invasive plants, fish, shellfish and barnacles plaguing the body of water in the middle of the reservation. I remained on dry land planning our Monday, which started with rescheduling and weather delays.

We received a heartwarming welcome to the SKC campus, a gem of the Tribal College system dug deep under the canopy of 60-ft Ponderosa Pines in the town of Pablo (also known as Little Blackfeet, a reference to the small village of Blackfeet tribal descendants.) Lois Slater, Tracy McDonald and Alan Addison gathered our selected students for us and treated us to Indian tacos and an informal meet-and-greet for us all. We walked and toured our way through the campus and the student housing facilities. We met non-traditional students enrolled to “make themselves a better opportunity and to make (themselves) better Native American women.” We had a traditional straight powwow song performed on a hand drum for us by a Native student, a single parent who teaches children lessons in powwow and tradition while attending classes, a grandmother learning how to work on a computer, and a non-traditional college student starting with history and language to cover “basics” towards a degree. No matter what the field, the common theme among the students here is success, and success comes within and within the family. As they see the college grow within the community and course offerings expand, they believe Salish Kootenai College is a place where they can complete their dreams of accomplishment and leave with confidence, evincing pride for their school and for who they are.

After the final interviews we head towards the River Honoring ceremony at a camp 20 miles south of our location along the Flathead River. The river that brings life, power and energy to the people of these confederated tribes is lined with teepees as the days-long event receives its kick-off blessing. We took the time to talk with some of the elders, introducing ourselves, sharing stories and sharing our Think Indian shirts. The cool evening was late but we took the time to harvest every bit of that’s evening’s light; pushing every ray until we could only rely on the ambient light of dusk to guides us back to pavement through ranchland on gravel-topped dirt roads.


After a long Monday, we are up early in anticipation of the morning’s wonderful light along the lake and mountain range, only to be greeted by overcast skies and a great breakfast. This morning we go to the Tribal Council offices, located within walking distance to the school, to sign up for their twice-a-week meeting agenda for the day so we can introduce ourselves. We sign in and are introduced by Tracy within the neatly designed council chambers. It is much like any other council benches, with the exception of the towering, vaulted design. From the outside, the tall cylindrical architecture looks like a drum and inside, the pine lodge-poles tower up like tepee poles, meeting at a skylight centered directly above the aesthetic, glazed stone décor and floors that sat a stone table beneath where we spoke to the Council from our seats and microphones. We thanked the members and told them bout our video project and they responded by expressing their appreciation what we do at the College Fund and what do to make the life of Native American students better.

It is our last full day in Montana and we had a great opportunity to meet environmental scientists, chemists, counselors, student leaders and those inspiring to do so. We had a great interview with Tribal College President Dr. Joe McDonald, future educators, an aspiring nurse and single parents making the grades in advance courses while including their children with them in their extracurricular activities of school and life.

We learned that people are here to make a difference; to be themselves as they move through academia. With top-notched facilities, this place is well ahead and well on its way to bigger and better things. Many of these students we met will continue on to post-graduate studies and pursue their relative fields of interest. We wish them all the best and it was an honor to meet everyone on this trip.

We chased eagles, stopping the rental car for interesting vantage points as we headed out. Jonas and I have had some time to drive together and get to know each other more. (Jonas works at a location in Portland, Oregon, so we don’t normally have this opportunity.) We ate at strange hours and work really long days with a lot to do in a short amount of time. It was worth the effort, even with the failed attempts to photograph animals and birds that caught our eyes. I feel blessed that we did capture the essence of what makes this place special. We are now leaving, but learning, as we work to provide what we can do make a difference. Educating the mind and spirit.

To the students, staff, community, tribal members and the State of Montana--thank you for your incredible hospitality, kindness, beauty, inspiration and assistance. It was you combined with all the elements of communication, willingness and weather that all come together to make this a memorable and remarkable experience.

-Jaime Aguilar,

Monday, April 26, 2010

SIPI Commencement Ceremonies

I have been on my own since Jonas returned to Portland and I found myself on the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute campus interviewing students with my production assistant Kelly B.

The campus is quiet because classes are over, but we make time to get stories about the new head start facilities on campus(which is available for the students) and we managed to run into a few of the dedicated science students still working on their projects and research. We were fortunate enough to see and get information about the Advanced Technical Education at SIPI and talked about the latest awards and breakthroughs with Dr. Nader Vadiee, as he gave alumni tours and demonstrations at the new Science and Technology building. They are really into the practicum learning in renewable energies here, but that is a totally different blog item/story to be told soon.

