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News from the Northwest

Symposium honors Deloria’s contributions

LUMMI, Wash. – Scholars from all over the United States will share thought papers on the late Vine Deloria’s work – from sovereignty to spirituality and religion – at an Indigenous Studies Symposium named in Deloria’s honor.

The first annual symposium is July 27 – 29 at Northwest Indian College. Registration is $100; sponsorships are available for members of federally recognized tribes. Visit or contact Aaron Thomas, director of Public Relations, at (360) 392-4280 or

Deloria, Standing Rock Sioux, died Nov. 13 and scholars from around the country wanted to honor the contributions he offered as one of the nation’s foremost authors and intellectuals. “Any time you are focused around the thinking of Vine’s caliber, you are going to draw interest from many walks of life,” college President Cheryl Crazy Bull said in a press release.

Deloria authored 25 books and hundreds of articles, served as director of the National Congress of American Indians and was a university professor. He received Indian Country Today’s American Indian Visionary Award in 2005.

Participants include Suzan Shown Harjo of the Morning Star Institute and a columnist for ICT. Harjo will participate in discussions on indigenous spirituality and religion, and on honoring Deloria’s life and legacy.

Billy Frank Jr., Nisqually and chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and 2004 American Indian Visionary Award recipient, will give an address on July 29. A Native American Art Market is also scheduled that day on the college campus.

New council members at Samish Indian Nation

ANACORTES, Wash. – Samish Indian Nation voters elected three new members to their tribal council June 25.

Tim King defeated two other candidates, including incumbent Janet Castilleja, for the vice chairman’s job. Tamara Rogers was elected treasurer; she succeeds Dee Branson, who retired from the council. Gary Dale Hatch was elected to Council Position 7; he succeeds Ray Gorynski, who was not a candidate for re-election.

The seven-member council oversees services offered by the Samish Nation, including cultural restoration and celebration, employment, health, housing, natural resources, social services and education, and veterans.

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These council members will have a busy term. Samish goes back to federal court in late August or early September in its effort to regain fishing rights. Samish lost its federal recognition when, through a clerical error at the BIA, it was left off a 1969 list of federally recognized tribes. Samish regained federal recognition in April 1996, but is still suing to regain full treaty rights.

Samish plans to build homes on trust land it owns on Campbell Lake. Samish also owns Fidalgo Bay Resort on Weaverling Spit, part of its historic territory, and offices on Commercial Avenue, the main thoroughfare in the city of Anacortes.

Samish operates a salmon stream restoration program in the San Juan Islands, which is within the historic territory of Samish and other Coast Salish nations.

Lummi teen helps peers stay smoke-free

AUBURN, Wash. – Harold Plaster, Lummi, will be among the participants in the American Cancer Society’s SpeakOUT Summer Summit, Aug. 8 – 11 at Camp Berachac.

The summit is a four-day program that engages high school-aged teens statewide to become leaders in prevention and health advocacy.

“The SpeakOUT Summit was the greatest thing I could have picked to go to this summer,” Plaster said in a statement for the summit. “It showed me that teenagers do make the biggest difference. No matter what we do or who we are, we can set an example for what we stand for.”

Plaster is also active with Teens Against Tobacco Use on the Lummi reservation and participated in “Untold 4: Taking it to the Streets,” a regional tobacco prevention summit hosted by the Swinomish Indian Community in May 2005.

“SpeakOUT Summer Summit is an amazing experience for youth,” said Emily Dietman, American Cancer Society’s SpeakOUT coordinator. “The summit gives them the opportunity to meet like-minded peers from across the state who want to take a stand in their communities for tobacco prevention and healthy lifestyles. They leave empowered and have tools to go out and make a difference in the lives of others and have a great time while doing it.”

Participation is free. To register, contact Dietman at (206) 674-4185 or

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