Three northwest Native leaders were honored by the Potlatch Fund at the organization’s annual gala, in November at Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort.
Rich Purser, a Suquamish Tribal Council member and for 10 years the general manager of the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, received the Potlatch Fund’s Antone Minthorn Economic & Community Development Award.
Paul Lumley, executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, received the Billy Frank Jr. Natural Resource Protection Award.
Pat Courtney Gold, founder of the Northwest Native American Basketweavers Association and an instructor at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., received the Fran James Cultural Preservation Award.
Purser, Suquamish, has spent the last 28 years “improving the future of the Suquamish Tribe through land purchasing, program implementation and expansion of properties,” the Potlatch Fund stated in its award announcement. During Purser’s management, Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort – which overlooks Agate Passage – has grown to 186 rooms, with a 10,000-square-foot conference center, a spa, seven dining venues, and transportation to and from the Suquamish-owned White Horse Golf Club and the Suquamish Museum. The resort’s public spaces are appointed with museum-quality Coast Salish art.
The resort was the catalyst for the growth and diversification of Port Madison Enterprises, the Suquamish Tribe’s economic development arm. Port Madison Enterprises now comprises six ventures or subsidiaries and is the second-largest private sector employer in Kitsap County.
Purser is also a geoduck diver and “devotes a substantial amount of time assisting several non-profits in the community with fundraising efforts and implementation of their events.”
Lumley, Yakama, earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Western Washington University in 1986. He worked at the fish commission from 1987-2004 in several capacities. Between 2004 and 2009, he managed the U.S. Defense Department’s Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Program and served as executive director of the National American Indian Housing Council. According to his online biography, at the housing council he secured more than half a billion dollars in stimulus funding for Indian housing and restored NAIHC’s federally funded training and technical assistance programs.
Lumley returned to the fish commission in 2009 as executive director. He has “an extensive history working with Northwest Tribes on salmon issues, particularly in the Columbia River Basin,” the award announcement stated. The fish commission – whose members are Yakama, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Nez Perce – is engaged in fish and habitat restoration, biological and ecological research, fisheries management, and treaty rights protection.
On October 24, Lumley became executive director of the Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland, Oregon, which reportedly has the ninth-largest Urban Indian population in the United States. The center’s services include camps and seasonal programming, college and career services, community economic development, an early college academy, elder services, foster care support, housing, and homeownership counseling. The center’s economic enterprises include NAYA Construction, a construction company that provides young people with training in the construction trades. The center has a staff of about 120.
Gold, Wasco-Tlingit, was raised on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and is a well-known Wasco basket weaver. “Her honors include a weaving that is in the 2015 British Museum international tour, ‘Treasures of World Culture,’” the award announcement stated.
She is a recipient of the Oregon Governor’s Arts Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship; was invited speaker at The International Weaving Conference in Rotorua, New Zealand; and served as artist in residence at the NMAI in New York City.
She was featured in several video productions, including a PBS series, and co-produced and directed the documentary film, “Northwest Native Basketweavers, Honoring Our Heritage.”
Her works are exhibited nationally and internationally, including the Office of the Governor of Oregon, the Burke Museum in Seattle, the NMAI in Washington, D.C., the British Museum in London, and the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, Canada.
“Pat’s mission is to share her knowledge …,” the award announcement stated. “She mentors students through various programs.” In addition to the basket weavers association, which has grown to 400 members, Gold co-founded a summer arts program for Native teens. She serves on an advisory committee for the Burke Museum and on the board of regents of the Museum at Warm Springs.
The Potlatch Fund is a Native-led nonprofit that provides grants and training throughout Northwest Indian Country. Since 2005, it has awarded more than $2.5 million in grants for projects that benefit Native youth, make communities stronger and healthier, preserve languages and promote Native arts. The nonprofit has honored leaders for their work in the community yearly.