Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF DINE COLLEGE; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 125
(Senate - July 25, 2018)
Text available as:
Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.
[Page S5357] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF DINE COLLEGE Mr. UDALL. Mr. President, I wish to honor the first Tribal college established in the United States, Dine College, on its 50th anniversary. The college was founded in 1968 by the Navajo Nation as Navajo Community College. That year marked the centennial anniversary of the Treaty of 1868 in which the Navajo people negotiated return of their homeland after their forced relocation by the U.S. government on the brutal ``Long Walk'' to Fort Sumner, NM. In Fort Sumner, they had endured inhumane conditions for 5 years, and many had perished. The treaty was an important historical milestone, but it also contained certain harsh terms, requiring the Navajo people to send their children to government and missionary schools where they were forced to abandon their cultural practices and identity. This tragic and brutal practice by the U.S. Government threatened the survival of Navajo and other Native American languages and cultures. Our Nation finally moved away from forced assimilation by the middle of the last century, and the Navajo Nation took a historic step toward educational self-determination when it established Navajo Community College. As the first tribally chartered and operated postsecondary institution, Navajo Community College's educational philosophy was grounded in Navajo cultural traditions. Its mission was to support the social and economic development of the Tribe. In 1976, the college was the first Tribal 2-year institution to receive accreditation. In 1998, it awarded its first baccalaureate degrees under the Dine Teacher Education Program. In 1994, Navajo Community College joined 29 other Tribal colleges to become a Land Grant Institution under the Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act. In 1997, the board of regents changed its name to Dine College. The college's educational principles are based on Sa'ah Naaghai Bik'eh Hozhoon--the Dine traditional living system--which places human life in harmony with the natural world and universe. Four principles undergird the education: Nitsahakees or thinking, Nahat'a or planning, Iina or living, and Sihasin or assuring. Culturally relevant education makes a tremendous difference for Native students. The kids are engaged. They stay in school. They gain access to opportunities that otherwise might be out of reach. Dine College's curriculum is replete with Navajo language and culture classes. It awards certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor degrees in a wide range of fields, from fine arts to environment science to business administration to elementary and secondary education, and many more. With approximately 1,300 students, Dine College is one of the largest Tribal colleges in the United States. The school's six campuses serve the 27,000-square-mile Navajo Reservation. Importantly, Dine College has played a critical role revitalizing Navajo culture and language, preparing thousands of young adults to contribute to their communities, States, Tribe, and the U.S. as a whole. Dine College's legacy, however, reaches far beyond its own students. What was once an unassuming community college--with an entering population of 309 students--ignited a nationwide movement of Tribes founding their own colleges and universities. The network of Tribal colleges and universities built up over the last half century has made significant progress helping Native students break down barriers. Today, 36 Tribal colleges and universities all across the Nation educate tens of thousands of Native students. These institutions have been instrumental in attracting and keeping Native students in college and helping students maintain and grow ties with their cultures, languages, and traditional values. I extend my whole-hearted congratulations to Dine College on its 50th anniversary. I thank the college and Navajo Nation for all the good they have accomplished over the years, and I wish them the absolute best in their next five decades. ____________________