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American Indian College Fund announces 2008-09 fellows

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DENVER – The American Indian College Fund named academic year 2008-09 fellows Carmelita Lamb and Michael D. Tosee under The Andrew W. Mellon Career Enhancement Program. Fellows receive a $30,000 sabbatical fellowship with additional funding for research-related travel, with the purpose of increasing the intellectual capital among faculty at the 32 accredited tribal colleges and universities. In existence since 2004, the program has funded 15 Ph.D. candidates to date.

Lamb, Lipan Apache, has resided in North Dakota for 29 years and teaches in various disciplines at Turtle Mountain Community College. She is the project director for Native Ways of Knowing – Secondary Science Teacher Education, a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Lamb is a doctoral candidate in education at North Dakota State University under the advisement of Dr. Myron Eighmy. Her dissertation is about the cohort model learning community and how to implement best practices in teacher education and student retention in tribal colleges, focusing on American Indian student retention in professional degree programs offered in a tribal institution of higher education.

“Tribal colleges and universities have been contributing to the higher education needs of Native American students for over 30 years, yet very little is actually known about these culturally rich learning environments in mainstream institutions of higher education,” Lamb said. “Preliminary findings from this study describe a remarkable similarity between TCUs and mainstream institutions of higher education in their approach to knowledge building constructs like learning communities. Of even greater interest is the crucial role that student cultural identity plays in the overall theme of the cohort model learning community in a tribal college.”

She said her study may be useful for tribal institutions seeking to develop four-year professional degree programs like teacher education, while including a cohort model learning community to foster Native American student success. Other applications of Lamb’s findings could be in future tribal college funding proposals targeted to agencies that direct a chain of accountability linked to empirical research.

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Tosee, Comanche, has taught at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan. for the past 17 years. In 1994 Haskell began a four-year degree program by offering American Indian Studies as one of four baccalaureate degree programs. Tosee has been a member of the American Indian Studies program since that time, teaching History of American Indian Leaders, Past and Present and the American Indian Experience: A Twentieth Century History.

In 1995, Tosee began to compile American Indian elder interviews to complement his research. He has conducted 250 interviews about various 20th century American history topics, which he will use in his dissertation giving a 20th century historical review of the Comanche warrior ethic. He is a doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas under the mentorship of Dr. Rita Napier.

“I have such a keen interest in discussing, teaching and writing about the role American Indians played in 20th century American History, but what keeps me motivated to work in this area, interviewing elders, reading, writing and researching this period of history is because of my appreciation for my grandparents,” Tosee said. “It is from the relationship with my grandparents that I have shaped my life; to value one’s existence as if it were a gift. My effort to develop a 20th century American Indian history is an effort to give something back for the generosity and kindness my grandparents showed me.”