042416 powwow-1-tm.jpg

Fort Belknap’s Wozek Chandler, 18, spins in her traditional regalia during the 48th annual Kyiyo Pow Wow at the University of Montana Adams Center on April 23, 2016. Kyiyo is the largest student-run powwow in the country.

TOMMY MARTINO, 2016 file photo

One flagship campus in Montana was named on a "hot list" this month for Native American students.

But the hot list might have made some University of Montana officials sizzle under the collar 'cause the Missoula institution didn't get the nod.

"For those who can’t abide big cities, take the immortal Merle Haggard’s advice and head to the middle of Montana—well, not quite the middle, but to beautiful Bozeman—to earn your degree at Montana State University," read the story from Indian Country Today Media Network.

The news outlet named five schools with programs Native students should consider, also Humboldt State University, University of Maine, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the University of Tulsa.

That's, ahem, two for California.

Is it salt in the wound for UM, still recovering from budget cuts and enrollment drops?

Royelle Bundy, director of American Indian Student Services at UM, said MSU is a fine school, but the University of Montana offers an overwhelming number of programs and activities and support and academic programs with Native American students top of mind.

Free soup every other Wednesday? Check.

The lunches take place at the Payne Family Native American Center rotunda, and they're designed to introduce Native students to different departments or entities on campus. Each semester, President Royce Engstrom hosts one, and in the last couple years, attendance has grown from 40 to 100, Bundy said.

Take that, Tulsa, with your online master of jurisprudence in Indian Law.

UM also offers academic success workshops. A beading circle. A peer mentoring program. A powwow organized by Kyiyo, the Native American Student Association, which hosted its 48th event in 2016. 

"It's nationwide. People travel from all over to attend," Bundy said.

Perhaps students from Humboldt's "hot" Indian Natural Resources, Science and Engineering Program would like to join the festivities next time around.

Academics at UM integrate Native students as well, and Bundy ticks off the InPsych/Indians into Psychology program, the Native American Center of Excellence within the Pharmacy School, the Native American Natural Resource Program through the College of Forestry and Conservation, and American Indian Law through the Alexander Blewett III School of Law, among others.

"We do have so many programs and activities happening here," Bundy said.

And yes, she said, UM offers tuition waivers, and a significant number of the estimated 700 Native American students at UM qualify.

So how did UM fall short?

Hold your horses, said Leeanne Root, editor of Indian Country Today. It'll be UM's turn for recognition soon enough.

"The hot lists were never meant to be 'best of' lists," Root said in an email. "The magazine was meant to highlight just a few solid contributors to Indian country.

"We recognize there are a lot more left to highlight in future magazines."

Yes, that means you, UM; cue the happy dance.

"We do have an education magazine coming up. We'd be happy to look into featuring the University of Montana in that," Root said.

And that's not all.

"As the education editor, I'm also always looking for Native students to write for us and to spotlight in success stories. Please feel free to have anyone you know contact me with story ideas or pitches."

Well, Indian Country Today, be careful what you wish for: editor@ictmn.com.

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Reporter for the Missoulian