Tribal Learning Community & Educational Exchange

Accessible Higher Education for Citizens of Native Nations.

Welcome to the Tribal Learning Community & Educational Exchange (TLCEE). We hope you will find useful information on these web pages for our Native community here at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Whether you are interested in law school related matters, graduate or undergraduate education, or Professional Development, please feel free to email us at with questions about our American Indian programs, Native UCLA community or TLCEE online programs.

The Tribal Learning Community & Educational Exchange (TLCEE) is an innovative legal and general education program housed at the UCLA School of Law. With its interdisciplinary scope, TLCEE joins Native peoples’ perspectives, knowledge, priorities, and visions for the future with the academic world at UCLA. TLCEE's primary goal is to develop relevant courses for delivery to Native community members and UCLA students interested in American Indian Studies. Collaborating with Native community members and traditional knowledge bearers, TLCEE focuses on enhancing Native governance and cultural resource protection. TLCEE also encourages Native youth and Tribal community members to enroll in college level courses and works to serve as a base for Native community members attending UCLA.

TLCEE is made possible by a generous endowment from the San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians.

TLCEE Information

  • Mission & Objectives

    The Tribal Learning Community & Educational Exchange (TLCEE) is an interdisciplinary, experiential education program that joins native peoples’ perspectives, knowledge, priorities, and visions for the future with the academic world at UCLA. TLCEE’s primary goal is to develop relevant courses and workshops for delivery to Native community members and UCLA students interested in American Indian Studies. Collaborating with Native community members and traditional knowledge bearers, TLCEE focuses on enhancing Native governance and cultural competence throughout Indian Country.

    TLCEE implements its mission in three different settings. We offer a series of campus-based courses called Working in Tribal Communities, which is part of the UCLA American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Degree Program. These series of courses works with our UCLA undergraduate, graduate, and law students to embark on projects with tribal communities and organizations.

    For our Native Community, TLCEE offers a curriculum of online classes called Working in Contemporary Native Nations, which has been designed to give the student participants gainful knowledge in understanding the complexities of current issues facing Indian Country. With the completion of these courses, UCLA Extension will offer a “Certificate of Completion” of these powerful university based courses. For community members who would prefer not to move toward a degree or a certificate, TLCEE delivers community workshops on topics, ranging from youth leadership development to theater to lay advocate training for tribal courts.

    Development of Pipeline Programs: We are currently in development of a youth-based program designed to give our Native Youth an opportunity to take university level courses that will give them greater understanding of contemporary issues affecting Indian Country. These courses have subject matter in the areas of Federal Indian Law, Tribal Economic Development, and Cultural Preservation. The addition of these courses will aid our students on their transcripts, personal statements and understanding of the level of study at the university level. This program is a collaborative effort of many in the development of coursework, on college preparation through a coalition of Southern California Universities, and by our community who support our Native Youth.

  • TLCEE Projects

    TLCEE provides students with opportunities to work directly with Tribal communities through partnerships with UCLA programs, inter-tribal organizations, and specific Native nations. TLCEE also offers a limited number of scholarships for local tribal community members to earn credit through UCLA Extension for working on projects in their own communities. If you are interested in having a UCLA student or a tribal community member located in the LA area work on a project with your community or organization, please review and complete the Tribal Community Partner form and send it to&

    Below are examples of the projects our TLCEE students have worked on with our TLCEE Tribal Community Partners:

    Native Hawaiian Sovereignty Project: Research and compile comparative tribal constitutional law relating to tribal citizenship/membership requirements; Design and carry out mini-trainings on the issues arising from the research. Site Visit: Honolulu, HI

    Native Hawaiian Names Preservation Project: In conjunction with high schools in Hawaii, UCLA and Hawaiian high school students examined historical documents containing the names of Native Hawaiian ancestors, transpose them to a digital format, and make them available for youth to trace their names and histories. Site Visit: Honolulu, HI

    UCLA Powwow Project: Coordinate the annual pow-wow while building a resource kit for future AISA pow-wow planners. Site Visit: Los Angeles, CA

    Native Seeds/SEARCH Project: Coordinate with researchers at Native Seeds/SEARCH to implement a needs assessment relating to the distribution of indigenous seeds in the southwest region of the United States.

