NWIC continues to grow thanks to community support

The Siletz Tribe and St. Luke’s Foundation both donated $25,000 to new building

Cooperative Extension employees gathered in front of their new building Dec. 22 just before Susan Given-Seymour, the department’s director, cut the red ribbon, officially opening the building.
Northwest Indian College (NWIC) is in the midst of a $44 million capital campaign that has led to the opening of six new buildings on the Lummi Reservation campus.

On Dec. 2, the college continued its growth trend and added a seventh new building to its Kwina Campus location – a $1.3 million Cooperative Extension Building.

“Our Cooperative Extension Building is a gathering place for those who work with our community outreach, wellness, financial literacy and community education services,” NWIC President Cheryl Crazy Bull said. “They will have a place to meet, plan and evaluate. Most importantly, they will use the classroom and kitchen to pass on the skills and resources of our communities.”

In the new building, instructors will teach community classes on harvesting, cooking and preserving traditional and other local foods, financial skills for families, homebuyer education, basket weaving, tribal food sovereignty, developing medicinal gardens and more.

The new facility was made possible by contributions from regional tribes, including a $25,000 donation from the Siletz Tribe of Oregon, and from local organizations such as the St. Luke’s Foundation, which also donated $25,000.

“This is more than we usually ever give,” said Mike Holden, Chair of Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund Committee.

The new Cooperative Extension Building will house a number of community classes.
The committee recommended Siletz Tribal Council support a $25,000 contribution to NWIC’s Cooperative Extension Department’s new building for a variety of reasons. Members were impressed with the department’s programs, and with the proposal NWIC submitted to the Tribe, Holden said.

“The college has a large enough scope that it’s going to benefit any indigenous person,” he said. “This is a college that’s going to continue to help people.”

It was also obvious that NWIC had put a lot of effort into the application to the Siletz Tribe, and into meeting its financial goal for the project and for its capital campaign, overall, Holden said, which was a major factor in his vote of support. 

The St. Luke’s Foundation, which also gave generously to the project, was impressed with the Cooperative Extension’s work to promote and teach healthy eating in tribal communities, and on limited budgets.

“We are very committed to investing in the health of our community and were impressed with the Native Nutrition Project at NWIC, and its focus on encouraging healthy eating that is consistent with the heritage of the Lummi People,” Sue Sharpe, Luke’s Foundation executive director, said.

The foundation supports disease prevention programs, and most chronic diseases can be traced back to lifestyle choices, especially diet and exercise, she said.

“St. Luke’s Foundation board of directors was enthused about supporting this effort, particularly the demonstration kitchen because of NWIC's focus on encouraging healthy lifestyles in the Whatcom County region,” Sharpe said.

Crazy Bull said community contributions are the backbone of NWIC’s capital campaign.  

“The contributions of the Siletz Tribe of Oregon and St. Luke’s Foundation are especially important because they demonstrate a shared commitment of people throughout the Northwest in the health and well-being of all our citizens.”

In addition to the Siletz Tribe and St. Luke’s Foundation, the new building also received support from the U.S. Department of Education, Lummi Indian Business Council, the Norcliffe Foundation, and the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians, which contributed $2.5 million to NWIC – $2 million of that is designated for the college’s capital campaign.  

“It is a privilege to have friends of the college, such as the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians, contribute so significantly to the development of our campus,” Crazy Bull said.