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Woksape Oyate

Woksape_Oyate.jpgHistoric $17.5 Million Grant from Lilly Endowment to Build Intellectual Capacity at Tribal Colleges

The American Indian College Fund announced a historic grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. in February of 2007. The five-year, $17.5 million grant initiative, named Woksape Oyate, Lakota for "Wisdom of the People," aims to build the intellectual capital of tribal colleges. The initiative will allow tribal colleges to tailor their programs to address their individual needs, while strengthening the entire tribal college system.

Through a multifaceted approach, Woksape Oyate will dramatically enhance recruitment, retention, and development of tribal college faculty, staff, and students. Leadership development programs, increased fellowship, and sabbatical opportunities for staff and pipeline programs to bring the best and brightest students back to teach at their tribal college will be developed during this initiative. Institutional capacity will also be enhanced by creation of development offices and recruitment of highly qualified faculty.

Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family:  J.K. Lilly-Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli, through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. The Endowment is a separate entity from the company and is devoted to education, religion and community development.

VIDEO: Woksape Oyate Project Summary


Select a school below to learn more ...
Aaniiih Nakota College
Bay Mills Community College
Blackfeet Community College
Cankdeska Cikana Community College
Chief Dull Knife College
College of Menominee Nation
Diné College
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
Fort Berthold Community College
Fort Peck Community College
Haskell Indian Nations University
Institute of American Indian Arts
Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College
Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College
Leech Lake Tribal College
Little Big Horn College
Little Priest Tribal College
Navajo Technical College
Nebraska Indian College
Northwest Indian College
Oglala Lakota College
Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College
Salish Kootenai College
Sinte Gleska University
Sisseton Wahpeton College
Sitting Bull College
Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute
Stone Child College
Tohono O'odham Community College
Turtle Mountain Community College
United Tribes Technical College
White Earth Tribal and Community College


Aaniiih Nakota College (ANC)

ANC quilt blockAaniiih Nakota College (ANC)

Identified Need

A community needs assessment found limited awareness and a lack of confidence about the quality of education ANC offered. ANC needed to strengthen its public image as an institution of higher learning, gain visibility among a variety of audiences, and increase student recruitment and enrollment.

Project Design

  • Create an Office of Institutional Outreach to lead the efforts to communicate better about the opportunities they offered.
  • Support employees to advance their educational credentials and build public confidence in its academic programs.
  • Develop a mentoring program for faculty and staff pursuing degree work would develop future leadership.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • ANC defined its intellectual capital in the beginning of the project as “who we are, what we know, and where we come from” and built on the collective talents, knowledge, and experiences of employees to attract new talent from the community and to foster campus-wide learning and leadership.
  • Targeted public relations efforts told the college’s story and substantially increased community awareness, positive perception of the college, and enrollment.
  • Advanced degrees for staff improved academic rigor, substantially increasing the institutional capacity and preparing new leaders for the future.

Project Goals and Results

Goal 1: Increase public awareness of the College
• Established new Office of Institutional Outreach
   Public relations efforts integrated throughout the campus
   300 new professional marketing materials and media stories produced and distributed
• Improved community perceptions of the College by 40% over the life of the grant
• Increased student enrollment by 40% over four semesters

Goal 2: Increase the College’s reputation for academic excellence and leadership
• Increased employee graduate degrees by 7%
• Funded 15 employees for advanced degree work
     Eleven completed; seven are tribal members
     Two bachelor’s degrees
     Seven master’s degrees
     Two doctorate degrees
     Four degrees are in progress
• Implemented mentoring and leadership development model
   seven members of the president’s executive team provided leadership training to eight junior staff and faculty

Success Story
ANCJamesFlansburg.JPGJames Flansburg and his daughter Bryar were featured in an ad campaign that highlights ANC alumni. Asked why he decided to attend ANC, James explained, “I was tired of people telling me that I needed a degree. You name it, I have probably done it. I was a boiler operator, janitor, coach, construction worker, and a bus driver.” As a single father, James wanted to lead his three daughters by example. He said, “I wanted to show them that no matter what situation you are given, you can succeed.”

James graduated from ANC in 2003 with his associate degree. He went on to Northern Montana College where he graduated with his bachelor’s in Computer Information Systems in 2006, then his master’s degree. Today, he is the eLearning Specialist at ANC. His daughter, Bryar, began attending ANC in fall 2007. She has made the President’s List every semester and is the Vice President of Beta Nu Alpha and a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

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Bay Mills Community College

Bay Mills quilt blockBay Mills Community College (BMCC) Project Summary

Identified Need

The rural setting and rugged winter climate of the BMCC community was a barrier for recruiting and retaining staff with advanced credentials and particularly recruiting Native Americans for faculty positions. Majority of employees were tribal members, but only 10% of full-time faculty and 38% of adjunct faculty were Native. BMCC saw the urgent need to develop qualified candidates from within to fill vacated roles and to prepare tribal members for teaching and higher levels of leadership.

Project Design

  • Prioritize professional development with an eye toward developing the credentials of tribal member employees.
  • Fund seven tribal employees for bachelor or master’s degrees or other advanced training in their disciplines.
  • Upgrade critical knowledge and skills in every department to improve institutional efficiency.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • BMCC defined intellectual capital as the untapped potential of their employees, and the college’s ability to “grow its own” and it wanted to attract, nurture, and retain students, staff, and faculty from the local community to develop as leaders.
  • Succeeded in developing its tribal employees and strengthened institutional processes for accountability.
  • Professional development increased academic excellence.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Enhance organizational leadership capacity through higher education for at least seven tribal member employees
• Funded 14 tribal member employees for advanced degree work
   Three additional tribal member employees funded through the College’s general fund
• Nine tribal member employees completed advanced degrees
   Four master's of science degrees
   Four bachelor’s degrees
   One associate's degree
• Five tribal member employee degrees in progress
   One doctorate in education
   One combination bachelor’s/master’s degree programs
   Two bachelor’s degrees
   One master’s degrees
• Promoted six tribal members due to increased education and qualifications
• One tribal member employee earned a bachelor’s of business administration, enrolled in a master’s program, and now teaches business courses

Goal 2: Improve job performance for faculty and staff and meet HLC accreditation requirements through training and professional development
• Twenty-five employees per grant year received training or attended professional conferences
• Twenty-two employees attended the annual HLC conference during the grant years

Success Story
BMCCDuaneBedell.JPGDuane Bedell is a Bay Mills Tribal member who will earn a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in information systems from Baker College on-line. Duane is currently the department chair for BMCC’s Computer Information Systems (CIS) program. His advanced degree will not only allow BMCC to expand current information technology (IT) course offerings, but also to meet the Higher Learning Commission requirement of master’s level credentialed instructors. In addition, the college is grooming Duane for the IT Director position, which is part of the executive team. The current IT director is non-Native and when he retires, Duane will be equipped to assume the position.

IT is integral to campus operations and continued accreditation. Duane added four new IT classes because of his advanced education. During his two years at BMCC, he implemented a computer repair program whereby students work on computers for community members, employees, and students at no cost. This program is very popular with the community and students are learning valuable hands-on lessons while doing community service.

Duane says, “It has always been a dream of mine to continue my education after I earned an A.A.S. degree in computer science. However, after several years, I started to realize my educational goals were becoming more distant due to finances. When I started work at BMCC, I learned that their Woksape Oyate program covered tuition for employees. When I discovered this program, I decided this was my opportunity to achieve my educational goals. The American Indian College Fund and Lilly Endowment have given me the incentive and motivation to continue my pursuit of obtaining a master’s degree in Information Systems, and for that I am truly grateful.”

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Blackfeet Community College

BFCC quilt blockBlackfeet Community College (BCC) Project Summary

Identified Need

Western education induced a multi-generational silence about tribal knowledge in an educational setting. Tribal leaders recognized that education would promote self-sufficiency and restore community pride in traditional wisdom and language, and BCC would be instrumental in developing educational programs to empower their people. Faculty needed advanced credentials in order to improve course rigor and to prepare for developing new baccalaureate and professional degree programs. BCC needed to address retention issues and the unique learning needs of first-year students, who came unprepared for college-level work.

Project Design

  • Provide funding for 10 employees to complete advanced degrees.
  • Launch the Blackfeet/Pikuni Center of Excellence to promote a culturally relevant learning experience.
  • Hold experiential learning seminars and language immersion activities taught by traditional elders and Blackfeet scholars.
  • Initiate learning exchanges with other universities to help elevate Blackfeet traditional wisdom as a valuable body of knowledge in higher education.
  • Provide additional academic support services to improve student retention and grades.
  • Develop partnerships with local schools to standardize learning approaches and design culturally relevant first-year success courses.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • BCC holds its intellectual capital in its academic integrity and reputation among mainstream institutions and in its capacity to develop culturally relevant curriculum and provide cultural support for faculty and students.
  • Reduced cultural oppression by creating a safe climate for tribal knowledge to emerge as its intellectual capital was, to some extent, hidden due to historical silencing of tribal wisdom.
  • BCC created pathways for advanced faculty and staff degrees.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Increase faculty academic credentials
• Twenty-five funded for advanced degree work
   Degrees completed
     Five master’s degrees in learning development
     One bachelor’s degree in education
   Degrees in progress
     Three bachelor’s degrees
     Eight master’s degrees
     One doctorate degree
     Six left employment
     One discontinued

Goal 2: Improve student retention and success in math and English
   New tutoring opportunities
     Study nights offered, using peer tutors and incentives
     Several faculty members extended office hours and offered extra help to students.
• Founded new partnership with local K-12 schools to adopt common writing strategy.
• Created “first-year experience” standard curriculum
   Added cultural readings
   Required of all first year students
• Increased math and English scores by the end of year four.

Goal 3: Increase cultural competence of faculty and staff
• Thirteen new cultural seminars
     Increased faculty confidence in integrating cultural content and resources .
• Faculty reported that cultural orientation helped them work better with Native students.

Goal 4: Promote language fluency and use across campus
• Developed 10 new conversational language booklets used in summer immersion camps and campus training   
   Six digital recordings captured elders speaking the language.
• Pikanii use increased among both Native and non-Native faculty and students.

Success Story
BCCAnneRacine.jpgAnne Racine serves as an academic enrichment services retention counselor at BCC. She completed a master’s degree in learning and development. Anne reported, “The impact [that getting a master’s degree] has had on me is profound in every aspect of my life. Professionally, I have grown and become a confident, engaged, inspired, educated person. Personally, I never dreamed that I would be here at this stage in my life.

I am a role model for my children who are in undergraduate programs, and they say how proud they are of me. In completing my master’s degree, I have a renewed sense of urgency to apply my knowledge with my peers. I am excited to engage in building the college’s image of academic excellence. I look forward to teaching, counseling, advising, administering, and, most of all, learning to make a positive impact on our students and BCC.”


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Cankdeska Cikana Community College

CCCC quilt blockCankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC) Project Summary

Identified Need

Community survey data from the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation found that the community identified Dakota language preservation as a critical focus for the college. CCCC recognized the Dakota studies and tribal administration programs as the two most important academic areas for development to meet the community’s needs. The college offered these courses on a limited basis in the past; however, enrollment and interest had dwindled. The tribal administration program had never produced a graduate, only one student had received a degree in Dakota studies, and the language courses had not been effective for producing fluent Dakota speakers.

Project Design

  • Build a new alliance among Dakota-serving tribal colleges to develop an effective language curriculum, expand the Dakota studies curriculum, and share innovative practices.
  • Update current certificate and associate degree programs and develop a new bachelor’s program in tribal administration.
  • Establish a Dakota honors program with intensive academic mentoring to increase enrollment in these programs.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • CCCC understands that intellectual capital resides in the cultural wisdom of each Dakota person as well as his or her academic credentials.
  • CCCC led a collaboration of tribal colleges and became a true center of excellence in Indigenous language preservation and revitalization.
  • Updated and expanded its Dakota studies degree program and met the community’s expectation for tribal leadership development.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Develop and implement an effective Dakota language program
• Nine alliance forums held from 2007 to 2012
• Published the language curriculum in two Dakota dialects
   Three new language courses developed with evaluation tools
   Six digital recordings of fluent elders produced
   One-hundred-and-two monthly community language programs or Wahanpi Anpetu (Soup Days)

Goal 2: Update and expand Dakota studies and tribal administration degree programs
   Reviewed and revised two degree programs
   Dakota Alliance generated new and updated course content
     Six courses revised
     Six new Dakota studies courses approved and offered
     Four-hundred and seventy-three new Dakota cultural and historical holdings added
   Online baccalaureate degree program available to graduates

Goal 3: Increase enrollment in the Dakota Studies and Tribal Administration programs
   Fifteen students enrolled in Dakota Studies and Tribal Administration majors
     Five completed associate's degree in tribal administration
     Five completed associate in Dakota studies
   Four graduates enrolled in baccalaureate programs

 Success Story
CCCCJadeFrier.jpgJade Frier is a 29-year old single mother of three children, and an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Tribe. Jade graduated in 2011 with an associate’s degree in natural resource management and Indian Studies.

Jade says, “Being a young woman with children, I knew that getting my education was valuable not only for me, but for my children. I have always had a passion for the environment and learning about my culture. As an intern for the natural resource management program, I worked in the college greenhouse and gardens on campus. I also participated in tilling of community members gardens.

 After graduation, a job opened up at the college for a community agriculture coordinator. I applied, and they hired me for the position! I have managed to incorporate my Indian studies knowledge with my new job. We try to use traditional methods with our gardening. We also identify our native plants by their scientific name and Dakota names. We research how our ancestors used them.

I am teaching my children everything I have learned, including the language. It truly opened my eyes to a new way of seeing the environment and our culture. I see how important it is to preserve it for our children and grandchildren.”

