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The University of Washington is proud to partner with many tribal nations, tribal citizens and descendants connected to Washington territories.

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The University of Washington acknowledges the Coast Salish peoples of this land, the land which touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations.

Our acknowledgement of the tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations was crafted from consultation and guidance by the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs as well as Federal regulations and policies. In this phrasing, we are adhering to tribal sovereignty.

The Office of Tribal Relations, located in the Seattle, coordinates the government to government relationship between the University of Washington and American Indian tribes across Washington state and northwest region.

The U.S. Constitution recognizes Indian tribes as entities distinct from states and foreign nations. There are 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States. Twenty nine of those tribes are in the state of Washington, three in the state of Idaho, four in the state of Oregon, and one in the state of Montana with historical ties to the Washington territory. Each of these independent nations is governed by their own laws, rules, regulations, policy, traditions, and languages.

Washington state is comprised of tribal lands or co-managed public lands, therefore it is important for the University of Washington to work together to develop strong working relationships with tribal citizens and leaders. Existing relationships between the UW and certain tribal communities have demonstrated benefits for both sides including sharing knowledge, research opportunities, and educational opportunities for tribal members and descendants.


Sherri Berdine portrait

The University of Washington is excited to welcome Sherri Berdine as the Director of the Office of Tribal Relations.

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Outdoor installation called Guests of the Great River outside the Burke Museum

Dedicated to Indigenous students—past, present, and future—UW Alum Owen Oliver created a walking tour that explores the natural landscape, history and Indigenous Knowledge Systems at UW Seattle.

Take the tour

UW Tribal Leadership Summit

The Tribal Leadership Summit is an opportunity for University of Washington and tribal leaders to gather and discuss issues of importance to American Indian/Alaska Native communities.

Learn more


Accessible Accordion

  • UW Native Life centralizes the many Native-focused resources available on the University of Washington’s campus in Seattle.
  • wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House– This longhouse-style facility on the UW Seattle campus provides a multi-service learning and gathering space for American Indian and Alaska Native students, faculty and staff, as well as others from various cultures and communities to come together in a welcoming environment to share knowledge.
  • First Nations @ UW is an undergraduate intertribal registered student organization at the University of Washington in Seattle. They host events both on and off campus with the intention of educating the community about Native cultures, spreading awareness to issues affecting the Native community and upholding our respective customs and traditions.

  • A Memorandum of Understanding Between Northwest Regional Tribes and University of Washington was enacted for the purpose of enhancing and sustaining the government-to-government relationship between the participating tribes and the UW.
  • The Indigenous Wellness Research Institute seeks 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.
  • The Tribal Leadership Summit is an opportunity for University of Washington and tribal leaders to gather and discuss issues of importance to American Indian/Alaska Native communities. An archive of past meetings can be found here.
    The summit was instituted in 2007 within the framework of the Washington State Centennial Accord which recognizes tribal sovereignty and calls for government-to-government conversation around issues facing tribal communities.
  • The Burke Museum Native American Advisory Board provides essential advice and direction as to 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. Its membership focuses on Native American colleagues in the Northwest who are museum specialists, natural resource specialists, artists, experienced traditional knowledge keepers, or cultural heritage specialists.