CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new Oregon State University research center has been created, with the goal of supporting and assisting Oregon’s native people.

The Native American Collaborative Institute facilitates collaboration by identifying areas of research, education and outreach between OSU faculty and staff and tribal communities.

This interdisciplinary institute is housed in Ballard Extension Hall on the OSU campus.

NACI director Kurt Peters, an associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies, already has six proposals for grant funding from three different tribes. There are nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon.

“We are here to create a flow of information to support tribal needs,” Peters said. “We want to connect tribes with the right people, not merely help tribes fund a grant.”

OSU President Ed Ray said the institute will operate as a conduit between the tribes and the OSU community.

“Recognizing that diversity is one of our core values, the creation of the Native American Collaborative Institute is an imperative step toward a shared vision for Oregon’s future,” said Ray.

The NACI mission includes:

  • Developing research and disseminating findings that provide policy makers with information regarding tribal concerns;
  • Acting as a clearinghouse for information and access to issues of tribes;
  • Creating agreements that increase tribal access to OSU, and communicating tribal perspectives that enable OSU to better respond to tribal needs, in a manner respecting cultural values;
  • Facilitating tribal and OSU funding from private foundations and public sources;
  • Providing student, faculty and program staff internships to further knowledge and understanding about topics of importance to both Oregon tribes and OSU.

Peters, who is of Blackfeet/Powhatan descent, said it was important to him in creating the institute that OSU be led by tribal policy and the communities’ expertise and needs.

“This is a way for us to be a resource, to be of use,” he said. “This is about connecting with the tribes and to fulfill OSU’s land grant mission.”

One of NACI’s current projects is with the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The project includes mapping the resources of the geography of the Umatilla lands, and several other projects in the areas of science, engineering, and education, Peters said.

The Burns Paiute Tribe has initiated a memorandum of agreement with OSU for collaboration on issues concerning natural resources. And a third tribal group is partnering with OSU to create a project focused on the needs of children at risk. All of the projects include attention to the educational needs of students and their learning outcomes both within the tribal communities as well as at Oregon State University.

Tribal communities and others interested are encouraged to contact Peters or to go to NACI’s Web site for more information,

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Kurt Peters,