By Aidan Regan
One of the highlights of President Crawford’s March 24 inauguration was the blessing given by two prominent members of the Puyallup Tribe.
Director for Spiritual Life and Civic Engagement David Wright introduced the members. “Our roots run deep,” Wright said. “In these roots we are inextricably linked and connected to the people on whose land we are gathered, land that was … taken from the original inhabitants.”
The 1854 Treaty of Medicine Creek ceded the land that Puget Sound is built on to the United States. The Puyallup Tribe and eight others signed the treaty, granting the US 2.24 million acres of land in exchange for $32,500, hunting and fishing rights and reservations. Because the Tribe leaders did not speak English, they signed the treaty with X’s.
The Puyallup Tribe’s Culture Director Connie McCloud opened the blessing. “The Puyallup people are considered to be generous, welcoming people. We want to welcome you to our home. We lift our hands up to your new president,” McCloud said.
The Puyallup Reservation is located in Tacoma, about eight miles from Puget Sound.
“I want to offer a song that’s a blessing for this house, for the people and for the students that will be here in the future — that this too is always a generous and welcoming place,” McCloud said. She then performed a traditional vocal song.
Puyallup tribal council member and 1991 Puget Sound alumnus David Bean spoke next. He explained the history of the Treaty of Medicine Creek. As a Puyallup Tribal council member, Bean makes sure that the United States upholds the promises of the treaty. He recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C. where he met with historians.
“I learned about this area that this campus sits on. This was part of our hunting grounds. We had villages and longhouses all around here,” Bean said.
Bean explained the cultural significance of the blessing as well. “When we visit another person’s territory, we tell them who we are and where we come from. We sing them a song … And when we get on their shores, we do not set foot on the land until we have asked for permission to come ashore,” Bean said. “[When] President Crawford [reached] out to the Puyallup tribe, he respected that protocol. We must have a similar background and a similar upbringing.”
“We look forward to a long relationship taking care of future generations just like our ancestors have done,” Bean said. “I know that President Crawford will make sure that future generations of students will have the resources and education they need to survive and grow and make this community, these United States, this world a better place.”
This is not the first time the Puyallup Tribe has blessed an inauguration at Puget Sound. According to Director of the Office of the President Liz Collins, the Puyallup Tribe blessed President Thomas in 2004.
“I am deeply honored,” President Crawford said about the blessing. “The Tribe is very important to us and to our region; while Puget Sound has been here for more than a century, the Puyallup people have been here for thousands of years. Among other areas, we share a common interest in education and environmental stewardship.”
“I understand the name Puyallup means ‘generous and welcoming behavior to all people who enter our lands,’” Crawford said. “It means a lot to me to be welcomed in this way, and I look forward to many opportunities for continued engagement with … the Puyallup Tribe.”