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Cankdeska Cikana Community College

214 1st Avenue
P.O. Box 269
Fort Totten , ND 58335


CCCC Students attend Annual American Indian Higher Education Consortium in Green Bay, Wisconsin

Mission, Vision, Educational Philosophy
The mission of Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC) is to provide education opportunities at the community college level, including vocational and technical training. As a tribal community college, CCCC emphasizes the teaching and learning of Dakota culture and language toward the perpetuation of the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation.

With a goal of student independence and self-sufficiency, the college’s educational philosophy promotes a vision of a Dakota community that enjoys physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness and growth through education and training.

The Spirit Lake Dakota Nation, a North Dakota tribal community comprised of nearly 7,000 members, chartered the tribal college in 1974. Originally named Little Hoop Community College, the Board of Regents officially changed its name to Cankdeska Cikana in May 1995 to honor Paul Yankton, Sr., a soldier and tribal member killed in action in World War II. Both a hero and an inspiration to his people, Yankton’s Dakota name Cankdeska Cikana translates to “Little Hoop.”

With an original staff of four and one instructor, the college offered its first classes in January 1975. Two years later, the first five students graduated from CCCC.

From these humble beginnings, CCCC’s milestones include receiving its first round of funding under the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistant Act in 1980 and acquiring unused Bureau of Indian Affairs buildings to house the college campus in 1984.

In February 1990, CCCC received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The college earned Land Grant Status in 1994. Today, the college enjoys newly renovated campus facilities and the highest student enrollment in the college’s history.

Geographic Features and Challenges
A rural tribal college, CCCC serves the Spirit Lake Dakota Reservation, a small, lake-filled reservation in east central North Dakota. The college itself is located within the reservation in the small town of Fort Totten.

With the closest metropolitan center of Grand Forks more than 100 miles to the east, CCCC provides a much-needed local alternative to the 4,500 tribal members living on or near the reservation who wish to pursue a post secondary education without leaving their home community. Not surprisingly, 94 percent of CCCC students are American Indian.

Academics & Students
Over time, CCCC’s original focus primarily upon providing vocational education to tribal members has shifted toward graduating students at the associate’s degree level and transitioning them into bachelor’s degree programs at four-year universities. CCCC participates in the North Dakota University System Transfer Agreement. This allows its students to transfer general education credits easily to other institutions within the system, facilitating their progress toward a four-year degree.

CCCC offers 17 associate’s degree and certificate programs in 16 different areas of study. The inclusion of programs of an associate’s degree of arts, associate’s degree of science and associate’s degree of applied science programs alongside certification programs in the trades has appealed to significant number of tribal members in recent years. In 2006, CCCC enrolled 233 students. Five years later, in spring 2011, CCCC enrolled an all-time high of 288 students, with an additional eight high school students enrolled via a dual credit program.

Graduation rates have remained steady in the same period of time. In 2006, CCCC graduated 29 students. In 2010, the most recent year where graduation data are available, 31 students graduated with associate’s degrees or certificates.

Aided by a small faculty, two-thirds of whom are Native American, the college projects it will soon meet its goal of doubling enrollment from 200 in 2003 to 400 students.

Other Outstanding Accomplishments
The college has made strides to establish greater financial stability by securing annual financial contributions from the Spirit Lake Nation for operations and administration.

CCCC has also made significant improvements to its facilities in recent years. Since 2006, four new classrooms, including a state-of-the-art science lab, have been upgraded with new furniture and wireless connectivity and the library has been remodeled with new materials on Dakota people added.

Such improvements positively influence CCCC students. For example, in the 2010-2011 academic year six students enrolled in the American Indian studies degree program and four in the tribal government degree program. Four students graduated with associate’s degrees in American Indian Studies with the intention of transferring to a four-year university, the first graduates from the department in the college’s history.