Board of Directors
Ted Wright, Interim President
Since at least the mid 1980's various organizations and individuals have talked about the possibility of establishing a tribally controlled college in Southeast Alaska. These discussions were inspired by the success of tribes and tribal consortia in taking-over federal institutions and providing Native people with health care, housing, and other basic services. In the fall of 1991, public forums were organized in Sitka and Juneau to spur interest in the tribal college movement and to recruit individuals and organizations willing to help lay the groundwork for a Southeast tribal college. In 1998 Central Council Tlingit & Haida received funds from the National Science Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation, through the Alaska Federation of Natives, to begin planning for the development of a tribal college.
In October 1999 a group of thirty tribal college leaders met in Juneau and outlined a five-year plan for long-term, as well as a 90-day plan for short-term, college development. During the latter part of 1999 and the first half of 2000, the tribal college coordinator and the interim board of trustees' attention was focused on soliciting tribal support, chartering the college, and outlining the process for electing permanent representatives to the tribal college board of trustees.
Finally, in winter 2001-2002 a permanent Board of Trustees was named and officers and interim management selected. With the support of other regional tribal college developers and institutional partners, the leadership of the Southeast Alaska Tribal College is prepared to move forward to identify resources, design curriculum, hire staff, enter into specific, formal agreements with Sheldon Jackson College and the University of Alaska Southeast, and begin to offer college classes.
The SEATC is a tribally controlled institution that provides educational services to Alaska Native as well as non-Native students throughout the region and state. The college may also serve students from other states and nations via distance delivered classes.
The Need for a Southeast Alaska Tribal College
There is more than a little irony in the notion that proponents of a tribal college in Southeast Alaska must base some of the justification for development of such a college on the extent to which it meets needs that are not being met by other institutions. The irony lies in the assimilative history of education in the region and the differences between Southeast and some other regions that have experienced a lesser degree of assimilation. It is ironic that the children of Native people schooled at Sheldon Jackson School, Wrangell institute, Chemawa Indian School, and Mt. Edgecumbe High School believe that a tribally controlled college is the best means to halt and reverse the decline of Alaska Native culture that began with those institutions. Having been assimilated through education, we have come full circle to understand that only full control of educational institutions will prevent the further decline of our cultures.
The need for a tribally controlled college in Southeast Alaska can not be equated with the need for tribally owned or operated institutions that provide health care, housing, employment or other basic services. These can be justified in terms of the exercise of self-determination, and in the context of the long legal and political history that enables American Indian and Alaska Native tribes to organize themselves and provide services that would otherwise still be delivered to them through federal agencies. When it comes to education, however, American Indians and Alaska Natives have a moral obligation to develop schools and colleges fully invested in the proposition that tribal history, culture, tradition and worldview are as important as those of other cultures and nations. Further, the pursuit of higher education through a tribal college allows students to obtain a credential that reflects a more realistic and useful accounting of local and state economy and society. In particular, the Southeast Alaska Tribal College will identify and recruit Native faculty and students who appreciate the benefits of a higher education system designed to take advantage of and more seriously address both their cultural and academic needs.
Post-Secondary Education in Southeast Alaska
The main providers of post-secondary education services in the Southeast region are Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Sheldon Jackson College, and the University of Alaska Southeast. While the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Ketchikan Indian Corporation, and a few other Southeast tribes also have education and training programs, they generally purchase services through the University system via scholarships to citizen students.
The largest source of student support for higher education services in Alaska are regional and local Native corporation scholarships combined with Adult Vocational Training, Adult Basic Education, and Higher Education funds available through federally recognized tribes. This section will provide a brief summary of educational services currently available through the three main Southeast Alaska post-secondary providers: Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian tribes of Alaska, University of Alaska Southeast, and Sheldon Jackson College.
The only region-wide Native provider of educational services to Native people, Central Council opened a Vocational Training and Resource Center (VTRC) in September 1998. The VTRC serves as a regional hub for Native employment and training programs, with its main goal of boosting the employment potential of American Indians and Alaska Natives residing in Southeast Alaska. It is also the Juneau area tribal partner of the Southeast Tribal College. The following programs will be offered through the VTRC:
The Central Council Education Program provides adult basic education services such as literacy training and assistance in the pursuit of a GED. The Adult Vocational Training program provides funding for Native individuals to attend formal classroom training or approved academic programs at institutions providing public or private vocational training. Career exploration and counseling are also available through this program. The purpose of the Central Council Education and Adult Vocational Training programs is to prepare American Indian and Alaska Native individuals to enter the work force. Through well-designed, appropriate education and support programs individuals will be better able to obtain jobs and receive promotions in their jobs.
The Employment Services program provides assistance to individuals with short-term financial needs. This assistance may include money for work clothing, tools, childcare, and other expenses necessary to gain employment. Individual counseling is available to orient people to the world of work, job development, job search, employment referrals and placement. Employment Services also negotiates Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) work experiences and on-the-job training (OJT) contracts with organizations to train individuals in jobs that will lead to permanent employment.
