Tribal Education Initiative

A National Collaboration to Strengthen the Advanced Environmental Technology Education Programs at Tribal Colleges


NSF DUE Project Number: 0702247 May 31, sick 2007- Nov 2012



The mission of this project was to strengthen environmental science and technology programs at Tribal Colleges, search consistent with the unique needs and traditions of these communities. More specifically, mind the project strengthened STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education at Tribal Colleges while acknowledging that there is a critical cultural component to the study of environmental science by Native Americans.



The development of high quality, specialized environmental education and technical training has been recognized as necessary for economic development. Many Tribal Colleges have developed environmental science and technology programs.  However, prior to this project, there was no comprehensive sustainable program to accomplish successful programs or link Tribal Colleges to each other or the broader environmental technology education community.


This project endeavored to promote, acknowledge and motivate Native American students to develop an interest in environmental science and to choose environmental careers.


Project Goals & Objectives

  1. Ensure that project activities and outcomes of this STEM project reflect the historic/cultural beliefs and contributions of Native Americans.
  2. Ensure Tribal Colleges have ready access to a full range of technical assistance to strengthen their Environmental Science/Technology Programs. 
  3. Develop a Tribal College Environmental Fellows Institute which serves as a vehicle to strengthen environmental science/technology education at the nation’s Tribal Colleges.  

Technical Assistance

National PETE was able to offer Program Improvement Technical Assistance from 2008-2011 through a competitive application process (which saw as many as 11 out of a possible 36 applications per solicitation). Specific, on-site, one-on-one technical assistance (selected by each school from a menu of topics in support of environmental technology education) was awarded to the following schools:

  • Sitting Bull College, ND
  • United Tribes Technical College, ND
  • Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College, MI
  • Navajo Technical College, NM
  • Leech Lake Tribal College, MN
  • Fort Belknap College, MT
  • Tohono O’odham Community College, AZ
  • Fort Peck Community College, MT
  • Little Priest Tribal College, NE

All of the Technical Assistance project reports are available for download at the project website

Fellows Institutes

Two Faculty Development Fellows Institutes were offered during the project period. The 2009 Fellows Institute was held at Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, ND. The Institute focused on Water on the Reservation. The 2010 Faculty Development Fellows Institute was held in Pablo, MT at Salish Kootenai College. The Institute focused on Water Management/Pollution Prevention. Both Institutes were designed to include field-based and laboratory exercises and learning activities, with the premise that faculty transition their experiences back into their classrooms. Faculty were also eligible to apply for Mini-Grants to help implement their enhanced STEM curricula. Attendees developed reports detailing how they utilized the information learned during the Institutes within the classroom, and these reports are available through the project website (


National PETE developed an additional mini-grant opportunity intended to help Tribal Colleges improve their environmental programs in July 2011. Applicants submitted proposals for up to $9,000. Four Tribal colleges applied for and received these funds:

  1. Nebraska Indian Community College
  2. Fort Peck Tribal College
  3. Institute of American Indian Arts
  4. Salish Kootenai College

Recipients submitted reports detailing what the funds were used for and how they will improve courses at the schools. These reports are available for download from the project website (


Environmental Program Summit & Program Materials Distribution