Suquamish Foundation Announces A Time to Gather

The New Year is here. What does it hold for us? Times may feel uncertain.  And yet, one thing is absolutely certain; for those who treasure the sacred, priceless beauty of the cultural, historic and environmental values of the Puget Sound, it will be a year of true celebration and accomplishment.  It is truly a year to honor that, to share that, and, yes, to thoroughly enjoy that at a party!  Let us joyfully celebrate together at the Suquamish Foundation’s 2017 “A Time To Gather” community event on March 24th.  This will once again be held at Kiana Lodge, one of the most beautiful seaside venues in Washington State.

It has now been 12 years, since the Suquamish Tribe chartered its’ non-profit organization, the Suquamish Foundation.  The Foundation invited a wealth of enthusiastic partners and supporters to raise $20 million dollars to launch an incredibly successful “Building for Cultural Resurgence Capital Campaign “. Together we realized a vision for a renovated downtown Suquamish with a beautiful new Museum, Community House,  Community Dock, new Early Learning Center and a brighter  future.

This work goes on!  It is exciting to see such positive change in a few short years, to recognize the generosity of so many contributors and come together to support and celebrate our on-going work and mutual benefits.  The Suquamish Foundation will now focus on a new Community Playground, a vigorous fight against drug and alcohol addiction, and enhancing the cultural collections at the Suquamish Museum.

At A Time To Gather, March 24th from 6 to 9 p.m., we will be providing dinner and cocktails, an amazing cultural performance and a brilliant art auction of original pieces as well as auctioning unique cultural experiences such as a voyage in one of the Tribal canoes.  Please join us for this vibrant event and revel in our successes and support our brighter future.  We will wrap you in a metaphorical blanket of honor, love and solidarity. To purchase tickets, click here! To see photos from last year’s event, click here.

Lawrence To Perform at Time to Gather

Suquamish vocalist Calina Lawrence to be featured performer at Suquamish Foundation’s popular spring event.

Vocal artist and activist Calina Lawrence (Suquamish).

Vocal artist and activist Calina Lawrence will be performing at the annual Time to Gather event this year. A member of the Suquamish Tribe, Calina Lawrence was born and raised within her Indigenous culture in the Northwest area of Washington State. Her vocal journey began at a young age when she was first introduced to her cultural music. Lending her voice to the preservation of Suquamish traditions, she also grew to love singing many modern genres. She was raised knowing the importance of spreading awareness about the social injustices that have impacted the quality of lives on tribal reservations and within urban Native communities. Her involvement in her cultural music has led her in activism in the cities of Seattle, San Francisco, and Oakland. Lawrence recently graduated with Honors from the University of San Francisco, attaining her BA in Performing Arts & Social Justice; a Music concentration. She has spent recent time traveling the country in advocacy for Native Treaty Rights and the “Mni Wiconi” (Water is Life) movement lead by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. She dedicates her artistry and energy to POC racial injustice, police brutality, mass-incarceration, gentrification, misrepresentation of Native Americans in education/mainstream United States media, climate injustice, blood quantum and enrollment issues, foster youth, suicide prevention, and many other causes. Since graduation, she has released her debut Single entitled “Alcatraz” January ‘17 and will be releasing her first album later in the year.

A Time to Gather is an annual fundraiser that includes live performances, dinner and an art auction with proceeds benefiting the Suquamish Foundation. This year, the event will be held at Kiana Lodge on Friday, March 24, 2017. Tickets for the event are available online for a limited time.

Ribbons of Resilience

Suquamish Foundation thanks community for support, pledges to host another fashion showcase next year.

