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Cangleska Wakan: The ecology of the sacred circle and the role of tribal colleges and universities

  • Cheryl Crazy Bull
  • Emily R. White Hat
Original Paper

Abstract

Indigenous education and philosophy are rooted in the concept of relationality – the relatedness of all things – within the framework of place-based experiences and knowledge. This article focuses on tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) in the United States – in particular, on their dedication to land use and preservation, sustainability and tribal ecological knowledge within their missions of cultural preservation, academic and career development, and community engagement. TCUs are post-secondary institutions chartered by their respective tribal governments to serve as the higher education institutions of the Tribe. In the TCU environment, tribal identities emerge from an understanding of how all things are related. Evidence includes creation stories, tribal languages and place-based knowledge. The circular relationship among place, engagement and identity is often manifested in how land and its resources are preserved, managed and expanded through education, outreach and research. In 1994, the Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act was passed, granting TCUs endowments for facilities and institutional capacity building in place of land. This article explores the time periods of 1968–1993 and 1994 to today in the context of the development of TCUs, first as place-based institutions preserving tribal identity and later as land-grant institutions preserving tribal environmental and ecological knowledge and resources. The authors provide a number of examples which demonstrate that TCUs exercise the inherent sovereignty of Tribes to provide quality education to their people by incorporating their language and Indigenous knowledge and values.

Keywords

tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) indigenous ecology land-grant institutions relationality sustainability 1994 land-grant traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) 

Résumé

Cangleska Wakan : Écologie du cercle sacré et rôle des universités et collèges tribaux – L’éducation et la philosophie autochtones sont enracinées dans le concept de relationnalité – l’interconnexion de toutes choses – dans le cadre d’expériences et de connaissances spécifiques au milieu. Le présent article examine les universités et collèges tribaux (UCT) aux États-Unis, en particulier leur engagement pour l’exploitation et la protection des sols, la pérennité et le savoir écologique tribal, au sein de leur mission portant sur la préservation culturelle, la promotion universitaire et le développement de carrière, ainsi que sur la participation communautaire. Établissements postsecondaires agréés par le gouvernement tribal respectif, les UCT font office d’institutions d’enseignement supérieur de la tribu. Dans leur contexte, les identités tribales résultent d’une appréhension de la manière dont toutes les choses sont reliées, comme le prouvent entre autres les récits de la création, les langues tribales et le savoir spécifique au milieu. Le lien circulaire qui existe entre milieu, engagement et identité se manifeste souvent dans la manière dont la terre et ses ressources sont préservées, gérées et enrichies à travers l’éducation, la sensibilisation et la recherche. En 1994 a été adoptée la loi portant sur l’équité pour le statut éducatif des universités tribales (Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act), qui accorde aux UCT des dotations non plus seulement en terrains mais en équipements et en renforcement des capacités institutionnelles. Les auteures analysent le développement des UCT au cours des périodes 1968–1993 et 1994 à aujourd’hui, tout d’abord institutions locales préservant l’identité tribale, plus tard universités agricoles préservant les connaissances et les ressources environnementales et écologiques de la tribu. Elles fournissent plusieurs exemples qui illustrent que les UCT exercent la souveraineté inhérente aux tribus et dispensent à leur peuple une formation de qualité intégrant langage ainsi que savoirs et valeurs autochtones.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We want to thank the students and faculty of Tribal Colleges and Universities, the leaders of the tribal college movement, and the elders and knowledge holders who shared their teachings with us.

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Copyright information

© UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American Indian College FundDenverUSA

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