PNW-COSMOS Newsletter Feb 2017
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Welcome to the PNW-COSMOS

 Alliance Newsletter February 2017! 

The Newsletter is distributed on the last Monday of each month, and it highlights Alliance accomplishments, opportunities for both faculty and students, and information relevant to STEM fields and American Indian/Alaska Native issues. 


See what's happening around the COSMOS ...



The Pacific Northwest Circle of Success: Mentoring Opportunities in STEM (PNW-COSMOS) is an Alliance funded in 2014 by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate – Transformation (AGEP-T) program. The common goal for this Alliance is to increase the number of American Indian/Alaska Native students who complete science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate programs. There are four alliance institutions, Washington State University, University of Idaho, University of Montana, and Montana State University; and four partnering institutions, Heritage University, Montana Tech, Northwest Indian College, and Salish Kootenai College. Together they will create, apply and study a model of culturally compatible recruitment and mentoring for American Indian/Alaska Native students to support their unique needs.

Montana State University 

Hello from Montana State University!

Founded in 1893 as Montana's land-grant institution, Montana State University has established a national and international reputation for excellence in undergraduate and graduate education.    

Our Mission is to educate students, create knowledge and art, and serve communities by integrating learning, discovery and engagement. Montana State University values and actively recruits for a diverse faculty, staff, and student body.


Montana State University’s seven different colleges and The Graduate School offer 54 master’s degree programs, 37 doctoral degree programs, and 13 certificate programs. In 2015-2016, the University awarded 479 master’s degrees and 52 doctoral degrees. Montana State University strives to be the institution of choice for Native American students in the northern Rockies and the northern Great Plains regions and to work in partnership with indigenous communities to develop our future workforce. Our Native American graduate students come from all seven tribal reservations in Montana as well as from Indigenous nations from around the United States. They are pursuing Master’s and doctoral degrees in research areas that include bison management, invasion of non-native plants, water contamination, database development, ecological history, indigenous language revitalization, medicinal Native plants and climate change, energy/mineral tribal policy, health delivery systems, education leadership, nursing, and many more.

Visit for information about opportunities for our Native American students, and to browse the complete resource directory. Visit for more information about graduate programs and graduate admissions.


Interview with Buffalo Advocate and Montana State University Alum, Jason Baldes, M.S.


Barbara Komlos, PNW-COSMOS program administrator at MSU, caught up with Jason Baldes, who graduated with an M.S. in Land Resources Environmental Science in the summer of 2016. She asked him about his journey in higher education, and his work as an advocate for the reintroduction of buffalo to the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming that became a reality this past November.

What motivated you to pursue a graduate degree? Who/what were your inspirations? After receiving my Bachelor’s degree in Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, it was a natural progression to continue on with a graduate degree in the same discipline as much of the work I did as an undergrad fit well with...

Have you always been interested in “science”? How do you define “science” from your personal (including indigenous) perspective?  I have always been interested in science, although much of my life growing up, I didn’t realize that is what it was. “Science” was a natural way of looking at things. Riding horses along the trail, I remember my dad naming the forbs...


Survey on Persistence factors for American Indian graduate students
UM Doctoral student Aislinn HeavyRunner-RIoux invites American Indian graduate students to complete a survey for her doctoral work:

Oki (Hello)! Thank you for taking the time to participate in this study on persistence factors for American Indian graduate students. The intent of this study is to understand which persistence factors contribute the most to degree completion for American Indian graduate students. The survey includes 63 questions on status, graduate school academics, faculty/departmental support, finances, tribal identity and culture, self awareness and perception, and concludes with demographics. The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete; please answer all questions to the best of your ability. Your participation is voluntary and the information you provide will help to understand the American Indian graduate student experience. Thank you again for your participation. - Aislinn.

Survey Link

The survey will be open until February 28th.


National AGEP Forum
Washington D.C. Feb 23-24

Twelve members of our PNW-COSMOS family were at the National Forum. Dr. Windchief presented the opening plenary “Academic Family: "Reconceptualizing Mentoring for American Indian/Alaska Native Graduate Students”. You can read highlights of the meeting on twitter with hashtag #CGSAGEP.

