BIA Secretarial Election Results

Amending the Suquamish Tribe’s Constitution to Remove the Secretary of Interior and BIA Oversight


Posted on April 8, 2022


The Secretarial Election Board, whose members include Puget Sound BIA Superintendent Janine Van Dusen and Suquamish Tribal Members Martha George-Sachava and Charlene Renquist certify that the results of the election are to adopt the proposed Constitutional amendment.

The total vote is 137 in favor of adopting the Constitutional change and 59 opposed. A total of 280 Tribal members registered to vote in this election.



You are entitled to challenge the results of the election pursuant to 25 CFR §81.43 if you are a Registered Voter for this Election. Your written challenge must be received by April 13 at 4pm by Superintendent Janine Van Dusen. Superintendent Van Dusen can be reached via email at or at (425) 622-9158.

The following is the statute that defines this process:

§ 81.43 How are the results of the Election challenged?

Any person who was listed on the Eligible Voters List and who submitted a voter registration form may challenge the results of the Secretarial election. The written challenge, with substantiating evidence, must be received by the Chairman of the Secretarial Election Board within 5 days after the Certificate of Results of Election is posted, not including the day the Certificate of Results of Election is posted. Challenges received after the deadline for filing challenges will not be considered. If the third day falls on a weekend or Federal holiday, the challenge must be received by close of business on the next business day.

The Northwest Regional Office Director, Bryan Mercier, will receive the election results and any challenges that the Election Board receives. The Regional Director will rule on the challenges and approve or disapprove the election results on or before June 1, 2022.

Suquamish Tribal Council

Suquamish Tribe Opposes Congress’ Recognition of Duwamish Tribal Organization

Published in the South Seattle Emerald

by Suquamish Tribal Council

Citizens of the Suquamish Tribe, located across Puget Sound from Seattle, have always fished, hunted, and lived in the central Salish Sea, including on lands that now make up the City of Seattle.

More than half of our tribe is made up of Duwamish people. Many of them have expressed their dissatisfaction at the case made by a select group of Seattle and King County residents who claim to represent all Duwamish people in a recent call on Congress for federal recognition of the Duwamish Tribal Organization (DTO). The claim by these residents discounts the identity and contribution of the Duwamish people who are full citizens of the Suquamish Tribe and other area tribes.

We are frustrated that many Seattleites are joining this call knowing little of the history and circumstances that led to today’s impasse. Those who wish to demonstrate respect for Native people should start by learning the full story from area tribes.

Here Is the History That Is Important Context for This Debate: 

Chief Seattle lived much of his life at Old Man House, a winter village on the Agate Pass shoreline across from Seattle now known as Suquamish. Seattle’s father, Schweabe, joined Chief Kitsap in leading the construction of Old Man House, which is well-known for being the largest traditional cedar longhouse in the Pacific Northwest. This is where Seattle, his family, and tribe lived and hosted large, intertribal ceremonies. Today Chief Seattle is buried in the Suquamish Tribal cemetery here on the Port Madison Indian Reservation.

In 1855, Chief Seattle signed the Treaty of Point Elliott on behalf of the Suquamish/Duwamish people. The treaty, and the negotiations with federal officials that followed, made provisions for reservations at Port Madison (Suquamish) and elsewhere in the Puget Sound region. The United States established and later enlarged the Port Madison Indian Reservation to accommodate the Suquamish and Duwamish people. Many Duwamish families joined us here on the Port Madison Reservation while others chose to live on the Tulalip, Muckleshoot, or Lummi reservations to join relatives and support the tribal governments on each reservation. This was not unusual — many tribes are confederations made up of multiple peoples.

Suquamish Citizens Today

Today, the majority of our elected Tribal Council of seven are Duwamish people. All of our Suquamish citizens, including those who are Duwamish, are fully recognized by the federal government and by our own governance, and enjoy treaty fishing and hunting rights, full constitutional rights to vote and run for office, and they receive the services that the tribal government provides to all of our citizens. We have many respected elders who are Duwamish people — including Cecile Hansen, who has carried the title of DTO chairwoman since 1975, while also receiving the full benefits of Suquamish citizenship.

Similar stories play out on other reservations where Duwamish people are citizens.

Our opposition to the DTO’s current campaign for congressional recognition grows out of this history.

We resent that this campaign discounts and ignores the multiple ways the Suquamish Tribe incorporates and acknowledges our Duwamish citizens within our social, cultural, economic, political, and spiritual activities.

This frustration is further sharpened by the lack of transparency in the governance of the DTO. When asked, DTO leaders refused to give us any assurances that they would permit our Duwamish citizens to join their Tribe if they are recognized. We are disappointed that DTO claims to be “the host Tribe for Seattle” and discounts the legal, cultural, and historic presence the Suquamish and other area tribes have always had on the lands and waters of both sides of Puget Sound.

