Native American Studies and Tribal Education

Gigi Berardi, together with other faculty from Huxley and Fairhaven Colleges at Western Washington University, have worked in partnership with Northwest Indian College faculty to assist in the development of a unique program for Native American students. The Tribal Environmental and Natural Resources Management program (TENRM) was designed to establish tribal managers with a strong commitment to honoring traditional ways and values. The general education and core classes were taught at the NWIC main campus located in the Lummi Nation near Bellingham, Washington. The core classes - Indian culture and history, physical and life sciences, management, political science, and related communication courses – were taught to integrate western science with tribal science. This means, for instance, that students not only learned about biology, but how biology related to Indian culture, chemistry, math, and to the environment. In this block course, communication and leadership were taught and practiced and the students applied classroom knowledge through internship experiences. The general education courses allowed students to experience a wide variety of areas outside the core classes. These areas included Indian art, philosophy, drama, or literature. The goal was to have students become knowledgeable and compassionate in their understanding of culture and of nature. Students were encouraged to bring with them their own traditions and practices so that TENRM become a program founded on understanding, respect, and deep appreciation of Native values and cultures. The success of TENRM is that it no longer exists as a separate course of study. More recently, the principles and ideals of TENRM have been incorporated into academic programs throughout Northwest Indian College. In 2004, the program was recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for its contribution to enriching Native science.

Page Updated 10.15.2013