Tribal colleges aim for equity in funding
New book is evidence of their role in Native language revitalization.
WASHINGTON — Look for Cynthia Lindquist, president of Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC), and other tribal education advocates to testify on July 19 before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor to help legislators learn more about tribal colleges and universities.
“There is no specific or new legislation pending, but we are trying to get equity for our funding,” Lindquist tells Indigenous Wire.
Tribal colleges often receive less funding in comparison to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as well Hispanic Serving Institutions, according to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). There are 37 tribal colleges in the U.S. serving approximately 160k students.
“Through the Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities Assistance Act (TCCUA), most TCUs received $8,303 per Indian Student for academic year 2020-21 for basic institutional operations,” AIHEC wrote in a recent fiscal year 2022 information packet.
“It has taken over 42 years to come within reach of achieving the Congressionally authorized funding level of $9,937* per Indian Student (*$8,000 adjusted for inflation). We ask Congress to step toward adequately funding these deserving — and historically underfunded — TRIBAL institutions of higher education.”
The push for fair funding comes as Lindquist’s own college is releasing a new book this month called Mniwakan: Place Names and History of the Spirit Lake Dakota, which is meant to be a tribute to the Spirit Lake Tribe's traditional language and oral history.
Many federal policymakers have expressed support in recent times for Indigenous language development.
“The publication is critical to the work of education and particularly for Native students and tribal communities,” Lindquist tells Indigenous Wire. “Like most communities, we have suffered many losses due to the pandemic that includes our cultural knowledge keepers and Dakota speakers.”
“We are not visiting our relatives like we use to nor do we hear fluent Dakota conversations in everyday life,” she adds. “Life’s lessons, histories, and tribal values that are embedded in language and cultural teachings, must be maintained and taught using new mediums — print, video, social media, etc.”
“CCCCs new publication is an attempt to capture stories of places, people, and events of the Mni Wakan Oyate (Spirit Lake People) so that we always have a resource for teaching and learning.”
Federal policymakers may wish to pick up a copy as they ponder future funding for tribal colleges, and their importance in supporting Native language revitalization, Lindquist says.
More information about Cankdeska Cikana Community College and the upcoming book release is available at www.littlehoop.edu.
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