POULSBO — The Poulsbo City Council and Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman honored two respected elders at the Sept. 6 Poulsbo City Council meeting: Suquamish Tribe elder Bob George, and City Council member Jim Henry, who is retiring at the end of his term.
It was a fitting end to a month-long celebration of the close ties between Poulsbo and Suquamish, a relationship the latest issue of Cityvision magazine called a model of Tribe/City cooperation for other Washington municipalities.
It began with a recitation from memory of Chief Seattle’s famous speech by the 90-year-old George. George’s gravitas in giving meaning to the words of Chief Seattle touched everyone, as did George’s life principles.
“Work hard. Keep it simple,” recalled Greg George as he introduced his older relative. “Rules to live by.”
Each of the City Council members spoke from the heart about what George’s words and presentation had meant to them, and Mayor Becky Erickson pinned a City of Poulsbo pin on George’s shirt.
“This is for you, Uncle,” Erickson said. “Now you are one of us.”
Then they turned to another elder whose efforts had helped forge that bond between the city and the Tribe, surprising Council member Henry with an 80th birthday cake. The words to the “Happy Birthday” song rang out throughout the council chamber, just as loud as the earlier applause for George’s recitation.
“He was pretty bold approaching the Tribe [all those years ago],” Forsman recalled in honoring Henry. “He was the spark that led Ed [Stern] and I around.”
Forsman said Henry is connected to the Tribe as an honorary elder and a member of the Suquamish Warriors veterans group. (Henry is a Navy veteran, and his birthday cake had a Navy logo on it.)
Although Henry is retiring from the council — his elected and appointed service dates to 1991 — he is expected to continue as the city’s liaison to the Suquamish Tribe.
In an unprecedented move, the City Council temporarily adjourned for 10 minutes or so, so that all those present could join in eating cake and visiting with the two honorees.
The July/Aug. 2017 Cityvision article, “Reaching Out: How Mutual Trust Can Lead to Productive Collaboration,” can be found at www.awcnet.org/DataResources/resourcesbytopic/Cityvision.aspx.