Tribal college presidents and our central office staff along with colleagues from our institutions gathered this week on the Standing Rock Nation at our annual summer retreat. This is a time when we discuss important priorities of the colleges that we don’t get to spend as much time on during our other gatherings. A special treat this time was a number of activities hosted by Sitting Bull College that focused on the place-based, cultural knowledge present among the people here.
This is an important time for the tribal colleges as we prepare to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, AIHEC. We are privileged to still have among us founders not only of the tribal colleges and universities but also of AIHEC. AIHEC represents the vision we have as tribal people and college leaders of an organization that successfully advocates on our behalf, bringing resources and partnerships to the capacity building necessary to our prosperity. The accomplishments of AIHEC are many and varied, from federal legislation to education partnerships at the national and international level to leadership development and student programming.
Our long time leaders like Lionel Bordeaux and Dave Gipp remind us that we as tribal institutions have overcome tremendous obstacles and challenges through our ability to navigate our diversity and negotiate our different interests. Our strength is in our collective vision of prosperous tribal nations rooted in our traditions and teachings and committed to our indigenousness and sovereignty.
We remember that we do sacred work, the education of our people. We were reminded through words and songs of encouragement that our work takes courage. Our students teach us many lessons not the least of which is the power of our shared experiences and our kinship with each other.
Remember what you know about the tribal colleges and universities in this country and beyond, remember those who prepared the path for us to walk on through their vision and hard work, remember all the students who tried and all those who have been successful, remember that we do work for our future generations.
Celebrate the tribal colleges and AIHEC everyday but especially this year.