The Evergreen State College has named Tina Kuckkahn-Miller, J.D., as its Vice President of Indigenous Arts and Education. Kuckkahn-Miller has been the founding director of the college’s Longhouse Education and Cultural Center since 1996.
“The work that Tina will be doing, within our community, with Northwest tribes, and nationally and internationally, forms an important part of Evergreen’s strategy for future success,” said Evergreen President George Bridges in a release.
A member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior OJibwe, Kuckkahn-Miller will lead the integration of the Longhouse and the Indigenous Arts Campus with Evergreen’s Native academic programs.
“The Native programs at Evergreen are unique in the U.S.,” Kuckkahn-Miller said. “I look forward to working with our students, staff and faculty to find ways to build on our strengths.”
Kuckkahn-Miller’s appointment coincides with the expansion of Evergreen’s Indigenous Arts Campus and art-making studios featuring indigenous architectural design and cultural concepts. The Indigenous Arts Campus includes a carving studio, Pay3q’ali, that opened 2012. A fiber arts studio, will begin housing academic programs this summer, and an expanded carving studio will be built by December 2018.
Evergreen hosts a variety of indigenous education programs, including the Native American and World Indigenous People studies program, the Native Pathways program, the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center, the Master of Public Administration Tribal Governance Concentration, and the Native Student Success Pilot Program.
In her position, Kuckkahn-Miller will seek to engage with indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. “I’m hopeful that a result of integrating the Longhouse and our new arts buildings with undergraduate programs will be attracting Native students who are drawn to what we can offer in spaces that affirm cultural identity.”” Kuckkahn-Miller said in the release.“As we work to fulfill Evergreen’s mission, it is clear that we should build on the success of our indigenous arts and education programs,” said Bridges.In addition to her leadership in academics and tribal relationship building, Kuckkahn-Miller is also eager to continue to advance the Longhouse and Indigenous Arts Campus as a place for supporting the work of Native artists.In 1996, the Longhouse established an artist-in-residence program with six local Washington tribes. Today, it hosts artists from throughout the Pacific Rim and maintains a partnership with the government of New Zealand that began in 2006. In August 2017, the Longhouse hosted its second Gathering of Indigenous Visual Artists of the Pacific Rim. It was attended by more than 100 artists who created art in eight different media forms over the course of nine days.“These kinds of cultural exchanges are transformative for the artists who participate in them,” Kuckkahn-Miller said. “The artists simultaneously inspire each other and push each other’s creative boundaries. Their creative energy was felt by many across the Evergreen campus."Kuckkahn-Miller’s new position is supported by a three-year grant from the NoVo Foundation’s Indigenous Communities Program. The Indigenous Arts Campus studios are funded primarily by private donations, including five foundations, seven tribes and more than 170 individual donors.Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on TwitterFollow @VinceSchilling