Leader Challenges Higher Ed to Better Serve Native People

Published: February 19, 2014

Photo credit: National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby (Swinomish) delivers the State of Indian Nations. Knight Studio. Newseum. Washington, DC. Jan. 30, 2014. Photo by Jared King.

How to improve educational success for Native Americans will be the theme of a lecture by Brian Cladoosby, current president of the National Congress of American Indians, and chairman of the Swinomish Indian Senate. He will speak on “Tribal Self-Governance and Indian Education” at The Evergreen State College, on Wednesday, February 26, in the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Cladoosby’s lecture marks an enhanced effort by Evergreen to develop curricula and programs that meet the needs of Native students. Some 4.5 percent of current Evergreen students are Native American. The Longhouse Education and Cultural Center is the first Native longhouse built on a public college campus in the U.S. The college also offers a master of public administration degree with a concentration on tribal governance, a program of study on Native American and world indigenous peoples, and sponsors a reservation-based program where classes are offered locally and the study topics are determined in partnership with tribal authorities.

“We’ve come a long way in collaboration with Native communities, and we want to do more,” said Evergreen Provost Michael Zimmerman. Zimmerman cited the recent appointment of former Makah tribal chairman Micah McCarty to the new post of special assistant to the president for tribal government relations as a vital part of the college’s reinvigorated outreach.

Cladoosby’s visit to Evergreen will help faculty, students and the public understand what’s at stake as statistics continue to show Native students falling behind in high school and college graduation rates.

“Chairman Cladoosby’s stature as a national figure and his ideas on how to provide quality education that respects and addresses unique Native cultural and linguistic needs make him an especially important interlocutor on these issues,” said McCarty. “He’s an exemplary leader, and a collaborative partner for Evergreen.”

The National Congress of American Indians, founded in 1944, is the oldest and largest American Indian and Alaska Native organization, serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities. As one of the most senior tribal political leaders in the Pacific Northwest, Cladoosby has been influential on Indian governance, environmental protection and educational advocacy for decades. He is the president of the Association of Washington Tribes, and co-speaker of the Coast Salish Gathering, which comprises British Columbia First Nations and Western Washington tribes.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is $2.00. The Evergreen State College is located at 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, in Olympia.