Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College (SCTC) is a public community college located in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. In 1998, the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council adopted a resolution establishing a tribally controlled college and forming a governing Board of Regents. While the primary focus was to build a bridge between tribal members and higher education, the college was chartered as a public institution for all people in the community. In passing their resolution to establish the college, the Tribal Council sought to increase access to higher education and to expand educational and career opportunities for the tribal community. The Tribal Council also was taking responsibility to provide for the future of the tribe by investing in its most valuable resource, its members and employees. The establishment of Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College was an important step in an educational empowerment process that seeks to preserve and maintain the Saginaw Chippewa tribal culture. The college strives to provide a quality learning experience and environment designed to sustain the cultural continuity of the Tribe from past to future generations.
With its founding in 1998, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College joined the larger tribal college movement. In 2007 the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College became an accredited higher education organization. This accomplishment moved the vision of the Tribal Council , to “enable Native Americans to achieve a significant position in the world’s emerging economy”, to a reality. And while this success provides the opportunity of higher education to Native Americans it does so while promoting values, history, traditions, and wisdom of the Anishinaabe.
Like other tribal colleges, SCTC had very modest beginnings. Originally, in 1998, the college consisted of an office, two classrooms, and a computer lab in the Nish-na-be-anong residential area of the Isabella Indian Reservation, the first federally funded housing project on the reservation erected in the late 1960s. The office and computer lab then relocated to the Tribal Operations building, while the two classrooms remained at Nish-na-be-anong. The office on Nish-na-be-anong was used to house the newly established Learning Resource Center until it too moved to the Tribal Operations building. In October of 2000, SCTC moved to a leased building one mile from the Tribal Operations building and other tribal buildings.
The new site was made up of a single building that housed several classrooms, a computer lab, administrative offices, faculty offices, and a conference room. It also had a small student study area with tables and chairs and a computer area along one wall. The space was adequate but had little room for growth. By moving to a different building in the same plaza, SCTC expanded its classroom and administrative areas. In August of 2004, SCTC leased a second building at the same location The second building housed the Learning Resource Center, satellite library of the tribe, student computer lounge, two class rooms and a computer lab. This building also allowed for the establishment of the Aandjikinigan (Ojibwa Language Area).
The second building became a focal point for students to gather and engage in study groups, to do online research, and to socialize with other students. This area is also used by SCTC alumni who attend other area institutions and feel comfortable in returning to a familiar environment.
Establishment of Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College included foundational milestones: membership in American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), establishment of eligibility for Tribally Controlled College or University Assistance Act funds, the establishment of Land Grant status, and the securing of eligibility to offer federal student financial aid. These accomplishments have been instrumental in building confidence with students and community. As a tribally controlled two-year college, SCTC offers Associate of Arts degrees.
Currently, four degrees are offered: 1) Associate of Arts in Science, 2) Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts 3) Associate of Arts in Native American Studies, and 4) Associate of Arts in Business. Each of these degree programs is intended for transfer to baccalaureate degree programs at local colleges and universities. Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College is chartered as a non-profit, public corporation of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. The primary geographic service area of SCTC is the Isabella Reservation and greater Mount Pleasant area, which is the principal reservation of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. A secondary service area is the Saganing Reservation, which is a subsidiary, smaller reservation of the Tribe.