The gift of food and good health

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Tulalip’s own Diabetes Prevention Program is dedicated to making the community healthier by educating any and all motivated individuals who are willing to learn about nutritional awareness and healthy eating. With diabetes and obesity prevalence continuing to rise in Native communities throughout the United States, many families feel a need to change their eating habits, but just don’t know where to begin. 

Adjusting to a healthier lifestyle and diet can be an overwhelming task, therefore, the Diabetes Prevention Program has created The Gift of Food & Good Health, an all-new series of cooking classes offering guidance and hands-on instruction. Hosted every Tuesday at the Tulalip Dining Hall from 3:00pm to 4:30pm, these classes are uniquely created for our people to enjoy while learning about the many health benefits of our foods. The classes are open to tribal members, their families, and patients of the Tulalip Health System.

The latest class, occurring on Tuesday, September 18, communicated the importance spices and herbs can have in creating healthy meals. 

“Herbs and spices make food tastier while boosting your health,” shared Jessica Bluto, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator for the Tulalip Health Clinic. “We should all be cooking with herbs and spices regularly and, if possible, using several at a time.”

Herbs, like basil, are the leaves of a plant, while spices, like cinnamon, are usually made from the seeds, berries, bark, or roots of a plant. Both are used to flavor food, but research shows they’re chock-full of healthy compounds and may help prevent illness and disease.

Chef Brit (left) explains best cooking practices while preparing a nutritional meal.

Adding herbs and spices to your diet has another benefit, “Because they’re so flavorful, they make it easier to cut back on less healthy ingredients like salt, sugar, and added fat,” explained culinary chef Brit Reed. “Herbs and spices contain so much nutritional value, from cleaning out toxins in your blood to fighting inflammation to even lowering blood pressure. We’re all about promoting healthy foods habits that can really make a difference with a variety of health issues our people may be going through.”

Tulalip elder Marvin Jones attended the September 18 session as a first-timer. He enjoyed learning about the variety of health benefits herbs and spices can offer, even though he admitted to not enjoying the flavor of most of them.

“I don’t like the taste of most seasonings, but I’ll try to eat them and come up with a combination that works for me because I want to eat better,” said Marvin while going through the process of mincing garlic. “I want to learn to cook healthier foods and meals. These classes will help me with that.”

Tulalip elder Marvin Jones minces garlic during a class devoted to benefits of herbs and spices.

The exciting hands-on learning experience walked each class attendee through the food preparation process, to the large Dining Hall kitchen for cooking as group, and then back to the table where a grilled chicken and broccoli meal was enjoyed by all. The meal was made flavorful with the aid of garlic (anti-inflammatory), basil (digestive aid), ginger (nausea reducer), and thyme (antimicrobial), along with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

“The staff here have been so helpful in teaching me which foods to eat more of and how to make sense of a nutritional label,” shared Joyce Alexander, a Haida elder. Joyce routinely attends healthy cooking and food classes offered by the Diabetes Prevention Program. “I was diagnosed with border line Diabetes two years ago and was told by the doctors it could be reversed by changing the foods I eat. Since then, I’ve lost nearly 52 pounds just by changing my diet and staying away from processed foods. I’ve taken back control of my life and it feels great.”

The Gift of Food & Good Health series will continue next Tuesday with a class dedicated to tender, juicy steak. As always the Diabetes Prevention Program welcomes any community members interested in learning about the many health benefits of food. 

“There is so much information available about healthy eating and cooking skills, and we want to aid, however we can, in our people being comfortable applying these skills in their daily lives,” said Chef Brit. “This series of classes will cover a whole range of health benefits. And don’t worry if you can’t make them all. If you can make time to attend just one or two, we’d love to share a nutritious meal with you.”

To find out more information about The Gift of Food & Good Health series please contact Brit Reed, Diabetes Program Culinary Services Provider at 360-716-6594 or Veronica Leahy, Diabetes Program Coordinator at 360-716-5642.

