Coast Salish Institute Leadership Development Project Returns the Gift

Jan 21, 2011 | Blog


Northwest Indian College (NWIC) continues to extend its intellectual capacity-building opportunities to young Native staff and faculty as part of the Woksape Oyate: Wisdom of the People Initiative. Through this effort, NWIC is following its mission statement: “Through education NWIC promotes indigenous self-determination and knowledge.”Northwest Indian College’s all-Native administration is “giving back” to the communities they serve by preparing young Native employees to become the next generation of leadership for the college in the areas of teaching, administration, student services, and service learning.

Nine young leaders from the Northwest Coast Salish tribes participated in the Summer 2009 Coast Salish Institute Leadership Development Project. Young leaders selected included Greg Mahle, Lexi Tom, Krista Mahle, Lucas Washington, Nicole Baker, Alsie Wolfback, Tyson Oreiro, Jerome Toby, and Don McCluskey.

President Cheryl Crazy Bull planted the seed of love and commitment for the tribal college movement in this next generation of leaders, a gift that she called “a gift that keeps on giving.” President Crazy Bull also invited the young leaders’ to participate in the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities accreditation site visit at the college last April.

The Summer 2009 Coast Salish Institute Leadership Development Project focused on the practice and framework of traditional leadership within each student’s community, family and toward their future in leadership roles. Through the exploration of tribal stories and teachings, the young leaders had the opportunity to define what a traditional leader is in their culture and practice leadership skills with emphasis on their cultural traditions and leadership.

The young leaders observed other seasoned Native leaders by attending summer 2009 events hosted by Northwest Indian College such as the Vine Deloria, Jr. Symposium, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium President’s Retreat, Tribal College Forum, and tribal government events such as the Lummi Indian Business Council and General Council meetings. At the end of the summer, the young leaders accompanied NWIC President Cheryl Crazy Bull to the Tribal Self-Governance Conference as another comparative leadership experience. NWIC’s next generation of leaders are building their intellectual capacity while still standing in the light of their tribal identity and heightening their passion for leadership.

Mentors for the Summer 2009 Coast Salish Institute Leadership Development Project were NWIC President Cheryl Crazy Bull, Coast Salish Institute Director Sharon Kinley, Indigenous Leadership faculty members Alex Prue, and Willie Jones, Sr., who is also a founder of NWIC and past Tribal Chairman of the Lummi Nation.


Alsie Wolfback, Lucas Washington, Greg Mahle, Don McCluskey, Lexi Tom, and Krista Mahle. Not pictured: Tyson Oreiro, Nicole Baker, and Jerome Toby.

This story was contributed by Carole Rave, Vice President for Instruction and Student Services, Northwest Indian College

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