In addition to the JTPA and OJT programs, Employment Services provides funds for short-term classroom training for under-employed individuals who need to enhance their work skills. Also, the Summer Youth Employment Program provides on-the-job training work experiences for 14-21 year old Native youth.
The JOBS and Child Care for Welfare Recipients programs are designed to provide eligible Alaska Native families on AFDC with education and support as an interdiction against long-term welfare dependence and chronic unemployment. Services offered include counseling, job development, job search, job referral, job placement, and career exploration. The Child Care for Welfare Recipients program provides individuals who are AFDC recipients with child care benefits once they have found a job.
The purpose of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program is to provide eligible working families with access to childcare. To qualify, families with children under the age of 13 must have incomes at or below 75% of the state median income. This program provides eligible families with vouchers to help cover costs at licensed child care facilities. The CCDBG program also provides assistance to help train child care providers and open quality facilities. Providers may receive assistance to attend training, obtain health and safety equipment, and meet licensing standards.
The Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO) protects the employment rights of Native people, particularly in employment areas involving Native land and jurisdiction. TERO attempts to ensure that fair employment consideration is given to Native individuals under federal laws that require Indian Preference in employment and contracting. The TERO department also works with individuals to file discrimination complaints to the Alaska Human Rights Commission.
The Tribal Work Experience Program (TWEP), in conjunction with the Human Services Department-Employment and Training, provides support for tribal members seeking job training. Under TWEP, tribal members are placed in jobs with employer organizations that cannot currently support additional staff. The Tribal Work Experience Program allows the host organization to increase staff capacity by providing employment to an eligible tribal member.
The Higher Education program provides financial and other support for Tlingit and Haida individuals to pursue a college/university post-secondary education. The purpose of the program is to provide eligible students with financial assistance and career counseling so that they will achieve their higher education goals. The services available include higher education scholarships, alumni scholarships, individual education plans, and handicapped student support.
Most of the education and training opportunities available in the Southeast region focus on preparing students for urban employment and do not specifically address the actual employment and training needs of natives in rural communities. This is not to say that classes are not offered at rural sites. In fact, most of the degree programs offered by UAS can be taken via distance delivery. Still, the majority of direct higher education services in the region are available in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. The following provides a summary of current services available through the university system in Southeast Alaska:
Courses are available through distance delivery (teleconference and e-mail) to all communities in Southeast, and to some communities via videoconference. While an associate or bachelors degree in education can be completed from a distance, most distance students are part-time and not on a degree track. The University of Alaska southeast estimates that a majority of the 700 distance students enrolled each year are Native.
The UAS campuses in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka are open-enrollment institutions and offer numerous vocational - technical training opportunities, as summarized below.
Costs to attend the University of Alaska Southeast are reasonable, with an average rate of $82.00 per credit hour. The following outlines expenses based on residential rates for full-time students for one school year:
The following tables indicate the number of Native faculty and students at the University of Alaska Southeast. Table 1 shows that 10 of the 209 instructors/professors at UAS in 1999 were identified as "Native." Table 2 indicates that, in the fall of 1999, American Indian and Alaska Native students made up nearly 18 percent of the total University of Alaska Southeast enrollment. At the end of the 1999 academic year, a total of____ students graduated from UAS. Of those graduates ____ were Alaska Native.
*Just under 18%
The Presbyterian Church chartered Sheldon Jackson College in 1878 to serve as a training school for Tlingit people of the Southeast panhandle. Although the college has gone through major changes over the years, including transition from a boy's vocational school to elementary and high school, to junior college and college, and through a near closure in 2000, the Sitka institution continues to emphasize both its Christian mission and its focus on Native education. It has, in fact, reorganized to offer courses and programs more applicable to rural areas, including programs that would meet the needs of Native students. However, Native enrollment remains low relative to total enrollment; and though the college is developing a Native Studies emphasis, it will not be its primary focus of studies.
The goals of Sheldon Jackson College are to prepare graduates to be sent into the world:
SJC is an open enrollment institution, and does not require that a standardized test be taken or passed for admittance. Students who enter with a high school or college grade-point-average of 2.0 or below are required to enroll in an "Achievement Program" before they will be fully admitted. Once admitted a student may complete the following two and four-year programs:
In addition to the above two and four-year degrees, SJC offers Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees with an emphasis in any of the following areas:
The cost of an education at Sheldon Jackson is expensive, but was significantly reduced in 1998 after the Board of Trustees lowered tuition and fees from over $10,000 per academic year to approximately $6,500. Approximate costs for the 2000-2001 school year are shown below.
Room and board $5,150 Transportation $800 Miscellaneous Living
Expenses $1,200 Tuition and Fees $7,620 Books and Supplies $60 Total Estimated
Room and board
Miscellaneous Living Expenses
Tuition and Fees
Books and Supplies
Total Estimated Cost
The Southeast Alaska Tribal College and the other members of the Consortium for Alaska Native Higher Education will serve a special purpose in Alaska post-secondary education. While the University of Alaska, Alaska Pacific University, Sheldon Jackson College and other institutions offer some courses on Native peoples, places, and events, the Alaska tribal colleges will have Native culture and life as their primary guiding force.
