Supportive Services

Montana State University offers a variety of programs and partnerships that highlight the cooperative efforts of Montana State University and Montana’s Native American community. From encouraging young Native American students to pursue careers in science and engineering and supporting them in their educational efforts, to partnering in economic development and healthcare programs on reservations, MSU embraces Native American traditions and is committed to improving and expanding opportunities for American Indians.

Respect for Culture

Montana State University is committed to Indian Education for All and respects the diversity, identity, traditions, and history of each of the 12 unique tribal nations in Montana. Native American history and culture enrich Montana and MSU hosts several annual events, including Native American Heritage Day in the fall and the Pow Wow in the spring to celebrate Native American culture.

Collaboration with Native American Communities

Through partnerships and collaboration, critical work is being done to help address disparities in health, environmental quality and educational opportunities. Engaging the community and collaborating with local leaders is pertinent to the success of all partnerships.




MSU’s Admissions and New Student Services Office houses a minority representative who can assist Native American students interested in attending MSU. Contact 1-888-MSU-CATS.

Affirmative Action

This MSU office is responsible for compliance with state and federal civil rights laws and assists with many human resources tasks for faculty and professional employees. The office develops and monitor MSU’s non-discrimination and affirmative action policies working closely with academic and University administrators to develop and implement effective equal opportunity policies and practices. (406) 994-2042.

American Indian Council

A non- profit student run and student led organization that serves the American Indian student population of MSU- Bozeman. Since 1975, MSU’s American Indian Council has hosted one of the state’s largest pow wows, with free admission for all. Over the years, various events connected to the Pow Wow have included a crafts fair, buffalo chili feed, basketball tournament, educational presentations and Native American alumni brunch. The event is held in mid-April.

American Indian Research Opportunities (AIRO)

This consortium of Montana’s seven Tribal Colleges and MSU provides opportunities for American Indian students in career fields where they are significantly underrepresented. The AIRO advisory board consists of representatives from each tribal college and MSU. (See also IMSD, Explorations in Biomedicine, IMSD and Leadership Alliance.)

Phyllis Berger Memorial Lecture

Annual free public lecture featuring American Indians who speak on contemporary Native issues. Sponsored by the MSU Department of Native American Studies. Contact (406) 994-3881.

Bridging Tribal Colleges to MSU (BRIDGES)

This partnership between MSU and Chief Dull Knife College, Fort Belknap College, Fort Peck Community College, Little Big Horn College and Stone Child College strives to build a seamless educational experience between reservation-based colleges and MSU and, in the process, increase the number of underrepresented Native American students successfully transferring from the two-year tribal colleges to MSU and pursuing academic studies in the biomedical and other
health-related sciences.

Center Native American Health Partnerships

The center’s goal is to improve the health of Native Americans in Montana through community-based health projects that are conducted in partnership between community members and health researchers. This goal is met through a research approach called community-based participatory research (CBPR) in which researchers and community partners work in partnership. Research is an essential component in eliminating health disparities, however many groups who experience health disparities have had negative experiences with researchers and with research processes. Traditionally, research has been conducted on or to, rather than with, tribal communities. Understandably, these experiences have led many communities and community members to distrust both the process of research and the people involved in research. The Center aims to change this history by bringing together community members and researchers to establish trust, share power, foster co-learning, enhance strengths and resources, build capacity, and examine and address community-identified health needs.

Center for Learning and Teaching in the West (CLTW)

This five-university consortium (MSU, UM, Colorado State, Northern Colorado, Portland State) collaborates with tribal colleges and public schools to improve student achievement in science and math from middle school through college. The goal is to develop and support a new generation of national educational leaders who will use knowledge of math, science and pedagogy to better serve teachers and students in high needs schools, especially those isolated by rural or inner city
locations. Work includes fundamental research and related activities focused on serving high needs populations. The Center supports an interdisciplinary research agenda, a doctoral graduate curriculum and in service professional development, much of it through distance technology.

