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Native American studies

Focus on the vitality and diversity of Native nations and the value of indigenous knowledge. Study the effects of European-American social values and structures on Native history and contemporary life. Examine global effects of colonialism and treaty relationships between tribal nations and settler governments.

The Fiber Arts Studio.

The Indigenous Arts Campus’ new Fiber Arts Studio, Paimārire, represents the long-term collaborations and relationships facilitated by the Longhouse among indigenous peoples of the Pacific Rim.

Native American and Indigenous Studies at Evergreen is an interdisciplinary field that examines the histories, cultures, politics, and contemporary experiences of Indigenous peoples in the Northwest and beyond. Founded upon visionary leadership and long-term relationships between Pacific Northwest tribes and Evergreen, programs in Native studies embrace indigenous knowledge as a field of multidisciplinary study. Faculty develop culturally relevant curriculum that strengthens the college's connection to indigenous peoples of the United States, Canada, Aotearoa, and the Pacific Rim. Classes take place both on the Olympia campus and at area tribal centers.

Paddle to Squaxin

The Evergreen State College Longhouse partnered with the Squaxin Museum to host the Paddle to Squaxin Tribal Journey in 2012.

As you learn about Native studies, you will get experience combining theory with practice. Learn from indigenous Pacific Rim artists in the Longhouse’s carving studio. Explore the canoe as transportation, cultural artifact, and symbol of sovereignty and nation-building through a tribal canoe journey. Learn issues of tribal governance, economic sustainability, and self-determination from tribal leaders and policy makers.

Join us in an education that doesn’t just change your life — it gives you the tools to change the world.

See also Path of Study Native American and Indigenous Programs

Sample Program

Language and Power in Indigenous Communities 

Offered Winter 2019–Spring 2019

In this introductory program, we will explore the nature and structure of language, and the ways in which patterns of language use within Native communities and colonial structures have reflected history, politics, and power relationships. We will consider Northwest and North American cultures and communities. Museum trips, films, text, and discussions will help you develop a variety of skills, including historical research, linguistic analysis, and policy research and writing. 

View this program in the catalog.

An artist works on her print

An artist carves a design onto linoleum. When she is finished, it will be covered in ink and used to create printed design pieces.

Students taking turns speaking at a microphone

Students break into small groups to talk about challenges and opportunities for Native American health care. The session was part of regular classes known as Battlegrounds, which draw together students from eight regional reservations that participate in the program.

After Graduation

A truly interdisciplinary degree, Native American studies supports students in developing and strengthening quality skills in analysis, research, writing, and oral communication in their chosen fields. Many pursue graduate studies, and most work in tribal communities. Our graduates have chosen careers in tribal law, health, and government, including teaching in tribal schools, working on tribal policy, and administrative work

Facilities & Resources

“House of Welcome” Longhouse Education and Cultural Center

A gathering place for indigenous arts and cultures through education, cultural preservation, creative expression, and economic development. Participate in multicultural classes, presentations, performances, and more. Meet Native artists and visit exhibitions and art sales throughout the year, including the annual winter holiday arts and crafts fair. The Longhouse is part of a larger Indigenous Arts Campus, which includes a Carving Studio and Fiber Arts Studio. 

The Longhouse interior

Participate in multicultural classes, presentations, performances, and more at The Longhouse.

Indigenous Pacific Rim artists-in-residence teach and practice in the Longhouse’s carving studio. 

Discover the full range of activities at The Longhouse.

Native Pathways Program

The Native Pathways Program (NPP) promotes life-long indigenous scholarship by placing value on cultural and traditional knowledge, working with indigenous research methodologies, and expanding indigeneity through academia.

Classes take place on Indian reservations in western Washington. Students attend weekly classes at reservation sites and also attend Saturday classes at the Longhouse, where all students come together for classes, workshops, and cultural events. Explore the Native Pathways Program.

Master of Public Administration in Tribal Governance

Consider continuing your education at the only MPA tribal governance concentration in the country. We provide current and future tribal leaders with the knowledge and skills needed to work successfully in Indian Country. The degree prepares students for a wide range of jobs in tribal, federal, state, and local governments, and nonprofits. Learn more about the MPA program.

Zoltan Grossman is a geographer who teaches Native American and Indigenous Studies, studying the intersections of racial/ethnic nationalism, natural resources, and militarism. His expertise includes settler colonialism and Indigenous decolonization, U.S. interracial relations, racist/white supremacist and anti-racist movements, social movements, crosscultural populist alliances, environmental and climate justice, maps and historical cartography, geopolitics and globalization, and military interventions and bases. He earned a Ph.D in geography in 2002, an M.S. in geography in 1998, and a B.A. and B.S. in history and geography in 1984, all from the University of Wisconsin.

Frances V. Rains teaches Native American studies with an emphasis on education, history, and women’s studies. Her expertise includes indigenous knowledge, decolonization, indigenous sustainability, critical race theory, and qualitative research methods. She earned a Ph.D in curriculum and instruction/curriculum theory/multicultural education-elementary education in 1995, an M.S. in elementary education/mathematics in 1987, and a B.S. in elementary education/American Indian education in 1978, all from Indiana University.

Gail Tremblay is of Onondaga and Micmac ancestry. She teaches Native American studies with an emphasis on the visual arts, creative writing, and poetry.  A prolific author and internationally exhibited artist, her expertise includes art, weaving, art history, contemporary Native American literature, poetry, literature, multicultural literature, and diversity and gender equity in art education. She earned an MFA in English (poetry) from the University of Oregon in 1969, and a B.A. in drama from the University of New Hampshire in 1967.

How to Choose Your Path

You’ll choose what you study to earn a Bachelor’s degree that’s meaningful to you. Some students decide their programs as they go, while others chart their course in advance.

Aim for both breadth and depth; explore fields that may be related or that may seem very distant. You'll be surprised at what you discover.

If you're new to college, look for programs where you can gain a foundation, build key skills, and broaden your knowledge (FR only, FR-SO, or FR-SR).

If you already have a foundation in this field, look for programs with intermediate or advanced material (SO-SR, JR-SR, or FR-SR). These programs may include community-based learning and in-depth research. Some of these programs have specific prerequisites; check the description for details.

Talk to an academic advisor to get help figuring out what coursework is best for you.

Selected Programs 2020-21
Title Class Standing Credits
Exploring the Literature of Empowerment; Writers Rising Above the Subaltern
  • Sophomore
  • Junior
  • Senior
12
Culture, Community, and Cosmos
  • Freshman
  • Sophomore
8
Medicine of Community and Place
  • Freshman
  • Sophomore
  • Junior
  • Senior
8
Arts, Culture, and Ecology
  • Sophomore
  • Junior
  • Senior
8
Indigenous Storytelling As Resistance
  • Sophomore
  • Junior
  • Senior
16
Introduction to Environmental Studies: Water
  • Freshman
  • Sophomore
  • Junior
  • Senior
8, 16
Introduction to Environmental Studies: Water
  • Freshman
  • Sophomore
  • Junior
  • Senior
8, 16
Conceptualizing Place: Pacific Northwest Native Art and Geographies
  • Sophomore
  • Junior
  • Senior
16