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The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) was established in 1972, in order to represent the interests of the newly emerging tribal colleges. One of the most significant achievements of AIHEC was to work with the United States Congress to grant land-grant status to 29 tribal colleges. This status was conferred in October of 1994 and AIHEC was granted a representative to the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges's Council of Presidents. This organization has its administrative head quarters in Alexandria, Virginiamarker, but its schools are located from Michigan west to Alaska and Arizona.

AIHEC's membership is 36 tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) in the United States and one Canadian institution. It is jointly governed by the presidents from the member institutions. AIHEC offers technical assistance to its member colleges, as well as to developing institutions, and leads efforts to further the Tribal College Movement.

In the late 1970s, AIHEC established the American Indian College Fund (AICF) to raise scholarship funds for American Indian students at qualified tribal colleges and universities.

Mission Statement

The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), since 1972, has been the collective spirit and voice of our nation’s Tribal Colleges and Universities, advocating on behalf of individual institutions of higher education that are defined and controlled by their respective tribal nations. AIHEC’s mission is to nurture, advocate, and protect American Indian history, culture, art, and language, and the legal and human rights of American Indian people to their own sense of identity and heritage through:

  1. assisting Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) in maintaining standards of high quality education, developing an accrediting body for American Indian-serving post-secondary institutions, and reaching out to other national education organizations;
  2. promoting and advocating for the development of new TCUs;
  3. promoting policy, legislation, regulations at the national level to strengthen American Indian higher education and advocating for TCUs in Congress and with the federal government;
  4. providing technical assistance to member institutions;
  5. promoting public and private opportunities for TCUs in areas critical to success in the 21st century, including science and information technology, agriculture and natural resources use, pre-kindergarten through grade-12 linkages, international outreach, and leadership development.

Strategic goals

  • Sustainability: Sustain Tribal Colleges and Universities and the Tribal College Movement.
  • Performance accountability: Provide technical assistance, standards, and processes necessary for TCUs to be accountable premier higher education centers within their communities.
  • Student engagement: Help improve the capacity of TCUs to provide high quality, culturally relevant, and integrated higher education.
  • Strengthening communities: Assist TCUs in improving their capacity to serve their students, individuals, families, and extendted families.


  • American Indian Higher Education Association (AIHEC) and the Institute for Higher Education Policy (1999). Tribal Colleges: An Introduction. Washington, DC: Authors.

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