On Oct. 10 – Indigenous Peoples’ Day – Bemidji State University President John Hoffman announced BSU as the site for Minnesota State’s new Institute for Indigenous Education & Practice to a virtual and in-person audience of over 100 faculty, staff and students.
The Institute for Indigenous Education & Practice is being supported by a two-year, $600,000 grant from the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities. It will serve each of the system’s 26 colleges and seven universities, be housed in BSU’s American Indian Resource Center and work toward three broad goals:
- to develop a regional hub that creates and distributes digital resources for all Minnesota State faculty and staff which will support the development of course curricula, professional development and training, and foster collaboration on best practices;
- to support campus-specific action plans meant to support Indigenous students, increase access to higher education for Indigenous students and, once enrolled, provide support to increase persistence and completion rates;
- to explore strategies for providing additional financial support to Indigenous students, with an emphasis on programs that could be scaled system-wide.
“This reflects a long heritage of work by our American Indian faculty, students and staff at this institution,” Hoffman said. “It has not been easy work, but has come with great accomplishments and joy realized in the lives of our students.”
Dr. John Gonzalez, associate professor of psychology at BSU, shared a presentation titled “Two Sides of the Same Coin: Race Relations, Economics, and Education,” which examined local economic and educational data, provided a study on race relations and offered suggestions for ways in which BSU can remain a leader in American Indian education.
Grant funding will primarily support additional staffing and resources for the American Indian Resource Center. The university plans to pursue additional grant funding the support the institute and its activities.
The institute will begin work immediately by developing and releasing a number of education resources by summer 2023 and launching at least two communities of practice before the end of 2023. The institute also will begin developing professional development and staff training resources to expand support capacity and cultural competency at Bemidji State before being refined and delivered across the Minnesota State system.