MONMOUTH, OREGON—Starting fall 2022, Western Oregon is offering in-state tuition to any enrolled member of federally recognized tribes within the US. The Native American Tuition-Western Oregon University (NAT-WOU) initiative allows incoming indigenous students to pay the equivalent of WOU resident tuition regardless of their state or country of residence.
Oregon’s oldest public university, Western Oregon was established in 1856, just one year after the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855. That treaty resulted in the forced removal of Kalapuya people, and the campus of WOU sits on their traditional homelands. The descendants of those original inhabitants are members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians.
“Western Oregon University maintains a commitment to the education of all students and maintains a welcoming campus serving a diverse student body,” says President Jesse Peters. This program is a move that acknowledges the complex roles institutions of formal education have played within indigenous communities. According to Peters, “Boarding schools and then colleges and universities were built on Native American homelands. The educational system itself was often implemented as a tool used to destroy indigenous languages, communities, and cultures. At Western, we want to provide more access to positive educational choices for citizens of Native Nations.”
Students should submit their official tribal identification card, or a letter issued by their Tribe’s Enrollment Office to Western Oregon’s Admission’s office to enroll in the discounted tuition program.
The NAT-WOU program is in addition to the Oregon Tribal Student Grant program approved by the Oregon Legislature earlier this year; that program offers funding to offset the cost of college attendance for members of the Nine Tribes of Oregon during academic year 22-23. “We are also looking at additional ways to support members of the tribes located within what is now Oregon as they seek and complete degrees at WOU,” said Peters.
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