Stillaguamish announce more than $500K gifts to city of Arlington, school district, agencies

ARLINGTON — The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians announced Monday the donation of more than a half-million dollars to benefit those who live in the Arlington area.

The donation comes from a charitable fund set aside by the tribe. The contributions made this week are above and beyond what is required of tribes with casinos in the state, said Stillaguamish tribal Chairman Shawn Yanity.

“We are not a private business, but a government eager to cooperate with and help other jurisdictions,” Yanity said. “We need to work together as partners. It means so much for the tribe to have those relationships.”

The tribe gave $195,000 to benefit the Arlington police and fire departments, allowing for, among other things, the purchase of two patrol cars and computers for fire trucks. The tribe also donated $100,000 to the Arlington School District for its local-foods nutrition program, $41,000 to Fire District 21 for equipment, $30,000 for Arlington Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society and $25,000 to Arlington Boys &Girls Club for a new gym.

At the Arlington City Council meeting Monday, many in the standing-room-only crowd gasped and stood to applaud Yanity’s announcement.

Most American Indian tribes are among the poorest communities in the country. But casino revenue has allowed tribes to make big donations, even to fund local government positions. In 2011, for example, the Stillaguamish Tribe gave $86,000 to Snohomish County to fund a prosecutor’s position.

That’s not all.

The tribe regularly contributes to the Dollars for Scholars scholarship fund at Arlington High School. It supports the Eagle Festival in Arlington, gives to the Arlington Food Bank, Camp Fire of Snohomish County, Cascade Valley Hospital, Safe Harbor Free Clinic and many other governmental and nonprofit groups around the county.

For most of the people in the audience at the council meeting, the donation announcement was a surprise.

“I wish we could begin every council meeting this way,” said Mayor Barbara Tolbert, who thanked Yanity in Lushootseed, the native Coast Salish language.

Yanity said he and the board of directors of the Stillaguamish Tribe are aware of the cuts made to the city’s budget and that the Stillaguamish people feel good about their contribution to their shared community.

“We know the impacts of hard times on Arlington,” Yanity said. “I asked the fire chief and the police chief for their Christmas wish lists. It took awhile for them realize that we were serious about helping out.”

After the meeting, fire and police employees met with Yanity outside to shake his hand.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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