Gidakiimanaanawigamig’s Circle of Learning: A Model for Partnership between Tribal Community and Research University

Since 2002, the National Center for Earth-Surface dynamics has collaborated with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, the University of Minnesota, and other partner institutions to develop programs aimed at supporting Native American participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, and especially in the Earth and Environmental Sciences. These include the gidakiimanaaniwigamigmath and science camps for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Research Experience for Undergraduates on Sustainable Land and Water Resources, which takes place on two native reservations, and support for new majors at tribal colleges. All of these programs have a common focus on collaboration with communities, place-based education, community-inspired research projects, a focus on traditional culture and language, and resource management on reservations. Strong partnerships between university, tribal college, and Native American reservation were a foundation for success, but took time and effort to develop. This paper explores steps towards effective partnerships that support student success in STEM via environmental education.