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What is AIHEC? by Michael Begay

What is AIHEC?

AIHEC stands for The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), which is made up of the nation’s tribaly and federally controlled colleges and universities.

AIHEC is made up of 37 Tribal Colleges and Universities throughout the United States. “AIHEC’s inception in the mid-1970s is advocacy—telling the stories of the Tribal College Movement. Over the past three decades, AIHEC has worked to help ensure that the principle of tribal sovereignty is recognized and respected and that Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) are equitably included in this nation’s higher education system Students will engage in competitions designed to foster strong academic achievements in STEM, history, literature, and the arts. This event brings together future leaders of Indian Country and serves as a national gathering and training ground for native youth.” (www.aihec.org)  The 2017 AIHEC Student Conference was held in Rapid City, South Dakota on March 18th–  21st, 2017.

This year Haskell Indian Nations University participated in almost every competition: Archery, Art Exhibitions, Business, Chess, Critical Inquiry, Film Festival, Hand Games, Knowledge Bowl, Mr. and Ms. AIHEC, One Act Play, Poetry Slam, Science Bowl, Scientific Oral Presentation, Scientific Poster Presentation, Speech, Traditional Plants and Herbs, Volleyball, and Web Design.

Each year the Haskell AIHEC Team is made up of enrolled students who meet the academic requirements and who will represent Haskell well. Each semester Haskell forms an AIHEC Club to determine the Team that will compete in each category. This year’s AHIEC Club President is Shannon Hawkins and the Sponsors are Josh Arce and Racheal Deo. At beginning every Fall semester AHIEC Team they have sign-ups for each category and is open to enrolled Haskell students.

Ray Spute Enas a Sophomore, is competing in this year’s archery and Hand Games category. When asked what preparations have been made to get ready for AIHEC Ray stated “so with archery we’ve been practicing every day for about an hour till or hour half and have been practicing for about a month now. Just because we didn’t have the right bows provided we had to pull some funds to getter to get them.” 

Spute Enas reasoning for continuing with AIHEC was because of her experience in the 2016 AIHEC competition. “Last year was my very first semester here couple of my friends who were competing in the Hand Games; we started playing and I found out they were playing for AIHEC. So I asked what is AIHEC? And they told me what it was about and I went and it was pretty awesome.”

Troy Watterson a Sophomore competing in Art Show in the beading category; is also Co-Captain of the Hand Game team for Haskell and mostly running Southwest Region Regional Representative for AIHEC Student Congress.

When interviewed about preparation Troy explained “all of my other beading projects have been put on hold so I can finish up my piece for the art show. What would be very nice for the hand games is trying to arrange the best time I can for all my players so they can all make it to practice and as for running for Student congress my main plan is campaigning and working on my speech”

For the Art Show of the AIHEC competition Troy gave a little insight to what he has been working on. “I’m currently making a porky roach, a traditional plain Indian dance style head dress, and I’m also doing a fully beaded spreader” Watterson later shared in the interview how AIHEC was introduced to him “When I first came here back in 2015, my first semester I caught wind of it in the ending weeks of the semester at Haskell. So when I thought about joining AIHEC it was mostly to check out the hang games which I was a big pro for.”

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