Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College: New Projects at SCTC

Betty Redleaf-Collett
Member Spotlight

Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College is a two-year public college founded in 1998. The Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council adopted a resolution that year establishing a tribally-controlled college and the formation of a governing Board of Regents. The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan constitutes a sovereign nation within the United States. The sovereignty of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe forms the legal basis to charter Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College. With its founding in 1998, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College joined the larger tribal college movement.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe traces its roots to the Black River, Swan Creek, and Saginaw bands of the Chippewa Indians. These bands ceded their land to the United States under the treaties of 1807 and 1819. The original confines of the Isabella Indian Reservation were established by the treaty of October 18, 1864. The descendants of the three bands residing on the Isabella Indian Reservation reorganized on March 27, 1937, and became the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, under the provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. The reservation today encompasses 800 acres of land and has approximately 3,141 enrolled members.

Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College (SCTC) offers a unique opportunity for members of the tribal community and surrounding areas to further their education through degree-granting programs. The establishment of SCTC was the first step in an educational empowerment process that is aimed at the preservation and sustainability of the Saginaw Chippewa tribal culture. SCTC is accredited by The Higher learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, 30 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, Illinois 60602; 312-263-0456.

This year, SCTC is embarking on several new projects, one of which is the establishment of a College Science Laboratory facility. On May 5, 2009, the Tribal Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Tribal College and the Education Department for the establishment of a science lab to be shared by both entities. Both the college and the Saginaw Chippewa Education Department are excited about this collaboration. It is anticipated that the lab will be ready for the 2009-2010 Academic Year. The partnership will facilitate additional opportunities for students to experience hands-on learning as well as being introduced to the rigors of college academia.

Another exciting offering was SCTC's Perspectives for Recruitment Outside of Mainstream Orientations (PROMO) Summer Program. PROMO's mission was to enhance student interest levels, skills, and aid in the recruitment of American Indian students into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, specifically targeting Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP) Scholars. Students came to campus for a three week hands-on learning experience. Activities included but were not limited to: an introduction to Western and Indigenous Science; a chemistry magic show; visiting a four-year institution science laboratory and familiarizing themselves with the use of various laboratory equipment; a field trip to Deerfield Park to participate in the collection of macro invertebrates and analysis of dissolved oxygen, PH, temperature, turbidity, and specificity conductivity in teams; another field trip the to Chippewa Waters Park for a tour and discussion of the Water Treatment Plant; and a trip to Central Michigan University's Neithercut Woodland Property for an educational tour of property and wildlife.

During the participant evaluation interview process, students readily shared their experiences, and that they gained additional knowledge of STEM and its relevancy for daily applications. An outgrowth of the program was that students shared their new knowledge with their families and other community members. A participant talked about how it made a difference with interaction among grandchildren and their excitement of science, especially with bugs.

Students received certificates of participation, were able to share their accomplishments from the program, and provided a picture slide presentation of their educational adventures. The goal of the Summer Program was attained as all of the participants enrolled in a college of their choice for the Fall 2009 Academic Term.