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Formalizing our Relationship with the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe

Aug 09, 2023

Port of Seattle and Muckleshoot Indian Tribe MOA Signing Ceremony

I first arrived at the Port of Seattle with the deeply held belief that meeting our economic and environmental goals in an equitable way would require close collaboration with all stakeholders, and that formalizing our relationship with the Tribes would be one of my top priorities.

Nearly two years later, on June 28, 2023, the Port of Seattle and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribal Government came together to sign a transformative Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). This agreement symbolizes a deepening government-to-government relationship and sets the stage for enhanced communication and cooperation between both entities. Highlights of the MOA include:

  • Formalizing protocol for government-to-government communication and coordination
  • Collaborating on opportunities on major transportation, infrastructure, economic development, and conservation projects to create a ripple effect of benefits for the community at large
  • Coordinating conservation efforts will be strengthened, nurturing the precious resources of Elliott Bay, the Duwamish Estuary, Lake Washington Ship Canal, Salmon Bay, Puget Sound, and the broader Salish Sea
From left to right: Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins; Muckleshoot Tribal Chair Jaison Elkins; Muckleshoot Tribal Council member Louie Ungaro; Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman; Muckleshoot Tribal Council Vice Chair Donny Stevenson; Port of Seattle Commission Vice President Toshiko Hasegawa; and Muckleshoot Tribal Council member Leeroy Courville


As we move forward with this agreement, we do so with mindful optimism, understanding the immense impact it can have on our shared environment, economy, and society. By working together and honoring each other's perspectives, we embrace a future that is grounded in harmony and progress.


Muckleshoot Canoe Landing

I was honored to be invited by Chairman Jaison Elkins, Vice Chairman Donny Stevenson, and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribal Council to witness such a significant cultural Canoe Journey Landing event on Sunday, July 30, 2023, at Alki Beach.


At least 30 indigenous tribal nations from across the Pacific Northwest and over 130 canoes were expected to paddle through the Salish Ssea, as they have since time immemorial, fostering harmonious connections.


The atmosphere was charged with excitement and reverence as the first canoes approached the Muckleshoot Canoe Landing, bearing greetings, offerings, and a humble request to come ashore. In turn, travelers were met with hospitality, welcome, and permission granted by the hosting nation, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. It was truly a powerful example of how we can peacefully and collaboratively be in relationship with other nations.

Commission Vice President Toshiko Hasegawa with her daughter Keiko


As a representative of the Port of Seattle, I was truly humbled and privileged to be a part of this awe-inspiring event that had been meticulously planned for over a year.



Protocol Opening Ceremony

The following day, my family and I had the privilege of attending the Opening Ceremony of the weeklong Protocol, in which the host nation provides food and lodging to canoe pullers, support crew, and other visitors. The atmosphere was brimming with a sense of heritage and pride, as participants adorned in regalia engaged in song and dances that have been cherished and handed down through countless generations.

Front row from left to right: Commissioner Hasegawa’s daughter Keiko and husband Michael Charles, Muckleshoot Tribal Chairman Jaison Elkins, and Port of Seattle Commission Vice President Toshiko Hasegawa


The Protocol Ceremony showcased the resilience of indigenous cultures and witnessing this beautiful confluence of culture, tradition, and unity highlighted the importance of preserving and promoting these invaluable customs.


Top photo, front row from left to right: Port of Seattle Executive Director Steve Metruck and Muckleshoot Tribal Chair Jaison Elkins. Back row from left to right: Tribal Council member Leeroy Courville, Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman, Tribal Council member Louie Ungaro, Port of Seattle Commission Vice President Toshiko Hasegawa, Tribal Council Vice Chair Donny Stevenson, and Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins.


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