My best time was sitting in on graduation rehearsal and the actual graduation ceremonies on Friday. There was a meet and greet in the Hogan located on campus prior to commencement that had staff, administration, state/tribal/and national government leaders, parents and a hummingbird seemingly trapped in the rafters above. Someone mentioned that in Navajo philosophy the hummingbird is there to ease the mind and clear our thoughts. It was clear these students we were celebrating and sending off to the real world worked hard and finished their degrees with the hopes and visions to continue their educations at 4-year colleges or go on and apply their educations to their own endeavors.

I leave you with a quick slideshow from the rehearsal and graduations day. I had a great time with a great group of students and staff. There are many hidden gems in New Mexico and SIPI is surely one of them.

The following photos are shot and produced by Jaime Aguilar, with production assistance, onsite, from Kelly B., a SIPI student from New Mexico.
The song that accompanies the photos is by Aaron Johnson (Navajo), a natural resources major, titled
"Let Those Colors Fly" written and performed on the hand-drum for the graduation ceremony.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Institute of American Indian Arts visit

We made our way from Crownpoint to Santa Fe to visit the Institute of American Indian Arts, "the nation's only fine arts college devoted solely to the artistic and cultural traditions of all American Indians." IAIA has produced many of the top names in Native art. The school is a hot bed for up and coming filmmakers and artists, but also museum archivists and lawyers.

We were welcomed by the students and staff and had an amazing day of interviews. Watch this clip of Dylan Iron Shirt telling us about his tattoo.

Dylan Iron Shirt's Tattoo from Jonas Greene on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Mexico tour continues

Hello all, a day late, but fresh from New Mexico!

Production has really increased as we wrapped up in Crownpoint on Tuesday and arrived at IAIA late Wednesday. We went right into interviews with our scheduled students during the magic hour and we were totally spent. We started early today and met new students and kept our production level up, solving problems as we encountered them while not missing a beat.

We concluded interviews from the campus in Santa Fe today, but we leave you with a flashback from our food experience as guest food critics for the culinary school at Navajo Technical College, the solar oven, some campus shots at dawn and the "man on the street" (a relative of the Martin Family-owner of the intriguing llama). Enjoy and please wish us safe travels.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Navajo Technical College


We drove in to Crownpoint late Sunday evening, dragging in the inclement weather is synonymous with the season's spring winds and cool rains. We checked into the Navajo Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center and got ready for our adventure awaiting us here in the Land of Enchantment.

Our first day of shooting started early with landscapes of the campus and a visit to the honorable Dr. Elmer Guy, Navajo Technical College president and Fund board member. He shared with us the campus' recent accomplishments, including the two-year college's success and the recent AIHEC conference competitions. This building houses the financial aid, president's office and other tribal entities, and it is properly named the Empowerment Building. Here, we met some of our contacts including Tom Davis, Dean of Instruction.

Mr. Davis has an unique experience in the tribal college system with a resumé that includes helping found the College of Menominee nation and assisting Dr. Robert Martin in rejuvenating the academic accreditation of Tohono O'odham Community College in Arizona. Currently, he evinces the knowledge of the programs here on campus and fittingly so. He gave us a brief, fulfilling tour of the campus' highlighted programs. With a thorough knowledge of every classroom we walked into, we were fortunate to get Martin's experienced viewpoint of this unique oasis of technology instruction that is beyond many four-year mainstream colleges in the setting of a small tribal college on the Navajo Nation reservation.

After all, how many times do you come across a server that has 256 gigabytes of RAM and sophisticated scanner technology that can scan and "print" a 3-D model or create a virtual rendering of a cave that you can fly through with the aid of red and blues paper glasses? All of this is housed in a remote location without a restaurant, yet Navajo Tech does have a culinary arts program in the curriculum. We'll report and share a little more about that later, so please stay tuned.

