Tribal Colleges and Universities

Tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) are North American postsecondary educational institutions for indigenous peoples. Historically, in tribal societies, education was the purview of the extended family, clans, and societies, providing socialization through tribal practices and relationships and ensuring individual responsibility within a collective environment. However, upon European contact, formal educational structures such as schools were introduced to tribal societies with the goal of assimilating tribal people.

TCUs were established to fulfill the more formal role of postsecondary education that historically existed within the socialization processes of tribes and to reclaim the tribe’s role in educating their own people. Most of these institutions are chartered by tribal governments under their authority as sovereign nations and are place based, located on or near the homelands of tribal people.

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