National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernest L. Stevens Jr., said, “On behalf of our member tribes, we wish to express our deepest sympathy to the family of Chairman [Herman] Dillon, his friends and the Puyallup Tribe on his passing. He was the head of all of his families; tribal, immediate and foster families. As a tribal leader, he was highly respected by his colleagues and venerated by his people. Under Chairman Dillon’s leadership and guidance, the Puyallup Tribe has achieved great and lasting success.”
Chairman Dillon, who was 82, served his people for over three decades. He lived his life for his people. Herman was a legend for his wit, wry humor and determined leadership that he used to keep his tribal council moving in a positive and forward direction. He was a hard-working, family-oriented leader who stood by his tribe and stayed close to home to “guard the fort.”
Though he spent most of his time in his tribal community, he also stayed in tune with what was going on in Indian Country by sending his team members to events to bring back information and keep him abreast of critical issues so he could provide direction and guidance for his Council.
Under Chairman Dillon’s leadership the Puyallup Tribe of Indians has achieved paramount success. Not only did they become a successful gaming tribe, but they were able to achieve substantial wins in their land claim settlement, treaty rights, fishing rights and water rights. The tribal government has utilized gaming revenues to further enhance the quality of life of its membership by creating a health authority, diversifying their economy with other forms of business, establishing the Chief Leschi School System, building the “House of Respect” for their Elders and providing programs and a Community Center for their Youth.
Courtesy of Jason Abram, Chief Leschi Schools
Puyallup Tribal School System Lushootseed Language Teacher Cheryl Wapes’a-Mayes instructs student Stephanie Jackson-Buena.
As Chairman Dillon goes on to the Spirit World, we must be reminded of his long-standing leadership characteristics that transcend to the contemporary demands of leadership. He did his job well and gained the trust of his membership to make their nation flourish. We must carry on that torch in his honor. Work hard, be honest, care for the people and treat everyone as family.
When we remember Chairman Dillon we will be reminded of his fatherly qualities; taking responsibility for the family, being the Elder protector and provider for the people and guiding and inspiring all of us to live a good life, to take care of one another and to have respect for all of life. Chairman Dillon will be dearly missed by all of us, but will continue to be with us in spirit.