UMD to offer first-ever bachelor's degree program in tribal administration

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Three years after the University of Minnesota-Duluth instituted a master's degree program in tribal administration and governance, it will start offering the first-of-its kind online bachelor's degree program in the U.S. in the same area of study.

The bachelor's degree program was approved by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents last week, the Duluth News Tribune reports. UMD and local tribal leaders have reportedly stressed the need for bachelor’s degree in tribal administration, since there are 22 tribal governments in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and 566 federally-recognized governments nationwide.

According to the News Tribune, the online tribal administration program is aimed at students who already have an associate’s degree or enough credits through a state transfer program to enroll. The degree can be earned in-person as well, but the student would be required to have four years of attendance at UMD, the newspaper says.

The News Tribune says nearly 50 students have either graduated or are moving through the Master in Tribal Administration and Governance (MTAG) program since it began in 2011.

According to UMD, the MTAG program's curriculum includes classes on principles of tribal sovereignty; tribal budgets, finance and accounting; principles of tribal management; federal Indian law; and leadership and ethics.

The Indian Country Today Media Network says UMD graduated its first 22 students in the MTAG program last year.

The News Tribune says UMD is planning on about 12 students for the new bachelor's degree program in its first year, and instructors from the master's degree program will take on the additional workload.

Meanwhile, some veteran and new professors at the University of Minnesota's Department of American Indian Studies in the Twin Cities are pushing to establish a major in Ojibwe or Dakota languages, the Twin Cities Daily Planet reports.

American Indian studies assistant professor Brendan Fairbanks tells the Daily Planet that such a program would give students better job opportunities after college, and help keep the languages alive.

The U of M currently offers teaching certificates in Dakota and Ojibwe language instruction. As of 2009, the Department of American Indian Studies estimated that there were 678 first-language speakers of the Ojibwe language and eight first language speakers of the Dakota language within those communities.

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