Tribal Nations

Washington state stands on the ancestral homelands and territories of Native peoples who have been here since time immemorial. Many Indigenous peoples thrive in this place — alive and strong.

The University of Washington acknowledges the Coast Salish peoples of this land, the land that touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations. To learn more about the land you live on, we recommend consulting Native Land.

We have compiled this page as a resource for anyone who would like to learn more about some of the many ways the UW collaborates with tribal citizens and supports Native students. For a more comprehensive list of resources, we recommend the Resource Directory put together by UW Tribal Relations.

FAST FACTS

  • 573 students identify as
    American Indian and/or Alaska Native

  • 50+ faculty & staff identify as
    American Indian and/or Alaska Native

FEATURED HUSKIES

Yakama Nation's current chairman, Delano Saluskin, was a 1979 recipient of the University of Washington American Indian Division's Outstanding Alumni Award. "After graduation, I returned home and went to work for the Yakama Nation ... I assisted and facilitated my tribal council plan and created several economic development endeavors, including Yakama Legends Casino, Yakamart (convenience store), Yakama Forest Products and Yakama Power. I have been a strong advocate for the Yakama Nation to grow our own foresters, fishery and wildlife biologists, medical professionals, lawyers and other professionals to run an effective tribal government."
Shi i, aka Delano SaluskinUW '75

Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis, a citizen of the Pueblo of Isleta and a descendant of the Laguna Indian Tribe, became the first Native American appointed to serve on the Washington Supreme Court in 2019. Montoya-Lewis previously served as a Superior Court Judge for Whatcom County. “Every day, there is something that makes me reflect that this is a historical appointment that is meaningful to other people."
Justice Raquel Montoya-LewisUW '95; School of Law feature
Miranda Belarde-Lewis, Zuni Pueblo and Takdeintaan Clan from the Tlingit tribe, studied Native art in her previous work with museums and continues to do so in her academic career at the UW's Information School. Belarde-Lewis was recently named the inaugural recipient of the Joseph and Jill McKinstry Endowed Faculty Fellowship in Native North American Indigenous Knowledge. “Native art is information. It's knowledge, and how that can be expressed on our own terms is just incredibly inspiring and empowering.”
Miranda Belarde-LewisUW '07 & '13; Joseph and Jill McKinstry Endowed Faculty Fellow

Iisaaksiichaa Ross Braine, a citizen of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation and descendant of the Tsitsistas (Northern Cheyenne), is a two-time UW alum and serves as the UW’s tribal liaison and director of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House. As liaison, he facilitates work between tribes and the University of Washington, including collaborations for research, business development and helping University academic units conduct tribally regulated research in ways that honor Indigenous knowledge and promote accountability and transparency. Speaking about students served by Intellectual House, he says, “I want them to be the brightest and the best and to know they are. So when they go out into the world, they’re an American Indian graduate, and with these marketable skills they’ll be unstoppable.”
Iisaaksiichaa Ross BraineUW '09 & '15; iSchool feature
Payton Bordley is a member of the Skokomish Tribe and an M.P.A. student at the UW Evans School of Public Policy & Governance. After growing up in Washington and earning a B.A. in Creative Writing from the UW in 2016, Payton decided to pursue a career in public service after attending the White House Tribal Youth Conference in 2016. “That conference opened my world. Nothing is more energizing than a room full of Native youth working to make a difference in our communities. I am constantly inspired by my Native mentors, many of whom I met at UW, who continue to pave the way.” Payton currently works at the Administration for Children and Families and previously worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Skokomish Indian Tribe, and the City of Seattle.
Payton BordleyUW '16, Master of Public Administration '21

"The community I have found here is my reason for persevering in this exclusionary and inherently colonial institution. I owe my ambitions and successes to my colleagues in First Nations at the University of Washington; the ever-present faculty and staff of the American Indian Studies and Environmental Studies departments, the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity, and the wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House; and my family. I intend to pursue a career in wilderness therapy after graduation."
Autumn ForespringEnvironmental Science and Resource Management; American Indian Studies; 2020 Husky 100 member

COLLABORATIONS WITH TRIBAL NATIONS

The UW facilitates many programs in communities across the state. Below are a few examples of the initiatives that engage tribal citizens.

iNative

With an emphasis on Native American and Alaska Native populations, the iNative research group seeks to raise the level of discourse concerning information and Native American communities through an Indigenous knowledge lens and with a focus on social justice. Working as co-creators, members of iNative analyze the institutions, community practices, philosophies and policies around knowledge, information and technology in support of tribal sovereignty and Indigenous empowerment.

