This November, as we recognize Native American Heritage Month and I continue the monthly series of communications highlighting system-wide achievements, I hope you will join me in celebrating the unique contributions, histories, and traditions of our Native and Indigenous populations throughout the region. As a land-grant institution, Washington State University recognizes that our statewide locations reside on Native homelands, and we have an inherent responsibility to establish, maintain, and improve relationships with tribal communities overall. The basis for this commitment was first codified in 1997 when WSU entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with six local and regional tribes. Over the last 25 years, the MOU has evolved to include eight additional tribes and provided a framework to establish the Native American Advisory Board to the President — a group that meets regularly to ensure the university is working towards true collaboration with its tribal partners. Thanks to the support and advocacy of the Native American Advisory Board, we have made substantial strides in bridging equity gaps in the way we work, conduct research, and educate future leaders on issues pertaining to Native American communities and Native American sovereignty. Over the last few years, WSU has continued to prioritize the inclusion of Native and Indigenous perspectives through initiatives like:
- Implementing Executive Policy 41 to ensure that tribal voices are consulted and included in teaching, research, and programming across the system
- Expanding research with Indigenous and underserved populations through the Center for Native American Research and Collaboration (CNRC) and the Institute for Research to Advance Community Health (IREACH)
- Creating an Indigenous Healing Perspectives Certificate to enhance healthcare professionals’ knowledge and practices when working with Indigenous communities
- Selecting the third cohort of the Cluster Hire in Racism and Social Inequality in Americas with a focus on racialized, social, and environmental inequalities in Native American and Indigenous communities
- Receiving $1.2 million in the most recent legislative session to establish a Native American Scholarship program
- Growing the impact of Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Programs (FRTEP) on the reservation lands of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and Kalispel Tribe of Indians
- Deepening relationships with tribal leaders across the state
We’ve also seen tremendous growth in the number of Native American faculty, staff, and students at WSU in the last few years. This fall, we have 47 Native American faculty and staff, 719 Native American undergraduates, and 123 Native American graduate students across the system.
This is a big leap from where these numbers were when I started in 2016 and a testament to the collective efforts of faculty, staff, and students in ensuring that WSU remains a welcoming and accessible place for all people.
As always, thank you for all that you do, and Go Cougs!
KIRK H. SCHULZ
President, WSU System