Cultural awareness award for school

Quil Ceda-Tulalip Elementary is recognized for incorporating Native American practices in plan to raise academic achievement.

By Sharon Salyer, The Herald

MARYSVILLE — The staff of Quil Ceda-Tulalip Elementary School has received a cultural awareness award from the Washington Education Association for its efforts to use Native American cultural practices as part of its plan to increase academic achievement.

The award was presented Thursday at the education organization’s annual convention in Bellevue.

Quil Ceda-Tulalip Elementary School has 540 students in kindergarten through fifth grades.

Arden Watson, president of the Marysville Education Association, nominated the school for the award, citing its dedication for integrating Tulalip and American Indian culture and academic improvement.

The program for integrating culture with increased emphasis on academic achievement was funded through a federal School Improvement Grant. The grants were awarded to low-achieving schools in each state, as measured on statewide tests.

While the school was under pressure to made big academic gains, “the staff did not bend from their core belief that culture matters,” Watson said.

“They have been intentional about weaving in Native American culture in their school and in doing so that empowered kids to feel like they can be successful,” Watson said.

Irene Bare, an academic support coordinator at the school, said that initially the staff’s focus was to have the students believe in themselves. “That work transferred to us,” she said.

Staff has seen the results of their efforts, she said. As one example, last year about 5 percent of entering kindergarten students knew 12 letter sounds. By the end of the school year, 95 percent of students had reached that goal, she said.

The result, she said has been “a turnaround wave” of progress. “Sometimes it might not show up on the state assessment tests right away, but we can see the kids have grown,” she said.

Anthony Craig, co-principal at the school, said that each day starts with a morning assembly lasting seven to 10 minutes.

There’s traditional drumming and singing led by students, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Many students who aren’t members of the Tulalip Tribes participate in the drumming, too, he said, “learning from kids who do this every day.”

Craig said he also likes to deliver a daily message to the students, such as perseverance when things get hard.

Manya McFarlene, a third grade teacher, said that when the school’s assemblies were first begun, only a few students would step up to join a teacher who was a member of the Tulalip Tribes leading the daily singing.

“Now our students are leading the assembly,” she said. “The girls are dancing. It’s beautiful to see. The older ones are showing the way.”

McFarlene said she’s also seen a difference on how students prepare for testing. Pre-test drills used to upset students. “They knew that they didn’t know the information,” she said.

Teachers responded by telling the students that they understood that they didn’t know all the answers. The pre-test drills were to help teachers identify what specific problems the students were having.

“Now you see the smiles,” McFarlene said. One third grade student wrote on her pre-test drill paper: ‘I don’t’ know this yet, but I will know it after you teach it to me.”

Not all students reach where they need to be, but they’ve all made improvements, McFarlene said. “That’s what we pay attention to, the growth that’s been made.”

Bare said it meant a lot to have people outside the school recognize what’s been accomplished.

“I wish the whole staff could have been there with us,” Bare said of being in Bellevue to accept the award. “They deserve to have that celebration.”We’re so immersed in the work we often don’t take the time to celebrate.”

Huy Urges Urgent Action on Indigenous Prisoners’ Religious Freedom

Gale Courey Toensing, Indian Country Today Media Network

In late February, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation issued a provisional emergency regulation denying indigenous prisoners access to items used in religious ceremony – sacred medicines like kinnikinnick, copal, and osha root; sacred pipes and pipe bags; drums and other instruments; water dippers; cloth for prayer ties; beads and beading supplies; animal hides and other objects.

The draconian restrictions have given rise to a backlash of protest and now a tribal organization is spearheading an effort both within the United States and in the international arena to stop California and other states from depriving American Indian and Alaska Native prisoners of their right to practice their traditional indigenous religions.

Huy (pronounced “hoyt”), a tribally-owned non-profit corporation in Washington state, has issued a call to action for tribes, tribal organizations, and individuals to submit written comments in opposition to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) proposal to codify the emergency religious property regulation into law. Comments may be sent to CDCR, Regulation and Policy Management Branch, P.O., Box 942883, Sacramento, CA 94283-0001 or by fax to (916) 324-6075, or e-mail to (Related story: Huy: Washington State Non-Profit to Improve Indian Prisoner Ceremonies)

Time is of the essence, Huy Chairman Gabriel S. Galanda said. All written comments must be received by the close of the public comment period May 7, 2013, at 5:00 p.m. Also, a public hearing will be held on May 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in Sacramento, specifically in the Kern room, located at 151 S Street, North Building, 95811. “The CDCR will then consider comments, evaluate proposed alternatives, and issue a final rule. We urge your timely written and public comment in opposition to the State of California’s unlawful effort to unduly restrict American indigenous prisoners’ freedom to believe, express and exercise traditional indigenous religion,” Galanda said. Galanda is a member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, a lawyer with Galanda Broadman in Seattle, and director of the National Native Bar Association.

