WSU News

Mestizo and Indigenous Center spans cultures

Susan Banks-Joseph, left, and Brian McNeill.
PULLMAN, Wash. – A new research center at Washington State University serves the needs of Latino/Mestizo and Native/Indigenous communities, making it possibly unique in the country.
 
On Nov. 8, the WSU Faculty Senate formally approved establishment of the Pacific Northwest Mestizo and Indigenous Center for Research and Outreach. Based in the WSU College of Education, it was launched last year and is directed by Professor Brian McNeill and Associate Professor Susan Banks-Joseph.
 
“The objective of the center is a strong program of interdisciplinary research, service and outreach that will shed light on social, economic, educational and political conditions,” said McNeill. 
 
Indigenous refers to those populations whose ancestors were the original inhabitants of a designated land or nation, he said. They include Native American/American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian populations. Mestiza/o refers to the forging, within Latina/o ancestral history, of different backgrounds, including Caucasian, African and Indigenous bloodlines that have contributed to a unique identity.
 
One of the center’s research projects involves following up on four educational achievement gap studies that the Washington Legislature commissioned. The studies were designed to see how Native American, African-American, Latino and Asian-American public school students are doing compared to the general student population.
 
“We’re checking to see how the recommendations from those studies are being followed,” McNeill said.
 
Diversity is both a guiding principle and a priority within the College of Education, making the Mestizo and Indigenous Center a good fit, said Associate Dean Mike Trevisan.
 
The center was created with financial support from George and Joan Berry. McNeill and Banks-Joseph hold Berry Family Faculty Fellowships, as does Associate Professor Lali McCubbin, who is serving as interim co-director.