Campaign for Congressional Action

To be clear: The Suquamish Tribe did not take a position when the DTO made their case for recognition before the Interior Department.

The Interior Department process is better equipped to weigh the important legal and historic nuances of such a decision, and we stayed out of the process believing it would be thorough and fair. Indeed, after many years of examining the DTO’s application, and hearing appeals, the Interior Department rejected federal recognition.

Congress, on the other hand, is not the right place for this decision on federal recognition due to the technical nature of DTO’s recognition, especially when neighboring tribes are in opposition. Federal recognition should not be granted based on emotion, charity, or the latest political movements. It must be evaluated through analysis by the federal government’s historic and cultural expertise, with court review as needed. The Interior Department process concluded that the DTO is not an Indian Tribe. The Suquamish Tribe does not support relitigating the question of DTO federal recognition through Congress.

We hope that those who support the nonprofit aims of the DTO understand that recognition is not necessary for many of the initiatives the organization seeks to accomplish. Moreover, for those eligible for enrollment, the Duwamish people have opportunities for recognition through their enrollment in other area tribes.

In addition to DTO, those who want to provide meaningful support for Native people might consider supporting the Chief Seattle Club, American Indian College Fund, Native American Rights Fund, and our own Suquamish Foundation.

Blind support for congressional recognition of the DTO has serious consequences for the Suquamish and the other neighboring tribes who are the original inhabitants of Seattle and the surrounding area.  Perceived justice for a few, at the expense of the region’s sovereign tribes, is not justice for all.

Signed, Suquamish Tribal Council

Chairman Leonard Forsman
Vice Chairman Joshua Bagley
Secretary Windy Anderson
Treasurer Denita Holmes
Sammy Mabe
Luther “Jay” Mills Jr.
Rich Purser

Suquamish Tribe Elects Leaders to Tribal Council

SUQUAMISH, WA –Suquamish Tribal citizens voted to fill two Tribal Council positions up for election this year at the Tribe’s annual General Council gathering, which took place March 19 and 20, 2022.

Josh Bagley was elected Tribal Council vice chair and Denita Holmes was elected treasurer. Josh Bagley, a former geoduck diver, is president of the Suquamish Seafoods Board and vice chair of the Suquamish Tribal Gaming Commission. Denita Holmes is a teacher at Chief Kitsap Academy, a former member of the Suquamish Museum Board and an artist.

Outgoing vice chair Wayne George and treasurer, Robin LW Sigo, were thanked by fellow Council members, and their services acknowledged by Tribal members.

Tribal Council is now comprised of Chairman Leonard Forsman, Vice Chair Josh Bagley, Secretary Windy Anderson, Treasurer Denita Holmes, and three at-large members, Sammy Mabe, Luther (Jay) Mills III, and Rich Purser.

The Suquamish Tribal Council is the governing body of the Suquamish Tribe, elected by Tribal citizens during their annual General Council meeting. Candidates elected to Tribal Council serve in three-year staggered terms.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 and 2022 General Council meetings took place via Zoom, with drive-thru voting for both a primary and general election. Like last year, hundreds of Tribal members participated in a full weekend of reports, resolutions, and discussions via Zoom.

Also during the virtual gathering, family members who died during the previous year were honored. New babies born to the community were celebrated, and adults who had reached Elder status were recognized.

Tribal enterprises reported on their progress during another year challenged by COVID restrictions, with news of Suquamish Seafoods, Casino Resort operations, the Tribe’s marijuana enterprise (which recently opened a second retail outlet), and the construction enterprises.

Tribal members also heard from government departments, including those focused on finance, housing, emergency operations, fisheries and environmental restoration, and human services.

Voting was conducted in-person via drive-thru balloting on March 20. There was also an option for walk-up voting.

With approximately 1,200 citizens, Suquamish Tribe is a federally recognized sovereign nation. The village of Suquamish and seat of the Suquamish Tribal Government are located on the Port Madison Indian Reservation, along the shores of the Puget Sound near Seattle. The election of Tribal Council members is one of the many ways Tribal citizens exercise their sovereignty as Tribal citizens.

Final List of Registered Voters for BIA Election

Pursuant to 25 CFR 81.31 the Suquamish Tribe posts this Registered Voters List for the Secretarial Election to amend the Suquamish Tribe’s Constitution.

See Voter List Here

Registered Voters List for the Secretarial Election to amend the Suquamish Tribe’s Constitution

Pursuant to 25 CFR 81.31 the Suquamish Tribe posts this Registered Voters List for the Secretarial Election to amend the Suquamish Tribe’s Constitution.


