LITTLE BOSTON — Former Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe Chairman Jake Jones has passed away.
A granddaughter announced his passing on social media early Nov. 2; the date of his passing, Nov. 1 or 2, was not disclosed. Information regarding services was not available at press time.
Jones served on the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal Council in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, and served as chairman from 1987-1991 and 1993-1998. He was a member of the committee in the 1970s that developed the Tribe’s Law and Order code, which established the police department and court.
He was a master carver whose last significant work was a story pole, “Chief: A Tribute to the Land, Water and Mountains,” raised earlier this year in the outdoor courtyard at The Point Hotel. Jake Jones Park, on an overlook above Point Julia, is named in his honor. He was present on Sept. 8 for the raising of a story pole, “The Watchman,” by Jimmy Price, at the park.
In his time, Jones saw the Tribe flourish and its economy and land base expand. In an August 2015 interview, Jones remembered when the S’Klallam Tribe government had $2,000 in the bank, its housing authority couldn’t get bank loans to fund new-home construction, and the roads on the reservation were dirt.
“Our enterprises were shellfish and salmon,” Jones said then. “All of us worked out at the mill. Then the mill shut down.”
Empowered by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe began building a new economy, with gaming revenues providing the seed money. But it took vision and patience to see that vision to fruition.
“We talked about a hotel then, but we had to build our own enterprises first,” Jones said in the 2015 interview. “We built the casino first, and when we started making money, we built the store. Those enterprises helped the Tribe build funds so it could afford to [borrow]. Now, we’re doing much better financially. We don’t have to depend on the outside anymore.”
In addition to The Point Casino & Hotel and the events center, the Tribe’s economic ventures include Gliding Eagle Market, Heronswood, Kountry Korner Gas Station & Deli, and Market Fresh Catering.
In the book, “The Strong People | A History of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe,” Jones provided information about traditional hunting and gathering practices, working at the mill, and community life. He played baseball for the S’Klallam Tribe’s storied baseball team in the 1950s.
The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is a signatory to the 1855 Treaty of Point No Point, and has a government-to-government relationship with the United States. Port Gamble S’Klallam exercises cultural and resource rights, such as fishing, throughout its usual and accustomed areas.
Government departments and services include Career and Education, Children & Family Services, Court Services, Cultural Resources, Early Childhood Education, Health Services, Housing, Natural Resources, Planning and Land, Public Safety, Self-Governance & Special Projects, and Utilities.