Connected to the Earth

Connected to the Earth is a self-guided and confidential home environmental risk assessment folder and fact sheets for native families. It contains 11 fact sheet assessments with topics including indoor air quality, water quality, management of household chemicals and septic systems. Partnership with USDACSREES. Contact Dr. Michael Vogel (406) 994-3451

Council of Elders

In 2004, Montana State University established a Council of Elders to advise the President in regard to the University’s educational commitments and activities in relation to the descendants of the continent’s first peoples, particularly the tribes of the State of Montana, as mandated in the Constitution of the State of Montana. The Council advises the President in regards to the University’s recognition and implementation of Constitutionally declared policy regarding the distinct cultural heritage of the state’s American Indian peoples, its commitment of resources to the provision of services and programs to Native peoples, and institutional strategies for improving the education, recruitment, retention, and graduation of Native students. The Council also provides counsel to the President to:

  • Promote respect for Native American cultures throughout the University community.
  • Fulfill the University’s land grand commitments to teaching, research, and service/outreach to Native peoples in culturally appropriate ways.
  • Work with tribes, tribal governments, tribal schools and colleges, and other organizations of Native peoples.
  • Foster basic literacy in American Indian history, cultural values, and contemporary issues.
  • Ensure the curriculum is respectful of the cultural values and rights of self- government of tribal peoples and evolves to meet the changing needs of Native peoples.
  • Provide a mechanism for on-going cooperation with tribes on the development, delivery and evaluation of the University’s educational programs and activities

The members of the Council of Elders are appointed by the President from nominations made by faculty, staff, students, and other interested parties. Membership includes 12 tribal members, six honored members, and six ex officio members.
Contact Shari McCoy, (406) 994-2341.

Cultural Preservation and Pollution Prevention Tribal College Curriculum

Tribal College curriculum to support natural resource courses. Curriculum includes a teaching guide and PowerPoints, student study guide, and evaluation materials dealing with these tribal related topics: What is Pollution Prevention, Preventing Solid Waste, Preventing Hazardous Waste, Preventing Air Pollution, Water Quality, Energy Conservation, Pollution Prevention in Agriculture and Pollution Prevention in Business. Contact Dr. Michael Vogel (406) 994-3451.

Department of Native American Studies

This MSU department was established to provide and advance quality education for and about American Indians of Montana, the region and the nation. In fulfilling this mission, the Department is committed to meet the changing needs of Montana’s Indian tribes and all Montana citizens through excellence in teaching, research, and service. In its academic program, the Department provides concentrated study through a minor and a Master of Arts degree in Native American
Studies. Students in any major can also gain a multicultural perspective through NAS offerings in the University’s core curriculum. The Department, through its research and other creative efforts, actively pursues interdisciplinary scholarship in the field of Native American Studies. Contact (406) 994-3881.

Designing Our Community (DOC)

This program in MSU’s College of Engineering is designed to increase the motivation and pre-entry academic preparation of Native American students; help shape the engineering, engineering technology, and computer science workforce by increasing the number of Native American students graduating from the College of Engineering; and improve access to quality engineering and technology to rural and underserved populations by returning highly educated professionals to these communities. Contact (406) 994-6723.

Disability, Re-Entry & Veterans Services

This MSU office assists students who have served in the military, students who are disabled and students who entering or re-entering college outside the traditional age range. Contact (406) 994-2824; TTY: (406) 994-6701

Diversity Awareness Office

This office works to expose all MSU students to diversity issues in the form of cultural events and workshops, and encourages understanding between all members of this campus community. Contact (406) 994-5801.

Early Childhood Education

This partnership program is designed to address the needs of Head Start and related Early Childhood Educators in Tribal Communities to complete four-year degrees. The program was developed in response to a National Head Start initiative that mandated Head Start teachers further develop their educational competencies by completing an Associate and/or Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Tribal colleges in several of Montana’s reservation communities offer Associate’s Degrees in early childhood education. However, until now, a Bachelor’s degree has been out of reach for many Head Start educators due to distance from Montana State University.

Enhancing Access Scholarships in Engineering and Computer Science

The College of Engineering at Montana State University received funding from NSF’s S-STEM program for $368,645 over 5 years. The EASE program’s overall goal is to help diminish financial and academic barriers to tribal college transfer student’s success in engineering and computer science degree programs. EASE Scholars can receive up to $10,000 for school per year for up to four years depending upon financial aid eligibility and academic success. EASE scholarship recipients attend a Bridge program prior to their first semester at MSU and supplemental instruction in math, science and engineering courses. Scholarship recipients will be required to attend study groups and monthly networking and mentoring events to further build their attachment to the College of Engineering and engineering/computer science as a career choice. Contact (406) 994-6723.