See voter list here.


You are entitled to challenge the Registered Voters List in accordance 25 CFR 81.32.

(a) It is possible to challenge in writing the inclusion or exclusion or omission of a name on the Registered Voters List. The written challenge must be received by the Secretarial Election Board by the established deadline and include the following:

(1) The name of the affected individual or individuals;

(2) The reason why the individual’s name should be added to or removed from the Registered Voters List; and

(3) Supporting documentation.

(b) If an individual failed to submit his or her registration form on time, that individual is precluded from challenging the omission of his/her name from the list.



Suquamish Tribe Honors Black History Month


Proclamation for Black History Month
Suquamish Tribal Council
February 2022


The Suquamish Tribe joins President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, other government leaders, and millions of others across the United States in celebrating Black History Month 2022.

We acknowledge the African heritage that exists in our Tribe and recognize Julia Jacobs, a tribal matriarch born in 1874 at Port Madison Mill and adopted as an infant by Treaty Signer Chief Jacob Wahelchu and his wife Mary Jacob.  Raised in the Suquamish culture, Julia was a fluent speaker of Lushootseed and expert basket maker who passed along her knowledge and skills to the next generations, who are today among our most important cultural practitioners, leaders, and teachers.

We celebrate the arrival of thousands of African Americans who came to this region during the Great Migration to escape the racist violence of the South and to contribute to the nation’s war effort by working at the Bremerton Shipyards.

We are grateful for the support of African American activists who supported us during the “fish wars,” including the comedian and civil rights leader Richard Claxton “Dick” Gregory, who was arrested for aiding in “illegal” net fishing on the Nisqually River in support of treaty fishing rights, and went on a hunger strike while serving a jail sentence.

We honor today’s contributions from our region’s Black neighbors and leaders in education, public service, government, and enterprises, and in their ongoing stance for justice and equity. And we celebrate our ongoing partnership with the Marvin Williams Center in Bremerton, a locus of recreation and culture in Bremerton that centers the city’s African American community.

We are proud to have stood shoulder to shoulder with the Kitsap’s Black community in proclaiming that Black Lives Matter, and Native Lives Matter, in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd, Stonechild Chiefstick, Manuel Ellis, and many others, and in celebrating Juneteenth and other occasions of importance to the African American community.

We celebrate our joint work, including the campaign that resulted in the passage of landmark Climate Change legislation in the Washington Legislature.

We recognize that Black people, in common with Indigenous people, suffer from health challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, and that our communities are the hardest hit by the pandemic and by the associated impacts on our wellbeing of interruptions in education and employment opportunities, and by social isolation.

Indian people suffered from the legacy of colonialism, the seizing of our lands, the massacres and diseases, the devastating attempts at assimilation — a legacy that occurred in parallel with the enslavement and the mistreatment of peoples of African descent. We are grateful for the support we receive from the region’s African American leaders who stand with us in respecting Tribal rights and we pledge to likewise stand with the Black community as you continue to seek your rights.

Therefore, we proclaim February 2022 Black History Month on the Port Madison Indian Reservation, and celebrate the theme of this year’s commemoration: Black Health and Wellness. We look forward to working with the African American community to create a just, healthy, and equitable future for all Black, Indigenous, and people of color.


Leonard Forsman, Chairman

Suquamish Tribal Council

February 9, 2022

COVID-19 Surge Update: When to get tested, what do if you get sick

Suquamish Tribe’s Community Health Manager Dr. Barbara Hoffman provides an update on the latest COVID-19 surge now hitting the community, with details on when you should get tested and what to do if you or a family member gets sick.

Suquamish Tribe COVID-19 Response Update

Tribal Council and Suquamish government leaders are closely tracking the spike in Omicron infections that is sweeping the entire country and is sickening people here on the Port Madison Indian Reservation.

We are taking action, and we are asking that you do also. Please take these steps to protect yourself and those who are unable to get vaccinated, especially our youngest children:

  • If you aren’t well, please get tested and isolate yourself from others.
  • If you are a close contact with someone who has COVID, please wait five days and then get tested.
  • Testing is available free to all Tribal members and their households, as well as government staff and PME employees, at the Tribal Center, every weekday from 8:30am to noon.
  • The ELC tested staff and students and will reopen Jan. 5 with limited hours, 9am – 4pm. CKA tested all staff and students and has reopened.
  • All Tribal services are by appointment only or via curbside pick-up this week. Non-essential Tribal government staff are asked to work from home.
  • Vaccinations and boosters are our best protection. Please make sure you and all family members are fully vaccinated and boosted if eligible. Make a vaccination appointment at:
  • Children age 12 and up are eligible for vaccinations and can get boosters if their second dose was at least 6 months ago.
  • Children age 5 and up should get vaccinated. Please check with your health care provider if you have concerns about getting your child vaccinated.
  • Avoid gathering indoors with anyone outside your household. Keep your “bubble” small.
  • Wear N-95 masks, or two layers of other masks, when outside your bubble.
  • Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.
  • Tribe Emergency Management has ordered additional home test kits. We will notify you via SUN alert when they are available.