Protecting our Salish Sea, the salmon and the southern resident orcas

Jessica Janes helps clean up the coast.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip news

The traditional Tulalip story, the Seal Hunting Brotherstold by Martha Lamont, tells the story of two young Tulalip men who lived at Priest Point. The brothers would travel the Salish Sea hunting for seals, salmon and shellfish for the entire community. The brothers prepared and delivered plates of fresh seafood to the elders as well as to their sister and her family, informing their sister to save some food for her husband, who was a carver and often away from home. The sister, however, disregarded her brother’s advice and distributed her husband’s share amongst herself and her children.

When the carver returned home, there was no food in sight. He asked his wife if her brothers dropped off any food for the family while he was away, to which she replied no. Upset at this news, the carver constructed a lifelike seal carved from cedar and enchanted the structure with magic to trick the brothers. They took the bait. The brothers harpooned the cedar seal statue while on a hunt and were pulled deep into the ocean only to wash ashore days later, miles away from home. Realizing what their brother-in-law did, they began their long journey home where they were presumed to be dead.

Upon their return to Tulalip, the brothers shared their story with their family and decided because of the complexities of the situation, they should live away from the tribe. They chose to begin a new life upon the waters that long provided food for their community, the Salish Sea, and became killer whales. Their descendants are said to be the southern resident orcas that still frequent the Salish Sea waters searching for Chinook salmon.

Similar stories of the brothers are shared within Indigenous communities all along the waterways of the Salish Sea, comprised of the waters now known as the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound and Strait of Georgia. As the story goes, the brothers chose to stay close to home and often provided seafood to the Coast Salish peoples in times of famine.  The story teaches many important values of the Northwest tribes as well as explains our strong connection with the orca, who is often honored within the culture through stories and artwork.

The southern resident orcas are intelligent, sociable mammals who share a lot of the same values and traditions of the Coast Salish people. For instance, the southern resident orcas are known to perform ceremonial practices during social gatherings when all three pods, J, K and L, meet up, which is known as a superpod. The most recent superpod was held last week in the waters near Vancouver Island where footage of the gathering was caught by the locals and tourists of Victoria, British Columbia. The orcas also travel with the same pod for their entire life, relying on each other’s strengths within a multi-generational family, much like many Native communities.

Another similar interest we share with the orcas is our love for salmon. The importance of salmon to Coast Salish people has been well documented over the years and is integral to each tribe’s way of life. The tribes of Washington State were guaranteed fishing rights when signing the treaties with the United States Government in exchange for land. Since the Fish Wars, the Boldt Decision, and even up until today, tribes exercising that right have been met with a number of challenges.

Over recent years, the salmon population has seen a dramatic decline. A number of manmade dams and blocked culverts are preventing salmon from swimming upstream during spawning season and less salmon are returning each year. In fact, many tribes opted not to fish this season in hopes more salmon will spawn and increase salmon population. Pollution remains another constant concern for aquatic life in the Salish Sea with chemicals and waste pouring into the waters from storm water runoff and local ferries traveling the straits. The lack of salmon has caused tribes to stray from their traditional diets and therefore more tribal members are faced with health concerns.

The same can be said about the southern resident orcas. The lack of salmon and polluted waterways caused some serious health concerns for the whales including reproduction. The orcas are crying out for help. This past summer’s heartbreaking story about southern resident orca, Tahlequah (J35), carrying her dead newborn calf for seventeen days on a ‘tour of grief’ caused tears across the entire nation. And the recent proclamation of Scarlet’s (J50) death is further evidence that we need to take immediate action.

In the sixties and seventies, a third of the southern resident population were hunted at a young age and held captive at marine life amusement parks like SeaWorld. Orcas often live well past their eighties, but unfortunately all but one of the orcas captured have died at a young age. Tokitae, the last remaining poached orca, resides at the Miami Seaquarium and the Lummi tribe has been fighting for years to return the whale to the Salish Sea.

As a result of starvation, theme park poachings and pollution, the southern resident orcas were placed on the endangered species list in 2005 after a significant drop in population of nearly twenty orcas over the course of a decade. Since then, the number of orcas has been steadily declining. With the passing of Scarlet, only seventy-four orcas remain.

