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Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby was defeated Sunday in his bid for reelection to the Swinomish Tribal Senate. Alana Quintasket, 27, was elected. The Senate will elect a new chair at its next meeting in two weeks. (Richard Walker / Anacortes American) 

Political newcomer Alana Quintasket defeated incumbent Brian Cladoosby on Sunday for election to Swinomish Tribal Senate seat 2, according to results issued by the tribe.

According to the results announcement, 323 votes were cast, though the tribe did not report how many votes each candidate received.

Sophie Bailey ran unopposed for election to Senate seat 1, which she’s represented since 2000.

Cladoosby, Swinomish’s chairman, has served on the Senate for 35 years and as chairman for 23. The Senate, the tribe’s governing body, will elect a new chair at its next meeting.

Quintasket, 27, is an intern in the Swinomish Department of Planning and Community Development, taught Lushootseed in local schools, and studied Indigenous Rights and Social Justice at Arizona State University and American Indian studies at University of Washington. Her platform: that it was time for a new generation of leadership. Her campaign slogan was “Make Shift Happen.”

Quintasket could not be reached for comment. But in her candidate statement in qyuuqs, the Swinomish news magazine, she indicated that housing and creating economic opportunity are priorities for her.

“When we have people who are still living in poverty, people that are homeless, and elders forced to live outside of the community, does this reinforce colonization or our core indigenous values?” she wrote.

Quintasket thanked Cladoosby for his dedication to the tribe in the press release.

“He has led our community at home and across the country with strength and vision. He has brought us far and is the reason that I am prepared to step into a leadership role today,” she said.

In addition to his local Senate work, Cladoosby served two terms as president of the National Congress of American Indians and as president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. He currently serves on the Washington Indian Gaming Association board of directors.

“I have been blessed to be chosen to serve our people, and today my heart is with you all,” Cladoosby said in the press release. “… As the longest-serving chairman in Swinomish history, I am honored to have worked with the many elders who have proceeded us and those who are seated here today.”

During his tenure as Swinomish chairman, the tribe’s economy and public services expanded.

The tribe built the Swinomish Lodge and launched other economic enterprises. The Swinomish Police Department became the first tribal law enforcement agency to be accredited by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs; officers have general police authority under state law. The tribe started a dental health therapist program and opened didgwalic Wellness Center, which assists in opioid recovery.

The Swinomish Senate consists of 11 members who are elected to five-year terms; senators elect the chair, which is a full-time salaried position.

The Swinomish Tribe has more than 1,100 members, or tribal citizens, and is a signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855. The Swinomish Reservation comprises 7,450 acres of uplands and 2,900 acres of tidelands, although Swinomish has certain treaty-protected rights within its historical territory.

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