Native Programs

the evergreen state college longhouse

Established in 1969, The Evergreen State College is a small, public, liberal arts college with an outstanding national reputation. Evergreen has a long history of bridge building with Native American communities in the region. Since the early 1970s, the college has developed a unique combination of Native programs, both academic and public service, that are not offered at other institutions of higher education.

The uniqueness of this comprehensive set of programs is enhanced by the fact that the programs were developed in collaboration with local tribes. Tribal partnerships are vital to Evergreen’s Native Programs and have been since the beginning. In keeping with Washington State’s Centennial Accord, Evergreen works on a government-to-government basis with tribes to jointly develop programs that respond to the needs of tribal people in the Northwest.

Mary Ellen HillaireMary Ellen Hillaire (Lummi) initiated the Native programs in 1972 to make Evergreen a hospitable place in higher education for cultural literacy. The college today embraces its Native student community of 4.4 percent—which is more than twice the ratio of Native students than all other public four-year colleges in Washington. An astounding 6 percent of all Evergreen graduate students are Native American (the state population of Native Americans is 2.7 percent). The college’s faculty is 7.2 percent Native (compared to 0.6 percent nationwide).

"When I first walked on that campus, the beautiful thing that I felt there was the Spirit.
The Spirit said 'Come'. This is a place for people to hear what your ancestors wanted you to pass on."
—Vi Hilbert (Upper Skagit), Daniel J. Evans Chair Scholar (1995)

"Evergreen is an institution of education that conveys the lessons of the past to the leaders of tomorrow. Through Native American and World Indigenous Peoples Studies, Evergreen transcends the limits of education to reach out to people of all backgrounds and beliefs."
—Billy Frank, Jr. (Nisqually), former member of the Evergreen Board of Trustees

Together these programs enable the college to continue and expand upon its history of responding in partnership to the educational needs of indigenous peoples. In addition to these programs, students at Evergreen can work with Native American Studies faculty throughout the undergraduate curriculum (such as in the Expressive Arts), and in graduate programs such as the Master of Environmental Studies (MES) and Master in Teaching (MIT) programs. In all Evergreen programs, Native American students, community members and tribes have a dedicated place in higher education, and easy access to technology and research services.