The Suquamish Tribal Government is holding a series of online forums for Tribal members to hear the latest from government departments and ask questions of program leaders.
The forums are held every Tuesday and Thursday, starting at 4:30pm Suquamish Time. These forums are for Tribal members only.
A link to each forum is sent via the Suquamish Updates Now (SUN) text and email service. (If you haven’t signed up for the free SUN service yet, you can do that here.)
Here’s the schedule for the upcoming forums:
Housing, Community Development, and Land Use
Health, Wellness, and COVID response, including behavioral telehealth efforts
Finance and Budget
Fisheries, Natural Resources, Treaty Protection, with a focus on cockles, forestry, and U&A battles
Suquamish Police Department, with a focus on community-oriented policing and de-escalation
Education, with an emphasis on school re-opening plans
‘The People of the Clear Salt Water’ say Puget Sound community deserves better
SUQUAMISH, WA – The Suquamish Tribe announced its intention to sue King County for repeatedly releasing untreated or improperly treated sewage into the Puget Sound.
In a letter dated July 21, 2020, the Tribe gives King County officials 60 days’ notice of the Tribe’s intent to file a lawsuit for the county’s ongoing violations of the Clean Water Act and its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
According to public records, King County discharged hundreds of thousands of gallons of untreated or improperly treated sewage from the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant, located on the shores of Seattle’s Discovery Park, into Puget Sound in 2018 and 2019. King County is also responsible for a number of NPDES permit violations, discharging effluent wastewater into Puget Sound between 2015 and 2020. These discharges occurred at the West Point Treatment Plant, as well as other treatment facilities, and Combined Sewer Outfalls, on the shores of Centennial Park on Elliot Bay in downtown Seattle, and near Alki Beach in West Seattle.
“The waters of Puget Sound and the entire Salish Sea are the Tribe’s most treasured resource. We are obliged to protect these waters, not only for ourselves but for all who rely on them for healthy seafood, recreation, and cultural practices,” said Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman. “We acknowledge that King County has invested and will invest more to improve their wastewater treatment system, but the Suquamish Tribe and its members are frustrated by the ongoing sewage releases and King County’s other pollution violations in Puget Sound, which continue to harm marine water quality and the Tribe’s ability to exercise reserved treaty rights and engage in cultural activities. We are running out of time and need swifter action. We look forward to discussions with King County, through our long-standing government-to-government relationship, during this 60 day notice period.”
In the July 21 letter, the Suquamish Tribe notified King County that it is responsible for at least 11 significant illegal discharges of untreated sewage from the West Point Treatment plant into the Tribe’s treaty-protected fishing areas, with individual discharge events ranging from 50,000 gallons to 2.1 million gallons.
The Tribe also notified King County that between 2015 and 2020, it violated effluent wastewater discharge permit limits for pH and chlorine at the West Point Treatment Plant, as well as the Elliott West and Alki Combined Sewer Outfalls.
In 2013, King County entered into a Consent Decree with the State of Washington, and the Environmental Protection Agency to address serious and ongoing sewage discharges from its wastewater treatment facilities and combined sewer outfalls that were in violation of the Clean Water Act. Notwithstanding a series of enforcement actions against King County, Clean Water Act violations have continued, including major releases from the West Point Treatment Plant.
The Suquamish Tribe – known as “The People of the Clear Salt Water” in their Southern Lushootseed language – have fished and gathered shellfish in and near the Puget Sound since time immemorial. The waters of Elliott Bay and other waterways into which King County has been discharging untreated sewage make up much of the Tribe’s treaty-protected fishing and shellfish harvesting areas.
“This lawsuit is not just about how these dangerous spills affect the Suquamish Tribe,” said Chairman Forsman. “The entire Puget Sound community deserves clean water. The shellfish, the orca, and all sea life rely on clean water, and all of our children – and children’s children – deserve clean water.”
“This is why the Clean Water Act was created. It’s time for King County to increase their commitment to protecting our shared waters,” said Chairman Forsman.
A copy of the letter of intent is available here.
NOTE: This should not be confused with the Suquamish Tribe’s COVID-19 Financial Assistance, which you can apply for here. The following is for relief of housing costs only. If you have already applied for either program, you do not need to reapply.
