Little River Institute

In 2015, Montana State University-Northern's Extended University was awarded a five-year, $1.9 million grant through the Native American Serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTI) Program of the U.S. Department of Education. The grant is intended to improve the retention and completion rates of American Indian students in higher education. As part of this grant, the Little River Institute was created to serve as a center of tutoring, mentoring, and support for American Indian students at MSU-Northern, as well as a source of culturally responsive professional development for MSU-Northern faculty and staff. Montana is the only state in the U.S. with a constitutional mandate to teach American indian history, culture, and heritage to preschool through higher education students via the Indian Education All Act of 1999. As part of the NASNTI grant, the Little River Institute is developing an Open Educational Resource repository to showcase culturally responsive content, modules, and teaching strategies developed by MSU-Northern faculty.
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All resources in Little River Institute

Facilitating a Group Discussion: A Brief Survey and Comparative Analysis of Native American Perceptions in Art, Then and Now

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Facilitating a Group Discussion: A Brief Survey and Comparative Analysis of Native American Perceptions in Art, Then and Now This OER takes a comparative analysis of Native American perceptions in Art and integrates this into an Art Appreciation survey course discussion. The context with which the content fits is "Themes of Art." This dialogue begins with the students' base knowledge of the subject, proceeded by observations of the works of contemporary, female Native American Artist, Wendy Red Star and the paintings of non-native, male artists from the 1800s (i.e. Alfred Jacob Miller, Charles Wimar, George Catlin, Frederic Remington, and Charles M. Russell). The primary pedagogical approaches will be engaging students in dialogue and allowing for a broader visual vocabulary through the study of historical works of art. Large groups will break into more detail specific, smaller groups. The crux of the exercise is to facilitate an appreciation of these works, through socio-political means (outsiders looking in) and the perspective of self-reflection, that of the insider's view.

Material Type: Lesson Plan, Primary Source

Author: Montana State Univ-Northern Faculty

Expanding student understanding of Indigenous worldviews

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This OER will showcase how using examples and discussions of comparable indigenous experiences benefits both Native and non-Native student cultural awareness in the classroom. While IEFA focusses upon Montana Indian histories and experiences, I use film, art, and other forms of material culture to ask students to engage broadly with other indigenous communities within and outside of the United States. Often these examples are shown next to local forms of cultural expression. This exposure, its comparative component, and the analytical discussion of such, has proven to help them understand and appreciate the local indigenous perspectives more clearly than when these local perspectives are studied/discussed in isolation. The OER will outline several exercises and assignments that have proven successful in enabling both Native and non-Native students to develop a wider cultural consciousness than they began with.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Module

Author: Montana State Univ-Northern Faculty

Model of Embedded Tutoring in Math Classrooms

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Embedding Math Tutor in Classrooms I have been embedding myself into Diesel and Electrical classes to help students get the connection between the math they learn in the math classes and the math they need in the classes of their degree. This is to help students at risk of failing the class get help sooner than later and also to make it easier for them to get help in their math classes. It also has proven to help bridge the gap between content/skills they learn in math classes and in their degree classes. I also try to help students as a mentor. I talk with them about interviews, professionalism, and things that will help them become more in demand as an employee for when they get their degree and are joining the work force. I also tutor almost every math class at MSUN. This works the best due to the fact that I am in the classes and they see me interacting with teachers and students in their degree. This makes them feel more comfortable asking for help and gaining a better understanding of both math and other concepts.

Material Type: Teaching/Learning Strategy

Author: Montana State Univ-Northern Faculty

Breaking the frame: Ways of Reading Native Photography

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Breaking the frame: Ways of Reading Native Photography My OER showcases the use of Native American photography as a means of enabling students to connect with historical and contemporary Native issues. Using specific in-class exercises as examples I will show how Native photography addresses issues of racial identity, stereotypes, the sexualizing of Native bodies, and Native American history. I will discuss how the writing of the formal analysis of this photography as art also enables students to engage with the art through a reading that elucidates the contemporary lives of Native individuals and communities. The OER will show how interactive exploration of artistic meaning, and the messages therein, in Native photography leads to increased student intellectual awareness and understanding of the indigenous world around them.

