North Dakota's five tribal colleges will be hosting a higher education conference in March, bringing more than 1,000 attendees from tribal colleges and universities from across the United States.

The American Indian Education Consortium, which is composed of 37 tribal colleges and universities, has scheduled the conference for March 11-14 at the Bismarck Event Center.

"I’m really pleased that that’s happening here in Bismarck,” said UTTC President Leander "Russ" McDonald, noting that the location for the annual conference changes every year.

The 2018 AIHEC Student Conference will be hosted by Sitting Bull College, Fort Yates; Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Fort Totten; Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, New Town; Turtle Mountain Community College, Belcourt; and United Tribes Technical College.

AIHEC was established in 1973 and serves member institutions through advocacy, research and program initiatives on public policy related to Native American issues.

At the conference, students will participate in competitions in STEM, history, literature and the arts. McDonald said research shows that competitions such as these benefit students and their academic experiences.

Keynote speakers at the conference include North Dakota native, Jodi Gillette, former deputy assistant secretary for policy and economic development for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior, Carrie Billie, president and CEO of AIHEC, and Navi Radjou, an innovation and leadership adviser based in Silicon Valley.

A powwow open to the general public will be held at 7 p.m. March 13 at the Bismarck Event Center.

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or


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