Osage Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and Bacone President, Dr. Ferlin Clark.
Published July 7, 2019
Powerful Movement in Indian Education
PAWHUSKA, Okla. — Chief Standing Bear has signed a resolution to charter Bacone College. Present were members of the Osage Nation Congress and the President of Bacone College, Dr. Ferlin Clark.
Osage Nation Congressman John Maker sponsored ONCR 19-14 on June 19, 2019, during the Fourth Special Session. The Resolution was to authorize and approve a Charter of Bacone College as a Tribal College by the Osage Nation; to request the American Indian Higher Education Consortium to approve Bacone College as a Tribal College; and to encourage the continued future financial support of Bacone College through public and private donations.
Bacone College was founded in 1880 as an Indian University and is located in Muskogee, Oklahoma. It is the nation’s oldest American Indian University and the oldest university in Oklahoma. According to Bacone, the University “continues the legacy of American Indian Education and ties to a rich history of American Indian success, leadership and strength.”
In the past, Bacone has provided many educational opportunities and support to Osages. The Director of Osage Nation Education, Mary Wildcat, commented on the news, “The Osage Nation Education Department partnered with Pawnee Nation College and Bacone College for the past several years, in an effort to provide onsite educational opportunities and degree programs for Osage Nation members and employees. Through this partnership, many of these students achieved their Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Administration and Native American Studies. The decision to charter Bacone College will strengthen and broaden the educational opportunities for the Osage Nation members and all Indigenous people. This is a powerful movement!”
Debra Atterberry, the Principal of Daposka Ahnkadapi, explained that this charter with Bacone College directly aligns with the Osage Nation Twenty-Five-Year Vision and Strategic Plan – Voice of the People (2007) and Article XVI, Section 4 of the Osage Nation Constitution.
Under the ON Twenty-Five-Year Vision and Strategic Plan, Area of Focus #2 –Cultural Preservation and Area of Focus #3 –Education, both mention specific alignments such as “supporting more comprehensive culturally relevant curriculum for students” and “setting Osage Nation educational goals to raise expectations for educational accomplishment and excellence.” Article XVI – Osage Culture and Language, Section 4 of the Osage Nation Constitution states, “the education of Osage People is recognized as being essential to building a prosperous and self-determining society. The Osage Nation shall protect and promote education by providing for and supporting a system of high quality early childhood learning programs for its children, advocating on behalf of Osage students for improvements in the public elementary and secondary school systems within the Osage Reservation through intergovernmental agreements, and developing effective tribal education programs that allow Osage students to obtain the skills and resources necessary for a post-secondary education.”
Bacone College gains support of Osage Nation.
According to Principal Atterberry, Bacone College has verbalized a willingness to customize Early Childhood Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree programs for Daposka Ahnkadapi. “Also, under Area of Focus #3, it states ‘develop an incentive program and scholarships for teachers,’ and this aligns with that goal as well because it is cutting so much of the cost of tuition for developing Osage teachers.”
“We are thankful that the Osage Nation has joined us in our goal to form a consortium of Oklahoma tribes to transition Bacone College into a Tribal College,” said Dr. Ferlin Clark, Bacone College President. “This movement of becoming a public, tribal college allows tribes ownership in the education of students while building capacity to gain stable funding from the federal government in fulfillment of its trust responsibility to educate American Indian students.”
Osage Nation Principal Chief Standing Bear said, “this is part of our commitment to the education of the mind and spirit of our people.”