Students, Administrator Explore Prairie, Plains

Nov 15th, 2006 | By | Category: 18-2: Traditional Wisdom Our Strength, Tribal College News

NORTHERN PLAINS LEADER. Russell Swagger, UTTC Dean, lends his ideas to a social change effort.

An administrator at United Tribes Technical College (UTTC, Bismarck, ND) is contributing to a Northern Plains leadership initiative, and elementary students at the college’s on-campus elementary school found prairie treats in a camp there.

Russell Swagger (St. Croix Chippewa), dean of student and campus services at UTTC, is one of 26 leaders invited to participate in the Meadowlark Project: A Leadership Laboratory on the Future of the Northern Great Plains. The project, organized by Northern Great Plains (NGP) Inc., is an intensive, 18-month social change effort designed to find new ways to address long-standing, systemic problems in the region.

The selected team members represent a range of community interests (industry, agriculture, media, arts, government, religion, and non-profit), the states in the NGP region (North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska), as well as the growing diversity of the region.

“I’m honored to be selected to serve on such an important project,” says Swagger. “To have a voice in the future of our state and the region is a rare opportunity. I plan to be a strong advocate and positive role model for all people.”

In a different opportunity, students trained their eyes to spot the foliage of the prairie turnip so they could enjoy a taste of the edible root. Cory Johnson, son of Lynette and Thomas Crows Heart (Three Affiliated), now has the skill, thanks to a summer camp and some tribal experts.


YUM! A PRAIRIE TURNIP! Cory Johnson knows his prairie turnips these days. Photo by Dennis Neumann.

Johnson, a spring 2006 graduate of Theodore Jamerson Elementary School on the UTTC campus, attended “Nakota Horses on the Prairie” this summer.

He and other students presented the findings of their final camp projects at the college. “If you find one, you’re going to find lots of ‘em,” says Johnson, who gained his traditional plants knowledge from his mentor, UTTC Tribal Arts Instructor Butch Thunderhawk. The camp was coordinated by Jen Janecek-Hartman, director of UTTC STEM programs and education, and funded by a science enhancement grant from NASA, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, and the Rural Systemic Initiative.

For information on the Meadowlark Project, visit For information on UTTC, contact Dennis J. Neumann, public relations director, at (701) 255-3285, ext. 1386, or at

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