The origin of the program Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education (NATURE) can be traced to an informal collaboration between the North Dakota State University Colleges of Engineering and Architecture and Turtle Mountain Community College, Belcourt, North Dakota in 1998. A team of North Dakota State University (NDSU) science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty worked with the five ND tribal colleges to develop a proposal to increase STEM educational opportunities for American Indian students. The effort paid off when Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC), in partnership with NDSU, was awarded a five year grant from the Office of Naval Research (An Adaptive Systemic Initiative of Tribal Collaboration for Increasing Native American Participation in Mathematics, Science and Engineering, 1999 - 2004), to support activities designed to stimulate the interest of Indian youth from North Dakota reservations in careers such as engineering and those involving higher level mathematics, science and technology skills. This project allowed the team to develop and implement activities such as summer camps, Sunday Academy, workshop for tribal college faculty, and a scholarship program to create new, and strengthen, existing pathways for American Indian students to pursue STEM education successfully and seek careers in those fields. This project also received support from NASA PACE program (TMCC), 2002-2005, ND EPSCoR FLITE equipment funding, 2001-2004, and NSF BRIDGES program planning grant, 2004. Though it had provided partial support initially, ND EPSCoR took the program completely under its wings after the funding from ONR ended in 2005. Since then, the program assumed the new title NATURE.
- the activities previously developed have been improved in terms of quality and expanded in terms of participation.
- ND EPSCoR has created a new Tribal College Liaison position to improve the effectiveness of the university-tribal college communication and collaboration.
- University of North Dakota joined the collaboration
- Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC), Belcourt, ND
- Sitting Bull College (SBC), Fort Yates, ND
- Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College (NHSC) at Fort Berthold, New Town, ND
(Formerly known as Fort Berthold Community College)
- Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC), Fort Totten, ND
- United Tribes Technical College (UTTC), Bismarck, ND
- North Dakota State University (NDSU), Fargo, ND
- University of North Dakota (UND), Grand Forks, ND