A member of the Snoqualmie Tribe will join eight other indigenous leaders as an inaugural members of the City of Seattle’s new Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC).
The city council confirmed all nine new members of the committee on Aug. 2, including Suzanne Sailto, a Snoqualmie Tribal member and elected member of the Snoqualmie Tribal Council.
Sailto, and the eight other representatives making up the IAC, will be tasked with advising Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, the Seattle City Council and city staff on issues impacting Indigenous residents in the City of Seattle. Sailto was appointed to serve in the position 5 seat of the committee, designated for an Indigenous elder age 50 and older.
“What inspired me to join the Indigenous Advisory Council is the willingness of the mayor and city council to create a pathway for us to be in the room and at the table,” Sailto wrote in a statement to the city.
“In my opinion, that’s the biggest issue we face in Indian country – not being awarded the opportunity,” she said. “I hope to foster relationships created through this platform. I hope we listen, first and foremost, and then learn what is important to our nation, city, and organizations.”
A military brat, Sailto was born in Toppenish, Wash. but has lived in Italy Germany, Virginia, New Jersey, Texas and Georgia, according to a Seattle City blog post. She graduated from Lakes High School in Lakewood and a two-year program at Ever-Increasing World Ministries.
She volunteers on boards at the Snoqualmie Ridge YMCA, Encompass NW, and on the Elder Advisory Council for the Chief Seattle Club.
Sailto is the only member of the Snoqualmie Tribe on the IAC. The other members represented the Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Yakama Nation, Umatilla, Diné, Siletz and Chippewa-Cree, Cherokee and Nez Perce Tribes.
Terms for all positions are two years, except the initial term for positions 1, 4, 6, and 8 which are one year. Members can serve up to four consecutive terms.
The IAC was created by the city council in 2021 and received 30 applications for its nine positions. Five of the selected members were chosen by the council, while four were selected by the mayor.
“This is an historic improvement to how our City’s elected officials will be informed,” Seattle City Council President Debora Juarez, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation, said in a press release. “The [IAC] is intended to become a permanent platform for Indigenous leaders to address and guide the city.”