For the first time in Tacoma history, the flag of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians was raised over city hall on July 26 where it will remain throughout the 2018 Power Paddle to Puyallup canoe journey, which ends Aug. 4. Afterward, the flag will be hung in city council chambers as a constant representation of the government-to-government relationship between the city and Puyallup Tribe. It hasn’t always been an easy road, but Mayor Victoria Woodards is out to change that.
At the flag raising ceremony, Woodards stood with Puyallup Tribal Chairman Bill Sterud at Ben Gilbert Park next to the Tacoma Municipal Building. Members of the Puyallup Tribal Council were also in attendance – Vice Chairman David Bean, Tim Reynon, Annette Bryan, James Rideout, Anna Bean – and Puyallup Culture Director Connie McCloud. Members of the Puyallup Tribal community came to witness the historic event, as well as tribal drummers and singers who shared songs to bless the occasion. City leaders were there as well, including Deputy Mayor Anders Ibsen, Councilmembers Justin Camarata, Catherine Ushka and Conner McCarthy, City Manager Elizabeth Pauli and former mayor Bill Baarsma.
“When I took office as mayor, I knew this would be a tough job and I knew that I’d be responsible for inter-government relationships,” Woodards said, visibly moved. “But I never anticipated the deep honor I would feel in the moment standing here today. There’s a sense just in the past seven months that the relationship between the Puyallup Tribe and the City of Tacoma has changed. For that, I am deeply proud. But the responsibility that I feel after this moment says that together, we have to continue to work.”
Sterud praised Woodards and city departments for their help with planning the canoe journey. “We’ve gotten nothing but great support from the City of Tacoma, from Pierce County, the fire department…all of us working together. We are growing and moving in a good direction. The past is the past. Today is today. I’m honored beyond words to stand here today. I raise my hands to you and thank you.”
With that, the flag was raised and the crowd cheered at the sight.