native american and indigenous 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.

Woodcarving studio

The first building in The Longhouse’s indigenous arts campus efforts is a carving studio in the shape of a replica longhouse.

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 where Evergreen’s Reservation-Based Community-Determined programs are offered.

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.

Sample Program

Speaking Truth in 20th- and 21st-Century Indigenous Arts: Legacy, Defiance, and Agency

Offered Winter 2018–Spring 2018

In this program, we will critically examine some of the colonizing aspects of U.S./Native history, anthropology, and the tourist industry that motivated many mid-20th and early 21st-century indigenous artists to “speak truth” through paintings, sculptures, carvings, basketry, bead work, photography, prints, performance, and multimedia installations as a means of maintaining and defending Native identity and tribal sovereignty.

An artist works on her print

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

Through lectures, films, readings by indigenous scholars and writers, student-led seminars, guest speakers, weekly studio or research workshops, and field trips to mainstream and tribal museums, students will critically reflect on the power, meaning, and contributions of contemporary Native art, not only to indigenous people, but to the non-Native world. Students will develop skills as writers, artists, researchers, and potential allies by studying indigenous scholarship and the artworks of indigenous artists from the 20th and 21st centuries, and by developing research papers and presentations.

View this program in the catalog.

Students taking turns speaking at a microphone

Students in the program Tribal: Reservation Based Community Determined 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 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. In 2017, a new fiber arts studio will open as another step towards an Indigenous Arts Campus where the art-making facilities and the surrounding campus are based on indigenous architectural design and cultural concepts.

Discover the full range of activities at The Longhouse.

Tribal Reservation-Based Community-Determined Programs

For place-bound students who are deeply connected to tribal communities. Classes take place on Indian reservations in western Washington. “Community determined” means the program is initiated at the tribes’ request, a tribal advisory board provides curricular direction, and that program content addresses significant community issues and uses community resources. 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 Reservation-Based Community-Determined 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.