Engineering Minority Program (EMPower)

EMPower encourages the involvement of women and minorities in the field of engineering. EMPower offers scholarships; tutoring; guidance in arranging summer internships; activities to ease transition to life at MSU for freshmen and transfer minority students; guidance and financial support for minority student organizations; retention awards, seminars and opportunities to interact with women and minority role models; and enrichment programs for elementary through high school students. Every year, EMPower exposes pre-college students to the campus environment. Contact (406) 994-2272.

Indian Education for All

Under the director of education professor Jioanna Carjuzaa, Indian Education for All at MSU has built bridges between MSU, American Indian educators and cultural experts throughout Montana. IEFA at MSU has provided professional development opportunities for faculty and staff at MSU and gained special involvement by Native American students and faculty members from tribal colleges and schools across Montana.

Indian Leadership Education and Development (I LEAD) Project

ILEAD, funded by the US Department of Education, is a joint project of Montana State University, Fort Peck Community College, and the Poplar Public Schools. The primary goal is to develop Native American 
teachers, and teachers wanting to work in Native American communities, into high-quality principals and school leaders. Project leaders have designed a course of study for aspiring school administrators that will help them deal with everything from budgeting, to hiring, to student discipline, to motivating staff and designing curricula while improving a schools' effectiveness as they learn. The first participants started in the spring of 2007, and the program runs for three years.

MSU Extension

MSU Extension outreach programs are available in all 56 counties and all seven Montana reservations. Programs are based on local needs, and include agriculture and natural resources; family and human development; youth; and community development.


The national 4-H youth development program, administered through MSU Extension, is available in every Montana reservation and county. Projects emphasize “learning by doing” and range from livestock to leadership and fishing to photography. Contact (406) 994-3451. 

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Available to all Montanans, this MSU Extension program offers moral support, training, parent education and reference materials for this fast growing demographic. Support groups are operating on the Blackfeet and Rocky Boy’s reservations and in other Montana communities. Contact 406) 994-5099.

The Montana INBRE Program (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence)

This program focuses on increasing the biomedical research capacity of Montana by building research infrastructure, supporting faculty and student research, and fostering a statewide collaborative network. INBRE supports Montana’s tribal colleges in hiring science education faculty. Contact (406) 994-5214. 

Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD)

This academic enhancement program is for undergraduate and graduate students majoring in a biomedical/health science or environmental science field. The program provides IMSD students with earnings for participation in program activities including work in a research laboratory and academic enhancement sessions. Support for travel to one national scientific meeting each year is also provided. In addition, the graduate student position receives funding for tuition and books.
Contact AIRO, (406) 994-5567.

Learning Engineering by Application (LEAP)

LEAP offers hands-on activities in math and science, such as building LEGO robots, designing Web pages and viewing how engineering applies to everything from building an iPod to dealing with pollution. LEAP is available to students attending a GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) school. Montana communities with GEAR UP program schools are: Arlee, Box Elder, Browning, Charlo, Dixon, Dodson, Dutton/Brady, Kalispell, Hardin, Harlem, Hays, Heart Butte, Lame Deer, Lincoln, Lodge Grass, Marion, Nashua, Pryor, Rocky Boy, St. Ignatius, St. Regis, Trout Creek, Vaughn and Winnett. Contact Sheree Watson, (406) 994-6723,

Messengers for Health

The Messengers for Health program educates Crow women about cervical cancer in a manner that is both comforting and traditional. Crow women trained in cancer outreach call on friends and relatives to dispense the most contemporary information and offer encouragement, the same way Crow women have learned about health and life for centuries - through women that they trust and respect.

Meth in Tribal Communities

Comprehensive self-guided, self-contained, tribal-specific resource toolkit to assist native communities implement methamphetamine prevention, treatment and awareness campaign. Funding partnership with the National Congress of American Indians.

Montana Apprenticeship Program (MAP)

A six-week, hands on summer research experience for students and teachers under the direction of active science research mentors. The goal is to increase the number of Native American and disadvantaged high school students who want to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math career fields. (406) 994-5567.

Montana Indian Technology and Cultural Heritage (TeCH) Learning Centers

These learning centers use technology to capture and preserve the history, stories and other cultural resources of Montana’s tribes. Community residents and visitors can access the kiosks, and youth teach elders technology skills. TeCH Centers are located at Chief Dull Knife College, Fort Belknap College and Stone Child College; at senior centers on the Northern Cheyenne and Rocky Boy Reservations and in Lodgepole, Fort Belknap Agency and Hays on the Fort Belknap
Reservation; and at Pretty Eagle Catholic School in St. Xavier on the Crow Reservation.