We had time to visit with the students and faculty on campus at the library, at the bus stop, around the dorms, in the dining hall and Jaime even managed to play some hoops in the multi-purpose room of the dining facility late Monday evening. The skies have been overcast and occasionally sending down a few drops of moisture, but it has been a great, welcoming trip so far.
Being here and seeing/hearing the stories first-hand has really given us an idea of an education experience for Native students can really be at a tribal college. As we move further along on this adventure on reservations and tribal college campuses, we can only hope for more great students to interview and encounter(the more the merrier if you have any suggestions at SIPI, IAIA, Salish, OLC, Sinte Gleska, NWIC, or College of Menominee Nation, let us know in the comments section of this blog). Time will tell if the weather wants to cooperate a little more with our mission, too. So long, until Santa Fe. Please enjoy the Vlog, video blog, we put together for you.

Visiting Navajo Technical College 2010 from Jonas Greene on Vimeo.


Monday, April 19, 2010

American Indian College Fund to Film Video at Tribal Colleges

The Public Education team of the American Indian College Fund is on the road, filming students at tribal colleges and universities. Students at Tohono O'odham Community College, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic University, Navajo Technical College, Institute of American Indian Arts, Northwest Indian College, Oglala Lakota College, Sinte Gleska University, and College of Menominee Nation will be filmed.

Jonas Greene (Laguna Pueblo) and Jaime Aguilar will be on the road with the students, and will be doing the videography and the still photography. Jaime and Jonas will be sharing some of their experiences and conversations with students, faculty, and staff at the tribal colleges here on the blog in the coming weeks.

Join us for a special behind-the-scenes look at Indian Country as seen through the eyes of Jonas and Jaime!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Remembering Minnie Two Shoes

On April 9, the journalism world lost a fine journalist, activist, and teacher. Minnie Two Shoes (Assiniboine from the Ft. Peck reservation in Montana) passed on. She was a founder of the Native American Journalist Association, tireless teacher, journalist, and activist. Godspeed, Minnie.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wilma Mankiller Passes On

Our sympathies and best wishes go out to the friends and family of Wilma Mankiller, who passed on from cancer this week. Mankiller was an author, lecturer and former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. She served 12 years in elected office at the Cherokee Nation, the first two as Deputy Principal Chief followed by 10 years as Principal Chief. She retired from public office in 1995. Among her many honors, Mankiller was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton.

Her roots were in the rural community of Mankiller Flats in Adair County, Oklahoma where she spent most of her life. She was born in 1945 at Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah, and grew up with few amenities. At age 10, her family moved to San Francisco as part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Relocation Program where she lived for two decades before returning to Oklahoma in 1977.

Mankiller was the founding director of the Cherokee Nation Community Development Department, which received several national awards for innovative use of self-help in housing and water projects in low-income Cherokee communities. In 1983, she was elected the first female deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation, and president of the tribal council. In l987, she was elected to serve as the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, and was overwhelmingly re-elected in 1991. She chose not to seek re-election in l995.

During Mankiller's tenure she met with Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton to present critical tribal issues, and she and Navajo Nation President Peterson Zah co-chaired a national conference between tribal leaders and cabinet members which helped facilitate the establishment of an Office of Indian Justice within the U.S. Department of Justice. Her tenure was also marked by a great deal of new development, including several new free-standing health clinics, an $11 million Job Corps Center, and greatly expanded services for children and youth. She led the team that developed the core businesses which comprise Cherokee Nation Enterprises.

She has been honored with many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She has published several works, including Every Day is a Good Day, Fulcrum Publishing 2004, Mankiller: A Chief and Her People, co-authored, St. Martin's Press 1993, A Reader's Companion to the History of Women in the U.S., co-edited, Houghton-Mifflin 1998. She has also contributed to other publications, including an essay for Native Universe, the inaugural publication of the National Museum of the American Indian. Wilma Mankiller lived on the Mankiller family allotment in the Cherokee Nation with her husband, Charlie Soap.

Mankiller served on several philanthropic boards, including 12 years on the board of trustees of the Ford Foundation, four years on the Board of the Ms. Foundation for Women, and four years on the board of the Seventh Generation Fund. She current serves on the board of the Freedom Forum and as well as its subsidiary, the Newseum, a $400 million museum of the news being constructed on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. to promote the First Amendment. She served as a member of the external Diversity Advisory Council for Merrill Lynch. She presented more than 100 lectures on the challenges facing Native Americans and women in the 21st century. She served as the Wayne Morse Professor at the University of Oregon for the fall semester, 2005 where she and Dr. Rennard Strickland taught a class on tribal government, law and life.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Coca-Cola First Generation Scholars Honored

Making the transition to college is hard for anyone, but when a student is a first-generation college student, the transition is even more difficult, because they do not have the family resources to help guide them through the process.

