August 27, 2020 by Lori Ridgway
CWC Designated as Native American Serving, Non-Tribal Institution
Since 1966, Central Wyoming College has been the primary post-secondary educational institution with the opportunity to serve the tribal communities of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho nations of the Wind River Indian Reservation.
CWC’s serves the largest American Indian student population of the seven community colleges in the state, about 45% of Wyoming’s American Indian community college students attend CWC. Recognizing the crucial importance of its tribal communities, the push to build the Intertribal Education and Community Center helped bring a facility to the campus that celebrated the rich American Indian heritage and culture of the CWC service area.
Following that construction, diligent planning and generous donors have seen progress toward community cultural and educational events, new personnel, and academic programming under the umbrella of the CWC Institute of Tribal Learning (ITL).
“CWC has been extremely fortunate to have the investment of so many donors from around the State whose generosity has set the stage for this new Native American Serving, Non-Tribal Institution or “NASNTI”, as it is called, designation,” Beth Monteiro, the Executive Director of the CWC Foundation said.
Ivan Posey, Coordinator of ITECC and Director of the Institute of Tribal Learning said, “The tribal community and the college are very fortunate to have the support of donors and their interest in the young people of the reservation and those looking to pursue education from a western and tribal perspective.”
The Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution (NASNTI) designation comes with a wonderful Department of Education grant. The grant’s primary purpose is to assist institutions such as CWC to “dramatically shift the student experience” for American Indian Students.
“CWC’s five-year project draws on the suggestions of our local American Indian community as well as the literature on Americana Indian student success that calls for a “family-like atmosphere”,” Vice President of Student Affairs Coralina Daly said. The Institution-wide changes will include intensive faculty and staff training on pedagogy, cultural sensitivity, user experience design, and local reservation-specific topics.
Specific goals of the project seek to increase retention of degree-seeking American Indian students and graduation rates which are both currently rising at CWC. In Daly’s most recent report to CWC’s Board of Trustees, she noted that while still low, the number of American Indian honor student graduates has doubled since 2017-18.
Problems of communities start getting solved when individuals begin to understand each other. It is an opportunity for us to heal and move forward in a positive direction. This push to change our community and our state and to learn from each other for the advancement of all individuals and families has the potential to have a positive impact for people everywhere. We all need to seek knowledge from each other and benefit from the rich culture and traditions that our tribal members bring to the educational environment. This is another step that CWC is taking toward a greater mutual understanding that will ultimately build stronger communities. ”
Scott Ratliff, longtime tribal advocate and a key supporter of the new Indian Education for All Legislation in Wyoming (2017)