Whitman alum Roger Amerman teaches “Long Tent 101” in front of the Plateau Long Tent—believed to be the first ever built on a college campus—that stood on Ankeny Field from April 18-26, 2022.
Whitman alum Roger Amerman teaches “Long Tent 101” in front of the Plateau Long Tent—believed to be the first ever built on a college campus—that stood on Ankeny Field from April 18-26, 2022.

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In April 2022, the Whitman College community had a one-of-a-kind opportunity to broaden its understanding of the history of the Walla Walla Basin and the Native communities of the area during a weeklong event that centered around a Plateau Long Tent on Ankeny Field. 

“The Long Tent is truly a stunning and majestic example of Indigenous architecture that is unique to the world and comes from the Inland Northwest/Columbia River Plateau region of North America,” says Roger Amerman, a Choctaw tribal member who attended Whitman from 1976-1977 and served as the lead consultant on the project. With a history stretching back more than 1,000 years, Long Tents have been used for lodging as well as social and ceremonial activities.

The tent was built with the endorsement and partnership of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) and other tribes in the region.

Whitman students and professors from more than a dozen courses and programs—including art, art history and visual culture studies, English, environmental humanities, environmental studies, philosophy, politics, religion, sociology and First Year Seminars—were able to engage with the Long Tent. There were also events open to the greater community.

Some of the topics explored included cultural perceptions of Indigenous peoples, Long Tent and Plateau culture and ceremony, contextualizing the “Whitman Legend,” place names, and the Treaty of 1855.