Suquamish government tightens COVID precautions

With COVID-19 rates increasing within our workplace, across the Reservation, and throughout the region, we are updating the Tribal Government’s requirements for staff and guests. The following changes will go into effect beginning Tuesday June 21:

  1. Physical Distancing – A minimum three-foot separation from others is now required inside all Government-owned facilities.
  2. Masks – The use of approved face masks is now required while inside Tribal Government facilities, vehicles, and vessels when in the presence of others.
    1. Employees may remove their mask while at their desk, provided they are not working with clients and guests and are able to maintain a minimum three-foot distance from other employees.
    2. Occupant load restrictions remain at their normal level, but with adherence to the required masking and physical distancing referenced above.
  3. Guests and visitors — Guests are also required to wear a mask and maintain at least three-foot separation when inside Tribal Government facilities. Appointments with clients and guests are strongly encouraged.
  4. Working outside – The use of approved face masks is highly recommended while outdoors, but is not required when a 3-foot minimum distance cannot be maintained.
  5. Remote work – If a Tribal Government employee’s job function allows, they may telecommute if approved by their supervisor; all other employees are expected to report to work as they are normally scheduled.

Please Remember:

  1. Follow all the safe practices that have helped to keep us all safe. i.e., minimize exposure risks, disinfect and sanitize, practice good hygiene, stay home when sick, etc.
  2. Employees who are symptomatic or who become symptomatic during the day should be immediately separated from others and sent home. They should follow-up with a PCR COVID-19 test in accordance with testing protocols.

We will continue to monitor local case rates over the next few weeks and will adjust our safety measures accordingly. Thank you in advance for your cooperation. With your continued commitment, we’ll be able to keep our co-workers safe.

NOTE: Early Learning Center and CKA families, please see special protocols for your students.

Suquamish Tribal Council’s statement on Resumption of Government-to-Government Relations with the City of Poulsbo

Two and a half years ago, the Suquamish Tribe suspended our close relationship with the City of Poulsbo. Our decision came some months after the police shooting death of Stonechild Chiefstick and follow-on events that left our community reeling.

We are pleased to announce we are taking the first steps towards normalizing relations with the City as a result of a series of actions that have helped to alleviate tensions.

Background 

Since 2005, representatives of the City’s and Tribe’s councils have met regularly to discuss issues of mutual concern, including the environment, treaty fishing rights, growth management, education, and public safety. The Tribe suspended this relationship some months following the July 3, 2019, fatal shooting of Chiefstick after police responded to a 911 call and confronted him in a crowd gathered along Poulsbo’s waterfront to watch fireworks. Chiefstick, a father of five, was a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe and the Suquamish community. His death left the community shaken and angry. As the elected representatives of the Tribe, we had to ask ourselves whether there was sufficient safety for Tribal members who live, work or visit Poulsbo, and whether there was sufficient understanding to resume meeting with city officials.

Later events added salt to the wound. Chiefstick’s makeshift memorial at Poulsbo’s waterfront park was repeatedly desecrated, once by a Port of Poulsbo Commissioner, who was arrested (but not charged) for a drunken tirade against Native Americans.  The officer who shot and killed Chiefstick was not criminally charged by the Kitsap County Prosecutor nor disciplined by the City of Poulsbo, and remains on the force. Tribal community members and others who brought concerns to City leaders felt unheard and dismissed.

Since that time, the City of Poulsbo has taken the following important steps:

  • The City hired new Police Chief Ron Harding, who has taken significant action to reshape community policing culture. His policies now require extra hours of in-depth officer training (funded by the City), emphasizing de-escalation, crisis intervention, implicit bias, cultural awareness, compassion for those struggling with mental health and/or addiction, less lethal tools, and using force only as a last resort. He and the City increased their previous halftime Behavioral Navigator, social worker Jamie Young, to fulltime. She works with officers to understand and respond effectively during encounters with those affected by trauma, poverty, mental illness, and substance addiction; she coordinates closely with the CARES program (below).
  • In partnership with the Poulsbo Fire Department (and others), the City launched CARES, a proactive multi-disciplinary intervention program that responds to individuals struggling with behavioral health issues. It helps them obtain care for medical, mental health, substance abuse disorders, and other needs.  The City’s Housing, Health, and Human Services director, Kim Hendrickson, has been instrumental in coordinating with the Police Department and CARES to enhance first responders’ abilities to prevent their encounters with the public from turning deadly.
  • The City responded positively to calls for the public art at the Highway 305-Johnson Parkway roundabout to include visual acknowledgements of the Suquamish presence in this region with original Native art and language.
  • The City settled a civil lawsuit brought by Chiefstick’s family.
  • The City has issued statements acknowledging the suffering endured by Chiefstick’s family and the community at large.
  • The City has become an active member of the Government Alliance for Racial Equity (GARE), which comprises government leaders nationwide striving to combat racial injustice and to make their governments more diverse and equitable.

Next steps 

We have followed these developments within Poulsbo’s city government, aided by our Tribal Council’s Emissary, retired Judge Robin Hunt; she has acted as a go-between while formal Tribal communications with the City were suspended.  We are now ready to re-engage government-to-government relations.

We hope to re-establish our shared work, and discuss ways that first responders (including law enforcement) and mental health and social work professionals from our respective communities might collaborate to address mental health and substance abuse emergencies. We also want to renew elected leader discussions on growth management, water quality, and marine habitat protection.

We are encouraged that a continued focus on mutual respect, appropriate law enforcement, and accomplishing shared goals will provide a foundation for productive collaboration for years to come.

 

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 Tribal Council statement on Earth Day 2022, as President Biden Visits Chief Seattle’s land

“Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove … even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as the swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch.” 