The Suquamish Tribal Council is aware of the financial hardship and uncertainty our membership is facing during this COVID-19 pandemic. We have met to discuss ways in which we can help alleviate the financial stress our membership is currently facing. One way to relieve some financial stress is to assist our tribal tenants who are unsure how they will make their upcoming housing payments.
The COVID-19 Housing Relief Application is designed for tenants who reside in Suquamish Tribal Housings, including Elder Housings, NAHASDA Housings, Suquamish Steps Program, and Mutual Help Homeownership programs affected by COVID-19 “Stay at Home” order. Residents may be eligible for payment deferment for their housing payment from May 2020 to December 2020 due to financial hardship.
Deferment of housing payment is not payment forgiveness. A repayment plan will be created at a later date.
COVID-19 Housing Relief Application does not apply to residents that only pay water fee or sewer fee to the Suquamish Housing Program.
You can download the application here or fill out the online form below.
In response to the Suquamish Tribal Council’s facial covering policy (Resolution # 2020-104) and overall COVID–19 response, the Suquamish Tribe’s Emergency Operations Center would like to assist our Port Madison Indian Reservation businesses during this global public health emergency.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the social and economic vitality of our local community. But we can lessen these impacts and recover from this public health pandemic when business owners like yourself take steps to reduce your risk and take steps now to recover. Working collaboratively with employees, the public, and local government, businesses can help strengthen both public health and community response in a manner that protects us all.
To support this effort, the Suquamish Tribe’s Office of Emergency Management has compiled this tool kit of resources with links to useful tools that are drawn from the following authoritative sources:
Suquamish Tribal Government
Kitsap Health District
Washington State Department of Health
Food Workers and Establishments Guidance on COVID-19
Washington State Coronavirus Response
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Planning Guides & Checklists
Don’t Spread Germs at Work (Employers)
Stay Home if You’re Sick (Employers)
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance is now available to Suquamish Tribal members at least 18 years of age impacted by pandemic.
Up to $3000 in assistance is available per person. The assistance can be used for:
- Purchasing groceries
- Paying overdue rent or mortgage payments to avoid eviction or foreclosure
- Covering unforeseen financial costs for funerals
- Other unforeseen financial costs for emergency individual or family needs.
- Other hardships
To apply for assistance, applicants must be enrolled Suquamish Tribe members and at least 18 years of age. COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance is available once per member.
Deadline to apply: Aug. 16
To apply for assistance online click here.
As protests sweep the U.S., Suquamish Tribal Council calls for justice for Stonechild Chiefstick and other victims of police violence
Suquamish Tribal Council members, elders, and youth joined hundreds who stood with signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “Native Lives Matter” along Highway 305 in Poulsbo on June 2. Emotions were raw because of the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Manny Ellis, and others, and because here in Kitsap County, prosecutors recently announced there would be no charges against Officer Craig Keller, the Poulsbo police officer who shot and killed Stonechild Chiefstick on July 3, 2019.
The protest was peaceful, passionate, and well attended with many drivers honking in support.
But when three Tribal Elders left the protest and went to downtown Poulsbo to have a quiet dinner, they encountered two men carrying military assault rifles patrolling an empty Front Street. The contrast between the peaceful protest on Highway 305 and the intimidating armed presence in downtown Poulsbo was striking.
Calls to a Poulsbo city council member revealed that the Poulsbo police knew there were armed individuals at several locations in town, and that, with the exception of one conversation with one of them, the police chose to do nothing – not question them, nor ask for identification and their purpose in being on the street near the protest. There was no check for warrants or criminal records or for extremist affiliations or for statements advocating violence. It was a stunning contrast to the treatment of Stonechild Chiefstick, who walked alone in Poulsbo’s waterfront park on July 3, was reported to police for acting strangely, and then shot and killed by Officer Keller.
The Second Amendment does not trump the First Amendment right to free expression and assembly, nor is open carry allowed in Washington State when used to intimidate others or when it creates alarm for the safety of others (RCW 9.14.270).
