Friends and community mark Chiefstick’s birthday with vigil

Late last month, some 60 people gathered for a peaceful vigil during Poulsbo’s Christmas Tree Lighting in honor of Stonechild Chiefstick on what would have been his 40th birthday.

Chiefstick, a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe and the Suquamish community, was shot and killed in an altercation with police during an Independence Day celebration in Poulsbo.

“We are holding a candlelight vigil to honor Stonechild Chiefstick at the Poulsbo Christmas tree lighting. We carry candles to carry the light of Stoney on his 40th birthday so that Poulsbo remembers his legacy. We are committed to holding peaceful, non-violent space and we will actively de-escalate conflict with the police and members of the public,” read a document distributed by the organizers of the vigil.

The vigil was orchestrated by local activists who have come together with the stated purpose of demanding justice and accountability from the City of Poulsbo and the Poulsbo Police Department.

Chiefstick’s family attended the vigil along with close friends, Suquamish Tribe members, local faith leaders, teachers, other members of the community.

“It was heartening to see so many people show up for a peaceful vigil to honor a man on his birthday whose life was ended without justice,” said Erica Nixon Mack, one of the vigil’s attendees. “Poulsbo Police and the mayor have failed to uphold the safety, dignity, and value of Native people at community gatherings like this one. Now is a time for leadership, justice, and reconciliation. Stoney’s life was sacred and valuable.”

The investigation into the July 3 incident is currently being reviewed by the Kitsap County Prosecutor, who will be making a determination as to whether criminal charges will be filed against Craig Keller, the officer who shot Chiefstick.