History of the Tribal Program

The Evergreen State College Reservation Based Community Determined program began under the direction of Dr. Carol Minugh in 1989 on the Quinault Indian Reservation. Designed to serve place-bound students deeply connected to their tribal community, the program was "reservation based" from the beginning, with classes held within the community. And in borrowing from the field of participatory research, the program was "community determined" by placing value on existing community knowledge and utilizing community members as guest instructors. By 2012 the program had expanded to six tribal sites, serving up to 25 students at each site.

The program continues to be "reservation based" in that classes meet twice weekly at each of the tribal sites. The program also continues its tradition of being "community determined" by utilizing community members as guest speakers/instructors and through regular meetings with the program's Advisory Council. The council is comprised of tribal leaders from each community whose interest is in higher education, and meets quarterly to help provide curricular direction to the program.

Because the Reservation Based Community Determined program was intended to serve students with 90 or more college credits, a long-standing need has been to find a way to serve students wither fewer than 90 college credits. In response, a partnership with WashingtonOnline and Grays Harbor College was formed in 2005 to provide Associate of Arts degree opportunities to place-bound tribal students with fewer than 90 college credits. This effort was expanded in 2012 by the development of a new partnership with Peninsula College, which provides a site and other program support to students enrolled in the Bridge program, and also for a new site for students enrolled in the Evergreen, upper division program. Funded by a generous grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education, Evergreen, Grays Harbor and Peninsula are now capable of meeting the needs of place-bound American Indian students in western Washington from developmental education (college prep) courses through an Associate of Arts transfer degree to a Liberal Arts degree.