NWIC marks 30 years with new governance, business BA

The degree in Tribal Governance and Business Management furthers college’s growth as 4-year degree granting institution

Northwest Indian College’s (NWIC) evolution from the Lummi Indian School of Aquaculture to a college that now offers more diverse educational opportunities mirrors a growing nationwide demand for post-secondary education in tribal communities. Now, as NWIC celebrates 30 years of serving both regional and other tribes, the college continues to evolve and grow to meet new demands in Indian Country. 

One of NWIC’s focuses in recent years has been on expanding its reach to more tribal communities and on providing students with the option to obtain culturally relevant four-year degrees without leaving those communities.

In February, NWIC’s growth continued when the college was approved to offer its third bachelor’s degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Tribal Governance and Business Management, by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, which oversees regional accreditation for 162 institutions. 

“This is another important step in our evolution and growth as a four-year degree granting institution,” NWIC President Justin Guillory said. “All of our new bachelor degrees, like the Tribal Governance and Business Management degree, are intended to meet the needs of tribal communities, and to equip our students with the knowledge and skills needed to become leaders in their communities and obtain employment in order to support their families.”

The goal is to begin offering program classes – both as in-person and telecourses – at NWIC’s main campus on the Lummi Reservation by spring quarter 2013 or fall 2013 at the latest, said NWIC’s Public and Tribal Administration Coordinator Laural Ballew, who co-developed the program and its curriculum with NWIC business instructor Steve Zawoysky.

Eventually, NWIC will expand the degree offering to its six regional extended campuses as well, Ballew said.

The new bachelor’s was developed in response to a community needs survey that identified it as a degree that would be most beneficial to tribal communities, Ballew said.

“Our focus on a degree in tribal governance resulted from collaboration with tribal leaders, managers, scholars and students who recognize the importance of preparing the future leaders of tribal communities,” Ballew said.

Ballew, who is Swinomish, said she is excited and honored to be able to offer the Tribal Governance and Business Management baccalaureate degree program at NWIC.  

“This signifies a momentous opportunity not only for NWIC, but for all the tribal nations we serve,” Ballew said. “It represents the vision of educational opportunities our elders and tribal leaders have strived to provide for tribal members. Offering this degree is a natural extension of our efforts to promote indigenous self-determination and knowledge through the teaching of tribal sovereignty and leadership, sound decision making and business practices based on cultural values.” 

The Tribal Governance and Business Management program will offer students the fundamental knowledge and experience necessary to succeed in the areas of leadership, sovereignty, economic development, entrepreneurship and management, Ballew said.

The degree will include courses in: principles of sovereignty; Native nation building; tribal and public administration; business management; economic development; and leadership.

NWIC was approved as a baccalaureate degree granting institution in 2010 and currently offers a Bachelor of Science in Native Environmental Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies Leadership. In addition to the degree in Tribal Governance and Business Management, NWIC is currently developing a bachelor’s degree in human services, which is expected to be completed by next year.