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Chief Dull Knife College

CDKCquilt blockChief Dull Knife College (CDKC) Project Summary

Identified Need
Montana passed the “Indian Education for All” statute in 1999 that required public schools to teach about Montana tribes and appointed tribal colleges to lead curriculum development. All academic programs at CDKC work to revitalize the Cheyenne language, historical knowledge, and identity devastated by federal policies and public education. CDKC needed additional resources to acquire appropriate source materials about the Northern Cheyenne it had identified. The Montana law also provided for certification of tribal language instructors who could teach in public schools without a college degree. CDKC needed to strengthen their language education programs and train more teachers to fill the openings created by the new legislation.

Project Design

  • Establish a centralized, national repository of Cheyenne historical and cultural materials that would be accessible to the college, community, public school educators, and other interested scholars.
  • Hire a historian and cultural expert to organize acquisitions, create a digital database, and provide technical assistance to those using the collection.
  • Engage the tribe and community in learning more about their history and language, making the college a more visible resource.
  • Expand Cheyenne language education offerings, and increase capacity to certify language teachers by adding an additional language instructor, and creating immersion activities where new teachers could practice their new skills.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • CDKC defined intellectual capital as the collective ability of its staff to promote and sustain Cheyenne history and language and to act as stewards of the hósêstoo’o, translated loosely as story.
  • The Cheyenne Culture Center acquired important cultural and historical resources for the nation and built a repository with a growing reputation.
  • A full-time Cheyenne language instructor bolstered interest in language revitalization among Cheyenne elders, community members, students, and staff.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Provide greater access to Northern Cheyenne history and culture through relevant resource materials and tribal partnerships
• Catalogued 3,370 items in digital sourcebook
• Archived 11,000 photographs
• Fifty students, teachers, and tribal government staff participated in archive trainings
• Two-hundred and ninety-one visitors to the Cheyenne Culture Institute, including local groups, college instructors and students, community members, and international scholars
• Seventeen culture and history presentations made to schools and community

Goal 2: Increase and promote the preservation of Cheyenne language skills throughout the Northern Cheyenne Nation
• Developed new courses
     CDKC added Cheyenne II, III, and IV, Cheyenne Writing, and Oral Traditions
• Increased enrollment in Cheyenne language courses
     Fifty-six percent increase in Cheyenne I from fall 2008 to spring 2011
     Twenty percent increase in Cheyenne II from spring 2009 to spring 2011

Supplemental Goal: Increase number of Cheyenne teachers at every level of education

  • Certified 27 instructors at Class Seven level

 Success Story
CDKC_for_human_interest_story.jpgAs community awareness of the college and its resources grew, project staff received more requests for language translation and for culture and history presentations in schools and at various community agencies.

The personnel at the Crow Agency Indian Health Service in Crow Agency, Montana, contacted the college for translation assistance with a Cheyenne elder. The hospital personnel were unable to communicate with the elderly patient who spoke only Cheyenne and did not understand English.

CDKC’s language instructor, Verda King, attended a team conference at the hospital and translated for this man. She successfully communicated his health concerns to medical team, and the man received appropriate medical care. The team also reviewed and revised the patient’s medical chart, correcting information about other medical conditions that they had previously misunderstood.

Having a Cheyenne translator not only enabled this patient to communicate his medical conditions to the hospital staff, the hospital staff also were able to assure him that they understood his concerns and were taking his best interests into consideration. The availability of a translator helped protect the dignity, health, and well-being of this Cheyenne elder. This story illustrates this project’s value in developing more Cheyenne language speakers that can ensure quality of life for community members needing assistance.

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College of Menominee Nation

CMN quilt blockCollege of Menominee Nation Project Summary

Identified Need

An unusually complex configuration of state, county, and regional governments, agencies, and business regulations surround the Menominee Nation, and they are all major employers. CMN needed to develop business and public administration degrees to prepare the workforce with the knowledge and skills necessary to traverse these complex systems. CMN found it had a strong pool of candidates from its existing associate degree graduates in liberal studies and business who wanted to advance to a bachelor’s degree.

Project Design

  • Convene an advisory board comprised of local business, tribal, and other government leaders and faculty who would guide curriculum development.
  • Review and update its associate degree in business.
  • Design, market, and implement new associate and bachelor’s degrees in public administration, with special emphasis on serving rural communities.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • CMN defined intellectual capital as the growth of a body of knowledge and the investment of that knowledge in the betterment of the college and the communities it serves.
  • Developed two baccalaureate degrees that specifically considered tribes, tribal entities, and tribal business in their development; the new programs provide higher education that students cannot attain anywhere else in the region.
  • CMN developed its infrastructure to create three new programs.
  • Course rigor improved across the academic program.
  • A supplemental grant opened the door for new online learning programs.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Implement new public administration associate and baccalaureate degree programs
• Developed and implemented associate degree program in public administration
     Developed and implemented four new associate courses
     Ten associate's degree graduates by spring 2012
• Bachelor’s degree in public administration accredited in spring 2012
     Developed and approved 17 baccalaureate courses
     New marketing initiative for the 2012-13 academic year

Goal 2: Implement a new business administration baccalaureate degree
• Bachelor’s degree in business administration accredited in spring 2012
     Developed and approved 19 new courses
     Fifty students completed the associate’s degree and are poised to enroll in the baccalaureate degree

Supplemental Goal: Increase the college’s capacity to provide online programs
• One faculty member completed a master’s certificate in e-learning/distance education
     Trained all full-time faculty on the web study system for delivery of hybrid/online courses
• Offered one baccalaureate course online beginning fall 2011
• Redesigned four lower division courses for hybrid/online delivery

Success Story
CMN_Amber_Chevalier.jpgCMN’s first graduate with an associate's degree in public administration, Amber Chevalier, tells her story: “I am an enrolled member of the Menominee Indian Tribe. I have had the unique opportunity to finish most of my education on the reservation where I reside. I attended CMN for two years to complete my degree and then I transferred to the University of Wisconsin Green Bay to pursue a baccalaureate degree. I now serve as the associate administrator of letters and science at CMN.

One of the best decisions I made was to attend CMN. Doing so has helped me to grow as a student and made me a better person for my community; I now see myself as a role model for my daughters. Not only have I gained academic skills, but I have also developed employment skills. I gained confidence in my abilities to think and plan critically, and I have realized the importance of taking advantage of opportunities and setting goals. This institution taught me how to learn from a multi-cultural perspective and gave me the skills and expertise I need to thrive in my profession. I now know exactly what I want in life and gained the knowledge I need to pursue it.”

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Diné College

Dine College quilt blockDiné College Project Summary

Identified Need

Diné College had accumulated a wealth of traditional knowledge and artifacts in its extensive collection of primary-source documents, recordings, research, and sacred objects. Many of its resources were in the Navajo language, making them inaccessible to staff, students, and community members who did not speak or read the language. Traditional healers held most of the wisdom, referred to as Diné Universe, and passed this sacred body of knowledge down through generations by oral tradition. Much of the traditional knowledge would pass away with the elders and the college president desperately wanted to find ways to preserve and integrate it appropriately into course curricula, and share it with future generations. Diné College hoped to use such materials to expand its Diné studies associate degree into a bachelor’s program and needed foundation materials for the newly accredited four-year Diné teacher education program.

Project Design

  • Provide honoraria to five elder wisdom-keepers to document specific elements of traditional knowledge that each uniquely held including history of Diné College, traditional ethnobotany, Navajo religion, Navajo culture and philosophy, and leadership.
  • Fund an editor to translate original materials from Navajo into English, interpret, analyze, and bring into usable forms existing materials in the archives.
  • Publish five textbooks, along with monographs, and curricular resources, and develop multi-media teaching tools to support instruction.
  • Leadership materials would also form the basis of a new curriculum for a summer leadership institute that the college planned to offer the community and use in staff professional development and orientation.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • Diné College defines its intellectual capital as the resources which sustain the community in any economic and psychological setting in a given time, and which have the capacity to self-replenish for generations to come.
  • The project succeeded in capturing and making available the knowledge of living wisdom-keepers.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Research, write, and publish textbooks and materials on Diné language, culture, and history using archival materials and wisdom of elders
History of Diné College
     One monograph published
Foundations of Navajo Culture and Foundations of Navajo Philosophy
     Two manuscripts revised, prepared for peer review
     Eight courses incorporated the revised materials
• Five Traditional instructional modules prepared
     Creation, mythology, and history
     Climate change
     Water issues
     Traditional food
     Traditional medicine

Azéé be Nahagha (Navajo religion) shared orally at the Summit
     The work on the manuscript is in progress
     The scholar has not decided to release the intellectual property rights

Goal 2: Develop a leadership program that supports faculty recruitment and retention
• Translated and incorporated leadership materials into course offerings
   Diné education philosophy course
     One-hundred and ninety-five students enrolled in 2010-11
     Ninety employees attended in 2010-2011
     Sessions were videotaped for future use
     Leadership ceremonial songs recorded
   Two Navajo holistic healing courses
     Sixty students enrolled, representing an increased enrollment

Success Story
DC_Avery_Denny.jpgAvery Denny is an instructor and cultural liaison with the Diné Policy Institute and the embodiment of Navajo culture. He has worked at the college for 15 years. Avery is a traditional Navajo practitioner with a colorful headband and the traditional tseyeel or tightly wrapped hair bun. Students and staff often observe him singing a traditional Navajo song as he walks the Diné College campus to deliver a lecture or maybe conduct a Navajo Shoe game during the winter months.

Avery has spent his life “walking the walk and talking the talk.” His interpretation of an important life way was set down in writing in the document he created for the Wisdom of the People project.

Avery is dedicated to retaining his Navajo Culture and language. He lives to persuade Navajo young people to do likewise. He knows who he is as a Navajo and he knows how to start a fire. By being true to his Navajo identity and the teachings of Navajo Elders, Avery believes this knowledge will build a healthy life and contribute to positive self-esteem in an individual, no matter whom the person is or where that person comes from. He uses his knowledge to teach young people leadership and real life living skills. He works hard to maintain the oral history and stories of his predecessors.

Avery is a Hatathli or Navajo singer. He is a singer of the Blessing Way, Beauty Way, Night Way, and Enemy Way. These Navajo healing ceremonies consist of two, five, and nine night ceremonies, which are known as Hataal Nahagha’. It takes many years and a great deal of discipline to learn these ceremonies, and there are very few medicine men remaining who can conduct them.

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Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College

FDLTCC quilt blockFond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC) 

Identified Need

FDLTCC temporarily lost their tribal college status due to insufficient enrollment of Native students. During the initial two years of the Woksape Oyate project, they were ineligible to receive support from the Fund; but became eligible in 2010.

FDLTCC reviewed its persistence and suspension data in 2007 and identified recruitment and retention as a major goal. They initiated a campaign to design and implement retention strategies, including an early alert process for students with poor attendance or test scores however, the strategies had not been fully successful. To retain tribal students, it needed to focus some of its retention strategies specifically for Native students and restore the perception in the public and in the tribal college movement that it served tribal students appropriately.

Project Design

  • Build on earlier work and expand efforts to improve retention and reduce the number of all students placed on academic suspension.
  • Introduce culturally specific strategies to promote retention among Native students.
  • Assessment of FDLTCC’s recruitment and retention needs by a national consulting firm.
  • Train key academic personnel and advisors in best practices, who would, in turn train others.
  • Create a dedicated academic, social, and cultural support center for Native students.
  • Commit the financial resources to refurbish a campus building to house the new center and provide for tutors and other resources.
  • A pre-collegiate success camp to teach Native students first-year success skills and help establish social support early to connect students with academic and cultural mentors and advisors.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • To describe intellectual capital, the project team used the saying “a rising tide lifts all boats,” meaning that when everyone works hard to find the pieces that fit together, this raises everything up.
  • Faculty and staff achieved this by making connections between new and old institutional practices and building relationships with students.
  • FDLTCC improved its capacity to retain students, and to support academic success and retention for its Native students.
  • A new Tribal College Resource Center for Native student support created a family-like atmosphere where Native students felt welcome and had greater access to academic and cultural support.
  • The “Nandagikendan: Seek to Learn” pre-collegiate success camp familiarized incoming first year Native students with the basic tools of college life.

Project Goals & Results
Goal 1: Improved recruitment and retention for all first-year students
• One-hundred and thirty-seven students attended evening tutoring sessions
     Ninety percent of students found the tutoring helped them succeed
• Increased overall student retention 10% between 2008 and 2010
• Increased enrollment by 7% overall between 2009 and 2011

Goal 2: Increased American Indian student retention
• Seventy-six percent of students in success camp finished first semester with 2.0 GPA
     Eighty-four percent were retained for second semester
• Thirty-two Native students per week took advantage of opportunities at the center
• Increased Native success between 2009 and 2011
     1.2% increased graduation
     Five percent improvement in math scores
     Thirty percent improvement in English scores

Goal 3: Increase staff knowledge of recruitment and retention
• Administrators attended national retention conferences
     Increased knowledge of best practices
     Shared knowledge with other supervisors
• Eighty percent of advisors attended three webinars on student retention and persistence
     Reinforced confidence in advising practices

Success Story
FDLTCC_Caitlyn_Taylor.jpgCaitlyn Taylor is a 22-year-old sophomore at FDLTCC. She is pursuing her associate's of science degree in human services as well as a certificate in chemical dependency. She is one of several students who are members of the Center for Academic Achievement Peer Tutoring Program.

Caitlyn told the following story about her decision to become a peer tutor. “Last semester I had to take statistics, and I remember being scared out of my mind because I had heard how hard it was going to be. To my surprise, once I was in the class, I found statistics was fun and I was doing pretty well in the class. The last week of class, as I was preparing for my final exam, I received a letter from the Center of Academic Achievement (CAA) asking if I would be interested in tutoring. I was completely shocked because I never thought of myself as a tutor. Now, I have been tutoring almost a whole semester and I absolutely love it. Tutoring has taught me responsibility, confidence, and patience. I also discovered that I learn better through teaching, which has really improved my own study skills. The friendships I have formed are the most important things I have gained from tutoring. I am proud of myself for tutoring, and I look forward to future work at the CAA and the Tribal College Resource Center!”