Huy explains the new CDCR restrictions in a blog posting on Galanda Broadman’s website. A prison order from  Soledad Prison in California from May 9, 2011 shows  the variety of items inmates were allowed to possess under the “Authorized Personal Property Schedule” back then. The items included but were not limited to sacred herbs, including sage, sweet grass, cedar, kinnikinnick, copal, bitter root and osha root; prayer fans; beaded items such as wristbands, headbands, bandannas; cloth to be used for prayer ties, beads and beading supplies including needles, looms, and thread; pipes and pipe bags; hand drums, flutes, rattles, and clap stick; gourd water dippers; soft leather from a variety of animals; and coyote and bear teeth.

By contrast, the new emergency regulations includes a “Religious Property Matrix” that prohibits kinnikinnick, copal, and osha root, cloth for prayer ties, beads or beading supplies, pipes or pipe bags, drums or other instruments, water dippers, leather, teeth, or other items. “The new Matrix should not affect the use of tobacco in ceremonies. Prisoners were not previously allowed to possess tobacco personally, though they were allowed to use it for religious purposes. … Thankfully, the regulations regarding tobacco have not been amended,” Huy’s blog entry says.

Equally as drastic as these prohibitions is the CDCR’s curtailment of indigenous prisoners’ sweat lodge ceremonies – a restriction that presents a potentially disastrous impediment to indigenous prisoners’ spiritual rehabilitation, said Kristen Eriksen, a criminal defense lawyer with a former client in Soledad with whom she has kept in touch. In addition to speaking with him on the phone, Eriksen has sent her former client “spiritual packages” of items used in ceremony several times a year for around three years. She asked that his name be withheld.

Eriksen said she doesn’t know why the CDCR imposed the new restrictions. “I haven’t looked into the limitations on other groups but from what my client has said they don’t have those same limitations,” she said. Reporting on a recent conversation with her former client, she said, “The Native Americans used to have every weekend for sweat lodge and there are 70 of them and there are two yards so they’d have eight sweat lodges a month – now they’re down to one, sometimes two a month.  They’re really being ignored and really to their detriment. The sweat lodge is very rehabilitative for them and it’s been something that’s really bound them together and helped them to develop their own spirituality, their connection to their culture, to each other, to themselves – everything, you know? – and I just can’t believe that anything positive can come from limiting that,” Eriksen said. “And it’s not as if there’s been any kind of problem. There’s been nothing,” she added.

Eriksen’s former client has filed a complaint seeking administrative review of the new restrictions “because it’s really quite severe in terms of taking away so many privileges and so many items that they previously had,” Eriksen said. “He’s in contact with the Imam of the Muslims who agreed to talk to the board with him, but the Imam said none of the other spiritual advisors would assist,” she said.

In addition to her legal work, Eriksen is in charge of her school district’s Native American Parents Advisory Committee. “We have these ceremonies a couple times a year and [my former client] has been really cool about making jewelry and medallions and things that we’ve been able to utilize to give to kids in our school. It’s been really nice. He’s gotten a lot of joy from beading and it’s been really good for him to be able to be creative and he’s improved a ton and it’s been beneficial to us too. Now they’re no longer allowed to bead,” Eriksen said. “It’s so wrong. There’s no reason for it and I truly believe it’s partly because they don’t have an advocate.”

Although Huy, which means “See you again/we never say goodbye” in the coastal Salish language, is focused on the CDCR’s immediate lawmaking effort, the organization has reached far to draw attention to abuses of indigenous prisoners’ religious rights across the country.

On April 19 Huy wrote to U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples seeking “an investigation into the pervasive pattern in the United States of increasing restrictions on the religious freedoms of Indigenous Peoples who have been deprived of their liberty, particularly by American state corrections agencies and officers.” The letter notes that Peoples in the U.S., have the highest incarceration rate of any racial or ethnic group – 38-percent the national rate.

The letter charges the U.S. with “failing to fulfill its duty to protect the religious freedoms of American indigenous prisoners” in violation of both domestic and international law, citing the U.N  Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Although the letter to Anaya did not mention the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its protection of religious freedom, Galanda told Indian Country Today Media Network that the restrictions on indigenous religious practice clearly violate international human rights law. “The pervasive pattern of state violations of American indigenous religious liberty that we are seeing not only impinges upon international indigenous rights and American constitutional and civil rights but also universal human rights,” Galanda said.

