Oregon artist and Yakama Tribal Member Toma Villa has a unique approach to creating murals in Tribal Schools. He incorporates student learning into the process by working directly with Tribal youth to create the artwork. Work on the Chief Kitsap Academy Mural (CKA) began in January when Villa visited with students in a classroom setting. He spoke with them about art and later learned what images and shapes were important to them during a sketching workshop. The artist also met with family and community members during his initial visit, learning as much as he could about the Tribe and the school. Villa says inspiration for his initial sketch of the mural included stories he heard about orca visiting Suquamish Tribe journey participants in recent years. Salish designs and the CKA school mascot were also incorporated in the piece as a result of student sketches. In February, Villa returned to Suquamish with a complete rendering, and worked with students to create the 30-foot by 30- foot mural that now calls the CKA Gym home. CKA students and community members assisted Villa with the outline and fill to complete the mural in just 5 days. “It’s amazing, the students, staff and families are just thrilled with it,” said CKA Principal Fabian Castilleja. The CKA Mural Project was funded by the Suquamish Tribe Sports and Recreation Department, and spearheaded by Program Manager Kate Ahvakana. A time lapse video of the project is available on the Suquamish Tribe Facebook page at facebook.com/ suquamishtribe. More infomration about Toma Villa’s artwork, including murals, can be found online at tomavilla.com
Spotlight on PME is a monthly article featuring employees of Port Madison Enterprises who have proven to be key to the success of Suquamish businesses. This month, Kiana Lodge Manager Luther “Jay” Mills talks about his experiences and the changes he has seen in nearly four decades working for the Suquamish Tribe.
After 38 years of professional experience with the Suquamish Tribe, Jay Mills couldn’t be happier with the tribe’s growth. Right out of high school Jay had the opportunity for his first job as Night Watchman at the Smoke Shop, the tribe’s first business venture. Just two years later Frieda Scott and Lawrence Webster gave Jay the opportunity to be the Smoke Shop Manager. In 1981 the Smoke Shop was turned into the Liquor store making Jay the Liquor Store Manager. After 15 years of devotion to that position, Jay took the opportunity to become the Bingo Hall Assistant Manager in 1994. Jay later became the Bingo Hall Manager for three years before moving on to Slot Manager at the Clearwater Casino. In the six years as Slot Manager, Jay found independent contractor, Brent Brown, as a mentor to teach him everything he needed to know about the gaming world. As much as Jay enjoyed gaming he accepted the position as Kiana Lodge Director when the Lodge was purchased by the Tribe in 2004. In the last 11 years, Jay has enjoyed the Award Winning Kiana Lodge and looks forward to many years to come.
“My motivation and devotion to my career and family couldn’t have been possible without the support of my parents Delores and Luther Mills. They taught me about hard work, helping others and having respect for those around me. I also couldn’t be the person I am today without my wife of 37 years, Joanie Mills and our five children and 15 grandchildren. When it comes to a professional career I find it most important to thank anyone who has ever worked with me. Without those who worked hard and went above and beyond- I couldn’t have had the successful career I’ve had without them. Thank you everyone for your hard work,” said Jay.
Jay has had the honor of serving on the Suquamish Tribal Council for over 20 years, 2 as Tribal Vice Chairman and the other 18 as a Council Member, Jay was selected as Indian Gaming Magazines “Extraordinary Employee” September of 2004. An additional accomplishment that reflects on the hard work of Jay and his staff at Kiana Lodge, it was voted the Best NW Wedding Venue in both The Knot and South Sound Magazines in 2013. Kiana Lodge also won the Couples Choice Award for Demonstrating Excellence in Quality, Service, Responsiveness and Professionalism in 2015 on WeddingWire.com.
Jay is a current Tribal Council member, a former Leadership Kitsap Board member, is currently sitting on the Suquamish Seafood Board and the Suquamish Foundation Board. In his spare time finds joy in being a Suquamish Tribal commercial fisherman as well.
The future of the Suquamish Tribe has been bright from the moment Jay stepped out of high school. Watching the growth of the tribe in the last 38 years has made Jay proud to be a tribal member.
The opportunities within the tribe are endless, with the multitude of job and education opportunities; Jay understands the importance of the tribal youth for our future. “To all tribal members, seize the opportunity for a higher education and job opportunities that will get you your dreams. I started as a night watchman and am now the Director of Kiana Lodge. Hard work and motivation are key to obtaining your dreams; don’t be afraid to ask for help, as you never know who is willing to support you along the way.”