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Comanche Nation College closing its doors after 15 years

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LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Members of the Comanche Nation Tribe are speaking out following an announcement that the Comanche Nation College would close its doors at the end of the month.Lawton native,Chelsea Yackeyonny, graduated from Comanche Nation College in 2016 with an Associates Degree in American Indian Studies. She said it's hard to explain how she felt when she heard the news.

"I was just shocked you know hearing news like that you know its kind of disappointing because its like taking 10 steps back," said Yackeyonny.

Yackeyonny is 3/4 Comanche and said the college fulfilled all of her educational needs.

"A lot of the classrooms they were small so I was able to talk to them one-on-one If needed it," said Yackeyonny.

But when the doors close on July 31st , Yackeyonny says it will affect not only current students, but future generations as well.

"You are taking away their ability to learn about native culture and religion and and values that come with it," said Yackeyonny.

Doctor Augustine McCaffery has served as Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Comanche Nation College for three years. She said the tribe eliminated funding back in May after the college lost accreditation and that's when she began to see a drop in enrollment.

"That has been a problem because we lost a lot of the staff and faculty because of the closing or the idea that the college would eventually close you can't operate without any funding and so we lost some critical staff and faculty as well so that added to what kinds of classes we could offer," said McCaffery.

Doctor McCaffery said they did discuss ways to keep the college open during Wednesday's meeting with the Tribal Chairman and the Comanche Nation Business Committee.

"Well we tried to make our case for continuing the college and to reason with them and that we had an opportunity for a certain timeline to resubmit our application for accreditation," said McCaffery.

But those ideas were rejected. Now, McCaffery she wishes the decision would have been left up to tribal members instead of a committee.

"Very disappointed in the leadership that they are short sited and that seven people are making a decision for the tribe as a whole the question of which whether the college should exist or not should go to the full tribal membership for them to vote on there are 17,000 members in our tribe and they should be the ones to make that decision it shouldn't be left to 7 people," said McCaffery.

In a statement released on the Comanche Nation College Facebook page, the Chairman Stated, "Staff would not be affected by this action and would continue to be employed."However, McCaffery said there is no transition plan in place at this point.  

Chairman Willie Nelson of the Comanche Nation Tribe released the following statement:

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