    Native Higher Education Access Project: Create a web page with questions and answers for Native youth to help guide them through the process of applying to higher education institutions.

    Documentary Film on Boarding Schools Project: Researching and grant-seeking to continue an existing film on the boarding school experiences of a man from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Site Visit: Pine Ridge, SD

    Owens Valley Cultural Resource Training Project: Coordinate and implement a training for Owens Valley tribal members about cultural resource protection practices in the field. Site Visit: Owens Valley, CA

    Taino Sacred Site Protection Strategies Project: Research and draft possible strategies for the Taino community of Puerto Rico to protect their sacred sites through inter-governmental agreements with municipal governments. Site Visit: San Juan and Ciales, PR

    San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians Sovereignty Education Projects: Developing Power Point presentations for use by the San Manuel Human Resources Department to educate tribal employees about the profound importance and immediate relevance of tribal sovereignty to their employment opportunity with the tribe; Developing a template for Tribal Emergency Management Policy. Site Visit: Highland, CA

    Indigenous Peoples Council on Bio-colonialism Project: Co-designing an on-line course to address the ways in which tribes can protect their cultural property, whether it be songs, artifacts, sacred sites, remains of the ancestors, traditional medicines, Indigenous knowledge about such medicines, or human and non-human genetic material. Site Visit: Nevada

    California Tribal Nations Emergency Management Council Project: Create draft emergency management guidelines to increase tribes' abilities to remain compliant with federal Homeland Security emergency management mandates without compromising tribal sovereignty. Site Visit: Highland, CA

    Rumsen Ohlone Language Project: Assist with constructing the framework necessary to make a five-year plan for the Rumsen Ohlone language project; research on other language projects and use of indigenous-based interview style to facilitate community cooperation.

    Fernandeno/Tataviam Project: Research the process for creating a Fernandeno/Tataviam language curriculum; create a Plan of Action for drafting the curriculum. Site Visit: San Fernando, CA

    Mayan Children of Chiapas - Sueninos Project: Raise funding and school supplies for a school in Chiapas dedicated to quality holistic education for Mayan children living in Chiapas, Mexico through the non-profit organization, Sueninos (a play on words in Spanish meaning dreams and children). Site Visit: Chiapas, Mexico

    Walpole Island First Nation Youth Summer Theater Classes Project: Create and implement a 4-week curriculum to provide youth with the opportunity to participate in a series of TV and film acting workshops; youth learn about the use of film equipment as well as acting skills. Site Visit: Walpole Island, Ontario, Canada

    American Indian Recruitment (AIR) Project: Design and implement workshops for Native youth in the Los Angeles area; workshops are offered with the cooperation of the site directors for the existing tutoring programs provided by AIR, a component of the UCLA American Indian Student Association. Site Visit: Commerce, CA

    Tribally Controlled Primary School Symposium Project: Research the available information on existing tribally-controlled education programs; create a Plan of Action to implement an information-sharing meeting on tribally-controlled education in Southern California. Site Visit: various tribal education departments

    Inter-Tribal Court of Southern California Project: Assist in the administrative tasks associated with everyday Court business; research projects related to Court administration. Site Visit: Escondido, CA

    Rio Yaqui Book and School Supply Drive Project: In collaboration with Cal Poly Pomona and Red Nations Student Alliance, TLCEE students accumulate donations of books and supplies for the elementary school children attending classes on the Mexican side of the Yaqui nation; assist in the painting and maintenance of the school building and provide a report on the issues facing the Yaqui nation. Site Visit: Sonora, Mexico.

    Nakwatsvewat Institute Project: To assist the Institute in bringing together Native community members and alternative dispute resolution professionals in a tribal space to mediate and resolve property and family conflicts that arise among Hopi village members using customary dispute resolution practices. Site Visit: Hopi Nation, AZ

    The Pechanga & Fowler Internship Program Project: in conjunction with the Fowler Museum at UCLA, tribal professionals and traditional knowledge-bearers, TLCEE created a brief program to encourage students to learn about the relationships between Native cultural resource management and the museum world. Students were able to make connections between the federal and state legislation relating to cultural resource management and how those laws impact the communities on a daily basis.

