Puyallup Veterans take part in Iwo Jima Flag Raising anniversary

Puyallup Tribal Veterans joined Tribal and non-Tribal Veterans from around the country on Feb. 24 to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the Iwo Jima Flag Raising and Ira Hayes Memorial Parade in Sacaton, AZ. There also to take part were Puyallup Tribal Councilmembers David Bean and Annette Bryan and Puyallup Tribal member Jaren Reed. With Puyallup Veterans Committee Chairman Clarence Tougaw and the Puyallup Veterans, David Bean and Annette Bryan presented Governor Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community with a beaded King Salmon medallion as a gift from the Puyallup people.

“We raise our hands to you, to your leadership and your community,” David Bean said. “We thank you for your hospitality and taking such good care of our veterans.” David Bean then asked Governor Lewis to bring forward any of his fellow council members to receive a gift as well.

After he returned to the Puyallup reservation, David Bean said, “I have been invited many places to speak and witness many events as a Puyallup Tribal Council Member. One of the highest honors was to be invited to stand with, support, and march alongside our Puyallup Tribal Veterans. I am thankful for this opportunity to support our Puyallup Veterans and Tribal Veterans from all directions and I am thankful to Governor Lewis and the Gila River Indian Community for hosting such a beautiful event that honors the service and sacrifices of our Native American Veterans. Our hands are raised to you in appreciation.”

“I think that the Tribal Veterans really appreciated Tribal Council members coming to see what they do when they travel to be in parades,” Councilwoman Bryan said, “and I got to witness them carrying the flags with honor. It really was an honor to be invited to walk with them.”

“There is no higher honor than an invitation from our Veterans,” said Councilman Bean. “We have to stand by those who sacrificed to make sure we have the rights we have today – freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press – all those things our veterans fought for. But more importantly they fought for tribes and their sovereignty. Our past leaders have done so much more with so much less resources, so we have a responsibility today to continue on their legacy of hard work for the benefit of future generations.”

This was the 15th year that Puyallup Veterans attended the anniversary celebration and parade. Clarence Tougaw remarked over how kindly the Puyallup visitors were treated, as they always are at this event. “It turned out to be a really, really good parade,” he said, “and the powwow going on at the outskirts of town was nice too. The weather was good and quite a few people showed up. And the place was full at the dinner for all the parade participants.”

He was especially pleased to have Tribal Council members there. “Tribal Council puts money up for all of us veterans, showing their appreciation for us, and we want them to see us out there representing the Tribe.” It also offered a chance for tribal leaders from different tribes to connect, share information and make new allies.

Clarence said he and the Puyallup Veterans would love to bring guests to this event next year, and even more so to the Veterans’ next trip to attend the 29th Annual Veterans of the Menominee Nation “Gathering of Warriors” Powwow, which is held on the Menominee Indian Reservation in the Woodland Bowl, Keshena, Wisconsin on May 18, 19, and 20.

“I wish we could get more vets involved. We’re always inviting people so please come and travel with us,” he said. For example, like the fight against the liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant that the Puyallup Tribe is engaged in here at home, Clarence Tougaw said that a drilling company is currently trying to drill into the Menominee Tribe’s water source at the back end of their reservation. Bringing Puyallup and Menominee tribal leadership together to discuss such matters would do wonders to help foster inter-tribal bonds. “All these events help get information passed among tribes and it’s all around good,” Clarence said.