Indigenous Wellness Research Institute

IWRI’s vision is to support the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples to achieve full and complete health and wellness by collaborating in decolonizing research and knowledge building and sharing. Through local, regional and national partnerships, the Institute marshals community, tribal, academic and governmental resources toward innovative, culture-centered interdisciplinary, collaborative social and behavioral research and education.

Image source: Rachel Ormiston/Burke Museum

The Burke Museum Native American Advisory Board

The Native American Advisory Board (NAAB) provides essential advice and direction on the Burke Museum’s efforts in a number of important areas including, but not limited to, exhibits, collections, community outreach, repatriation, education, research and collaborative relations with tribal and museum programs. Members are Native American colleagues in the Northwest who are museum specialists, natural resource specialists, artists, experienced traditional knowledge keepers or cultural heritage specialists. The NAAB is facilitated by the Burke’s Tribal Liaison, Polly Olsen (Yakama). The NAAB is an important part of the relationships between tribal nations, community members and the Burke Museum to preserve the ingenuity, creativity, science and complex knowledge of natural and cultural resources.

In addition to partnering with the NAAB, the museum regularly collaborates with tribes on research projects, exhibitions and educational curriculum; provides research grants for Indigenous artists and researchers; facilitates cultural exchange among Northwest tribes and Indigenous peoples of other nations; and depends on relationships with Indigenous communities to care for the collections in culturally meaningful ways.

Yakama Forestry Partnership

Since 2003, the Yakama Nation Department of Natural Resources has hosted over 700 students and faculty from the UW College of Forest Resources. While visiting, they have the opportunity to learn about the socially, ecologically and economically sustainable forest management practices of Yakama citizens. The Yakama Nation is a national leader in this space, applying science and culture to the management, stewardship and restoration of their lands. 

Foster School of Business Consulting and Business Development Center

The Center engages students and local business owners in solving complex, unstructured, real-world challenges in order to help them think strategically, develop leadership skills, and integrate knowledge across business disciplines. Through the work of student consulting teams and faculty-led business education courses, the Center grows business revenues and jobs with a focus on businesses owned by those who are people of color, women, LGBTQ, veterans, and those located in underserved communities. Since its inception in 1995, the Center has generated more than $210 million in new revenue and retained over 200,000 jobs. Classes are offered in Seattle, Yakima, the Tri-Cities and on tribal lands while drawing business owners regionally and nationally.

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS AND RESOURCES

The UW provides a number of student resources and courses that amplify native voices.

Image source: Emile Pitre

Resident tuition rates

Since 1994, American Indian students who meet the following two criteria are eligible for resident tuition rates at Washington state colleges and universities: The student must have lived in Idaho, Montana, Oregon or Washington for one year prior to enrollment, and they must be a member of one of the federally recognized Indian tribes whose traditional and customary tribal boundaries included portions of the state of Washington or whose tribe was granted reserved lands within the state of Washington.

Southern Lushootseed language courses

UW Lecturer Tami Hohn is bringing Southern Lushootseed to a new generation across the University and the Puget Sound — where the language has always lived. The language was once spoken widely by the Coast Salish peoples, but centuries of genocide, disease and forced assimilation took their toll on the number of first-language speakers. Hohn’s goal is to create lifelong learners in her students. “If we want this to be a world language, we have to set it free. We have to allow it to be spoken and taught by everybody who’s interested.”

First Nations student group

First Nations @ UW is a registered student group focusing on undergraduate Native American students. The group is devoted to cultural learning and cultivating a welcoming, supportive and fun community. It provides a Native student voice on campus and inspires people to seek higher education. First Nations @ UW is the largest Native undergraduate student group on the UW’s Seattle campus.

The Burke Museum

As the Washington State Museum of Natural History & Culture, the Burke is committed to serving every corner of the state through public education and traveling exhibits. Faculty curators, jointly appointed by the Burke and the UW, oversee care and development of the collections and conduct research on topics such as the evolution of plants, animals, ecosystems, climates, and Native American cultures and art. Through courses taught in the museum by faculty curators, Native students have the opportunity to connect in a new way with research and their heritage. 

Tribal Nations

wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House

Phase 1 of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House serves as a learning and gathering space to support the success of Native American students, faculty and staff and foster connections between the UW and Native communities. The longhouse-style facility also honors the region’s tribes and helps prepare American Indian and Alaska Native students for leadership roles in their tribal communities. Phase 2 will include expanded programming space and an arts lab. Iisaaksiichaa Braine (featured above) directs wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ.