Suquamish Tribal Council Member Sammy Mabe was one of several elected officials to showcase ribbon apparel at the event.

by Angela Flemming

We want to thank all of you who joined us for the Suquamish Foundation’s inaugural Ribbons of Resilience fashion show at the Whitehorse Golf Course Ballroom on October 21st. This fun evening event celebrated Tribal history and traditions as well as the individual creativity and artistry of our community members. At the same time, it raised donations for and awareness of the Suquamish Foundation, which has supported programs and projects that benefit the Suquamish community since its’ inception in 2005.
An illuminated catwalk and a live deejay’s music mix featured the stylish modeling of male and female community members of all ages, as well as the full complement of the Suquamish Tribal Council, including Chairman, Leonard Forsman, and many of the very youngest and most adorable members of the Suquamish Tribe. Robin Sigo, Treasurer of the Suquamish Tribal Council and Director of the Suquamish Foundation, the non-profit branch of the Suquamish Tribal Government, emceed the event with obvious enjoyment, story-telling, infectious humor and pride. Each of the beautiful and original ribbon shirts, garments and baby outfits told an individual story through its colors, patterns and ribbons. Each, indeed, were wearable art pieces.
Ribbons for Resilience showcased beautiful ribbon shirt and dresses from many community members and families, including original multi-piece collections by E’thayta’ ae (LynDee Wells) and Xoputsee (Alaina Capoeman). Styles included traditional stars and salmon motifs, as well as contemporary Seahawks and Star Wars designs. One of the most hauntingly beautiful garments was a ledger art shirt, worn by Chairman Forsman, with an illustrated tribute to upholding sovereignty rights guaranteed in the treaty.
Our nearly 150-person audience engaged with the energy of the models and artistry of the garments with such enthusiasm and charitable generosity that we have already started planning for next year’s event. The Ribbons of Resilience event was joyful and beautiful. Again, we thank you for your attendance and for collaborating with us in continuing to support a diverse and cohesive community working together for positive change.

To see additional photos, please visit our online gallery at  To donate or to order a # Sovereign Style shirt, please call Margeaux Lewis at (360) 394-8453.

Ocean to Table Video!

Ocean to Table

Ocean to Table is a program at Chief Kitsap Academy designed to give students a hands-on learning experience that incorporates science and culture by taking them on the journey that fish make, from the ocean to their dinner tables.

Suquamish Fisheries Director Rob Purser shows Chief Kitsap Academy Students how to maintain salmon fishing nets.

Suquamish Fisheries Director Rob Purser shows Chief Kitsap Academy Students how to maintain salmon fishing nets.

 by Karen Matsumoto

One very cold mid-November morning students in the marine biology class at Chief Kitsap Academy found themselves out on Dyes Inlet learning how to catch chum salmon.  Jay Mills, his brother David, and Rob Purser provided the boats, equipment, and expertise, and generously gave their whole day to provide the first stage of a “start-to-finish” chum salmon fishing project. Students were prepared through classroom activities about outfitting a fishing boat.  Boots and raingear provided by the school and loaned by the Tribal Fisheries Department, so students were ready to brave the cold and participate in a day of hard work on a gillnetter. The project ended days later with delicious salmon that was smoked, canned, and ready to eat.

This innovative activity was the brainchild of Tribal Councilmember and Kiana Lodge manager Jay Mills and Randi Purser, language and cultural teacher at CKA. They realized that although just about everybody loves smoked salmon, most students had no idea of the energy, patience, and effort it takes to produce one jar of smoked salmon.

The project was incorporated into the salmon unit of the CKA marine biology curriculum by Marine Biology teacher, Karen Matsumoto.  Students learned about chum salmon life history early in the school year, and conducted macroinvertebrate sampling at Cowling Creek with Paul Dorn, Suquamish Fisheries biologist, and with biologists from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Kitsap County.  Students also conducted stream habitat investigations, monitoring water chemistry and stream health.  In late October, they saw chum salmon swimming upriver to spawn on Suquamish tribal lands for the first time in almost 100 years, thanks to the new fish ladder built by Trout Unlimited volunteers.

There was a field trip to the Grover Creek hatchery and classroom dissection activities. After investigating the internal anatomy of salmon, students practiced filleting the fish, an essential step in preparing them for smoking.