These steps worked to help reduce the impact on the Tribal community so far. Now we need to put these steps to work again while Omicron burns through the community.

Acting together we can protect vulnerable members of our family and community. 


More background information

The Omicron variant is much more catching, and the numbers infected are doubling every few days. We’ll have information on the number of positive cases tested by Tribal Community Health later this week.

Some people are less concerned about Omicron because it is said to be less deadly. Still, hospitals around the state are filling up with very sick people. In most cases, but not all cases, those getting very ill or dying are people who are not vaccinated.

The Tribe has an adequate supply of PCR tests, but is asking those who are not ill or a close contact, to hold off on testing during this time.

tix̌ix̌dubut čəxʷ (take care of yourself)

Tribe Strengthens COVID-19 Quarantine & Isolation Guidelines

NEW COVID-19 Quarantine & Isolation Guidelines

Effective, 12/23/21

The Suquamish Tribe has updated COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation guidelines in light of recent updates to CDC criteria, increased local positivity rates, and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive, please contact your health care provider.

COVID Testing – Testing is closed during the Tribe’s Winter Break, through Jan. 3, 2022. Please click here for alternative testing sites.

Testing through Community Health staff will resume Jan. 4,  Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 12 noon without an appointment. Results are typically known within 48 hours. For more information, contact Community Health at 360-394-8469.

What to do while you Quarantine (When you are exposed but have no symptoms of COVID-19)

  1. Fully vaccinated/unvaccinated individuals exposed to a close contact event and who are asymptomatic (no symptoms), must quarantine for 14 days and should complete a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test 3-5 days following.
  2. Fully vaccinated/unvaccinated individuals who remain asymptomatic throughout the duration of their quarantine may leave quarantine on day seven (7) or later at the discretion of the local health jurisdiction, if they:
    • Have received a negative PCR test on day five (5) or later and remain symptom free;
    • Monitor for symptoms and wear a mask when within any indoor setting for the full 14 days;
    • Immediately self-isolate if symptoms develop and get tested with a PCR test;
    • They may leave quarantine on day 10 if no PCR test is performed.
  1. Continue to follow all travel, masking, and physical distancing recommendations. Residents of health care on congregate settings will follow agency policy.
  2. Fully vaccinated/unvaccinated individuals who become symptomatic, should complete a PCR test and immediately self-isolate following the onset of symptoms. Next steps will be determined based on the testing outcome.Fully vaccinated individuals who do not quarantine should wear a mask indoors and when in public spaces for 14 days following Close Contact exposure.

While in Quarantine

  • Monitor for symptoms, fever greater than 100.4° F, cough, shortness of breath, or other COVID-19 symptoms. CDC COVID-19 Self-Checker (Scroll ½ way down page)
  • If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.


After Quarantine

  • Monitor for symptoms for an additional 14 days following exposure.
  • If symptomatic, immediately self-isolate and contact your healthcare provider.


What to do while in Isolation (When you separate from others because you are infected and/or have symptoms of COVID-19)

Those in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. At home, anyone sick or infected should separate from others, stay in a specific “sick room” or area, and use a separate bathroom (if available).

  • Monitor for symptoms. If experiencing an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
  • Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
  • Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
  • Wear a mask when around other people if able.

Reference: What to do if you are sick and How to notify your contacts.


Asymptomatic – Refers to an individual who is infected by the disease but does not display any of the clinical symptoms know to be associated with the disease.
Standard Terminology

Close Contact – Exposure occurs when someone has been within 6 feet of an individual infected with COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Indirect contact without the combination of close proximity and duration does not constitute close contact exposure.

Fully Vaccinated – Defines an individual who has received their full regiment of vaccine dosages and is at least two weeks post completion of their final vaccination. Though booster vaccinations are not yet considered part of the full vaccination definition, boosters are strongly encouraged.

Infected – An individual who is sick with and/or has tested positive for COVID-19; they may or may not be symptomatic.

Isolation – To physically separate a person infected with COVID-19 from people not infected to prevent the spread of disease; a person need not be symptomatic to warrant isolation.

Quarantine – To separate and restrict the movement of persons who are not symptomatic but may have been exposed to a communicable disease, to prevent close contacts that will spread disease.


CEMP: Appendix I.2, Isolation & Quarantine Guidelines CDC Quarantine and Isolation Recommendations