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Critical Inquiry
Required Competition

To register for this event, please download the application and email to Chrissy Lesher at

Coordinator: Chrissy Lesher


Registration Deadline: Friday March 1, 2024


Critical Inquiry Topics

  1. Wellness: In what ways are Tribal communities addressing the health needs of their people? Please explain several of these significant health factors many tribal communities are experiencing. Health can be mental, physical, and spiritual health. What more should communities consider improving to increase optimum wellness outcomes?

  2. Language Preservation: How can AI (Artificial Intelligence) support tribes and TCUs in creating more tribal language speakers to sustain native languages? How else can AI and its advancements be employed to prevent the extinction of language and support fluency?

  3. Climate Change: How are our tribal communities leading efforts to address the climate crisis? And how are these communities using their ancestor's wisdom, knowledge, and traditions to improve present and future climate concerns and outcomes?


Competition Objectives

  • Offer Tribal College students the opportunity to explore topics of interest relevant to their communities through research, written documentation, and oral presentation.

  • Showcase talent and skills including public speaking, critical thinking, research, etc.


Competition Rules

  1. Critical Inquiry is a team event that requires the development of a thesis statement addressing a specified issue, research, and the creation of an oral presentation to be judged.

  2. Tribal College students consider from an offering of issues (two (2) or three (3)) that face Tribal College communities selected by a committee of critical inquiry coordinators from each region.

  3. Teams will take a position on their selected topic, establishing a position or thesis statement. Research on the selected topic is required to support the ideas and solutions the team wishes to advance.

  4. Tribal College students shall include within their presentation varying points of view regarding their topic. Counter viewpoints are required and shall be used to illustrate why the team’s position or concept is best.

  5. Presentations will be judged according to how well the topic is researched, the degree to which the presentation is informative, the sources used, and the delivery and organization of the presentation.

  6. Each team will have two (2) to four (4) members, at least two (2) members of the team shall participate in the presentation and all team members shall be present at the time of their presentation.

  7. Each presentation shall be between twenty (20) to thirty (30) minutes. Any presentation that is under twenty (20) minutes or over thirty (30) minutes will be automatically disqualified.

  8. Team members and spectators shall conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. Spectators are not allowed to communicate in any way with the teams once a match begins. Any intentional or unintentional communication with or by a team will result in the disqualification of the entire team from the tournament. A team is disqualified if the team’s coach signals to their team(s) during the competition.

  9. A read presentation has a flat delivery. A memorized presentation makes for a stiff and tense presentation. Most presenters use good notes on three by five (3x5) notecards. Cards are relatively inconspicuous and easy to hold. Limit the notes to key phrases that will bring to mind several sentences or an entire section of your presentation

  10. A lectern will be provided. Standing behind the lectern will give a formal air to the presenter’s presentation. Moving from behind the lectern will establish a friendlier relationship with the presenter’s audience. Both of these styles are acceptable.

  11. Teams can use any type of audiovisual, visual, or other aids to support their presentation. Each team will be responsible for providing their own equipment; however, a screen and projector will be provided.

  12. A good visual aid will clarify, reinforce, or highlight an idea. Be relevant to the subject of the presentation. Be easy to read. Be kept simple. Avoid complicated graphs or tables. Be brief. Four (4) or five (5) lines with no more than six (6) words per line as a guideline for a good visual aid. Each visual aid shall be read and absorbed by the audience within two (2) minutes. The presenter shall spend the first fifteen (15) seconds of that two (2) minutes focusing the audience’s attention on the slide and explaining the layout. A good visual will not overwhelm the audience with color or detail. Use color to highlight important points or related groups.

  13. Team shall provide four (4) copies of their presentation in a booklet form for the judges.

  14. Team awards for first (1st), second (2nd), and third (3rd) place will be awarded during the student banquet.

  15. Professional attire is recommended, but there is no preference between traditional or business and the competitors should make the decision which would be most appropriate. Hoodies, baseball caps, unnecessarily oversized clothing etc. which does not convey a message of professionalism, reverence for the topic, or respect for the Judges panel should be a consideration.

  16. Judgement will begin when the competitors enter the room, and will continue through presentation until the time the team leaves the competition room.

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