Chiefstick Case Needs Further Review

By Suquamish Tribal Council
(Published in the Kitsap Sun, April 23, 2020)

The news that Kitsap County will not press charges against the police officer who caused the death of Stonechild Chiefstick is of concern to the Suquamish Tribe. That local police were unable to manage an uncomfortable situation involving a person of color without violence has become all too common. We believe that this was a preventable homicide. This father of five, a valued member of our community, did not have to die.

There were other options. He could have been asked to leave the crowded July 3 gathering when it was evident that he was experiencing either a mental health or substance abuse episode. That opportunity was clearly present during the first encounter with the police, as shown in the police body cam footage.

Had police officers used de-escalation methods and more skillfully handled the interaction, the encounter could have ended peacefully. Stonechild Chiefstick’s children could still have their father. Poulsbo residents could have looked forward to future July 3rd celebrations free from the remembered trauma of a violent death. More of the Tribal community would have been able to visualize Poulsbo as a safe place to shop and visit.

While we recognize that the decision about whether to prosecute a particular officer for a particular act is a complex one, we have concerns that extend beyond the scope of this decision, in particular the failure to use the earlier contact as an opportunity to de-escalate the situation or to remove Chiefstick from the premises.

Officer Keller may not be charged, but he is still responsible. The other officers at the scene should also be held to account. In failing to de-escalate this situation, they contributed to the death of one man, the irreplaceable loss of a father, son, brother, and partner to others. And their actions traumatized an entire community.

We look forward to the Poulsbo Police Department’s internal review of this incident, and expect it will be thorough and objective, and address the behavior of all the officers at the scene. The Suquamish Tribe will continue to review the report, and will have further statements and/or actions based on this review.

Earth Day Message from Chairman Forsman

Wishing you well on this, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Chief Seattle (Suquamish/Duwamish), whose words are cited by environmentalists worldwide, said in 1854: “Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and eternal, may change.”

In his lifetime, Chief Seattle, witnessed extraordinary change. He was there when the first contact with a European explorer occurred. And decades later, as settlers poured into the Puget Sound region, he secured the sovereign territories we now call reservations.

He assured that we who are alive seven generations later would have the right to hunt and fish, and to visit the graves of our ancestors. On his gravesite here in Suquamish are embossed words from his famous speech.

“Our ancestors never forget this beautiful world that gave them being,” he said. “They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains…and every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished.”

In 1970, the first Earth Day was launched by people who likewise treasured the natural world. Shortly after, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act were enacted, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created.

Today those accomplishments are under attack. EPA regulations that protect air, water, wetlands, and natural habitats are being weakened and dismantled.

The Suquamish Tribe has joined many other Tribes and organizations in the Northwest to fight this short-sighted and greed-driven deregulation. We oppose allowing polluters to make our seafood more toxic and permitting reckless development to block fish passage and destroy sensitive wetlands. This destruction is an affront to our treaty rights and the rights of all our people to protect our critical habitat.

“Today is fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds,” said Chief Seattle.

Today, as we shelter in place amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the days do indeed feel dark. Few of us imagined this was to come. And yet it was not hard to see that things were changing. Like the pandemic, which at first seemed a distant threat, the climate crisis is suddenly upon us, and it is endangering sea life and oceans along with shorelines, glaciers, food supplies, and forests.

“Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as they swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people,” Chief Seattle said.

On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we should honor this land and celebrate its waters, and we should assess our way of life and its impacts on fragile ecosystems.

Together, we must push back against the President’s misguided deregulatory efforts, and renew the fight that was started 50 years ago with the same passion for life, and love for our lands and waters that got us this far.

Tribal Court Orders Suspension in Payments

The Suquamish Tribal Court issued an Emergency Administrative Order this week that all court-ordered payment plans are now suspended through April and May.

“The Court is striving to address the needs of the community, while taking every precaution to keep community members healthy and prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” reads the order, signed by Chief Judge Cindy K. Smith on April 20. “Due to the pandemic, many people are not able to work and may be facing financial hardships.”

