The Lucy Covington Legacy
Lucy Covington, a long-time tribal rights activist and Colville Tribal Council member, helped change the course of American Indian history through her courageous and selfless style of leadership in the face of great odds.
Covington was one of many tribal peoples who worked in the 1950s and 1960s to bring an end to “termination” – an ill-conceived federal policy designed to wrest control of land and natural resources from tribal ownership, by terminating tribal status. Lucy worked with members of her own and other tribes to help preserve tribal sovereignty and self-determination for not only the Colville but for tribe across the country. Covington’s actions and success contributed toward reversing the United States government’s effort to extinguish its responsibilities to American Indian tribes.
After the termination struggle, Covington worked to protect tribal rights and resources, develop tribal services, govern the reservation for the benefit of tribe members, and promote inter-tribal cooperation. Not only was she an example of Native American self-determination in action, she was a founder of the movement itself, and her efforts engendered a shift of U.S. policy from termination to independence and autonomy. Covington died in 1982, at age 71.
Lucy Covington Center Vision
Supporting Future Leaders: To honor Lucy Covington’s place in history by working to educate the next generation of Native American leaders:
- To provide financial support and scholarships to EWU Native American students
- To create a summer program that brings Native American middle school and high school students to campus to engage in academic classes and university activities and to develop skills needed in an increasingly complex political environment for Pacific Northwest and Native American communities
- To support internships for Native students at EWU in tribal government and related organizations
- To encourage Native women to assume leadership positions
Creating a Confluence of Cultures and Causes: To provide a community of scholars and tribal leaders:
- Bringing together national speakers, scholars, academics, traditional practitioners and Native leaders to share their experiences, wisdom, research and indigenous knowledge
- Creating programing that promotes understanding across cultures and political boundaries to address challenges and opportunities
Providing a Gathering Place at EWU: To create a Native-inspired longhouse on the EWU Cheney campus to house the Lucy Covington Center:
- Providing a gathering place for Native students, faculty and communities for shared events, celebrations, lectures, symposia, cultural exchange and lifelong learning
- Providing offices, classrooms, and an archival storage facility for historic documents and other materials donated for research and public educational purposes
How to Get Involved
Creating opportunities for donors and Eastern Washington University to educate Native and non-Native students to actively engage with their history, culture and identity, your counsel and financial support will provide:
- Valuable feedback and direction for the overall program
- Scholarships, leadership training and experiences for students ($1 million goal)
- Research and visiting experts for lectures, symposia and teach-ins ($1 million goal)
- A Longhouse facility to house all these activities ($5 million goal)
In Her Own Words
In the News
- Covington celebrated with honorary degree | Eastern 24/7 (Event Photos)
- EWU to build campus center named for Native American activist Lucy Covington | The Spokesman-Review
- Honoring Lucy Covington, ‘who changed the course of American Indian History through courageous and selfless style of leadership…’ | Tribal Times
- EWU to name campus center for Native American activist | The Seattle Times
College Advancement DirectorMobile: 509.981.4496
About Eastern Washington University
EWU has a longtime commitment to the region’s First Peoples and to first-generation college students. In the 1960’s, EWU established a contemporary American Indian Studies Program that has grown to include student services and research as well as academic programing.
Funding from E. C. Johnson Memorial Fund endowed the director of EWU’s American Indian Studies Program. EWU also offers a major in Race and Culture Studies, which includes American Indian Studies, Africana Studies, and Chicano Education.
The Lucy Covington Center builds on this strong foundation.
The initiative to create the Lucy Covington Center further demonstrates EWU’s commitment to the Native American community in the Pacific Northwest and across the nation. It will enhance EWU’s ability to recruit, nurture, and retain Native American students, and it will enhance EWU’s ability to inspire young native Americans to attend college and prepare for careers and for leadership. The Lucy Covington Center will be instrumental in shaping the next generation of tribal leaders who will continue, in the spirit of Lucy Covington, to protect and enhance the welfare of their tribes.