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Native American Programs Many Nations. One Community.

Office of Tribal Relations

The Office of Tribal Relations provides support for the Native American Advisory Board to the President, promoting the relationship between tribes and the university and facilitating implementation of recommendations from the board.

WSU Land Acknowledgement: Acknowledgement of America’s First Peoples

History of our Office

WSU Pullman is located on the homelands of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) Tribe and Palus people, while WSU Vancouver is housed on traditional Cowlitz lands, WSU Tri-Cities is on traditional lands of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and WSU Spokane on historical Spokane Tribe lands. Each of the tribes that are signatory to the MOU are either located within the borders of what is today the state of Washington or their aboriginal territories included areas that are now within the boundaries of the state of Washington.  Their presence on this land is since time immemorial.

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 Nation in October 2016.

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 Tribal Relations.  The Office of Tribal Relations 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.

For additional information regarding the MOU or becoming signatory to the MOU, please contact Zoe Higheagle Strong.