2023-2025 Catalog

About Northwest Indian College

Northwest Indian College is a Tribally Controlled College chartered by the Lummi Nation. Its primary goal is to serve the educational and training needs of Pacific Northwest Tribes and their people. NWIC’s name in the Lummi language, XWLEMI ELH>TAL>NEXW SQUL (the people’s education), is the basis for the college’s mission, which states: Through education, Northwest Indian College promotes Indigenous self-determination and knowledge. Its main campus is located on the Lummi Reservation near Bellingham, Washington, with extended campus sites situated on reservations in Washington and Idaho.

Northwest Indian College evolved from the Lummi Indian School of Aquaculture (LISA). Established in 1974, LISA provided fish and shellfish hatchery training for Native American technicians. Many LISA graduates worked in Tribal hatcheries throughout the United States and Canada. However, in the early 1980s, the employment demand for hatchery technicians declined dramatically.

Lummi Tribal leaders embraced the challenge and developed an exciting new vision of meeting the wider educational needs of Pacific Northwest Tribal communities. Plans moved quickly and, on April 1, 1983, the Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC) approved the charter for Lummi Community College, a public 501 (c) (3) non-profit, comprehensive two-year college. Classes began immediately on the Lummi Reservation and the service area expanded to include other reservations in the Pacific Northwest. The college also began offering workshops and conferences focused on important Native issues.

Lummi Community College changed its name to Northwest Indian College (NWIC) in January of 1989. It began serving more Indian people, Tribes, and organizations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, as well as southeast Alaska. In 1993, the college became accredited at the associate’s level, and in 1994 it received congressional approval as a land-grant college.

In 2007, the college entered candidacy status for accreditation as a bachelor’s degree granting institution and began offering the Bachelor of Science in Native Environmental Science. In 2010, NWIC received accreditation as a bachelor's degree granting institution while retaining its accreditation to also offer associate’s degrees. It continues to offer the bachelor of science, and now also offers three bachelor of arts degrees in Native Studies Leadership, Tribal Governance and Business Management, and Community Advocates and Responsive Education (CARE) in Human Services.

Northwest Indian College is currently the only regional Tribal college in the United States and is the only accredited bachelor's degree granting Tribal college in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. A seven-member board of trustees governs NWIC. The board is currently composed of trustees from the Lummi and Swinomish Nations. All board members apply to and are appointed by the Lummi Indian Business Council.