Obdaya Opta Tate Kin Kah’boke

Winds Blowing Across the Prairie (2020-2023)

Program Details

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.

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Environmental Stewardship Initiatives

Obdaya Opta Tate Kin Kah’boke (Winds Blowing Across the Prairie) 2020-2023

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Scholarly Emergence for Environmental Design and Stewardship (SEEDS)

Our Programs

Early Childhood Education

Connecting TCUs and our earliest learners, we support the creation and development of early childhood education from within Native communities — strengthening Native families’ roles as advocates and partners in their children’s education, and creating collaborations between early learning centers and community partners.

Native Culture and Language Preservation

Strong Native communities are built on tribal languages, cultural knowledge, and traditional arts. With many communities facing the risk of loss of language, culture, and traditional arts, we provide grants and support for communities to restore, sustain, and pass on traditional knowledge.

Environmental Stewardship

The College Fund invests in the TCUs that are engaged in strengthening their environmental science opportunities for students. It provides support for TCUs that are working with Native communities to develop and implement research initiatives and innovative collaborations.

Women's Leadership

By connecting Native women students at TCUs with faculty within their academic disciplines, and providing support for strong mentoring relationships, the College Fund is helping to develop the next generation of Native leadership in early childhood education, environmental science, and traditional Native arts.


Infrastructure involves design, implementation, and sustainability of systems and structures. We support tribal colleges and universities expanding their education offerings for students in this area, with opportunities to create well-designed learning spaces with the appropriate equipment, and to sustain or expand infrastructure.

Student and Institutional Success

We invest in individual students to support their pursuit of a college degree, and we invest in TCUs as the institutions that can provide an intellectual and academic home for students in Native communities.