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Bachelor of Science in Native Environmental Science

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The program of study prepares students to grow as community leaders and scholars in Native Environmental Science.

The program is designed to develop skills to uphold treaty and inherent rights, through the protection of the natural world. The place based, experiential, and culturally grounded curriculum, provides a holistic training in Native Environmental Science, both through Indigenous Research and content knowledge. The program engages with multiple ways of knowing, is grounded in Indigenous Knowledge systems and traditional practice in parallel with new technology and tools for inquiry. Students may choose between the Environmental Science Option and the Interdisciplinary Concentration Option.

The Native Environmental Science Program

Welcome to the Native Environmental Science Program!  We are pleased to offer one of the only Bachelor of Science in Native Environmental Science programs in the world.  Our cutting-edge program is designed to support students in becoming leaders in their fields and in their communities.  Our curriculum is place-based, experiential, and culturally-grounded.  That is, we draw on the deep and sustained connections to place and commitment to environmental protection to guide our programming.  Our students excel in understanding the changing world around them by working within Indigenous Knowledge Systems and utilizing cutting-edge scientific methods, technology, and tools.

Many of our students enter graduate school to continue their education, and many others return to their Tribes to work in Natural Resources or Planning Departments.  We have a strong emphasis in marine sciences, plants and ethnobotany, environmental health and wellness, and Tribal environmental governance and policy.  Our faculty and students are engaged in research that is aligned with and supportive of the Indigenous Communities we serve.  We offer excellent courses based on student-centered pedagogy. With an impressive student-faculty ratio, ranging from 4-25 students per class, we offer individual attention and high-quality education.  

Place-based Research in the Salish Sea

Scholarship & Financial Aid Opportunities

S-STEM Scholarship is now accepting applications for Fall 2020. Please email to request access to the Canvas application page.

AICF Scholarship


AISES Scholarships


General Resources

Native Environmental Science Sponsored Events

  • The purpose of the Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium is to honor the life and continue the work of one of the nation’s foremost authors, scholars, and intellectuals who passed away on November 13, 2005.  Throughout his life Deloria maintained ties with friends, tribes, and institutions in the Northwest.  One of his final public appearances was as the plenary speaker at the Robert K. Thomas Symposium held in 2005 at Northwest Indian College.  Following this event he expressed his desire to make the college the site of a yearly symposium in Indigenous Studies.  It is with this mandate in mind that we not only seek to carry out his wishes, but also to name the symposium in his honor. Learn more on our website.

  • The Salish Sea Speaker Series is an event that allows knowledgeable Tribal members to share their wisdom with students and the NWIC community. See recordings below.

  • The Native Environmental Science Department hosts place-based excursions to allow students, faculty and staff to learn on-site.

    Students, faculty and staff visit the site of the Lummi Indian School of Aquaculture

  • Candidates for the Bachelor’s of Science in Native Environmental Science degree present their Capstone projects to students, faculty, staff and community both in-person at the Lummi and Nez Perce campuses and virtually.


Department Chair & Faculty

Emma Norman

Native Environmental Science, Department Chair

Work Phone: (360) 392-4309

Tawakalt Akinjobi

Faculty –  Native Environmental Science

Sylvie Arques

Faculty – Native Environmental Science

Work Phone: 360-392-4281

Timothy Ballew Sr.

Faculty – Native Environmental Science

Work Phone: (360) 392-4319

Yakaiyastai Gorman

Sandra James

Native Environmental Science Advisor

Julia Orloff

Native Environmental Science STEM Alumni/Retention Coordinator

Work Phone: (360) 392-4315

Maggie Picard

Faculty- Native Environmental Science

Work Phone: (208) 621-4646

Terri Plake

Faculty – Earth Sciences (Part-time)

Work Phone: (360) 392-4258

Maura Shelton

Adjunct Faculty- Native Environmental Science

Chesity Slinkey

Postbaccalaureate Native Environmental Science

Jessica Urbanec

Native Environmental Science Lab Manager & Field Support

Work Phone: (360) 392-4327

Victoria Walsey-Honanie

Faculty – Native Environmental Science & Vine Deloria Jr., Indigenous Studies Symposium Coordinator

Aissa Yazzie

Faculty, Native Environmental Science Northwest Indian College

Work Phone: 360-392-4257 

Work Email:

BSNES Graduates at Commencement 2023
BSNES Graduates at Commencement 2023
A day upon the Salish Sea
A day upon the Salish Sea
BSNES Capstone presentations
BSNES Capstone presentations
2022 BSNES Graduates

2022 BSNES Graduates


BSNES Program Videos



Indigenous peoples have deep and sustained connections to place. Knowledge of the environment has been, and continues to be, critical in supporting and maintaining resilient and thriving communities. Indigenous peoples have historically created and continue to create new technologies appropriate to their places. Native environmental scientists build upon their connection to place by being innovative and using Indigenous knowledge and technologies to promote sovereignty and self-determination.

Upon successful completion of this program, students will:

  • Value the interrelationships between people and the environment.
  • Ground and apply concepts and methodologies to place.


Awareness of self and knowledge of relational ancestry has been, and continues to be, an essential quality of Indigenous peoples. This awareness provides guidance and accountability to carry out the work of the ancestors for future generations. Relationality and self-location position Native environmental scientists to lead in the restoration and revitalization of the environment.

Upon successful completion of this program, students will:

  • Demonstrate competence in bodies of knowledge associated with environmental science (e.g., chemistry, biology, ecology, etc.)
  • Value relationality in the practice of Native Environmental Science. Match the intended purpose/intent with the appropriate technology.
  • Evaluate and interpret environmental laws, policies, and acquired rights, and advocate for inherent rights.


Inquiry is deeply embedded in relationality, sense of place, and worldview, and it is inclusive of ways of knowing and research. Native environmental scientists perform inquiry by engaging in research and addressing questions that are relevant to Indigenous communities with the goal of restoring and revitalizing the environment. Native environmental scientists approach inquiry in ways that are respectful of and in service to Indigenous communities.

Upon successful completion of this program, students will:

  • Use Indigenous theories and methods to conduct inquiry-based research and evaluation that respond to the needs of Indigenous communities and serve to promote Indigenous self-determination.
  • Evaluate and use appropriate technologies for inquiry-based research in support of restoration and revitalization of the environment.
  • Evaluate and apply quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methodologies and concepts that include the synthesis of complex information.


Communication is foundational to the survival and identity of Indigenous peoples and includes intergenerational and intertribal transmission of knowledge about the relationships between people and place. Native environmental scientists enact the transfer of knowledge by communicating effectively in diverse settings through the use of a strong oral tradition, the written word, and imagery. Native environmental scientists effectively synthesize and communicate complex information to a variety of audiences with the intent to promote Indigenous self-determination and the restoration and revitalization of the environment.

Upon successful completion of this program, students will:

  • Communicate using oral, written, and graphical (visual) methods to support Indigenous self-determination.
  • Communicate effectively to multiple audiences, including Indigenous communities, policy makers, scientific communities, and the general public.

Financial Aid

Northwest Indian College administers a broad range of financial aid, scholarships, and work-study programs for students who can demonstrate financial need.

Student Life

NWIC students are encouraged to engage and integrate into the life of the institution. Students are offered opportunities to participate in enrichment activities through Student Affairs, student government, and residence life.

NWIC Extended Campus Locations

Northwest Indian College‘s main campus is located at the Lummi Nation. The College also has six full service extended campus sites located at Muckleshoot, Nez Perce, Nisqually, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Swinomish, and Tulalip. Please use the location links to view details for each extended campus site.

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