Already worried about tight budgets after four years of flat federal funding, Haskell Indian Nations University officials on Friday said they've been warned to expect roughly $600,000 in cuts next year.
"That would have a traumatic effect on the university and would have serious impact on our accreditation efforts," said Venida Chenault, vice president in charge of academic affairs.
The warning comes on the heels of the university's meals program almost running out of money last year and, for the first time in Haskell's 121-year history, students being tapped for fees.
"The federal government does not fund us adequately," said Gil Vigil, a Pueblo and chairman of the university's Board of Regents.
Haskell's $9.1 million budget has not increased in four years. The university has 67 faculty and 918 students.
Wary of trying to squeeze more money from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Vigil unveiled plans to host a national summit aimed at coming up with alternate funding sources for Indian colleges and universities.
Plans call for Haskell hosting the summit on May 11, 2006, a date that will allow tribal leaders to attend spring commencement.
Board members welcomed the proposal. "I think it's time for all tribes to pitch in and help out," said Regent Lana Redeye, a member of the Seneca Nation.
Ernest L. Stevens Jr., a 1983 Haskell graduate and chairman of the National Indian Gaming Assn., offered to help coordinate the filming of a documentary aimed at exposing tribal leaders to Haskell's role in Indian education.
"It's important that Indian Country understand what we have here - the Haskell legacy," Stevens said.
The Regents meeting coincided with the university's fall homecoming.