News from the Pacific Northwest

Richard Walker
12/31/07

Chief Seattle Club opens

SEATTLE - An estimated 230 people attended the opening of Chief Seattle Club, a center for homeless American Indians/Alaska Natives, Dec. 6 in Pioneer Square.

Members of the Old Coyote family, Suquamish, opened and closed in song. Those in attendance included attorney Millie Kennedy, Tsimshian, Northwest Justice Project; Phil Lane Jr., director, United Indians of All Tribes Foundation; and Michele Vendiola, Swinomish/Lummi/Filipina, Northwest Indigenous Alliance Initiative.

The Chief Seattle Club is now located in the former Monterey Hotel, a historic building remodeled by architect Johnpaul Jones, Cherokee/Choctaw, lead designer of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Jones incorporated Native art, culture and history into the building design.

The project was the culmination of a $5.4 million fund-raising campaign and brings to one site services formerly provided in three rented offices.

Chief Seattle Club can't provide overnight shelter because of neighborhood regulations. But it can and does provide nurturing support and services designed to help homeless Native people get off the streets.

At the club, members can get blankets, clothing and personal hygiene items; do laundry, eat meals and take showers; use computers and telephones for job searches; get transportation for hospital visits; and get help accessing health care services and substance abuse treatment. The club also offers cultural activities and rides to gatherings and religious services.

Morris elected speaker pro tem of state House

OLYMPIA, Wash. - State Rep. Jeff Morris, Tsimshian, was unanimously elected speaker pro tem by House Democrats Nov. 29.

Morris will assume the role of speaker pro tem when the House affirms member assignments Jan. 14, the first day of the 2008 legislative session. The speaker pro tem presides over floor debates in the state House during the speaker's absence and serves as a member of the House Democratic leadership team.

Morris has represented the 40th District for 10 years. He is one of five Native members of the state Legislature; the others are Rep. Don Barlow, Democrat, Ottawa; Rep. Jim Dunn, Republican, Alaska Native; Sen. Claudia Kauffman, Democrat, Nez Perce; Rep. John McCoy, Democrat, Tulalip.

Besides serving as speaker pro tem, Morris also hopes to continue to serve as a member of the House Technology, Energy and Communications Committee, as well as a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Audits.

''I am honored to be selected by my fellow House members to serve in this new role,'' Morris said in a press release. ''I look forward to the challenge and to representing my community as a part of House leadership.''

Film explores health, future of region's salmon

SUQUAMISH, Wash. - The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission has produced a film, ''Shadow of the Salmon,'' a 48-minute docudrama exploring the significance of salmon to the ecosystem and to Northwest Native culture and life.

The film premiered Nov. 19 at the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort and stars Gene Tagaban, (''The Business of Fancydancing'') Tlingit, and Debra Parker, Tulalip. A trailer of the film can be viewed at www.nwifc.org.

The film begins with the journey of a young American Indian from Pine Ridge, S.D., who travels to Coast Salish country to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle. During his stay, he listens to lessons from elders, participates in a First Salmon Ceremony and learns the importance of the annual Canoe Journey. He is also given valuable lessons about tribal natural resource management when he witnesses an oil spill.

'''Shadow of the Salmon' was created to help open eyes to the environmental challenges we all face and provide tribal perspectives about the environment and natural resource management,'' said Steve Robinson, the film's screenwriter and co-producer.

Executive producer Billy Frank Jr., chairman of NWIFC, said the film will be distributed with a curriculum to middle schools throughout the region and screened in locations across the country, and may be scheduled for broadcast or release to theaters.

The film was directed by Michael Pearce of 360 Productions. It was funded by the Northwest Straits Commission and The Potlatch Fund.

Thomas named marketing director at Silver Reef Casino

LUMMI, Wash. - Aaron Thomas, former public affairs director for the Lummi Indian Nation, is now director of marketing at the nation's Silver Reef Casino, Hotel and Spa (www.silverreefcasino.com).

Thomas, Lummi, joins Silver Reef after two years as public relations and marketing director at Northwest Indian College. He was public affairs director for Lummi's government for five years.

Thomas directs Silver Reef's marketing strategy as well as key managers of the marketing department, which include catering, entertainment and sales.

Silver Reef Casino, Hotel and Spa expanded earlier this year. It has 50,000 square feet of gaming and entertainment, as well as 105 deluxe rooms and four suites, a fitness center, indoor pool, restaurants and spa.

Also appointed to positions at Silver Reef were Randi Axelsson, former events and promotions specialist at Haggen Inc., as Silver Reef's hotel sales manager; and Kim Wilson, a former receptionist at the Cascade Radio Group, as manager of Silver Reef's Diamond Dividends program.

Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at rmwalker@rockisland.com.

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