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Velvet Leigh Solomon

March 30, 1976 to March 13, 2018

 

Kwana'pᵊm

Velvet Leigh Solomon passed away unexpectedly in Portland, Oregon, on March 13, 2018. She was 41 years of age.

As a child, Velvet grew up in Spokane, Washington; Kodiak, Alaska; Ketchikan, Alaska; and Nespelem, Washington. She attended elementary schools at Kodiak and Ketchikan, and graduated from Lake Roosevelt High School.

In her life she attained the following accomplishments: in 1986, Velvet was selected as a youth ambassador to Ketchikan's sister city in Katiyama, Japan. She spent a month living with a local Japanese family. Before she left for Japan she decided to carry gifts representing the culture of Alaska. Her Japanese family reciprocated by teaching her their culture, and a simple version of their language. When the students returned to Ketchikan they exited the plane, with each student walking out dressed in full Japanese kimonos. This kicked off Velvet's world traveling experiences.

From 1990 to 1994, Velvet attended Lake Roosevelt High School in Coulee Dam, Washington. In 1992, Velvet was selected as a Rotary exchange student. Velvet selected Sweden as her preferred country. She attended one semester of high school as a Rotary exchange student; she discovered the culture of the Swedish citizens. The Swedish family traveled around to different countries in Europe, providing her with the opportunity to share her Native American Culture, which European people asked about in each place she visited.

At the age 18, Velvet was selected by the Colville Business Council as the New Miss CCT. She represented the Colville Tribe at both state and national levels. Velvet proved herself as a natural born leader. She advocated for Native American Women with the presentations she provided at the different conferences she was invited to attend.

From 1990-1994, Velvet was employed by Video Quest in Nespelem, while completing her high school years at Lake Roosevelt. From there she did a short stint with Colville Tribal Logging as an expeditor for mechanical parts from Spokane.

In 1995, she started as a cashier for Coulee Dam Casino, working her way up to a lead cashier. In 1998, she relocated to Auburn, Washington, and took a job in sales for a high-end women's clothing store; in time, she became the Assistant District Manager. As a part of her new position, she started traveling to new places and went to New York for training.

Velvet's love of her daughter, Lauren, caused her to take her father's advice, and she returned to college to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree from Evergreen College. During her graduation ceremony, she chose to wear her regalia to represent her pride and heritage from the Colville tribe and Yakama tribe. After graduation, Velvet was hired by the Puyallup Tribe as a Tribal Housing service specialist and continued to advocate for tribal members to gain access to housing, and included her advocacy for healthy tribal families and cultural youth activities.

In 2004, Velvet met the love of her life, Dion Solomon, during the Spokane Hoopfest Basketball Tournament. On June 30, 2007, in Coulee Dam, Velvet and Dion were married. Dion's grandpa, known as "Big Dad," officiated at their wedding vows. After their marriage, Velvet relocated to Portland, Oregon, where she resided until her death.

Velvet is survived by her husband, Dion Solomon; her two daughters, Lauren Swan-Solomon and Nailani Solomon; and step-daughter Syihan Solomon, all of whom reside in Portland. She is survived by her parents, Jeffrey and Theresa Elisoff, of Spokane, and her natural father, Ronn and Bonnie Washines, of Toppenish, Washington. Velvet's surviving siblings are: Harley (and Twela) Swan, of Spokane; Lorena Swan, of Spokane, and Richard Elisoff, of Pendleton, Oregon.

Velvet was preceded in death by her siblings, Tracey Buffalohead and Terry Swan; father, Loren Patrick Swan; Grandma Bertha Swan and Grandma Matilda Bearcub. Her extended family are aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews that are too numerous to name, but they all knew her.

Pallbearers for the funeral: Harley Swan, Joseph Pierce, Dion Socula, Jeff Palmer, Ray Lowley Jr, Michael Bearcub, Charley Thomas, Richard Elisoff. Honorary pallbearers include all who knew and loved Velvet.

From Velvet's Family to all of those who helped in each special way, we wish to express our deepest gratitude for your kindness; your expressions of love helped us make it through these hard times.

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