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"Indigenous Quotient" is key element of UTTC accreditation
By Dr. Phil Baird, Vice President, Academic, Career and Technical Education
3 December 2007

      A common element in the mission statements of most tribal colleges and universities is what I call the "Indigenous Quotient."

      This Tribal IQ can be broadly defined as the unique historical and contemporary characteristics of the indigenous cultures of Indian Nations, communities, and families served by Tribally-controlled colleges and universities (TCUs).

      Simply put, IQ encompasses everything culturally that defines Native People and their place - past, present and future.

      The mandate for TCUs is to preserve, protect and advance Tribal cultures and that is the primary distinction between them and mainstream institutions of higher education. TCUs have an awesome responsibility in the role as a "change agent."

      In pursuing continued postsecondary accreditation, United Tribes Technical College and other TCUs have the unique opportunity to articulate how the Tribal IQ is addressed by their educational programs and services.

      This is important because TCUs can define the Tribal IQ on their own terms and in the context of their own cultural interpretations by their own Native constituents.

      Defining the Tribal IQ and how this is addressed in the educational setting will be different from TCU to TCU because of the variations in Tribal cultures represented among the Tribal colleges.

      With an intertribal constituent base, UTTC's current mission statement implies several dimensions of the Tribal IQ with words such as multi-cultural, education, economic opportunity, Tribal human and land resources, self-sufficiency and self-determination.

      As UTTC proceeds with its self-study activities over the next several years, stakeholders in the college will be asked to describe and to assess how the college functions to meet the needs of a broad indigenous population in these terms.

      Because not every need can be met due to resource limitations, the college must take advantage of the self-study process to re-evaluate its purpose, assess its resources, and map out what the college can effectively accomplish in the future.

      Among the challenges will be to assess the next generation of Tribal college students who we call "Digital Natives who are Native." One important question will be this: What sort of Tribal IQ will they bring into our Tribal College?

      The answers to this self-study question will shape the very future of United Tribes Technical College.

 

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