Should We Restructure Tribal Colleges?

Photo Courtesy Tribal College Journal

Photo Courtesy Tribal College Journal

Education is a piece of the fabric that weaves the future. However, for generations, the Native Americans have had no thread to string it together. In order to allow Native Americans to access that right of education, it is time to make a change. 


The Background

Right now, tribal colleges put up with awful conditions. According to Hope Center of 2019, 62 percent of respondents were food insecure in the prior 30 days, and 69 percent were housing insecure in the previous year. Tribal colleges have been systematically and severely underfunded since their start. 


The consequences of insufficient funding were visible even before the pandemic. Tribal colleges don’t even receive funding. It’s so bad that according to the College of the Muscogee Nation in 2021, some colleges have already been told that funding from tribal governments may be cut by half or even totally.


The Good

Restructuring of tribal colleges will help break free from the deterioration of economic status. During Covid-19, tribal colleges were unable to function. According to the 2016 FCC Broadband Progress Report: 68 percent of Americans on tribal lands lack access to fixed broadband. Restructuring gives money towards digital infrastructure, essential in education during COVID-19.


 In this advancement, students would be able to access college even when in a pandemic. Students need the system to change. They need funding, support, and attention. The percentages of native students attending tribal colleges are increasing yearly. These students want to learn, they deserve to learn. But that’s not possible without the proper education systems.


In addition, funding tribal colleges will work to support living conditions for tribal members. When Native Americans earned any sort of a college degree, their salary increased by a significant amount. If Native Americans are able to support themselves, they will be able to support a greater socioeconomic growth. 


The Impact

Breaking free from a lack of funding will work to preserve their culture and quality of life. According to the Daily Montan of 2018: Tribal colleges are both integral and essential to their communities, creating environments that foster culture, languages, and traditions. 


These colleges aren’t just there to teach the basic subjects of math, science, and history. They are there to keep and value the culture, language, and community of the Native Americans. If we don’t restructure, eventually their culture will fade away. 


The Conclusion

We cannot sweep the lives of tribal college students aside. Their struggles are our struggles. This is the latest test of our commitment to equity and justice for all.