Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership


Throughout the history of this country, the majority of Native Americans resisted all attempts by the federal government to educate them. Then in the late sixties and early seventies tribal colleges came on the scene. In spite of being faced with seemingly insurmountable odds and located on isolated Indian reservations, tribal colleges became well established in a few short years. They went from being located in dilapidated buildings and relying on affiliations with state institutions to offering their own individual coursework and being located in modem facilities, fully accredited by their respective accreditation agencies. Tribal colleges succeeded where most federal initiatives failed.

The purpose of this study was to identify the factors contributing to the success of two tribal colleges: one located on the northern plains and one located in the woodlands area of the midwest.

The case study method was utilized. The researcher conducted face-to-face interviews with four college board members and the president from each college. The data were analyzed to determine the social-economic factors that led to the founding of the colleges and to identify the barriers and obstacles the colieges faced as they grew and developed.

The findings of this study identified the factors that led to the founding of the colleges, the factors that were critical in the survival of the colleges, the factors that hindered the colleges’ growth and development, and the factors that identified the impact the colleges had on their reservations. The primary research conclusions of this study emerged as eight themes: (1) need for education - both for the community and individuals; (2) leadership - people who demonstrated tenacity and commitment to cause; (3) tribal members as college presidents - people who were enrolled members of the tribe; (4) community support - for the colleges, not just athletics; (5) qualified individuals - people who have knowledge and experience on the reservation; (6) culture - openly teaching of culture; (7) barriers and obstacles - such as lack of facilities and funding; and (8) impact on community - resulted in more college-educated tribal members.