Puyallup Tribal community members stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the Tribe’s House of Respect Elders Center on June 14 to witness the swearing in of three newly elected Council members. Sylvia Miller and David Bean are returning to continue their many years of service on Council, while Anna Bean is the brand new face on Council.
The election of Anna Bean marks a noteworthy wind of change for the Puyallup Tribe in that she won out over Vice Chairman Larry LaPointe after his being on Council for 25 years. It has not been uncommon to hear tribal members say they want to breathe new life into the Council, and their move to vote in a younger Council member and to embrace women’s leadership, as the Tribe has done throughout its history, shows that the people have spoken and in a big way.
In addition, as is customary in a Council election cycle, the Council named a Chairman and Vice Chairman. Bill Sterud was renamed Puyallup chairman and David Bean was selected to serve as vice chairman.
“I’m glad to see everybody here for this momentous occasion. This is an important time in the Tribe’s life and for sure in their lives,” Puyallup Chairman Bill Sterud told the crowd, referring to the newly elected.
When it was time for him to administer the oath of office to each successful candidate individually, David Bean invited to come up to the front of the room with him “some people who have been an influential part of my development and growth as a young man, as a community member, as a Council member,” he said, starting with his wife Kellie Bean. “My mother was Gloria Bean and she left us in 2002. There have been a lot of people who she gave responsibility to, to look out for me, to get after me when I need it,” he said, and he took the opportunity to honor this group of people and those influential tribal members who have passed away.
After taking the oath, each of the three Council members addressed the assembly of community members.
“It’s important that we all stick together and make things keep happening because we’ve grown a lot,” Sylvia Miller said. “It takes a lot of hard work and fighting from everyone – a lot of ideas, thoughts, heart stuff/spiritual stuff, a lot of stuff that we have to do just to make sure that we continue on because everybody looks at us. The Puyallup Tribe used to be at the bottom of the polls but not anymore. We go to meetings and they always say, ‘we want to know what Puyallup is doing,’ so we’ve moved up quite a ways and we have to keep that up. I’m looking forward to working with all these (Council members) to make sure that happens.”
David Bean expressed much gratitude at being elected for a fifth term.
“We have to acknowledge the contributions and lessons of our elders and ancestors,” he said. “It’s they who got us where we are today, who made the long, hard journey and sacrifices. We come from people who are willing to fight to protect our homelands, our fish, our community, our sovereignty and all that we have today. If it weren’t for them, we’d still just have a cemetery and a church. We wouldn’t have any fish, our school, our health authority, our housing, our Elders Center. We may argue, have disagreements – we will laugh together and cry together – but at the end of every day, we are one, big family. I raise my hands to each and every one of you.”
Finally, Anna Bean stepped forward to make her first statements as Councilwoman Anna Bean. “I’m stuck on moments right now – you think about all the moments that lead you to the moment you’re in and I thank every single one of you who have been part of that journey,” she said. “I really thank the Canoe Family and Language Department for ‘feeding my Indian’ over this last year. Thanks to all of you in the community who have been so encouraging and helpful. I look forward to getting a lot of work done at that Council table. There’s been a lot of groundwork by every one of these Council members and I’m looking to grab the baton and start running in this race with them.”