 – Chief Seattle

It’s fitting that President Biden is here on Chief Seattle’s lands on this Earth Day, as we confront the climate crisis and the other ecological emergencies that threaten our ways of life.

The Treaty of Point Elliott, signed by Chief Seattle, secured our peoples’ rights to fish and hunt and gather, and the courts have made clear – that means that marine habitats must be healthy enough to sustain those fisheries.

We applaud President Biden’s commitment to healthy forests. With a hotter climate, forests must be protected for their capacity to sequester carbon and also to shade the waterways that must remain cool if marine life is to survive.

In that spirit, while we celebrate the Biden Administration’s plans for restoring the broken infrastructure of this nation, we call for ecological restoration to be the top priority. Each road, bridge, and energy project must be constructed or rebuilt in a way that protects surrounding ecosystems as well as the climate.

Highways and bridges must include safe storm water filtering that prevent toxics from running off and polluting the Salish Sea, harming salmon and orca. And fish blocking culverts must be replaced.

We are reaching a point where polluted and degraded waterways and landscapes are permanently altering the living planet, and threatening us with extinction and marine dead zones, wildfires, smoke, and much worse for future generations.

The solutions to these crisis that will bring peace are those that are just. Solutions must protect the vulnerable as well as the resilient, the poor as well as the wealthy. Like Chief Seattle, we must never stop thinking about the impacts of these decisions on future generations, who have no voice unless we speak for them.

The planet cannot sustain ways of life that use up the living resources and dump waste at levels beyond the natural world’s capacity to recover. We are faced with a moral decision, brought most urgently to our attention by young people who are asking what sort of world we are leaving to them. We can’t sidestep that question any longer. The tipping point is here and it is now.

So let us celebrate this 2022 Earth Day keeping in mind the guidance offered by Chief Seattle and the sacrifices he and other Tribal elders made to assure the survival of generations to come.

As members of the seventh generation since his time on this Earth, we are grateful to him. Will the people of seven generations from now be equally grateful to us?

Much will depend on decisions made by the Biden administration and how they impact the waters, the land, and the climate.

By Suquamish Tribal Council: Leonard Forsman, chair, Joshua Bagley, vice-chair, Denita Holmes, treasurer, Windy Anderson, secretary, Luther (Jay) Mills III, Sammy Mabe, and Rich Purser.

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 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.

Signed,

Leonard Forsman, Chairman

Suquamish Tribal Council

February 9, 2022

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.

Definitions

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.

Reference

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

Home COVID-19 test kits available to Suquamish Tribe members

COVID-19 home test kits are now available to Suquamish Tribal member households.

This QuickVue home test is authorized for nonprescription home use for individuals aged 2 years or older. The test can be used within 6-days of symptom onset. Or, for those without symptoms or other medical reasons to suspect COVID-19 infection, it can be used when tested twice over three days with at least 24 hours (and no more than 48 hours) between tests.

Kits may be picked up at Wellness, Tribal Child Welfare, Human Services, Chief Kitsap Academy, Early Learning Center, Suquamish Police Department, and through the Elders Program.

You can learn more about the home test kit here.

Meanwhile, Suquamish Tribe’s Community Health COVID-19 testing station is open M-F 8:30-12:00. This free drive-thru clinic is open to all Tribal members and their households, as well as Tribal government staff and enterprise employees.

The Community Health testing station will be closed during the government holiday beginning Dec. 24 and will reopen on Jan. 4.

During that time, testing is available at a variety of locations in the area, including those listed here.

 

Suquamish Tribe Elects Leaders to Tribal Council

The Suquamish Tribe voted on March 21 to fill five Tribal Council positions up for election this year at the Tribe’s annual General Council gathering.

The Council members re-elected are:

  • Chairman: Leonard Forsman
  • Position 1 Rich Purser
  • Position 2 Sammy Mabe
  • Position 3 Luther (Jay) Mills Jr.

The new member on the Council is Windy Anderson, elected as Secretary. Anderson is the General Manager of Suquamish Evergreen Corporation, the Tribe’s cannabis enterprise. The previous Secretary, Nigel Lawrence, chose not to run for re-election. His services on Tribal Council were acknowledged and appreciated by Tribal members during the General Council.

The Chairman and three at-large members who were re-elected, along with the new Tribal Council Secretary, join Vice-Chairman Wayne George and Treasurer Robin Little Wing Sigo, whose seats were not up for election this year.

The Suquamish Tribal Council is the governing body of the Suquamish Tribe, elected by Tribal citizens during their annual General Council meeting.

Tribal Council is composed of seven positions: Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and three at-large council members. Candidates elected to Tribal Council serve in three-year staggered terms.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s General Council was canceled to protect the health of Tribal members. The terms of the two positions that were up for election last year – Chairman and Secretary – were extended for an additional year. To retain the staggering, this year’s General Council meeting elected those two positions to two-year terms. These seats, along with the three at-large council member seats, brought the total number of positions on the ballot to five.

With the pandemic ongoing, this year’s General Council was held online. Hundreds of Tribal members participated in a full weekend of reports, resolutions, and discussions via Zoom. Voting was conducted in person via drive-thru balloting on March 21. 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.

Suquamish Remembers Chief Seattle

 

Every year, for as long as anyone can remember, the Suquamish Tribe — alongside friends and allies — has gathered in late August at the grave of Chief Seattle to remember their great ancestor and his many accomplishments.
This year, things must be done a little differently, but we can still gather together to remember. Please join Suquamish Elder Marilyn Wandrey in this special Chief Seattle celebration at his grave site in Suquamish.
Music credit:
Bearon’s Floor Song
Sacred Water Canoe Family
Composed by James Old Coyote