By 2020, it’s estimated that 65 percent of jobs will require a post-secondary degree or certificate. Only 13.8 percent of American Indians have a bachelor’s degree or higher. With 40 percent of this population at college age or younger, there is a need for strong support systems to further academic and professional success. Tribal colleges are working to raise college graduation rates while promoting the teaching and preservation of Native American languages and culture. A conversation with Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund. Click here for part 1 of Native Amer Education and Culture.
Interview recorded October 11, 2017. Hosted by Robert Traynham.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Robert Traynham: Is it safe to assume Cheryl that the vast majority [00:03:30] of college students that go to a Tribal College University, are they first generation?
Cheryl Crazy Bull: The majority are first generation students.
Robert Traynham: So one would assume that on graduation day, the whole family is graduating.
Cheryl Crazy Bull: Absolutely.
Robert Traynham: It’s a true experience. Do you find that, that when that first generation college graduate becomes a college graduate, do they then give back? In other words, is the culture that you mentioned a few moments ago, is it embedded in family in making sure that collage graduates say, hey look, I went to school, you can too little brother or sister [00:04:00] or cousin or neighbor?
Cheryl Crazy Bull: That’s the experience that we have with our institutions and with our Tribal community, that people, we figure, you know, anywhere from 35 to 50 people are influenced by each person who graduates.
Robert Traynham: 35 to 50 are influenced by one person?
Cheryl Crazy Bull: Yeah, to consider even graduating from high school, which is a huge accomplishment often times in our communities, and to be able then to go on to college or to some kind of vocational program, is [00:04:30] something now that they know that they can achieve.
Robert Traynham: I wanna pause on something you mentioned a few moments ago about the one person having that much influence. Have you done any research in terms of how you’re perceived by the American people in general?
Cheryl Crazy Bull: Well we have at The American Indian College Fund. Our work is to get people to support us, so …
Robert Traynham: I assume financially, volunteer?
Cheryl Crazy Bull: Financially, mostly financially.
Robert Traynham: Let’s pause there for a second. How can people give to you financially? Is there a website they can go to?
Cheryl Crazy Bull: They can go to wwwcollegefund.org [00:05:00] and access our resources to support us and also to provide an education for themselves, because what we discover in our research and what I know as a Native person, having worked in education my whole life, that we’re invisible to most of the American public and many people don’t realize that we’re still here, really thriving in our cultural identities and really working to build our communities and to be a part of society in a productive [00:05:30] way. I think that people can support us with that. Sometimes you can just support us by being our ally, making sure that the needs of American Indians, Alaskan Native peoples in your community and in your institutions are being met.
Robert Traynham: You know Cheryl, the biggest take away that I am taking away from this interview and the few seconds we have left is that education has always been and will continue to be the gateway to a better life and a better community. Would you agree with that?
Cheryl Crazy Bull: I would agree with that. You know the ancestors of the people that are working [00:06:00] in the Tribal Colleges today told us that we would put down our bows and arrows and take up the words of the white man in order to be successful and we believe that education gives us that.
Robert Traynham: Cheryl Crazy Bull, thank you very much for joining us.
Cheryl Crazy Bull: Thank you.
Robert Traynham: Look forward to having you back on the program soon.
Cheryl Crazy Bull: Thank you Robert.
Robert Traynham: Take care.
Cheryl Crazy Bull: Thank you.
Robert Traynham: And thank you for joining us as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I’m Robert Traynham.