It may seem like the tried and true thing to write about as we approach Valentine’s Day, but the advice is as true today as it is any other time of the year: when it comes to the future, we must follow our hearts.
Many American Indian students’ hearts are at home, where their families are, where their history is, and where they envision their future. Often in my travels on behalf of the American Indian College Fund, non-Natives ask me why our people want to stay on the rez. They believe “assimilating” is the most productive way to be part of society.
But the reality is that Indian country is home for many of our students. It is difficult to leave home, and indeed, not just financially. Our connection to the past is at home, and our connection to our people, and our connection to our future.
The beauty of attending a tribal college is that students don’t have to leave their culture or their homes to get a first-rate education. They can attend a tribal college on or near the reservation, while attending to the needs of their families, and remaining home. And best of all, tribal college graduates can remain home putting their education to use, and making a difference in the future of their families, their communities, and their people. Without educated future leaders, staying home on the rez will be difficult. Thanks to the education that a tribal college education can provide us in Indian country, our homes are our futures.
Tribal colleges are proving that not only home, but our future, is where the heart is.