Tester Secures $100,000 to Support Blackfeet Community College

Senator Supports Curriculum to Preserve Native Languages, Cultural Heritage

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester has secured $100,000 in funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund a tribal language and culture project at Blackfeet Community College.

“The Blackfeet Nation has a long, rich heritage in Montana,” said Tester, a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “This funding will help ensure their language, culture and unique identity will continue to be passed down to future generations.”

The grant was awarded to Blackfeet Community College following a competitive selection process to fund a program designed to preserve cultural heritage and language over multiple learning platforms.

The NEH ‘Enhancing Curriculum with Blackfoot Language and Culture’ award will support the Liberal Arts department at Blackfeet Community College in developing, for the first time, an in-depth cultural curriculum that allows us to meet an essential aspect of our original mission statement: that of integrating niitsii•po’•”sin (the Blackfoot language) and niitsittup•pyaapii (Blackfoot lifeways) into our students’ daily learning experience,” said Sterling Schildt, the Writing Center & Liberal Arts Cultural Curriculum Director at Blackfeet Community College. “The project we are about to embark upon will create digital, in-class learning materials that will help our students learn essential aspects of niitsittup•pyaapii from legitimate cultural experts. These materials will allow current and future generations of Blackfeet Community College students to hear, learn and appreciate our beautiful language, culture and history while also beginning to understand themselves and their identity in a much deeper and more significant way.”

Tester has been a longtime champion for preserving Native languages.

He has introduced multiple bills to establish, expand and fund Native American language preservation including the Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act to develop a streamlined grant program for native language immersion programs and the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act to fund Native language classes.