Danita Washington

Danita Washington

2021 Legacy Award Recipient

“How you have walked amongst your people tells it all”, explained Danita Washington in an “Art of Aging” interview.  She shares wise words spoken to her by her grandparents.  This Legacy Award honors her for how she has walked amongst her people to build community, to leverage resources for the benefit of children and families, and to uplift culture and the honorable Lummi nation way of life.

Danita Washington, whose native name is “Ce Leeia” is a respected elder for the Lummi nation, a family leader and a lifetime advocate for the health and well-being of families.

In her life’s work, she was a police officer, a youth outreach coordinator, a founding member of the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, and a key member of Lummi’s community mobilization against drugs, which resulted in the establishment of the Lummi Safe House, the Youth Treatment Center, and the Lummi Youth Academy.

She was the co-producer of two locally produced stage productions by Children of the Setting Sun Productions.

In an October 12 podcast of “Young and Indigenous”, Danita elevates the important role of parenting and messages we can choose to give children.  She says, we have power to remind our children all the time, “you are worthy—since the day you were born.”

Parenting and family are close to Danita’s heart.  She has mothered her siblings from a young age, as the eldest child in a large family of 9 full brothers and sisters and 2 half siblings.  She is a parent to her own grown children and an active part of her grandchildren’s lives. 

Parenting is an important job and safety is critical—not only physical safety, but spiritual safety.  You want to protect the sensitive spirit of the child and consider what they may “brush up against.”  The nature of her walk in community is about protection, caring and understanding what children and families are “brushing up against.”  She hopes for parents to have access to what they need to give children the attention they need and to keep families together.

Danita is described as “the heart and soul of what’s good in our community”, and she remains active in Positive Indian Parenting, supporting Lummi victims of crime, and serving as a board member of Children of the Setting Sun Productions.

Danita implores us to slow down, live with balance and moderation and to take the time to connect with one another, with children—our own and those in our community.  Experience one another, laugh, listen, walk—provide opportunities to the children “with good, loving support” so they can find their way to the lives they deserve.   

It is our honor to recognize Danita with the 2021 Legacy Award.

To watch the 24th Annual Ken Gass Community Building Awards in which Danita is recognized, click here.