  • ​​​​​​​Student Resources

    TLCEE works in conjunction with the following campus programs, centers, and organizations to help both current and prospective students get the most of their experiences at UCLA.

    American Indian Studies Center The American Indian Studies Center is an Organized Research Unit (ORU), and as such its mission is to promote research, education, and community service within an academic framework. The Center acts as a focal point for faculty, pre and post doctoral fellows, and students to conduct research on issues about Native Americans.

    American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Program The Interdepartmental Program (IDP ) in American Indian Studies includes faculty from several participating academic schools and departments: Anthropology, Art History, English and Comparative Literature, Ethnomusicology, History, Law, Linguistics, Sociology, and World Arts & Cultures. Undergraduates have the opportunity to earn a major or a minor while graduate students are offered a Master of Arts or a Joint Juris Doctor/Master of Arts Degree, with four possible areas of concentration. The program provides financial assistance for those who qualify. TLCEE also offers a list of outside scholarship and grant opportunities for students interested in American Indian studies.

    Native Nations Law & Policy Center The mission of the UCLA Native Nations Law & Policy Center (NNLPC) is to support Native Nations nationally in enhancing their governmental institutions and laws, to strengthen cultural resource protections, and to address critical public policy issues by bringing together the University's academic resources and the knowledge and experience of tribal leaders and knowledge-holders. The NNLPC includes the Tribal Legal Development Clinic, which provides a unique clinical training experience to students who are interested in working with Native Nations located within the United States on their legal development projects. The interdisciplinary clinic is open to both law students and students in the Masters program for American Indian Studies.

    Indigenous Peoples Journal of Law, Culture, and Resistance The UCLA Indigenous Peoples Journal of Law, Culture, and Resistance (IPJLCR) is an interdisciplinary publication consisting of scholarly articles, legal commentary, poetry, and artwork. The Journal accepts articles and student comments about legal, political, and social issues important to Indigenous communities in the United States and throughout the world, as well as works by artists that relate to or comment on these issues.

    American Indian and Alaska Native Research Program The goal of the American Indian and Alaska Native Research Program is to apply the Center's expertise, often in collaboration with other researchers, to improve the health of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) population. The program staff conducts research and provides public service and educational opportunities relevant to American Indians and Alaska Natives in California and across the nation through the use of native-grounded approaches.

    Center for American Indian/Indigenous Research and Education The Center for American Indian/Indigenous Research and Education is located in the School of Nursing at the University of California at Los Angeles. The mission of CAIIRE is to improve the status of Native peoples by promoting, developing, and evaluating culturally appropriate health, education, and social programs.

    Related Centers and Programs TLCEE and the American Indian studies entities at UCLA also work alongside the Cesar E. Chavez Center for Interdisciplinary Instruction, the Asian American Studies Center, and The Fowler Museum at UCLA in addressing the issues of indigenous peoples outside the boundaries of the United States.

    Student Organizations Matriculated UCLA students have a number of resources to which to turn as they develop their educational opportunities. TLCEE works with the following student organizations to serve as a base for students from Native communities attending UCLA:

    • NALSA​: Native American Law Student Association
    • AIGSA: American Indian Graduate Student Association
    • AISES: American Indian Sciences & Engineering Society
    • AISA: American Indian Student Association
    • RAIN: Retention of American Indians Now
    • AIR: American Indian Recruitment
  • Course Offerings

    TLCEE offers several different types of course work: on campus, online, and community courses. Working with many programs on the UCLA campus, TLCEE has developed an interdisciplinary program to provide resources for Native and non-Native students interested in learning more about American Indian Studies and other disciplines at UCLA. As mentioned previously, TLCEE bridges our UCLA community with local and national tribal communities to provide a diverse course offering for all prospective TLCEE students. These topics cover a wide range of interests, from language, to cultural resource management, to violence against Native women, to contemporary tribal governance structures.

