At a University of Wyoming Board of Trustees meeting last week, the chairman of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, Roy Brown, made the case for giving Wyoming’s tribal students a tuition waiver.
He said, thanks to efforts to recruit more Native Americans, the Northern Arapaho Endowment Scholarship was flooded with more qualified applicants than they could serve for the first time in the scholarship's history.
Native American Education, Research, and Cultural Center Director James Trosper spoke at the meeting and said many states offer Native students free tuition to resident tribes, like Fort Lewis College and Colorado State University in Colorado, as well as Maine, Michigan and all Montana’s schools. He said many of those were built on lands originally granted to tribes by treaty.
“Everything within this southeast corner of Wyoming once belonged to the Arapaho tribe,” said Trosper, “and so really where this university is built once belonged to them and so it makes sense there would be some consideration, especially because in that treaty, education was mentioned.”
Trosper was referencing the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. He said 40 percent of the Northern Arapaho Tribe is now under 18 years old and UW needs to make sure they have a pathway to college.
Trosper said that at the presentation, Trustee President John McPherson said it could be a slippery slope with other groups requesting tuition waivers too.
Trosper said, “I’m in agreement that it could be a slippery slope but I think that it’s really important that the trustees consider that it’s going to be a very short slope. Because there are only two tribes that are citizens of Wyoming and that’s the Northern Arapaho and the Eastern Shoshone.”
Trosper said he and the Northern Arapaho tribe agreed to provide the trustees with more data to help them make the decision going forward.