Native AIR (Asthma Intervention and Reduction) Program

Native asthma incidence is three times the national norm. The MSU Extension Native AIR program provides native families with culturally appropriate asthma assessment, reduction and mitigation educational and assistance services. Funding partnership with U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Native American Nurses: Caring for Our Own (CO-OP)

This cooperative program is designed to: increase enrollment of American Indian nursing students in the College of Nursing; develop a supportive network that will continue to nurture and support more American Indian nursing students through graduation; and rebuild the shrinking pool of American Indian nurses who are prepared through education for practice, management, leadership and graduate programs. Services in the program include:

  • Funding available for qualified students
  • Summer Bridge Program prior to fall semester
  • One- to four-credit seminar
  • Learning community study sessions
  • Internship and scholarship opportunities
  • Support network for American Indian students in pursuit of professional nursing practice.

Native American Housing Technical Assistance Institute

Provides training and technical assistance to Montana and regional tribal housing and environmental health programs to create and maintain the energy, safety, structural and environmental integrity of native homes. Contact Dr. Michael Vogel, (406) 994-3451.

Native American Peer Advisors

An offshoot of the American Indian Club, this group was started by students, continues to be run by students, and is based on students helping other students. NAPA offers fun, affordable social activities that are open both to families and single students and academic support through a weekly study group. Contact (406) 994-3881.

NTEN: The National Teachers Enhancement Network

Created by MSU and funded by the National Science Foundation, NTEN delivers quality teaching resources and professional development opportunities through the Internet directly to K-12 science teachers. N TEN also enhances professional networking nationwide among science teachers and active research scientists. One focus of NTEN-Elementary is to bring the science behind elementary science kits to teachers of Native American students. NTEN worked
with many Native tribes to add a cultural component to the elementary courses. NTEN was created and is managed by Extended University, Burns Technology Center at MSU.

Service in Engineering for Reservations via Education (SERVE)

The Designing Our Community (DOC) program in the College of Engineering received funding from the Minority Science & Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP), Department of Education to continue to recruit, retain, and provide professional development for graduating American Indian students in the engineering, computer science and engineering technology fields. The SERVE project is funded over three years at $199,192 to develop and implement a service learning experience (course) for American Indian engineering students. Service learning reaches beyond textbook “solutions” and requires engineering and computer science teams to become proficient in project design and implementation specific to the client; to exercise professional judgment and practice; and to incorporate cultural themes, objects, and concepts. Funding provided by SERVE will allow DOC students to participate in projects in reservation communities.

Tribal College Librarians Professional Development Institute (TCLI)

TCLI was created to provide professional development to Montana’s Tribal College Library staff and now offers a yearly Institute to Tribal Libraries internationally. Hosted by the MSU Library, the event includes educational and cultural programming relevant to indigenous peoples, tribal colleges and tribal college libraries. In addition to learning library
issues and skills, participants share stories and support and educate each other. Contact (406) 994-3162.

Tribal Healthy Homes Assessment, Mitigation, and Training

Dr. Michael Vogel, extension housing and environmental health specialist, and Barb Allen, extension housing associate, received a three-year, $873,963 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to create the national Tribal Healthy Homes Assessment, Mitigation, and Training Center at MSU. The grant is specifically for Native American tribes to assess whether their homes are healthy places to live. The goals of the Healthy Homes grant are to build capacity in Native American communities to work with housing and health agencies on how to do assessments, outreach, and education—more of a holistic look at their home environments. Vogel plans to provide training opportunities to tribes in nine regions of the United States on how to do an audit or assessment of homes.

Tribal Pollution Prevention Web Site

Web-based portal to connect tribes throughout the U.S. to waste minimization and pollution prevention resources and access to successful case studies. Funding partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Western Transportation Institute

WTI, a research center within MSU’s College of Engineering, hosts a number of K-12 outreach opportunities for Native American students. WTI provides hands-on workshops to second and third grade classrooms to introduce youngsters to careers in engineering and the annual Summer Transportation Institute allows high school students to live on campus, experience college life, and learn about MSU academic programs and careers in transportation. Contact:, (406) 994-6559.