Washington State University

Memorandum of Understanding

In 1997, Washington State University President Samuel Smith signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU) with six local American Indian tribes:  the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Yakama Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon and the Kootenai, Coeur d'Alene and Nez Perce in Idaho.  In 1998, two more tribes signed the MOU:  the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, followed by the Cowlitz Indian Tribe in 2002, and the Kalispel Tribe in 2013. Most recently, the Spokane Tribe signed on to the MOU in November 2015 and the Quinault Indian Nation in Fall 2016.

Each of these tribes is within a geographic region known as the Plateau (with the exception of the Cowlitz), and their aboriginal territories and customary land use areas include what is now the State of Washington. WSU Pullman is located on the ancestral homelands of the Palus people and ceded lands of the Nez Perce Tribe, while WSU Vancouver is housed on traditional Cowlitz lands, WSU Tri-Cities on ceded lands of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, and WSU Spokane on historical Coeur d'Alene tribal lands bordering with the Spokane Tribe.

The MOU states that, together with the signatory tribes,
WSU wishes,"to create a structure to strengthen the relationships
between them, and to improve the quality of educational services
and opportunities provided" and to, "increase access to,
and Native American Achievements at, WSU." 
The complete Memorandum of Understanding can be read here.


The MOU created a Native American Advisory Board to the President and a Native American Advisory Council to the Provost, as well as the Office of the Tribal Liaison.  The tribal liaison provides support for these endeavors and provides assistance and coordination through the Office of the Provost for projects related to Native Americans, encouraging appropriate and responsive interaction with the tribes. Recognizing the sovereign and unique status of each tribe, WSU is committed to educational dialogue and collaboration with the tribes built on partnership and respect.   

Native American Programs, PO Box 641046, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-1046, 509-335-8618, Contact Us