Activities and Highlights

planetarium show in the round room

In addition to a successful build-out of the Institute’s physical space and technological capacity, a few of the programmatic accomplishments to highlight since the Institute’s 2014 launch include:

  • Two new Native American Studies classes were created and taught in the Cobell Institute Spring Semester 2015. Dr. Ted Van Alst (Lakota) developed and taught “Native Americans and Cinema” in the Theater room, and Native American Studies graduate student Iva Croff (Blackfeet) developed and taught  “Native American Sign Language.”
  • Conversations with tribal colleges, including Blackfeet Community College and Salish Kootenai College, were held in 2014 and adjustments to hardware and software are being made to improve the capacity for future distance-learning opportunities.
  • An Instructional Technology specialist was hired as an on-going technology resource for the Institute.
  • The Star Gazing Room and planetarium has witnessed explosive community interest. Physics and Astronomy faculty have developed public and private Star Gazing presentations to familiarize students, faculty and the larger community, including primary and secondary school groups, with constellations, planets, sky objects, and exciting current celestial events.  Shows focus on topics such as discoveries in solar physics, planetary exploration, and the search for exoplanets, galaxies and cosmology. A collaborative effort among Astronomy and Native American Studies faculty is currently underway to create curriculum and presentations around star lore of Native American cultures. 
  • In April 2015, the Native American Studies and Astronomy and Physics departments co-hosted two invited presentations on Crow astronomy by Dr. Timothy P. McCleary, noted Crow historian, author, Little Big Horn College professor, and contributor to Montana public school’s curriculum guide Montana Skies: Crow Astronomy.