TULALIP — It was a fitting tribute for the man known as the noble warrior who somehow managed to speak at his own funeral.
Hundreds of people filled the Orca Ballroom at Tulalip Resort Casino Tuesday to pay respects to Stan Jones.
They came from Tulalip, other Northwest reservations and distant states.
“This is our modern-day Geronimo, our Chief Joseph, this is our chief … our chief of chiefs,” said Ernie Stevens Jr., a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and chairman of the 184-tribe National Indian Gaming Association in Washington, D.C.
Stevens, an understudy of Jones, was among the speakers at the four-hour ceremony honoring the legacy of “Scho-Hallem,” meaning No. 1 Warrior.
Stanley Gale Jones Sr. died Nov. 5 with family by his side. He was 93.
Jones was tribal chairman for more than half of the 44 years he served on the tribal board of directors. Today, his daughter Teri Gobin is chairwoman of the tribal board.
The tribal funeral, which started Monday, had many elements of the Coast Salish tradition. People wore cedar. There were singers and drummers. At the door, guests were given armbands with a photo of Jones and his Indian name. Packets of tissues were also handed out.
It was standing room only in the ballroom with seating for 1,000. More chairs were brought in. A room across the hall was set up for the overflow of the mostly Native American gathering.
Stan Jones bridged cultures and generations while helping lead the Tulalip Tribes from poverty to prosperity.
“Stan was a restless force throughout the years, willing to lead the way and a bold course forward,” Gov. Jay Inslee said, in a statement that was read at Tuesday’s service.
Speakers included Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers and state Sen. John McCoy, who praised Jones for shaping them into the leaders they are today.
“He was a warrior, but he didn’t like to fight just to fight,” Somers said. “He fought for justice and what was right.”
Somers noted Jones’ impact in fishing and environmental rights and in protecting the salmon.
Others noted the leader’s bushy sideburns bore resemblance to a king cut from a different mold.
Ray Fryberg Sr. recalled a visiting comedian saying, “He is living proof that Elvis faked his death and is alive and well at Tulalip.”
After the speeches, a slideshow played photos of Jones. In one, he stood side by side with President Bill Clinton. In another, he’s beside Sen. John McCain. There, too, were images of his face Photoshopped onto Conan the Barbarian’s body. In the background, Elvis Presley’s voice crooned “My Way.”
Then, in a short clip, Jones himself spoke.
“I have to take care of you guys, because you don’t do anything,” he said, pointing his finger at the camera. “I have to do it all!”
Laughter erupted from the crowd.
His granddaughter, Teresa Jira, recalled Jones’ final days. “All he wanted was to talk about Tulalip,” she said.
He asked questions about how people on the reservation were doing. She would tell him the amount of money people made per capita, which seemed to calm him and make him happy.
“The last thing that he said, twice, was, ‘They have to stay together. They have to stay together,’” Jira said. “And that’s what we have to do as a tribe, is stay together.”
Jones touched the lives of many of those attending.
“He supported education 100 percent and I benefited from those policies that he put into place. I went on to get my B.A. degree,” said Misty Napeahi, treasurer on the tribal board of directors.
Charles Jones described his uncle “as the most powerful person I ever knew.”
“He taught me that everywhere you go you don’t just represent your family, you represent your tribe,” he said. “His presence consumed every room he entered. Politicians, whether governors or state officials, would look at him with their eyes as big as saucers.”
Several hundred people joined the motorcade from the ballroom to the burial.
It took a van and box truck to transport the dozens of floral arrangements to Mission Beach Cemetery.
Under gray skies, Jones’ final sendoff was with military and tribal honors for the U.S. Marine Corps veteran of World War II.
Drumming and singing accompanied the lowering of his casket. Mourners paid their last respects, gently sprinkling handfuls of dirt.
He was buried next to his son, Stanley “Sonny” Jones Jr., who died in 1996.
“He is going to be missed, but he did a lot for us,” said Dean Ledford, a Tulalip honor guard member. “We got a lot of good people following in his footsteps.”