Education

The school is projecting enrollment to reach another all-time high of 150 students when the fall 2009 semester starts Aug. 17

Osages looking for an inexpensive education can stop looking. A memorandum of understanding between the Osage Nation and the Pawnee Nation College is geared at educating tribal members and employees to spur leadership and community development.

“The word’s getting out about us,” said PNC faculty member Andrew Gray, who teaches treaty courses at the two-year college, along with other American Indian Studies courses. “We put an emphasis on Native Americans in history, math and English to infuse tradition of thought into curriculum.”

The college opened its doors in fall 2004 with 23 enrolled students and has experienced an increase in enrollment each year since, said Gray who is also the brother of Osage Nation Principal Chief Jim Gray. The school is projecting enrollment to reach another all-time high of 150 students when the fall 2009 semester starts Aug. 17, he said. A popular aspect of the college is that all credit hours are transferable to the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa.

Gray noted that the student-teacher ratio is 6-1 and tuition is $65 per credit. The college is accredited through a partnership with NOC and focuses on teaching its AIS courses from the Native American perspective.

The 2008 memorandum of understanding signed by Chief Gray and PNC President Todd Fuller has the intent “to promote educational opportunities for both current and future Osage tribal leaders, managers, directors, employees, etc., so that the collective interests of the Nation and College are served.”

Interactive TV courses on the Osage treaties with the United States provide one avenue to inform the people of the Nation’s chronology, Gray said.

“I think it’s important for our people to know about the historical aspects” of the treaties, said Gray who is brother to Osage Nation Principal Chief Jim Gray. AIS courses at the college, which opened in 2004, cover topics such as tribal sovereignty and Native American languages and literature.

The Osage treaty courses cover several periods including the 1808, 1818 and 1825 treaties and the Drum Creek Treaty, Gray said. “You’re going to have a well-versed understanding of Osage history if you go through the courses.”

The treaty courses are held via satellite at the Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center in Pawhuska on selected dates. A summer course covering the 1808 Treaties of the Great and Little Osages is slated for July 9-10.

The college also holds workshops and seminars touching on AIS topics.

For example, a May 15 workshop at the campus focused on decolonization in Indian Country, the practice of undoing colonization or declaring independence from colonizing entities, with University of Kansas Professor Michael Yellowbird, of Sahnish and Hidatsa decent. Yellowbird was the keynote speaker at the college’s May 16 commencement ceremony.

Other AIS courses focus on principles of leadership, project management and coordination and journalism in Indian Country, grant writing and economics and marketing of Indian languages.