The SEATC will work with Sheldon Jackson College and the University of Alaska Southeast to coordinate and share information on course development, joint credit agreements, distance learning methods and mechanics, and other matters of mutual concern. The tribal college will also work closely with The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Corporation, Sealaska, Corporation, Mt. Edgecumbe High School, the Alaska StateTroopers Academy, the US Forest Service, tribes and other organizations and institutions.
To this end, meetings will be scheduled as shown in the attached work plan. The purpose of the meetings will be to:
Governance and Structure
Since the purpose of the tribal college is to provide for the unique educational needs and desires of the Alaska Native people of Southeast Alaska, it will work best if governed by representatives of those people. For this reason, in November 2001 representatives of the Southeast tribe named a permanent eleven member Board of Trustees for the Southeast Tribal College. On December 12, 2001 the Board of Trustees named Dr. Ted Wright Interim President of the college; and on January 9, 2002 elected Andrew Hope III first Chairman of the Board in addition to other officers.
The Southeast Alaska Tribal College will establish, maintain, and operate educational institutions at the post-secondary level in Southeast Alaska, with educational, vocational and technical curricula and programs leading to appropriate degrees and certificates. SEATC will develop a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Central Council Vocational Technical Training and Resource Center that may result in the Juneau center serving as the main campus of the tribal college.
Strategy for the Southeast Alaska Tribal College
There are at least three classes of students that an Alaska tribal college could attract, regardless of whether they are just out of high school or are adult learners:
a) Those who want to take college classes and learn more about the world around them, but from an Alaska Native cultural perspective. These are continuing education students with academic or artistic/cultural rather than vocational interests.
The backbone of the Southeast Alaska Tribal College will eventually be an Associate of Arts (AA) degree that is compatible with those offered by UAS and SJC, and which articulates to their bachelor's degree programs, but which features a Native Studies emphasis and maintains a consistent focus on Native and non-Native views of the world.
In addition to the AA degree, the tribal college will offer specialized certificate and Associate of Applied Science programs that meet the specific needs of regional employers. The University of Alaska Southeast and Sheldon Jackson College currently offer a variety of such degrees and certificates in areas such as Seafood Technology, Fisheries, Human Services, Health Information Management (HIM), HIM Coding Specialist, Environmental Technology, Natural Resources, Paralegal Studies, Early Childhood Education, Computer Information and Office Systems Support, Accounting Technician, and Law Enforcement.
The question of whether there are unmet needs for the kinds of degrees and certificates already offered can only be answered as SEATC management meets with regional employers and representatives of UAS/UAF and SJC. It is possible that the tribal college could offer specific classes within the UAS/UAF and SJC programs, at least to the extent that a Native perspective is seen as an advantage in the workplace for those degree/certificate seekers. In other instances, it is likely that employers will want a new certificate or degree developed by the tribal college, as the nature of the training needed is Native culture themed. (For example, the Douglas Indian Association recently submitted an ANA grant that included funds for SEATC to develop training in cultural tourism.)
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Southeast Alaska Tribal College will offer community and continuing education classes that focus on Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian language and culture. Many of these classes will be grouped into certificate programs for emerging occupations like Certified Alaska Native Language Instructor and Certified Alaska Native Art Dealer. In other cases, the SEATC may work with the University of Alaska Fairbanks to offer their Alaska Native and Rural Development and Cross-Cultural Studies degree programs through the tribal college in the Southeast region.
Plan for Development
Southeast Alaska Tribal College management will work with Southeast area institutions and organizations to develop educational programs that:
(1) Help American Indian and Alaska Native under or unemployed adults move into high-demand careers. For example, the Southeast Alaska Tribal College will work with state and tribal agencies to identify students who may become teacher aides and then teachers; or who may become community health aides and then nurses.
Some or all of the following steps must be taken within the next six months:
Administration and Management
Andy Hope continues as the NSF/AFN funded tribal college project coordinator for the Southeast region. Ted Wright serves as unpaid interim President of the Southeast Alaska Tribal College, and has agreed to serve without compensation until such time as resources have been located to more formally establish the position and recruit a permanent paid President. Hope and Wright will continue to work as a team to carry out the steps necessary to develop the college. Both have adequate resources to work out of home offices until a permanent headquarters is established.
Six Month Work Plan
In addition to the steps outlined above, the management and Board of the college will take the following steps to pursue further development of the Southeast Alaska Tribal College:
1. Development fundraising via partner donations: Approach regional and statewide organizations to solicit financial and other support for development of the college and its programs.
2. Work with the Consortium for Alaska Native Higher Education to leverage additional Kellogg Foundation funds and access new National Science Foundation technology grant monies. This work will include some or all of the following activities:
3. In partnership with the CCTHITA Vocational Training & Resource Center, seek federal and state grants for development of the following programs:
4. In partnership with the Southeast Alaska Native Educators Association (SEANEA), establish a roster of tribal college faculty and initiate course development.
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