by Faith Price, Assistant Director


WSU Native Programs welcomed 597 new and returning Native Cougs to campus in Fall 2017, with multiple activities designed for students to meet each other and faculty and staff.

New students in the Tribal Nation Building Leadership Program participated in a two-day orientation in August at the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s picturesque Camp Larson.  Thanks to the coordination of LoVina Louie, director of the Coeur d’Alene Wellness Center, the Leadership students spent a full day in and out of the water learning about the canoeing traditions of the Plateau region.

Shawn Brigman shares canoe knowledge with TNBL students
WSU Leadership students observe as Shawn Brigman puts the finishing touches on a white pine bark covered Salishan Sturgeon-Nose canoe he is constructing for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

Leadership students had the opportunity to learn from WSU alum Shawn Brigman (Spokane), who is using his architecture background to design traditional Salishan Sturgeon-nose canoes. Brigman has made a small fleet of canoes for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, which students had the opportunity to paddle for themselves on a mini canoe journey.  WSU Outdoor Recreation staff taught the group paddling skills and safety and led the students and staff on a two-hour paddle along the shoreline.

Canoeing at Camp Larson
Leadership students and staff paddle at Camp Larson on Lake Coeur d’Alene as part of their orientation. 

The agenda also included a laughter-filled stickgame lesson from Norma Peone of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Education Department. On day two, students made a visit to the Education Department to meet Dr. Chris Meyer, who gave background on the development of the Tribal Nation Building Leadership Program, which Dr. Meyer was involved in through her service on the Native American Advisory Board to the WSU President.

The students also got to know Leadership Program instructors and become familiar with the coursework and requirements of the Leadership Program. The overnight campout was made possible with funding from the College Board, and collaboration from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Wellness Center and Education Department, whose staff provided cultural and educational activities.

Quanah Matheson speaks at Welcome BBQ
Quanah Matheson ’03 speaks at the 2017 Native Programs Welcome Barbecue.

The larger Native student body was formally welcomed back to campus during the Native American Programs’ “Welcome Barbecue” held September 14 in the new Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center. Cougar alum Quanah Matheson (Coeur d’Alene) returned to campus to share some words of wisdom as the keynote speaker for the dinner.

Matheson received his bachelor’s degree in Anthropology in 2003, and currently serves as the Cultural Affairs Director for the Coeur d’Alene Casino.  He entertained the crowd with commentary from his years on campus, and also reminded students to keep thankfulness top of mind even as they meet obstacles along their educational path. Happiness and thankfulness are so closely tied that they are the same word in his language, Matheson explained.

Attendees at the Welcome Barbecue also were introduced to faculty and staff from around campus, as well as the Multicultural Peer Mentors, and Native Student Ambassadors. Dinner included pulled pork sandwiches and lots of door prizes.  We look forward to a great year!