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WSU & Native American partners look to the future

Link to the original article by WSU Insider: Click Here!

Representatives from Native American tribes and nations joined WSU leaders in signing a revised memorandum of understanding, paving the way for continued cooperation and expanded collaboration between the university and the historic caretakers of the Pacific Northwest.

The university’s original MOU dates back to 1997, with six local Native American tribes serving as the founding signees alongside then-President Samuel Smith. Today, 13 Native American tribes and nations are part of the accord, with the most recent addition being the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.

“Members of the Native American Advisory Board alongside our MOU member tribes really sought to expand the mission of the agreement by thinking more deeply about the cultural components of our commitments,” Zoe Higheagle Strong, vice provost for Native American relations and programs and tribal liaison to the president, said. “In doing so, we’ve really deepened and broadened the mission of the MOU and the Native American Advisory Board.”

The Native American Advisory Board to the President was created more than 25 years ago with the signing of the original MOU. Every WSU President and Provost since have served on the board alongside representatives from Native alumni and tribal chairs of signatory nations.

Joining the board with the revised MOU will be a student representative from the university’s Tribal Nation Building Leadership Program. Students who participate in the program benefit from learning and mentorship opportunities with native instructors and faculty as they acquire the skills necessary to be leaders in their communities and beyond.

Streamlining the process for Native American tribes and nations to join the MOU is another major revision to WSU’s MOU, allowing WSU to better fulfill its land grant mission of serving the entire state, Higheagle Strong said.

The head of WSU’s Office of Tribal Relations has spent the months since last November’s Native American Advisory Board meeting presenting MOU revisions to tribal councils across the region. The fact that several of the original signees of WSU’s first MOU were on-hand to sign the revised version speaks to their commitment to foster more significant and substantive ties with the university.

“What’s really powerful is that we’ve had five presidents since the original signing, yet we still have active members who were bringing students to WSU five to 10 years before that agreement was even signed, with several of our original signees present for the signing of our revised MOU,” Higheagle Strong said. “That demonstrates the longstanding commitment our Tribal partners have to this agreement and its principals.”

WSU is working to expand its presence in areas of the state with Native American tribes and nations who haven’t yet joined the MOU, particularly in western Washington. The expansion of the university’s Native Youth Exploring Higher Education program, or NY’EHE, to the Tri‑Cities, Vancouver and Everett campuses is a major part of that effort. The university was also awarded a $1.2 million proviso by the State of Washington to develop a Native American Scholarship program in consultation with tribal

partners, something the university is planning to launch this coming fall.

In addition to signing the new MOU at the April 28 Native American Advisory Board meeting, attendees discussed opportunities to educate students on the history of environment conservation and sustainability work undertaken by the historic residence of the region. Members were also provided for the first time with data on revenue generated from two land endowments benefiting the university, and will spend time at their next meeting collecting feedback and discussing potential ways to give back to Native American tribes and nations who’ve historically shepherded the land WSU occupies.

The next meeting of the Native American Advisory Board is scheduled to take place in Pullman Oct. 6. More information about the Office of Tribal Relations is available on its website.



WSU junior Ermia Butler brings awareness to Native American heritage

Native American Programs proud to see Ermia Butler’s work brought to the attention of the entire campus community. The following is taken directly from the WSU insider article and WSU homepage post written to show the hard work and dedication of our students.


From a young age, Ermia Butler knew she would pursue a career that would support her tribe, but she didn’t quite know what it would be.

An enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Butler grew up in Pendleton, Oregon, on tribal land, where she attended the reservation’s charter school. Her teachers, many of them college-educated, provided her with strong role models and helped her apply to college.

“I’m a first-generation student, but in high school I was supported really well,” Butler said.

In the United States, only 19% of 18- to 24-year-old Native American students are enrolled in college, according to data from the Postsecondary National Policy Institute. Overall, 41% of Americans in that age group are enrolled in college.

“For some Native students, if they do want to attend school and no one can help them, they have to figure it out on their own and struggle with the process,” Butler said.

» More …

In Loving Memory of Dr. Raphael Marceaux Guillory–WSU Alumnus

In Loving Memory of Dr. Raphael Marceaux Guillory—WSU Alumnus  

The Office of Native American Programs and Tribal Relations mourns the loss of a member of our extended Coug community, Dr. Raphael Guillory—49 years young. He passed away on Sunday, November 29th after a battle with cancer. Raphael, a descendant of the Nez Perce Tribe, grew up in Lapwai, Idaho, on the Nez Perce Reservation. Raphael earned his bachelor’s degree at Eastern Washington University, before attending Washington State University. At WSU, he earned a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and, in 2002, a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. He went on to become a Professor of Psychology at Eastern Washington University. Throughout his academic career, Raphael was a staunch advocate for Native American and other under-represented students in Higher Education. Among other things, he authored influential articles that shed light on the factors leading to Native student success in college.

Many of Raphael’s family members are also part of the WSU community. His father, Dr. Geoffrey Guillory, recently retired after many years of service as WSU’s Director of Diversity Education. Brother Justin, President of Northwest Indian College, also earned his masters and doctoral degrees at WSU. Sister Veneice Guillory-Lacey earned her PhD in Education at WSU earlier this year. His wife Gloria, also Nez Perce, earned her baccalaureate degree at WSU. Raphael is deeply mourned by these family members and by his mother Connie, brother Ricky Jo, children Imani Cloud, Sophia Morceaux, Xavier Raphael, Aiva Consuelo Rosa, and Adoniah Rena Faye.

We all grieve the loss of a great family man, friend, and Native education leader, yet we also celebrate his devotion to lead a life of great impact and care for others. We send our deepest condolences to Raphael’s parents, children, family and loved ones, the Nez Perce Tribe, Higher Education, his church, and everywhere else that he left a loving mark.





Letter from the Executive Director of Tribal Relations

by Zoe Higheagle Strong, Executive Director of Tribal Relations


Dear family and friends,

The staff at the Tribal Relations Office and Native American Programs offers up our prayers and friendship during this time of crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our work plans have been altered, but our commitment to Native American students, families, and communities remain strong. » More …

An Interview with Comedian Joey Clift, WSU Alum

By Dominick Joseph, Communications Assistant


Joey and I sat one thousand one hundred and twenty-nine miles away over the phone to discuss Native American tokenization, life experiences, and the comedy scene in Los Angeles.

Joey Clift is a writer, performer, and enrolled member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe who has written for Cartoon Network, DreamWorks, Nat Geo Wild, Guff, SyFy and TruTV. He is also a Washington State University alumni. » More …

Annual NY’EHE Youth Camp Going Online for Summer 2020

by Tony Brave, Native American Outreach Coordinator


We are going online! The Native Youth Exploring Higher Education (NY’EHE) summer camp will be held virtually this year, from July 13-24, 2020. This year we are opening the camp to all incoming Native American high school students for fall 2020. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in a variety of live sessions with college students and Tribal professionals and hands-on projects such as scavenger hunts, video game making, photography projects, solar panels building and more! We will have some live sessions between 1-3pm, but for convenience, many of the activities, projects and workshops will be available for the students to do from home at their own pace. » More …

Center for Native American Research & Collaboration Provides Resources, Support

by Ken Lokensgard, Assistant Director, Center for Native American Research & Collaborations


The Center for Native American Research & Collaboration (CNRC) continues its work in the area of ethical research and other collaborations, with the focus of meeting tribal needs and supporting Indigenous scholars and scholarship. Such work, during the Spring Semester of 2020, has included faculty trainings on Indigenous Research methods, ongoing collaboration with the Institutional Review Board in the Office of Research Assurances, and more. » More …

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