Read more about a student member of Fond du Lac’s Center for Academic Achievement Peer Tutoring program.

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Fort Berthold Community College

FBCC quilt blockFort Berthold Community College’s (FBCC) Project Summary

Identified Need

A community needs assessment found that more than 80 percent of those surveyed had interest in enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program, ranking Native American studies and indigenous language and cultural preservation as priorities. The multiple tribes represented on the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation (MHA) Nation posed a unique challenge for developing appropriate frameworks.

To build baccalaureate degree programs that were academically rigorous and culturally relevant, FBCC needed to strengthen its cultural curriculum resources. FBCC had an extensive collection of archived documents; however, it found that many were not useable or accessible and many elders who held tribal knowledge were advancing in age, but the college lacked the human resources to capture these resources. FBCC found that few of its academic programs encouraged Indigenous scholarship and they wanted to engage more students in doing culture-based research to fulfill its mission to “preserve the past and prepare for the future.”

Project Design

  • Catalogue the MHA cultural materials held on campus and in the community and convert these into usable resources for program development.
  • Develop additional curriculum packets to fortify the cultural content of all its courses.
  • Strengthen the associate’s degree in Native American Studies (NAS), and support the development of new online and hybrid courses designed to reach its more remote constituents.
  • A cultural honors program would harness the imagination and scholarship of FBCC’s brightest students to research MHA cultures.
  • These students would receive generous scholarships and stipends to write and publish a research paper, interview elders, and participate in service learning to meet the needs of their community.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • “Intellectual capital is the intangible assets that help contribute to the growth of our tribal college. The knowledge and capabilities of our faculty and staff make us rich in intellectual capital. When our students gain knowledge and degrees, they prepare to take their place in society, work among our people, and carry the essential knowledge or ‘wisdom of the people.’” -Alyce Spotted Bear, project lead.
  • The college gained accreditation for three new bachelor’s degrees, increased capacity to develop new degree programs, and reached an institutional milestone.
  • The Cultural Honors Program invigorated the college’s academic culture and intellectual identity.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Develop an online NAS associate of arts degree
• Created 20 NAS online/hybrid courses; offered 14
• Increased NAS associate enrollment by 65% betweenfFall 2010 and spring 2011
     First graduate spring 2011

Goal 2: Develop NAS BA degree framework
• Developed 31 new courses
     Ten students enrolled in the new bachelor’s program
     Two graduates spring 2012

Goal 3: Develop cultural resources to support new degree programs
• 500 new MHA resources added in the library
     Thirty Hidatsa language lessons recorded and transcribed
       Fifteen Hidatsa cultural curriculum modules available for all courses
     Video footage of elder and tribal speaker presentations added to archives

Goal 4: Develop student honors program for cultural research and leadership
• Twenty-four honors students completed the cultural honors program
     Learned culturally appropriate research methods
     Presented cultural training for staff and peers
     Research papers published in the local newspaper
     Completed service learning projects in the community
• Honors students received national recognition
     Research team selected to present at National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center
     Eight students received top honors at AIHEC academic and cultural competitions

Success Story
FBCC_Ron_Craig.jpgRon Craig is a cultural honors scholar. He and other FBCC students attended the Woksape Oyate Summit on Intellectual Capital and presented their research projects. The Fund selected Ron to speak on a panel about intellectual capital from a student perspective. One of the students wrote this about the experience, “It is a great privilege to be a part of something so culturally academic. Working to become a distinguished student scholar, maintaining a great grade point average, and never missing an opportunity to learn something new are challenging opportunities. The cultural honors program will also help me to learn about our culture and heritage from the elders. Our generation must learn the traditional ways, so we will be able to teach the youth appropriately, for they are our future leaders who will carry on our ways of life after we are gone.

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Fort Peck Community College

FPCC quilt blockFort Peck Community College’s (FPCC) Project Summary

Identified Need

FPCC recognized that many of its administrators, faculty, and staff were nearing retirement. Geographic isolation, lack of competitive salaries, and limited opportunities for advancement seriously restricted FPCC’s ability to attract qualified professional staff. FPCC wanted to fill positions with qualified Native staff and develop students for future leadership roles at the college. FPCC had tried in the past to provide academic enhancement opportunities to its employees aspiring to attain professional degrees; unfortunately, this effort had fallen short in filling available positions with qualified tribal members.

Project Design

  • Develop Native staff through recruitment incentives, position qualified employees as adjunct faculty, and support students to return as faculty upon degree completion.
  • Provide a meaningful institutional forum through which faculty, staff, and students could hone their leadership skills.
  • Update faculty teaching and learning skills and help them learn how to be more effective in student engagement through degree work or participation in trainings.
  • Provide service learning as the primary strategy for student engagement.
  • Connect with students through community service activities and mentoring.
  • Provide student leadership development opportunities through seminars and workshops.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • FPCC defines intellectual capital as the collective intellectual spirit of the institution, gained through continuous development of the entire campus community.
  • Nurturing of employee and student knowledge, creativity, and unique skills enhanced the College’s capacity to fulfill its mission.
  • The most important impact was an improved academic environment.
  • Advanced degrees and improved credentials brought credibility to faculty members and improved the reputation of the college.
  • Professional development, recruitment, and new student leadership programs created pathways for future leadership at FPCC.
  • Elder learning circles welcomed community elders and ensured that student leadership would be rooted in cultural values and generational sharing.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Recruit and retain qualified faculty and leaders
• Recruited five faculty and administrators through relocation assistance
     Four new recruits are Native
• Retained three key faculty through financial incentives

Goal 2: Build institutional leadership through professional development
• Thirteen employee advanced degrees completed
     Two associate’s degrees
     Two baccalaureate degrees
     Eight master’s degrees
     One doctorate degree
• Nine employee advanced degrees in progress
     One baccalaureate degrees
     Six master’s degrees
     Two doctorate degrees
• One-hundred percent of full-time employees attended training and updated skills
     Eight attended professional development training
     Eighty attended training on harassment and identifying drug and alcohol abuse

Goal 3: Increase student retention and build future leaders
• Faculty professional development focused on student engagement
     Thirty-four trained in student engagement
     Five attended training for retention of first generation students
     Five participated in webinar on increasing student retention
• Ten students attended “Building Engaged Citizens” service learning training
• Four students attended leadership training
• Increased student engagement by 75%
• Seven elders and 12 students regularly attended Elder Learning Circles
• Students produced peer leadership activities
     Ninety-six students attended workshops
     100% retention of students involved in service-learning projects
• One new job skills training course
• Three students earned leadership awards

Success Story
FPCC_Home_improvement_picture.jpgKathy Round Face was a recent graduate of FPCC who raises several of her grandchildren. When their home was condemned, the college helped the family find another residence, but it was in poor condition.

Students from the college decided they wanted to improve the home as a service-learning project. They enlisted the help of community members and local organizations and welcomed donations of paint, wood, material, and labor. Kathy said their most critical needs were to paint the kitchen, make the bathtub usable, and paint her granddaughters’ bedroom pink.

FPCC students and their cadre of volunteers spent two weeks improving the home. As it turned cold and snowy, the group finished what they could and planned to finish the project during the warmer months. The bathtub was nearly finished, the kitchen was painted, and they were able to fill the house with donated furniture. The group was determined to finish the most compelling project, the pink room. When the girls saw their new room and said, “It’s the most beautiful room ever,” and “Now I can sit and do homework,” they made the day for everyone involved.

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Haskell Indian Nations University

Haskell quilt blockHaskell Indian Nations University (HINU) Project Summary

Identified Need

Haskell serves students from multiple tribes and is located in an urban area; therefore it lacks access to traditional knowledge keepers found within reservation communities. HINU academic departments had worked together for several years on strengthening the Indigenous content and character of its academic program but the curriculum work had stalled and the university needed to reinvigorate it.

The inception of the Woksape Oyate program found employees deeply divided and the administration unstable; the question of revising the HINU framework contributed to the internal conflict and posed other challenges. The university hoped that an enhanced tribal experience would bring stability and common purpose, and would support recruitment and retention of students and faculty who value a teaching environment that celebrates tribal scholarship and identity in a modern world.

Project Design

  • Accelerate efforts to strengthen cultural foundations of its curriculum and campus life.
  • Employ faculty decision-making processes about the curriculum that mirror traditional governance.
  • Promote culture-based teaching and learning by distributing common readings by contemporary Indigenous scholars.
  • Provide financial incentives for research projects to stimulate new Indigenous thinking.
  • Add research products and curricula developed to a new online repository called the RED Center (Research, Education, and Development Center).
  • Bring tribal elders, scholars, and cultural experts to provide professional development and technical support for academic program reviews, and to develop cultural assessment tools.
  • Host cultural events that featured teachings by the visiting elders and scholars.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • Haskell defines intellectual capital today as the Indigenous knowledge, strengths, resources, and capacities of tribal people.
  • The immediate impact of the project was the strengthening of academic programs by assuring their cultural relevance.
  • The overall cultural relevance of its academic programs helps position HINU to recruit and retain more Native faculty and students.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Increase knowledge exchange with tribal elders to support linkages to traditional knowledge systems
• Eight student-developed cultural learning events hosted
     More than 700 HINU faculty and students, University of Kansas faculty and students, local K-12 teachers, tribal and community members attended
     Cultural learning modules developed on presentation content for classroom use

Goal 2: Increase access to current Indigenous research and epistemologies to strengthen cultural content for teaching and learning
• Hosted a speaker series with 10 noted tribal scholars in multiple forums
     Three core texts and materials to all faculty and staff
     Faculty developed related course assignments
• New human resources policy favors hiring faculty with Indigenous language teaching capabilities
     One new hire teaches Choctaw language
     Six new language courses added to the catalog
     Courses enrolled to capacity
• Four faculty and three students received research incentives and awards for Indigenous research projects
• HINU began constructing a website to house project artifacts and research
     Digital recordings of cultural presentations preserved for future classroom use
Goal 3: Strengthen Indigenous content in baccalaureate program and implement cultural learning assessment protocols
• Four baccalaureate reviewed for appropriate Indigenous content
• Academic departments finalized and approved cultural learning assessment rubric

Success Story
HINU_Lilly_Bobb.jpgIn the fall of 2011, the Woksape Oyate grant supported a student event to strengthen Native American culture and drew attention to contemporary issues that affect American Indian communities. The Social Work Club selected the issue of suicide and invited special guest Dirk Whitebreast to meet with faculty and students. In 2003, Dirk lost his sister to suicide while he was attending HINU. He left the university to be with his family and began a journey of sobriety and wellness that set a positive example for others. Dirk ran 262 miles, or 10 marathons, within 30 days to raise awareness about youth suicide. He donated all the money that he raised to support suicide prevention at the Center for Native American Youth.

Lilly Bobb is a junior at HINU and a member of the Social Work Club that arranged for Whitebread’s return to Haskell. She was inspired and motivated by Dirk Whitebreast’s story. “He overcame a huge obstacle in his life and has changed his life for the better. Instead of turning to alcohol to deal with this tragedy, he put on his old running shoes and went for a run. He has been running ever since. I could relate to his story because I have lost very close family members. It was difficult for me as well, but my escape and way of dealing with the deaths in my family was to come to Haskell Indian Nations University to further my education and work to become a social worker so I can help my community. The event had a great turn out and students left with positive thoughts and motivation. Events like this bring the Haskell community together to learn positive things and to support what other students are trying to do for the community.”

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Institute of American Indian Arts

IAIA quilt blockThe Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Project Summary

Identified Need

IAIA found its graduates lacking in strong liberal arts foundation required for advanced academic degrees and developed a general studies baccalaureate degree based on Indigenous worldviews. The Indigenous Liberal Studies (ILS) bachelor’s program received accreditation in 2006 but was not fully developed or marketed, resulting in low enrollment. Graduates emerged as highly skilled artists but lacked business acumen; art brokers often sifted off much of the artists’ potential profits. Alumni and community stakeholders frequently encouraged IAIA to incorporate an art marketing and business component in its curriculum.

Project Design

  • Hire one new full-time faculty to facilitate a stronger strategic plan for the ILS program and ensure its academic and cultural relevance.
  • Design and implement a new business and entrepreneurial studies certificate program.
  • The certificate coursework would provide the framework for a new bachelor’s degree in business and entrepreneurship.
  • Develop new courses; provide online access to ILS programming, and hire new adjunct ILS faculty members, traditional art instructors, and to bring in cultural wisdom keepers.
  • Host lectures and forums by faculty and other scholars, convert them into podcasts, and house them on their website to make the Institute’s intellectual capital accessible to a wider audience.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • IAIA came to define intellectual capital as “the collective wisdom and knowledge of our community–students, staff, faculty, and environment.”
  • IAIA believed that the project’s legacy and its greatest asset was its institutional awareness of its own indigenous knowledge held within its premier Native art faculty.
  • IAIA elevated its institutional self-perception from a college that develops Native artists to one that graduates Native artist scholars and business leaders.
  • IAIA refined its program design processes to one based on data-driven decisions.
  • The Woksape Oyate focus on intellectual capital helped the Institute recognize and enfranchise the depth and breadth of their own unique intellectual wealth.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Strengthen Indigenous Liberal Studies Program and increase its enrollment
   Developed five-year ILS strategic plan
   Hired eight Native arts faculty members
     Offered eight new courses
• Hosted 15 faculty colloquia
     Housed 34 audio podcasts on website
     Created 31 videos new instructional resources
• Increased ILS enrollment by 250% between 2007 and 2011
Goal 2: Establish and market certificate program in business and entrepreneurship
• Created, approved, and implemented 5 new courses
     Enrollment grew by 100% between 2009 and 2012
     Fifteen students completed the certificate between 2009 and 2012
• Hired four adjuncts and accounting tutor
     90% of students passed courses
• Created new marketing materials

Goal 3: Create the framework for a new business baccalaureate program
• Two reports framed a plan for degree development

Success Story
DownloadedFile.jpgJoanne Morales (Taino) was preparing for her spring 2010 graduation when IAIA profesor Jennifer Coots received a phone call from a prominent Santa Fe artist. “Artist Michael Roanhorse said he specifically wanted an intern who had completed our new business and entrepreneurship certificate program.”

