By Ted Wright
July 02, 2007
The Board of Trustees of Sheldon Jackson College has taken the only option available, to suspend operations for a year while management raises funds to pay off debts and while the trusees meet with various partners and supporters to fugure out how the college should move forward. As the Trustees consider the opportunities available to them over what will almost certainly be the next 2-3 years (a restructuring and reopening cannot happen in a year), they would do well to give serious thought to a configuration in which the college is either jointly operated by a Consortium of Alaska Native organizations (like the Alaska Native Medical Center, perhaps) or soley operated by a tribal consortium - and re-configured as a triball controlled college.
I know the word "tribe" strikes fear into some who are not Native, as well as some who are, but the access to federal financial support for such colleges is exactly what SJC needs. Further, the mission of the college "to serve the educational needs of Alaska Natives" makes it a de facto tribal college already, if it were to follow its mission completely.
ANB/ANS Grand Camp, AFN, the Alaska Native Educators Association and the Southeast Alaska Native Education Association along with representatives from the regional ANCSA corporations or their non-profit branches and the Tribes should meet with the trustees this summer, commission a feasibility study, and move forward as far and as fast as possible depending on the outcome of the study.
It is not lost on the Tlingit people of Sitka that the land ceded to SJC three generations ago was to be used solely for the education of Alaska's Native peoples. Selling off that land does not seem to be in keeping with the agreements our ancestors made more than 130 years ago. Let's put our hearts and minds together to come up with a solution that works for Alaska Natives first and foremost.
Ted A. Wright
Received July 02, 2007 - Published July 02, 2007
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