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Metropolitan King County Council

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Jan. 25, 2008

Magnolia Great Bernice Stern and Daybreak Star Founder Bernie Whitebear honored at grand opening of new Chinook Building

Names of each floor reflect history and diversity of the region

Metropolitan King County Councilmember Larry Phillips today celebrated the life and works of Bernice Stern and Bernie Whitebear by naming two floors of the county’s Chinook Building in their memories.

“Bernice Stern and Bernie Whitebear were pioneers whose amazing influence is specially felt in Council District Four but also extends far beyond,” said Councilmember Phillips. “From here forth, as citizens and employees come to the Chinook Building, they will have a lasting reminder of the impacts of these fine citizens. I was honored to count both Bernice and Bernie among my friends and mentors.”

Bernice Stern (1916-2007) was the first woman elected to the King County Council. A liberal Democrat who was also known for her bipartisan leadership, Ms. Stern served from 1969-1980 as representative for District Four, including Ballard, Magnolia, and Queen Anne. She also served on the state Transportation Commission from 1981-1992, and participated in a wide range of social-service, civil-rights, political, and governmental activities. The 4th floor of the Chinook Building will bear Bernice Stern’s name.

Bernie Whitebear (1937-2000) was a Native American activist and leader who unified Northwest tribes to fight for the return of their land. He founded and guided the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation for more than 20 years and dedicated his life to improving the lives of Indians and other ethnic groups by working for change and justice. He was instrumental in securing Discovery Park from the federal government and founding the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center. The 11th floor of the Chinook Building will bear Bernie Whitebear’s name.

The Chinook Building, located on fifth and Jefferson, is the County’s newest office building. Seven County agencies are located in the building, including Public Health, the Office of the Public Defender, the Department of Community and Human Services, and the Finance Division.

Last year, the Council conducted a contest asking 7th through 9th graders from throughout King County to submit potential names for the building that reflect broad citizen values as well as county issues, persons, or symbols, along with essays explaining their suggestion. The winning entry “Chinook” was submitted by Megan Drews of Kirkland.

Another student essay submitted to the Council suggested that significant names be used for physical amenities of the Chinook Building. The Council adopted that idea by providing for the naming of each of the floors of the building. The Council selected names of floors 1-9; the executive selected the names of floors 10-13. Phillips named the 4th floor for Bernice Stern and suggested Bernie Whitebear for one of the remaining floors.