Partnership with Nisqually Tribe

  • Three flags flying in front of a school building: US Flag, Washington State Flag, and Nisqually Tribal Flag North Thurston Public Schools (NTPS) and the Nisqually Tribal Council have formed a partnership which provides a path to unity and understanding of the Native American culture.  The NTPS School Board strives to not only provide for the educational needs of our Native American students, but also to foster an environment which embraces the differences and commonalities between our cultures.  The District and the Tribal Council meet bi-annually to discuss how we can work and grow together to increase student growth opportunities for our Native American students which has an overall effect for all students in preparation for "rewarding careers, fulfilling lives, and compassionate global citizenship."

NTPS Land Acknowledgement

  • We acknowledge that North Thurston Public Schools resides on the traditional lands of the Nisqually people. The Nisqually have lived on and cared for this land and these waterways since time immemorial. We make this acknowledgment to open a space of recognition, inclusion, and respect for our sovereign tribal partners and all indigenous students, families, and staff in our community.

    Developed in partnership with the Nisqually Tribe and presented at the November 5, 2019 School Board meeting, the above acknowledgment statement will be read at school board meetings, school assemblies, district-wide public events, and evening events at our schools and buildings.

Join Work Session Materials

Partnership Milestones & Information

NTPS Native Education Programs

  • Children playing a drum in a circle.

    North Thurston Public Schools support Native education throughout our district. Whether led and supported by our Native Student Program or individual schools or classrooms, we are proud of our work in this field.


    • Bi-Annual government to government work sessions between our school board and the Nisqually Tribe
    • Billy Frank Jr. Day, annual community celebration
      • Each year, our district partners with the Nisqually tribe to celebrate the life and legacy of Billy Frank, Jr. District wide, classrooms are engaged in lessons about Billy Frank Jr and tribal sovereignty. In addition to the culture and community participation, our schools have an opportunity to showcase their work implementing the Since Time Immemorial Curriculum.
    • An annual land acknowledgement lesson that is shared district wide, followed by the ongoing reading of our land acknowledgement throughout the year
    • Nisqually flags are flown at all district buildings
    • Policy change for graduation requirements to include regalia
    • Annual participation at the City of Lacey Cultural Celebration


    The Native Student Program provides cultural and academic support to our Native students across the district, which includes Title VI and Title III Native American. This support can be direct and indirect. Direct programming can include academic support, guest teaching or student groups. Indirect support can include providing professional development, tribal liaison work, instructional support, Native Studies, policy, and equity work.

    • Native Student Program offices are located at Evergreen Forest Elementary and River Ridge High School.
    • Wealth of resources for students and teachers on our Native Student Program website
    • Native student group at Envision Career Academy
    • Native student group at Nisqually Middle School
    • Native student group at River Ridge High School
    • Title III Native American cultural and academic support with an office at RRHS and providing services district wide
    • The Native Student Program offers guest teaching and other support to classrooms throughout the district.
    • The Native Student Program offers regular professional development opportunities to district staff
    • Native Student Program offers training and support for use of the Since Time Immemorial
    • Annual participation in Lacey Cultural Celebration, providing information and outreach on Native Student Programs
    • 4th Grade Native drum tying project at Evergreen Forest Elementary and Woodland Elementary
      • This annual cultural education event provides students an opportunity for roughly two hundred students at two schools to tie deer drums and learn a Lushootseed song that was gifted to our district as part of the program development.
    • Our district currently has two Native Studies courses available at River Ridge High School.
      • 11th Grade US History Through the Native Perspective class at RRHS
      • 11th Grade Literatures Through Native Perspectives call at RRHS
    • Participation in SPSCC’s FIRE Summit for Native high school students
      • This is an annual Native student day at college, led by South Puget Sound Community college.
    • Coming soon: Native STEAM Program at RRHS
      • Native Student Programs has partnered with Mentor Washington to provide an excellent STEAM after-school program beginning with drone technology.

    For more information, please contact:

    Antonio Sandifer, Director for Equity and Languages 

    Jerad Koepp, Native Student Program Specialist


  • As part of this collaborative effort and presented at the November 5, 2019 School Board Meeting, NTPS was gifted Nisqually Tribe flags to fly at each of our 22 schools and three educational buildings. The raising of the flag ceremony includes a lesson for students about the historical aspect of the flag.

    “This symbolic representation honors the diversity in our community and creates a daily visual representation of what we value as an organization,” said Jerad Koepp, Native Student Program Specialist for NTPS.

    Flying this flag will serve as daily recognition of our partnership with the Nisqually Tribe and reminder of the tribe's traditional lands, thriving government, and culture. The acknowledgment will also support openness and awareness of all indigenous peoples and our duty as public educators to equitably support and educate Native children.