Monthly Archives: November 2017

Bill Sterud and The Puyallup Land Claims Settlement

Interview and Project By Miguel Douglas; blog post written by Erika Wigren

“It’s been a long journey. We are kind of like catching our breath and moving forward.” — Bill Sterud, Chairman of the Puyallup Tribal Council.

Bill Sterud, Chairman of Puyallup Tribal Council

Bill Sterud has served on the Puyallup Tribal council for over forty years. During those years, Sterud aided in the 1976 takeover of the Cascadia Juvenile Reception and Diagnostic Center, formerly Tacoma’s Cushman Hospital and most notably, represented the Tribe in negotiations that led to the Puyallup Land Claims Settlement.

The Puyallup Land Claims Settlement of 1990 established much of what comprises the land that the Puyallup Tribe owns today.

Sterud and other tribal members fought for retaining the legal boundaries of their Tribal reservation and surrounding land, water, and various other resource rights. The negotiations however, received mixed reviews from tribal members.

“Some thought that the negotiations shouldn’t take place, that we just go get what we own, and start removing people from our properties that we had won along the riverbed. So the word ‘sellout’ was thrown at the council for negotiating,” Sterud said.   

After years of negotiation, a settlement package of approximately $162 million in land, fisheries, economic and social development, and the construction of the Blair Navigation Project was introduced. At the time, it was the second-largest land claims settlement in U.S. history.

“I’m actually feeling pretty good about the direction, my fingers are crossed, I don’t take anything for granted because I’ve seen it go. They’ve stolen everything from us before. That’s a whole other story on that…So to this day, it’s been a long journey. We are kind of like catching our breath and moving forward.”

 

Gary Emmons, Telegrapher for the Northern Pacific Railroad

By Karin Crelling

“I enjoyed every moment I worked, and some people can say: ‘Gosh, you know…I don’t like that job’ and so forth, but I truly enjoyed every second I went to work. I thought that was sort of the neatest thing I could go do and would lament the fact when I didn’t get a call to go to work on a weekend job or something like that because there was no need for my services. So I never did think about it as a job; I just thought it was kind of a neat place to go and interact with all these… all these trains” — Gary Emmons.

Gary Emmons working as a telegrapher for the Northern Pacific Railway in Tacoma, Wa (1962). Photo courtesy of the Emmons family.

Retired AirForce Colonel Gary Emmons talks about his time as a telegraph operator and train dispatcher in the 1960s. His career with the Northern Pacific Railroad started at the age of 16.

During his eight years of employment with the railroad, Gary Emmons witnessed the changes that progress brings with it; not all of them good.

Still Fighting After All These Years: A Puyallup Tribal Member’s Perspective

By Rachael Williamson

“I found it exciting…Going to the protests, going to the fish-ins. It was being in a moment that nobody else will ever be in. This movement will never happen again, and I was involved in it. It was very educational” — Nancy Shippentower-Games.

Nancy Shippentower-Games is a member of the Puyallup Tribe in Washington State. Nancy grew up on the banks of the Nisqually River and Puyallup Rivers and currently resides in Yelm, Washington. Nancy’s family were very active during the fishing wars that took place on both the Nisqually and Puyallup Rivers. Her mother Janet McCloud and her uncle, Billy Frank Jr., are widely recognized activists that fought hard for Northwest Indigenous fishing rights during the battle over salmon in the mid-20th century.

Nancy Shippentower-Games

Nancy remembers vividly the violence, racism and injustices that she and her people suffered as they fought against the states of Washington and Oregon for what was rightfully theirs.

By revisiting the circumstances and propositions set forth in the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1854, a better understanding of what the Puyallup and Nisqually tribes have been fighting for comes into focus. While the Boldt Decision of 1974 was a turning point for Northwest Tribes, concerns such as climate change, overpopulation, and proposals such as the LNG plant in Tacoma continue to put the salmon runs and Indigenous culture at risk.

After all these years, Nancy continues to fight the battle for her people. Recently, she traveled to Washington D.C. to accept on behalf of her uncle Billy Frank Jr. the Medal of Freedom, presented by President Obama. Nancy also traveled to Standing Rock, where she represented the Puyallup tribe in the peaceful protests for clean water.

 

 

Perspectives on Tacoma School Desegregation: From Wallflower to Rabble Rouser

By TeyAnjulee Leon

“I was just one of the poor white kids that lived on the Hilltop…I was a freakin’ wallflower and I did not wanna be noticed.” — Laurie Arnold

The child of left leaning social activists, Laurie Arnold grew up during a time of great change in the country and the Tacoma community. Throughout her educational journey, Laurie attended many schools, and the one that remained clearest in her memory was McCarver. Though she did not know it at the time, Laurie attended McCarver the year it became the first magnet school in the country and began the process to help desegregating Tacoma Public Schools.

From Friday Activities and locker room fights to Tacoma Urban League and community organizing, Laurie Arnold remains a fixture in the Hilltop and Tacoma communities always working to protect and improve the place she calls home.