The College Fund and Adolph Coors Foundation Honor Tribal College President and Native Students

Mar 18, 2016 | Blog


The College Fund and Adolph Coors Foundation Honor Tribal College President and Native Students

March 18, 2016

The American Indian College Fund honored American Indian scholarship recipients at its 2015-16 Student of the Year reception at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium Student Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The program, sponsored by the Adolph Coors Foundation, awarded each honoree a $1,000 scholarship. The program also honors a faculty or staff member at a tribal college and university for their leadership who has made a positive and lasting impact on the tribal college movement.

Dr. David Yarlott Jr., President of Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency, Montana, received the 2016 American Indian College Fund Tribal College Honoree of the Year award for his contributions in education that have made a positive and lasting impact on the tribal college movement.

Dr.Yarlott’s tribal college career began unexpectedly with a visit to Little Big Horn College to see the changes being made in the buildings on the campus while he was in Bozeman at graduate school, where he was working on his doctorate degree. During the visit, the then-academic dean mentioned to him that the business instructor was leaving and the school needed a replacement. Dr. Yarlott said he mentioned the opportunity to his academic advisor while they were playing a game of basketball when returned to campus. “My advisor asked me, “Well, isn’t that what you want to do, to return and help your people?’” Dr. Yarlott said. His advisor suggested that he try the position for a year, and if he didn’t like it, he could do something else.

“So on December 28 of that year I accepted the position on January ,1 New Year’s Day, when it was 20 degrees below zero’, I was moving,” Dr. Yarlott said. He taught for 1 ½ years before applying for the position of academic dean when that opened. Then, in 2002, he was selected to be president of the college.

Yet Dr. Yarlott wasn’t always sure that being a tribal college president was his path. He was asked to take the position initially by the Little Big Hoorn College Board of Trustees, but he refused. They hired an acting interim president for 18 months. “Many people asked me to apply, but I refused. In the summers I worked for the Crow tribe developing natural resources. On a Sunday morning that summer I was eating breakfast when some students knocked on my door. They pleaded with me to take the position. I wouldn’t take the position when anyone else asked me, but when the students asked me, I couldn’t refuse. Later that summer, on July 31, I was en route to Kananaskis, Canada for my first meeting as president.”

During Dr. Yarlott’s tenure the campus has undergone a major transformation that includes the addition of a state-of-the-art library, administration building, and health and wellness center, all incorporating green technology so that the school is “kinder to the earth.” Dr. Yarlott’s knowledge of land grant program strategies was an example to the entire tribal college movement system.

Dr. Yarlott’s lifelong love of sports played a significant role in both his life and the success of his college and tribal college sports. He says the act of working on a team taught him humility. He was the Little Big Horn College activities director in basketball, which lead to being named to the role as a founding leader of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium Athletic Commission, where he worked to drive the growth of sports in the tribal colleges. His hard work and dedication to inter-tribal sports led to his nomination on the advisory board of the World Indigenous Games by fellow tribal college president Carole Falcon Chandler of Aaniiih Nakoda College.

In the fall of 2015 Dr. Yarlott traveled to Brazil with the first U.S. delegation of tribal college students to participate in the first-ever World Indigenous games, an experience he says they will not soon forget. The students enjoyed the opportunity to immerse themselves in learning about indigenous people there from all over the world. Dr. Yarlott says he was honored to have been part of the event and the electricity in the air from the excitement was palpable. “I told the students that now they are part of history. There will never be another first,” he said.

The following students were also named 2015-2016 students of the year by their tribal colleges and the American Indian College Fund:


Kaye Brown Aaniih Nakoda College Allied Health

Janelle Clement Bay Mills Community College Business Administration

Terrance LaFromboise Blackfeet Community College Behavioral Health

Tia Fox Cankdeska Cikana Community College Business Administration

Troy Bearcomesout Chief Dull Knife College General Studies

Felisha Adams Dine College Business Administration

Warren Mountain Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community Coll. General Studies

Elise Akers Fort Peck Community College General Studies

Cherica Eckiwaudah Haskell Indian Nations University Business Management

Ron Martinez Institute of American Indian Arts Indigenous Liberal Studies

Jillian Felder Ilisagvik College Liberal Arts

Jolene DeCota Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community Coll. Early Childhood Education

Shannel Reynolds Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Comm. Coll. Early Childhood Education

Michelle Marion Leech Lake Tribal College Indigenous Leadership

Joire Chavez Little Big Horn College Mathematics

Alexandra Cleveland Little Priest Tribal College Interdisciplinary Studies

Sally Hill College of Menominee Nation Business Administration

Zelma Wind College of Muscogee Nation Language Studies

Christina Coffman Nebraska Indian Comm. College Early Childhood Education

Jayvion Chee Navajo Technical University Geographic Info. Tech

Tammy Hammer Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College Native American Studies

David Miramontez Northwest Indian College Tribal Governance and

Business Management

Tada Vargas Oglala Lakota College Natural Science

Rachel Bailey Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College Liberal Arts

Natasha LaRose Salish Kootenai College Tribal Historic Preserv.

Maegan Spotted Elk Sinte Gleska University Fine Arts

Samuel Smith Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Inst. Pre-Engineering

Jeremy Red Eagle Sisseton Wahpeton College Dakota Studies –

Language Teaching Cert.

Breanne Luger Sitting Bull College Business Administration

Jade Yazzie Stone Child Community College Allied Health

Mary Alice Lopez Tohono O’odham Community College Social Services

AnnMarie DeCoteau Turtle Mountain Community College Nursing

Joshua Chavez United Tribes Technical College Welding Technology

Kimberly Bjerk White Earth Community College Early Childhood Education


See Photos From the Event

2016 Coke SOY Banquet

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