WSU was represented in force today at the state House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee hearing with the university, faculty and students all registering support for House Bill 1399 to establish a Native American Scholarship Program.

The bill, if funded in the biennial budget the governor will sign this spring, would provide funds equal to resident tuition and fees to eligible applicants who are members of a federally-recognized Indian tribe, fill out a financial aid application, and enroll in a Washington college, university or apprenticeship program. If students have secured additional aid to cover tuition, the scholarship can be used for other cost-of-attendance expenses.

Zoë Higheagle Strong, WSU’s Vice Provost for Native American Relations and Programs and the university’s Tribal Liaison to the President, told the committee the bill will give back and provide generational impact on communities.

“There is a Nez Perce word ‘pinee tipits’ which means ‘reciprocal giving – making sure everyone is taking care of,’ Higheagle Strong said, herself a Nez Perce tribal citizen. “This deep meaning of reciprocity represents a strong value that native people hold on to and why I believe that when we invest in native students and communities that Washington state will greatly benefit as we increase the number of native people in the work force.”

You can view Higheagle Strong’s testimony below.


Steve Bollens, WSU’s faculty representative to the Legislature and a professor in the School of Biological Sciences, told the committee that “after two centuries of repression, discrimination and unjust treatment, providing increased opportunities for native American students to enter higher education is simply the right thing to do.”

You can view Bollens’ testimony below.


Collin Bannister, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Associated Students of WSU, signed in supporting the bill on behalf of WSU students.