About The Program
The Obdaya opta tate kin kah’boke (Winds Blowing Across the Prairie) program at the American Indian College Fund (College Fund) is providing the opportunity for TCUs to build institutional capacity; develop vocational and post-secondary education programming, community outreach, and extension; and develop strategic partnerships and place-based research and stewardship opportunities aimed at strengthening tribal nations, their homelands, and the Northern Great Plains (NGP) region. Through the integration of place-based and intergenerational knowledge into environmental and natural science programming, TCUs will implement projects that address the specific needs of the NGP.
The NGP region is home to 10 eligible TCU grantees serving tribal nations that hold an estimated 11,250,000 acres of land. The NGP also contains the most intact portion of the Mississippi River watershed, the largest watershed in the United States. The Missouri River, which extends through the eligible granting regions of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota, contributes almost half of the water that flows into the Mississippi River and an estimated 50 percent of the silt that arrives in the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, according to the World Wildlife Fund, the NGP are home to an estimated 1,600 plant species, 95 mammal species, 220 species of butterfly, and 200 bird species (World Wildlife Magazine, Summer 2016).
The program name, Obdaya opta tate kin kah’boke (Winds Blowing Across the Prairie), grounds us in acknowledging the energy expended over years and generations, through seasons and over a vast landscape, and the resulting ways that wind, time, lands, waters, and people form and inform relationship and ultimately stewardship and care of place. It is with this mindset that TCUs will be “rejuvenated to develop individual and collective commitments and responsibilities to Tribal homelands” (Baird, 1996).
Current threats within the NGP include habitat fragmentation due to land conversion for ranching and agriculture, biofuel crops, oil and gas development, and climate change. As a result of oil and gas development on or near tribal lands, tribal nations are faced with issues such as the development of man-camps that have been linked to the increase of human trafficking, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), and the influx of the drug methamphetamine. While the development of man-camps and the influx of drugs are not environmental issues, these issues are directly tied to land appropriation and development issues for tribal nations.
Through the development of academic programming rooted in Indigenous identity structures, TCUs can support the abilities of tribal nations across the NGP to develop seven-generational planning strategies that lead to healthy, self-sufficient communities. TCUs provide students and members of tribal nations alike the opportunity to develop solutions to the challenges NGP tribal communities face. The Winds Blowing Across the Prairie program positions TCUs to revitalize the responsivity of their programming to support students in becoming the next generation of environmental advocates, water protectors, land stewards, buffalo ranchers, and traditional food growers.
For questions regarding this program please contact Kendra Teague, Environmental Stewardship Program Officer at Kteague@collegefund.org or at (303) 426-9929.