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Northern Arizona University plans to invest $10 million in a new initiative to support Indigenous, faculty and staff. 

NAU announced it received a $5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to develop and implement the Seven Generations Signature Initiative (7GSI) over the next three years. To make the initiative even more transformative, the Flagstaff-based university’s foundation matched the grant by contributing another $5 million.

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NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera says the grant is indicative of NAU’s investment in elevating Native communities. 

“The breadth of this $10 million Seven Generations Signature Initiative demonstrates how NAU has infused its commitment to Indigenous Peoples into all our work, from leading scholarship and meaningful engagement to student belonging and success," Rivera said in a statement."I am thankful for the support and investment from the Mellon Foundation and the NAU Foundation in making this possible and look forward to the exceptional contributions NAU will make toward delivering on our commitment to be the nation’s leading institution serving Indigenous Peoples.”

The 7GSI proposal was inspired by NAU’s commitment to Indigenous Peoples, which is articulated in NAU’s strategic plan, NAU 2025 – Elevating Excellence:

In recognition of the unique sovereign status of Native Nations and the sacred land on which the university was built, NAU will continue its intentional support for Indigenous students, faculty and staff; develop university-wide culturally responsive educational opportunities and programming and build mutually beneficial partnerships with Indigenous communities that will position NAU as the nation’s leading university serving Indigenous Peoples.

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The key components in 7GSI include the following:

Elevating Indigenous scholarship

  • Indigenous Peoples Open Educational Resources (OER) development: NAU’s faculty and national experts will lead the development of a catalog of Indigenous Peoples-focused courses in a wide range of disciplines that will be accessible to universities and students throughout the country.

  • Faculty recruitment and development focused on the scholarship of Indigenous Peoples: NAU will launch an intentional program of early- and mid-career faculty recruitment efforts, with the goal of strengthening and developing the university’s community of scholars whose work focuses on Indigenous perspectives and knowledges across academic disciplines.

Strengthening partnerships

  • Seven Generations Indigenous Knowledge Center (7Gen Center): A new hub on campus will bring together Indigenous knowledge holders, partners, artists and tribal leaders whose diverse perspectives will enrich and add depth to pedagogy, scholarship and artistic endeavors.

Propelling Indigenous student success

  • Indigenous Peoples Living-Learning Community (IPLLC): NAU will serve 150-plus students through an expansion of the IPLLC, cultivating a sense of belonging, building cultural connections and supporting academic success of Indigenous students at NAU.

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