Course of Study
Masters in Public Administration – Tribal Governance Degree
The Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington offers the only MPA degree in the nation specifically focused on Tribal Administration.
Goals and Structure
The Tribal Governance concentration focuses on structures, processes and issues specific to tribal governments. It provides current and future tribal leaders with the knowledge and skills needed to work successfully in Indian Country. The concentration is also appropriate for those working with governmental or other organizations in a liaison role with tribal governments. Students go through the entire program as a cohort and finish in two years in this structured program
Courses are taught in an intensive format, meeting four sessions each quarter (two sessions for core course and two sessions for the concentration course). Each session is 20 hours long and meets Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The tribal concentration reflects the diversity of issues addressed by the tribes, including: health, housing, education, youth, welfare, land use, law enforcement, human resources, transportation, fiscal policy and economic development. Completing the degree through the tribal concentration requires completion of required core programs (36 credits), tribal concentration courses (20 credits), and electives (4 credits) totaling 60 credit hours. Student work is evaluated through written narrative evaluations rather than grades. Learning experiences are highly participatory; significant in-class work occurs in small seminars.
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. No other college or university in the US currently offers such an advanced degree or professional credentials that reflect in-depth specialization in contemporary tribal governance subject areas.
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 an interest in working within tribal communities. The pilot cohort began in Fall 2002.
Alan Parker, Evergreen faculty and Director of the Northwest Indian Applied Research Institute (NIARI), an Evergreen public service center, and Linda Moon Stumpff, Evergreen faculty, modified the existing core curriculum to better address issues specific to Indian Country. They also developed the five Tribal Concentration courses.
The first cohorts of students included students from around Puget Sound and all over the Northwest, but also from as far away as Gila River/Maricopa, Aleut, Apache, Tlingit, Lakota, Taos Pueblo, Wichita and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Hawaii, and the Philippines. The range of tribal backgrounds adds to the quality and depth of the class discussions. Most students were employees from tribal and state governments, and some from non-profits. They possess expertise in administration, higher education, natural resources, finance, intergovernmental relations and human resources. Alan Parker, Linda Moon Stumpff and John Gates are the primary Tribal MPA faculty with faculty from the traditional MPA program rotating in to teach portions of the core curriculum. Visiting lecturers included tribal leaders from around Washington and Montana, as well as Sam Deloria, Patricia Zell, and Billy Frank, Jr.