AIHEC Student Congress Recorded History
Prologue – 1980s
During the early 1980s, Phil Baird of Sinte Gleska College and Elaine Beaudreau of Oglala Lakota College regularly conducted conference workshops on the topic of Student Leadership Development. Their presentations focused on leadership development within student government and youth organizations at the high school and intercollegiate levels. Emerging from these same workshops at the annual AIHEC conferences came the interest to organize student leadership among Tribal colleges and universities.
During a student assembly at the fifth annual AIHEC Higher Education conference in March, Tribal college students organized an ad hoc committee to formally establish the AIHEC Student Congress. Committee members included Marty Cuny, Oglala Lakota College; Robert Geboe, Dull Knife Memorial College; Linda Eschbach, Salish Kootenai College; and Maria Marcavage, Turtle Mountain Community College. The idea for the college student leadership organization came from information about the South Dakota Tribal High School Student Congress, an annual youth leadership program established in the late 1970s by Phil Baird and sponsored through the South Dakota Indian Education Association in collaboration with Sinte Gleska College.
In July Phil Baird (UTTC) and Elaine Beaudreau (OLC) convened Tribal college students and facilitated a two-day organizational development meeting on the Tsaile campus of Navajo Community College. The students presented their draft constitution and bylaws to the AIHEC board of directors. In principle, the student ad hoc committee now included Marty Cuny, OLC (chair); Robert Geboe, DKMC (vice chair); Maria Marcavage, TMCC (secretary); Brenda Clauschee, NCC; Ted Griffin, Blackfeet Community College; Joann Kuntz, SKC; Chris Rochelle, DKMC; Ray Slick, Haskell Indian Junior College; Phil Baird and Elaine Beaudreau (co-advisors).
In October, the ad hoc committee of the AIHEC Student Congress met with the AIHEC board of directors prior to the annual NIEA Convention in Reno, Nevada. Formal action was taken to accept the amendments to the AIHEC Student Congress constitution and bylaws, to approve the allocation of $3,450 for operational funds, and to support the sale of Martin Red Bear posters as a Student Congress fundraiser. The organization’s financial accounts are established at Salish Kootenai College.
In April, the first annual AIHEC Student Congress awards program was held at the annual AIHEC Higher Education conference in Missoula, Montana. American Indian College Fund board chair Ann Sward-Hanson met with the TCU students to share goals of AICF.
In July, an organizational retreat proposed at Haskell Indian Junior College in Lawrence, Kansas was canceled. A re-organizational meeting was held in Bismarck, N.D. with interim officers – Sharon Iron Star, Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (acting chair); LeLewis Gipp, Standing Rock Community College (acting vice chair); and Beatrice Raygo, United Tribes Technical College (acting secretary/treasurer). Student Congress representatives met with the AIHEC Board of directors in July at Flagstaff, Arizona.
In October, at the annual membership meeting of the AIHEC Student Congress, Tribal college students realign goals and representation. Amendments are approved by the AIHEC board of directors.
In November AIHEC Student Congress President Sharon Iron Star of Saskatchewan Indian Federated College convened the third annual membership meeting during the 20th annual NIEA Convention at Tulsa, OK. Robert Moore of Sinte Gleska University is elected the new AIHEC S.C. president. Other officers included Sharon Iron Star (vice chair); Nicole Sheridan, SKC (secretary) and Willowa Horn, Fort Belknap Community College (treasurer).
More information about the early 1990s was requested from Elaine Beaudreau and Robert Moore. Phil Baird and Elaine Beaudreau, who is now employed at Anoka Ramsey College in Minnesota, remained organizational advisors until about the mid-1990s. Subsequent advisors included Robert Moore (SGU), Dana Grant (SKC), and Juan Perez (SKC).
Tribal College Journal Excerpt: Leadership and the power to change are key concepts inherent in a special project being implemented by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) Student Congress. With funding from the Kellogg Foundation as a part of its "Capturing the Dream Initiative," the Student Congress project will expand the leadership options for students at all tribal colleges. Over the next four years, the AIHEC Student Congress plans to establish a summer leadership institute, create an alumni network, and produce training manuals and seminars relevant to tribal communities. Under the initiative, the Student Congress members will create community action plans, carry out a yearly national theme effort, establish collaborative relationships with other national organizations, and host an annual, student-designed national training conference. Kellogg funding for the initiative will total over $400,000, also enabling the Student Congress to build up an endowment to ensure longevity and stability.