At first, Joanne found the prospect of working with a professional artist intimidating. She asked Mr. Roanhorse about his specific needs and saw that she was prepared to meet them. In a few weeks, Joanne became the first business intern from IAIA’s new program.

Joanne found the business program served her well throughout the internship. Working out of Roanhorse’ shared studio, Joanne found herself immersed with clients, galleries, the press, and a variety of famous artists. Time management skills were crucial for the artist’s participation in the Santa Fe Indian Market, the world’s largest Native art market and exhibition.

“Accounting helped because I was trying to help manage getting the lowest price and best quality for his money. I was also keeping track of my hours, things he owed – at times I was pretty much running the show.” Thanks to Joanne’s hard work and success, for a new partnership between IAIA Business and Entrepreneurship Certificate students and the Santa Fe arts community developed.

Glenda - Keepers of the Next Generation

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Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College

KBOCC quilt blockKeweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (KBOCC) Project Summary

Identified Need

KBOCC received candidacy status for accreditation in 2000 which required it to improve employee credentials, integrate culture into the curriculum, gain financial autonomy from the tribe, and develop opportunities for student leadership and governance. Geographic isolation prohibits travel for advanced professional development and restricts its ability to attract highly qualified employees. KBOCC desired to create opportunities for Native employees to advance to faculty positions or higher levels of administration with a broader impact of inspiring tribal students to continue in higher education and return as leaders. They also saw a need to build the skills and knowledge of the board of regents. The college lacked opportunities for student leadership development.

Project Design

  • Build Native staff credentials by providing support for advanced degree work.
  • Professional development opportunities and cultural competence training for all employees and the board of regents.
  • Assessment training for all employees; assessment data would fuel continual improvement of instruction, feed into overall institutional development, and help prepare the entire college for the accreditation process.
  • A new student leadership curriculum, including professional development and mentoring opportunities to increase student engagement and provide a leadership pipeline for the future.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • KBOCC finds its intellectual capital in students, staff, faculty, and the Board of Regents.
  • Native staff members gained advanced degrees and transitioned to higher levels of responsibility.
  • Professional development improved critical student services, the effectiveness of the board, and helped the college provide a rigorous culture-based higher education.
  • Mentoring and leadership development opened new horizons for students and inspired them to expand their vision for potential careers and higher education opportunities.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Increase qualifications of tribal faculty and staff
• Degrees completed
     One MBA degree
• Degrees in progress
     One associate's degree
     Two baccalaureate degrees
     Two master’s degrees

Goal 2: Increase rigor and relevance of class work
• Four faculty members attended professional development training in their field of study
     One Native instructor completed welding educator certificate
• All faculty and staff received assessment and cultural competence training
     One-hundred percent of course learning outcomes reviewed
     Eighty percent of learner outcome assessment plans completed
     One-hundred percent of all curricula updated with Native cultural content
• Assessment data incorporated into accreditation self-study

Goal 3: Administrators are efficient and effective
• Six board members received training
     Increased understanding of roles and responsibilities
     Tribe transferred financial accountability to KBOCC, meeting accreditation standards for financial autonomy and
     fiscal responsibility

Goal 5: Prepare students for leadership
• Increased student engagement by 15%
• Produced new leadership training program
     Two new workshops for first-year students
     Seven new student leadership trainings
     Ten students participated in all trainings
• Student leadership professional development
     Eight students attended conferences and workshops
     Two students presented at NASA research conference
• Three students attended training with faculty mentors

Success Story
KBOCC_Megan_Shanahan.jpgMegan Shanahan began working at KBOCC in May 2008 as an admissions officer and adjunct instructor, teaching a computer class. When the Woksape Oyate project began, the president offered her the opportunity to pursue her master’s degree at no cost. Although this was always a dream for her, financial constraints had left it at that—a dream with no reality in sight.

Megan started at Wayne State University in southern Michigan in fall 2009. However, after traveling more than eight hours each way for exams, it was not feasible for her to complete the degree at a campus so far away. After researching options, Megan decided to pursue her MBA degree online through the University of Phoenix, enabling her to continue working full time and teaching classes while taking a full load of courses.

Sixteen months and 12 classes later, Megan completed her master’s degree. Her degree qualified her for promotion to KBOCC’s business officer and allowed her to begin teaching business classes. She used her new skills to revise accounting policies and develop new policies with the financial aid office. The Woksape Oyate grant allowed Megan to further her education, assume new responsibilities at KBOCC, and fulfill a life-long dream.

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Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College

LCOOC quilt blockLac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCOOCC) Project Summary

Identified Need

LCOOCC realized that it had fallen behind in meeting its institutional mission and needed to grow its own employees to increase academic rigor, develop leadership, and to promote future growth. A survey conducted found a high interest among LCOOCC employees for advanced degrees and job-specific knowledge, but tuition and associated costs were barriers for seeking further education and training. Human resource procedures needed updating at the college to increase capacity for strategic professional development that would improve institutional effectiveness.

Project Design

  • Create a new committee to revise and oversee professional development processes.
  • Review efficiency and effectiveness of all departments, and identify areas for growth.
  • Create a comprehensive professional development plan that links performance measures to institutional improvement for all employees.
  • Tuition for advanced degrees, and conferences and trainings to build skills and professional networks in critical positions.
  • Develop new accountability measures to assure that employees shared knowledge gained for the betterment of the institution as a whole.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • LCOOCC recognized that its employees held its intellectual capital and the project helped the college refine its thinking about professional development, realizing that an exciting learning environment is integral to its ability to attract and retain qualified employees.
  • The spirit of intellectual capital and new faculty degrees became drivers of expanding academic programs.
  • Professional development allowed the college meet accreditation standards, streamline services, and improve student outcomes.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Encourage recruitment and retention from within the current staff
• Funded 44 employees for professional development
• Sixteen employees completed degrees
     Two doctorate degrees
     Four master's degrees
        Three advanced to doctoral programs
     Six baccalaureate degrees
        Four advanced to masters’ degree programs
     Four associate's degree programs
• Five project-funded employees continue baccalaureate work
• Retained 66% of project participants

Goal 2: Increase staff and faculty leadership capacity through professional development activities
• Seven project recipients received promotions to higher levels of responsibility
     All were retained
• One employee installed as interim president when president retired early

Success Story
LCOOCC_Ray_Burns.jpgRay Burns expressed doubts in the beginning about whether tribal college faculty and staff needed a doctoral education. He discovered, as the Woksape Oyate project unfolded, the wisdom of developing leadership through higher education. Ray is now in his third year of doctoral studies.

The college president, who was near retirement, elected to utilize her leadership development funds to send Ray to the Future Leaders Institute sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges. When her husband’s health made the president retire early, the board selected Ray as the College’s interim president.

Ray said, “Throughout the first few years of the project, the committee and I debated what intellectual capital was, and what it meant in context of tribal colleges. At the same time, I took advantage of the professional development funding. I worked toward my master’s degree in higher education leadership and moved into the position of dean of student services. Others in the Woksape Oyate project were undergoing similar transformations. It was obvious that the project was helping people professionally. What was less obvious was the passion created by these opportunities. Participants understood that the institution truly valued their personal intellectual capital. At tribal colleges, intellectual capital includes a unique vitality and depth, such as the cultures of the tribes represented by the tribal colleges. Our Woksape Oyate project empowered the college’s employees to represent the pride, the dream, and the cultural heritage embodied by tribal colleges.”

Capacity Building at LCOOCC

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Leech Lake Tribal College

LLTC quilt blockLeech Lake Tribal College (LLTC) Project Summary

Identified Need

A high percentage of LLTC’s students were underprepared for college and many failed to make adequate progress once enrolled. Data from 2004-2007 showed high failure rates including 68 percent in first year English courses and 48 percent in a pre-collegiate math course. Many instructors lacked the ability to engage underprepared students. LLTC wanted faculty to learn best practices in classroom instruction and wanted to improve its approach to student academic support. LLTC had designated space for a learning center and named it Nando-Gikenjige Wigamig, which in Anishinaabe means “a place where someone learns,” but they had not yet developed a plan for services.

Project Design

  • Launch Nando-Gikenjige Wigamig, create a new director position, provide professional development for instructors, and hire professional tutors.
  • The director would work half-time with the learning center and teach English.
  • Center staff would provide instructional support to faculty as well.
  • Hire student tutors that had demonstrated academic success, and extend leadership professional development opportunities to them.
  • Bring professional workshops to campus for all faculty members that would help improve student engagement.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • LLTC defined intellectual capital as a superior education grounded in their tribal culture and a campus community that honors teaching, learning, and service.
  • The traditional Anishinaabe values of humility, truth, courage, honesty, respect, love and wisdom framed their view and encouraged them to keep student success at the core as they built their intellectual capital.
  • Peer tutors contributed to improved student outcomes, changed their self-concepts, and advanced to higher studies.
  • LLTC gained credibility as an institution of higher education.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Increased math and English success
Between 2006 and 2011, LLTC learning outcomes improved
• Fifteen percent improvement in pre-collegiate and first-year English scores
• One percent improvement in pre-collegiate math scores; no improvement in first-year math
• Ninety percent increase enrollment in advanced math courses
    Twenty-one of all LLTC enrolled in higher math
     One-hundred percent of fall 2011 students enrolled in advanced college algebra and pre-calculus passed, with no withdrawals
• Forty percent increase in STEM majors

Goal 2: Increase student enrollment, retention, and graduation
• Thirteen percent increased enrollment from 2007-2011
• Ten percent increased overall retention from 2007-2011
• 72.2% increased graduation from 2007 to 2010

Supplemental Goals:
Goal 1: Disseminate learning center model
• Learning center training manual published, trained on, and disseminated

Goal 2: Increase professional skills of peer mentors and Center staff
• Number of students presenting at conferences tripled in 2008-2010

Success Story
LLTC_Kim_Dickson.jpgKim Dickson is a young Anishinaabe woman and a highly respected role model for other students. Kim is actively engaged in community and cultural events. Although she has five children and must commute some 100 miles round-trip each day to take classes, Kim is a full-time student and has served as a peer tutor at the learning center for the past three years. She has a cumulative GPA of 3.88, and qualified for the fall 2010 President’s List after earning a 4.00 GPA for that semester.

As a peer tutor, Kim not only works with students who need assistance with math, English, Ojibwe language, or other courses, but she can often be found calming a distraught student, giving encouragement to someone who is considering dropping out of school, or mentoring new peer tutors. Kim is a campus leader and served as vice president of LLTC’s student senate. She honed her leadership skills when she, presented at national conferences, local workshops, and at the Woksape Oyate Summit of Intellectual Capital held in Denver in 2011.

Peer Tutor at the New Learning Center

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Little Big Horn College

LBHC quilt blockLittle Big Horn College’s (LBHC) Project Summary

Identified Need

LBHC was concerned because its student population was growing younger and appeared more underprepared for college-level work. The nation’s brightest students continued to leave the reservation to attend college and often did not return to reinvest their intellectual growth at home.

LBHC experienced high turnover and had problems recruiting and retaining qualified Crow members to fill faculty and executive positions. Among top executive team members, faculty and staff less than half  were Crow tribal members and only a handful were LBHC alumni. LBHC wanted to develop the skills and credentials of the executive leadership team while preparing the college for the president’s eventual retirement.

Project Design

  • Outreach strategies to recruit and advance more Native faculty for executive roles.
  • Develop the executive team members through professional development, advanced degrees, and mentoring.
  • Team members pass their leadership knowledge and skills by mentoring students and designing sections of a new student leadership seminar.
  • Annual series of leadership workshops open to all community leaders.
  • Recruit top-tier graduates from surrounding high schools through personal outreach by executive team members and offered mentoring, leadership development, and competitive financial aid packages.
  • Create a Student Leadership Program (SLP) from among these scholars and hoped that these students would stay in the community and reinvest their leadership within the tribe.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • LBHC found its intellectual capital in the untapped leadership potential of its students, staff, and community.
  • Their project surpassed expectations for growing executive and future leadership, and in setting the tone for leadership development throughout the Crow nation.
  • LBHC improved executive team functioning and created a model for leadership development.
  • LBCH raised expectations for academic performance and leadership for all students.
  • LBHC established itself as the community center for leadership development.

Project Goals & Results
Goal 1: Upgrade executive skills and knowledge of the executive team
• All six executive team members updated professional skills in their executive function
     Three completed master’s degrees
     One doctorate degree in progress
     All six attended leadership trainings

Goal 2: Recruit and retain the most academically talented Crow students
• Selected 30 students for the SLP
     Ninety percent completed Leadership Seminar
     Ninety percent maintained a 3.26 GPA and near perfect attendance
     All students conducted community service projects
     Eighty percent graduated or were retained, compared to 40% of general student population
• Seven percent increase in enrollment from 2007-2011

Goal 3: Recruit the best talent of the Crow tribe for new or vacant faculty and executive positions
• Hired eleven Crow tribal members from 2007-2012
     Three have graduate degrees (two master’s degrees and one doctorate degree)
     One has a bachelor’s degree
• Increased Crow tribal member employees by 28% since 2002
     Eighty-eight percent of employees are Crow tribal members
• Eighty-seven percent of employees have a one-year certificate, associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degree

Success Story
LBHC_Teatta_Old_Bear.jpgTeatta Old Bear, the dean of students at LBHC, is truly a success story of the college. Graduating from LBHC and going on to Montana State University-Billings, she completed a bachelor’s degree in human services in 1996. Ms. Old Bear worked for the Crow Tribal Head Start program as a classroom teacher for 14 years before beginning work with high school, and later, college students.