Because of the recent news, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee established a southern resident orca task force whose main focus is orca protection and recovery. Members of the task force include representatives from Washington state, a handful of tribes and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The passing of both J35’s calf and J50 is opening up an important conversation about respecting Mother Earth and taking care of the environment. More and more citizens are participating at rallies in support of the salmon and orca such as the Festival of the Steh-Chass in Olympia and the Salmon Celebration in Seattle. The most recent effort united over thirty communities throughout Washington state and British Columbia.

September 15 marked International Coastal Cleanup day, where seaside communities participated in clearing their local beaches of any trash or harmful products. Communities of the Salish Sea, along with a number of non-profits like 350 and the Orca Network, banned together to tailor International Coastal Cleanup day to the Pacific Northwest communities by organizing Salish Sea Day of Action, which provides information and resources about the state of the Salish Sea, the southern resident orcas and the salmon habitat at the cleanup events.

Citizens of Tacoma, Port Townsend, Edmonds, Shoreline, Bellingham, Lopez Island and Mount Vernon, as well as Victoria and Vancouver, gathered in their respective hometowns to clean the beaches, offer prayer, honor and thank the water for its plentiful resources on the rainy Saturday morning.

“Today is a day of action for the Salish Sea and we wanted to join in,” says Amanda Colbert of the Orca Network at the Action for Orcas event in Mount Vernon. “It’s also International Costal Cleanup so there are quite a few events all up and down the coast with multiple organizations. Orca Network decided we wanted to be a part of this because, as you know, any trash, pesticides and chemicals that wind up in any of our rivers eventually leads to the ocean. I’ve run a beach cleanup once out here before and I just thought that this would be another wonderful opportunity to jump in and get the community on board.”

The Orca Network event attracted many participants and the sands of the Bayview State Park in Mount Vernon were trash free in no time. During the cleanup, attendees passionately spoke of protecting the environment and the southern resident orcas.

Ryan Rickerts, volunteer.

“The oceans are definitely in trouble,” says Ryan Rickerts of Bellingham. “Most of the planet is covered by water, it’s our source of everything. Coming here today is a way for me to connect and give back a little bit. The orcas are in real big trouble, so I wanted to be around likeminded people that care about the ocean, the orcas and wanted to do something to help. Hopefully we keep this up; good energy is building. With the orcas that have been dying, hopefully that creates a sense of urgency for people to get together. The Swinomish hosted the orca task force meeting a couple weeks ago and I think it’s good for people to come together to keep talking about it and try to find solutions. We have to take action and it helps to have conversations and get everybody at the same table because it’s going to take everyone.”

Tulalip tribal member and Water Protector, Kayah George, hosted a prayer service the day following Salish Sea Day of Action where she shared spiritual and cultural teachings about the water during Sunday worship at the Woodland Park Presbyterian Church.

“What concerns me about what’s happening in the Coast Salish Sea is the same thing that has been concerning my people for hundreds of years,” Kayah passionately expressed in a video leading up to Salish Sea Day of Action and her prayer service. “It is the disrespect. The utter and complete lack of respect for our brothers and sisters in the sea and for the sea itself. It’s not seen as a living thing; they see it as something that’s disposable.”

The number of supporters at the Salish Sea Day of Action events shows that people are beginning to listen to the calls for help by the beautiful coastal killer whales. And through a combined effort, we can all make a difference in protecting the orcas by restoring the salmon habitat, and that begins with the removal of dams, culvert repairs and environmental awareness.

“There are plenty of ways that people can start,” shares Amanda. “A lot of it is being focused on what you buy at the grocery stores. There are cleaner, greener products out there that are biodegradable. We have to move away from single use products. A lot of what was picked up here today was plastic wrappers, straws and cups that are only used once. So it’s helpful anytime anybody can pick up a water bottle or a green bag. If you don’t want to give up straws, there are companies making reusable metal or BPA-free plastic straws. What we treat our lawns with also has a huge impact. We get a lot of rain here so a lot of things end up in the storm drains. I’m thankful for all the volunteers that came out today and for the opportunity to reach and talk to people about our southern residents and what they’re going through.”

