About Us

Through education, Northwest Indian College promotes indigenous self determination and knowledge.

The Northwest Indian College (NWIC) main campus is at Lummi Nation near Bellingham, Washington. Extended campuses are at the Swinomish, Tulalip, Muckleshoot, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Nisqually, and Nez Perce reservations. In the 2011-2012 academic year, NWIC served 1,410 students from well over 100 tribes and First Nations bands. During the same period, the NWIC Extension Office provided over 350 community education programs to over 6,000 attendees.

The NWIC Cooperative Extension Office offers a wide variety of community education programs, workshops, train the trainers, conferences, and events throughout the Pacific Northwest. To date, our Extension programs have been hosted by 26 of Washington’s 29 tribes. Our mission is to promote self-sufficiency and wellness for indigenous people through culturally grounded, multi-generational, and holistic programs.

Our Office meets tribal community educational needs head on by using an approach that worked for generations. Rather than turn to outside sources for help, we look within each tribe’s own culture and traditions. It is there that we find solutions. Using traditional knowledge and problem solving techniques ensures that our programs are effective. Our Cooperative Extension programs include:

The Traditional Plants and Foods Program is a long-term general wellness and diabetes prevention program that recognizes the therapeutic value of traditional foods and medicines. Regular gatherings are hosted by many tribal communities. Community-based programs serve native people at the Lummi and Muckleshoot reservations and at the Northwest Indian Treatment Center. Not only does our Plants Program offer direct services, but it also provides training for those interested in becoming educators in their own community. Read more

The Institute of Indigenous Food and Traditions serves as a hub where Cooperative Extension and our partners come together to exchange and share best practices and resources in an effort to build tribal community strength and resiliency. The Institute offers an annual conference to share best practices and models for community change. Read more

The Financial Literacy Training Program builds on the fact that Indian people have always managed resources wisely. In addition to ongoing classes, individual financial counseling and family activities. Classes benefit tribal members who want to start a business, buy a home, improve their credit, prepare for college, and gain control of their financial futures. Read more

Elaine Grinell, VendiolasWe offer annual conferences that feature native trainers and mentorship opportunities. The Family Culture Camp includes three nights of camping, sharing meals, games, bikes, songs, storytelling, and wellness workshops. The Weavers Teaching Weavers Gathering brings together master weavers to preserve the native tradition of weaving and basketry throughout Pacific Northwest tribes. Read more

The Tribal Museum Studies Program provides indigenous peoples with academic and professional development opportunities to learn about and develop skills related to tribal history and cultural arts. Three core courses cover museum collections management, administration and operations, and exhibit and education. These courses are transferable to an AA/AS or BA degree at NWIC.

All of our programs, workshops, and courses are designed in the traditional holistic manner. Each incorporates elements of all others. We believe that people have the tools they need to improve their lives through the use of tribal cultures and traditions. By bringing people together, we make change happen by offering activities that fortify traditions within tribal and family groups, by promoting intergenerational communication, and by providing healing opportunities for people who need a hopeful perspective on their futures.