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Native American Programs Many Nations. One Community.

Tribal Nation Building Leadership and Scholarship Program

Scholarships range from $5,000 – $6,000 per academic year 

Program Description:

The Tribal Nation Building Leadership Program (TNBL) teaches and mentors students in a cohort-based model to develop leadership skills and knowledge grounded in 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, community service projects, etc. Participation includes financial assistance via scholarship, for-credit courses, Native American guest speakers, senior capstone projects, and numerous special opportunities.

The TNBL Program was developed in consultation with and upon the recommendation of the Native American Advisory Board to the WSU President. The program was first implemented in 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.

Key Components of the TNBL Program

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


We are all members of ever-expanding spheres of relationships: 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.  Tribal values guide us towards being 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, our children, and for those present and for those yet to be born.



All Native American students can enroll in this program. Additional funds are available for students if they are enrolled in one of the Tribes with which WSU has signed the Memorandum of Understanding (follow link for list of MOU Tribes).

The Tribal Nation Building Leadership Program is available to students enrolled at the following campuses: Pullman, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Everett, and Global. Beginning in 2021, TNBL students outside of the WSU Pullman Campus will participate in a hybrid virtual/in-person course. Native American Programs staff, Tribal elders, and innovative leaders will also meet with students periodically in person at each campus.

All students interested in the TNBL Program and associated scholarships should apply using the single application link below. The required documents can be uploaded during the application process.


TNBL Program & Scholarships Criteria

  • Applicants must be an enrolled member or descendent of a Federally or State Recognized Tribe.
  • Applicants must have a minimum high school or college GPA of 2.5.
  • Applicants must submit documentation of Tribal enrollment or descendancy.

Application Requirements

Letter of Reference One

  • Incoming freshmen: Attach an academic letter of reference, written by a high school administrator, counselor, or teacher, who is familiar with your academic achievements and abilities.
  • Transfer students: Attach an academic letter of reference written by a professor or instructor, who is familiar with your academic achievements and abilities.
  • This letter of reference should be addressed to the attention of the WSU Provost/MOU Tribal Scholarship. This is not to be written by an immediate relative.

Letter of Reference Two

  • Letter of reference written by an individual representing a Tribal government, department or program, or urban/rural Native American organization, program, or initiative, who can assess your leadership abilities and commitment to supporting Native American communities. If you are a citizen of an MOU signatory tribe, the letter must be from an individual representing a Tribal government, department, or program to be eligible for the MOU scholarship.
  • This is not to be written by an immediate relative.


Written Statement of 500-750 words answering the following questions:

  1. What are your career goals and what has influenced these goals?
  2. What does your Native American culture/identity mean to you? Provide an example of how you engage your Native culture/identity or community?
  3. How can the Tribal Nation Building Leadership Program and a college education help support and build up Native American communities?

Deadline to apply for Fall 2024 is July 6th, 2024



Questions? Contact:
Prof. Tony Brave

TNBL Coordinator
Native American Student Services