Program Development

Karen Diver, chair of the Fond du Lac Band of Minnesota Chippewa and a UMD alumna, was instrumental in the development of MTAG. “Karen crystallized what others were saying,” Johnson said. “Tribal leaders wanted the master’s degree to train future tribal managers to be able to identify the mission, budget, and personnel needed for any project a tribe may encounter. The current curriculum emanated from those requirements.”

Many approved of UMD’s approach. Chief Executive Marge Anderson of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe said, "UMD developed this program by asking tribal governments what was needed.” Barb Brodeen, executive director for the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, agreed, “The Bois Forte Band is pleased that the degree program reflects our ideas and wishes.”

Assisting the tribes and students was an important goal. “We know talented young people who would like to work in tribal government,” said Billie Mason, commissioner of education of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. “This new degree program will provide the training and development students need to effectively serve their people and build a career.”

Smith noted that the elected leaders of tribal governments frequently come from the ranks of the tribal administrators. “UMD may be training some of the next generation of tribal leaders under this program.”

Johnson also noted that the collaboration between UMD and tribal governments "will continue in the days and years ahead as the needs of Indian country change."

Most importantly, Johnson believes that an increasing focus on American Indian Studies is vital. "UMD was one of the first institutions of higher learning in the country to recognize that American Indian studies was a unique discipline," Johnson said. "Since 1972, UMD has taught generations of students the importance of the history, language and culture of Native Americans. Now, we are taking another bold step."