In this month’s column, I continue writing about my visits with federally recognized tribes in Washington State, this time with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community of La Conner.
The Swimomish have an enrollment of 982 members, with a reservation exceeding 7,000 acres. I was welcomed at Swinomish by Chairman of the Swinomish Indian Senate, Brian Cladoosby. In this meeting, I also had the chance to meet with two of the other ten members of the Swinomish Indian Senate, Senator Barbara James and Senator Leon John. Chairman Cladoosby, also known by his Indian name spee-pots, recently completed his second and final term as the President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).
Chairman and the Senators shared success stories of their programs, which included education, health and human services, and economic development. Employing over 900 people, the Swinomish are the largest employer in their region. They also shared hardships of their history, and we had the opportunity to share our ʻoli, mele, and moʻolelo with one another. Among our similarities, the Swinomish, People of the Salmon, are connected to us through seafaring traditions. Like our ancestors, the Swinomish are a canoe people. Using their canoes, they are sustained by the Salish Sea.
Hearing of the work that the Swinomish and Tulalip are able to do in their homelands gives me so much hope at the great potential that waits ahead for the Native Hawaiians. The standing that these tribes have with the Federal government empowers them with the ability to do great things for their people. They also continually work with the local and state governments in furtherance of improving conditions of not just their people, but everyone who calls their region home.
Chairman Cladoosby later joined us at the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs convention. Mahalo to AHCC Pelekikena Annelle Amaral for her aloha in inviting Chairman Cladoosby to address the delegates. Chairman Cladoosby, accompanied by his wife, Nina, was received with ʻoli and hoʻokupu by the delegates, before addressing the body of delegates with an energetic and moving speech.
Leaving the convention, Chairman Cladoosby shared that in their language, they do not have a word for goodbye. Instead, they say huy, which means ‘until we meet again’ which is identical in manaʻo to our saying a hui hou.
Aloha, mahalo, and huy to our ʻohana at Swinomish.