Recruitment, Retention of Native American Students Focus of Agreement Between Northern Arapaho Tribe and Colorado State University

In an effort to diversify the student population of the university and to offer more opportunities in higher education to tribal members, the Northern Arapaho Tribe and Colorado State University will sign a Memorandum of Understanding this week.

The signing ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. June 21 in the Longs Peak Dining Room of the Lory Student Center. This is among the first such agreement with Native American entities.

The Northern Arapaho Tribe will be represented by Ben Ridgley, co-chairman of the Northern Arapaho Tribal Council and Tribal Council Elder Nelson White, Albert Yates, president of Colorado State, will represent the university. Karen Rogers, executive secretary for the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs, will also be on hand. The signing will be followed by an invitation-only luncheon.

The ceremony will open with a traditional drumming and honor song performed by the Arapaho Eagle Drum Group from Arapaho, Wyo., followed by a presentation of the American flag and the Arapaho tribal flag by the Arthur-Brown Color Guard from American Legion Post 84 in Wyo. Tribal Elder Nelson White will offer an opening prayer in Arapaho and English.

"Our goal is to create opportunities for all community members who want to pursue a higher education and professional growth," said Ridgely of the Tribal Council. "We need to encourage our students to put for the their best efforts, to achieve the most of which they are capable and to provide support for their success."

The goals of the agreement are to matriculate greater numbers of competent Native American students and to support innovative educational programs that accelerate the development of tribal human resources. This means Colorado State and tribal leaders and educators will work cooperatively to identify funding resources among federal agencies, foundations and the private sector and to build and support a network of professional, academic and research resources to assist native students in their pursuit of higher education and professional development.

The Northern Arapaho will provide undergraduate and graduate students from Colorado State with internship opportunities to work on scientific, engineering, technical and business projects with the Northern Arapaho Tribe.

"The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding is an example of the commitment on behalf of both Colorado State and the Northern Arapaho Tribe to work together, said Cameron Cuch, assistant director of Colorado State’s Office of Native American Student Services, which helped to facilitate the agreement. "The opportunities provided by this agreement will benefit not just these two parties, but all of society."

The 2.8 million-acre Wind River Reservation in west-central Wyoming is the third-largest Indian reservation in the United States. About 85 percent of all tribal and individual income is directly related to the exploration and production of oil and natural gas through lease arrangements with oil companies. Most of the land is made up of renewable natural and historical resources that are protected by the two tribes occupying the reservation: the Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho.

In 1998, Colorado State’s College of Business donated 10 personal computer systems to the Wind River Reservation to assist tribal councils in administrative work and to provide students with a learning resource and Internet access to financial aid sources.

Colorado State University’s Office of Native American Student Services was established in 1978. The mission of the office is to ensure a successful educational experience for Native American students by providing advocacy and support services. The four primary advocacy and service areas include recruitment, retention, graduation and community outreach.