TRIBAL LEADERSHIP

Below are the leaders of the 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington state as of December 2020.

  • Chairman Harry Pickernell Sr., Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation
    Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation

    Chairman Harry Pickernell Sr.

    Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation

  • Chairman Rodney Cawston, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
    Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

    Chairman Rodney Cawston

    Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

  • Chairman Phil Harju, Cowlitz Indian Tribe
    Cowlitz Indian Tribe

    Chairman Phil Harju

    Cowlitz Indian Tribe

  • Chairwoman Dawn Gomez, Hoh Indian Tribe
    Hoh Indian Tribe

    Chairwoman Dawn Gomez

    Hoh Indian Tribe

  • Chairman W. Ron Allen, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe
    Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe

    Chairman W. Ron Allen

    Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe

  • Chairman Glen Nenema, Kalispel Tribe of Indians
    Kalispel Tribe of Indians

    Chairman Glen Nenema

    Kalispel Tribe of Indians

  • Chairwoman Frances Charles, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe
    Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe

    Chairwoman Frances Charles

    Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe

  • Chairman Lawrence Solomon, Lummi Nation
    Lummi Nation

    Chairman Lawrence Solomon

    Lummi Nation

  • Chairman Timothy Greene Sr., Makah Tribe
    Makah Tribe

    Chairman Timothy Greene Sr.

    Makah Tribe

  • Chairman Jaison Elkins, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe
    Muckleshoot Indian Tribe

    Chairman Jaison Elkins

    Muckleshoot Indian Tribe

  • Chairman Willie Frank III, Nisqually Indian Tribe
    Nisqually Indian Tribe

    Chairman Willie Frank III

    Nisqually Indian Tribe

  • Chairman Ross Cline Sr., Nooksack Indian Tribe
    Nooksack Indian Tribe

    Chairman Ross Cline Sr.

    Nooksack Indian Tribe

  • Chairman Jeromy Sullivan, Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe
    Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe

    Chairman Jeromy Sullivan

    Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe

  • Chairman Bill Sterud, Puyallup Tribe of Indians
    Puyallup Tribe of Indians

    Chairman Bill Sterud

    Puyallup Tribe of Indians

  • Chairman Douglas Woodruff Jr., Quileute Tribe
    Quileute Tribe

    Chairman Douglas Woodruff Jr.

    Quileute Tribe

  • President Guy Capoeman, Quinault Indian Nation
    Quinault Indian Nation

    President Guy Capoeman

    Quinault Indian Nation

  • Chairman Tom Wooten, Samish Indian Nation
    Samish Indian Nation

    Chairman Tom Wooten

    Samish Indian Nation

  • Chairman Nino Maltos, Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe
    Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe

    Chairman Nino Maltos

    Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe

  • Chairperson Charlene Nelson, Shoalwater Bay Tribe
    Shoalwater Bay Tribe

    Chairperson Charlene Nelson

    Shoalwater Bay Tribe

  • Chairman Guy Miller, Skokomish Indian Tribe
    Skokomish Indian Tribe

    Chairman Guy Miller

    Skokomish Indian Tribe

  • Chairman Robert de los Angeles, Snoqualmie Indian Tribe
    Snoqualmie Indian Tribe

    Chairman Robert de los Angeles

    Snoqualmie Indian Tribe

  • Chairwoman Carol Evans, Spokane Tribe of Indians
    Spokane Tribe of Indians

    Chairwoman Carol Evans

    Spokane Tribe of Indians

  • Chairman Kristopher Peters, Squaxin Island Tribe
    Squaxin Island Tribe

    Chairman Kristopher Peters

    Squaxin Island Tribe

  • Chairman Shawn Yanity, Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians
    Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians

    Chairman Shawn Yanity

    Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians

  • Chairman Leonard Forsman, Suquamish Tribe
    Suquamish Tribe

    Chairman Leonard Forsman

    Suquamish Tribe

  • Chairman Steve Edwards, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
    Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

    Chairman Steve Edwards

    Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

  • Chairwoman Teri Gobin, Tulalip Tribes
    Tulalip Tribes

    Chairwoman Teri Gobin

    Tulalip Tribes

  • Chairperson Jennifer Washington, Upper Skagit Indian Tribe
    Upper Skagit Indian Tribe

    Chairperson Jennifer Washington

    Upper Skagit Indian Tribe

  • Chairman Delano Saluskin, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation
    Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation

    Chairman Delano Saluskin

    Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation

EXPLORE HOW THE UW IS SUPPORTING OTHER WASHINGTON COMMUNITIES

UW in Your Community