Tribal College President Dr. David Yarlott and Native Students Honored by American Indian College Fund and Adolph Coors Foundation

Mar 18, 2016, 07:00 ET from American Indian College Fund

DENVER, March 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Indian College Fund honored American Indian scholarship recipients at its 2015-16 Student of the Year reception at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium Student Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The program, sponsored by the Adolph Coors Foundation, awarded each honoree a $1,000 scholarship. The program also honors a faculty or staff member at a tribal college and university for their leadership who has made a positive and lasting impact on the tribal college movement.

Dr. David Yarlott Jr., President of Little Big Horn College, received the 2016 American Indian College Fund Tribal College Honoree of the Year award. Dr. Yarlott is from Crow Agency. His tribal college career began unexpectedly with a visit to Little Big Horn College to see the changes being made in the buildings on the campus while he had been in Bozeman at graduate school, where he was working on his doctorate degree. While he was there, the then-academic dean mentioned to him that the business instructor was leaving, and that the school needed a business instructor. He said he mentioned the opportunity to his academic advisor while they were playing a game of basketball after he had returned to school. "My advisor asked me, "Well, isn't that what you want to do, to return and help your people?'" Dr. Yarlott said. His advisor suggested that he try the position for a year, and if he didn't like it, he could do something else.

"So on December 28 of that year I accepted the position on January 1, New Year's Day, when it was 20 degrees below zero', I was moving," Dr. Yarlott said. He taught for 1 ½ years before applying for the position of academic dean when that opened. Then, in 2002, he was selected to be president of the college.

Yet Dr. Yarlott wasn't always sure that being a tribal college president was his path. He was asked to take the position initially by the Little Big Hoorn College Board of Trustees, but he refused. They hired an acting interim president for 18 months. "Many people asked me to apply, but I refused. In the summers I worked for the Crow tribe developing natural resources. On a Sunday morning that summer I was eating breakfast when some students knocked on my door. They pleaded with me to take the position. I wouldn't take the position when anyone else asked me, but when the students asked me, I couldn't refuse. Later that summer, on July 31, I was en route to Kananaskis, Canada for my first meeting as president."

During Dr. Yarlott's tenure the campus has undergone a major transformation that includes a state-of-the-art library, administration building, and health and wellness center, all incorporating green technology so that the school is "kinder to the earth." Dr. Yarlott's knowledge of land grant program strategies was an example to the entire tribal college movement system.

Dr. Yarlott's lifelong love of sports played a significant role in both his life and the success of his college and tribal college sports. He says the act of working on a team taught him humility. He was the Little Big Horn College activities director in basketball, which lead to being named to the role as a founding leader of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium Athletic Commission, where he worked to drive the growth of sports in the tribal colleges. His hard work and dedication to inter-tribal sports led to his nomination on the advisory board of the World Indigenous Games by fellow tribal college president Carole Falcon Chandler of Aaniiih Nakoda College.

In the fall of 2015 Dr. Yarlott traveled to Brazil with the first U.S. delegation of tribal college students to participate in the first-ever World Indigenous games, an experience he says they will not soon forget. The students enjoyed the opportunity to immerse themselves in learning about indigenous people there from all over the world. Dr. Yarlott says the electricity in the air from the excitement was palpable, and "I told the students that now they are part of history. There will never be another first."

The following students were also named 2015-2016 students of the year by their tribal colleges and the American Indian College Fund:

Kaye Brown                

Aaniih Nakoda College                  

Allied Health

Janelle Clement            

Bay Mills Community College             

Business Administration

Terrance LaFromboise      

Blackfeet Community College        

Behavioral Health

Tia Fox                     

Cankdeska Cikana Community College  

Business Administration

Troy Bearcomesout       

Chief Dull Knife College              

General Studies

Felisha Adams           

Dine College      

Business Administration

Warren Mountain       

Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community Coll. 

General Studies

Elise Akers                

Fort Peck Community College         

General Studies

Cherica Eckiwaudah           

Haskell Indian Nations University     

Business Management

Ron Martinez      

Institute of American Indian Arts    

Indigenous Liberal Studies

Jillian Felder             

Ilisagvik College                       

Liberal Arts

Jolene DeCota               

Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community Coll.    

Early Childhood Education

Shannel Reynolds         

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Comm. Coll.     

Early Childhood Education

Michelle Marion            

Leech Lake Tribal College                         

Indigenous Leadership

Joire Chavez                

Little Big Horn College                      


Alexandra Cleveland    

Little Priest Tribal College                   

Interdisciplinary Studies

Sally Hill                        

College of Menominee Nation            

Business Administration

Zelma Wind                     

College of Muscogee Nation               

Language Studies

Christina Coffman            

Nebraska Indian Comm. College           

Early Childhood Education

Jayvion Chee                  

Navajo Technical University                   

Geographic Info. Tech

Tammy Hammer            

Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College             

Native American Studies

David Miramontez         

Northwest Indian College

Tribal Governance and

Business Management

Tada Vargas                       

Oglala Lakota College            

Natural Science

Rachel Bailey                     

Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College        

Liberal Arts

Natasha LaRose              

Salish Kootenai College                 

Tribal Historic  Preserv.

Maegan Spotted Elk          

Sinte Gleska University                     

Fine Arts

Samuel Smith                  

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Inst.


Jeremy Red Eagle           

Sisseton Wahpeton College                

Dakota Studies –

Language Teaching Cert.

Breanne Luger                

Sitting Bull College                          

Business Administration

Jade Yazzie                  

Stone Child Community College        

Allied Health

Mary Alice Lopez          

Tohono O'odham Community College  

Social Services

AnnMarie DeCoteau     

Turtle Mountain Community College     


Joshua Chavez           

United Tribes Technical College            

Welding Technology

Kimberly Bjerk           

White Earth Community College           

Early Childhood Education

About the American Indian College Fund
Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation's largest charity supporting Native higher education for more than 25 years. The College Fund believes "Education is the answer" and has provided more than 100,000 scholarships since its inception and an average of 6,000 scholarships per year to American Indian students. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit

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SOURCE American Indian College Fund