first mainstream non-indigenous controlled institution to receive
accreditation from international indigenous consortium
Mont. The Montana State University Department of Native American
Studies has received accreditation from the World Indigenous Nations
Higher Education Consortium, the first mainstream non-indigenous
controlled institution in the world to receive the designation.
WINHEC is the accreditation body for indigenous education initiatives
and systems that identify common practices, criteria and principles
by which indigenous people live, according to Walter Fleming, chairman
of MSUs Department of Native American Studies.
announced MSUs accreditation at its winter meeting at La Trobe
University in Melbourne, Australia. Other programs receiving accreditation
were Maori programs in New Zealand, the Seven Generations Education
Institute of Ontario, Canada and the Sami University College in
said the accreditation is important because it signals to students
and other institutions worldwide that MSU has made Native American
students and programs a priority in recruitment and retention.
know there are Native American Studies programs that exist in name
only; that serve no Native students and are not accountable to Native
communities, Fleming said. By being accredited by WINHEC,
potential students and indigenous communities can be assured that
MSUs Native American Studies department has met both academic
and cultural standards of excellence.
said MSU was invited to apply for the accreditation. A WINHEC evaluation
team visited MSU in November. The team visited with MSU President
Geoff Gamble, the MSU Council of Tribal Elders, as well as NAS faculty
and staff, program directors and students.
said another bonus of the process was that the department was asked
to identify MSU and its values while preparing for the visit, which
the department said were honesty, generosity, kindness, openness,
hard work, family and spirituality.
rarely assess, or even identify, their institutional values,
he said. The WINHEC accreditation process has given NAS an
opportunity to identify a value system upon which it has always
operated on but never articulated.
a result of the WINHEC accreditation, MSU will also receive accreditation
by the National Indigenous Accreditation Board.