David W. Whitener Sr., of the Squaxin Island Tribe, spent 17 years on the faculty at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, in the Native American Studies Program before retiring in 1996. But his love of education started much earlier when he graduated with a master’s degree in the subject from Western Washington University in the 1950
He was 78 when he lost his battle to Parkinson’s disease on November 2 surrounded by family. “Mr. Whitener was dedicated to education and the Native American heritage,” reads his obituary. He was not only a member of the Squaxin Island Tribe, but part of his ancestry is also from the Tsimshian from Alaska. Whitener is of the Raven Clan. His tribal name in the Makah language is ahkwateed
Whitener was co-convener of the Native American Studies Program at Evergreen and was instrumental in the building and planning of the Evergreen Long House, which opened in 1995. He also served on the Squaxin Island Tribe’s council, as chairman and vice chairman, as well as the Board of Indian Affairs, Olympic National Forest Advisory Board, and Mason General Hospital Board. He also served in the U.S. Army and was a logger in Alask
According to a release from the Squaxin Island Tribe, Whitener was a “mainstay of the Native American Studies program [at Evergreen State College] dedicated to teaching methods that best support Native American learners.” Donations can be made in his honor to the Evergreen State College Foundation, with reference to the David Whitener Sr. Scholarship Fund, Olympia, Washington.