The order adds that those who had recently fallen behind on fishing fine payments, but were current as of March 1, will now be deemed current and will be able to obtain a sticker from the Court to show they are eligible to fish.

Those who were not current on their fishing fine payments as of March 1 are still not eligible to fish. However, Tribal members who get their payments up to date through March will be then be eligible.

The order also makes clear that the suspension of payments does not effect that total amount owed.

For more information email or call (360) 394-8697.

The full Emergency Order can be viewed here.

In a Fitness Rut? Try Something New with These Free Resources

If you find yourself in a fitness rut, it may be time to find a new groove, says Suquamish Tribe’s Fitness Center manager and exercise expert Stephanie Kunold.

Just because everyone needs to be staying at home right now, doesn’t mean you can’t try something new, she says. In fact, now more than ever it’s important to push your body and boost your immune system with exercise.

“If nothing else, spending more time at home right now means we can spend some of that time trying out new ways of improving our fitness. Even if we just spent half an hour a day trying something new on YouTube, chances are great we’d find a workout style we really love,” says Kunold. “Or even just try new areas outdoors to walk with your family or dog.”

To help you get you focused on a new fitness path, consider checking out this 8-step workout booster plan from EXOS on beating the exercise breakdown that many find themselves wrestling with right now, says Kunold.

One great tip: Keep it quick and simple.

“Adjusting to your new normal means that you might not have time for your favorite hour-long run or bike ride. That makes committing to workouts that are quick, simple, and easy to fit in between home-schooling, conference calls, and cooking meals a must,” writes EXOS author Kara Hawking.

If you’re ready to get moving with something new, here’s five free workouts on YouTube — all a half hour or less — that Kunold recommends sampling to help kickstart to your revamped exercise program:

15-Minute Beginner’s At-Home Cardio Workout – Everyone has to start somewhere. And when it comes to cardio, working out in the comfort of your own home is a great place to start. You don’t need any equipment for this workout, just a can-do attitude.

Family Friendly Fun Workout — Get your heart rate up in your living room with this fun workout from Class FitSugar host Anna Renderer. Featuring cardio moves that feel like games and challenges where the winner gets prizes — like choosing what’s for dinner — this workout is the perfect way for the family to get active together.

30-Minute No-Equipment HIIT Workout – High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT for short, will definitely help you take it up a notch. Torch calories with this HIIT workout from Le Sweat founder Charlee Atkins.  Includes three circuits that are going to get your heart rate up and have you feeling the burn.

30-minutes or less Yoga classes – This 59-class series promises to have something for everyone, with enough variety to please everyone from beginners to experts.

30-Minute Hip-Hop Fit Workout – Get ready to unleash your inner dance and fitness beast with Hip-Hop Fit creator Mike Peele! This class is for everyone from beginners to advanced. Just get ready to push your mind and body to the next level!

EXOS Livestream – If you prefer live, but socially distanced workouts, try the EXOS livestream, with exercise programming for all levels, as well as yoga and meditation sessions, and even kids’ workouts.

Finally, says Kunold, don’t forget to follow Suquamish Fitness Center’s Facebook page where there are two new daily workouts posted Monday through Friday. One offers simple no-equipment body weight exercises and other is designed for those who have some basic fitness gear.


Wellness Support Groups Go Online

The staff at the Suquamish Wellness Center are now offering a variety of online support groups.

Here’s what’s available:

Community Support Group


Because of these unprecedented times, we recognize there are a number of additional stressors, changes, and hardships affecting our community. We will be offering a support group using Zoom, open to any community member who would like to attend. You do not need to be a client of Wellness to participate. Come stop in to share support and inspiration – or just to socialize! If you have questions about the group, or how to use Zoom, contact Brian Burwell. This group will be co-facilitated by Brian Burwell and Sara Olsen. Please feel free to drop in!