The Coca-Cola Foundation is helping to ease that transition for first-generation scholars through its first-generation scholarship program, which provided 46 scholarships to American Indian students for the academic year 2009-10. The scholarships are for the amount of $5,000 a year and they follow the student throughout their academic career if they maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or above.

For a list of scholarship recipients and their schools as well as a slide show of a banquet honoring the Coca-Cola First Generation Scholars in Chandler, Arizona, click here.

Congratulations to Our Tribal College Students of the Year and Dr. Robert Martin

Thirty-three tribal college students were honored at the AIHEC Student Conference in Chandler, Arizona for their achievements as being named Students of the Year.

In addition, Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee), president of the Insitute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was honored with the Fund's Tribal College President Award.

Congratulations to all of you for your hard work and outstanding achievements!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Heart Behind the Oval Scholarship Contest

Ford Motor Company Fund strongly supports higher education and community outreach. On March 15, 2010, we are launching a scholarship contest awarding three scholarships to students who are focusing on their academic careers and their communities.

The Heart Behind the Oval scholarship contest is open to high school seniors and current college students enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university by September 30, 2010. The contest asks a simple question: what is your heart behind? We want to hear what students are doing to make a positive impact in their communities. The first place prizewinner will receive a $3,000 scholarship, second place a $2,000 scholarship and third place a $1,000 scholarship.

Essays will be accepted from March 15 to April 9, 2010 online at Ten semi-finalists will be selected to win an ULTRA HD FLIP Cam for their outstanding efforts. The semi-finalists will then use their new FLIP Cam to produce a 3-minute video illustrating their essay. The videos will be posted to for public voting May 10 – 14, 2010. The public votes combined with the judging panel will determine the scholarship winners. Winners will be announced on May 17, 2010.

We Need Your Help
Help us recognize the students making a difference in your community by spreading word of the Heart Behind the Oval scholarship contest. The contest Official Rules are available online now at Eligible students may register and submit their essay online in two easy steps.

To help interested students get started with their essay submission, ask them to consider the following questions:
What are you doing to make a positive impact in your community?
Why is your heart behind this cause/charity/organization?
How long have you been involved with this cause/charity/organization?
What made you get involved?
What is your goal or future hope for this cause/charity/organization?

If you have any questions or need additional information please contact Laine Gordon at 313.203.7102 or

Thank you for helping Ford Motor Company Fund recognize and award such outstanding students.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Native STEM Students Thinking Indian

This week I have been made proud by a tribal college student and graduate in the STEM fields that are Thinking Indian.

Marie, a second-year student at Leech Lake Tribal College in Minnesota in liberal studies with a STEM emphasis, was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as one of its 105 best and brightest interns and fellows for the NASA Student Ambassador Program. During a 10-week internship with NASA, Marie produced maps that showed where heritage sites have been found and surveyed and what areas were in need of survey. Marie wants to be a math teacher on her reservation to encourage other Natives to pursue the STEM fields. Check out Marie's profile.

Melinda is a 2008 Haskell Indian nations University graduate and a graduate student in the Department of Botany and Plant Psychology at Purdue University in Indiana. Melinda is passionate about her research, and is studying how to incorporate pre-Colombian tribal soil practices to restore degraded soils in North America.

Our American Indian students continue to show that American Indian practices and traditions are science, and can be used to protect and preserve our water, land and air resources. As Melinda says, "Traditional ecological knowledge in the U.S. can be used to grow crops, reduce carbon emissions, and more!"

Now that is "thinking Indian!"

Monday, February 15, 2010

President's Day

I thought I would take the opportunity this President's Day to reflect on what it means to be a good leader. Although this holiday was established to celebrate United States presidents, I would like to honor American Indian tribal presidents and chairpeople and tribal college presidents who serve in important leadership roles throughout Indian Country.

These people are doing the tough work of building communities and tribes while also looking seven generations into the future. They embody the American Indian attributes of leadership, including respect, responsibility, reciprocity, relationships, and reasoning.

In addition, I have compiled an additional list of important leadership attributes in fundraising. What are your thoughts?

