MSU Libraries has been conducting professional development activities for tribal college librarians on the main campus in Bozeman since 1990.

In 1990, Kathy Kaya, then head of MSU Libraries' Information Services, and Kay Carey, reference librarian, organized and conducted workshops for librarians from the seven Montana tribal colleges. This annual workshop event was expanded to the region in 1992, and from 1994 to 1996, grew to include all AIHEC members and affiliates.

At the present, the institute is defined specifically for librarians at tribally-affiliated institutions with a post-secondary primary clientele.