To stay up to date on the southern resident orcas, please visit www.OrcaNetwork.org or check out the Department of Ecology at www.ecology.wa.gov to find out more about the Orca Task Force, Salish Sea spills and cleanups, salmon recovery and upcoming meetings and events.

Taste of Tulalip Oktoberfest 2018

Tulalip Resort Casino Chefs Put Their Own Twist on the Yearly VolksFest Tradition

Tulalip WA — Tulalip Resort Casino chefs are putting their own twist on the annual Bavarian VolksFest tradition with inspiring culinary creations. Paired with a selection of Oktoberfest beers procured by Sommelier Tom Thompson, this Bavarian fun-fest is happening early – because just one day is never enough. The celebration is happening now through October 31, 2018.

Taste of Tulalip Oktoberfest menus pay tribute to German tradition and will draw from the original Munich Oktoberfest experience. Thompson’s team will serve a grand selection of imported, local and domestic Oktoberfest beers from noteworthy breweries, such as Dru Bru, Sierra Nevada and Silver City, to create the complete package.

“Dirndl (a peasant style pinafore dress for women with an undershirt and apron) and Lederhosen are not required for this dress code,” said Executive Chef Perry Mascitti. “But if you must, we won’t object! And the good news is, you don’t have to purchase a plane ticket to Germany in order to celebrate this Oktoberfest.”

In order to spark an appetite, the menu previews are as follows:

Cedars Café will serve its annual Bavarian-Style Wiener Schnitzel with warm sweet and sour coleslaw, mashed potatoes; topped with crispy onion straws, lemon beurre blanc and blackberry sauce. For the perfect finish to any meal, diners can order a piece of the Warm German Chocolate Tart made with a chocolate crust and filled with gooey chocolate chips, coconut and toasted pecans. Served with stout syrup and vanilla bean ice cream – a must-try confection.

Blackfish Wild Salmon Grill & Bar is offering three Oktoberfest menu items this year. Diners can start the evening with their specialty cocktail Gin Symphony, which is made with an herbaceous blend of cardamom, ginger, rosemary and Angostura bitters blended together with Broker’s London Dry Gin, fresh lemon juice and Riserva Speciale Rubino Sweet Vermouth.

The dinner special features Chef David’s Roasted Half Duck with Hunter’s Sauce showcasing a roasted duck breast and duck leg confit, which is served with an apple-pear potato hash, Brussel sprouts tossed with Boarshead bacon and Hunter’s Sauce with chanterelle mushrooms. For a sweet finale, guests can order Pastry Chef Nikol’s Apple-Raisin Strudel with vanilla bean ice cream.

Carvery/Hotel Espresso makes their mark with a Bavarian Ham Sandwich Black Forest ham on a fresh Bavarian pretzel roll, Munster cheese, dill pickles and stone ground mustard.

The Draft Sports Bar and Grill will be serving a traditional Deutschland dish of Grilled Sausages and Mashed Potatoes. Chef Susan will prepare grilled Uli’s Thuringer and Frankfurter sausages paired with their house-made German mashed potatoes and topped with caramelized onions and red peppers. This dish wouldn’t be complete without The Draft’s sauerkraut and beer mustard.

Blazing Paddles is also celebrating the season with a special Brat-n-Beer Cheese Pizza made with Bratwurst, Manny’s beer and smoked Gouda cheese sauce, onions, yellow peppers and fresh onions. Topped with smoked cheddar.

Eagles Buffet will offer dinner guests several Oktoberfest specials, which will feature Beer Braised Bratwurst and Onions, Bavarian Pretzels with a mustard sauce, Lemon Thyme Oven Roasted Chicken served with buttered noodles, or Smoked Pork Ribs with an onion grain mustard sauce served over braised red cabbage.

For more information about Oktoberfest 2018, visit TulalipResort.com. Thompson and Mascitti invite guests to join in the fun by raising a beer and toasting “Feierst Oktoberfest.”

Blazing a trail for community inclusion

Tulalip tribal members Kelsey Sheldon (center) and Tyler Fryberg (far right) have been selected as students during the Learning Center’s inaugural year.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On the afternoon of Tuesday, September 11, the repurposed Damascus Road Annex in Marysville was home to a warm gathering of inclusive-minded citizens and their families. The occasion? To celebrate the grand opening of the Marysville Tulalip Integrated Learning Center.

