Supporting Indigenous nursing students within Bemidji State’s four-year pre-licensure (on-campus) and RN-BS (online) programs since 2017, providing a dedicated team and community, whose holistic support has a track record of success with Indigenous nursing students!

About Niganawenimaanaanig


Niganawenimaanaanig (Nih-guh-nuh-wen-ih-maah-naah-nig) a word in Ojibwemowin that can be interpreted in English as “we take care of them”, provides a supportive, culturally grounded, communal environment and dedicated program staff who advocate for all students within the program.

Niganawenimaanaanig is currently funded through the HRSA Nursing Workforce Diversity program, which increases nursing education opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, including ethnic and racial minorities underrepresented among registered nurses nationwide. As a grant-funded program, Niganawenimaanaanig has secured two competitive four-year HRSA-NWD awards since 2017 that have provided the necessary funding for Niganawenimaanaanig staffing and student support, with the most recent award concluding after the 2025 term.



Niganawenimaanaanig Program Student Eligibility

Indigenous/American Indian/Alaska Native nursing students who are accepted into Bemidji State’s pre-licensure four-year or online RN-BS nursing programs are welcomed and encouraged to apply to the program.

Niganawenimaanaanig defines ‘Indigenous’ as a citizen of a Tribal Nation or a descendant of a citizen (parent/grandparent) of a Tribal Nation within the United States or Canada.

Support for Indigenous Nursing Students

Bemidji State University’s nursing programs are a rigorous but rewarding experience as students prepare for furthering their careers in healthcare. Niganawenimaanaanig is committed to providing academic, cultural, financial and social support to Indigenous nursing students, with program staff encouraging relationships built on comprehensive support that stretches far beyond the classroom.

Academic Support

Tessa Reed
Tessa Reed Niganawenimaanaanig Student Mentor

Individual academic support is a major focus area of the program and as a dedicated advocate for program students, the Niganawenimaanaanig Student Mentor engages with students, connecting them with course-specific study materials and tutors, facilitating study groups and providing referrals to relevant support services. The Student Mentor meets with each student weekly, providing encouragement, academic accountability and support.

If a student currently earns a B- or lower in any class, the program requires remediation through tutoring and other relevant efforts until the grade is improved and they feel more confident in the course material.


Cultural Support

Niganawenimaanaanig serves from a campus that is centrally located among the three largest Anishinaabe/Ojibwe Tribal Nations in the state of Minnesota — the Nations of Red Lake, Leech Lake and White Earth. While many program students are from these strong local communities, we are humbled and honored to support students from each of the 20+ different Tribal Nations that have been represented by students over the years.

As a member of Niganawenimaanaanig, you can be assured that…

  • We are committed to celebrating, supporting and helping you learn more about your unique cultural identity
  • We believe that your heritage and traditions are an important part of who you are
  • We want to encourage you as an Indigenous person in your education, nursing practice and home

Niganawenimaanaanig staff recognize that each student’s culture plays a unique role in their life. Staff work to encourage and support each student individually and according to their comfort.

Niganawenimaanaanig collaborates with offices across campus to provide cultural engagement events at BSU and encourages participation in the many cultural opportunities taking place within the area.


Financial Support

Niganawenimaanaanig is committed to providing financial support to program students to see that their academic and professional goals can be reached. With this in mind, the program does not award any funding to students that would be required to be paid back, regardless of program completion, as we believe that may be prohibitive to students.

To ensure that finances are not a barrier to success while in the nursing program, Niganawenimaanaanig provides awards (scholarships) each semester, as well as monthly living stipends. Niganawenimaanaanig award and stipend totals are decided by credit total and are subject to change by year.

  • Students in the RN-BS program are eligible to receive Niganawenimaanaanig financial support upon admission to the nursing program, once their courses begin.
  • Students in the pre-licensure, four-year program are eligible to receive Niganawenimaanaanig financial support once they are admitted into the nursing program and begin classes, most often during their sophomore year.

To ease financial barriers, Niganawenimaanaanig provides required nursing program items for four-year program students, such as uniforms and stethoscopes, as well as laptops for program students within each program.

Group of native american BSU nursing students standing outside in the sun

Social Support

Nursing school can be tough, especially when you’re away from your family or others in your circle. Niganawenimaanaanig seeks to foster an inclusive community for Indigenous nursing students that provides support and encouragement through the ups and downs of college life.

  • One-on-one mentorship with a dedicated advocate: Niganawenimaanaanig believes that every student needs to be heard and supported and provides a full-time, accessible Student Mentor for all program students. In addition to weekly check-ins to discuss goals, celebrate successes and address any challenges that students may be facing, the Student Mentor is available to listen, offer encouragement and provide resources that are tailored to each student’s unique path.
  • Team support: The Niganawenimaanaanig team includes a Program Director who is also a nursing faculty member, the Student Mentor and the Grant Coordinator – all dedicated to supporting Niganawenimaanaanig students!
  • Niganawenimaanaanig student lounge: The lounge is a comfortable and inviting space where students can hang out, study, eat and relax. The home-like space is attached to the Student Mentor’s office and is located in Bensen Hall, the same building that houses BSU’s Nursing Department, faculty, clinical simulation lab and classrooms.
  • Student gatherings: Niganawenimaanaanig holds program student gatherings at the beginning and end of each semester, with all encouraged to attend. These gatherings are a great opportunity to share a meal, get to know and encourage one another and build a sense of community that lasts long after graduation.



To be a part of Niganawenimaanaanig, please apply through the Niganawenimaanaanig Student Application.