A Long History of Racism
This experience with an armed patrol in Poulsbo was a first for these Elders, but it was not the first time members of our community have experienced hostility and racial profiling in Poulsbo and North Kitsap County. Community members and visitors with darker skin report being followed in stores, bullied in local schools, and subjected to hostile comments on the street. Traffic signs leading into the reservation were riddled with bullet holes until they were replaced just recently. Anti-Indian graffiti was a constant reminder of the hostility aimed at Native people growing up in North Kitsap.
While the forms of racism have changed over the decades, it has never fully ceased.
The killing of George Floyd has lifted the veil on the brutality experienced by Black people across the nation. But the only thing that is new is the widespread use of phone cameras to document the brutality. African Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color have been subjected to white supremacist violence since European settlers first arrived on these shores bringing people captured and enslaved in Africa.
When settlers first arrived in 1851, Chief Seattle and his people greeted them and helped them during their first difficult winters here on the Salish Sea. Chief Seattle believed his people could benefit from the inevitable arrival of the Americans by engaging in the increased trade and commerce created by the new economy. He and other tribal leaders envisioned success in a new society built on relationships of equality and mutual respect.
Those hopes were dashed when promises made in the treaties went unfulfilled, when lands were stolen from tribal peoples, when Native people were banned from the city of Seattle and longhouses burned, including Old Man House, home of Chief Seattle, here in Suquamish.
Many were killed, including Chief Leschi, leader of the Nisqually people, who was hanged by a citizen government in 1858.
Chief Seattle signed the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855. The Treaty established the Port Madison Indian Reservation as our permanent home in exchange for the Tribe giving title to most of the Kitsap Peninsula to the U.S. government. But the federally appointed Indian agents sold much of our reserved land through the use of discriminatory federal laws. The U.S. military condemned 74 acres of our waterfront, inclusive of Old Man House, to build a military base. They never built the base, instead selling the land to a developer who subdivided into lots for vacation homes for visitors from Seattle.
Perhaps the most devastating of all was the taking of our children by force and coercion to attend distant boarding schools, where speaking our language or practicing our traditions was cruelly punished. This experience has created generational trauma that we are still addressing today.
Our ways of life are built on fishing, hunting, and gathering shellfish, and here, too, simply making a living required us to confront law enforcement and armed vigilantes attempting to prevent us from exercising our treaty rights. Tribal members were arrested, fired upon, and jailed for casting a net or digging shellfish on the beach. We have made progress since those days of conflict here in Kitsap County, as demonstrated by many of our elected leaders who recognize our Treaty rights and engage in government-to-government consultation and negotiations with us on a regular basis. Our hands go up to those elected officials. We have more work to do.
Black and Native Lives Matter
Like African-Americans, Native people have the highest rates of killing by police. So, as a group of us stood on Highway 305 last week, we were thinking about Black Lives lost and also Native Lives. We were thinking about George Floyd and also about Stonechild Chiefstick. We were thinking about Breonna Taylor, shot while she slept in her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, and also about Suquamish Tribe descendant Jeanetta Riley, a mother of four, shot by police in 2014 in Sandpoint, Idaho, and about John T. Williams, a Nuu-chah-nulth woodcarver, shot by Seattle police in 2010. We were thinking about Manny Ellis, an African American man shot by police in Tacoma, and about Suquamish Tribal member Daniel Covarrubias, who reached for his cell phone and was shot by Tacoma police in 2015.
The brutality and inequities experienced by our people and by other communities of color divide and weaken our country.
We can do better. But real changes require more than “thoughts and prayers” for those killed and vague promises of reforms.
Real change means taking action to end the racial bias that infuses law enforcement at all levels in the United States and re-conceptualizing policing at a time when mental health challenges and domestic violence make up a large portion of the calls police are asked to respond to.
It means reforming school curriculum so the history of Native people, Black people, and other people of color is neither erased nor told only through the lens of European-Americans.
We call on all leaders – especially right here in North Kitsap — to embrace Chief Seattle’s vision that we live side-by-side, with equity, full participation, and rights for all the people of all the many cultures that make up our region.
— The Suquamish Tribal Council
Published in the Kitsap Sun