Tribal College and University Traditional Native Arts

and Energy/Water Efficiency Infrastructure Program

Program Details

The three-year Traditional Native Arts and Energy Efficiency Infrastructure grant funded by the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies was completed on November 30, 2018. Twenty-one (21) projects were funded at 12 of the 13 TCUs – in the Midwest (Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin). The grant supported two focus areas – Traditional Native Arts Infrastructure and Energy and Water Efficiency Infrastructure.

The Traditional Native Arts Infrastructure initiative increased arts classroom space and archival space for traditional Native arts on campus with the goal of encouraging the preservation of traditional and endangered arts by improving space for community outreach and academic coursework.

The Energy and Water Efficiency Infrastructure initiative enhanced energy and water efficiency in campus buildings to reduce operating cost and the environmental footprint.

Traditional Native Arts Infrastructure projects are listed alphabetically below by TCU

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCOOCC) Traditional Arts Classroom Renovation

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College renovated an existing classroom to provide a space for Traditional Native Arts instruction and to increase the availability of course offerings. Renovations included: adding a sink that allows for disability access, updating the air flow, and adding storage. The lighting in this room was upgraded under the energy efficiency grant described in the energy efficiency section.

Leech Lake Tribal College (LLTC) Archive Room Renovation

Leech Lake Tribal College renovated the existing archival space to improve its local preservation methods, especially those protecting and celebrating Traditional Native Arts, college history, and tribal history. The original physical archive space was adequate in size and a good location for library oversight, but little of its existing infrastructure supported long-term preservation. Renovations included refinishing the floors to concrete, modifying the window to control light exposure, refinishing the glass entry door to block out all light, and replacing the particleboard with steel shelving and proper storage systems.

Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College (NHSC) Arts Classroom Renovation

Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College renovated a classroom previously used for labs into an arts classroom by adding shelving and storage units in the classroom, a stainless-steel sink and table counter, mobile SMART technology board with projector and media station, and upgraded to energy efficient lighting.

Oglala Lakota College (OLC) Keeping Things From Long Ago for the Future

Oglala Lakota College Archives has long been the primary repository of a variety of Oglala, Oceti Sakowin, and Northern Plains tribal knowledge. OLC did minor renovations and increased storage to the existing archival space to preserve and protect the knowledge contained within Lakota art forms for contemporary study and interpretation and perpetuation of traditional Lakota art forms. The college purchased and installed five museum-quality steel storage cabinets, a textile storage unit, a two-dimensional art storage unit, flat files, work benches, mobile shelving, and supplies complete the inventory for the collections they care for at Woksape Tipi. Additionally, a wall was constructed, and two access doors were installed to increase the security of additional storage space and access to the archives and special collections storage.

Sisseton Wahpeton College (SWC) Dakota Studies and Traditional Tribal Arts Center

Sisseton Wahpeton College renovated two existing structures to create the Dakota Studies and Traditional Tribal Arts Center. Sisseton Wahpeton College’s Dakota Studies and Tribal Arts Center is comprised of the “Log Cabin” and the Archives room. This project has help SWC develop and grow their existing Dakota Studies program, Traditional Arts Workshop Series, and archival collections into a collaborative Traditional Tribal Arts Center. Extensive programming is conducted through the center including: traditional arts workshops and programming, Dakota language education and training, and Dakota language documentation. The Archives now holds multiple collections including: the Blue Cloud Abbey Native titles donation, the Erma Erickson Collection, Sisseton Wahpeton College collection, and the newly established Dakota Language Archive. Additional storage was added to the building with storage benches that could be used as seating around the interior of the log building, an insulated storage shed adjacent to the building, the lighting was upgraded to energy efficient lighting, the deck was repaired and refinished for outdoor classes, the door to the archival room was upgraded and storage and archival supplies were purchased.

Sitting Bull College (SBC) Traditional Native Arts Classroom

Sitting Bull College renovated the arts classroom located in the visitor center to make the classroom accessible for individuals with disabilities, provide storage, and a sink. The restroom was increased in size and made handicapped accessible to accommodate a person in a wheelchair. A concrete walkway was paved to provide accessibility into the space from the parking area. A larger industrial type sink and two storage cabinets were installed.

United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) Renovation of Arts Classroom

United Tribes Technical College renovated an existing classroom space that was formerly an automotive shop for Traditional Native Arts classes to increase classroom size, upgrade heating and cooling systems to allow temperature and humidity control and provide access for students with disabilities. The renovation created space for a lecture area with audio visual capacity, individual and cooperative learning project spaces, metal tables for cutting and pounding, a wall space for display, storage for supplies and materials, and electrical outlets that drop from the ceiling. A stove was added to allow for heating of wood for bow and drum making, and to dye quills.

