Leech Lake Given Packard Foundation Grant

Feb 15th, 1999 | By | Category: 10-3: Distance Education, Tribal College News

Leech Lake Tribal College (Cass Lake, Minn.) has received a $100,000 grant from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation to develop its new Department of Science and Mathematics. The grant will purchase laboratory and field test equipment that will enhance the educational experience and attract more students to the fields of natural science and natural resource management. Michael Wassegijig Price (Ojibwe) was hired in August 1998 as the chairman of the new department. Price formerly served as the director of college programs for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) in Boulder, Colo.

The vision of the Department of Science and Mathematics is to develop a curriculum and laboratory that reflects the essence of the Leech Lake Reservation and of northern Minnesota. Wild rice, maple sugar, birch trees and abundant wildlife are integral parts of the Anishinabe culture, both physically and spiritually. Students will engage in both the scientific analysis and cultural understanding of the natural world at Leech Lake Tribal College. The end result will be college graduates capable of effective management and stewardship of these living entities or, in Western terms, “natural resources.”

The laboratory will develop the capability of research and investigation. Specific areas of emphasis will be: wild rice beds and the invasion of exotic species such as Purple Loosestrife; health and sustainability of birch trees after bark harvest; water quality in area lakes; fire ecology; and forestry management. Local environmental pollution issues that will be studied include organic mercury and landfill/groundwater contamination.

Upper division science courses that are or will be offered are Environmental Toxicology, Freshwater Biology, Ethnobiology or Anishinaabe Understanding of Ecology, Plant Systematics and Forestry. Leech Lake Tribal College currently offers an Associate of Arts Degree in Natural Science and an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Environmental Management.

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