Material Type: Lesson Plan, Teaching/Learning Strategy

Author: Montana State Univ-Northern Faculty

Storytelling: A Way to Introduce and Express Oneself

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Storytelling: A Way to Introduce and Express Oneself “Storytelling is a tool to express who you are, an avenue to share a memory or experience, a medium to teach values and cultural differences….Storytelling is by far the best to communicate one’s thoughts and tell one’s story” (Keaise, 2014, p. 53). This OER shows how one professor incorporated storytelling into student introductions. Additionally, this exercise was used as part of the pedagogy to teach about human diversity, culture, understanding and acceptance. Storytelling provided an effective foundation for students to connect with classmates, build relationships and develop trust and respect, the foundation behaviors of good human relations. Materials which will be included in the OER are listed below: 1) A brief literature review on storytelling, supporting this exercise;2) A visual diagram and brief description of the storytelling process which includes a dyadic encounter, small group discussions and a large group presentation; 3) Step-by-step instructions on how to integrate storytelling into student introductions; 4) Examples of student introductions; 5) A summary of student perceptions about the storytelling exercise.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Author: Montana State Univ-Northern Faculty

Medicinal & Edible Plants of Montana Used by Indigenous Peoples and Early Settlers

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Medicinal & Edible Plants of Montana Used by Indigenous Peoples and Early Settlers This new Special Topics course is open to all university students in the spring 2017 semester. As a Special Topics course the numbering reflects upper division credit, but no pre-requisites are required, allowing students in a variety of disciplines to enroll. The course begins by providing a content vocabulary that consists of plant, habitat, ecoregion, and cultural terminology. Teaching with the assumption that non-biology students enroll, terms are presented and learned in a hands-on context that requires no previous understanding of biology. For example, basic plant structure is presented through simple flower dissection and “Structure Jeopardy”, a fun and interactive approach that allows students to earn points while testing literacy. Students work together in small groups (3) to collect voucher specimens of medicinal and edible plants in which the group is most interested. For native students, it is anticipated that selections may be based on traditional uses. During this process, students develop specimen collection and processing skills that allow them to acquire marketable techniques used in herbaria throughout the world. These same groups collect specific medicinal and edible plant material (e.g., roots) for their plants, drying and preparing the material in the manner most often used. For example, roots used as flour substitutes are presented whole as well as in a ground state. Groups, working closely with the professor, learn methods on how to research collection records, find habitat information, and develop geolocation skills, all of which ensure success in locating material. Students in each group also learn to perform peer-reviewed scientific literature searches that provide the most current research and knowledge on culturally important medicinal and edible plants. As individuals, students are required to gather information through discussion with family or community members on plant uses, thereby forming relationships between the broader community and course knowledge. Students are also encouraged, through literature or community involvement, to explore native or colloquial names for specific plants and to determine if these terms relate to cultural uses. Working with the professor, students learn presentation skills as each group or individual present the information they have learned using Power Point. Interactive laboratories exercises provide information and practices on good methodology and mock sessions with the instructor afford powerful feedback prior to classroom presentation. As available, local and indigenous guest lecturers provide interactive and personal experiences that aid to ensure student retention of course material.

Material Type: Syllabus

Author: Montana State Univ-Northern Faculty

From Communication Apprehension to Relaxation and Emotion: How Including Indian Content in Speeches Facilitates Delivery

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From Communication Apprehension to Relaxation and Emotion: How Including Indian Content in Speeches Facilitates Delivery This OER will describe the journey of students taking the Public Speaking class at Aaniiih Nakoda College during the 2006-2014 period. In this OER, I share lesson plans as well as best practices learned, and how the inclusion of Indian content helped students to conquer their fear of public speaking and to share their sentiments about topics that mattered to them.

Material Type: Lesson Plan, Teaching/Learning Strategy

Author: Montana State Univ-Northern Faculty

Instructional Conversation and Two-Spirit traditions in Early Sex Education Lessons

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Each spring semester at Montana State University – Northern, a few American Indian students quietly participate in their required Sex Education course. Often reluctant to engage in discussions related to sexual behaviors and diversity, American Indian students may fail to engage in the course. Offering a lesson about two-spirited people early in the sex education course improves instructional conversation and generates course engagement for American Indian students. This proposal serves to further develop the two-spirited people lesson and include a guest presentation from a two-spirit person.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Reading

Author: Montana State Univ-Northern Faculty

Indigenizing the 21st Century Classroom

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This OER showcases the use of tools such as twitter, blogs, and other forms of social media, as a project for increasing cultural awareness in the classroom. These tools create spaces in the classroom for culturally responsive engagement between Native and non-Native students. Using contemporary indigenous activism as the focus of a semester-long project, I will discuss the steps taken to enable students to explore contemporary Native issues from indigenous perspectives. The ‘real-time’ environment of social media enables the students to engage with multiple indigenous perspectives in a pro-active, rather than passive, manner. The OER will also show how this exploration leads to increased student intellectual awareness and engagement with the indigenous world around them.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Module

Author: Montana State Univ-Northern Faculty

Multicourse Final Assignment

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This is a proposal of a not yet implemented idea for a multicourse final assignment to improve cross-curriculum integration. That is, students who are required to submit a final paper, project, presentation in a course will be given the option of combining course projects. By producing one project that ties together two courses, students are encouraged to zoom out from course content and see how several courses interweave in collegiate education.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Author: Montana State Univ-Northern Faculty