Tribal gift advances new WSU Native American scholarship

By Faith Price, Tribal Liaison Office

LA CONNER, Wash. – The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community has generously donated $5,000 toward establishment of a scholarship for Native American students at Washington State University.

The WSU Native American Advisory Board to the President is spearheading the effort to endow a new scholarship in honor of two leaders in WSU’s Native American community, Barbara Aston and Roberta “Robbie” Paul.

Aston, a member of the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma, has worked at WSU for 28 years and is the director of Native American programs and the tribal liaison. Paul, a Nez Perce tribal member, has worked in the WSU College of Nursing for 20 years and is the director of Native American health sciences.

“Both of these women are shining examples of greatness for our students,” said advisory board and Cowlitz tribal council member Mike Iyall. “Their strong commitment to helping recruit and retain Native American students at WSU has been changing lives for many years.”

The decision to create the scholarship was made at the advisory board’s fall meeting, and the campaign kicked off in May. Organizers hope to raise $50,000 to create a scholarship in each of the women’s names. Iyall and WSU Interim President Dan Bernardo were two of the first contributors to the fund.

The advisory board was established in 1997 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between WSU and six local tribes. Today, there are 10 signatory tribes whose chairpersons and delegates make up the board. It meets twice annually to provide input on how WSU can meet the needs of tribes and Native American students.

“This scholarship will not only allow us to support our students but will also provide tangible acknowledgement of two amazing leaders at WSU,” said Iyall. “By establishing a fund recognizing their hard work and commitment to WSU students, we can thank them for providing leadership, mentorship and support that has made all the difference for so many.”

To donate to the fund, please contact Risë McGill at the WSU Foundation, 509-335-7456 or


Risё Alice McGill, WSU Foundation, 509-335-7456, cell 509-715-9092,