Tribal College Journal Feature Story Themes

(Themes and deadlines subject to change)

We are presently seeking feature articles addressing the following themes. All feature articles must involve tribal colleges in some way. Possible feature article topics are listed, but alternative topics on each theme are welcome. We seek both long features (2500-3000 words) and shorter features (1500-2000 words).

Specific feature subjects are decided upon one month before the deadlines. Before writing an article, send the editor ( a brief 100-word abstract explaining your idea and how you plan to approach the topic. The journal’s thematic approach requires us to carefully plan each issue to assure an appropriate mix of articles.

Articles should focus as much as possible on a person or the people involved with the project, or the program being discussed. We prefer for you to use a lot of quotations and/or anecdotes to illustrate your point. For examples of features to emulate, we recommend you consult past editions of TCJ and contact the editor to discuss topics in greater detail.

Please use only 12 point Times New Roman font with no extra formatting. All articles should subscribe to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) writing style guidelines (see

Authors are also responsible for submitting well-composed, high-resolution images/photographs to accompany their article. Such images should be in jpeg or TIFF format and be at least 300 dpi (or have a file size of 2MB). Please consult with the editor for further details.

Upcoming themes


Oil and Indian Country (Vol. 28, No. 4)

The Bakken oil formation in the northern Plains poses some major questions relating to the economic, social, cultural, and environmental well-being of Indian nations in the region. The oil boom offers great economic benefits, but it also contributes to our continued reliance on fossil fuels and, in turn, climate change. Moreover, the boom has led to an influx in methamphetamine use, human trafficking, and a variety of other social ills. What role can and should tribal colleges play in this debate? Can we balance the economic boon that oil presents with the social ills and environmental threats that pipelines and continued reliance on fossil fuels pose? How is the standoff over the Dakota Access Pipeline indicative of these questions and controversies?

  • Deadline for feature story suggestions: November 10, 2016.
  • Feature deadline: January 13, 2017.
  • On Campus news shorts deadline: January 27, 2017.

FALL 2017

Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Programs at TCUs (Vol. 29, No. 1)

Over the past ten years, tribal colleges and universities have developed, articulated, and launched an array of fully accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. No longer are TCUs merely feeder colleges for larger state or private institutions of higher education. What are some of the programs that have been developed and how do they serve the needs of tribal communities and students? How have TCUs evolved to handle more intensive programs and degree offerings? How can TCUs retain their role as community colleges with open enrollment polices, while also moving forward as multi-degree granting institutions? How does this evolution further enhance the self-determination and sovereignty of North America’s First Nations?

  • Deadline for feature story suggestions: February 24, 2017
  • Features deadline: April 14, 2017
  • On Campus news shorts deadline: April 28, 2017


Honoring Veterans (Vol. 29, No. 2)

American Indians serve in the United States armed forces in greater proportions than any other population demographic in America. What are some of the cultural and historical underpinnings for their remarkable service? How do tribal colleges honor our veterans? What sorts of programs and support can TCUs offer them?

  • Deadline for feature story suggestions: April 21, 2017
  • Features deadline: June 26, 2017
  • On Campus news shorts deadline: July 10, 2017


Job Creation (Vol. 29, No. 3)

Much has been said about workforce development and how tribal colleges are preparing students to perform specific jobs. But how are TCUs actually creating jobs? Do TCUs play an entrepreneurial role? How are they helping to develop businesses and industries in tribal communities to combat unemployment and bring about real economic change?

  • Deadline for feature story suggestions: September 8, 2017
  • Features deadline: October 22, 2017
  • On Campus news shorts deadline: October 29, 2017


Wisdom of the Elders (Vol. 29, No. 4)

Elders are the guardians of tribal and sacred knowledge and they play a vital role at all tribal colleges and universities. How do TCUs integrate elders and the knowledge they hold into curricula? What are some of the programs at various TCUs that enable elders to interface with students to pass on their wisdom? How can tribal colleges further employ elders to enrich the college experience for younger students?

  • Deadline for feature story suggestions: November 10, 2017
  • Features deadline: January 8, 2018
  • On Campus news shorts deadline: January 22, 2018

Tribal College Journal Departments

Besides articles addressing an issue’s theme, TCJ also seeks submissions for its regular departments. Below is a listing, with descriptions.

Media Reviews (450 words). The media reviews department illuminates recent publications or films in American Indian studies, including language, history, culture, education, literature, art, research methodology, biography, archaeology, etc. Please include title, author, number of pages, publisher, and year of publication. At the end of your review, please provide a one sentence author blurb about yourself. Follow the format in past issues. We also need a 300 dpi scan of the cover. Keep in mind that many of our readers are college librarians and instructors seeking new materials. Tell them whether you recommend the media item for classroom use or for TCU libraries.

On Campus (250-500 words). This department focuses on news items at tribal colleges. We also accept longer featurettes with a more enduring interest. Since we are quarterly, all pieces for this department should remain interesting and relevant three months from the time they are written. Include contact information at the end. We privilege news items and featurettes that are accompanied by well-composed, high resolution photographs (300 dpi or a file size of 2MB).

