Buffalo Nations Summer Fellowship

The Buffalo Nations summer student fellowship is an immersive land-based education opportunity in which students work full-time tending Indigenous gardens, conducting Indigenous plant restoration, participating in Indigenous community cultural events including buffalo harvest, learning to wild harvest and process plants, seed saving and more. This education opportunity is multicultural and intergenerational based on Indigenous methods of knowledge sharing. Applications for the summer fellowship are available each spring by contacting our program.

Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Food Systems

The Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Food Systems will be offered beginning in Spring 2025. This one-year, four course certificate can be combined with any degree to give students a deep grounding in the buffalo nations food system, Indigenous foodways, and the seasonal round. Instruction will be online and community-based in a seasonal-ecological model of learning.

Ancestral Seed Bank

The Ancestral Seed Bank located in American Indian Hall is a living seedbank in which students are responsible for cleaning, tending, and propagating heritage seeds, including corn, beans, squash, sunflowers, and medicinal plants. The seed bank is an educational laboratory and a resource for seed sharing with Indigenous organizations and community horticultural programs in the Buffalo Nations Biocultural Region. An annual distribution of seed bundles is done each spring through our partnership with the Montana Indigenous Food Sovereignty Initiative, 501(c)-3.


The Buffalo Nations gardens currently include an Indigenous Culinary Garden located behind the American Indian Hall, the Ancestral Seed Garden located on the MSU Horticulture Farm/Towne’s Harvest Garden, and the Indigenous Learning Garden at the Story Mill Community Park in Bozeman.

Wild harvesting

Indigenous garden harvest   Indigenous corn anthers

Become a Steward. 
Connect with a Peer and the Land.

Steward-to-Steward is a program for Indigenous farmers, buffalo and cattle ranchers, gardeners, foragers, and other caretakers of the land in the Buffalo Nations region to connect with one another through a paid work exchange.

Register here to enroll as both a host and a visitor in a paid 2 day work exchange for Indigenous caretakers of the land.

Northern plains prairie landscape with words, "Foster kinship by empowering the place-based knowledge, wisdom, cultural resilience, and worldviews of Buffalo Nations stewards for generations to come."

Inspired by Latin America’s Campesino-a-Campesino program, you will be connected with a fellow producer for a paid 2-day work exchange; to spend time together learning from eachother on how to raise food and care for the land. Indigenous voices and traditional knowledge must be at the forefront of the conversation on stepping away from extractive practices as we reestablish a vibrant and equitable food system for generations to come. 

Colorful Indigenous corn with words, "“If the land doesn’t know us, then we don’t  know who we are.” Dr. Leroy Little Bear. (Kanai Blackfoot)"

Steward-to-Steward is about fostering intertribal kinships, empowering relational ways of knowing, and creating space for Buffalo Nations smallholder producers to share teachings of the land.

  • Steward: “anyone involved in plant and animal production, management, caretaking, food processing or other activities significant for Buffalo Nations Indigenous food systems​.”

The first exchanges are set for July 2024, but enrollment is ongoing. Register now to become a steward.

  • Foster ties with fellow Indigenous smallholder producers, to contribute to the establishment of regional kinships.
  • Provide opportunity to find peer-mentorship.
    • Every steward is an expert in something; this is an opportunity to see how you can grow from others' experiences.
  • Create space to have conversations about Indigenous worlviews and values.
  • Foster conversations on land use in the Great Plains/Buffalo Nations region, today, in the past, and the future.
  • Create a community of indigenous caretakers of the land. 
  • Learn practical skills for tending land.

Exchanges are paid for by the USDA NextGen grant and you will be compensated for your time. 

  • Once you fill out the registration form, you will be contacted so that we can learn more about your land. 
  • We will pair you with a fellow steward to both host them during an exchange and visit them during a second exchange.
  • Once paired, the preperation of the exchange will be collaborative, with meetings being held beforehand to get to know each other and to create a two day schedule of activities to do during the exchange.
  • Exchanges will be 2 days long (this does not include time spent traveling to your fellow steward).
  • They will take place throughout the summer and early autumn months. 
  • Participating stewards will be compensated for hosting and for their travel expenses.
  • Must be 21 years old.
  • Must have affiliation with Native Nation(s).
  • Must reside in one of the following states:
    • Montana, MT
    • North Dakota, ND
    • South Dakota, SD
    • Minnesota, MN
    • Wyoming, WY
    • Idaho, ID
  • Must be a smallholder farmer/rancher/gardener or other land steward.
  • Must have facility to host a visitor for 2 days.
USDA NextGen program logo

Image of woman's hand with blackfeet symbol tattoos and turquoise ring planting seeds

If you have any questions, you can contact us here