Potlatch Fund Gala Receives Record Donations, Honors Northwest Native Leaders

Potlatch Fund Gala Receives Record Donations, Honors Northwest Native Leaders


All photography by Maria Zavala, Adam Perry and Victor Pascual, DGTL/NVJO

Potlatch Fund Gala Receives Record Donations, Honors Northwest Native Leaders

Among Northwest Coastal tribes, a potlatch is a coming together, in ceremony, celebration and giving. Potlatches have always embodied the best of what Native culture personify, and strengthen community ties, with food, song, and above all else, sharing.

To honor these traditional values, Potlatch Fund was formed in 2002. Potlatch Fund is a community foundation and leadership development organization, dedicated to inspiring the Native tradition of giving, and expanding philanthropy within Tribal Nations and Native communities in the Northwest.

As a way of honoring the spirit of the potlatch, the annual Potlatch Gala brings together leaders from Tribal and grassroots organizations, foundations, corporations and individual community members. In 2010, for the first time in its history, the Potlatch Gala broke the $100,000 donation mark. This year, over 400 people joined the annual event, including representation from over twenty-five different Northwest Tribes, and collectively, over $170,000 was raised. This was Potlatch Fund’s most successful event to date by far, and sold out six weeks before the night of the event.

“The gifts given on the night of this year’s Gala were collected on a blanket," Potlatch Fund President Kirby Jock stated. "The blanket represents our connections. Each of us alone is like a thread, and small in our strength and capability, but when woven together according to a common vision and a common purpose, we become the power of many. This success of year’s Gala is a testament to the growing spirit of the Potlatch, and the growing number of people standing together to honor the wisdom, sacrifices, and dreams of the Native peoples in the Northwest."

Funds raised at Potlatch Fund events are used to support the organizations operations and grant programs, currently in the areas of Community Building, Native Arts, Intertribal Canoe Journeys, and a Cedar Tree Fund.

Potlatch Fund also annually recognizes outstanding leadership in the Northwest’s Native communities at its annual event. This year, Leadership Honoring Awards were presented to: Bruce Thomas (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde) for economic development, Washington State Representative John McCoy (Tulalip Tribes) for civic participation, Jamie Valadez (Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe) for education, Eric J. Quaempts (Yakama Indian Nation) for natural resource protection, and Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman (Suquamish Tribe) for cultural preservation. Potlatch Fund also recognized the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, First Nations Development Institute, Marguerite Casey Foundation, and Patricia Baillargeon as Philanthropists of the Year.

In furthering Potlatch Fund’s long-standing commitment to support Native and Tribally owned businesses and to “buy Native”, next year’s 10th Anniversary Gala will be held on Saturday November 3, 2012 at the Tulalip Casino and Resort, an enterprise of the Tulalip Tribes, which features conference facilities, hotel accommodations, a spa and award-winning restaurants. It is Potlatch Fund’s vision in coming years to alternate the annual Gala between all tribally owned casino resorts in the Northwest that can host large receptions and dinner events. Next year's Gala is slated to seat 500 guests.

For links to photos from the 2011 Gala, and the 2011 Leadership Honoring video, please visit the Potlatch Fund Gala website at: http://www.potlatchfund.org/spirit/gala.html

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