Barbara Aston

Executive Director of tribal relations Barbara Aston said a key issue Washington State University has worked to address is proper identification of Native American students and developing a culturally appropriate protocol for collecting information on health in tribal communities.

Char-Koosta News 

PABLO — Did you know Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal (CSKT) members have in-state tuition benefits at Washington State University? 

The initiative was made possible through a historic memorandum of understanding that recognizes the college campus is located on the Indigenous territory of the Palus and Nez Perce tribes. CSKT is one of 11 tribes to sign the “Signatory Tribes” MOU, which states its intent: “to improve the quality of education services and opportunities to Native American Students at WSU.”

University staff traveled to the Flathead Reservation recently to recognize the initiative and formally encourage CSKT tribal students to attend. “We look forward to building a relationship with you,” Executive Director for tribal relations and tribal liaison Barbara Aston said. “Every one of our staff serves from the heart.”

WSU currently serves roughly 600 Native American students, two of which receive CSKT Higher Ed funding. Aside from its tuition benefits, the college offers services and programs specific to Native American students including a Native American Student Center, a Native American Health Sciences program for students in the medical field, as well as scholarship opportunites and leadership programs.

Assistant Director of Undergraduate Services with the Native American Services department Faith Price said WSU provides a welcoming atmosphere. “Our goal is to help our students develop a career plan and be successful,” she said. “Leaving home to attend school can be a difficulty process and we let our students know they have support. We also host feeds or different events to encourage our students.” 

CSKT Scholarship Officer Miranda Burland said she hopes the Memorandum will encourage students to expand their horizons in further education. “The work with Washington State University has had a good impact,” she said. “I think it encourages our students to go outside of home to further their education. It’s a great opportunity.”

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