The Integrated Learning Center is a post- secondary education center for adults with developmental disabilities who have graduated from Marysville School District. At the Center, students will learn how to ride public transportation, take art classes, and learn the fundamentals of cooking, nutrition, and adaptive fitness. They will have the opportunity to raise their own vegetables and flowers. Also, students will practice reading to animals and develop employable skills at Sky Haven Farm. 

Mayor Jon Nehring and several Eagle Wings disAbility Ministries staff members were on-hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony, marking the official kick-off to a program nearly two years in the making. 

“The Integrated Learning Center has the potential to be a transformative program for the young adults of our community with special needs,” announced Mayor Nehring. “Where they previously had limited opportunities for continued growth, there is not a substantial option right here in Marysville.

“This is the culmination of a lot of dedicated hard work by so many people who have a heart and passion to help these individuals reach their full potential.”

Tulalip tribal members Kelsey Sheldon and Tyler Fryberg were selected as students for the inaugural year of the Integrated Learning Center. 

Kelsey and Tyler will be among the first group of select students to forge lasting connections with the community that will help them establish relationships and increase employment opportunities, while developing health and safety skills. Together they will help establish the foundation for other tribal youth with special needs to develop skills that further their independence and enhance their lives.

An inclusive community with concerned parents, school teachers, key leaders from Tulalip, job coaches and citizens, it is the Integrated Learning Center’s goal to see everyone in our community live a full, independent life.

“A program for individuals with disabilities who have aged out of school, I’m so thankful for everyone who has made this possible,” stated Kelsey’s mother, Amy Sheldon. “It really is a dream come true.”

New look Lady Hawks take the court

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The 2018 season has officially started for the Tulalip Heritage Lady Hawks volleyball team. After back-to-back successful seasons that included making the playoffs and playing at least four postseason games, the volleyball program looks to keep the momentum going with a whole new crop of players.

Only two starters return from last season’s squad, junior Deachae Jones and senior Yesenia Araiza. The rest of the team is filled out with underclassmen who will have to gain the skill and court awareness necessary to become fixtures in the coach’s rotation. 

“For us coaches, it’s been a huge adjustment because the underclassmen are young and inexperienced, so we’ve had to go back to teaching the basics,” explains Coach Tina Brown. “These girls play with such pride and they know that with every practice and every game their skill level will continue to rise.”

The season opener saw the Lady Hawks hit the road and travel to Shoreline where they played against the Shoreline Christian Chargers on Monday, September 10.

In game one, the Lady Hawks started out cold and found themselves trailing 3-11 before calling a timeout. Following the timeout, Heritage found a quality serving game from Nancy Enick, Jacynta Myles, and Krislyn Parks. Behind the good serves and a rowdy cheering section, the Lady Hawks clawed back and took a 21-20 lead. Their effort would fall just short as the team made a couple unforced errors and dropped the opening game 21-25.

Game two started out with both teams trading points. The score was 8-10 before the Chargers went on a big run that the Lady Hawks were unable to match. They dropped the second game 14-25.

The scoring drought continued into the third game, as the Lady Hawks found themselves trailing 4-14 before calling a timeout. Although the team was down big, the girls didn’t let the score reflect how much fun they were having. They kept their composure and were still cheering on each point they earned. Tulalip went on to lose the third game 13-15, and the match 0 games to 3 games. 

“I’m so proud of our team for rallying back in the first game and keeping our spirits up,” said Krislyn following the match. “We were communicating more and more, and everyone was trying their hardest. Our team chemistry will come with time, the more we play together and get used to one another.”

“For our first game together and still trying to find our chemistry, I think we did really great. We fought hard,” added Deachae, team captain. “We fed off our energy from practice the night before. We didn’t want to give up and played our hearts out.”

Next up, the Lady Hawks have their home opener on Wednesday, September 12 in what will be an early afternoon game played at 2:30pm versus Lopez Island.