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New board for Duwamish Tribal Services; Raising money to support 600 members

Raising money to support 600 members

SEATTLE - Duwamish members have elected seven people to the board of
directors of Duwamish Tribal Services.

DTS manages money the tribe raises to provide services to its members. The
board consists of advisers of various backgrounds. It is separate from the
tribal government.

At their annual meeting June 25 on tribal-owned land - located near three
historic village sites - Duwamish members elected the following to the

The Rev. Paul Benz, executive director of the Lutheran Public Policy Office
of Washington State;

Mike Evans, Snohomish;

Cecile Hansen, chairman of the Duwamish Tribe;

James Rasmussen, Duwamish;

Tom Speer, a local financial adviser of Apache ancestry;

Mary Lou Salter, Suquamish; and

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Cindy Williams, secretary-treasurer of the Duwamish Tribe.

The Duwamish are the people of Si'ahl, the leader of the Duwamish and the
Suquamish for whom the city of Seattle is named, yet the tribe is not
federally recognized.

Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, has introduced a bill that would federally
recognize the Duwamish Tribe.

In the absence of federal recognition, the Duwamish Tribal Council
established DTS in 1983 as a nonprofit to provide social and cultural
services to the Duwamish people.

The Duwamish Tribe currently has around 600 enrolled members, according to
Hansen. Many more people have Duwamish ancestry but have chosen to enroll
with federally recognized tribes in order to obtain essential health and
other human services, according to Speer of DTS. One-third of the Duwamish
population is children. "A lot of needs aren't being met," Speer said.

Duwamish tribal services include food vouchers and cultural education.
Their Lushootseed language preservation and cultural heritage group,
T'ilibshudub ("Singing Feet"), teaches traditional oratory, dancing,
singing and ceremonial practices to the Duwamish community, other First
Peoples and the public.

According to Speer, participants say T'ilibshudub helps Duwamish children
to better succeed in school; helps preserve Lushootseed language, dances
and songs; "and helps support their Native artisans and elders, who are
their Tradition Keepers."

DTS formed Duwamish Management Corp. in 2004 to create businesses whose
profits will fund activities and programs that strengthen the economic
well-being and cultural way of life of the Duwamish community.

DTS also manages funds being raised for a proposed longhouse and cultural
center on land the Duwamish bought in 2004 near the Duwamish village site
of Ha-Ah'-Poos. Hansen said the project will cost $1.5 million.

- Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash.
Contact him at