As we sunrise into 2020 and the new decade, North Sound ACH wanted to update our board, staff, partners, and communities on a convening that North Sound ACH staff were able to witness in the last quarter of 2019.
On November 7, 2019, North Sound ACH’s CEO, Liz Baxter, and project coordinator, Michaela Vendiola, were able to attend the 30th Annual Centennial Accord hosted by the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs in Shelton, Washington at the Little Creek Casino Resort’s Skookum Creek Event Center. The theme of the 2019 Centennial Accord is: Commemorating 30 Years of State-Tribal Relations. As part of the Centennial Accord updates, the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs developed and provided attendees with a copy of the 2019 Centennial Accord Agency Highlights which is a mandated annual report under chapter 43.376 RCW (Government to Government Relationships with Indian Tribes). Per the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs Executive Director, Craig Bill:
The report summarizes the work that state agencies have completed this past year to strengthen the government-to-government relationships with tribes. Also included are many great examples of successful state-tribal collaboration which have led to positive benefits for all communities.
While in attendance, Michaela was able to actively listen to updates relating to tribal and state level changes in regard to the format of government-to-government meetings in hopes that a system change will assist with synchronizing and streamlining the abundance of State and government-to-government meetings and convenings that elected tribal leaders and representatives are asked to attend on behalf of their sovereign tribal nations. Additionally, Michaela had the opportunity to witness the cohesion of the Governor’s Indian Health Advisory Council | Washington State Health Care Authority (GIHAC). The GIHAC was developed in accordance with Section 3(3) of Senate Bill 5415 (2019). Per the Health Care Authority’s – Office of Indian Affairs, the GIHAC convenes with the purpose of addressing issues in our state’s Indian health care delivery system. The GIHAC includes representatives from tribes, Indian health, state agencies, and legislators. The GIHAD builds upon the planning work of the Governor’s Indian Health Council created in 2018 through Senate Bill 6032.
This is the second time that I have been able to attend a Centennial Accord. Attendance at the 2019 Centennial Accord served as, yet again, another great learning opportunity for myself and in extension, my organization, in understanding the extensive and very intentionally involved process of upholding the government-to-government relationships between the 29 Federally Recognized Tribes of Washington State and the State of Washington. As a young American Indian (Walker River Paiute and Swinomish) professional who was born and raised in the Lummi Nation, witnessing such a gathering between the highest offices of elected leaders and representatives from the sovereign tribal nations as well as from our State, sets a precedence and expectation for how government-to-government relationships should be carried out and built upon for generations to come.
It is of importance to have a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the historical and contemporary policy changes (tribal changes and State changes) which have an impact on services and service delivery in both the tribal nations and the State alike. This knowledge and understanding is crucial because the leaders who have set the groundwork for the government-to-government relationships since the mid-1800s have built the foundation for which the next generations will sustain and strengthen government-to-government relationships into the future.
It is exciting and motivating to see the work being done in the State and at the tribal nations throughout the state and how the work that we do at North Sound ACH can support the building and sustaining of tribal and non-tribal relationships, services, and access in our region. Thank you to the tribal leaders and State leaders who took time to talk with me about the work that we are doing at North Sound ACH while in attendance at the Centennial Accord. I continue to take these learning opportunities to observe and grow from the mass amount of work that has been done, and continues to take place, by the tribal leaders and delegates as well as the representatives from Washington State.
Finally, thank you to Squaxin Island and the staff of the Little Creek Casino for hosting the 2019 Centennial Accord and for your hospitality during the event. And especially thank you to the 2019 Centennial Accord fish cook, Andy Whitener of Squaxin Island Tribe. It is a huge and important lift to cook salmon for and feed the leaders of our tribal nations, our State, as well as several hundred additional attendees.
Hysh’qe (Thank you),
Michaela B. Vendiola, Walker River Paiute and Swinomish
Project Coordinator, North Sound Accountable Community of Health