Sauk-Suiattle elder James Lawrence Joseph passes away

Sauk-Suiattle hereditary chief James Lawrence Joseph passed away last week at the age of 70.

Visitation is being held today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Weller Funeral Home, 327 N. MacLeod Ave., Arlington. The funeral is tomorrow at 11 a.m., Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church, 1272 SR 530 NE
Darrington. Details can be found here.

James “Qual ish kanim” Lawrence Joseph, 70, chief of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe passed away December 28, 2010 in Everett, WA. He was born to James and Katherine Joseph April 22, 1940 at home on Indian Hill near Darrington, WA. James graduated from Ferndale High School in 1961.

He worked for the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe as a fisheries manager, retiring in 2002. James enjoyed motorcycle riding, hunting, fishing, traveling, bow hunting, photography and reading. He was a dedicated, perseverant, honest, strong, caring, and knowledgeable man. He was also a natural speaker with strong leadership skills, who was slow to anger. Chief Qual ish kanim, James Lawrence Joseph, was identified by his grandfather, Chief Leo Brown and other elders of the Sauk Suiattle Indian Tribe, early in his life during the 1950’s, to become the next hereditary Chief of the Sauk Band. He would follow his predecessors in leadership of the Tribe counting back over a course of many generations.

He received his Indian name, “Qual ish kanim,” at birth from his Grandmother Josephine Martin Brown and Martha Martin of Snoqualmie through a traditional baptismal in the Sauk River. While holding elected office as Chairman of the Sauk Suiattle Indian Tribe, he represented his people in various other capacities. He served on the first Local Indian Child Welfare Advisory Committee (LICWAC) with the State of Washington to speak on behalf of the children, adopted out or placed into the State foster system and who were thus separated from their tribal culture, families, and traditions.

He helped found the Skagit System Cooperative (Skagit River System Cooperative) and the Northwest Intertribal Court System. He was a strong advocate for the Sauk Suiattle Tribe during the Washington State Fishery litigation that resulted in the Boldt Decision. Chief Qual ish kanim’s vision for the Sauk Suiattle Indian people was to assure advancement for the Tribe and its people so as to form a strong political core of knowledgeable and skilled workers to enable positive economic and social growth resulting in a “strong and healthy people” who would carry forth the tasks set out by his ancestral leaders. With that in mind, he worked long hours, reading and rewriting the Tribe’s basic policies, codes, and laws that govern the affairs of the Sauk Suiattle Indian people. He continually strove to involve the membership in helping to achieve these structural documents to guarantee the prevalence of a democratic process.

Preceding James in death were his parents, James Joseph and Katherine Brown, sister Eveline Ellen Matory. He is survived by his siblings, Kenneth Lee Joseph of Lummi, WA, Leroy Charles Joseph of Lummi, David Leo Isaac Joseph of Tumtum, WA, Josephine Harriet Strong of Siletz, OR, Norma Ann Joseph of Darrington, Katherine Floranee Misanes of Darrington, Nancy Ann DeCoteau of Darrington and Christine Alice Banks of Modesto, CA. Viewing will take place Monday, January 3, 2011, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Weller Funeral Home, 327 N. MacLeod Ave with a vigil to follow at the Sauk-Suiattle Long House, SR 530 NE at the 54.5 mile marker. A funeral service will be held Tuesday, January 4, 2011; 11 a.m. at the Glad Tiding Assembly of God Church, 1272 SR 530 NE, Darrington, WA, with a graveside service to follow at the Suiattle Cemetery.