Episode 2 Tribal College Movement Podcast
In this episode, we continue to listen in on Christine’s conversation with Tom Davis. An integral part of the Tribal College Movement from the beginning, he starts off this time by talking about the first Indian-Controlled Schools.
According to Tom, the significance of these schools is that they eventually turned into contract schools. He discusses Helen Scheirbeck being at the center of the Tribal College Movement and recalls a story of when her father was threated by the Ku Klux Klan. We then hear about the ideas and values of the Rough Rock School in Arizona and how they got transferred to the entire Tribal College Movement. Tom says that a major importance of these values was that Indian schools serve their communities.
Tribal Colleges at the time had no accreditation and were desperately underfunded, so Tom describes the difficulties that would arise from having to spend time fundraising as well as educating. He proceeds to talk about the caliber of students that he taught at Menominee County Community School and reveals the nickname that was given to the school.
Tom shares the teaching methods utilized by himself and other teachers in the early days of the community school, some of which they didn’t completely believe in. This ignites Tom’s memories about projects that they guided the students through, such as building a whole Indian village. Inside what Tom describes as a chaotic environment, we learn that the education committee soon decided that they needed to form a school district.
One day, Tom was requested to go to D.C. to become a grant writer on behalf of his school. With his background in writing, Tom says he caught on pretty quick when he was given training to write grants. During the same training session, he noticed others were struggling. Shortly after, Tom was invited out to lunch by two guys who were facilitating the training session which oddly led to Tom securing his school’s first grant.
Closing out this episode, Tom shares a story of when they went to The Johnson Foundation headquarters. The visit required some finesse, but sure enough lead to another grant for the Menominee County Community School.