White Earth Tribal and Community College (WETCC) Biminizha’an Gibawaajigan “Follow your Dreams” Building

White Earth Tribal and Community College renovated and built an addition to an existing college owned building (Waadookoodaading “The Place Where We Help Each Other”) to establish the White Earth Tribal and Community College Biminizha’an Gibawaajigan “Follow your Dreams” building in conjunction with the White Earth Tribal and Community College Extension Service and Gizhiigin Arts Initiative (Gizhiigin), a White Earth Reservation Economic Development Program. With the addition of classroom, studio, office and storage space White Earth and Tribal Community College is able provide classroom/studio space dedicated to Native Traditional Arts. Improvements include: 100% low-volt/low power consumption LED lighting systems, use of recyclable steel materials, use of low-flow plumbing fixtures, all windows to be triple-pane low-e high efficiency, R-40 Continuous insulation envelop system. Adequate ventilation and winterization measures will ensure arts can be completed inside during inclement or cold weather.

Energy/Water Efficiency Infrastructure projects are listed alphabetically below by TCU

Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC) Energy Efficiency Projects I & II

Cankdeska Cikana Community College added insulation to a hallway, replaced interior and outdoor lighting with high-efficiency lights, and upgraded the college’s electrical panel to reduce the use and costs associated with lighting the campus, brown outs, and heating/cooling of an older section of the campus building. CCCC also upgraded additional lighting throughout the campus to bring the campus to 80% LED lighting. The TRANE heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit was installed in the hallway “original school” (built in 1954) so the building could be 50% more efficient by having a heat source in the hallways rather than running the classroom heat more vigorously to heat those areas.

College of Menominee Nation (CMN) I Energy Upgrades Project and Glen Miller Hall Heat & Water Efficiency Project

College of Menominee Nation’s long-term goal is to become a climate-neutral campus, increasing the college’s energy efficiency and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. CMN installed a pellet stove, upgraded the lighting in the main campus building, and upgraded the air conditioning unit. CMN also replaced old windows with energy efficient windows, upgraded water fixtures to reduce water usage and wastewater, and replaced paper towels in the bathrooms with hand dryers to decrease energy consumption and increase energy efficiency within the Glen Miller and Shirley Daly Halls.

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC) Zakizige (burn things, light things)

Zakizige, an Ojibwe word that means “burn things, light things” captures Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College’s intent to create a safer, more energy efficient campus. FDLTCC converted existing halide parking lot lighting, exterior building lighting, and interior lighting in the auditorium to LED to increase campus safety and improve energy efficiency, installed water bottle filling stations, and installed solar and passive heat technology to extend the growing season in the greenhouse.

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCOOCC) Energy Infrastructure Improvements

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College replaced the roof and insulation, upgraded lighting, and the library heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system improve the campus energy efficiency to reduce its carbon footprint.

Leech Lake Tribal College (LLTC) I LED Lighting Retrofit and LED Project

Leech Lake Tribal College upgraded lighting from fluorescent lighting to LED lights in Oak and Cedar Halls and in the parking areas to increase energy efficiency and reduce maintenance costs.

Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College (NHSC) Energy Infrastructure Improvements

Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College replaced doors and lighting fixtures, air sealed electrical outlets, installed building vestibules, and installed the following alternative energy sources – a wind turbine and a portable solar power trailer to increase energy efficiency.

Sisseton Wahpeton College (SWC) Energy Efficiency Renovations

Teachings about the Dakota way of life and Dakota values are at the foundation of Sisseton Wahpeton College. To be respectful, responsible stewards of the land is at the heart of those teachings. SWC replaced existing campus lighting with LED lighting to increase energy efficiency and reduce operating and maintenance costs. Increasing energy efficiency has helped the campus community fulfill its responsibilities to the Dakota way of life and set an example for the broader community.

Sitting Bull College (SBC) Energy Efficient Housing

Sitting Bull College installed energy efficient windows in 18 student housing units on the campus to reduce energy costs for students.

Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC) Allied Health Building Energy Retrofit

Turtle Mountain Community College installed energy efficiency improvements to the Allied Health Building. Improvements included the installation exterior stimulated stone veneer siding, metal roofing, interior insulation, and new door.

United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) Energy Conservation Through Lighting

United Tribes Technical College installed new LED lighting in the Skills Center and installed energy efficient windows in the Administration building. This energy efficiency upgrade provides more effective lighting throughout the building, significantly increases safety, and reduce electric consumption and footprint.

TCU Arts and Environment Infrastructure Planning Project

The purpose of the TCU Arts and Environment Infrastructure Planning Project is to provide strategic long-range planning for traditional Native arts and culture and environmental infrastructure improvements to Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) in the upper Midwest (Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) served by the American Indian College Fund (College Fund). At least 1-2 TCUs will complete campus-wide plans to reduce their environmental footprint and 3-5 TCUs will complete either Native arts and culture or environmental infrastructure planning. This project will not include plan implementation or construction. This project began in December 2018 and is funded by the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.

Project Gallery

Infrastructure Initiatives

Native Arts, Energy/Water Efficiency Infrastructure

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.