Closeup of President Schulz.

As we usher in November, we also commemorate National American Indian Heritage Month across the country. I encourage you to join me in reflecting on and celebrating the profound ways that indigenous people have influenced America’s development and enriched our culture.

The commemoration—which is officially proclaimed at the national and state levels—recognizes the enormous contributions of First Americans to the political, social and environmental framework of the nation and our state. The proclamations also reaffirm the commitment to respecting each tribe’s sovereignty and cultural identity, and pledge to maintain meaningful partnerships with tribal nations by maintaining and strengthening government-to-government relations.

Here at the university, we continue to work closely with tribes from throughout the region. This year marks the 22nd anniversary of a Memorandum of Understanding WSU signed with regional tribes in 1997 to recognize tribal governments and commit to working with their governing bodies, as represented through their delegates who serve on our Native American Advisory Board (NAAB).

Late last month, I had the pleasure of meeting with members of the NAAB at one of our twice-yearly gatherings. I reiterated our pledge to supporting the higher education interests of the tribes and working together to address shared issues facing our region. We also discussed ways the university can deepen its commitment to honoring and respecting its connections to our First Americans.

WSU’s Pullman campus is located on the ancestral homelands of the Palus people and on the ceded lands of the Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) tribe. Our other locations statewide share similar histories. It is important that we recognize, respect, and honor that history—not only during this month—but in a sustained manner. In doing so, we open ourselves to ever greater inclusion of Native peoples and world views as we pursue understanding and achievement of a more equitable society for all.

Kirk Schulz, President

Washington State University