Ms. Old Bear was born with a physical disability that resulted in her having some limitations and she was not able to participate in physical activities. She worked hard to overcome the barriers she faced; she did well in school, and kept a positive attitude. However, she did not view herself as a leader. Ms. Old Bear’s self-concept had held her back for a long time, as she did not feel she had the capabilities to take on leadership roles.

When LBHC hired her, the selection committee told her that she had not been their first choice since she did not have a master’s degree. However, the board of trustees recognized that Ms. Old Bear, being a graduate of LBHC, a Crow language speaker, a member of the tribe and local community, and having experience working with students from pre-K-12, did have the characteristics and traits they sought in a dean of students.

Through the strong team building activities of the executive team component of the Woksape Oyate project, she feels she has really grown in her self-confidence and she sees herself as a leader and a contributor to the students and the college overall.

Ms. Old Bear graduated in 2010 with an MBA from the University of Mary. When she talks to the student leadership program participants about the importance of self-concept, she speaks from experience and she is truly helping students become leaders.

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Little Priest Tribal College

LPTC quilt blockLittle Priest Tribal College (LPTC) Project Summary

Identified Need

The tribal council had cut funding to LPTC by 73 percent over several years and decreased revenue contributed to instability in key staff positions. LPTC attributed turnover to inadequate personnel policies, limited professional development, infrequent performance reviews, and inequitable salary schedules. LPTC changed presidents 16 times, with more than 100 changes in other top administrative positions, causing student services and academic programs to suffer. The higher learning commission warned that continued attrition in leadership could endanger accreditation. LPTC’s human capital would continue to deteriorate without the proper skills, support, and compensation.

Project Design

  • Assessment of community higher educational needs and expectations for LPTC.
  • An external consultant surveyed the community and LPTC contracted with a national firm to poll students and employees.
  • Revise human resources policies and procedures.
  • Standardize professional skills across campus through training and advanced degrees.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • LPTC’s intellectual capital resided in its people as the collective organizational knowledge within the institution.
  • LPTC will continue to utilize the concept of intellectual capital with a name in their tribal language that best describes the collection and sharing of the knowledge for the greater good.
  • LPTC was successful in creating a more attractive and productive work environment.
  • The college engaged the entire campus in strategic planning and promoted shared decision-making.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Build staff, faculty, and board leadership competence to increase institutional stability
• President, board, and team of 13 faculty and staff trained for accreditation self-study
• Five staff completed advanced degrees
     Two associate's degrees
     Three master’s degree
• Fourteen staff in progress toward advanced degrees
     Nine associate's degrees
     Two baccalaureate degrees
     Three doctorate degrees
• Promoted four staff to fill key administrative positions

Goal 2: Strengthen organizational structure through staff development
• Eleven core trainings increased professionalism and job performance of all staff
• All staff participated in institutional assessment and strategic planning
     Organizational governance structure streamlined
     Student services became more accessible
     The academic program improved its relevance
• Increased student enrollment, retention, and completion (Fall 2007 to Fall 2011)
     Thirty-four percent increased enrollment
     Thirteen percent increase in GPA (from 2.15 in 2007 to 2.44 in 2011)
     Eleven percent increase in math and English course completion
     Three-hundred percent increase in graduates

Success Story
LPTC_Sharon_Redhorn_Chamberlain.jpgSharon Redhorn-Chamberlain graduated from LPTC in 2006 and has been working for the college since October 2008 as the community education director.

Sharon said, “I worked closely with the first Woksape Oyate project director to identify professional development opportunities for staff and develop incentives for advanced degrees. I took part in any and all the workshops I could and benefitted from these directly as a new employee. For example, I took a tribal budgeting workshop with a group of co-workers that I use on a daily basis, keeping accurate records, and organizing data for better reporting. The training I received has made me a more efficient and organized employee, one who is proud to be a part of my team. I am working on my bachelor’s degree in business and human resources, and I am learning how professional development and continuing education benefits the organization. I will continue to take college courses, and hope to have my degree within the next year. I have been putting together a plan of action for getting my master’s degree, and I will keep taking classes until I reach my goal. I plan to continue to serve the college as I attain my educational goals. The Woksape Oyate grant has been a great asset to the college, me as an individual, and for the staff overall.”

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Navajo Technical College

NTC quilt blockNavajo Technical College (NTC) Project Summary

Identified Need

NTC wanted to become a baccalaureate degree-granting institution, but found that staff credentials and board functioning were lacking. NTC was coordinating the Internet to the Hogan project, a major technology infrastructure and internet connectivity project on the Navajo Nation; to ensure its progress, staff needed additional education and training. An accreditation report revealed that many faculty members were under-qualified for their positions and too few Native instructors had higher education credentials. NTC administrators needed to strengthen their higher education management skills to continue its existing accreditation.

Project Design

  • Implement an appropriate professional development plan for every employee.
  • Funding for faculty and staff advanced degrees to develop the information technology department and support higher credentials for Navajo instructors.
  • Training for the board and president to grow administrative capacity.
  • Develop a Navajo leadership program for several promising young Navajo employees.
  • Create a student honors program to encourage student achievement and leadership.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • The college defined its greatest resource as the expertise, credentials, and leadership capabilities held by instructors, students, administrators, and board members. The project resulted in growth across all these groups.
  • NTC earned accreditation for its first baccalaureate degree programs and improved the technology infrastructure of the Navajo nation.
  • NTC improved its credibility and increased enrollment.
  • Student engagement contributed to high rates of retention.

Goal 1: Improve faculty credentials
• Eight employees completed advanced degrees or certificates
     One technical certificate
     Two associate's degrees
     Two baccalaureate degree
     Three master's degrees
• Fifteen employees in progress toward advanced degrees
     Three associate's degrees
     Four baccalaureate degrees
     Three master’s degrees
     Five doctorate degrees

Goal 2: Increase the leadership capacity of Navajo employees
• Promoted seven Navajo employees due to increased academic credentials
• Increased percentage of Navajo faculty from 46% to 61%
     Increased Navajo faculty with master’s degrees from 33% to 63%
     Increased Navajo faculty who hold PhD degrees from 38% to 57%

Goal 3: Increase administrative leadership capacity and effectiveness
• Board training resulted in
     Improved legislative advocacy skills and understanding of federal funding
     Increased understanding of institutional roles and responsibilities
     Granted more authority to president where appropriate
     Increased meeting efficiency with restructured agenda and consent processes
• Increased understanding of accreditation processes

Goal 4: Support student leadership programming
• Initiated 52 students into the National Technical Honor Society
     Maintained 3.2 grade point average or better
     Performed 25 hours or more of community service
• Three students elected to state or national office in student organizations
• NTC students won 20 first place medals or other honors at national competitions

Success Story
NTC_Ryan_Preston_Whitehair.jpgRyan Preston Whitehair reported on his experience as a member of a student technical organization. “I am a first year student in the energy systems program at NTC. When I enrolled, I did not know that I would be able to be a part of an organization that would change my life. My experience with Skills USA has enriched my life in so many ways. It has given me the leadership tools necessary to succeed in life. Skills USA teaches students not only the technical skills necessary to be successful in the workforce, but also the soft skills that will ensure employability. It is definitely a benefit for NTC students to have this organization available. It has been integral part of my learning experience. With our isolated location, it is great that NTC offers such a great club for students to join to give them something constructive to do with their time. I look forward to being continuously involved during the course of my studies at Navajo Technical College.”

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Nebraska Indian Community College

qNICCS.jpgNebraska Indian Community College (NICC) Project Summary

Identified Need

The languages, cultures, and histories of both the Omaha tribe and the Santee Sioux (Dakota) nation were in danger of being lost. There were fewer than 50 fluent speakers of the Umonhon (Omaha) language and fewer than 10 fluent speakers and writers of Dakota in the Santee Sioux nation. NICC wanted to do a better job of fulfilling its mission by preserving the Indigenous languages of the peoples that they serve.

Project Design

  • Create two centers of excellence, the Omaha Center and the Dakota Center, to build on previous efforts to strengthen and expand Native studies offerings.
  • Hire a director and an adjunct language instructor for each program.
  • Collaborate with chartering tribes and educational partners to develop language curricula, teaching methodologies, and teacher certifications for their Indigenous languages.
  • Engage tribal citizens in community gatherings that encouraged language use.
  • Create elder advisory boards to ensure cultural and linguistic accuracy and guide program development.
  • Capture digital language recordings of elders.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • NICC found its intellectual capital residing in “the languages, histories, and the cultures of the Omaha tribe and the Santee Sioux nation.”
  • Ancestors’ wisdom provided the seed, roots, and stock for the continuation of their language and life ways.
  • NICC became a leader in Indigenous language preservation and education among tribal and mainstream institutions of higher learning and within their communities.
  • Student participation in language, culture, and history classes promoted leadership and family well-being.

Project Goals and Results
Goal: Preserve and promote Dakota and Omaha languages and cultures
• Two Centers of Excellence developed
     Five new Native studies teaching positions created
     One associate's degree approved (contemporary tribal leadership)
     One associate's degree restructured (environmental and natural resources)
• Two new language instruction certificate programs developed and offered
     One Dakota certified language instructor hired at NICC
     Three Omaha language instructors certified; one hired at NICC
• Twelve new Native studies courses approved and offered
     Developed and implemented Dakota and Omaha immersion language curricula
     Seven Dakota students completed language immersion courses
     Two-hundred and forty digital recordings preserved elder knowledge for future classroom use
     Twelve new lesson modules developed covering history, traditional foods, language, and culturally significant
     Developed Omaha textbook on verb use
• Increased community engagement with language preservation
     Thirty-two family and community immersion activities sponsored
     Four immersion camps held
     Seventy-two individuals served in home-based language immersion classes
     Twelve cultural field trips conducted
• Fifty-seven percent increased enrollment in Native American studies overall between Fall 2006 and Fall 2011
• Five percent increase in graduation rate

Success Story
NICC_Wyatt_Thomas.jpgWyatt Thomas, director of the Dakota Center of Excellence, reports on the importance of elder participation in their project, “Due to the loss of some elders, I had to adapt and change protocols in this area. Instead of having meetings, I went to each individual’s home and talked to him or her. I took them around the reservation and they showed me many sacred sites. They wanted to show them in case they would have to leave this land soon and go home [die]. They taught me the Dakota words for each site and explained why they had to respect about these sites.”

Elders helped to identify 28 sacred sites on the Santee Sioux reservation. Without this project, this information would likely have been lost to future generations.

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Northwest Indian College

NWIC quilt blockNorthwest Indian College (NWIC) Project Summary

Identified Need

NWIC has a main campus and several extension sites that host a student body from more than 90 Indian nations. The majority of faculty members were unable to engage students effectively because they did not understand the experiences and histories of their diverse students. Many of the Native faculty members were teaching as adjunct instructors at extension sites, and felt disconnected from the main faculty and governance structures. NIWC had not developed formal structures to provide professional development for its instructors working away from the main campus. NWIC found itself challenged with student retention and graduation.

Project Design

  • Form a new faculty committee to guide teaching and learning.
  • Provide professional development to increase faculty understanding of the distinctive histories and contemporary lives of their students.
  • Annual pre-service retreats to bring together adjunct and full-time faculty from the main campus and extension sites.
  • Small grants for classroom research to encourage discovery of best practice strategies with Native learners.
  • Mentoring and opportunities for research and leadership to develop a new generation of Native leaders.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • NWIC came to describe its intellectual capital as the “ability to revitalize and support tribal knowledge, while translating the traditional knowledge of Indigenous people into a contemporary setting.”
  • Co-founder of the college, Willie Jones, Sr., likened intellectual capital to canoeing, which is an important activity for the Coast Salish people, “You can teach them to pull canoe or you can teach them to want to pull canoe.”
  • Faculty research uncovered best practices, and shared professional development increased student success.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Increase instructional effectiveness with Native students
• Revised faculty governance structure
     Teaching and learning committee guided professional development program
     Traditional elders helped inform new NWIC teaching and learning philosophy
• Held common professional development programs for full-time and adjunct faculty from main campus and five extension sites
     Two summer teaching and learning institutes
     Program assessment trainings
     Best practices with diverse learners trainings
     Cultural competence trainings
• Conducted faculty action research
     Thirteen projects identified best instructional practices
     Three new websites disseminated research findings and instructional resources
• Institutional and national survey data showed improved teaching and learning
     Student data showed increased satisfaction and success

Goal 2: Increase leadership and scholarship of Native faculty and staff
• Nine emergent leaders selected for mentoring cohort
     Staff supported cohort in curriculum development, program reviews, and accreditation studies
     Emergent leaders served on committees, conducted research, and presented at conferences
     Cohort designed leadership curriculum for new degree program
• Eight emergent leaders received promotions
     Four teach full time
• New five-year plan includes resources for continuing emergent leaders program

Goal 3: Increase student enrollment, retention, and graduation
• Between 2007 and 2010, first year student retention improved by
     20.1% in English courses
     2.2% in math courses
     Eleven percent in human development courses
• Between 2007 and 2011
     Thirty-three percent increase in graduation
     Thirty-five percent increased enrollment

Success Story
NWIC_Don_McCluskey.jpgDon McCluskey, Sr. (his traditional Lummi name is Lha-Qwom-Kanim) earned an associate’s degree at NWIC, and a bachelor’s degree at Western Washington University. He returned to work at the college, and the team selected him for the emergent Native leader cohort.

Don now teaches full-time in English and Native studies. During his cohort experience, he served on the teaching and learning committee and chaired the faculty roundtable (faculty governance body). The students selected him as the faculty member of the year.

Project lead Carole J. Rave noted, “Don has emerged as an individual who is able to influence others in their instructional practices and as a leader in the organizational growth of the college.”

Don fulfilled his life mission by promoting education among his people. He said, “I eagerly look forward to the continued opportunity to contribute to my community in a positive way. The leadership role I hold and the example I set within the Lummi community only serves to model the level of achievement and understanding that we all, as Native people, are capable of attaining.

