Land Settlement of 1988
For years the Tribal Council attempted to address legal issues that prevented them from receiving land that had mysteriously gone out of trust. Documents were collected by diligent research proving how the Tribe had been swindled out of much of their land: many non-tribal members were realizing they did not hold clear title to their land.
The Tribe hired experts and lawyers in an attempt to assist getting justice for their land claim issues. The Tribal Council appointed a committee of tribal members to begin addressing the pro’s and con’s of moving forward into court. Just as the Tribe was moving forward into court, an effort by local municipalities wanted to negotiate.
It was determined after a few years of meetings with parties from other local governments and the federal government intervention of a request for a negotiated settlement to move forward. After several tries, the membership finally approved a negotiated settlement with local, state and federal parties. Many members felt the judicial system was not in our favor and we would be risking everything by going into court.
In August, of 1988, the Agreement between the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, local Government in Pierce County, the State of Washington, the United States Government and certain private property owners was soon to become law by another official Act of Congress.
By the agreement if the Tribe gave up their claims: Nine hundred acres would be returned to the Tribe; a per-capita payment would be paid to each adult member upon reaching 21 years of age; a Permanent Trust Fund would be established for tribal members, as well as a Fisheries Enhancement Program, Job Training and Placement Program, a Small Business Development Fund, Social and Health Service improvements (to address an Elder Care facility and a Day Care Center), and the Blair Navigation Project.
A Permanent Trust Board and a Board of Directors (PII) were appointed to oversee the implementation of these projects. Both Boards have fiduciary responsibilities to the Puyallup tribal membership.
Board of Trustees
The Board appointed nine members to oversee $22 million held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the Tribe. This is to secure a permanent resource in providing services to the members. Only income earned from the trust may be spent, solely for the following:
- Elderly Needs
- Burial & Cemetery Maintenance
- Education & Cultural Preservation
- Supplemental Health Care
- Day Care
- Other Social Services
Trust board programs are ongoing. Some initial down payments for home ownership were made. Today the housing program is primarily for maintenance and emergency repair.
An Elders program provides housekeeping, yard maintenance, a staff that assists elders in shopping, appointments and daily needs as necessary.
Burial & Cemetery Maintenance employs two full time persons to keep up the cemeteries. Assistance to any tribal member is provided for burial.
Education & Cultural Preservation funds have been used to start a Language Preservation Program. Because of the impact of earlier boarding school practices, an earnest effort has been made to revitalize the Puyallup language.
Perhaps one of the most rewarding programs is the Education program. Last year 75 students were assisted in tuition and book costs to attend a college or university. Within a few years we will begin to see results. Members have already graduated from two year colleges, some from four and a few are working towards their Masters and their Doctorate. At this time we have students pursuing careers in Nursing, Law, Psychiatry, Education and many other fields of study. The program also provides stipends to all students K-12 before the school year starts to assist in purchasing school clothes.
The Puyallup Tribe purchased property in an ongoing effort to get the Day Care going. Part of the problem was there was not enough money set aside to actually build it. Funds were located and just a few weeks ago the new day care opened. It is anticipated this beautiful facility and the staff will assist in providing quality day care which will then assist tribal members.
The Trust Board employs approximately twelve full-time workers and meets regularly to review all requests of ways to provide better services to the membership.