Little Big Horn College, a 1994 Land Grant Institution, is the Crow higher education and cultural center that grants Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees and certificates in areas that reflect the developing economic opportunities and social needs of the Crow Indian Reservation and surrounding communities, offering instruction by traditional and distance education methods. The College is dedicated to the professional, vocational and personal development of individual students for their advancement in higher education or the workplace and inspiring Crow and American Indian Scholarship. The College is committed to the preservation, perpetuation and protection of Crow culture and language, and respects the distinct bilingual and bicultural aspects of the Crow Indian community. Little Big Horn College is committed to the advancement of the Crow Indian family and community building.
Little Big Horn College is a public two-year community college chartered by the Crow Tribe of Indians. The College is located in the town of Crow Agency, Montana Baaxawuaashe', the capital of the Crow Indian Reservation in south central Montana. Eight Associate of Arts degrees are offered at LBHC. The courses of study offered are directly related to the job opportunities and economic development on the Crow Indian Reservation and surrounding communities. The majority of the students enrolled are members of the Crow Tribe of Indians
The College campus is located in the town of Crow Agency on the banks of the Little Big Horn River, adjacent to the Crow Indian Agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Crow Tribal Administration Office is located within two blocks of the campus. The fall of 2003 celebrated the grand opening of both the new Driftwood Lodges Learning Center (faculty/classroom
building) and Cultural Learning Lodge. These new college facilities reflect the
beauty of Crow geometrical design and are situated in downtown Crow Agency.
The College Mission and Purpose is directed by the College Charter, passed by the Crow Tribal Council in 1980: to establish, maintain and operate an educational institution at the post-secondary level on the Crow Indian Reservation. Crow Indian voters in the six reservation districts elect the all-Crow Indian Board of Trustees. In addition to the elected board members, a yearly elected member of the LBHC faculty staff and student body comprise the Board of Trustees.
History of Little Big Horn College
The Crow Tribe of Indians chartered little Big Horn College in January of 1980. The College began providing higher education and vocational training in 1981, with courses of study in business, home nursing, media production and general studies. The trustees, all Crow Tribal members, published the first catalog in 1983 and began accreditation correspondence. The small faculty and staff moved in the current building (previously the tribal gym building) in 1983. In 1984, the College applied for and received candidacy for accreditation with the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges. The Trustees, faculty and staff worked diligently over the next six years to acquire accreditation at the community college level in June of 1990.
The College Charter authorized Little Big Horn College to establish, maintain and operate educational institutions at the post-secondary level on the Crow Indian Reservation, with emphasis on educational, vocational and technical programs leading to degrees and certificates that may be granted. In 1982, the college acquired tax exempt status under 501 C (3) of the United States IRS Tax Code. The College is a non-profit corporation under the Crow Tribal Resolution 80-17b.
The College enrollment began with only 32 students in 1981-82 and now averages over 300 students per term. The initial faculty included a business, printing and nursing instructor. Financial aid programs were begun with the candidacy for accreditation, providing Pell Grant and institutionally supported work-study. Today the College offers all federal on-campus programs (except student loans), stipends and scholarship support from private donors averaging over $200,000 annually. LBHC has had over 300 graduates walk across the platform to jobs or senior institutions. LBHC graduates are employed on and around the Crow Reservation in a variety of positions including teachers' aids, computer technicians, office managers and administrative assistants. At least sixty have completed bachelor's degrees and are pursuing professions in education, social work, human services, science, nursing, technology, accounting and business.
The original facility of 1980 was an abandoned agency home, two trailer buildings and a garage located in the original town site of Crow Agency. The second location was in a wing of the Community Action Program (CAP) Building near the Crow Agency Elementary School. The College moved to its present location in the tribal gym in 1983. The Building Trades Program students renovated the gym and make a remarkably useful and innovative education facility of 35,000 square feet. Two new campus buildings were constructed in 2002-2003, and the old and new buildings combined feature a library, archives, academic laboratories, classrooms, student services area and administrative offices. Phase 2 of the campus construction began in spring 2007 with the construction of the Library Archives and Administration facilities. Plans to move on to Phase 3 of the new construction are ongoing.
