The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation awards the Native American Graduate Fellowship to an MSU graduate student who is an enrolled member of a Montana Native American Tribe. The fellowship was created to uphold Dennis Washington’s long-time vision of promoting the betterment of society and the development of a highly diverse workforce through education.

Conversation with a Washington Fellowmicahel photo
Michael Marie Munson
Ed.D. Candidate, Educational Leadership


Hometown: Missoula, MT 

Education History: M.Ed., University of Montana, Curriculum & Instruction
B.A., University of Montana, Elementary Education

Indian Leadership Education & Development Program (I LEAD)
Dennis & Phyllis Washington Native American Graduate Fellowship

Dissertation Title: Perceptions from Our Sqelixw Community: Building a Framework for Sqelixw Education

In Her Own Words...

“I LEAD and the Washington Fellowship are amazing. Both have provided me the opportunity to study without having to work full-time.”

About Her Research
“As a member of the communities of The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, I have been taught it is my duty to contribute to the well-being of my community. As a sovereign tribal nation, we have the opportunity to revitalize our culture and language, and redefine education to ensure youth are successful, contributing members of the communities. My dissertation investigates perceptions Sqelixw Elders’ and youth hold about important linguistic, cultural, and academic elements to integrate into the education system. The developed framework will utilize Sqelixw life ways to develop an education system that strengthens identity, revitalizes language and culture, preserves sovereignty, and provides a foundation for youth to lead The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes into the future.”

Why Graduate School?
“In a previous job, I saw first-hand how the dominant education system in tribal communities was neglecting to meet the educational needs of American Indian students in Montana. I came to realize tribal communities must be more involved in their children’s education and that it was time to learn more about how to help facilitate that process.”

Career Aspirations
“It is my goal to continue to serve Salish Kootenai College and the larger Sqelixw communities to build an education system that prepares Seliš and Qlispé children to be successful in anything they wish to do.”