Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Students, faculty and staff are invited to attend a dinner honoring Elder Jim "White Fox" Bates, one of the first Native Americans to graduate from the UW School of Social Work with his MSW degree in 1964. 

The event will take place on Thursday, April 4 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the School of Social Work, 1st floor gallery. Please RSVP to Assistant Teaching Professor Carol James at

Elder Jim had an illustrious career as a social worker and social work educator. Jim spent a lifetime actively participating in community engagement efforts by educating, guiding and supporting non-Native social workers and others working with Native American communities.

Elder Jim has also been particularly instrumental in supporting Native American students at the UW School of Social Work. Notably, he made a traditional sweat lodge and brought it to Seattle atop his truck so that students could experience this important cultural practice and tradition. Jim has taught our students to appreciate and cook traditional foods, including fry bread, sunflower seed soup, and Lakota green pepper, pork and hominy stew.

Jim also accompanied our social work students to the Blood Tribe Sun Dance held annually in Stand-off, Alberta, Canada, on the Blood Indian reserve. This was part of a series of projects and field trips supported by the UW Canadian Studies Center through the Social Work Across the 49th Parallel Initiative.

Elder Jim's deep commitment to encouraging strong and positive engagement with Native communities remains an enduring theme of his retired life. Jim takes time to help others understand how art can be good medicine for healing and self-understanding. His long-standing interest and skill in Native arts, including beading, painting, hide tanning, moccasin making, and Navajo-inspired sand painting.

Most recently, Elder Jim helped the Art Committee and Office of Field Education welcome our new dean, Dr. Michael Spencer, as the first Native Hawaiian dean of the UW School of Social Work. Elder Jim presented Dean Mike with a beaded eagle feather and, together with Dr. Sharyn Thornton, draped our dean with a traditional Native blanket.

It is timely and most appropriate that we honor Elder Jim "White Fox" as a distinguished graduate of the UW School of Social Work for his generous service, kindness, and wisdom.

A light dinner will be served by Chef Shalimar, aka Wasif Qadri, at 5 p.m. The recognition event will begin at 5:30.