Education in Northwest Indian Country


LUMMI, Wash. - More than 30 American Indian students received degrees,
certificates or GED diplomas at Northwest Indian College's Commencement on
June 11.

Speakers were Jennifer M. Farley, deputy associate director of the White
House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and state Rep. John McCoy,
D-Olympia, who authored a law requiring American Indian history to be
taught in Washington schools.

In her White House role, Farley is the link between President Bush and all
federally recognized tribes in the United States.

Valedictorian was Katrina Echtinaw whose message was "Stubbornness will get
you anywhere."

Echtinaw, of Cherokee/Ojibwe/Ottawa and Potawatomi ancestry, was adopted by
a non-American Indian couple when she was a baby. She later found her
biological parents, overcame an addiction and studied at the college
long-distance while working full time and weathering the illness of her
adoptive father and the sudden death of her adoptive mother.

Echtinaw will go on to Western Washington University to earn a doctorate
and work with American Indians as a chemical dependency counselor.

Northwest Indian College is the only accredited tribal college in a
four-state service area of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. Enrollment
is 1,500.


SEATTLE - The Northwest Urban Indian Community has received an AT&T grant
to develop volunteerism among urban American Indian children in the greater
Seattle area.

Bret Christensen, a sixth-grade math and science teacher at Chief Leschi
School in Pierce County, developed a month-long youth volunteer project
founded on traditional cultural practices common to many American Indian
tribes. Children from different tribes learned how to gain permission to
harvest leaves from a red cedar tree and prepare them for donation to
artists and tribal culture-keepers. They are learning the value of
harvesting and sharing surplus indigenous materials with others for art or
ceremonial use.

Nineteen children harvested the leaves; others contacted recipients and
prepared and packaged the materials. Adults supporting the volunteers
included individuals and officials from Northwest Urban Indian Community,
Chief Leschi School, Americorps and state government.

Luke Christensen, a Tsimshian youth residing in Olympia, helped ship a
large container to Dr. Leon W. Ben, superintendent of schools at Chinle,
Ariz., on the Navajo Reservation. Navajo cultural practices predate contact
with Europeans and Spanish. Some are based on cedar leaves from West Coast


SEATTLE - The state Bar Association's Indian Law Section and the Northwest
Indian Bar Association have given $30,000 in scholarships in one year to
Northwest American Indian law students.

In spring 2003, the association awarded Ralph Jefferson a $10,000
scholarship to study law at the University of Washington. Jefferson, 43, is
former Lummi Nation chief of police.

Other scholarship recipients at the University of Washington Law School
include: Michael Douglas, Haida; Ryan Gunn, Colville; Andrea Howard,
Colville; Matthew Koenigs, Aleut; and Crystal White, Nez Perce.

Recipients from the Seattle University School of Law include: Rogina
Beckwith, Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe; Ryon Lane, Cherokee; and Lisa Koop,
Moraviantown Band of Canada.

Lewis & Clark Law School: Diana Bob, Lummi.

University of Oregon School of Law: Karol Dixon, Athabascan.

Gabriel Galanda, chairman of the Indian Law Section, said American Indians
are the most under-represented ethnic demographic in the legal profession.
Nationally, 4.1 million people identify themselves as American Indian; only
3,000 are attorneys.