Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 16, 2001 - Issue 38



Graduates Earn Degrees from Reservation Campuses


 by by Mike Archbold South County Journal

MUCKLESHOOT RESERVATION, WA -- Wilma Cabanas remembers long ago watching and crying as Auburn High School graduates went by her East Main residence to their commencement ceremony at the school.She never made it to Auburn High School. A mother at 15, she liked school but had other obligations.

She also knew she could have succeeded even at a time more than 35 years ago when few if any Muckleshoot Tribal members ever graduated from high school. That was four children and 13 grandchildren ago, but Cabanas, now 54, never lost her desire for schooling.

Yesterday, she joined 11 other graduates from five Indian reservations (Muckleshoot, Skokomish, Nisqually, Quinault and Point Gamble) in the state who received their bachelor of arts degrees through Evergreen State College's reservation-based program.

At a special ceremony at the Long House on the campus in Olympia, she and five other Muckleshoot Reservation graduates wore traditional cedar hats they had made.

Shannon Hamilton and Rosie Anderson are Muckleshoot tribal members. The other three graduates are Mark A. Ferguson and Quentin Smith, both members of other Native American tribes, and Tracy Bray, a Muckleshoot community member and tribal employee.

Graduation capped two years of intensive work. Classes were held one night each week at the Muckleshoot Tribal College building and were taught by Evergreen's on-site instructor, Jeff Antonelis-Lapp. There were also weekend classes at Evergreen.

And there was plenty of homework, Cabanas said.

``That was the hardest part, to do the homework and working 40 hours a week,'' she explained.

Cabanas works as a benefits specialist at the Muckleshoot Indian Casino. She had received her GED in 1969 and later earned a secretarial certificate and an AA degree in business administration.

She may not be done yet. She may seek a master's degree. ``I'm thinking about it,'' she said and smiled.

This is the third year that Evergreen's Muckleshoot site will graduate students. There was one graduate in 1999 and four last year, including Sharon Hamilton, whose daughter graduated this year.

Students at the tribal site pay the same for their education as on-campus students, but the Muckleshoot tribe picks up the cost for its members and offers grants to others.

Ferguson, 41, a member of the Lenape or Delaware Nation in Oklahoma, lives in Yelm and took classes first at the Skokomish Reservation site and then a year ago at the Muckleshoot site when he was hired to teach vocational education.

He plans to seek a master's degree this fall from City University, with an emphasis on education.

He and his fiancee have four children and he acknowledges that it has been tough juggling job, family and homework.

Bray, 28, who is not an enrolled member of a tribe, was hired two months ago as a social service specialist for the Muckleshoot Tribe. She said she got the job because she was about to get her degree from Evergreen.

You can see where the Muckleshoot Tribe lives on the map below


Maps by Travel


Muckleshoot Indian Tribe
The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe is comprised of the descendants of the area's original Coast Salish peoples. The Tribe has lived in this area for thousands of years, possibly since the last glaciers receded.




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