Portland/ Arts & Culture
AI Assisted Icon
Published on February 23, 2024
Pacific Northwest and Yakama Nation Mourn the Loss of Esteemed Elder Ted Strong at 76Source: Columbia River InterTribal Fish Commission Org Official Website

The Pacific Northwest mourns the loss of a revered Indigenous leader this week. Ted Strong, a Yakama Nation elder, passed away at the age of 76 on Jan. 30, 2024. Loved and respected across numerous tribal communities, Strong's death was met with profound sorrow evidenced by the honor song sung at the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Winter Convention, reported OPB.

Strong's immeasurable dedication to his community and environment saw him wear multiple hats during his lifetime. Notably, Strong served as Executive Director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), where he worked diligently to not only strengthen tribal sovereignty but also to passionately advocate for the restoration of salmon, a cause close to the hearts of his people. This effort was particularly poignant as he directed staff to create a restoration plan for upriver salmon that was subsequently presented to Congress, OregonLive documents.

Apart from his notable role at CRITFC, Strong's contributions spanned across the judicial and housing sectors within the Yakama Nation. He served as the chief judge of the Yakama Tribal Court and was a guiding force as the director of the Yakama Tribal Housing Authority. His most recent tenure included serving as vice president of corporate responsibility at the Yakama Chief Hops Association, as detailed by KIMA Action News.

Laura Berg, public information manager at the CRITFC from 1981 to 1996, reflected on Strong's influence, telling OregonLive, "He was deeply imbued with the tribal culture and spiritual values and he wanted the staff, both Native and non, to really understand it and have it inform our work in a way it hadn't until he got there." Strong's vision was to interweave traditional values with contemporary conservation efforts, showcasing his exceptional ability to bridge cultural understanding and ecological stewardship.

The legacy of Ted Strong extends far beyond his administrative roles; he was a leader, husband, father, and grandfather whose impact would continue to be felt across generations. His unwavering commitment to the betterment of his community and the environment exemplifies a lifetime of meaningful activism and leadership. The Yakama Nation and its neighboring communities have lost not merely a leader but a visionary whose life's work will resonate for years to come.