50TH ANNIVERSARY OF DINE COLLEGE; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 125
(Senate - July 25, 2018)

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[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 
  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.