Salish Kootenai College honors tribal education and 2019 graduates
PABLO — It was a monumental moment in the educational journeys of roughly 260 graduates last weekend, as the Salish Kootenai College (SKC) hosted its 39th annual graduation ceremony.
American Indian College Fund student of the year Brevin Holiday (Nez Perce) addressed the class discussing the unique experience of Native American students. “Education was never something built to help us,” he said. “Today, we’re utilizing it as a tool. We’re receiving degrees from an institution as a result of brave leaders that lead the tribal college movement, which sought to fight an education system that was built to oppress us as Native people rather than endure us."
Each year, the tribal college awards honorary degrees, typically reserved for tribal elders, to recognize individuals who’ve made significant contributions to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT). SKC Board of Directors Chairman Jim Durglo announced that this year’s honorees were tribal artist and former SKC instructor Linda King and CSKT Council Representative Carole Lankford, who simply dedicated the honor to “the people of Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille tribes.”
King offered the students words of advice. “It’s a good day to be Indigenous,” she said. “I’m so proud of all of you… I did want to leave you with a few things: one is great things never come from the comfort zone so don’t be afraid to leave that comfort zone. Another thing, be the change you want to see in the world, and last, instead of listening to others you must learn to make your own decisions in life. Of course it’s going to be scary but it doesn’t mean it won’t lead to something truly amazing.”
Instructor of the year Matt Seeley commended the students for their achievement. “You are all here because you put your education first,” he said. “The experiences of life can become overwhelming as you pursue your education but instead of using it as the reason you didn’t succeed, you used it as a reason to succeed. Success in life is about perception.
The 2019 Salish Kootenai College class were awarded 65 Bachelor’s Degrees, 103 Associates Degrees, and 93 certificates of completions and professional certifications. SKC Board of Directors member Delilah Friedlander led a prayer and the Chief Cliff Drum Group honored the graduates with a song.