Sunday, December 30, 2007

Spokane's Native Mayor

A neat little story from Indian Country Today: Spokane's new mayor sworn in to the beat of the drum:

"I, Mary Verner ... will faithfully and impartially perform and discharge the duties of the office of the mayor according to law to the best of my ability.'' Those words proclaimed Verner as mayor of Spokane, the first mayor with Native ancestry in this city bordering the river and ancestral homeland for the Spokane Tribe.

Verner, who has Muskogee ancestry, defeated the incumbent mayor and was sworn in Nov. 27 during a ceremony that reflected her Native ties.

Verner was introduced to the several hundred in attendance by Spokane Tribe Chairman Richard Sherwood. ''It's a great honor for me and as a member of the Spokane Tribe,'' he said. ''She's done a lot for Indian people since coming to the Northwest. She worked for the Spokane Tribe in our Natural Resources Department and did wonders. The effects of her being there are still felt today in a very positive way.''

The Lotmip drum group from the Spokane Reservation was introduced and sang an Honor Song, ''a song held in high esteem by the tribe in memory of an incident that occurred in the mid-1800s,'' Conrad Pascal commented, a Spokane elder and member of the drum group. That was followed by a ''happy dance.'' The final song was a Prayer Song, all sung in honor and respect for Verner. Verner was also offered a seat at the drum which she accepted. "

Here is the Spokesman Review story on Verner's inauguration.


James Stripes said...

Spokane politics are interesting, particularly in the wake of Mayor Jim West (the first elected strong mayor). Verner defeated West's appointed replacement, a man that had helped her political career until the day she told him she was running against him. Surprisingly, in a town with complex racial attitudes, her identity as an American Indian did not become an issue in the close race.

Larry Cebula said...

Thanks for the information James. I did my MA and lived for about five years in Cheney and I get back to Spokane 2-3 times a year but it is hard to follow something like this from a distance.

Spokane has a really conflicted history with its local Indians!