    Courses provided are offered in three distinct formats for our students so as to make education accessible for all.

  • On-Campus Courses

    Classes held at the UCLA campus are open to UCLA-matriculated students, as well as UCLA Extension students depending on the class and with necessary permissions. All these courses substantially contribute to the student’s broader understanding of contemporary Native responses to community challenges and provide a unique opportunity for students to engage directly with tribal community leaders, their personal stories, and the lessons which can only come from community members first-hand experience.

    TLCEE offers an array of courses on the quarter system at various points throughout the academic year, including:

    • Working in Tribal Communities: An Introduction
    • Working in Tribal Communities: Preparing for the Field
    • Working in Tribal Communities: Service Learning
    • California Indian Strategies for Contemporary Change
    • Federal Indian Law & Policy
    • California Indian History
    • Cultures of Native Southern California
    • Introduction and Practicum in a Native Language I & II
    • California Experiences in Native Cultural Resource Management
    • Qualitative Research Design & Methodology for Indigenous Peoples
    • Introduction to Museum Studies

    Working in Tribal Communities I, II, III are designed to train students for work in their own or another tribal community or tribal organization. UCLA Students and UCLA Extension students collaborate with TLCEE Tribal Community Partners to brainstorm, create, and implement nation-building projects that will benefit the community or organization. The projects also provide TLCEE students with hands-on experience to enhance their studies and prepare them for post-graduation employment.

    If your tribal community or organization is interested in being a Tribal Community Partner, please contact us at or call (310) 794-5216 for more information.

  • Online Courses

    UCLA Extension and TLCEE offer an On-line Tribal Learning Community. Geared toward working adults, these classes vary in duration and are designed to be flexible, for even the busiest schedules. Together, UCLA Extension and TLCEE have developed a program called Working in Contemporary Native Nations, which is aimed at giving the student gainful knowledge in understanding the complexities contemporary issues affecting our Native communities. When completed, a student can gain a verification of completion that certifies that the student has satisfactorily completed program coursework within the TLCEE online program.

    The scholarship application process is currently closed.

    As a result of collaborative efforts between TLCEE, UCLA Extension, and the Tribal Law and Policy Institute, we are able to offer a wide spectrum of on-line courses. As of 2007, TLCEE offers an online certificate of verification called Working in Contemporary Native Nations. These courses are open to everyone-with or without a high school diploma or equivalency. Because UCLA does not offer part-time options for students, the TLCEE online courses provide the opportunity for participants to earn transferable credits at a pace that will work for their lives. Enrollees are able to earn a certificate of verification by taking four courses total: three core courses and one elective.

    Course Scholarships:

    Thanks to the generosity of the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians, TLCEE offers several scholarships per quarter for community members to take these on-line courses. Please apply using our online application or for more information please contact us at or call (310) 794-5216.


    Students also have the opportunity to earn a Verification of Completion in "Working in Contemporary Native Nations," which certifies that the student satisfactorily completed the following requirements:

    1- All three online core courses:

    • Introduction to Tribal Legal Studies
    • Federal Indian Law and Policy
    • Economic Development and Nation Building in Native America

    2- One of the following sample elective courses:

    • Violence Against Native Women
    • Indigenous Cultural​ Resource Protection in California: In Theory and Practice
    • Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing in a Tribal Context
    • Protecting Cultural Property in a Bio-Tech Age
    • Preservation of Tribal Cultural Material

    3- Application for Verification of Completion.

    4- Earn a grade of 'C' or better in each of the applicable courses.

    For more information on the Verification of Completion, contact UCLA Extension.

  • UCLA Native Leaders Project

    Currently in development, we will be offering courses geared towards our Native Youth in selected cohorts throughout the region. These university level courses will be offered to these students to give greater understanding in the subject areas of Federal Indian Law, Tribal Economic Development and Cultural Preservation. The addition of these courses will aid our students on their transcripts, personal statements and understanding of the level of study at the university level.

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