Picture 2

Picture 2

Jun 6, 2016

Functional American Tribal Education

A couple of weeks ago there was a Wall Street Journal article about how bad some American Indian Tribal schools are in the US.  I thought the picture was one sided.  There are examples of functional tribes that believe in education and have prospered because of it.  The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Western Montana have an excellent education system with an accredited
 4 year college.   It didn't just happen.  The tribal council worked very hard for it because it was important to them.  They lobbied the state legislature to get laws that facilitated first their 2 year and then their 4 year college.

I know about this because my family owned a ranch on the Flathead Reservation from 1957 to 1963.  I was interested so I followed events there.  In about 1996, I was on a tour in Monument Valley, Utah.  The Navajo guide was chatting with my wife and me.  When I told her where I grew up, she said she went to college there.  It turns out that Salish Kootenai College is probably the top Native American College in the US. 

The tribe has a large timber operation, owns some hotels and casinos and even runs an electronics factory.  Their annual report, available on line, looks like a conglomerate with a nonprofit subsidiary.  In 1994, I stayed at their hotel in Polson, MT.  It was right on Flathead Lake, very well run and had no casino then.  I think the casinos were afterthoughts.  The nearest big town, Missoula, is about 40 miles away and only has about 45,000 people.  Usually, casinos have to be near large urban areas to make big money.

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