Montana State University

Council of Elders learn about campus Indian initiatives

November 3, 2006 -- Carol Schmidt, MSU News

Louis Adams of Arlee, of the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes, is one of the Montana tribal leaders participating in the meeting of the MSU Council of Elders. In its two years of existence, the group initiated by President Geoff Gamble has seen the numbers of Indian students rise as well as progress in campus initiatives involving Native American students. MSU photo by Jay Thane.   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
Elders from Indian tribes across Montana yesterday learned that much was on the rise at Montana State University.

The members of the MSU Council of Elders yesterday heard reports of rockets and balloons launched high above the earth's atmosphere by students from MSU and the state's tribal colleges. Not so stratospheric, but also rising nicely, is the number of Indian students at MSU.

"We have 50 additional new American Indian students this year compared to 41 (additional Indian students) last year," said Allen Yarnell, MSU vice president for student affairs. In all, MSU has 298 current students who designated tribal affiliation on student enrollment forms, a number that has been steadily increasing, according to MSU enrollment statistics.

Yarnell noted that while the number of transfer students to MSU overall was down, the number of Native American Transfers had risen by four, from 44 to 48, bucking a university-wide trend.

Yarnell's was one of more than a half-dozen presentations to the Council of Elders, who are meeting for the fifth time at MSU. Gamble formed the group of leaders from Montana's tribes in 2004, telling them at that time that he had a vision for the development of Indian education at MSU. The group meets on campus each fall and spring.

One of the topics that the elders will address during their Friday session is the progress of MSU's planned Native American Student Center. The university is currently raising private funds to build the center near Hannon Hall at the entrance of MSU's Centennial Mall. The building will replace the current Indian Student Center in the basement of Wilson Hall, considered to be one of the most utilized rooms on campus. The elders have been instrumental in approving and providing cultural feedback for the facility.

Among other presentations to the elders include an INBRE program that is studying water quality on the Crow Reservation, a NASA physics camp for students from the Salish-Kootenai tribes, and local Indian Education for All efforts.

"It's a good group," said Louis Adams from Arlee, a member of the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes. "It's good work."

Shari McCoy, 994-2341