By Ernest A. Jasmin, Puyallup Tribal News
Puyallup Tribal Councilmembers Monica Miller and James Rideout were sworn in to start new three-year terms on Thursday, June 8, in front of the Bone Games mural at Emerald Queen Casino. Both won re-election on Saturday, June 3.
Tribal Council Chairman Bill Sterud reminded attendees that the tradition they were participating in dated back to 1933. “Once a year, the Puyallup people gathered and elected leaders, and this is one of those days,” he said.
The ceremony included a prayer and blessing from Heritage Division Manager Connie McCloud and a song led by Tribal member Danny Leonard as members of the Culture Department danced and played drums.
After the ceremony, Tribal Council also went into executive session to select officers. They chose Bill Sterud to continue as chairman and Sylvia Miller to continue as vice chairwoman. All seven Tribal Council members were in attendance and delivered remarks. Here are excerpts from what each of them said:
“It’s been a long struggle these last three years. Most of my term was COVID, you guys, but we’re done with this COVID. We’re over with it. We made some economic development here. We’ve got a lot of projects going, and we plan to complete those projects. This team up here that I work with is a great team. I love working with each and every one of them. They all have something to bring to the table. They all work very hard for you guys, and we will continue to keep doing that. But we also need the members to participate, to help out, get involved and bring your ideas to us — everything. It’s all important, you guys, that we stick together as a team and as a whole. We all make this Tribe.”
“Our challenges are different today than they (were) yesterday, and I accept that challenge with my whole being. … You only have one chance to do things in your life right. I had one chance to raise my children. I have one chance to do this job right for the Puyallup Tribe. I commit and I give myself to each and every one of you, and I’m sorry that it took the sacrifice of my niece, Jacqueline Salyers, for me to be here. But I believe in my heart that her sacrifice of her life was for everybody.”
“First of all, congratulations to Monica and Jim Jim. It is an honor to sit here and work and be at the table with them. We make some hard choices, but the stuff that we’re doing today is amazing. I raise my hands both of them, and the rest of the Council, and just give them thanks, because it is an honor to work with these guys.”
“There is a little bit that goes unknown about what happens at the Council table. It’s not an easy job. We have folks that come in with their children’s service cases. Sometimes we’re the first contact when somebody passes away in our community. When folks are struggling, they come (to see) what we can do to help them in those times. We’re here to lift folks in their hardest and darkest days. But, like today, we’re also here to celebrate those good and light times in our community.”
“This is very sacred space and was a village of ours. I’m grateful to stand on this land and our beautiful facility with all of you. We don’t always have the same opinion, but we have healthy debate, and we have respectful debate. We each talk to different members. Some of us talk to the same members, and we bring those perspectives and those views to your Council table to make decisions on your behalf. It’s just an honor to do that with these folks up here.”
Vice Chairwoman Sylvia Miller
“Every one of our ancestors past and our tribal leaders now and our membership has got us where we are today. So, let’s hear it for all of us, you guys. (She pauses for applause.) We brought back culture, our language, everything that’s so important to our ancestors. We’re buying back our land and things that are very important to each and every one of us; and most of all, making sure that your voices are heard and protecting and preserving these lands and waters and everything else that we have.”
Chairman Bill Sterud
“Today’s about the future. Today’s about people working together. Today’s about strength, heart, love. The Puyallup Tribe has been a powerful government in this community, and we’re getting stronger every day. We are something they have to deal with as we force the future our way. It hasn’t always been like that. It’s still not always like that, but we’re still battling. I feel great with this team that we’re working with here. I like the Culture. I liked the Heritage Division. I liked the prayers. I like our future. We’re all going to do well.”