News & Events


July 6, 2016

Partner Spotlight: Billie Jo Kipp, PhD (Blackfeet)

Blackfeet CC logoBillie Jo Kipp is the President of Blackfeet Community College (BCC) in Browning, Montana, just east of Glacier National Park. She is also Research Committee Chair of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, which is comprised of the 37 tribally- and federally-chartered Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU). Previously, she had been the Associate Director for Mental and Behavioral Health at the Center for Native American Health, at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Kipp has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Her research has focused on the effects of a Blackfeet cultural and language immersion program on Blackfeet children’s intelligence, racial identity, and self-esteem. Additionally, she has investigated the differences of crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence in American Indian children and American Indian children with a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Her research on building capacity for diabetes management in tribal communities focused on the reduction of health disparities among minority populations.

Dr. Kipp has worked with Bonnie Duran since 2002, when they were both at the University of New Mexico. Since 2009, she has served as the community (principal) investigator for Dr. Duran’s TCU studies on alcohol, drugs and mental health. She states, “The collaboration with IWRI has initiated a rich relationship between TCUs and research. The value of the research and the analysis and access to this data has provided data for further funding initiatives, intervention, and program. (As an example of bi-directional learning,) TCUs have been able to provide IWRI with insight to the unique structure, challenges, and overwhelming educational disparities that exist in Indian country.

Partner Spotlight_Billie Jo photo“The academic on the ground helps to move research in tribal communities; TCUs need to be at the helm of research in their communities; the relationship has to be equitable. I am a great supporter of equitable research in tribal communities and have sought out and supported culturally appropriate research in tribal colleges and communities. As a clinician in tribal communities for 20 years, I understand the barriers intimately for achieving good health in tribal communities and therefore I am able to bring a unique, cultural and personal perspective to the research agenda.”

Dr. Kipp’s major challenge as President of BCC is the lack of funding. Compared to other minority-serving educational institutions, which are funded at $20,000 per student, tribal colleges are funded at $6,800 per student. “That disparity is unconscionable,” says Dr. Kipp. She continues, “Our students are well below the poverty line and meeting their needs while moving them through the educational pipeline is a major demand for BCC, for which we lack resources. We do this because the collective belief is that all Native Americans should have access to quality education. Research has provided indirect monies to BCC that allow us to fund special supportive programming for our students. BCC students and faculty are engaged in research focused on health disparities. This process had encouraged our students to be involved in the tribal answer to health improvement.”