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College Fund honors Paul Robertson as honoree of the year

Robertson is the president of the school — located in Sells, Arizona. (Image via Facebook)

Paul Robertson, president of Tohono O’odham Community College (TOCC) in Sells, Arizona, has been named the American Indian College Fund Tribal College and University honoree of the year for 2021-22.

Robertson has more than 40 years of experience in tribal college education, including as a teacher and administrator. In recent years, he served as president of Little Priest Tribal College and chief of operations at Sinte Gleska University. He joined TOCC in January 2016.


“This [tribal college university] is blessed with the generosity and continuous ongoing support of the Tohono O’odham Nation. TOCC is well-positioned because of the casinos the Nation has and the regular fiscal support from the Nation in ways that other TCUs may not enjoy,” he said in a statement.

Robertson’s involvement in tribal college education career began when he visited his brother, who was working at Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota. Soon after, Robertson was hired by the college and has been involved in Native higher education ever since.

“It was a rude awakening to find the conditions that existed there in the 1980s — not just the lack of social services — but the oppression of Lakota landowners who often lacked control over their own land,” he said.

Robertson completed his dissertation on the colonial history of the reservation. He and his wife, Eileen Iron Cloud, have organized several efforts aimed at redressing grievances involving land, pollution, domestic violence and treaty rights.