Tribal Relations Symbol: Dark blue semi-abstracted human figure surrounded by lighter blue crescent shapes

Coast Salish Style Longhouse


In partnership and close collaboration with Coast Salish tribal nations and the Western Native American Student Union, Western Washington University (WWU) seeks to build a traditional Coast Salish style longhouse in honor of the historic importance of place that it occupies and in acknowledgement of the University’s responsibility to promote educational opportunities for Native students. WWU requests $4.9 million in the state’s 2021-23 capital budget for the construction of the Coast Salish-style longhouse.

Building Design

  • The longhouse will reflect traditional Coast Salish architecture and design.
  • The longhouse will support Native students by providing a gathering and ceremonial space to promote cultural exchange and understanding.
  • Longhouse structure will include a gathering hall, indoor and outdoor kitchens, and student lounges.
  • The University will assemble a group which will include Native students, faculty, staff, alumni and tribal community members who will advise on the design for the longhouse.

Dedication Ceremony

Many from the WWU, Bellingham, Whatcom County and local Indigenous communities came together on Thursday, April 11 to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony for Western's new House of Healing longhouse.

The longhouse is the result of a 2016 letter written by Native American Student Union (NASU) members at Western looking for more support. This will be the first longhouse in the City of Bellingham, located at the south end of Sehome Hill Arboretum. 

“This is important that Western is answering the call,” Tribal Liaison Laural Ballew said. “It’s important because this shows that our students have a voice.”

View the photo gallery.

8 individuals standing with gold colored shovels outside on grass in front of a stand of evergreen trees.
Native American tribal members across generations wear traditional clothing, with some raising their right hand


The vision for a Coast Salish longhouse on WWU’s campus originated from the Native American Student Union, as Native students sought to find ways for the University to address current and historical issues faced by American Indian students on WWU’s campus. The newly created WWU Office of Tribal Relations is committed to building the Longhouse as an integral cornerstone in support of their mission.

  • Pursuing justice and equity in its policies, practices and impacts for advancing a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sense of place.

  • Pursuing the academic, personal and professional success of its Indigenous students, faculty and staff.

  • Building and sustaining beneficial working relationships with the Coast Salish people and expanding Western’s strength in academia to serve the current and future needs of tribal communities.

While the Tribal Relations Department has been very successful in their mission and outreach, not having a cultural center for meetings, workshops, educational seminars, and cultural gatherings has hindered their ability to fulfill their mission.

Contact the Office of Tribal Relations

To learn more about how you can support the creation of WWU’s longhouse, please contact Tribal Liaison Laural Ballew at or (360) 650-3110.