The November day on David’s and Jay’s boats included setting and pulling nets, disentangling salmon caught in the nets, and dealing with the unusual numbers of sea jellies encountered in Chico Bay.  Over 50 salmon were caught that day and by the end of the afternoon, the students were throwing fish like Pike Place Market fish vendors!  They helped pack the fish for processing and met at the Community House the salmon the following day to continue their work.  Jay Mills taught students how to clean and prepare fish for smoking, using his grandmother’s trick of placing the salmon on a bed of ferns to hold the fish in place and absorb the blood.  It was an all day effort to clean and process the fish, ending with the salmon fillets carefully packed with salt and sent to the smoker!

Students helped tend the fire in the smoker, and learned about the smoking process.  When the fish was ready, we met Jay at the Kiana Lodge kitchen for canning.  About half the fish was smoked, resulting in seven cases of pint jars of first-rate salmon.  The flavor was heavenly! These jars will be used as gifts to honor speakers and elders who come to the school and some may be sold for a school fundraiser.

Inspired by the success of this venture, Karen and Jay are developing a chum salmon fishing curriculum, so the program can be streamlined and duplicated every year.  This intensive project, extending over three weeks, was well worth the time and effort. Students gained hands-on experience in the Tribe’s local chum fishery, learned how to process and preserve salmon, and gained another important connection with their Tribal heritage.

Making Waves at CKA

Mural artist Toma Villa, right, assisting students painting the new mural at Chief Kitsap Academy

Mural artist Toma Villa, right, assisting students painting the new mural at Chief Kitsap Academy

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 suquamishtribe. More infomration about Toma Villa’s artwork, including murals, can be found online at

Culvert Removal on Chico Creek

Ostrom Chico Creek

Tom Ostrom was the lead on the project for the Suquamish Tribe. He is pictured here, in front of the culvert, before its’ removal last summer.

Kitty Hawk Drive, just off Chico Way between Silverdale and Bremerton, WA was filled with work trucks and men in hard hats last summer. The relatively small, inconspicuous roadway was home to a stream culvert that was removed, thanks to the Suquamish Tribe’s cooperative efforts with local, state and federal officials.

Members of the Suquamish Tribe along with representatives from State, County and Federal regulatory agencies broke ground on the project on June 17, 2014.  Workers finished replacing the culvert with a bridge fall 2014, just in time for the early winter salmon runs in October and November.

Culverts are large cement tunnels that carry streams under roadways. The structures, used throughout the northwest during the last half of the twentieth century, create significantly faster running waterways that impede fish passage and damage creek beds.

Over the past several years the Suquamish Tribe has worked with government agencies and other organizations to remove the 40-foot culvert at Kitty Hawk Drive. The goal is to remove the even larger 400-foot culvert upstream under State Route 3 as well, resulting in a much healthier estuary at the mouth of Chico Creek.

Tom Ostrom, Salmon Recovery Coordinator in the Fisheries Department at the Suquamish Tribe, has been the lead on the project.

“The Washington State Department of Transportation has ranked the State Route 3 culvert as the second highest priority for replacement in the entire Olympia Region. Removing Kitty Hawk Drive from the historic Chico estuary is a necessary first step allowing for the future replacement of the State Route 3 culvert,” said Ostrom.
The Chico estuary is a diverse mix of habitats including stream and nearshore riparian, salt marsh, tidal distributary channels, and inter-tidal gravel beach. The Suquamish Tribe has documented juveniles of 5 species of Pacific salmon (including listed Chinook salmon and steelhead) rearing within the Chico estuary. In the early 1960s, the State Highway Department built State Route 3 and Kitty Hawk Drive on fill as deep as 50 feet, resulting in the loss of approximately 5 acres of channel, floodplain, and saltmarsh in the Chico Estuary.

Spotlight on PME’s Jay Mills

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.

Luther "Jay" Mills Jr teaching a salmon filleting class during a traditional foods workshop in Suquamish.

Luther “Jay” Mills Jr teaching a salmon filleting class during a traditional foods workshop in Suquamish.

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

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.”