January 15, 2013
|President Russell Mason, Jr. of the Fort Berthold Community College (FBCC) joined other presidents last Thursday, January 10, in a collaborative effort to showcase the five tribal colleges of North Dakota (ND) at the State Capitol in Bismarck.
For the past several years, the ND State Legislature has extended a respectful invitation to ND Tribal Chairmen to offer what has become the State of the Tribal-State Relationship Address. The testimony takes place at the beginning of every legislative session, and often includes a list of shared concerns from the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Spirit Lake Sioux Nation, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
This year’s address was presented by Chairman Richard McCloud of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, with the theme of imagining a state with improved economic development, higher quality of learning, and expanding workforce development initiatives on reservations.
Chairman McCloud invited the North Dakota Association of Tribal Colleges (NDATC) to participate in the Tribal-State Relationship day activities. The Great Hall of the Bismarck State Capitol was buzzing with legislators, tribal leaders, and everyday citizens as they stopped to visit the informational and recruitment booths of the Fort Berthold Community College, Turtle Mountain Community College, Cankdeska Cikana Community College, United Tribes Technical College, and Sitting Bull College.
North Dakota is one of few states in the United States to share such a unique friendship and understanding with the tribal nations of their state.
Chairman McCloud stated, “While other states are floundering in debts and deficits, North Dakota has a balanced budget.”
“While Washington DC is trying to deal with a 16 TRILLION dollar debt, North Dakota has stashed away surplus funds for rainy days. This stable and flourishing economy, especially the conditions and strategies that made it possible, is what we need on our reservations.”
McCloud said, “It is our fundamental obligation as leaders to ensure the children in our communities have the best possible education, promoting life-long skills that are competitive in society.”
NDATC will be presenting a special bill to the State Legislature later this month to fund a two-year initiative focusing on workforce development. McCloud added, “Our education system needs to equip our students to thrive in the global economy, and most importantly, it needs to promote a safe and healthy environment for every student.”
“If our prosperous State cannot find it in its heart to invest in economic development, affordable quality housing, an effective health-care system, and in assistance in developing high quality educational systems on our reservations, then our imagination is not developed and we rob our children of theirs.” McCloud concluded, “Imagine what we can do if we work together.”