MPA Tribal Governance Cohort

Current and Emerging Leaders in Tribal Governance

Currently, there is no other Master of Public Administration program in the U.S. with an emphasis on Tribal Governance. With that in mind, the Tribal Governance Cohort focuses on structures, processes and issues specific to Tribal Governments providing the knowledge and skills needed to work successfully within public administration. The Cohort is also appropriate for those working with governmental or other organizations in a liaison role with Tribal Governments.


Dawn Lewis, Chehalis, MPA Student – Tribal Governance Cohort with an emphasis on Tribal Policy Development

"The biggest take-away for me was the Analytical Techniques I & II comprehensive research bringing together our current and past work as teams and individuals. The amount of critical thinking and statistical data was conformed with law and ethics. I have been able to apply those learning techniques as an Executive board member, manager, and now an Associate Director of a Tribal Coalition." —Dawn Lewis

 Tribal Cohort Students Work Together

Longhouse Thunderbird Carving

The Tribal Governance cohort curriculum has been developed to meet the needs of professionals who wish to gain an in-depth education in the field of Tribal government administration. Student work is evaluated through written narrative evaluations rather than grades. Learning experiences are highly participatory; significant in-class work occurs in small seminars. Students are admitted into the program every two years and complete the entire program as a cohort, finishing in two years. 

1st and 2nd Year Core (36 credit hours) + 20 Tribal Concentration credit hours + 4 elective credit hours = 60 credit hours.


The curriculum reflects the diversity of issues addressed by the Tribes, including: health, housing, natural and cultural resources, land-use, education, youth, welfare, law enforcement, human resources, transportation, fiscal policy and economic development. Students will gain valuable knowledge, skills, and abilities for working within a Tribal context.


The entire program is designed to serve working adults; specifically those students traveling from outside the city of Olympia and the state of Washington. To serve those students, our courses are taught in an intensive format, meeting five sessions each quarter (three sessions for core course and two sessions for the concentration course). Each session meets Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. 

“It has helped my work with the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe by providing the educational qualifications I need for employment.” —Alumni Survey 2012

"I chose the Native MPA because I want to help my People. The Tribal Cohort has a great deal to offer. If you are Native the Tribal Cohort is the best there is in the country." —Reggie George, Sr., Coordinator of The Homeless Native Project


A survey of Tribal Government leaders and staff in the Northwest revealed a high level of interest in graduate studies that would equip tribal members for the increasingly complex work in administration of Tribal Governments. Evergreen is the only college or university in the U.S. that offers a Master of Public Administration with a Tribal Governance concentration. 

Evergreen's MPA Program received approval from the Board of Trustees and the State Higher Education Coordinating Board to develop and offer such a program targeting persons with a high interest in working within Tribal communities, beginning Fall 2002.

The Northwest Indian Applied Research Institute (NIARI), a former Evergreen public service center, acted in a major role, especially in curriculum and faculty development programs, and making available expertise on Tribal Government issues from around the United States.

"No right is more sacred to a nation, to a people, than the right to freely determine its social, economic, political and cultural future without external interference. The fullest expression of this right occurs when a nation freely governs itself. We call the exercise of this right Self-determination. The practice of this right is Self-government."  – Joseph Burton DeLaCruz (1937-2000)

Demographics in the classroom

Students who have completed the program include staff and faculty with tribal affiliations including, among others: Apache, Chehalis, Colville, Kootenai, Makah, Native Hawai'ian, Port Gamble S'kallam, Quinault, Rocky Boy Cree, Salish, Skokomish, Snoqualmie, Suquamish, Tulalip, Lummi, Squaxin Island, Muckleshoot, and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Many former students are employees in tribal governments, state government, and higher education with expertise in administration, higher education, natural resources, finance, intergovernmental relations and human resources.

The Tribal Governance Cohort is not exclusive to Native and Indigenous persons. A uniquely Native focus on indigenous and Tribal issues as well as a curriculum designed by Native persons to help leaders emerge and work in Tribal Administration is a cornerstone.


Thank you for your interest in our Master of Public Administration, Tribal Governance Cohort and our other graduate programs at the The Evergreen State College.