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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

New Mexico State and tribal leaders unite to ensure success of Native American students

New Mexico State University and five area tribes have agreed to combine their efforts to increase enrollment and academic achievement of Native American students.

From left to right: Interim President/Provost William Flores and Gov. Fred Vallo, of the Pueblo of Acoma, sign a memorandum of understanding. The Pueblo of Acoma was one of five tribes in the region which agreed to combine their efforts with NMSU to increase enrollment and academic achievement of Native American students. (Photo by Greg Mays)

Representatives from two of the tribes -- Pueblo of Acoma and Pueblo of Zuni -- formalized the relationship by signing a memorandum of understanding Friday, Aug. 29, at the President's Residence.

Representatives of Pueblo of Santa Ana, Pueblo de Cochiti and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo are expected to sign similar agreements at a later date.

"This is just the beginning," said Don Pepion, director of the American Indian Program at NMSU. "We've reached agreements in principle with most of the tribes in New Mexico, and we hope that we will be in a place of total agreement with all of them soon."

The collaboration between the university and the tribes will help address retention and recruitment issues, and ensure the academic success of Native American students.

To achieve success, NMSU and the tribes will work together to attain several goals including working with state legislatures to establish tuition waivers for members of the tribes; recognizing that the tribes will work to attain a Native American to be appointed to the NMSU Board of Regents and developing an American Indian student tracking system that provides an annual report of data and findings.

"I appreciate what the president and others at the university are trying to do to accommodate those of us in the area and accommodate our needs and those needs of our students," said Gov. Fred Vallo, of the Pueblo of Acoma. "I think with the commitment the Pueblo and the university have to recruiting, retaining and increasing the academic achievement of Native American students, it's going to make it a lot easier (for our students) and hopefully we'll have more students attend the local branch."

There are more than 400 Native American students enrolled at New Mexico State. Students are able to participate in a variety of activities including the United Native American Organization (UNAO), the Native American Business Student Association (NABSA) and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). Students are also able to complete a minor in American Indian Studies, an academic resource for information and understanding about American Indian peoples.

New Mexico is home to more than 147,000 Indian citizens. The state also boasts the largest number of American Indian land-based nations.

For more information on the American Indian Program, contact Pepion at (505) 646-3196.