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Tribal Colleges and Universities

Tribal colleges and universities provide dynamic higher education opportunities, most on or near reservation lands. Known for their remarkable programs, culturally-relevant curricula, and familial student care – tribal colleges allow students to further their careers, attain an advanced degree, or better support their communities.

News & Events

May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust Partners with American Indian College Fund to Support Native Student Veterans

May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust Partners with American Indian College Fund to Support Native Student Veterans

Fellowship program will support the success of Native student veterans at TCUs

May 17 2024, Denver, Colo.— The American Indian College Fund (College Fund) has received a $50,000 grant from the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust to implement a six-month fellowship focused on empowering Native student veterans to success. The Naabaahii Ółta’í (Student Warrior): Native Student Veterans Peer-to-Peer Program is a mentorship opportunity that builds relationships between veterans based upon their shared experiences.

The Native Student Fellows will collaborate to develop and implement a community-based project that will support the overall health and wellness of their TCUs and communities. This opportunity will help the participating Native student veterans discover how to best fill their roles both on and off campus. Each TCU involved in the project will receive $9,000 to support programmatic efforts.

American Indian College Fund President and CEO, Cheryl Crazy Bull, said, “We appreciate being able to honor the Native men and women who support our country through military service. The Naabaahii Ółta’í (Student Warrior): Native Student Veterans Peer-to-Peer Program allows fellows to use the skills learned in the armed forces to take up mantles of leadership in a new way on tribal college campuses and in their home communities.”

Both of the selected Native Student Fellows, Cynthia Jones and Tori Benally, shared their thoughts on the importance of this program. Jones said, “As an Indigenous Female Veteran, I have endured many challenges that have come before me, the voices of my ancestors through their songs and prayers have bestowed upon me, I now can see myself as a leader of my family and community.”

Benally added, “Being a part of this scholarship, has taught me how to become a leader as a woman. To stay ahead and to be prepared to help give an experience of knowledge to those who need it. Mental health is a mental crisis that’s often overlooked. Knowing there is help is what our culture needs, being involved to provide guidance is the best felling ever.”

About the American Indian College Fund The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 34 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $17.4 million in scholarships and other direct student support to American Indian students in 2022-23. Since its founding in 1989 the College Fund has provided more than $319 million in scholarships, programs, community, and tribal college support. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org.

JournalistsThe American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund.

American Indian College Fund Launches “Make Native Voices Heard” Voting Campaign

American Indian College Fund Launches “Make Native Voices Heard” Voting Campaign

Campaign shares stories of why Native votes matter and how to register

May 14, 2024, Denver, Colo.— Native Americans are more impacted by the law than any other group in the United States. Native students in higher education, or seeking a higher education, in particular are impacted by federal and state laws impacting funding for education, such as Pell Grants, student loans, and federal funding for tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), 70% of which comes from federal sources. To ensure Native students, community members, and their allies are represented and heard at all levels of government, the American Indian College Fund (College Fund) is launching its “Make Native Voice Heard—Vote!” campaign to encourage Native people to register and vote on Tuesday, November 5.

In addition to ensuring Native voices are heard with regard to higher education, voting also gives Indigenous communities representation within laws and policies that guide Native nations, including housing, health care, early childhood education, energy programs, and reservation infrastructure. Other critical issues such as the high rate of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, environmental protections, and economic development in the balance, Native voices need to be heard at every level of government.

One hundred years ago on June 2, the U.S. government unilaterally extended U.S. citizenship to Native Americans with the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act. As dual citizens of their Tribal Nations and the United States, members of federally recognized tribes have the right to register and participate in both non-Tribal (federal, state, and local) elections and Tribal elections to decide who should represent them.

Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said, “Native people were often deterred from exercising that right, and continually litigated for that right to be honored. Only in 1958, 38 years after the Indian Citizenship Act, did Native voters participate in elections in all 50 states. By voting in tribal, local, state, and national elections, Native people exercise their legal right to vote and honor the ancestors that fought for it, while ensuring we have a say in our futures as Native people and sovereign Nations.”

To make Native voices heard and exercise the right to vote, every Native citizen must register to do so in their state of permanent residence. The College Fund’s Make Native Voices Heard web page shares information on how to register to vote in every state at https://collegefund.org/vote/register/.

As part of the campaign, the College Fund will also share information about how to make a voting plan and ways voting impacts Native communities in big ways. Native students, tribal college presidents, faculty, and staff and others are also invited to share their reasons for voting and voting plan in blogs and videos at https://collegefund.org/vote/. It is also offering $500 awards to TCU students who are leading voter education events.

For more information on how to submit a blog or video, grants for voter education events, and to follow the campaign, visit https://collegefund.org/vote/ or follow the College Fund on Facebook at American Indian College Fund and Native Pathways.

The campaign will run from now through early November.

About the American Indian College Fund The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 34 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $17.4 million in scholarships and other direct student support to American Indian students in 2022-23. Since its founding in 1989 the College Fund has provided more than $319 million in scholarships, programs, community, and tribal college support. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org.

JournalistsThe American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund.

Support for Native People in Higher Education Includes Permitting Sharing of Tribal Affiliations

When John Little, a member of the Standing Rock Lakota Nation and the director of Native recruitment and alumni engagement at the University of South Dakota, used his tribal affiliation and his gender pronouns in an email signature, he was told to remove them.

The reason? Little was told he was in violation of the Board of Regents Policy 1.7.6 concerning communications and branding. He was told the policy was enacted to “create standards and expectations for institutional communications and brand management to preserve and protect a cohesive message and image.”

Support for Native People in Higher Includes Permitting Sharing of Tribal Affiliations - Board of Regents Policy 1.7.6 concerning communications and branding.Megan Red Shirt-Shaw, a member of the Oglala na Sicangu Lakota and director of Native Student Services, shared on Instagram she was also told she was in violation of the Regents’ policy for including her tribal affiliation on her email signature.

The Board of Regents oversees the University of South Dakota and five other state higher education institutions in that state. Employees who fail to comply with the new policy face the possibility of discipline, suspension, or termination for noncompliance, despite the fact that gender pronouns and tribal affiliations are not specifically mentioned in the policy.

Cheryl Crazy Bull, Sicangu Lakota and President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, and a graduate of the University of South Dakota (USD) and South Dakota State University, says the action is troubling because it represents the lack of systemic support for Native students, faculty, and staff in mainstream higher education institutions. Crazy Bull shared she has appreciated that USD, through the leadership of both Little and Red Shirt-Shaw and other Native advocates, had maintained a clear commitment to honoring and supporting Native students and alumni through a variety of activities, including both on-campus and off-campus events.

Having Native identities, voices, cultures, and perspectives recognized and respected in the same manner as any other group is important to Indigenous student, faculty, and staff success in higher education.

The American Indian College Fund asks its allies to stand with Native faculty, staff, and administrators to include their tribal affiliations and identities (or other cultural identities if non-Native), and gender pronouns in their e-mail signatures as a sign of support.

The newest higher ed battleground: college email signatures

In South Dakota, administrators faced retribution for including their tribal affiliation: https://mile-markers.beehiiv.com/p/newest-higher-ed-battleground-college-email-signatures