News & Events


January 18, 2014

Native Careers Workshops: Developing Pathways between Higher Education and Tribal Communities

NCW-Group photoThe Native Careers Workshops (NCW) are a series of annual gatherings sponsored by the Center for Genomics and Healthcare Equality (CGHE) in collaboration with the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI) that explore how higher education and career pathways intersect with serving tribal and urban Indian communities.  Rose James (Lummi/Duwamish), Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioethics and Humanities and CGHE faculty, Kate West, CGHE Research Analyst, and Polly Olsen (Yakama), IWRI Director of Community Relations and Development, co-facilitated three NCWs since 2011 that included a total of 77 local tribal members, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) college students, and UW faculty and staff. Workshops center around sharing stories about the journey as AI/ANs move between higher education and tribal or urban Indian communities, hands-on activities such as creating cedar roses, and listening sessions with tribal Elders.  NCW-SRRDV

The NCW environment strives to promote critical dialogue as a means to build productive AI/AN community-academic relations while enhancing educational experiences.  The diversity of ideas and knowledge exchanged through NCW gatherings expand personal and professional networks and, in some cases, creates a safe space for AI/ANs to define where education fits into overall life goals. For instance, participants described education as a means to be independent from relying on others, to get out of bad living situations, and a way to have “control over my life.”  The NCWs also provide a venue for cross-cultural learning where university faculty and staff gained understanding of what motivates AI/ANs to pursue degrees (i.e., to build skills that can be used to address social justice and environmental issues, and to promote tribal health agendas) as well as the challenges encountered (i.e., balancing academic demands with community roles). NCWs support participating faculty and staff to expand ways in which training programs are structured and evaluated to better serve AI/AN individuals and communities.NCW-Group outside