We presented two posters, one for the activities, and one for the Social Science Research of the Alliance. (Note: the map on the poster will only display if the file is downloaded.)

Back row: Ed Galindo (UI), Jerry McMurtry (UI), Sandy Ross (UM), Bill Andrefsky (WSU), Karlene Hoo (MSU), Kelly Ward (WSU), Aaron Thomas (UM), Jessica Black (HU). Front row: Raquel Arouca (UM), Bev Hartline (MT Tech), Lori Carris (WSU), Sweeney Windchief (MSU).


University of Montana (UM) News:
Montana State University (MSU) News:  Washington State University (WSU) News: 
  • 100  years: One Woman's Fight for Justice screened in Missoula as part of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival on Sunday February 19 and Wednesday February 22 at the Wilma Theatre. Independent filmmaker, Melinda Janko, produced the documentary about Elouise Cobell.  It is competing for the Big Sky Award for Best Documentary, and the song that was written for it, On Ghost Ridge, made the shortlist for an Academy Award for Best Song for a documentary. Ghost Ridge is a place on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation where hundreds of people are buried from the Starvation Winter of 1883-84 and was a source of inspiration for Elouise Cobell. If you would like to schedule a screening of the movie at the University of Montana, please contact Anne Grant.
  • How will Native Tribes Fight the Dakota Access Pipeline in Court?


Please visit our events page for more events and updates! 
Submit events to PNW-COSMOS here

Love Languages

PNW-COSMOS Staff, Students, and Faculty celebrated Valentine's Day with "I love you" in their Native language! 

Appreciating the Differences
Tribal Practices in Marriage and Courtship

Tribes celebrate marriages in different ways. Each tribe has a different traditional practice involving marriage and courtship. Below are some stories and practices from various tribes.
*These stories are taken from Manataka American Indian Council and more stories can be found on their website

The Rite of Seven Steps: The origins of this ceremony are traced to tribes in different parts of the continent and cannot be attributed to any one nation or language group.

Both bride and groom take seven steps sunwise (clockwise) around the sacred fire. For each step taken, a vow is said: the groom makes one step forward and says a vow, and then the bride takes a step to join him and says her vow until one round around the fire is completed. Family and friends join hands in a circle around the fire.

The Blanket Ceremony: Two blue blankets used in the ceremony represent the couple's past lives that may have been filled with loneliness, weakness, failures, sorrow and spiritual depression.    

The couple is wrapped in the blue blankets and their relatives follow them to the sacred fire circle.  After the spiritual leader blesses the union, the couple then shed the blue blankets and are enveloped by relatives in a single white blanket representing their new ways of happiness, fulfillment and peace.  

Under the white blanket, the couple then embrace and kiss.  
The white blanket is kept by the couple and often displayed in their home. It is the same blanket that is sometimes split in half if the marriage goes sour.

The Fire Ceremony: The Fire Ceremony is symbolic of the separate lives of the couple and the union of One accomplished by this beautiful and exciting ceremony.   

A fire circle is built with high sides made of stones.  Seven types of wood are specially cut from specific types of trees by a priest or spiritual leader.  The wood and fire circle are blessed with prayer and song ceremonies.   

Three separate fires are prepared in the sacred fire circle.  One large fire prepared in the center of the Circle represents the Creator and the holy union of two people. Two smaller fires are prepared, one in the north and one in the south that represents the bride and groom who have individual lives before the wedding ceremonies. Tobacco, sage, sweet grass and corn are sprinkled on the respective fires by the spiritual leader, bride and groom as prayers are given and songs are sung.  

The bride and groom each offer a prayer (aloud or silently) as the two small fires are lit. After both fires burn for a few moments, the bride and groom gently push their two small fires into the large stack of wood in the center which catches fire.  All sing praises to the Creator as the two lives are merged into one holy union.    

Basket Ceremony: Symbolic of a time when large dowries were sometimes required by the families of the bride and groom is the practice of exchanging baskets filled with meaningful gifts.

For example, the bride's basket to the groom was filled with bread and corn representing her promise to nurture and support her new husband.  The groom's basket contained meat and skins representing his promise to feed and clothe the bride. Usually, the Basket Ceremony is performed prior to the Wedding Vase Ceremony.