Coast Salish Institute Leadership Development Project Returns the Gift

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Oglala Lakota College

OLC quilt blockOglala Lakota College (OLC) Project Summary

Identified Need

In 2005, OLC assumed control of the local head start program and learned that none of these preschool programs routinely incorporated Lakota language learning. A study in 2007 showed that the use of Lakota was decreasing by generations and tribal schools reported that despite offering Lakota courses, none had produced speakers. OLC’s council of elders directed the president to make effective Lakota language education an emergency priority. The president examined research that linked social ills to the loss of Native language and culture, and other research that related bilingual education with academic success. OLC set up the Lakota Language Institute and challenged the Lakota studies department to revise its approach to language education.

Project Design

  • Lead language revitalization efforts, develop language curricula, and perform research on new practice methods for Lakota language instruction.
  • Upgrade their teacher education requirements, enhance certification standards, and devise and test effective immersion methods and curricula for preschool through college-level language instruction.
  • Hire certified language teachers for one community head start program where it would pilot the new curriculum.
  • OLC proposed free courses and proficiency-based incentives for its employees and community members to promote adult engagement in the language revitalization project.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • OLC believed that armed with effective language revitalization programming, its staff, students, and faculty had the capacity to reverse the effects of historical trauma among the Lakota people.
  • The college advanced its capacity for Indigenous language revitalization and teacher preparation programs.
  • OLC language program successes supported new funding for a K-3 language demonstration school.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Strengthen Lakota Studies and education degree programs
• Reviewed and revised Lakota Studies and K-12 Education baccalaureate programs
     Created four new upper-level courses
     Increased credit requirements for Lakota language study in all degree programs
     Developed immersion curricula and instructional program for K-3
• Upgraded criteria and standardized language proficiency assessment
     Trained and certified six staff as Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) examiners
     Sixty-six percent of Lakota Studies faculty rated superior in language competency
     Seventy-two percent of majors fluent at intermediate level or above for all years tested

Goal 2: Increase number of Lakota language teachers for all levels
• Seventy-one percent increased enrollment in all Lakota Studies programs from 2006-2011
     Sixty-six percent increased enrollment in K-12 Lakota education majors
• Twenty Lakota studies graduates with bachelor's degrees are teaching in Lakota schools or programs
     Three obtained master’s degrees
• Sixteen new Lakota language instructors certified
     Seven OLC-certified teachers were hired for immersion and head start programs

Goal 3: Increase Lakota language proficiency and use at the college and in the nation
• Designed Lakota First (Lakota Woglaka Wounspe or LWW) curriculum and standards
• Head Start program adopted LWW curriculum
     Ninety-six percent of head start classrooms incorporated Lakota language instruction
• Built and opened new demonstration school at OLC in 2009
     Increased enrollment from Fall 2009 (K-2) to Fall 2010 (K-3) by 66%
• Disseminated LWW curriculum to all high school teachers
     Trained K-12 schools in OPI and adopted as standard fluency exam
• Five OLC employees and 17 students completed new 12-hour immersion course

Success Story
OLC_Darlene_Last_Horse.JPGDarlene Last Horse was raised in a strictly Lakota cultural environment. Darlene remembers receiving punishment for speaking Lakota at school. The difficult experience at school did not take her identity as a Lakota person away nor her love for education. She learned English, and became bilingual. Darlene started college in the 1980’s, and eventually returned to OLC to complete a bachelor’s degree in Lakota Studies with a language teaching certificate. She worked at a local school for several years, teaching Lakota in elementary through high school.

Darlene worked at head start in the immersion class as the teacher-aide, and when Lakota Tokeya Wounspe opened, OLC hired Darlene to teach Lakota.

President Tom Shortbull says, “Darlene is a very precious asset. She has a lot to share with the young children, be it about her rearing in the traditional way, about the local history, or about being a Lakota girl or a Lakota boy in the 21st Century. As a Lakota woman, Darlene is dedicated to passing on the language and the culture to the next generation.”

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Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College

SCTC quilt blockSaginaw Chippewa Tribal College (SCTC) Project Summary

Identified Need

SCTC identified revitalization of the Ojibwa language and cultural wisdom as an urgent priority; a survey found only five fluent Ojibwa speakers in the community. SCTC had offered Ojibwa language courses, but these were inconsistent, and it had no full-time instructor. The tribe offered some language programs, but there was a lack of systematic coordination with the college for producing fluent speakers. SCTC needed to review its Native American Studies (NAS) degree program and develop a stronger language component to improve its effectiveness in teaching Ojibwa.

Project Design

  • Hire a certified Ojibwa language instructor to develop the language program and guide the creation of a new curriculum.
  • Program review of the NAS department and integrate Ojibwa knowledge frameworks across the curriculum.
  • Require every faculty member to take beginning-level Ojibwa language.
  • Pilot a summer immersion program for all ages.
  • Open a new language and research intern position that would support faculty with the new content, devise new resources, and promote language use across campus.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • SCTC found intellectual capital residing in its staff, students, and community members as life-long learners who think critically, appreciate diversity, and value the unique culture of the Ojibwa people.
  • SCTC rediscovered the resources innate to its people and unearthed the good in its language and culture.
  • Language revitalization served as the catalyst to strengthen the academic program, improve institutional credibility, and increase enrollment.
  • SCTC strengthened its position with the tribe as a key player and a valuable resource in language restoration.

Project Goals and Results
Goal: Strengthen the Native American Studies program through the development of a strong, comprehensive Ojibwa language program
• Replaced an adjunct position with a permanent full-time language instructor
• Faculty completed NAS and Liberal Arts program reviews
     Added Ojibwa 101 requirement to both programs
• Increased Ojibwa language offerings
     Offered Ojibwa I, II, and III
     Piloted a new language immersion course and nine students passed the course
• New policy requires all faculty and administrators to take Ojibwa I
     Five faculty and administrators completed level I
     One faculty registered for level II
• Created new Ojibwa language materials
     Transcribed and transferred for classroom use an older recording of an Ojibwa-speaking elder
     Created immersion curriculum and materials for language camp
• Seventy-six percent increase in language class enrollment from 2007-2011
     Thirty-two percent increased vocabulary in Ojibwa 101 by pretest and midterm comparison
     Increased GPA for language courses from 2.0 to 3.9

Success Story
SCTC_Russell_Menfee.jpgRussell Menefee is a second-year student working towards an associate’s degree in Native American studies. He is a member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and came to the tribal college because of its offerings in Ojibwa language. When Russell decided to go back to college, he asked his brother for advice about his future role in the tribe. His brother offered, "I see you as a guidance counselor. You have many stories to tell and many obstacles in your past. You can relate to just about anyone having trouble in life. Also, you have no trouble talking to anyone and you are a very open person."

His brother’s words stuck with Russell for years. “Living near the tribe and seeing so many young students going through the language immersion program, I decided I would like to talk to them in their language. It motivates me to be able to talk to these children and to relate my life to theirs in whichever language best suits them.”

The staff at the college helped him to connect with others and encouraged him to obtain the skills to realize his dreams. “It makes me work that much harder because I realize that I can reach my dreams. I cannot wait to see what my children will learn from these wonderful people here at the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College.” The College selected Russell to present the language model at the Woksape Oyate Summit on Intellectual Capital in Denver in October 2011.

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Salish Kootenai College

SKC quilt blockSalish Kootenai College (SKC) Project Summary

Identified Need

SKC had evolved to offer stronger academic programs but struggled to attract and retain qualified faculty and staff. Many of its employees lacked advanced degrees required for teaching positions. Non-Native faculty members held a majority of degrees above the baccalaureate level and just 32 percent of full-time faculty members were Native. SKC needed to increase credentials for Native staff in order to promote leadership and meet its mission as a tribal institution of higher learning.

Project Design

  • SKC proposed professional development for Native employees and key staff members.
  • Offer scholarships to 12 Native employees for advanced degrees at nearby University of Montana.
  • Update student services professional knowledge and skills to would improve retention.
  • A mentoring component to support degree completion and help staff transition to new teaching positions.
  • The supplemental award also funded a symposium in the last project year for regional tribal colleges to explore and share best practices for teaching and learning.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • SKC recognized that its intellectual capital resided in its employees and their capacity to offer an excellent education for the unique learners served by the college.
  • By increasing the educational levels of its employees, SKC expected to increase its effectiveness in helping its students to lead more full and successful lives.
  • Employee advanced degrees increased institutional capacity, credibility, and individual employee confidence.
  • SKC implemented a mentoring model that changed the way it approaches faculty development.

Project Goals and Results

Goal 1: Build leadership capacity through advanced education and professional development for faculty and staff
• Thirteen faculty and staff members received funding to pursue advanced degrees
     Four degrees completed: One doctorate degree; two master’s degrees; one bachelor’s degree
     Five are near completion: one doctorate degree; three master’s degrees; one bachelor’s degree
     Three will continue degree work after program ends
     One withdrew from the program and left SKC employment
• Ten percent increase in number of faculty with advanced degrees

Supplemental Goal: Support and retain developing new faculty
• Four project recipients received support from senior faculty mentors and completed degrees
• Faculty developed a unified effort to improve teaching and learning
• SKC hosted a teaching and learning symposium for regional TCUs
     Thirteen TCUs and 38 TCU faculty shared best practices in developmental education

Success Story
SKC_Niki_Graham.JPGNiki Graham (Salish) is the prevention programs director at the college. Niki began working at SKC in 2004. She held a bachelor of science in health enhancement with a K-12 teaching endorsement from Montana State University. Niki aspired to teach heath education at the college; however, she would have to obtain a master’s degree.

Niki received a Woksape Oyate scholarship and enrolled at the University of Montana in the School of Public Community and Health Science. She found that the program content and new way of learning through online courses was challenging but rewarding. She says, “The skills and readings have helped me identify my weaknesses as well as my strengths as a leader within the program and my home community. The benefit of my degree work was in the management of programs. I have much more to learn and have greatly appreciated the chance to grow personally and professionally.”

Niki says that she would not have pursued a master’s degree without the scholarship. The opportunity to complete an advanced degree helped her to commit to her future role at the college. Her love of teaching inspired her to continue her education and qualified her to teach at the college.

Professional Development: Niki and Steve

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Sinte Gleska University

SGU quilt blockSinte Gleska University (SGU) Project Summary

Identified Need

New tribal initiatives and a younger student profile prompted SGU to expand its offerings. Faculty needed to update their teaching and engagement strategies because students were entering with more technology experience. It was a prime opportunity for SGU to increase its capacity for contemporary and evidence-based teaching and learning practices.

Project Design

  • Design the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) to serve as a hub for assessing faculty learning needs, identifying resources, designing training activities, and hosting formal and informal discussions to increase communication across departments.
  • Small research grants for teaching and learning projects and collaborative training across departments to encourage shared responsibility for improving learner outcomes.
  • Scholarships for masters and doctoral degrees to boost faculty credentials and leadership capacity.
  • Professional development and training for employees to align with the founders’ vision for honoring Lakota ways of knowing, doing, and being.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • The university defined intellectual capital at the beginning of the grant as its collective knowledge residing in its human capital, combined with the structural capital of its buildings, technology, and infrastructure resources.
  • “Now we define intellectual capital as intellectual competence and confidence coupled with knowledge, values, and wisdom of the people.”
  • The CTE transformed the academic environment by promoting shared learning, research, and resource development.
  • Faculty degree work improved the reputation of the university and strengthened the academic program.
  • SGU closed the technology gap and improved student engagement and retention.

Project Goals and Results

Goal 1: Establish a Center for Teaching Excellence to advance faculty knowledge, performance, and teaching methodologies and to improve student success
• Developed a virtual center for teaching excellence– a website to share research, best practices, and instructional resources
• The project provided common professional development activities for all faculty
• Faculty requested monthly gatherings to share new knowledge
• Hosted seminars with regional TCUs to share best practices
• Produced instructional DVDs to capture traditional wisdom
     Seven-hundred copies distributed to community partners and families
• Evaluation of faculty development efforts showed:
     Improved quality of instruction
     Improved program and student learning assessment
• Student course evaluation showed improved satisfaction with teaching
     Enrollment increased in updated courses
     Graduation and retention improved by 5% between 2008-2011

Goal 2: Build leadership capacity within the current faculty through advanced education, professional development training, and support
• Four employees completed masters’ degrees
• Four employee degrees in progress
     Two near completion for master’s degrees
     Two completed coursework for doctorate degrees
• Advanced degrees supported promotions and improved job performance
     Twenty faculty updated content knowledge and improved job performance
     Three employees promoted to higher level of administrative responsibility
     One master’s degree recipient hired to teach in human services
• Faculty scholarship recipients created new programs
     One new master’s degree in business program
     One new Lakota studies baccalaureate degree in art

Human Interest Story
SGU_Nora_Antoine.jpgNora Antoine, a Rosebud Sioux tribal member, exemplifies leadership through professional development. She received her master’s degree from Oglala Lakota College and enrolled in a doctoral program with financial assistance from the Woksape Oyate grant. Nora is the business department chair and instructor at SGU. Her higher learning helped her to develop the only business degree program at the university.

Nora says, “For a number of years, I had hoped to work on a doctoral degree and because of this support, I have successfully completed my coursework at Antioch University’s Leadership and Change program! Most instructors at tribal colleges constantly learn from our students. Because of all that I have learned from my own advanced studies, I have more to share with them. My exposure to advanced studies has not only positively contributed to my own individual learning and to that of my own department, but being an engaged academic learner has contributed to a newly developed collaborative master’s degree with another academic department at our institution. It’s amazing how much has opened up for me personally and professionally because of the Lilly Endowment’s support for which I am very thankful!”

After Nora’s research presentation to faculty, four more instructors initiated master’s degree work. Nora has become an academic role model and leader at SGU.

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Sisseton Wahpeton College

SWC quilt blockSisseton Wahpeton College (SWC) Project Summary

Identified Need

SWC wanted to develop its own four-year programs that would better serve the needs of the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Oyate (or tribe, in Dakota). Educational outcomes for tribal students had suffered for years and many older teachers in local communities were retiring. The tribe wanted SWC to develop a new bachelor’s program that would prepare a new group of teachers who would be culturally proficient and help improve educational outcomes for their children.

