By reporter Steven Smalley
Dire straights for Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center have come to an end for now with the help of fellow Indians and their casino. With the loss of federal funds for their Head Start program, Daybreak Star, located in Discovery Park, found itself in debt for $185,000, as reported by Magnolia Voice here. Hard times and padlocks loomed. Now they are extremely grateful to the People of the Moon just up the road on I-90.
The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, consisting of about 650 members, says it will donate $150,000 to save Daybreak Star from its plight. Daybreak Star Foundation, having previously raised $85,000, will gratefully accept this latest contribution, which will return their ledger books to the black.
“The work Daybreak Star does for northwest natives and others is critical,” explains Carolyn Lubenau, chairwoman of the Snoqualmie Tribe. “The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe wanted to ensure that the Center’s programs are able to continue.”
Daybreak Star members were appreciative.
“We hold our hands up to the Snoqualmie people,” said United Indians of All Tribes Foundation board chair, Jeff Smith. “The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe’s generosity means that Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center will be able to continue as an essential cultural hub for Seattle’s native community, and for our doors to remain open to the non-native public.” Continuing he said, “This is the best news we have had in a long time and our hearts are filled with love and gratitude.”
Daybreak Star opened in 1977, seven years after activists declared, “We the Native Americans, reclaim the land known as Fort Lawton, in the name of all American Indians by Right of Discovery,” thus holding up the US-Indian treaties’ promise to revert surplus military land to their original owners.
Bernie Whitebear, a member of the Colville Tribe and principal organizer of the effort, led over 100 Native American activists to scale the barbed wire fence at what was Fort Lawton, seeking part of the decommissioned property as a cultural base for urban Indians brought to Seattle by federal Termination and Relocation policies. The construction of Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center signaled that urban Indians were prepared to fight for visibility, respect, and access to needed services.
Known as the People of the Moon, Snoqualmie Tribal members were signatories of the Treaty of Point Elliott with the Territory of Washington in 1855. The tribe owns and operates the Snoqualmie Casino.