In 2015, Montana State University-Northern's Extended University was awarded a five-year, $1.9 million grant through the Native American Serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTI) Program of the U.S. Department of Education. The grant is intended to improve the retention and completion rates of American Indian students in higher education.
As part of this grant, the Little River Institute was created to serve as a center of tutoring, mentoring, and support for American Indian students at MSU-Northern, as well as a source of culturally responsive professional development for MSU-Northern faculty and staff.
Montana is the only state in the U.S. with a constitutional mandate to teach American indian history, culture, and heritage to preschool through higher education students via the Indian Education All Act of 1999. As part of the NASNTI grant, the Little River Institute is developing an Open Educational Resource repository to showcase culturally responsive content, modules, and teaching strategies developed by MSU-Northern faculty.