Time: Tuesdays, 12:00 – 1:00

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 290 555 845
Password: HELLO

Dial in: +1 253 215 8782 US


Parenting Class


Mary Russell, LMHC, will be offering a virtual parenting group based on the No Drama Discipline Work Book. The group will explore parenting through the lens of brain development with a specific focus on what it means to parent during the pandemic. Email Mary directly if you are interested in the group. Tell her a little about your child or children, and indicate if you would prefer a daytime or evening group. (11:00am Thursday or 6:00pm Thursday). Once you are signed up, Mary will coordinate with you to deliver a workbook to your home.


Healthy Relationships: Leading the Next Generations


Suquamish Wellness Center is offering this group using curriculum developed by the Native Wellness Institute to provide “culturally relevant resources to support tribes and tribal families in building healthier couple relationships.” The curriculum has been edited to allow its application in a telehealth format.  The group will be facilitated by Suquamish Wellness Center counselors, Tom Axtelle and Tyler McClain using Zoom (accessible by smart phone and computer). This group is open to Suquamish Tribal Members and other Native adults in the community.

When: Mondays 2:00 – 3:30

Email Tom to sign up!

“This too shall pass”

A message from Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman.

CARES Act: How much you can expect

Here’s a handy chart to help you determine how much stimulus money you should expect from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, better known as the Cares Act.

Click to enlarge.

Or download here:

CARES Act Cash Rebate One Pager

Wipes & paper towels clog the sewer!

Important Notice on Tribal-supplied Water and Sewer
From Suquamish Community Development Utilities Office

Wipes & paper towels clog the sewer! We are all using more cleaning supplies in response to the COVID-19 Stay Home – Stay Healthy Order. High demand of disinfectant wipes and low supply of toilet paper has created a sanitation challenge. Please discard ALL paper towels, wipes, and personal hygiene products in the trash, not the toilet. This includes all items marketed as flushable or disposable.  These items clog sewer lines and pumps.

Only toilet paper is safe to flush.  If you are served by a Tribally-operated sewer system and observe an alarm, please call 360-979-0109.

Water Supply— Residents may experience periodic discolored water and/or low pressure during this period of high residential demand. If you are supplied by a Tribally-operated system and experience sustained color and/or a significant drop in water pressure, please call 360-979-0109.

COVID-19 Housing Payment Deferment Application

The Suquamish Tribal Council is aware of the financial hardship and uncertainty our membership is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Suquamish Members in Tribal Housing may request housing and rental payment deferment by completing the COVID-19 Rent Deferment Application.

You can fill out the form online here.

Or, you can download the application here.

If you download it, completed applications must be submitted to the Suquamish Housing Office for processing.  Application and supporting documentation can be submitted through these methods:

  • Email to :
  • Mailed to: Suquamish Tribe, Po Box 498, Suquamish WA 98392
  • Drop Box: Lobby of Suquamish Police Department


Tribal Government Operations (updated 4/6)

The Tribal Administration facilities will be closed to the public, and services will be suspended, effective April 6 – May 4, 2020. We will have limited staff available to respond to urgent issues with staff working remotely at a limited capacity.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please call (360) 598-4334, which is monitored regularly. You may also contact our response team by sending emails to:

The Suquamish Police Department

The Police Department lobby will be available to drop off child support payments, applications, housing payments, and other government-related paper­work. Staff and officers can also forward messages to other Tribal departments as needed.

Lobby Hours:
Mon-Fri – 8am to 4:30pm

Front Desk: (360) 598-4334
Emergency: 911

Telework and On-call Services

Child Tribal Welfare: (360) 394-8480

Communications: (360) 394-7184/7102

Community Development: (360) 394-8415

Emergency Work Orders: (360) 900-7050

Emergency Utilities: (360) 710-3223

Elders Meals: (360) 394-8413

Health Benefits: (360) 394-8466

Human Resources: (360) 394-8409

Human Services: (360) 394-8465

IT Help Desk: (360) 394-8485

Finance: (360) 394-8430

Fisheries: (360) 394-8438

Tribal Court: (360) 394-8697

Wellness Center

Therapists are still meeting with existing clients through phone/video sessions. A contact list of providers is available here.


Front desk: (360) 394-8558
Wellness Fax – (360) 598-1724
Emergency: 911
Crises Hotline: (888) 910-0416