Lucy Covington Center


Photo by Karissa Berg

The American Indian Education center Currently houses the American Indian Studies Program.

The Eastern Washington University Foundation, which is responsible for all fundraising for EWU, is currently working to fund the construction of the Lucy Covington Center in honor of tribal rights activist Lucy Covington.

According to the EWU Foundation’s informational page on the upcoming Lucy Covington Center, the vision for the Lucy Covington Center is to create a place of education for the next generation of Native American leaders, provide a community of scholars and tribal leaders as well as a gathering place for Native students, faculty and communities for a variety of events including celebrations, lectures and more.

The EWU Foundation’s website also explains how Covington was a tribal rights activist in the 1950s and 60s who worked to put an end to “termination,” — a federal policy designed to grant the Federal Government control of tribal land and natural resources. “Covington’s actions and success contributed toward reversing the United States government’s effort to extinguish its unique relationship to American Indian tribes,” said the EWU Foundation’s informational page.

Covington went on to be elected by the Colville business council as the chair of the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State in 1976, making her the first woman in the United States to lead an Indian tribe, according to the informational page. Covington was one of the earliest examples of self-determination among tribal members. Her efforts provoked a change of U.S. policy from termination to tribal independence. Covington died at 71 years of age in 1982.

According to “The Lucy Covington Legacy Challenge at EWU” informational packet, Eastern “established a contemporary American Indian Studies Program back in the mid-1960s, which has grown from a purely academic focus to include student services and research.” Lucy Covington Center will express EWU’s long-term commitment to the Native American community in not only the Pacific Northwest, but across the nation, according to the EWU Foundation’s website. The center will help shape the next generation of tribal leaders in the spirit of Lucy Covington, as well as allow EWU to recruit and retain Native American students.

As of now, EWU is focusing on a Lucy Covington Program, which will eventually result in the building of the Lucy Covington Center. Initially, according to the informational packet, the program will provide scholarships for Native students, aide students in securing internships and mentor-focused learning experiences, offer fellowships and research grants, as well as leadership workshops and seminars. The program will also serve to host visiting lecturers and schedule summer enrichment programs for current American Indian high school students.

The goal is to eventually create a traditional longhouse facility to allow a space for such activities, programs, offices, classrooms and storage for historical documents and materials that are donated to the center for research and educational purposes. This facility would become the new Lucy Covington Center at Eastern Washington University.

Due to unrelated circumstances, The Easterner was unable to interview the director of the American Indians Studies Program at EWU.

All information on the Lucy Covington Center was gathered from the EWU Foundation’s website and The Lucy Covington Legacy Challenge at EWU informational packet.

22509764961_38302a37ed_oPhoto by Karissa Berg