Each year, tribal college students and administrators travel to Washington, DC for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium’s (AIHEC’s) annual advocacy effort, known informally as Capitol Hill days. In 2015, Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) honored AIHEC’s work and helped raise awareness of the tribal college movement by proclaiming Capitol Hill days “National Tribal College Week.”
Regardless of the name, AIHEC’s annual advocacy effort enables tribal college delegations to meet with their respective Congressional representatives and senators to discuss issues of importance to American Indian higher education such as funding, facilities development, programming, and student loans. Before arriving in the nation’s capital, AIHEC helps prime students and administrators through an informative webinar, which offers a crash course in advocacy and gives a bird’s eye view of Washington’s political terrain. Still, nothing can quite prepare tribal college delegations for the excitement, importance, and sense of empowerment of takin’ it to the Hill.