More firsts on Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation | Noo-Kayet, Our Village
By JEROMY SULLIVAN
Kingston Community News Columnist
March 1, 2012 · Updated 1:21 PM
In 1992, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe became one of the first self-governing tribes in the United States, assuming control over several federal programs.
These programs provide essential services and offer a snapshot of life on the Reservation. Here are just a few of the departments and services that keep life on the Reservation moving along successfully.
- Housing Authority: Our Tribe is a working-class community, making affordable housing a top priority. Often, several generations of a family will live under one roof. In addition, we want to do what we can to maintain the cultural and rural integrity of our Reservation. Our Housing Authority creates housing opportunities for Tribal members, including building new developments such as Teekalet, which was completed last year and gave 15 families new homes.
- Health Services: A part of a healthy lifestyle is access to quality health care. We provide this for our Tribal members with a doctor’s clinic, dental services, and other health services that provide outreach and respond to concerns and questions from the community about their health care options.
- Cultural Resources: The Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe places a high value on our irreplaceable cultural resources, language and tribal heritage. Our cultural resources and S’Klallam language are central to our identity and tribal history. The Tribe actively manages its cultural resources on the Port Gamble S’Klallam Reservation and works to protect cultural resources across the Tribe’s Usual and Accustomed Area. The Tribe maintains an office of Tribal Historic Preservation and has an active archeological research and management program in order to learn from and protect Port Gamble S’Klallam tribal heritage.
- Natural Resources: The Natural Resources Department is focused on providing optimal and sustainable natural resource management of the Tribe’s natural resources for now and at least seven generations to come. The Department gives special attention to the health and vitality of subsistence and commercial species populations and their associated ecosystems, in Port Gamble Bay, the Hood Canal and beyond, while providing adequate conservation, research, monitoring and education.
- Port Gamble Development Authority: If, like so many of our Kitsap neighbors, you’ve ever stopped by The Gliding Eagle Marketplace for a tankful of gas or a gallon of milk, you’ve experienced the hard work of the Port Gamble Development Authority. Not only do their business ventures provide employment opportunities for our Tribal members, they make sure our Tribe generates enough revenue to keep essential programs going and growing.
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF): Our Tribe was the first in Washington to host its own TANF program. TANF is designed to help families through difficult times by providing temporary assistance and job counseling. Through our TANF program, we were also the first Tribe in the state to launch its own child support program.
Speaking of firsts: Our Child and Family Services department has just learned that our Tribe is going to be the first in the country to be able to maintain our own Foster Care and Adoption program.
- S’Klallam Foundation: Founded to manage the capital campaign for our now-complete House of Knowledge, the S’Klallam Foundation remains dedicated to improving the quality of life for our Tribal members, while promoting our Tribe’s rich cultural heritage.
In addition to providing scholarships to Tribal members, publishing a S’Klallam history book and managing a fundraising campaign for a new early childhood education center, the Foundation has been focused on fostering an appreciation of tribal art. This has included assembling a museum quality exhibit for the University of Washington’s Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). The Foundation also provides grant-writing for the Tribe.
For more information on our Tribe, I invite you to visit our newly redesigned website at www.pgst.nsn.us.
— Jeromy Sullivan is chairman of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.