Niganawenimaanaanig is a dedicated support community for Bemidji State’s Indigenous nursing students within the four-year and RN-BS programs!


Since 2017, Niganawenimaanaanig (an Ojibwe word interpreted as “we take care of them”) has been serving BSU’s Indigenous nursing students, providing a supportive, culturally grounded, communal environment and dedicated program staff who advocate for them.

Niganawenimaanaanig has supported Indigenous nursing students from fifteen different tribal nations, with seventeen graduates now serving in communities throughout the United States!

Niganawenimaanaanig is funded by the HRSA Nursing Workforce Diversity program, which increases nursing education opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, including ethnic and racial minorities who are underrepresented among registered nurses nationwide.

Who is eligible for the Niganawenimaanaanig Program?

Indigenous/American Indian/Alaska Native nursing students who have been accepted into Bemidji State’s pre-licensure four-year or online RN-BS nursing programs are encouraged to apply to the program. Niganawenimaanaanig defines ‘Indigenous’ as a tribal member or a descendant of an enrolled tribal member from a tribal nation within the United States or Canada.

What does support at Niganawenimaanaanig look like?

Social Support:

For many students, the unique challenges of nursing school are spent apart from their supportive families and home communities, often for the first time. Niganawenimaanaanig is an inclusive community for Indigenous nursing students, that encourages academic achievement and perseverance through the ups and downs of college life, drawing strength and encouragement from its circle of students and staff.

Few nursing programs in the nation commit to supporting their students with a full-time student mentor. All Niganawenimaanaanig students have a scheduled weekly check-in with the program’s Student Mentor to discuss their goals, celebrate successes, and to address any challenges that they may be facing. Officed alongside the program’s lounge, the Student Mentor is readily available to listen, offer encouragement, or bridge resources with each student’s unique pathway in mind. 

Located in Bensen Hall, which houses BSU’s Nursing Department faculty, clinical simulation lab, and most nursing classrooms, Niganawenimaanaanig has a dedicated lounge that is comfortable and inviting. The home-like atmosphere provides a space for students to hang out, study, eat, and relax together.

Niganawenimaanaanig holds gatherings at the beginning and close of each semester for all program students, providing an opportunity for everyone within to get together and encourage one another.


Academic Support:

Bemidji State University’s Nursing Program is rigorous and students must pass their nursing courses with a grade of 75% or higher. Niganawenimaanaanig offers academic support to all program students and requires those currently earning a B- or lower in any class to attend weekly tutoring sessions until they have a confident grasp of their course material.

Affirming relationships with program staff and students provide a great deal of academic and personal support and many find the program’s lounge to be a very productive space for them to seek each other out while on campus. Program staff regularly connect students with course-specific tutors, facilitate study groups, and provide referrals to support services whenever possible.

The Student Mentor is a dedicated academic resource to program students, providing accountability and support along the way. Niganawenimaanaanig staff receive updates on students’ class performance and proactively address challenges before they lead to more detrimental outcomes.

Cultural Support:

Everyone has their own heritage, history, cultural practices, and beliefs that they hold sacred. Program staff recognize and honor that culture plays a different role in each student’s life, encouraging and supporting their cultural identity accordingly.

Niganawenimaanaanig works alongside others to provide cultural learning opportunities on campus and within the community, often supporting the American Indian Resource Center with events that are hosted at BSU throughout the year.

Niganawenimaanaanig serves a campus that is centrally located geographically among the three largest Anishinaabe/Ojibwe tribal nations in the state of Minnesota (Red Lake, Leech Lake, and White Earth) and many of its students represent these strong communities. Niganawenimaanaanig program staff are comprised of enrolled members of Anishinaabe/Ojibwe tribal nations or allied with them.

Financial Support:

Economic stability plays a pivotal role in the retention and success of nursing students and Niganawenimaanaanig is honored to be able to provide financial consistency to nursing program students, through semester awards (scholarships) and monthly stipends.

Niganawenimaanaanig students within the RN-BS track are eligible to receive financial assistance upon being accepted into the nursing program, while 4-year track students receive financial support once they are selected for the BSU nursing program (typically in their sophomore year). Award and stipend amounts may vary year-to-year and are determined by individual credit load, need, and Bemidji State’s Financial Aid Office.

Niganawenimaanaanig students may also be eligible to receive some of the required nursing program items through Niganawenimaanaanig, such as uniforms and stethoscopes. The program can also provide laptops to eligible program students!                                   

Indigenous nursing students at Bemidji State are all encouraged to be a part of Niganawenimaanaanig. We believe that our collective diversity strengthens the supportive circle for everyone!



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Niganawenimaanaanig 2021 Newsletter