Native Americans central in Prayer Breakfast

The Greater Tacoma Christian Laymen’s Outreach and its 37th annual Pierce County Prayer Breakfast marked a historic moment for Native Americans for being the guests of honor and featuring a Native American speaker, Hattie Kauffman, an Emmy-Award winning television news correspondent.
The early-morning event May 1 at the Tacoma Dome had over 1,500 people in attendance. The tables were set with 167 pieces of handmade art by local artist Doe Stahr, who is Native American by marriage and pays homage to the culture through her artwork.
The event started with a prayer from Daniel Shaw, pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church and the presentation of the colors the Marines’ Combat Logistics Battalion 23 Color Guard.
Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, spoke of “good things happening in Pierce County.” She highlighted the current growth of companies (Amazon and Boeing), healthcare, military, farming, and the upcoming U.S. Open golf championship at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place. McCarthy closed by urging the breakfast participants to “open every day with prayer and an open heart.”
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland finished off the official welcome of the morning with “We must pray every day to show gratitude for what we have. We need to use our collective compassion and wisdom to help one another. Simply put, let’s love one another.”
Maurie Laufer, a member of the Puyallup Tribe, gave a speech about the lives of native people. She told of a welcoming people who live well through fishing and hunting, and who are expert carvers and weavers. Wisdom and stories passed down from thousands of years that tell the story of creation and help their people to celebrate life events and the generosity of mother Earth. The Puyallup Tribe is the eighth-largest population of Native Americans across the nation.
Paul Pastor, Pierce County’s sheriff, then gave the prayer for elected officials, leaders, military and first-responders.
After breakfast was finished, Pat Walker, of Firestarters Ministries, performed an interpretive dance and prayer in her Native American ceremonial dress. Miguel VillaHermosa and Kelsie Bahr sang a gospel song, “The Prayer.” And scriptures from the Old and New Testament were read by Charles W. Johnson, associate chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
Ivan Porter, pastor of the Church of the Indian Fellowship, introduced Kauffman. She gave a moving testimonial of how her life hasn’t always been easy, but in every difficulty she has felt the presence of God. She has written down her story for all to read and hopes that by sharing her struggles and redemption that it may help others on their path.
The breakfast ended in a closing prayer led by David Norman of North American Indigenous Ministries.
Information on next year’s prayer breakfast is available at www.prayerbreakfast.

Tillie Vuksich, who wrote this article, is a freelance writer.