Community celebrates ʔay’gʷasilali, The Place of Transformation
By Jackie Johnson, Digital Media Manager
Two eagles watched over the March 11 ribbon-cutting ceremony of ʔay’gʷasilali, The Place of Transformation.
Tribal Council members, Culture Director Connie McCloud and witnesses spoke to how this village will not just transform the people living here, but the whole community. Each tiny home has a name, provided by the Language Program, and will soon be furnished for the incoming tenants.
“ʔay’gʷasilali. This is truly the place of transformation, but this is not just the Place of Transformation for you, our family who will live here. You are family who live here, you will also transform us and transform this place with the things you are now able to do. We look forward to learning from you. We look forward to the things you offer the community and we welcome each and every one of you home,” said David Turnipseed, Puyallup Tribal Member and ceremony witness.
All seven members of the Puyallup Tribal Council spoke at the event, expressing their gratitude for everyone who has helped with the project.
“We’re saving lives,” said Chairman Bill Sterud.
“I can’t wait to bring our members home,” said Tribal Council Member Monica Miller. “Our ancestors … are very proud of us, I know they are.”
Each home features a Twulshootseed name that is based on a traditional teaching, and the homes’ names were read during the event. The event also included prayers, songs, dances, remarks by other witnesses and staff who have helped with the project and tours of the tiny homes.
The project is in collaboration with the Low Income Housing Institute. To learn more, visit https://lihi.org/puyallup-tribe-village/.
The village is at 2027 E. Wright Avenue in Tacoma and is on Tribal Trust property. It was designed with critical input from the Culture, Language and Historic Preservation departments to ensure it aligns with Tribal values. The homes are arranged in a circle, and there is a community area in the center.
Each home is 8 feet by 12 feet and insulated with heat, electricity and a locking door. Case managers will work with residents to help them find permanent housing, health care, child care and other services. It is open to Tribal members in need of shelter. They must be referred by social services in the Tribe – to ask about the process, contact the Wrap Around Program at 253-382-6219 or WrapAroundProgram@puyalluptribe-nsn.gov.
Getting the tiny homes village built was a group effort starting with Tribal Council. Other departments and organizations involved in the project included:
• Wrap Around Program
• Tribal Community Wellness Division
• Historic Preservation
• Design and Construction
• Government Relations
• Emergency Housing Repair
• Planning and Land Use
• Human Resources
• Flames of Recovery
• Community Family Services
• Law Enforcement
• Low Income Housing Institute
Photos by Puyallup Tribal News staff