Working with Tribes

By Mackenzie Nelson

This year, Professor Patrick Christie taught an undergraduate class in the Jackson School of International Studies, a Task Force capstone course for the International Studies Program focused on the Tulalip Tribe’s environmental recovery plans. The premise of this class arose as the result of lack of understanding among non-tribal individuals about tribal treaty rights and environmental decline in the Puget Sound area due to “climate change and unsustainable human activities” (Task Force Report 2017, p. 18) including building of infrastructure and pollution.

The Task Force started by identifying a target audience that would be most receptive to learning about these environmental issues the Tulalip Tribe is facing. The target identified:  non-tribal millennials, as “their exposure to globalization creates awareness of international problems, and so, instills the desire to help” (Task Force Report 2017, p. 29). Furthermore, by appealing to the desire of the millennial generation for environmental change, the Task Force felt they could effectively connect millennials to the initiative of the Tulalip Tribe in addressing environmental change.

To effectively reach and educate this target audience, the Task Force designed a strategic communication plan that “…focused on understanding tribal treaty rights, how climate change is affecting the Puget Sound, and how non-tribal millennials in the Puget Sound can work alongside the Tulalip Tribes towards environmental protection” (Task Force Report 2017, p. 9). This plan consists of educating non-tribal millennials through lectures and events on UW campus, launching a digital story made available through social media, and encouraging students to spread the word about environmental issues the Tulalip Tribe is facing and working to overcome.

To read more about the research done and final product created by the Task Force, read the full version here: Task Force Report: Finding Common Ground in the Puget Sound.