The First Tribal College—Diné College

Nov 9, 2011 | Blog, Inside the College Fund, Native American Heritage Month

First class of baccalaureate graduates of Dine College
First class of baccalaureate graduates of Dine College

First class of baccalaureate graduates of Dine College, which marked its 30th Anniversary in 1998 as the oldest tribal college. Graduation day May 15, 1998. photo John Running

?The first tribal college was Diné College, located in Tsaile, Arizona, was founded by the Navajo Nation as Navajo Community College in 1968 to educate its young people who are residents of the 26,000 square-mile Navajo Nation which is spread over Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, while steeping them in their language, culture, and traditions.

Photo of Library at Diné College, located in Tsaile, Arizona

The library at Diné College, located in Tsaile, Arizona

Today Diné College has two main campuses and six community centers serving approximately 2,000 students. The mission of Diné College is to apply the Sá’ah Naagháí Bik’eh Hózhóón principles to advance quality student learning through Nitsáhákees (Thinking), Nahatá (Planning), Iiná (Living) and Siih Hasin (Assuring).


Karen King

Karen King

Karen King is a nursing student and United Health Foundation Tribal Scholar at Diné College. “It is a wonderful school where they instill culture and welcome our people. You can learn at your pace, taking education one step at a time. Once those doors opened for me I saw there is no end to how far you can go,” said Karen, who plans to get her master’s degree in nursing and work in pediatric oncology.

The Navajo people led the way. Today the American Indian College Fund supports 33 accredited tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). Tribal colleges must be tribally chartered, have a majority of American Indians serving on their boards, and a majority of students (51%) must be American Indian citizens. Tribal colleges also provide much-needed services to entire American Indian communities, often serving as the community hub for their people.

To learn more about Diné College or the nation’s other 32 tribal colleges, visit our Tribal College Listings on our website.


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