1. Motivational
2. Role model
3. Listener
4. Models the organization’s values
5. Good personal values
6. Selfless
7. Trustworthy
8. Integrity
9. Risk-taker
10. Mobilizes people into action
11. Passionate about the mission
12. Does whatever it takes
13. Communicator
14. Admits mistakes
15. Problem-solver
16. Humble
17. Thick-skinned
18. Tireless hard worker
19. Critical thinker
20. Flexible
21. Wise
22. Visionary
23. Willing to grow
24. Helps people do things by themselves
25. Plans for succession
26. Believes in the goodness of people
27. Willing to make hard decisions
28. Understands budgets and finance
29. Understands organizational management
30. Planning skills
31. Knows the details but sees the big picture
32. Great fundraiser
33. Personable and connects with people

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Call for Contributors

In the next few months, we will be revamping this blog to reflect the voices of our students, our tribal college communities, and American Indian communities from across the country. We are seeking contributors that are Native professors, teachers, community members, and students.

In addition to contributors from the United States, we welcome points of view from Native communities from around the world.

We look forward to hearing your perspective on Native education, cultural and language preservation, and other issues affecting Native communities.

For more information, please contact Dina Horwedel at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ft. Lewis Tuition Waiver

We have been receiving calls and questions about the Ft. Lewis College (located in Durango, Colorado) tuition waiver and its history in the wake of a proposed bill that would strip $1.8 million from Fort Lewis College's budget. House Bill 10-1067, sponsored by Karen Middleton, D-Aurora, would reduce the per-student amount the state reimburses the school for out-of-state Indian students. Middleton said the bill’s passage would have no impact on the promise to educate American Indians free of charge.

The Ft. Lewis tuition waiver is not a result of a treaty, as many have quoted, but rather is the result of the following unique history.

In 1910 the U.S. government deeded to the state of Colorado the property then known as the “Fort Lewis School” with the stipulation as condition of the grant that Indian students would be admitted free of charge and on equity with white students. The educational opportunities for Indian students have been maintained by the college and the state of Colorado since then based on federal and state agreements and court decisions.

In 1971 the Colorado General Assembly sought to restrict granting of free tuition at Ft. Lewis College to American Indians who were otherwise unable to pay. The U.S. government filed an action in U.S. District Court on behalf of Indian students at Ft. Lewis, and the court struck down the legislation, stating it was a breach of the state’s original contractual obligation to American Indians created by the Act of 1910, and that under the contract the state had undertaken the obligation to admit ALL Indian students tuition-free to Ft. Lewis who were otherwise qualified to attend. The U.S. Court of Appeals (10th Circuit) affirmed the District Court’s decision in 1972 that there is a contractual obligation between Indian pupils and Colorado.

In 2008 one in five students was American Indian at Ft. Lewis College.

The Michigan legislature has enacted legislation that provides free tuition for American Indian students who are residents of Michigan to selected higher education institutions. Please see the Michigan Inter-Tribal Council site for more details.

Finally, two Bureau of Indian Affairs Schools, the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, a two-year school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas also offer American Indian students free tuition, although students do pay fees.

Proof of tribal enrollment is required for these programs.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Intellectual Capital in Indian Country

This past week we spent two days hearing about the projects that the tribal colleges have been implementing over the past year for the Woksape Oyate Wisdom of the People project.

Programs have been designed for growing their own college faculty and staff; preserving and teaching tribal languages and culture not just amongst the tribal members, but serving as a resource for state curriculum; learning centers that teach not just study skills but leadership and management; and public administration degrees that meet the needs of both the tribal communities and surrounding state and counties.

The project is in its first year of implementation after a year of planning, but already the results have been remarkable. Tribal colleges are building stronger institutions, stronger and more confident students, and are serving their communities in ways that they never have before--all the while building their expertise and standing not just in the Native community, but in their counties, regions, states, and academia.

Read more about the tribal colleges' Woksape Oyate projects or share your ideas for Thinking Indian and preserving intellectual capital by posting a comment here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year from the American Indian College Fund

As 2010 begins, we at the Fund wish all good things and every success for our supporters and our students.

Without our supporters, our students could not go on to achieve the astounding successes that they have over the past 20 years. And our students are our future in Indian Country--without them we would not be able to continue our lifeways, our culture.

We are thrilled to be part of the journey of both of our supporters and our students. Godspeed for a wonderful new year!