Innovation through Institutional Integration = ANC student success

Feb 25th, 2013 | By | Category: 24-3: The Science of Place, Tribal College News
By Aaniiih Nakoda College staff
ELDER KNOWLEDGE. At Aaniiih Nakoda College, Joe Iron Man, Sr. is speaking. Directly behind him is Donovan Archambault, with Selena Ditmar and Minerva Allen to the right.

ELDER KNOWLEDGE. At Aaniiih Nakoda College, Joe Iron Man, Sr. is speaking. Directly behind him is Donovan Archambault, with Selena Ditmar and Minerva Allen to the right.

The science students of Aaniiih Nakoda College (ANC, Harlem, MT) are empowering themselves through place-based projects with “Life Way” knowledge gained from a Council of Elders.

A grant from the National Science Foundation, “Innovation through Institutional Integration” (I3), has allowed ANC to integrate a Council of Elders; college policy (through a newly developed Institutional Review Board); Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs; research; and curriculum in a cross-disciplinary fashion. Not only that, but ANC is the only minority institution in North America to have received the I3 award. The Council of Elders also participates in the tribal college’s White Clay Language Immersion School for elementary-level learners. Housed in the Ekib Tsah ah Tsik (Sitting High) Cultural Center, this school allows elementary students to learn what ANC students are now learning from our elders.

Natural resource students are taking advantage of the new Aaniiih Nakoda Environmental Excellence Center. In this classroom and laboratory, students conduct research on West Nile virus, Milk River benthic macroinvertebrates, and aspects of water pollution from the defunct cyanide heap leach mine now affecting the Little Rocky Mountains and Sun Dance grounds.

The curriculum reflects an integrated approach with elders often in the classrooms to help link culture with contemporary knowledge. This crossdisciplinary, place-based research, with infusion of Aaniiihnen and Nakoda cultural perspectives, has helped make student learning relevant.

Recently, students have gone on public record proposing total maximum daily loads for the mine that is causing pollution on the Fort Belknap Reservation and have responded to the environmental impact study from the state of Montana regarding the movement of the Yellowstone bison (buffalo) onto the reservation. A court case has stopped the buffalo at Fort Peck Reservation and not allowed their transfer to Fort Belknap. “We are the only ones who can give the Buffalo the respect they deserve,” says one student.

Such confidence from students comes from the shoulders on which they stand and the knowledge they have acquired.

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