Profile (1200 words). Focus on a person who has made a contribution to American Indian higher education or the tribal college movement. Use many quotes. The article should address the person’s work, but the focus should be on the person. Note how they solved a central problem. Include tribal affiliation, age, and family information. At least one well-composed, high resolution photo should accompany the article. The theme of an issue will influence the profile we select.

Research (2000-2500 words). We accept submissions on a broad range of topics in a variety of disciplines so long as they pertain to American Indian education, or are studies conducted by tribal college researchers and are relevant to tribal communities. All submissions should contain in-text citations per APA style guidelines. Currently, we do not send articles out for peer review, but rather conduct an in-house evaluation of the article, its methodology, and its suitability for TCJ. We encourage authors to submit tables, graphs, diagrams, photographs, or other images to accompany their research articles.

Resource Guide (1500-5000 words). Each issue, TCJ publishes a web-exclusive resource guide that investigates various sources relating to the theme of the corresponding issue. The resource guide typically follows one of two formats: 1.) The guide begins with a short 500-word introduction on the state of the field for a particular theme, followed by a comprehensive bibliography of available sources, including books, journal articles, other scholarly studies, websites, etc. 2.) The guide may also be formatted as an annotated bibliography, which focuses on a shorter list of references and offers a basic, paragraph-long overview for each cited source. Please use regular paragraph format with no hanging indents.

Talking Circle (1200 words). Share a successful intervention, a classroom project, specific methodology, or instructional approach that has worked in a tribal college classroom or department. We are interested in facilitating faculty discussion about their work.  We encourage you to submit a well-composed, high-resolution illustration, photograph, or image to accompany your article.

TCJ Student (600-1200 words). This department is devoted to student creative writing, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Students who submit work for this department must be enrolled at a tribal college.

Voices (750 words).  This department is devoted to first person opinions about issues in Native education. We are especially interested in hearing the voices of tribal college students, administrators, staff, and faculty; other voices are welcome as well.

Other Pertinent Information for Writers


Tribal College Journal’s audience is quite diverse. While the stories should serve the tribal colleges’ staff, students, faculty, and administrators, TCJ is also read by other educators, legislators, college donors, and the general public.

Style and Technical Requirements

We seek both storytelling and academic styles for our articles. The first priority is readability, engaging our diverse readership with an intriguing, gripping story. Images are vital in this process. TCJ will only publish well-composed, high resolution photographs. Such images draw in readers and will make your article more compelling.

Whenever an Indian person is mentioned, include the tribal affiliation in parentheses when possible. Italicize non-English words only the first time they appear. Articles must be submitted by email as Word.doc attachments; please use the default settings on Microsoft Word as your format, but be sure to use Times Roman font. Use italics as necessary, but avoid unnecessary formatting (different sizes and fonts, boxes, margins, etc.), which we ultimately have to remove. When citing electronic sources obtained over the Internet, give information sufficient for retrieval of book/article/material.

Use active verbs in your writing. The active voice is usually more direct, concise, and vigorous than the passive (see Strunk and White, The Elements of Style). Keep sentences clear and concise. We are counting on you for accuracy, storytelling ability, willingness to provide more details or a rewrite upon request, and meeting deadlines. This is an internationally distributed magazine with thousands of readers, not a newspaper or newsletter, so please provide your best work.

As noted above, be sure to follow the American Psychological Association’s (APA) citation guidelines. See

Photo and Image Guidelines

For printing purposes, Tribal College Journal requires high resolution photos in jpeg or tiff formats. For charts or graphs we also accept high resolution pdf files. Please do not send low resolution images such as those from a website or GIF images. These may look great on the computer screen, but will come out fuzzy and blocky in a print publication.

Assuming you are using a digital camera, please use the highest image resolution on your camera. Choose large file size — more resolution is better. If your camera allows you to choose a pixel size, the minimum should be 1024 x 768. We would prefer 2048 x 1536 or higher. Note for professionals: Please do not provide images larger than 5 MB.

Do not shoot into the sun. Fill the viewing frame — the people are often more important than the background; get close enough so we can see faces. A photo with 2-4 people is usually better than a photo of a group.

If you are using flash, remember that the built-in flash on most cameras is effective only up to about 20 feet. In low light situations like inside conference rooms or classrooms, change the ISO setting to 400 if possible. For outdoor conditions use the standard ISO setting of 100.

Email the photos to: in separate messages. If you have a lot of images, please contact us for instructions about our FTP site or about setting up a shared Dropbox link.


The rate of payment varies depending upon the complexity of the story, whether it is submitted on time, the quality of the writing, and whether the work is part of the writer’s job requirements. No payment is made for voices or research articles. Note: Payments are made after publication.


Most articles require editing for length, clarity, or style and will be returned to the writer for at least one round of revisions. TCJ reserves the right to edit submissions as deemed necessary by the editorial staff.


Bradley Shreve, Ph.D., editor
Tribal College Journal
P.O. Box 720
Mancos, Colo. 81328

Phone: (970) 533-9170
Fax: (970) 533-9145