Longtime Tulalip leader Stan Jones passed away on Nov. 5 after a lifetime of fighting for treaty rights and providing service to his community.
Jones served on the Tulalip Tribal Board of Directors for 44 years. He began in 1966 and served until 2010, including 26 years as chairman of the board.
“I was probably 10 years old at the time when he started on the council,” said vice chairman of the current board, Glen Gobin.
“He’s always been an elder in this tribe to me,” he said.
Many appreciated Jones' leadership throughout the years.
“I think the greatest thing about Stan is that he was always willing to sit down and listen,” said current Tulalip Tribal board member Mel Sheldon Jr.
“That’s why he was our leader for so many years, because he always had time for tribal members,” said Sheldon.
Community members said that Jones was a tireless advocate for Tulalip and Native Americans.
“He was a hard fighter for the tribe,” said Tulalip Tribal member and longtime former board member Don Hatch.
“He was there to make sure the tribe got what was owed to them and maintain what we have,” said Hatch.
Jones was one of the advocates who helped lead the charge during the Puget Sound ‘Fish Wars.’
“On the fishing issue he always fought hard,” said Hatch.
During the Fish Wars, state law prohibited Native fisherman from fishing on rivers that were not on reservation land.
Treaties with local tribes often included provisions that tribes would be able to continue fishing as they always had though, leading to the Boldt Decision which said local tribes would have joint authority in state fishery management and were entitled to half of the state’s salmon catch.
Jones continued to advocate for tribes after the Boldt Decision as well.
“He had a continuing fight for sovereignty,” said Sheldon.
“Stan went to D.C. to testify, and he was there not only on behalf of Tulalip but for all Indian people,” he said.
Over the years Jones has spoken at the United Nations on treaties and environmental issues, and has met with President Bill Clinton to discuss Native American affairs.
“There were a lot of different fights he was involved in. He was a fighter for the people,” said Hatch.
He was also an advocate for economic growth for the tribes.
“I’ve seen his leadership and how he fought to protect the treaty rights of the tribe, while still developing the economy here, oftentimes with little to no resources,” said Gobin.
Jones helped draft a bill and testified in support of Native American gaming that would help pave the way for the Tulalip Resort Casino.
“Stan was there at many critical, impactful times, including the introduction of gaming,” said Sheldon.
In 1966 when Jones started on the Tulalip Tribal board the tribes had three employees. Today they have more than 3,800.
“His leadership always represented the people with a vision for the future, and he followed that vision with plan and purpose,” said Gobin.
In addition to the casino, Tulalip’s economy grew with the Quil Ceda Village and other ventures such as the Tulalip Gas Station while Jones was on the board.
Hatch said that Jones was always working on serving the community.
“He was a hard worker and dedicated,” said Hatch. “I used to kid around with him about fishing and going to so many meetings, even after he retired."
Jones also took a lot of time to help those in need.
“He was dedicated to the community and making sure the kids had what they needed. Whether it was clothes, shoes or anything else he would make it happen,” said Hatch.
Community members said that Jones loved to fish. Gobin said that he remembers going to fish with him many times.
“He was one of the top fisherman we have and was always willing to help people who were not on his level,” said Sheldon.
Hatch said that Jones was always ready to help other fishermen.
“I remember whenever a boat went down he’d be right there to rescue the people,” he said.
Jones was also part of the community and helped keep much of the tribe's culture alive.
“There are so many cultural traditions that he passed down, not just to me, but many of our tribal members,” said Gobin.
He said that Jones was a longtime leader of the tribes and that he will be remembered.
“Stan has often been referred to as a chief here, and he was our chief for many years. That’s the way we are going to honor him at the funeral,” said Gobin.