Federal agencies being asked to help tribal colleges

Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- President Bush has signed an order asking federal agencies to provide more help to tribal colleges, including those in Alaska.

The president's order created an advisory board with staff in the U.S. Department of Education to oversee the process.

Under the order, each federal agency selected by the education secretary must create a three-year plan for boosting tribal colleges. The order states that the plans must outline how the agency intends to compete for grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, and any other federal resources.

In Fairbanks, the Tanana Chiefs Conference started the Interior Athabascan Tribal College in 1992. The small, unaccredited organization offers courses mostly in cooperation with the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Courses cover tribal court operations, Native land management, Indian law and Athabascan language. Patrick Marlow, assistant professor at UAF's Alaska Native Language Center, said the Athabascan college works with the university because it needs an accredited institution with which to build a record of instruction.

Under Bush's executive order, his Board of Advisers on Tribal Colleges and Universities will have 15 members drawn from tribes and the education field. It must meet at least once a year.

In addition to overseeing the agencies' efforts to boost colleges, the board will provide its own advice. According to the order, it will recommend ways to help tribal colleges plan for the long term, build endowments, attract private money, use new technology and improve facilities.

The board will also recommend how colleges can implement the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and meet other standards of educational achievement.

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