Native People and the Environment

Oct 14, 2021

UMD receives scholarship for MTRES program students

The University of Minnesota Duluth announces the establishment of a scholarship that will award five students in the Master of Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship (MTRES) program $5,000 each.

Spirit Tree

The Wells Fargo Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship Scholarship, will support the development of professionals to address water, energy, and food security issues. The scholarship will aid in recruiting American Indian/Alaska Native students to the MTRES program and hopes to increase the graduation rates of those students at UMD. 

Each of the five scholarship awardees will receive $2,500 each year for the two years of the program. The online application will be live by Jan. 1, 2022. “We are excited because this is the largest scholarship gift that the Department of American Indian Studies has ever received,” says Jill Doerfler, department head.

MTRES provides students with an overview of the environment from an Indigenous perspective which will help them work toward sustaining tribal lands and water for future generations. “I have worked with tribal natural resource and environmental justice programs in the upper midwest for many years, and am excited about the potential of the MTRES program to enable tribal citizens to enter into environmental careers with their own tribal nation,” says Doug Thompson, assistant professor.

Tadd Johnson, Jill Doerfler, and Doug Thompson

Photo: Tadd Johnson, Jill Doerfler, and Doug Thompson

MTRES History

“MTRES is a program designed by Indian tribes for Indian tribes,” says Tadd Johnson, who is the first University of Minnesota's first senior director of American Indian Tribal Nations Relations. “We vetted the ideas with tribal natural resource managers to see what they need to run their departments,” he says. The first MTRES cohort graduated in May 2020 and the second cohort will graduate in May 2022. This scholarship is for students in the third MTRES cohort, which will begin in Fall 2022.

The MTRES program was designed in consultation with regional tribes, with the needs of tribal natural resource managers in mind. The program prepares students for leadership in program operations, sustainability, and integrated ecosystems stewardship. Through this program, students develop the capacity to successfully demonstrate applicable knowledge regarding the biological, chemical, and physical processes vital to effective natural resource stewardship. In addition, students learn to explain and analyze the legal, cultural, and political contours of tribal sovereignty.

“Indian people have a unique, vested interest in the stewardship of natural resources,” explains Johnson. “MTRES students get an overview of the environment from an indigenous perspective so that they can sustain tribal lands and water for future generations.”

“Graduates will be able to provide vigilant oversight of land, air and water while advocating for indigenous rights,” says Johnson. Their work is leading the way toward a healthier environment for all people.


See a video about Thomas Howes, one of the first MTRES graduates.

About the UMD Master of Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship

Inset photo, above left, "Little Spirit Tree" by Travis Novitsky. Novitsky gave UMD permission to use the "Little Spirit Tree" image along with information about the MTRES program.  Banner Photo (above): UMD's Bagley Nature Area.