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Native American Programs Many Nations. One Community.

Tribal Nation Building Leadership Program

The Tribal Nation Building Leadership Program (TNBL) teaches and mentors students in a cohort-based model to develop leadership skills and knowledge grounded on cultural principles, practices, and values. TNBL offers numerous opportunities for student leadership and development at WSU, such as preparation for leadership in student organizations, internships, and community service projects, etc. Participation includes financial assistance, for-credit courses, Native American guest speakers, senior capstone projects, and numerous special opportunities.

The Tribal Nation Building Program was developed in consultation with and upon the recommendation of the Native American Advisory Board to the President. The program was implemented fall 2013 and continues to grow and evolve as each year builds upon the prior year. Beginning fall 2021, the TNBL Program will be expanded to virtual course options so that students attending Vancouver, Tri-Cities, and Everett campus may enroll if eligible.

TNBL is based around four key components of Native student development and achievement:


We are all members of ever expanding spheres of relationship:  family, clan, tribe, community, state, and country.  As Native people we also carry the deep awareness that we are part of and not separate from the natural world around us and have a responsibility to all of our relations within this natural world.  With rapidly expanding technology our relationships extend to a global community and social media has expanded our connections and our responsibilities.  Tribal values dictate that we be responsible, informed members of each of these groups, prepared to both lead and serve.


Scholarship is the search for knowledge based upon principles of pursuing excellence and truth.  Scholarship rooted in tribal values will always seek knowledge not only for the pure wonder of knowing and understanding the world around us, but for the benefit of our communities and tribes.


Stewardship is to care for what has been entrusted to us, starting with ourselves, our gifts and our needs.  Pursuing higher education is one of the ways in which students can develop their talents and realize their potential.  For students to be successful, they must be able to care for and develop their selves and balance their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. Stewardship of self, radiates out to other areas of our lives to embody stewardship of our natural world and of human, cultural, and community resources.


Guardianship is not only the care of resources, but the protection of resources. Most important for Nation Building is guardianship of sovereignty.  Inherent sovereignty is the basis for our self-governance as tribal Nations. Embracing the concept of guardianship encompasses our responsibility to protect our traditional and emerging ways of life, our lands, our natural and cultural resources, our languages, our elders and our children, for those present and for those yet to be born.


Questions? Contact:
Joelle Edwards, Director
Native American Student Services