The Vase Ceremony: To celebrate the wedding ceremony, indigenous people of the Southwest and Southeast used a pottery jar or pot with a handle on each side and two spouts, called a 'wedding vase'.  

The vase is filled with water or herbal teas and the couple drink from each side as a toast to their union.  

The couple first drink from one side, then the vase is turned and each sip from the other side.  Finally, they both drink from the vase at the same time.  It is said if the couple can drink from the vase at the same time and not spill a single drop, good understanding and a cooperative spirit will always be a part of their marriage.



Proposal Submissions Due March 22, 2017 to


2017 Montana Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting

Mark your calendars!  The 2017 Montana Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting will be held at Montana Tech in Butte on April 7 and 8, 2017.  As always, the poster session and dinner (cash bar) will be on Friday evening and the oral presentations will be on Saturday. 
Abstract Submission Deadline for the 2017 meeting is March 24, 2017.  Meeting registration, payment of dues, and abstract submission links can be found on our website:
MAS Student Research Grants Program
Each year, MAS supports science in Montana by providing students research grants (up to $1,500 each) to undergraduate and graduate students working at colleges and universities in our state.  The grants are awarded on a competitive basis, with the only stipulation being that the student is required to present the results of the project at the next MAS Annual Meeting.  Each proposal is scored by at least two expert reviewers, and scores and comments are returned to the applying student whether the proposal is funded or not. 
This year, the MAS anticipates providing 3 grants of $1500 each, and 4 grants of $750.  Official announcement will be forthcoming, but the deadline for grant submission (via the website) will be Friday, March 10, 2017. 
Additional information regarding the Academy, the Annual Meeting, and the MAS Student Research Grant Program can be viewed at

Scholarship Opportunity!! 

AISES Receives $1.32 Million in Scholarship Support from Intel for Native American STEM Students

The Intel Growing the Legacy Scholarship Program will support 20 graduate and 20 undergraduate students each year.  While this Program is not automatically renewing, awardees are encouraged to re-apply each year.  The Intel Growing the Legacy Scholarship Program includes financial support, mentorship, paid internship opportunities, and, upon successful graduation, employment opportunities with Intel. As Intel will provide opportunities for paid internships, students will also be evaluated based on their interest in participating in an Intel internship in Summer 2018.  

Applications are due May 1, 2017. 
Visit the AISES Scholarships to learn more about the eligibility and  the application. 

2017 SACNAS Conference

SACNAS is excited to present this year's upcoming opportunities for students, postdocs, and professionals at 2017 SACNAS - The National Diversity in STEM Conference. Browse to see what's available, and check upcoming deadlines.
Keep in mind that:
  • Travel scholarships and Research presentations applications open March 14;
  • Sessions proposals open April 3;
  • Volunteer sign up is already open!
The conference will be October 19-21, 2017 in Salt Lake City.

Interested in Graduate School?
See Upcoming deadlines:

Make sure to check your specific Degree Program for deadlines 

Our Graduate degrees' application deadlines vary by program, check Degree Programs for specific program deadlines 

Fall Semester
Priority Application Deadline: March 1

Make sure to check your specific Degree Program for deadlines 

Our Graduate degrees' application deadlines vary by program, check Degree Programs for specific program deadlines.

Make sure to check your specific Degree Program for deadlines 

Our Graduate degrees' application deadlines vary by program, check Degree Programs for specific program deadlines. 
If you were forwarded this email and would like to know more: Subscribe here!
Want to submit a story or information? Contact Sequoia Dance.
If you have questions/feedback about any information presented here, contact the Editor Raquel Arouca

The primary sponsor for PNW-COSMOS is the National Science Foundation (NSF), Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), Division of Human Resource Development (HRD). This project is supported by: Collaborative Research: The Pacific Northwest Alliance to develop, implement and study a STEM Graduate Education Model for American Indians and Native Alaskans. This is an AGEP – T: Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate – Transformation under HRD grants #1432932 (Washington State University), #1432910 (University of Idaho), #1432694 (University of Montana), and #1431773 (Montana State University).  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Pacific Northwest Circle of Success: Mentoring Opportunities in STEM (PNW-COSMOS) · P.O. Box 641030 · Pullman, Wa 99164-1030 · USA

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