by Zoe Higheagle Strong, Executive Director of Tribal Relations


This has been an excellent winter of work. I am working closely with the Native American Advisory Board to develop an Executive Policy on Tribal Consultation for WSU. This is vital to honoring the voice of our Native American tribes and people when WSU conducts research or develops programs that impact Native American peoples or lands.

Along with our wonderful staff, Faith Price (Director of Native American Student Services), Dr. Ken Lokensgard (Assistant Director, Center for Native American Research and Collaboration), Joelle Berg (Native American Retention Specialist), Tony Brave (Native American Outreach Coordinator), and Patty Iulo (Fiscal Specialist), we have been revisioning and improving our programs/services for Native American students, and believe we are seeing the work payoff. We have had a record number of students attend our events!

As we still mourn, Gloria Atkins, former Education Manager for the Confederated Tribes of Colville, we have lost another special person to Native American Programs. We want to honor the memory of Mr. John “Jack” Creighton who passed away on January 29, 2020.  Mr. Creighton, former President and CEO of Weyerhaeuser, with his wife Jan, established the Creighton Family Endowment to support scholarships for Native American students attending Washington State University at the Pullman Campus.  The endowment allows for five scholarships to be awarded each year to Native American students.

In addition, a fund was also established for Native American recruitment and retention programming under the direction of WSU Native American Programs. Native Youth Exploring Higher Education (NY’EHE) is one of the programs supported in part through this fund.  Each summer NY’EHE has brought as many as 40 Native, 9th and 10th grade youth to the Pullman campus where they experience living in the residence halls and participating in hands-on-workshops that expose them to diverse areas of study and how to prepare for college. The fund has also supported Exploring College Emerging Leaders (EXCEL) designed for Native high school students to prepare for college application, as well as programming for current Native students through the Native American Student Center. Established In 1994, the Creighton Family Endowment has made a significant difference for many Native American students allowing them to achieve their personal education goals as well as return home to serve their tribal communities. My deepest condolences and appreciation goes out to the Creighton family.

NY’EHE 2019 brought 27 students to WSU from all around the region.

Many of you who are reading this letter are also special to Native American Programs and the Tribal Relations Office. Thank you for the numerous ways that you contribute to WSU and support our students. Although my work in the field of education and research can be difficult, I stay inspired by the examples of our students and the support of Native American Tribes and peoples throughout the Pacific Northwest. I pray that our communities will be blessed, continue to heal, and raise many future leaders.

Have a wonderful Spring!


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