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Tribal Complex named in honor of Vern Clairmont

by KRISTI NIEMEYER
Editor | July 11, 2024 12:00 AM

Vern Clairmont, who died a year ago on July 11, was honored last Friday at the Tribal Complex, which has been renamed in his honor.

Clairmont spent 45 years working at the tribal headquarters in Pablo, the majority of those as Director of Financial Management for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Councilwoman Carole Lankford has said that he worked for 12 chairmen and more than 60 tribal council members. “It was an honor to work with Vern,” she said Friday.

He left an indelible mark, helping lay the groundwork for several self-governance initiatives, including those that have allowed the Tribes to reclaim the Bison Range, take over SKQ Dam and forge gambling and water compacts.

Vice-Chairman Tom McDonald has described Clairmont as “our federal reserve chair,” and said his insights and expertise helped CSKT stabilize tribal government and plan for the future.

CSKT Budget Director Ruth Swaney, who worked with Clairmont for nearly four decades, has said, “There are not many things this tribe has accomplished that do not have Vern’s mark upon them.”

As his family stood in front of the Tribal Council last Friday, Yamcut played an honor song, and the council and members of the community stood in line to honor an exceptional husband, father, grandfather and tribal leader, and to thank the family "for sharing Vern with us."

“It was a very emotional day for my kids and me,” his wife, Cyndy, said later. “Vern dedicated so much of his life to our tribe and many of the Council said he was the backbone to that office.”