ʔALʔAL means “home” in Lushootseed, the language of the Coast Salish indigenous people of Washington’s Puget Sound region. For many of Tlingit & Haida’s struggling tribal citizens in the Seattle area, the
Chief Seattle Club
has been a home – a place where they know they can find refuge, rest, receive nourishment and will always feel welcome.
While visiting in the circle room of the Chief Seattle Club on July 12, 2019, Tlingit & Haida President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson and key staff learned from Program Manager Colleen Chalmers
Lakota) and Executive Assistant Samantha Biasca (Kaigani Haida / Tlingit / Inupiaq) that a majority of the membership of the Chief Seattle Club are of Tlingit and/or Haida descent.
“We are here to be a family and home for our people that might not have family or a home,” shared Colleen. “These are our people no matter what.”
Chief Seattle Club is a non-profit, community and day center located in the Pioneer Square district of downtown Seattle. The club was founded in 1970 to provide a place for urban American Indians and Alaska Natives to nurture, affirm and renew their spirit with the principle belief that our indigenous cultures, languages, and traditions are the primary source for healing and transformation.
Chief Seattle Club is the only organization to connect homeless and low-income Native people to distant reservations, cultures, languages, and even to relatives living in the downtown Seattle area. In addition to meeting the basic needs of food and housing, the club also provides access to quality nursing care, mental health providers, chemical dependency professionals, traditional healing practices, the Urban Indian Legal Clinic, a Native arts program and gallery, and frequent outings to tribes, pow wows, and museums.
Touring the facility revealed that over 90,000 meals are served every year and the club has expanded its services to weekends and provides a lunch in addition to breakfast. The club also housed 262 people through shelter referrals, rapid rehousing, eviction prevention, and family housing services - an 86% increase from last year.
During the visit, President Peterson also had the chance to visit with several tribal citizens who are current and former members of the Chief Seattle Club. Tribal citizens shared testimonies and expressed their desire for community, culture and training opportunities.
“My heart is just so full of thanks for the work of the Chief Seattle Club,” shared President Peterson. “Gunalchéesh, Háw’aa to them for meeting our people’s needs and for doing what we are not able to do from so far away. This is just the beginning of our partnership and commitment to support the work of the Chief Seattle Club and help bring more cultural programming to the club.”