Diné College receives $250,000 for 'Wisdom of the People Initiative'

Submitted by Ed McCombs

Special to the Observer

TSAILE, Ariz. - Diné College has received a $250,000 grant from the American Indian College Fund "Woksape Oyate: Wisdom of the People Initiative" to develop several projects over a five year period. This funding is made possible by the Lilly Foundation and provides support to Diné knowledge specialists, experts and scholars to develop textbooks, multimedia teaching tools, monographs, and curricular publications as part of enhancing "institutional capacity" for Tribal Colleges.

"This exciting project supports Diné College's mission and philosophy of developing traditional information for educational purposes," said Jack Jackson, Director of Diné College's Office of Legislative and Cultural Affairs. "The goal is to recover the Diné Universe through language, intellectual knowledge, and collective wisdom in publications and media that can be shared throughout the Navajo Nation,"

"The stories of our Diné people are critically important to our mission and philosophy as we build our Diné Studies degree," said Ferlin Clark, President of Diné College.

Jackson believes the project activities will result in dynamic academic programs and professional development opportunities that ensure recruitment and retention of excellent College community members. "The wealth of documentation and people brought together through this project is only the beginning," said Jackson.

"Of the initial $50,000 awarded, $48,000 has been expended with payments made to several individuals. Money will be carried into the next cycle of funding and will be made available for this long over due endeavor. The funds secured through this five-year project will enable the College to establish a collaborative network with faculty, staff, students, and community members through a culturally relevant methodology that nurtures and shares our most precious assets - the Diné wisdom, language, and lifeways that give us our identity," concluded Jackson.

Although funds were received late, College officials have initiated activities and expended funds in compliance with funding guidelines and respecting Institutional policies. A presentation of the project will be made at the College in the near future.

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