Amber Sterud Hayward was born on the Puyallup Reservation where both of her parents were born and raised. She is enrolled in the tribe of her father, the Puyallup Tribe, and her mother is enrolled in the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribe. Amber and the majority of her family unit reside on the east side of Tacoma on the ancestral lands of the Puyallup people, where she raises her two sons.
Amber began working for the Puyallup Tribe of Indians in 2002 as an Accounting Intern, and then transferred to the Historic Preservation Department for approximately 8 years under Tribal Historian and influential elder, Judy Wright. Following Mrs. Wright’s retirement, Amber then transferred to the Language Program in 2012 as a Language Instructor. During the same time, Amber enrolled in the Reservation Based Community Determined Program at the Evergreen State College and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Native American Studies.
After a pivotal shift in the Language Program, Amber was promoted to Language Program Director and worked with Lushootseed Language Consultant, Zalmai Zahir on Lushootseed revitalization in the Puyallup community. The program moved forward with the goal of using Lushootseed daily. Efforts took Amber into the community, tribal school and daycare through the modeling of language use in the classroom, creating materials and the creation of language videos to enhance language revitalization. Amber consistently works on speaking Lushootseed in her home with her two sons. She also incorporates her mother’s ancestral language, Salish, into the lives of her children and extended family.