Dear friends,

Our fall semester has seen many positive developments in Tribal Relations at Washington State University. On October 25, we held our biannual meeting of the Native American Advisory Board to the President. We were joined by President Kirk Schulz and incoming Interim Provost Bryan Slinker. Dr. Slinker, as one of his first acts as Provost, added his signature to the Memorandum of Understanding between WSU and the Signatory Tribes. In so doing, he emphasized his office’s commitment to the MOU, which established the Advisory Board and which represents WSU’s ongoing commitment to the MOU Signatory Tribes and to Native students and communities generally.

Late Native American Advisory Board member Gloria Atkins and Colville student Jaissa Grunlose at the 2018 Native American Advisory Board meeting in Pullman.

At the Advisory Board meeting, we also had a productive discussion about developing an executive policy for Tribal relations, which will be implemented throughout the WSU system. I am grateful to board members for sharing their views on Tribal research approval protocols and other matters related to Tribal consultation and collaboration. I will continue to work on developing this policy with Christine Hoyt, Chief of Staff for President Schulz. We look forward to sharing more about it with you in the future and seeking further input from members of the Advisory Board and others. When the executive policy is completed and implemented, our hope is that it will ensure a knowledge of and respect for Tribal sovereignty in all aspects of WSU’s activities.

I am saddened that future Native American Advisory Board Meetings will not include Gloria Aktins, the longtime board representative for the Colville Confederated Tribes. Gloria passed unexpectedly on November 29.  Gloria served in the Higher Education Program of the Colville Tribes for over forty years. As Director of the program, she was a positive influence upon countless Colville students and colleagues, and she was a tireless advocate for Indian education throughout the region. Among many other activities, she led the Colville College Internship Program, to which our office has had the great pleasure of contributing. We at WSU offer our most sincere condolences to her family, colleagues, community, and to all who knew her.

I trust all of you will take the time to cherish your loved ones during this holiday season. As always, our offices remain open except during the days between Christmas and New Year’s Day. In the spring, expect more news from us regarding the executive policy, the Center for Native American Research & Collaboration, Native American Undergraduate Student Services, Outreach, and more.


Zoe Higheagle Strong (Nez Perce)
Executive Director of Tribal Relations/Special Assistant to the Provost and Executive Vice President | (509) 335-2925