By Ernest A. Jasmin, Puyallup Tribal News
Puyallup Tribal Health Authority introduced its new executive director, David Tonemah, who spoke to a nearly full Spirit House last week. Tonemah, a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, discussed his more than 30 years of director-level experience, most recently for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and he took questions from PTHA staff about his vision.
Towards the beginning of his remarks, Tonemah alluded to the land and resources Native people sacrificed to secure treaty rights to healthcare, education and housing. “I wanted to understand the question: Why is it that our people have the worst health and the most complicated healthcare system?” he mused.
Tonemah expressed optimism that PTHA would soar to new heights. “What an incredible honor to serve as stewards of health care for our people,” he said, “and every single one of us are in positions to make it better. You can’t deny that. We’re in positions to make it better for our people. So, my vision for our organization is to be the best in the universe.”
The director met a welcoming audience and drew laughter with a few well-timed jokes. Puyallup Tribal Council Chairman Bill Sterud introduced him, and almost all of Tribal Council was present (Councilwoman Anna Bean was not able to attend).