Critical Inquiry

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Critical Inquiry


Coordinator: Wendi Cline


Registration Deadline: Friday, February 24, 2023


Critical Inquiry Topics

  1. Language Preservation: How may the continuous advancement of technology support the proliferation of speakers of Tribal languages? How can technology not only prevent the extinction of language but also support fluency?
  2. Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women: In what ways can Tribal communities better prepare to respond to the needs of missing women who have been found? What resources are needed to heal previously missing women, their families, and their communities?
  3. Climate Change: How could Indigenous values, creativity, and ingenuity address the health and well-being of Tribal communities and lead the way to addressing the global climate crisis?


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.


Compeition 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. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Team shall provide four (4) copies of their presentation in a booklet form for the judges.
  13. Team awards for first (1st), second (2nd), and third (3rd) place will be awarded during the student banquet.
  14. 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.
  15. Judgement will begin when the competitors enter the room, and will continue through presentation until the time the team leaves the competition room. Professionalism with regards to conduct (i.e. handshakes, greetings, eye contact) and behavior (i.e. off-color jokes, sidebar comments, rudeness) are all elements of consideration when being scored.


Competition Guidelines and Procedures

  • The Critical Inquiry coordinator needs to recruit ~ four (4) to five (5) people (tribal judges or community members from outside the TCUs to avoid conflict of interest) to assist with judging, onsite scheduling, monitoring, and registration and on-site setup of the conference room. The hosting TCUs will provide a $200 honorarium for invited (outside) judges.
  • The Critical Inquiry coordinator will provide periodic updates to the host committee concerning registration numbers and the cost of the Critical Inquiry supplies.
  • The Critical Inquiry coordinator may use the proven rules from above and make adjustments as the need arises to adapt to the specific host location, participant-entry size, budget limitations, etc.
  • The Critical Inquiry coordinator needs to recruit ~ four (4) to five (5) people (faculty, staff, or students) to assist with judging, onsite scheduling, monitoring, and registration and on-site setup of the conference room.
  • Suggested Checklist of Materials to bring to the conference: master spreadsheet of the registered students, judging scorecards, projector screen, laptop, and projector.
  • Have a firm registration deadline. Postmarked, faxed, emailed, etc. at least seven (7) days before the start of the conference. No exceptions.
  • Enter registered students into a master spreadsheet by college/team to ease the checking in process at the conference.
  • The coordinator arrives at the conference at least one (1) day before the competition to setup the room reserved for the Critical Inquiry with at least two tables (for visual aids) and to make sure the screen and projector work properly.
  • The coordinator may also be a judge for the competition but the issues should be developed, selected, and/or approved by a committee of the regional coordinators in the fall before the conference.
  • The order of the presentations is setup randomly.
  • Once the conference begins, the students are responsible for their own scheduling of other conference competitions.
  • The Critical Inquiry coordinator is responsible for reporting the winning team to the awards’ banquet coordinator.


Registration Deadline: Friday, February 24, 2023

To register for this event, please download the application and email Wendi Cline (

PDF Document: Download and REGISTER