Project Design

  • Create SWC’s first four-year degree program in elementary education.
  • Integrate Dakota studies courses and use the Dakota worldview to frame the instructional approach in the new program.
  • Hire an education coordinator to oversee curriculum and accreditation processes.
  • Convene a community advisory board to guide the cultural content in new programming.
  • Review and strengthen the course content of the associate’s degree program in early childhood education, which would create a pathway for the bachelor’s program.
  • Recruit for program enrollment paraprofessionals who already had associate degrees and offer flexible course delivery options.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • The degree program allowed the Oyate to restore its sovereign control over teacher training and ensure the survival of the intellectual capital contained in the Dakota identity, language, and culture of its children and families.
  • SWC strengthened academic programming overall and developed new pathways into advanced degrees and employment opportunities.
  • Developing a strong Dakota-based academic program improved community relationships and kept the intellectual capital within the community.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Develop and accredit a four-year baccalaureate elementary education program
• Hired a full-time education coordinator and adjunct instructors
• Revised and upgraded general studies program
     Nineteen courses developed and approved
     Three new bachelor’s degree-level courses delivered by distance education
     Established education resource center in the library
• Developed admission policies and application procedures
• New degree program recommended for accreditation by HLC and state board of education

Goal 2: Strengthen the early childhood associate’s degree program and maintain viability as a terminal degree for employment
• Redesigned degree to function as a pipeline to the bachelor’s program
     Prerequisite course standards revised and upgraded
     Two new classes and a practicum offered each semester
     Three general education courses approved for distance learning at practicum sites

Goal 3: Recruit and retain new students to the elementary education program
• Personal outreach to tribal programs and local schools
     Eleven students enrolled in the bachelor's degree program
     Fourteen freshmen students declared elementary education major

Success Story
SWC_Marjorie_Iyarpeya.jpgMarjorie Iyarpeya is a 27-year-old SWC graduate, continuing student, single mother, and member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. Marjorie already has an associate’s degree from the college in general studies and she is continuing to take classes to complete an associate of arts degree in child development. She entered the elementary education bachelor’s program in the fall of 2011.

Marjorie says she wants to be a teacher because “I love watching kids’ eyes light up when they learn something new, and I get to be somebody’s hero.” She feels that having her four-year degree will help her better support her six-year-old daughter Makayla. Marjorie says, “I will better understand my child, where she is in school, and what I can do to help.”

Marjorie travels 50 miles from her home in Watertown, Soth Dakota, to attend classes at the college because she likes the friendly, family-oriented atmosphere and having Native American instructors.

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Sitting Bull College

SBC quilt blockSitting Bull College (SBC) Project Summary

Identified Need

SBC struggled with retention due to pervasively low literacy skills for freshmen. SBC wanted to work with local schools to improve literacy and high school graduation rates however, it did not have enough staff to take on such a broad initiative, and its current staff was already overworked. SBC needed to create a new position and hire employees specifically to address the literacy challenges. The college also needed to enhance the skills of all faculty and staff to support students effectively in developing appropriate levels of written and oral communication skills.

Project Design

  • Establish the 7th Generation Academic Excellence Center (AEC) and hire a dedicated project lead to oversee the grant activities.
  • Hire professional and peer tutors to coach student writing at the AEC and in classrooms.
  • Use institutional data from freshmen placement tests to determine future faculty professional development needs in improving writing instruction across the campus.
  • Common professional development and training for SBC faculty and local educators.
  • Collaborate with K-12 school administrators from across the reservation.
  • Develop a publishable model on best practices for writing instruction at a tribal college.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • SBC defined its intellectual capital as “the sum of all knowledge and wisdom of its people,” which encompasses the virtues of the past and the intellectual and creative achievements of contemporary Indigenous scholars.
  • SBC’s capacity to provide educational, economic, and social development of its students was critical to developing intellectual capital among its constituency.
  • The AEC engaged the faculty in critical inquiry that resulted in effective instructional practices and stronger academic programming.
  • The AEC improved literacy and first year success among SBC students and established a best practices model based on research.

Project Goals and Results

Goal 1: Establish 7th Generation Academic Excellence Center (AEC) to improve literacy skills and promote faculty scholarship on teaching and learning
• AEC hired two professional tutors and five peer tutors
     Offered night and weekend tutor services on two campuses
     Integrated tutors into English and psychology courses
        70% retention rate in psychology of student success course fall 2011-spring 2012
     Added an attendance and outreach counselor in year four
        Improved at risk student completion by 49%
• AEC offered three faculty writing instruction workshops and ongoing discussion groups
     Ninety-five percent of participants increased knowledge of best practices for writing and student engagement
     Thirty-nine percent changed course requirements to include more writing
        Twenty-three courses are now writing intensive
        Three courses now require students to use the AEC writing lab
• Tutoring and professional development improved literacy outcomes
     Four percent net increase in pre/post writing scores 2007-2012
     Five percent annual increase in English and speech course retention 2007-2011
• AEC increased student confidence in written and oral communication
     SBC speech team placed third at 2010 AIHEC student competition
     One student essay published by Tribal College Journal
     Ten high school student essays published in SBC newsletter
• Two articles on AEC model prepared for publication

Goal 2: Increase college readiness through collaboration across local education system
• Education Consortium formed between SBC and public school administrators
• Eight instructional workshops held for SBC faculty, community professionals, and public school teachers
     Common writing method adopted across K-16 system
• Four intellectual capital development symposia held
     400 pre-K through college teachers and staff attended annually
• High school English teachers served on AEC external advisory board
     Helped score SBC freshman writing assessments

Success Story
SBC Travis Alkire_1.jpgTravis Alkire is a conscientious, bright young man who enrolled in a developmental course called foundations of English, based on the writing section of his placement test. Travis became familiar with the AEC because his foundations of English class met in the center. Travis knew that he could come to the AEC for help the next semester when he had writing assignments in other classes. Lorie Hach, AEC Director, coached Travis in writing a six-page research paper that pleased Travis.

Lori said, “He gained confidence and improved so much. We told him that we knew he aspires to become a tribal leader, but we think he should come back to SBC as an English teacher because he is a confident, articulate writer and speaker. Travis had not even considered English as a major (he had been thinking about law), but now he liked the idea.”

Travis knew he would be a good role model for younger students. At one point, he got tears in his eyes when he recalled that no teacher had ever expressed this kind of confidence in him. He could not wait to tell his mother and research colleges and universities with a good English writing program.

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Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute

SIPI quilt blockSouthwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) Project Summary

Identified Need

SIPI is one of the few tribal colleges chartered by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education and, until recently, it lacked an organizational culture that encouraged shared governance. An accreditation study revealed that the faculty had limited input with the curriculum and few opportunities to evaluate student learning, which had a negative effect on its continued accreditation status. The higher learning comission mandated SIPI to strengthen shared governance processes and demonstrate data-driven improvement. SIPI wanted to establish a “culture of assessment” that would energize shared accountability and help it regain accreditation.

Project Design

  • Engage the entire campus in improving its capacity for assessment and accountability.
  • Meet accreditation requirements and create a comprehensive and systematic training program, policies, and practices.
  • Change the culture from a top-down system to one that reflected shared responsibility for institutional success.
  • Conduct a survey of existing assessment practices and data.
  • Engage a consulting firm to help design training events, infrastructure, assessment protocols, and accountability measures for all employees.
  • Provide initial funding of a permanent position in the office of institutional research to oversee assessment of institutional effectiveness.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • The SIPI’s intellectual capital rests in the dedication and hard work of the faculty and staff. Faced with a diminished accreditation status, it rose to the challenge.
  • Everyone at SIPI worked tirelessly to learn and implement rigorous assessment practices and take on new roles and responsibilities.
  • The focus on institutional assessment launched a climate of shared accountability.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Develop and institutionalize an assessment program of student achievement
• Hired an assessment coordinator
• Hired consultants to help identify training needs and develop plan
• Trained executive team and board on their role in assessment
• All employees received assessment training and improved job performance
• Established three new cross-disciplinary committees
     Assessment steering committee
• Developed program assessment manual
• Created advisory committee handbook
     Curriculum committee
     General education committee
• Revised general education learning outcomes
• All faculty contribute to online reporting of learning and program outcomes

Human Interest Story
SIPI_Val_Montoya.jpgValerie Montoya, project lead and vice president of academic affairs at SIPI reflected on the past two years and what lies ahead, and found she was excited. “The Woksape Oyate grant gave us the resources and impetus to move into uncharted territories of adult learning. Recently, the college suffered an existential crisis when its regional accrediting body diminished its status. This crisis triggered a deep restructuring of the college and a rebuilding of several internal systems."

"The project transformed my own understanding on a deep level, as an educator and an agent of change regarding what we must do to ensure the success of our students and their communities. The grant allowed me to engage faculty, students, and Native community leaders to articulate what we mean by 'student learning,' how to assess it at our unique tribal college. Now, I view our ongoing challenge as the need to build a learning environment that values our diverse students and their communities and assists them in attaining and integrating strong knowledge for their professional fields of choice," she said.

"There are three dimensions of student learning. 'Culture' affects how students learn, how they view faculty, and how they access and utilize information; 'academics' includes the body of knowledge, skills, and abilities students need to master as they prepare for the workforce or for bachelor’s degree education; and, 'professional' includes the soft skills students need to take with them into the workplace. In fact, these dimensions are connected and their interrelationship ensures adult learners the opportunity to excel, to ask broader and deeper questions and to become creators of knowledge not just receivers,” she said.

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Stone Child College

SCCC quilt blockStone Child College (SCC) Project Summary

Identified Need

SCC found it challenging to attract and retain faculty because of its small size and isolated location. The most talented students left the reservation and rarely returned to reinvest their education and leadership skills at home because of poor employment prospects. SCC believed that if it increased the number of tribal members among its faculty, more students would choose the college rather than leave the reservation for higher education. Faculty agreed the project might allow the college to hire more of its own tribal members as teachers and thereby infuse the academic environment with more cultural experts.

Project Design

  • Prepare a cohort of tribal members to replace retiring faculty.
  • Financial assistance for 11 students to encourage completion of advanced degrees.
  • Recipients would sign an agreement to teach at the college after graduation, provided positions were available.
  • Pair program students with senior faculty for mentoring and summer internships.
  • Create a new part-time position to oversee the project: a retention specialist who would keep continuous contact with students, track attendance and grades, and identify supplemental resources to encourage program completion.
  • A supplemental grant would support the president’s Ph.D. in business and leadership.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • SCC found wisdom in the experiences among senior faculty that could benefit a new generation of instructors.
  • It also recognized an untapped reserve of intellectual capital in students who could become leaders and educators.
  • SCC has a strong pool of qualified tribal members who serve their community and stand ready to replace retiring senior faculty members.
  • Program participants enriched the campus with new knowledge.
  • The president’s doctoral education helped improve institutional efficiency and expanded her positive influence in the community and the tribal college movement.

Project Goals and Results

Goal 1: Increase the number of Chippewa Cree tribal members who are qualified to teach at the college
• Twenty-one tribal members received scholarships and mentoring
• Forteen completed academic goals
     One technical certificate
     Three associate degrees
     Six bachelor’s degrees
     Three master’s degrees
     One doctorate degree
• Five continue in degree work
     Four students are continuing in bachelor degree work
     One student had health problems but hopes to return and complete master’s thesis

Goal 2: Replace retiring faculty members with highly prepared tribal members
• All students completed summer internships with faculty mentors
• Faculty passed on teaching wisdom
     Instructional workshops and assignments focused on curriculum development, classroom management,
     research, and assessment
• Hired new instructors
     One hired full-time
     Five hired part-time

Supplemental Goal: Increase president’s credentials and leadership skills
• SCC president completed two doctoral residencies
     Continuing coursework toward doctorate degree

Success Story
SCC_John_Murie.jpgJohn Murie started college 10 years ago and eventually received his associate degree in fine arts. He put his bachelor’s degree aside because he needed to work full-time to support his family.

John had a gift for painting and dreamed of becoming an art instructor. In 2007, he decided to pursue his bachelor’s degree, and he enrolled at the college for some refresher courses. John learned of the Woksape Oyate scholarship, and the board of regents selected him as one of the program’s first cohort of scholars.

He transferred to the University of Great Falls (UGF) and began his bachelor’s degree work in Spring 2008. At UGF, John excelled at his studies and stayed on the honor roll consistently. He graduated in May 2010 and currently attends a master of fine arts program at the University of Montana.

John is excited to be teaching full time at the college that gave him his start. With the knowledge he gained, he helped the college design a new fine arts program and to add four new courses. John is truly paying it forward for the help he received and realizing his dream to teach art among his tribal people. 

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Tohono O'odham Community College

TOCC quilt blockTohono O’odham Community College (TOCC) Project Summary

 Identified Need

A comprehensive community survey showed that students dropped out of high school because they failed to see a connection between education and their tribal culture. Only five percent of citizens had a college degree, and many of the TOCC staff lacked professional skills and credentials for employment in higher education. TOCC had initiated various programs for educational improvement, but it needed to integrate the programs strategically. TOCC needed to improve its ability to assess and modify its academic programs to make learning more relevant to the community needs, an area that the accrediting agency had mandated for improvement.

