NWIC Creates Environmental Research Center

Aug 15th, 2000 | By | Category: 12-1: Celebrating Our Students, Tribal College News

On behalf of all the tribal colleges, Northwest Indian College (NWIC) has signed a historic agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce to create the National Indian Center for Marine and Environmental Research and Education. The National Indian Center will have sub-centers located at other tribal colleges with unique regional environmental emphases, according to Dr. Robert Lorence, NWIC president.

Funding will be “passed through” to those centers to develop specialized expertise and collaborations with appropriate federal agencies and universities within those regions. The assistance comes in part from $100,000 in grants from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle and from the Economic Development Administration, both part of the Commerce Department.

“The goal of this initiative is to form a new research partnership between some of our 210 research scientists and reservation-based Native Americans facing natural resource issues,” said Andy Rosenberg, head of the sustainable fisheries division of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Washington, D.C. The grant money will establish a culturally-grounded education and training program that takes advantage of NWIC’s distance-learning telecommunications network. Satellite technology will beam classroom lectures to as many as 16 of the 32 tribal colleges in the United States. “The long-range goal,” said Lorence, “is educational programming that reaches Native Americans at all tribal colleges and scores of classrooms.”

Lummi spiritual elder Chadasskadum Whichtalum blessed the signing ceremony on April 20, 2000, with an opening honor song and prayer. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray congratulated the participants on their initiative. Representatives attended from four other tribal colleges: Sitting Bull College, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, Crownpoint Institute of Technology, and Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College. NWIC Board Chairman Levi Jefferson described the history of Lummi aquaculture.

NWIC in Bellingham, Wash., has been a leader in telecommunications and in aquaculture. In fact, the college developed out of the Lummi Indian School of Aquaculture, which was established in 1973.

The new National Indian Center for Marine and Environmental Research & Education will help implement the Department of Commerce’s proposed $28 million initiative to develop new partnerships with the nation’s minority serving institutions. These institutions include tribal colleges and universities, historically black colleges and universities, and Hispanic serving institutions. The department intends to increase minority students’ interest in the sciences, which is critical to the department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its National Institute of Standards and Technology.


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