Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has held several titles during her political career: secretary of state, senator, first lady.
As of Tuesday, she can now add her Lushootseed name, pronounced Tsee-wuh-luh-we, to that list.
Clinton visited the Puyallup Indian Reservation on Tuesday to have a roundtable discussion with leaders of Native American tribes from around Washington state. The visit was part of a series of campaign stops Clinton made in the state leading up to Saturday’s Democratic precinct caucuses.
At stake at the caucus meetings are 101 delegates in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Based on the caucus results, delegates will be divided proportionally between Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who is her competition for the Democratic nod.
Clinton also made stops in Everett, Seattle and Medina on Tuesday, while her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, held two events in Tacoma.
During her stop at the Puyallup reservation, the former secretary of state made brief public remarks before the meeting was closed to local reporters.
“I look to be a good partner with all of you, in fulfilling our treaty and our trust, and our relationship responsibilities,” Clinton told the leaders of roughly 20 tribes.
“That is my hope, that we can work together to provide better opportunities for everyone,” she said, adding she is especially focused on improving the future for today’s children.
She emphasized going into the meeting that she was there mainly to listen. “That’s why I’m here,” she said.
But Clinton also left with a gift from the Puyallup Tribe: her new name, which means “strong woman” in Lushootseed, a Native American language spoken widely throughout the western Puget Sound area.
“I think she is the candidate to be reckoned with,” said Roleen Hargrove, vice chairwoman of the Puyallup Tribal Council. “She is a strong woman.”
Several tribal leaders said they were hoping to gauge Clinton’s support for fighting climate change and cleaning up the environment.
As the roundtable began, Puyallup Chairman Bill Sterud made a pitch for Clinton to put restoring Puget Sound at the top of her to-do list if she is elected president.
“We need to invest more in salmon restoration,” he said.
Others said they were looking to find out if Clinton supports a coal export terminal proposed near Bellingham or would fight projects that would increase oil and coal train traffic throughout the state, said JoDe Goudy, chairman of the Yakama Nation.
Of those coal and oil train projects, Goudy said, “we want them to cease to exist.”
“We are seeing significant impact with regard to our traditional foods, our lands,” Goudy said.
Learning about how Clinton would support Native American treaty rights was another important issue for tribal leaders, said Tim Ballew, chairman of the Lummi Nation.
“For this visit, getting an idea of Hillary’s commitment to recognizing sovereign treaty rights — and for us, fishing treaty rights — is very important,” Ballew said.
Some of those present later expressed confidence that Clinton would succeed in her bid to become the nation’s first female president.
“I thought it was amazing we were able to meet a future president,” said Dan Gleason, a Chehalis tribal councilman. “And a female president is going to be amazing.”
CHELSEA CLINTON STUMPS FOR MOTHER IN TACOMA
Prior to Hillary Clinton’s arrival at the Puyallup reservation, Chelsea Clinton rallied support for her mother’s campaign at two morning stops in Tacoma.
About 175 people gathered at Bates Technical College’s Advanced Technology Building to hear Chelsea Clinton urge voters to support her mother at Saturday’s caucuses.
During her speech, a pregnant Chelsea Clinton spoke of how motherhood has made her more cognizant of the importance of the upcoming presidential election.
She said her mother is the best person to lead the country in a time where Congress is controlled by Republicans. She recalled how Hillary Clinton helped establish the Children’s Health Insurance Program in the 1990s, a process she said involved intense collaboration with a Republican-controlled Congress.
“It’s a relevant story for today, in part because, like in the 1990s, Republicans control Congress, and that’s not expected to change. Not in this election, not in the next election,” Chelsea Clinton said.
“We have to deal with political realities as we find them, and not as we wish they were,” the former first daughter said, in comments that seemed aimed at Sanders.
At the Bates event, Chelsea Clinton took several questions from audience members on topics ranging from immigration to the criminal justice system.
While asking about health care policy, Janet Caragan of Gig Harbor also took the opportunity to address Democratic voters who back Sanders.
Caragan, a 52-year-old nurse practitioner, said a moderate Democratic woman like Hillary Clinton is needed right now to break the glass ceiling and allow for more liberal female candidates.
“As a fan of Hillary, I’m hoping a message to Sanders supporters will be, ‘a vote for Hillary in November will pave the way for female candidates, such as Elizabeth Warren, in 2024 and beyond,’” Caragan said during the question and answer period.
She added: “Chelsea, hint hint.”
Chelsea Clinton made a second, shorter stop in Tacoma later, addressing a crowd of about 50 people at the Seafarers International Union Office on Union Avenue. The building has a Hillary Clinton campaign office.
Jobs were a concern for many members of the seafarers union, including Trevor Cohn of Portland. The marine electrician said he thinks a Hillary Clinton presidency would mean eight years of economic prosperity, much like he said the nation saw under her husband’s leadership in the 1990s.
Since mid-February, Cohn has been driving from Portland to Tacoma on a daily basis looking for work at the union hall, he said.
“Back in the day, everything was going great when Bill Clinton was in office,” the 35-year-old said. “Every time we’ve had a Republican, we’ve lost some ships.”
Tacoma resident Omer Sharif, 63, said he thinks Hillary Clinton is the better candidate to beat a Republican in the general election in November.
“At this time, yeah, I think she has more of a chance,” he said.
SANDERS TO VISIT STATE AGAIN THURSDAY, FRIDAY
The Sanders campaign said Tuesday that it is optimistic about the senator’s chances to win Washington’s caucuses.
While Clinton has accrued more delegates so far in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sanders has strong support in Washington, as well as in other states with upcoming primaries and caucuses, said Dulce Saenz, the campaign’s state director.
Saenz said Sanders drew more than 30,000 people to three rallies he spoke at Sunday in Spokane, Seattle and Vancouver. The Vermont senator has also raised more money than Clinton from Washington state donors.
All that adds up to Sanders having a good shot at closing the gap between him and Clinton in the coming weeks, Saenz said.
“In states like Washington where there’s unparalleled enthusiasm, I think we can do that,” she said by phone Tuesday morning.
Sanders plans to return to Washington Thursday for rallies in Yakima and Spokane, as well as an event Friday at Seattle’s Safeco Field.
The Clinton campaign hasn’t announced any additional campaign stops leading up to Saturday’s caucuses.