Suquamish Tribe Elects New Leaders to Tribal Council

Tribal Council members L-R: Joshua Bagley, Vice Chair, Luther (Jay) Mills III, Denita Holmes, Treasurer, Leonard Forsman, Chairman, Sammy Mabe, Windy Anderson, Secretary, and Rich Purser.

SUQUAMISH, WA –Suquamish Tribal citizens voted to fill two Tribal Council positions up for election this year at the tribe’s annual General Council gathering, which took place March 19 and 20, 2022.

Josh Bagley was elected Tribal Council Vice Chair and Denita Holmes was elected Treasurer. Bagley, a former geoduck diver, is President of the Suquamish Seafoods Board and Vice Chair of the Suquamish Tribal Gaming Commission. Denita Holmes is a teacher at Chief Kitsap Academy, a former member of the Suquamish Museum Board and an artist.

Outgoing Vice Chair Wayne George and Treasurer, Robin LW Sigo, were thanked by fellow Council members, and their services acknowledged by tribal members.

The Suquamish Tribal Council is now comprised of Chairman Leonard Forsman, Vice Chair Josh Bagley, Secretary Windy Anderson, Treasurer Denita Holmes, and three at-large members, Sammy Mabe, Luther (Jay) Mills III and Rich Purser.

The council is the governing body of the Suquamish Tribe, elected by tribal citizens during their annual General Council meeting. Candidates elected to Tribal Council serve in three-year staggered terms.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 and 2022 General Council meetings took place via Zoom, with drive-thru voting for both a primary and general election. Like last year, hundreds of tribal members participated in a full weekend of reports, resolutions, and discussions via Zoom.

Also during the virtual gathering, family members who died during the previous year were honored. New babies born to the community were celebrated, and adults who had reached Elder status were recognized.

Tribal enterprises reported on their progress during another year challenged by COVID restrictions, with news of Suquamish Seafoods, casino resort operations, the tribe’s marijuana enterprise – which recently opened a second retail outlet – and the construction enterprises.

Tribal members also heard from government departments, including those focused on finance, housing, emergency operations, fisheries and environmental restoration, and human services. Voting was conducted in-person via drive-thru balloting on March 20. There was also an option for walk-up voting.

With approximately 1,200 citizens, Suquamish Tribe is a federally recognized sovereign nation. The village of Suquamish and seat of the Suquamish Tribal Government are located on the Port Madison Indian Reservation, along the shores of the Puget Sound near Seattle. The election of Tribal Council members is one of the many ways tribal citizens exercise their sovereignty as tribal citizens.