ASU strikes agreement with San Carlos Apache Tribe to open college on Native American land

An agreement to open the first college on Apache soil has been made between ASU and the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

John Tippeconnic, director of American Indian Studies, said a primary goal of this is to help allow the Native American tribe to set a curriculum for their students.

“(This) gives them the higher education opportunity and the opportunity to provide an education to their own people that’s culturally relevant,” he said.

Among the culturally relevant classes will be hospital care. There are only 150 employees at the tribe’s current hospital, said Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

“(Jobs) require some sort of education or training,” he said. “It’s going to have, eventually, about 485 jobs.”

Another concern about the current hospital is that many of the employees are not Apaches. Helping more natives become involved in the hospital would help their economy more.

Higher education could help this dilemma.

“The way we could address that, we believe, was through developing our own college where we could more or less control the curriculum,” he said.

Diabetes is a problem in the society, Rambler said. The tribe will begin working with ASU to see how it can address this issue.

The first steps toward a college began after an all-day tribal meeting. Rambler said they received notice of a following meeting with ASU President Michael Crow. Very few tribesmen appeared, but the ones who did gave input to help ASU improve relationships with Native Americans.

“I brought this idea (of the college) up from my tribe … not only to help educate our people and jobs, but also to help with healthy lifestyle activities and really develop our youth leadership,” Rambler said.

ASU and the Apache territory will share resources and work together on these goals. The Boys and Girls club on Apache territory will be one of these; next week, the group is having a sports camp with ASU. Rambler said this has been a goal, but not always expected.

“That’s something that we’ve always dreamt of doing, but it’s finally happening,” he said. “It’s exciting for our community.”

Regarding leadership, the tribe would attempt to better prepare future leaders for tribe duties.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to develop a youth leadership program,” Rambler said.

The program would encompass education about their tribe and tribal government, along with how elected officials handle societal happenings along the lines of education and natural resources.

In addition, the college is viewed with the goal of helping transition Native Americans into ASU.

“During the summer, our students can be getting comfortable with maybe some of the activities going on at ASU,” Rambler said.

With this college, Native Americans are expected to be able to better maintain their identities.

“The main one is to maintain our identity as Apaches, especially with preserving our language, our culture and our history,” Rambler said. “It’s all going to play a part in there.”

Reach the reporter at Logan.newman@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @Logan_Newsman