Program Details:

Collaborative Research and Citizen Science with the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation

The Mandan Hidatsa Arikara (MHA) Nation is a Native American community located on the Fort Berthold Reservation in the middle of the Bakken Shale formation where there is heavy oil and gas development. They are concerned about risks of damage to environment and health. A primary goal for this outreach project has been that it be a reciprocal, community-driven research project. As such, and with increasing community guidance, it has moved in new and exciting directions since its inception.

Tribal Citizen Science Project: To begin, CU Boulder scientists used their expertise and resources to develop, with tribal college science teachers, ways to engage students in citizen science through environmental monitoring and consequently address community concerns regarding oil development and its impacts on their community. After a series of workshops with teachers on the reservations and responding to their questions about the oil boom, in coordination with the tribal college we developed and distributed teaching kits that engaged high school and middle school students in hypothesis testing with scientific instruments regarding water quality, air quality, and animal tracking; in producing surveys for assessing their questions about social impacts of the oil boom, and in-class exercises aimed at media analysis and critical thinking skills in response to the negative media environment produced in the wake of the boom.

Continuing the Collaboration: After these kits were delivered, new opportunities arose in our continuing partnership. Our work with MHA Nation community members has expanded to include creating podcasts based on interviews about the oil boom, collaborative writing projects that highlight local voices in telling their history, and ongoing conversations about a new interpretive center that is being developed on their reservation.

This is a private program by request only, or for a specific audience or group.


Outside Colorado

  • Fort Berthold Reservation, North Dakota

Program Partners

Supporting This Program

  • Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation's tribal college located in New Town, ND

Sponsoring Units

Arts & Sciences, College of

  • Anthropology, Department of
  • Engineering & Applied Science, College of

    • Civil, Environmental, & Architectural Engineering, Department of
    • Research Institutes & Centers

      • University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

      Program Contact

      Jen Shannon
      Curator & Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology

Program Categories


  • Anthropology
  • Community Resource
  • Education (Adult)
  • Education (K-12)
  • Engineering
  • Environmental Issues
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Sustainability and Energy

Program Types:

  • Civic Engagement
  • Evaluation/Data Analysis Services
  • Lesson Plans/Teaching Resources
  • Professional Development - Teacher
  • Publications
  • Workshop


  • Adult Learners
  • General Public
  • Students - High School
  • Students - Middle School
  • Teachers - Elementary School
  • Teachers - High School
  • Tribal Communities (in U.S.)

We do our best to accurately represent CU Boulder’s outreach programs and services, but they are subject to change and may no longer be active in a community. Please contact the program directly for current information.