MANCOS, Colo. - While confronting the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), tribal college leaders and students put their bodies on the line. Dr. Deborah His Horse Is Thunder, a tribal college educator and administrator, details her arrest and the resulting felony charges in Tribal College Journal's current issue.

Such courage and sacrifice serve as a rallying cry for others at the tribal colleges. The American Indian Higher Education Consortium recently issued a resolution expressing solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux and opposing DAPL.

Oil and Indian Country is a complex, multifaceted issue. In Tribal College Journal's feature article, "Beyond Standing Rock," veteran environmental journalist Laura Paskus explores how events at Standing Rock have brought this issue into sharper focus. Paskus further shows that tribal institutions of higher education are also uniquely situated to host conversations that address these complex issues and difficult questions.
At Turtle Mountain Community College in North Dakota, such conversations have helped bring about major changes, which Stacie Blue explores in her article "Protecting the Sacred Water Bundle." In 2011, after a series of tribal meetings in which TMCC faculty, students, and administrators played a crucial part, the tribal council of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians voted unanimously to ban oil fracking on the reservation.
And yet, tribal development of oil and other fossil fuels offers economic opportunities that can help uplift Native nations. For too long American Indians have experienced the highest poverty rates and the greatest unemployment. In her article, "Oil and the Iñupiaq," Iḷisaġvik College president, Dr. Pearl Brower, offers a brief history of petroleum exploration in the Arctic, and shows how the industry has provided opportunities and career pathways where previously they did not exist.
Today, many energy tribes are faced with great wealth and economic opportunities. But they also must confront social ills, threats to their tribal values, and the moral conundrum of what oil exploitation means for our Mother Earth. It is perhaps the most pressing issue we face today. The latest issue of Tribal College Journal explores how tribal colleges and universities are poised to serve as the catalyst in our search for answers.

For a free sample copy of the Oil and Indian Country issue call (970) 533-9170. Tribal College Journal is a quarterly magazine published in Mancos, CO by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, an organization of 37 tribally controlled colleges and universities. For more information, call or visit the website,