Established in 1986, the AIHEC Student Congress provides opportunities for leadership development, education advocacy, and intercollegiate student competitions. The group has an ex-officio position on the AIHEC board of directors. The Student Congress also coordinates planning for workshops and activities during the annual AIHEC conference. For more information contact Student Congress advisor Dana Grant at Salish Kootenai College, P.O. Box 117, Pablo, Mont. 59855.
Summer Leadership Institute: The discussion participants determined that the most critical activity for AIHEC is to develop and sustain a “learning” forum for new and current tribal college presidents as well as to create mechanisms to help current leaders to identify potential leaders/leadership teams and to strengthen leadership capacity throughout their institutions. In addition, the participants encouraged closer connections with the AIHEC Student Congress, NINLHE, and other advocacy and professional organizations. The following are ideas for development:
1. Building Tribal College Leadership
Provide close mentoring of new presidents by experienced TCU presidents.
Identify resource pool of people—inside and outside TCU community—with specific expertise in critical knowledge and skill areas to assist new TCU presidents.
Identify crucial knowledge (e.g., accreditation, funding, etc.) and problem areas (e.g., tribal politics, internal strife, nepotism, etc.) that TCU presidents must know to be successful
Identify essential skills needed for success in a TCU (e.g., communication, conflict resolution, negotiation, etc.). How is this similar or different than a mainstream institution?
Sponsor a leadership institute for prospective TCU presidents drawing from TCUs and emerging scholars nationally focusing on essential leadership skills and knowledge in the TCU environment.
2. Building an infrastructure for tribal college leadership capacity
Identify particular TCU staff and faculty and provide to them professional development to prepare for eventual leadership roles
Develop the collective leadership of the TCU community—staff, faculty, board, and students—so that leadership responsibility is shared and not dependent upon one person.
3. Build and maintain a database of information for tribal college leaders
Collect information on various scholarship and research (i.e., books, articles, theses, etc.) focusing on TCUs and make available to TCU presidents and community as a resource.
4. Other leadership development activities
Locate ways to build future tribal government leaders
Promote native-controlled research initiatives
In February, members of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium Student Congress traveled to Washington, DC , to speak with their members of Congress about the value of tribal colleges. Brandon Nurlow, Dwayne Bane, Rhonda Davis, Tate Haukaas, John LittleSky, and Gabrielle Tiomanipi; Sheila Wetterling, Julian Manyhides, Linda White, Stephanie Laducer, Collen Kelly, Mechelle Crazy Thunder, Denise Krueger; and Eric Dumarce, Jessie McDonald, Nadine Vasquez, and Windy Whirlwindsoldier participated.
The new officers of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) Student Congress met May 24-25 in Rapid City, SD, and began planning their 20th anniversary celebration for spring 2006. Established in 1986, the student congress represents tribal college and university students.
At the AIHEC Conference in April 2005, the students elected Zannita Fast Horse as their new president. Fast Horse is a student at Oglala Lakota College (OLC, Kyle, SD). In other election results, Tristan Ahtone of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA, Santa Fe, NM) will serve as vice president; Warren Eagle of OLC will serve as secretary; Kimberly Killer of OLC is treasurer; Brenda Wounded Arrow of OLC is sergeant at arms; and Jeff Quintana of OLC is historian.
For the first time, the students elected regional representatives. The four regional reps are designed to improve communications by serving as liaisons between the colleges in their regions and the national student organization.
Landon Lafromboise of Sisseton Wahpeton College (SWC, Sisseton, SD)serves as the Midwest regional representative, Sara Marie Ortiz of the Institute of American Indian Arts as the Southwest regional representative, and Aaire Madplume of Blackfeet Community College (BCC, Browning, MT) as the Mountain/Pacific regional representative.
Since no one was elected from the Great Lakes region, Julian Many Hides of Salish Kootenai College (SKC, Pablo, MT)has volunteered to serve as the liaison in an interim capacity.
At their meeting in Rapid City, the student officers set some ambitious goals for themselves, including standardizing the rules for student competitions at the annual conference, setting up a film festival, filming a documentary on the student congress, setting up a website and a newsletter, working on the constitution and bylaws and archives, and including Mr. and Ms. AIHEC in student congress activities.
The co-advisors of the student congress are Michele Vecenti of Diné College (Tsaile, AZ)and Juan Perez of Salish Kootenai College.