Project Design

  • Coordinate various programs and resources already in place to improve college readiness, strengthen the community value for education, make the curriculum more culturally relevant, and develop its capacity for assessment.
  • Strengthen its articulation and collaboration with the K-12 systems and implement a summer pre-collegiate program for incoming high school students.
  • Professional development opportunities to build capacity for assessment of teaching and learning and strengthen cultural frameworks across academic programs.
  • Faculty would work with the Himdag (O’odham culture) committee to review and revise all courses and to design a new associate degree program in Tohono O’odham studies.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • TOCC defined intellectual capital as the knowledge of the instructors, students, and community, as well as the Tohono O’odham way of life.
  • The college came to see intellectual capital as an investment in the people and institution for long-term growth and success.
  • TOCC built community partnerships to improve academic preparation.
  • Professional development strengthened cultural infusion in academic programs.
  • The most long-lasting impact of the project is future leadership development.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Increase academic preparation and college access for first year students
• Fourteen faculty completed foundations of excellence training
     Produced a self-assessment and plan for improving first year experience
• Faculty team designed Summer Bridge Program
     Thirty-five pre-college students participated between Summer 2007 and Summer 2010
• College Prep 101 course implemented for all first-year students
• Three dual-credit courses delivered at local high schools
     One-hundred and twenty-five high school students received college credits between Spring and Fall 2011
• Thirteen faculty attended College Horizons training
     Increased skills and resources to support transition to four-year programs

Goal 2: Develop culturally responsive environment for teaching and learning
• Thirty-six faculty attended AILDI over three summer sessions
• Nine elder cultural knowledge seminars hosted
     Faculty designed a community model to encourage families to embrace education
• A new certificate program in Tohono O’odham Studies was accredited by the state

Goal 3: Increase institutional capacity for assessment to meet accreditation mandates
• Twelve faculty attended HLC Assessment Academy over 3 years
• Fifteen faculty participated in critical analysis and writing workshops
• All faculty and staff participated in multiple on-site assessment trainings
• All courses assessed with student learning outcomes in place by 2012
     Baseline data compiled
     Data resulted in improved instructional approaches for literacy and math

Goal 4: Develop leadership and instructional capacity among administrators, faculty, and staff
• Four administrators and board members attended Harvard leadership institutes
• Fourteen employees funded for advanced degree work
     Four completed master’s degrees in educational leadership
     Three employees certified for community college teaching
     Two completed critical certifications
     Four doctorate degrees, two bachelor’s degrees, and four associate's degrees in progress

Success Story
TOCC_Anna_Marie_Stevens_and_Gabriella_Cazares_Kelly.jpgAmong the recipients of professional development funding under the grant are two counselors at the college. Anna Marie Stevens is the career counselor. She completed her bachelor’s degree just prior to obtaining her position and had not planned to seek a master’s degree. She thought she would not be able to afford further education and hesitated to enroll full-time because of family responsibilities.

With encouragement from TOCC administrators and the promise of a full scholarship under the Wisdom from the Desert program, Anna Marie joined a cohort of other employees in the educational leadership master’s program at Northern Arizona University. The program structure allowed her to work full time, and with full support of her family, she completed her master’s degree in May 2012.

Gabriella Cazares-Kelly is the senior admissions counselor for the college. She, too, had postponed a master’s degree due to the demands of her position, family responsibilities, and costs. Her family agreed that the sacrifice was worth it for her to take advantage of the opportunity for an advanced degree relevant to her employment in a community college. She also received her master’s degree in educational leadership in May 2012. The group of employees took most classes and studied together. They supported each other when their classes, family, and work responsibilities became overwhelming.

Capacity Building at TOCC

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Turtle Mountain Community College

TMCC quilt blockTurtle Mountain Community College (TMCC) Project Summary

Identified Need

A community survey regarding educational needs found that language loss was an area of great concern. Turtle Mountain reservation is home to at least three distinct tribal heritage and language groups: Ojibwe, Michif, and Cree. TMCC became alarmed at the degree to which the Michif and Ojibwe languages had declined over 30 years and much of the wisdom held by elders was disappearing. Only eight staff members were fluent in a Native language and instructors lacked appropriate knowledge and skills to integrate cultural components into the curriculum. Student retention was below that of other tribal and community colleges nationwide. The college believed that tribal students would be more successful if they found their coursework to be culturally relevant.

Project Design

  • Target all employees for language instruction in either Michif or Ojibwe and aimed for a measurable increase in fluency for at least 20% of its staff.
  • Establish a baseline for improvement by administering a campus and community survey.
  • Appoint a language committee of faculty with cultural or language expertise to guide project activities and provide continuous feedback for improvement.
  • Hire elder mentors who would be willing to co-teach in the employee language program.
  • Solicit the support of the tribal council and leverage it to motivate collaboration among educational partners for language preservation.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • TMCC clearly recognized that the Indigenous languages spoken on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation held the intellectual capital of the people.
  • The elders held the wisdom and the college needed to draw them to the campus to help revitalize Native languages and strengthen cultural foundations of the curriculum.
  • Language revitalization engaged elders and the community and helped them overcome historical silence.
  • Formal partnerships energized community interest in language preservation and revitalization.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Enrich the learning environment at Turtle Mountain Community College through employee Native language competency
• Students administered survey in community and on campus as a service learning activity
     Eighteen fluent Michif speakers identified
     Twelve fluent Ojibwe speakers identified
     Two-hundred and four individuals reported some Native language ability
• Added language and culture workshop to employee orientation
     One-hundred percent of all faculty and staff participated in language and culture training
• Two one-credit courses developed and offered for employees
     The new courses documented over 1,000 conversational phrases
     Forty-eight percent of all employees completed Native language courses
• One Native studies course revised
     Twenty-five language curriculum modules developed
     Seven students attended an international conference and developed language preservation networks

Goal 2: Create community partnerships for language revitalization
• Six community education partners formalized agreements
     Two language immersion camps held
        Nine elder mentors assisted with language instruction
        One-hundred community members attended
        Sixteen students received college credit for attendance

Success Story
TMCC_Michif_speakers.jpgIn July 2010, TMCC hosted its first Michif speakers’ forum. The Michif language combines French, Cree, and Ojibwe and came about because of the intermarriage of French fur traders and Ojibwe women.

In September 2010, the college hosted an Ojibwe speakers’ forum. The Ojibwe elders agreed with the Michif elders on the critical need to revitalize, document, and preserve the languages spoken at Turtle Mountain. They sensed the urgency about capturing the languages before they pass away.

Project lead Larry Henry found it fortunate that some Ojibwe elders kept the traditional ceremonies alive, and that Ojibwe values remain alive today. Mr. Henry said, “Without our elders support we would not be able to bring back our languages and ceremonies. The TMCC language project has brought to light that preservation and documentation of both languages is at a critical point.”

More about the TMCC language forums

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United Tribes Technical College

UTTC quilt blockUnited Tribes Technical College (UTTC) Project Summary

 Identified Need

A feasibility study conducted in 2005 found that 91 percent of UTTC students would enroll in bachelor degree programs if the college offered them. The study recommended that UTTC develop bachelor degree programs in elementary and special education, business administration, and criminal justice. UTTC needed to strengthen its infrastructure before developing or seeking accreditation for bachelor’s degree programs. Faculty would need to upgrade their academic credentials to teach upper level courses. UTTC would need to strengthen its general education program, and all aspects of student services and campus life would need new accommodations for four-year degree students.

Project Design

  • Establish an office of advanced degree programs and hire a director to facilitate the planning and institutional changes required to develop three new baccalaureate programs.
  • Provide professional development for existing instructors and hire staff.
  • Cover the initial salaries for faculty positions required for the new programs.
  • Coordinate a review of the current general education competencies and see that the College upgraded prerequisites for the proposed bachelor’s degrees.
  • Forge new educational partnerships to develop coursework and assessment standards.
  • Design evaluation plan and financial model to demonstrate sustainability of programs.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • The college recognized that its intellectual capital resided in the creativity, dedication, and commitment of faculty and staff.
  • Employees integrated the term into their discussions about institutional effectiveness, which helped them see new program ventures as an investment, both from an intellectual and financial perspective.
  • New baccalaureate degree programs prepared graduates for employment and inspired future program development at the college.
  • Campus-wide commitment to the project created an institutional culture of shared responsibility for institutional success.

Project Goals and Results
Goal 1: Enhance institutional capacity to provide bachelor’s degrees
• Hired a director of upper division programs
     Developed upper degree strategic plan
• Institutionalized assessment and reporting procedures
• Faculty teams reviewed general education courses to ensure content met bachelor’s degree prerequisites
     Developed additional courses to support bachelor programs
     Revised course descriptions and numbering for consistency with state system
• Revised policies and procedures to accommodate four-year students and families
• Developed financial model and program evaluation processes to sustain program
Goal 2: Develop three bachelor’s degrees for accreditation
• Established faculty and departmental advisory boards for three new majors
     Created degree and student assessment plans
     Developed 49 new courses
• Pilot tested a sampling of courses and assessed interest in enrollment
• Submitted institutional change and self-study reports to higher learning commission
• The higher learning comission approved 10-year accreditation and online delivery for new bachelor programs
     Fifteen students enrolled in elementary/special education
     Twenty-five students enrolled in business administration
     Eighteen students enrolled in criminal justice
• The first cohort of eight students completed bachelor’s degrees in May 2012

Goal 4: Recruit, develop, and retain qualified faculty for new upper division courses
• Evaluated current staff credentials, hiring practices, and professional development needs
     Hired 10 new full-time faculty
        All have master’s degrees or above
        Three are working on doctorate degrees
     Hired adjunct faculty to teach specialized courses

Human Interest Story
UTTC_Rolenthea_Begay.jpgRolenthea Begay’s family saw an advertisement for United Tribes Technical College and encouraged her to find out more. She planned to attend Arizona State University and major in education, but was curious when she learned that a tribal college offered the same degree. Rolenthea tells of her thrill in arriving on the UTTC campus and finding a community where everyone was generous and respectful of her traditions and language.

Rolenthea earned the respect of her colleagues throughout North Dakota. They elected her President of the Student North Dakota Education Association. She was the first Native American student and the first UTTC student to hold this office. As president, she represents student teachers of North Dakota on a national level, attending conferences and leading community service initiatives.

The college selected Rolenthea as the first recipient of the David M. Gipp Native Leaders Fellowship, a $1,000 scholarship, renewable each semester for the duration of her studies. UTTC created the scholarship under its Woksape Oyate project to inspire students to pursue academic and leadership excellence. Currently, Rolenthea and other UTTC education students actively participate in the “Outreach to Teach Program.” They travel to under-resourced schools to help with renovations and maintenance. Rolenthea plans to return to the Diné Nation and teach elementary school when she completes her baccalaureate degree. She eventually hopes to earn a master’s degree. Her professional goal is to promote the importance of education to the students she serves.

Finding a Community at 'Tribes'

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White Earth Tribal and Community College

WETCC quilt blockWhite Earth Tribal and Community College (WETCC) Project Summary

Identified Need

WETCC, like many small rural colleges, has had difficulty attracting qualified and experienced employees. Many of its administrators, faculty, and staff lacked the appropriate training, degrees, and credentials demanded by higher education industry standards. The HLC made an accreditation site visit in 2008, and determined that the college needed to strengthen its professional development structures. The college needed to retain and develop current staff, but it lacked formal policies, procedures, and resources to support equitable access to professional development for all employees.

Project Design

  • Provide staff with opportunities for professional development, and improve institutional readiness to conduct accreditation activities.
  • Form a new committee to determine strategic professional development priorities, develop procedures for requesting and allocating resources, and create policies to support educational and training activities.
  • Target administrative cabinet members for advanced degree work to increase the institutional capacity for leadership.
  • Provide funding for administrators, faculty, and staff to attain college degrees, professional certifications, and advanced skills appropriate to their positions.
  • Employees share what they learn and incorporate new knowledge into classroom instruction, the curricula, and services.
  • Train faculty on student assessment to address HLC improvement mandates and prepare for the 2012-2013 accreditation review.

Intellectual Capital Gained

  • WETCC found intellectual capital in its employees’ willingness to learn and grow.
  • WETCC found that given the opportunity, and with equitable support structures in place, employees would respond with enthusiasm to advance their educational credentials and job skills.
  • Employees who furthered their education enhanced institutional capacity for leadership.
  • Improved institutional credibility promoted new educational partnerships.

Project Goals and Results

Goal: Develop institutional infrastructure that supports improved employee performance and institutional accreditation
• Established the first president’s cabinet
     All members hold advanced degrees
• Formed a professional development committee
     Prioritized institutional needs
     Developed policies and protocols
• Faculty and staff degrees completed
     One MBA
     One master’s degree
     One instructional technology certificate
• Faculty and staff degrees in progress
     Three bachelor’s degrees
     One associate's degree
     Twenty-five employees attended position-specific training activities
• Formed accreditation self-study committee
     Developed strategic plan, policies, and resource catalog on learning assessment
     Core team trained on institutional assessment
     All faculty trained on student learning assessment
• WETCC completed accreditation self-study document

 Success Story
WETCC_Denise_Warren.jpgAs the director of finance at WETCC, Denise Warren sits on the president’s cabinet. She benefitted from professional growth under the Woksape Oyate project and received additional responsibility.

She said, “With the assistance from the Lilly Endowment, I was able to complete a master’s degree in strategic leadership. This enabled me to better support my family, increased my skills and abilities to perform the duties of my work, and inspired me to continue to further my educational goals. I began in May of 2010, and was able to complete my degree work in 15 months. The opportunity was extremely beneficial for me as a single mother. I was able to achieve my educational goals while minimizing student loans. My earning capacity has also increased; and WETCC adjusted my salary to match the educational level I now hold. Because of my education, I consider myself a role model for my family and my community. Completing a master’s degree gave me an increased level of confidence, improved my management and strategic planning skills, and enabled me to serve our students better. I am currently looking into doctorate degree programs.”

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The Woksape Oyate Quilt

Each tribal college participating in the Woksape Oyate program, a five-year, $17.5 million grant initiative from Lilly Endowment Inc. to allow tribal colleges to build their intellectual capital, created a quilt block to represent their school and community. The quilt blocks and quilt were completed in early 2012 by Christina Conquering Bear (above). We showcased each tribal college’s quilt block alongside a description of their project on our web site. Here you see the final quilt comprised of each school’s quilt block, depicting the diversity and richness of our school’s projects and the intellectual capital developed from Woksape Oyate project.