Lucy Covington Initiative at EWU

Lucy Covington

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, but she was also 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.

It is the intention of Eastern Washington University to honor the legacy of Lucy Covington through the development of the four following areas supporting future leaders, creating a confluence of culture and causes, development of a Lucy Covington archives, and finally a Lucy Covington Center.

Lucy Covington Initiative 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

Lucy Covington

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 programming that promotes understanding across cultures and political boundaries to address challenges and opportunities

Archival Project:

  • Creation of archival both virtual and actual storage facility for historic documents pertaining to the work of Lucy Covington. Materials donated will be used for research and continued education about the importance of protecting sovereignty and self-determination.
  • Collection of first-person narrative voices about the termination era from elders who were mentored and fought with Lucy Covington to preserve tribal sovereignty.

Providing a Gathering Place at EWU: To create building 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 community space. Possible exhibit space for historic documents/materials donated for research and public educational purposes
  • The hope is that the building will be built overlooking the Prairie Restoration Project

Donor Contacts


Kaarin Appel
Director of Philanthropy

Nicole DeVon

Nicole DeVon
Tribal Liaison

Office: 509.359.7360


Ways to Give

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 financial support will provide:

  • Scholarships, leadership training and educational experiences for Native American students
  • Funding for research and visiting experts for lectures, symposia and teach-ins
  • An archival repository dedicated to the legacy of Lucy Covington
  • A Longhouse facility to house all these activities

In Her Own Words

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About Eastern Washington University

EWU has a longtime commitment to the region’s First Peoples and to first-generation college students. In the 1960s, EWU established a contemporary American Indian Studies Program that has grown to include student services and research as well as academic programing.

The Lucy Covington Initiative 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 Initiative 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.
American Indian Education Center

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*An administrative fee of up to 5% will apply to your donation.
This fee provides essential operational support for the EWU Foundation. Please visit Foundation Fees Policy for more information.