Today, the Seattle City Council confirmed the appointment of nine members to the City’s new Indigenous Advisory Council (IAC). Established by legislation, the IAC includes representation from the area’s diverse Indigenous communities and establishes a critical step forward in strengthening the City of Seattle’s relationship with American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities. The nine Council members will advise the Mayor, Seattle City Council, and City departments on policies and issues impacting Indigenous people.
“This is an historic improvement to how our City‘s elected officials will be informed,” said Seattle City Council President Debora Juarez. “The Indigenous Advisory Council is intended to become a permanent platform for Indigenous leaders to address and guide the City of Seattle. Leaders from Seattle’s Native communities and regional Tribes will be empowered to speak to City officials with a unified, collective voice. I’m confident that this inaugural Council will create a strong foundation for that work.”
Following outreach and engagement with more than 75 Indigenous-led or Indigenous-serving entities, including tribes, groups, and organizations, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods received 30 applications for the nine open positions on the IAC. After reviewing all application materials and conducting interviews, Seattle City Council and the Mayor’s Office recommended nine candidates for appointment. These candidates were confirmed by Seattle City Council on August 2, 2022.
“Our vision for One Seattle means uplifting the voices of our communities, especially those who have been left out historically, to work with one another towards shared goals,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “This new Indigenous Advisory Council will strengthen the City’s relationship to the tribal and urban Native communities of this region, ensuring they have a seat at the table and helping us better address their priorities with equity and attention. I want to thank Council President Debora Juarez for her tireless leadership in this area as we work together to build trust and drive progress with Seattle’s Indigenous neighbors and tribal communities.”
Below is the list of the newly appointed members of the Indigenous Advisory Council:
Position 1 – Donny Stevenson (Muckleshoot)
Donny Stevenson serves as the Vice-Chairman of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe as an elected member of the Muckleshoot Tribal Council. He attended the Evergreen State College where he earned his formal education through a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts focused on Native American Studies. He has worked as an executive-level leader in Indian Country over the course of a 25-year career serving his Tribe and Native people.
Position 2 – Jay Mills (Suquamish)
Luther “Jay” Mills is a Suquamish Tribal Member who has served more than 25 years as an elected Tribal Council Member and brings experience in overseeing government operations and government relations. He has been employed in several capacities by the tribe’s economic agency, Port Madison Enterprises, for more than 45 years. He currently serves as the Port Madison Enterprises Ambassador. Jay also serves on the Kitsap Economic Development Board, Washington Economic Development Association, Bremerton Chamber Board, Visit Kitsap Peninsula Board, Suquamish Foundation, Chief Kitsap Academy School Board, and is a former Leadership Kitsap Board Member.
Position 3 – Jeremy Takala (Yakama)
Jeremy Takala, known as Pax’una’shut in the Yakama Nation, is of the Kahmiltpah Band (Rock Creek) located on the Columbia River and a proud descendant of Hopi. He was nominated in 2020 to serve as a Tribal Councilman for Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. He currently chairs the Fish and Wildlife, Law and Order Committees, serves as Secretary of the Legislative Committee, and is a member of the Heath, Employment and Welfare Committee. Prior to his time in office, he worked 12 years for the Yakima Klickitat Fisheries Project (YKFP) as a fisheries technician. He currently serves on the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Commission (CRITFC). Jeremy was raised in Goldendale, WA and is a proud member of the Rock Creek Longhouse.
Position 4 – Cece Hoffman (Umatilla)
Cece Hoffman is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), with ancestry also amongst the Nimiipuu and Ojibwe peoples. They graduated from the University of Washington in 2020 with a degree in Education, Communities and Organizations. Since moving to Coast Salish lands from the Umatilla Indian Reservation, they have been involved with the ISTEAM (Indigenous Science Technologies Engineering Arts and Mathematics) summer camp for Native youth, First Nations at the University of Washington (UW), wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ UW intellectual House, Got Green, and the sləp̓iləbəxʷ (Rising Tides) Indigenous Planning Group. Cece currently works for Na’ah Illahee Fund as the Environmental Justice Coordinator.
Position 5 – Suzanne Sailto (Snoqualmie)
Suzanne Sailto is a Snoqualmie Tribal member and current Councilmember. She has had the opportunity to live and travel the world with her father who served 20+ years in the military, and through her current capacity as a leader and member of the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe. Suzanne graduated from Lakes High School and Ever-Increasing Word Ministries. She participates in the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and National Congress of American Indians to stay apprised on tribal legislation across Indian Country. She volunteers her time on boards including the Snoqualmie Ridge YMCA, Encompass in Snoqualmie, Elder Council for Chief Seattle Club, and Seaboard member of Snoqualmie Casino.
Position 6 – Esther Lucero (Diné)
Esther Lucero is Diné and Latina and a third generation urban Indian from Colorado Springs, CO. She received a Master of Public Policy and a Bachelor of Arts in Native American studies from Mills College. Esther joined the Seattle Indian Health Board in 2015 as President and CEO and currently serves on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Advisory Committee for Women’s Services, SAMHSA Region X Opioid Taskforce, Governor’s Behavioral Health Taskforce, American Indian Health Commission, The Governor’s Indian Health Advisory Council, and co-chair of Healthier Here’s governing board.
Position 7 – Derrick Belgarde (Siletz & Chippewa-Cree)
Derrick Belgarde is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon and Chippewa-Cree from Rocky Boy, MT. Derrick is the Executive Director of Chief Seattle Club and has worked and served in the field of housing affordability, fighting for the rights of those suffering from housing insecurity for many years. He currently serves on the board of Community Roots Housing, Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC), Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness (SKCCH), and the Housing Development Consortium. Derrick completed his undergraduate in Public Affairs magna cum laude and went on to obtain a Master’s in Public Administration, both at Seattle University.
Position 8 – Asia Tail (Cherokee)
Asia Tail is an artist and community organizer based in Tukwila, Washington. Asia is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, born and raised on Coast Salish territories. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Cooper Union School of Art in New York. In 2018, she co-founded yəhaw̓ Indigenous Creatives Collective, an urban Native women-led arts nonprofit based in Seattle. She has served as a freelance consultant for local organizations including Washington State Convention Center, Nia Tero, Chief Seattle Club, City of Tacoma, City of Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, Potlatch Fund, and ArtsWA, among others. She currently works as a Program Officer at Seattle Foundation.
Position 9 – Jaci McCormack (Nez Perce)
Jaci McCormack grew up on the Nez Perce Reservation outside of Lewiston, Idaho. She earned a degree in Sociology from Illinois State University. After her college career, she served as the Deputy Executive Director for the Nez Perce Tribe, as well as the Youth Prevention Director, building deep relationships with tribal and community partners. In 2015, Jaci founded Rise Above, a non-profit organization that gives Native youth the skills and resilience to overcome their circumstances and write their own futures.
Terms for all positions are two years, except the initial term for positions 1, 4, 6, and 8 which is one year. Members will receive compensation for their service and may serve up to four consecutive terms.
The City of Seattle’s government-to-government relationship with Tribal Nations continues to be fulfilled by the Office of Intergovernmental Relations.
For more information, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/indigenous-advisory-council.
For questions, please contact Indigenous Advisory Council Liaison, Francesca Murnan at Francesca.Murnan@seattle.gov or 206-459-6379.