Changes on Lummi Nation Council

Richard Walker

Cheryl Kinley-Sanders is the new vice chairwoman of the Lummi Nation. She was elected to the post by her council colleagues after the swearing in of new council members on November 4.

Kinley-Sanders, elected to the council in 2013, is vice chairwoman of the American Indian Health Commission for Washington State. She is also a commissioner of Whatcom County Fire Protection District No. 8.

Rita Jefferson and Celina Phair were elected November 1 to the Lummi Indian Business Council, the governing body of the Lummi Nation. They were elected to positions A and B, succeeding Darrell Hillaire, who chose not to seek reelection, and Bernie Thomas. Tim Ballew II and Jay Julius were reelected to positions C and D.

After the oaths of office were administered, the council voted to retain Ballew as chairman, and elected Kinley-Sanders vice chairwoman and Jefferson treasurer.

Others continuing on the council: Cliff Cultee, position E; Henry Cagey, position F; Johnny Felix, position G; Julie Finkbonner, position H; Shasta Cano-Martin, position I; Cheryl Sanders, position J; and Steven Toby, position K. 

The Lummi Indian Business Council is influential in the Northwest. The Lummi reservation comprises 21,000 acres– including uplands and tidelands on the Lummi Peninsula and Portage Island – but Lummi exercises cultural, environmental and political influence throughout its historical territory, which includes the San Juan Islands. The Lummi Nation has more than 5,000 citizens, 78 percent of whom live on or near the reservation boundaries.

Lummi Nation economic enterprises include Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa, with 105 guest rooms, restaurants, and a convention and event center; Fisherman’s Cove Marina, home of the largest fishing fleet in the region; and Gateway Center, home of Gateway Café, Salish Arts Market, and Seafood Market. The Lummi Community Development Financial Institution provides opportunities for housing and business development through loan products, financial education, and business coaching.

The Lummi Nation has a Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office, which is at the forefront of efforts to protect cultural resources and the environment; and the Lummi Natural Resources Department manages fisheries and forestry, operates finfish and shellfish hatcheries, and is exploring clean energy development.

“We're leaders on a national and international level – climate change, GWE (General Welfare Exclusion Act), taxation and fisheries issues,” Cano-Martin said in an earlier interview.

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