59th Street Project

Puyallup Tribal Impact


Takopid Center

Full medical health services are available for all Native Americans throughout the region.

The Puyallup Tribe of Indians takes great pride in honoring its ancestral ways by caring for all of its membership. With more than 4,000 Puyallup tribal members locally and across the country, the Tribe stays united and strong by ensuring every member has the opportunity for good health, a comfortable home, educational advancement and financial stability.

One of the top employers in Pierce County, in fiscal year 2010 the Tribe and its entities employed 3,219 mostly non-tribal members, all of whom enjoy the competitive wages and benefits paid by the Tribe that totaled $147 million last year.

In an effort to help its membership be financially independent, the Tribe distributes a monthly per-capita payment of $2,000 (approximately $25,000 annually) to each tribal member. Total per-capita distributions last year totaled more than $110 million, much of which went right back into the local economy.

When it comes to social services for its membership, the Puyallup Tribe stands as a model for all governments. During 2010, the Tribe spent a total of $115 million on such services. Of this amount, $5 million went to various assistance programs such as funeral expenses, energy and crisis assistance, small business start-up assistance and assistance to members who are veterans.

Caring for its elders is a top priority for the Tribe, with $2.4 million spent last year on elder care services. A major way that the Puyallups treasure their elders is through the Elders Center House of Respect. The beautifully constructed center opened in 2009 to offer a variety of health and recreational options for Puyallup elders over 45 – a dining hall, state-of-the-art kitchen, relaxation areas, workout facility, spa, massage room, activity rooms for classes such as quilting and crafting, and a tranquil outdoor “Spirit Garden.”

Youth are a top priority to the Tribe as well. The Tribe works in many ways to proactively instill positive values in its youth as early as possible, and a focal point of this effort is the Puyallup Tribal Youth Center. Offering a wealth of programs and opportunities for youth, the center is currently undergoing a major renovation to increase its already strong positive impact in the community.

Educational incentives for tribal members abound. Last year, the Tribe spent more than $21 million on educational programs and tuition for its children and adults students. Of this total, $17.7 million went directly to Chief Leschi Schools to educate its vibrant student body of 750 students. Some $2.5 million also was invested in the Tribe’s future by providing 279 tribal members with educational assistance to help cover their tuition, books and housing at whatever college they wanted to attend around the nation. Tribal members receive full scholarships to any college or university in the nation that they are invited to attend as long as they maintain a grade point average of 2.0 or higher. Members are currently attending Stanford University, Boise State University, Pacific Lutheran University, Puget Sound University, Pierce College, Tacoma Community College, St. Martin’s University, Whitworth University, University of Washington, Washington State University, Highline Community College, South Puget Sound Community College, The Evergreen State College, Portland State University, Bates Technical College as well as other private and public universities in the nation. Previous classes of tribal members attended Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth College, Columbia University and Cornell University.

Some 33 tribal members graduated this year, including four students with master’s degrees and doctoral degrees. One of those graduates with advanced degrees was a 78-year-old woman who received her doctoral degree in psychology.

Another $800,000 was invested in the Education Incentive Program to help children, youth and adults maintain good grades, attend school regularly and improve their academic performance, thereby increasing their knowledge, skills and ability to progress in post-secondary educational institutions.

Everyone deserves a comfortable home to live in, and the Puyallup Tribe strives to provide this for all of its membership. The Puyallup Tribal Housing Authority works to provide decent, safe and sanitary housing for low-income tribal members and other Indians. During fiscal year 2010, the Housing Authority spent $11.6 million on providing housing assistance and opportunities for eligible and qualified Native Americans.

Providing housing, rental and homebuyers assistance, Puyallup Tribal Housing Authority has experienced tremendous growth in the past few years to better serve all qualified low-income Native Americans in Pierce, King and Thurston counties. Most recently it opened a four-duplex, gated community on Waller Road for tribal members 55 and older, and is just about to complete another housing development in Northeast Tacoma to provide 20 more housing quarters to tribal families. The Tribe also provides mortgage assistance and emergency housing, among other forms of assistance. To help parents, the Tribe spent $1.8 million providing daycare in 2010 to tribal members and other Native American families.

Full medical, dental and mental health services are open to every tribal member through the Puyallup Tribal Health Authority (PTHA) and the nearby Kwawachee Counseling Center. During fiscal year 2010, PTHA spent $26.5 million providing health care. Of this amount, $16.2 million went to the Tribe’s health clinic, $348,000 on alcohol and drug treatment, $219,000 on community health, $1.6 million on mental health, $340,000 on tobacco cessation, and $7.9 million on healthcare services provided outside PTHA.

In the face of so much economic insecurity across the country today, because of its staunch internal support for its membership the Puyallup Tribe has created a self-sustaining model for its government, its people and the future of its urban community throughout the reservation and beyond.