"Sitting Bull College (SBC) in Ft. Yates, North Dakota, has received a $3.5 million grant award to assist in its efforts to provide tribal communities in the Great Plains prairie region with pertinent information about their environment. The grant from the National Science Foundation, will expand the college’s research capacity, provide funding to hire additional research staff, provide funding for faculty and students to conduct advanced research, and establish a research center on the SBC college campus.
The award will be spread out over a period of five years. The grant will develop a solutions platform for using scientific research to address environmental and natural resource issues of importance to tribal communities, while institutionalizing research opportunities for undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty.
Dr. Mafany Mongoh, instructor in environmental science at SBC, is the principal investigator of the award. Along with co-investigators Dr. Gary Halvorson and Dr. Francis Ndar Onduso, the team of researchers will establish and apply a model for successful conduct of advanced research that will prove beneficial for tribal colleges. A multidisciplinary team will contribute to advancing knowledge in a variety of fields, including soil science, water quality, genetics, wildlife and plant ecology, microbiology, and engineering.
The award funded under NSF-TCUP’s TCU Enterprise Advancement Centers (TEA Centers) strand allows TCUP institutions to capitalize on their investments in STEM instructional and research capacity. This project will have a direct impact on tribal communities in areas related to prairie ecosystem services, ecology, and restoration. It is designed to increase the intellectual leadership of SBC to address scientific, engineering needs, or interests, specifically for the tribe or communities in the region.
The grant establishes SBC’s Prairie Ecosystems Research Center (PERC), a platform designed to coordinate and improve research efficiency at the college. PERC will leverage diverse research expertise and local Indigenous ecological knowledge to research solutions for community-identified ecosystem problems. PERC will highlight the benefits of local reservation community resources to solve issues that arise in the community using grounded practices that align with cultural traditions. The center will also provide a repository for Indigenous information and knowledge about the plains region and will deliver a database on the ecology of the plains environment for use by both scientists and the community alike.
Science students at SBC are required to complete a research project for their AS, BS, and MS degree programs. PERC will be able to provide advanced training in scientific research to students for their research projects. Students will have access to advanced instrumentation and the right type of resources through the center to facilitate their research experience at SBC. Research students at Sitting Bull College will also be given the opportunity to take part in new studies established through the grant. The center will work with its community partners, tribal entities, and knowledgeable elders to realize it goals and objectives."
Sitting Bull College to Establish Prairie Ecosystem Research Center (tribalcollegejournal.org)