Colville Tribal Executive Director Francis Somday talks with employees gathered at a remembrance for tribal elder Gloria Atkins, Dec. 3 at the Lucy F. Covington Government Center in Nespelem. Atkins worked for the tribal education program for more than 45 years.

CBC Chair calls Colville Tribal elder Gloria Atkins “the matriarch of the Colville Tribes”

NESPELEM - The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation held a remembrance event, Dec. 3 in the auditorium of the Lucy F. Covington Government Center after the unexpected passing of longtime employee and tribal member Gloria Atkins. She was 70.

“I’ve known Gloria my entire life,” lamented Colville Business Council member Rodney Cawston. “To not have her here, among us, in all places and in all times is a huge loss for our community.”

Gloria was an active participant of the Wenatchi Advisory Board since its inception in 1999. She strongly and consistently advocated for the fishing and gathering rights and for the federal government’s promise to establish a reservation for the Wenatchi people. She always traveled back to her traditional homelands to gather traditional foods and to honor her ancestors during Memorial Day Weekend.

Nearly 100 employees participated in the remembrance, sharing stories of her 45+ years of service in the Tribes’ Education Department. These stories highlighted Atkins’ friendly demeanor, passion, dedication, drive and now her legacy. Atkins served approximately 150 students per year as the Tribes’ Higher Education Director. She was credited to having touched the lives of all students.

“She was the matriarch of the Colville Tribes,” said Cawston. “She has helped so many.”

The event was an important step in the celebrating Atkin’s memory. Employees were encouraged to honor the employee who has asked little of her Tribe but gave so much. At the conclusion of the event, administration offered services for colleagues who may be feeling overwhelmed. Grief counselors were available onsite.

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