Episode 10 – Tribal College Movement
Tom Davis reads a poem about Lionel Bordeaux, president of Sinte Gleska University (SGU) on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He is the longest-serving college president in the United States.
“Lionel Bordeaux is so impressive. He’s been president of Sinte Gleska University forever.” Tom Davis
Tom points out the one thing about the poem that it does not indicate: that as necessary as Lionel was to secure the money for tribal colleges, the Kellogg Initiative was also so crucial. At the time, it was initially generated by Martha McLeod.
Martha was a non-Indian lady who worked with the council up in Northern Michigan to form Bay Mills Community College. Her best friend was a program officer who was a dominant force in the Kellogg Foundation. The two of them originally got their heads together, and that’s how the whole Kellogg idea got out.
Tom explains who Lionel is as a human being; Lionel came up with his phrase – “it’s all of us or none of us.”
Then, Tom talks about how he went to Washington, D.C., and explained a significant initiative. Congress was going to start requiring every Head Start teacher in the country to have an associate degree. These people do not make much money as Head Start teachers, so how were they going to support their families if they leave and go to school?
Tom met with some of the leaders of Head Start with an idea of virtual education. The teachers were scandalized about the concept, and everyone was wondering what in the world he was even talking about. Tom set out to build this virtual college to deliver an associate degree in early childhood education for Head Start teachers.