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Leadership roles of American Indian women tribal college presidents

Bernita L Krumm, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Examining the experiences of four American Indian women tribal college presidents and how they perceived their leadership roles was the purpose of the study. Questions focused on the leadership roles, the presidents' visions for their colleges, behaviors and strategies they used, and their perceptions and insights on leadership.^ The four participants in the multi-case study were: Janine Pease Windy Boy Pretty on Top, founding president of Little Big Horn Community College, Crow Agency, Montana; Verna Fowler, founding president of College of the Menominee Nation, Keshena, Wisconsin; Tanya Ward, president of Cheyenne River Community College, Eagle Butte, South Dakota; and Margarett Campbell, former president of Fort Belknap College, Harlem, Montana. Multiple sources provided information for the study; participant interviews conducted on-site and telephone interviews provided the primary data.^ Tribal colleges have a common mission of restoring and preserving tribal culture and language; culture defines the purpose, process, and product. Existing leadership theories may not provide the framework to contextualize tribal college leadership; however, if culture is viewed as an aspect of the context, environment, or situation, then the leadership of the four participants may approximate situational leadership. Although the women in this study preferred to use a participative style of leadership--high in supportiveness and low in directiveness--the situations often demanded a more highly directive leadership style. Completing the task took priority in determining the appropriate decision-making process. Participants identified finances and politics as their primary concerns, as well as achieving and maintaining accreditation.^ The women in this study held differing perceptions of the influence gender had on leadership. The tribes of the participants did not appear to create barriers that prevented women from assuming leadership positions; leadership in education is congruent with the role of woman as care giver and nurturer. Tribal college leadership is the embodiment of a lifestyle, an expression of learned patterns of thought and behaviors, values and beliefs. Tribal college leadership is inseparable from culture.^ The value of this study is that it gives voice to the participants, enabling them to tell their stories in their own words. The study also provides information that is beneficial in creating a bridge of understanding between cultures. ^

Subject Area

Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Women's Studies|Education, Administration

Recommended Citation

Krumm, Bernita L, "Leadership roles of American Indian women tribal college presidents" (1997). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9736939.