The College name was chosen for a special scholar in ancient Crow tribal history: The Big Horn Ram. Many generations ago, a young boy was thrown off a precipitous cliff by his stepfather in the Basawaxaawuua (Big Horn Mountains). Despite a desperate search for the boy, his family gave him up for lost, and mourned his passing. Seven Big Horn Rams saved the child from the life threatening fall into the canyon depths. These seven Rams raised the youngster to adulthood, and taught him many lessons about the big horn sheep way of life. Among the Seven Rams, the smallest in stature imparted crucial lessons in raising the young and in making strong community his name was Iisaxpuatahchee, The Little Big Horn Ram.
When the young boy grew to adulthood, he returned to the Crow People and shared the lessons he had learned from the Seven Rams. The young man was later name Uuwatisee, Big Metal. The Crow people often attribute their cultural strength to the wisdom of Iisaxpuatahchee. The founding trustees, faculty and staff chose the name of the Crow tribal college after this scholar in our Crow Tribal history. Today, the College proudly bears the name Little Big Horn College and uses the mascot Rams and Lady Rams in sports, academic competitions and as an insignia.
Little Big Horn College evolved from the strong, stable parent organization, the Crow Central Education Commission of the Crow Tribe of Indians. During the Edison Real Bird administration, the Crow Tribal Council authorized and funded the Commission formation in 1972. The long term influence, leadership and vision of Executive Director Joseph Medicine Crow and Board of Directors Chairman, David Stewart contributed critical direction to program development and planning for adult and higher education services to the Crow Indian people. Incorporated as a state and federal non-profit organization, the Crow Central Education Commission created a good path for educational services that led to the development of the College. The Commission projects were the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Teacher Training Program (1975-81), the Crow Educational Research and the Crow Head Start Program. Contributing board members in the 1970's were Robert Bends, Thelma Birdinground, Minnie Ellen Fritzler, Penny Medicine Horse Haukaas, Katie Pretty Weasel, and Donald Stewart. Key faculty and administers included Avis Three Irons, Janine Pease, Dale Old Horn, Dora Rides Horse, Carlene Old Elk, Geneva Whiteman, Willie Stewart and Wesley Falls Down. The educational leaders, students and parents were instrumental in founding Little Big Horn College.
To establish a tribal college was a difficult task, but one fueled by the vision of a Crow Indian present and future where Crow people would have full access to training and post-secondary education. The idea of curricular control appealed to the Crow people, for the standard approach to higher education always left a void, the scholarship and knowledge of the Crow Indian People. The founding trustees studied a combination of knowledge from the Crow People and the mainstream, and forged a new tradition in education, Little Big Horn College. The hope was a brighter future; the hope was to develop Crow Indian professionals whose life work would build the Crow Indian community; the hope was to access Crow adults to positions that would support their families in a respectable way. The hope was to establish a lasting tradition of advanced training and higher education, for a good path into the future for the Crow People.
Little Big Horn College received essential training and technical assistance from the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, the organization of tribal colleges, beginning with associate membership in 1976. The presidents of Salish Kootenai College (chartered in 1976), Sinte Gleska College (chartered in 1972) Oglala Lakota College (chartered in 1972), Blackfeet Community College (chartered in 1976) and Dull Knife Memorial College (chartered in 1974) shared college organization and curriculum development information with LBHC. Extension center arrangements existed with Eastern Montana College (now MSU-Billings), Miles Community College (Miles City) and Dawson Community College (Glendive). Montana State University-Bozeman provided substantial help in growth and progress toward full accreditation, personnel development and student science related opportunities. The St. Labre Indian Educational Association contributed initial funding for library organization. In 1975, a forum of Apsaalooke elders and community members convened an educational assessment and designed a Crow Studies course series that later became part of the college curriculum.