Stan Jones, a champion of sovereignty, treaty rights, economic development, dies at 93

Tulalip Tribes Chairman Stan Jones shares some history related to Tulalip Bay, in the background, on Jan. 16, 2005. (Photo: Molly Neely-Walker, Samish)

‘While we are saddened, he’s continuing on his journey. He continues to teach us. His vision will be carried for years to come.’

The Tulalip Tribes is mourning the passing of former Chairman Stan (Scho Hallem) Jones while remembering with reverence his life of service to the Tulalip Tribes, Indian Country and the United States.

“Scho Hallem set the direction for our people during an important time in our history,” the Tulalip Tribes stated in an announcement of Jones’s passing. “Without his guidance, our future would have been very different. His legacy of wisdom, integrity [and] compassion will be carried on by the many people he raised up to continue the good work that he started.”

Jones passed away on Nov. 5. He was 93. Services are scheduled for Nov. 11 and 12 in the Tulalip Resort Casino Hotel’s Orca Ballroom. Interment will be at Tulalip’s Mission Beach Cemetery.

Jones served as a Marine in the South Pacific during World War II, served 44 years on the Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors (26 years as chairman), helped revive the Tulalip Tribes’ First Salmon Ceremony, fought to preserve treaty fishing rights and Native sovereignty, chaired a federal task force on Indian gaming, and even found time to chair the board of directors of a bank and write a book.

It was during his chairmanship of the Tulalip Tribes that the Consolidated Borough of Quil Ceda Village was developed and incorporated as a municipality. At 3.9 square miles, it is the 110th largest municipality in geography in the state – just behind Forks of “Twilight” film fame. There are more than 100 businesses, public services and municipal offices located here. Among the destinations: Tulalip Resort Casino Hotel, which has eight restaurants, two live-entertainment venues and a spa; Tulalip Amphitheater; Seattle Premium Outlets, the largest outlet mall in Washington; and Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural Preserve. Nearby are forested trails and a golf course.

Today, Tulalip Tribes has a diversified economy and is the third-largest employer in Snohomish County. Revenues from Quil Ceda Village fund an array of services, from college scholarships to highway improvements.

State Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, said in an earlier interview with ICT that Tulalip leaders in the 1920s and ’30s had envisioned economic development in the area that became the village. “They didn’t know what it would be, but that it would be” – using the terminology of the day – “a big trading post,” he said in that interview.

Jones stayed true to the vision. During his leadership, the Tulalip Tribes started business enterprises, which funded the reacquisition of land that had been removed from Indian ownership, which in turn set the stage for Quil Ceda Village. He was known for his disarming and persuasive leadership style. “When he saw value in an idea, he carried it and went all the way with it,” said Mel Sheldon, president of the Quil Ceda Village Council.

Stan Jones profile
Tulalip Tribes Chairman Stan Jones Sr., Scho Hallem, pauses for a photo near Tulalip Bay on Jan. 16, 2005. (Photo: Molly Neely-Walker, Samish)

McCoy, an Air Force retiree who worked as a computer technician in the White House, was recruited by Jones to serve as Quil Ceda Village’s first general manager. “He convinced me to come home to do economic development,” McCoy said. “He taught me a lot. I learned a lot. It was a tremendous pleasure to work with him.”

Jones wrote in his book, “Our Way | Hoy yud dud,” that the Tulalip Tribes’ priorities were always elder care, youth, education, jobs, homes and health care. “With our success, we have been able to provide homes for our people and provide health plans and pay for our members to go to college,” he wrote. “One step at a time and good careful choices of businesses has contributed to our success.”

Descendant of treaty signer

Stanley Gale Jones Sr. was born on July 10, 1926 in Monroe, Washington, to a Snohomish/Squaxin father and S’Klallam/Snoqualmie mother, according to “Hoy yud dud.” Through his mother, Jones was a great-great-grandson of Lach-ka-nim, a S’Klallam signer of the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855, which made much of the Olympic Peninsula available to newcomers.

Jones was 3 when his mother died and the family moved to the Tulalip Reservation, according to “Hoy yud dud.” He was 9 when his older brother died of tuberculosis.

As a youth, Jones boxed and played baseball, football and basketball. He picked hops and fruit and worked in logging camps, and at 17 joined the Marines.

Like other World War II veterans, Jones never forgot the cost of war – to American troops and their families, as well as civilians in other countries. In an interview for the Legacy Washington history project, Jones told of being part of the U.S. occupation force in Nagasaki after an atomic bomb destroyed much of the industrial port city on Aug. 9, 1945.

“It was like a living hell,” he said in the interview. “I saw older people and children with scarred faces and pieces of hair hanging on their heads. Many of the people that I talked to probably died within a year or two.”

Jones told of children wandering through the rubble, scavenging for food and sleeping in the open. “Jones was so haunted by these young survivors that he began delivering them leftover food that he smuggled from the officers’ quarters as a military cook,” the historian, Trova Heffernan, wrote.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman said of Jones on the Legacy Washington website, “We can all learn from the life of Stan Jones. World War II did not end in the summer of 1945 for children orphaned by the atomic bomb. Stan Jones and other Marines occupying Nagasaki treated them not as the enemy, but as human beings.”

Kindness and compassion would come to be characteristics of his life.

“He was a genuine and kind man,” said Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, whose city neighbors the Tulalip Reservation. “He was tireless in his advocacy for the people he served and was willing to work day and night to ensure people had better opportunities in life.”

The Tulalip Tribes’ announcement of Jones’ passing stated, “Not only was Scho Hallem an innovative leader, he was also a caring man. Stan's humor and friendship were synonymous with his leadership. His teasing, kindness and love for his people were clear in everything he did.”

Sheldon added, “He had a great disposition. You always felt like you were heard by him -- he listened. But when it came to treaty rights and sovereignty, he was the warrior you wanted on your side. He let us know that these were strong tenets to be protected.”

After the war, Jones fished locally and in Alaska. He and his wife, JoAnn, married in 1950 and had five children. The family grew to include several grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

One of the Joneses’ children, Teri Gobin, is chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes.

‘He continues to teach us’

In “Hoy yud dud,” among the photos of Jones meeting presidents and foreign leaders are photos of him participating in a naming ceremony, blessing a cedar log that would become a canoe for the 1989 Paddle to Seattle, hosting a delegation of Russian dancers during the 1990 Goodwill Games, drumming and singing in the First Salmon Ceremony and at the Burke Museum.

Jones was a culture bearer. “Scho Hallem dedicated his life to protecting treaty rights, preserving our natural resources for the future, and teaching our culture to our youth,” the Tulalip Tribes’ announcement of his passing stated. In his memory, the Tulalip Tribes asks that every indigenous person take the time to speak with their elders, learn their histories, exercise their treaty rights “and stay the course.”

“Indian Country has lost a great leader, mentor and educator in Chairman Jones,” McCoy said. “He means a lot to me. It’ll be tough for a while, especially this coming Veterans Day. We’re used to seeing him standing [in the ceremony], a proud Marine.”

Sheldon added, “While we are saddened, he’s continuing on his journey. He continues to teach us. His vision will be carried for years to come. We’re going to be quoting Stan for many years.”

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Richard Walker, Mexican/Yaqui, reports for Indian Country Today from Anacortes, Washington.

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