Northwest Indian College will offer a second bachelor’s degree beginning this fall.
The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities in May approved NWIC’s plan to offer the bachelor’s degree in native studies leadership, which college officials said would give students a chance to pursue a four-year degree rooted in tribal knowledge.
It is the second bachelor’s degree for the regional tribal college, which has its main campus on the Lummi Reservation and six extended campus sites at other reservations in Washington state and Idaho.
The first is a bachelor of science in native environmental science that NWIC has been offering since 2008.
The new bachelor’s program requires students to complete 180 credits in courses that include rights of tribes, native science, native governments and politics, and honoring traditional leadership.
“This new degree, native leadership study degree, it’s really foundational to who we are as a native college,” said Justin Guillory, president of NWIC.
The new program will serve as a “blueprint or model,” Guillory said, explaining that it will allow each tribal site to recognize its own cultural teachings and practices.
He said the new degree program was something Lummi and other tribal communities served by the college could be proud of, adding the hope was that it would give native students the chance to reclaim their heritage and preserve the rights of tribal nations in the future.
Guillory praised Sharon Kinley, director of the college’s Coast Salish Institute, and her staff for developing the new degree.
The college is working on offering more bachelor’s degrees, including in areas such as human services, tribal and business management, and teacher education.
The college’s fall semester begins Sept. 17.