Huy has also gained the support of NNABA, which passed resolution that Galanda proposed at its annual meeting April 10 in support of religious freedom for incarcerated American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. On April 24 the NNABA wrote to the American Association of State Correctional Administrators, the American Correctional Association, the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, the American Association of State Correctional Administrators, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, and the National Congress of American Indians asking for their official support for American indigenous prisoners’ freedom to believe, express and exercise traditional indigenous religion; to condemn any unduly burdensome or patently illegal federal or state restrictions on the Indigenous Peoples’ religious liberty; and to help explore how federal, state and American indigenous governments can jointly develop and advance shared  goals concerning American indigenous prisoners.



Video: Lummi Nation releases a million coho yearlings

Source: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Every year, the Lummi Nation releases a million coho yearlings from its Lummi Bay Hatchery in two batches of 500,000 fish. The fish are spawned at the Lummi Bay Hatchery and reared at the state’s Kendall Creek hatchery until they are yearlings. Then the fish are transported back to Lummi Bay where they are released.

Lummi Bay Hatchery Releases Yearling Coho Salmon from NW Indian Fisheries Commission on Vimeo.

More accurate fish consumption rate expected in 2014

Source: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

A more accurate state fish consumption rate should be in place by next year, Maia Bellon, director of the state Department of Ecology, told tribal leaders and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials at a meeting Thursday.

The fish consumption rate is part of a human health criteria used by state government to determine how much pollution is allowed to be put in our waters. The rate is supposed to protect Washington residents from more than 100 toxins that can cause illness or death.

“We don’t need more debate. We have the science and we have had all of the discussions,” said Billy Frank Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “Time is running out and we must move forward. We need the governor to work with us to make this happen,” he said.

“This is a public health issue for everyone who lives here,” said Brian Cladoosby, chair of the Swinomish Tribe. “We have worked hard with the state for the past eight years to revise our state’s fish consumption rate and water quality standards. We did not expect this issue to be kicked down the road, but that’s what happened. Now the debate is over and we need to move toward implementing a new rate, but we need a firm commitment from Gov. Inslee that he will help make that happen.”

Tribal, state and federal leaders agree that current rate is not accurate and that actual fish consumption is much higher. Tribes suggest a rate of at least 175 grams per day – the same standard recently adopted by Oregon – as a starting point for discussions.

The state’s current fish consumption rate of 6.5 grams per day – about one 8-ounce seafood meal per month – is one of the lowest in the nation, despite the fact that Washington has one of the highest populations of seafood consumers. That rate has been in place for more than 20 years and is not protective of most residents, especially tribal members and others who consume large amounts of seafood. Furthermore, tribal treaty rights depend on fish and shellfish being safe to eat.

The tribes and state Department of Ecology had been working to increase the rate when the effort was stalled last summer by business interests who complained to state government that a rate change would be too costly for them to implement. Since then tribes have been working with Ecology and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to get the process back on track.

“This is not a choice between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. Both of those things can go hand in hand,” said Russ Hepfer, vice chair of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.

Evelyn Helen (Hatch) Cross

Evelyn Hatch CrossEvelyn Helen (Hatch) Cross was born on February 13, 1934 at the Old Tulalip Hospital. She went to be with the lord on April 25, 2013, in Everett, WA.

Evelyn met her beloved Vernon and they were married on July 1961. They lived in Tacoma, WA, just off of Fairbanks hill. She was a scorekeeper for the Tacoma Bucks Basketball Team. She coached a baseball and basketball team named the Tommiettes. She also played pool Vegas 8 ball, mixed double league, she loved her pool! Her favorite hobby was her beading; she made a lot of her ties, earrings etc. We know that there are many people who have some of her work so please cherish it. One of her favorite things to do was travel all over, and oh my gosh if you ever got on the car with her you never knew where you would end up at or when you were going to be home and you didn’t even have a chance to pack a bag.

She is survived by her children, Cheryl (Jim) Anderson, Kathy (Frank) Jackson and Marvin (Jenny) Cultee; her daughter-in-law, Leah Cultee. She also has a foster daughter, Debbie Foster; her brothers and sisters, Donna (Dick) Muir, Sally Prouty, Illene (Chuck) James, Cynie (Max) McGee, Donald Hatch Jr. and Roy Hatch; special brother, Dale Jones; special friend, Rose Sicade; two special young ladies: granddaughter, Catrina Cultee, who was one of her caretakers; great niece, Lorina Jones, who she loved very much; many grandchildren, great-grand-children, and great-great- grandchildren.

She is reuniting in heaven with her husband, Vernon Cross; sons, Harry and Edward Cultee; brother, Larry (Scratch) Hatch; sister, Elma Hatch; brother-in-law, Will Prouty; sister-in-law, Barbara Hatch; parents, Donald and Katherine Hatch Sr.; grandchildren, Tiffany McCLoud and Edward Cultee and Miajae Cultee; and Baby, Evelyn Cultee.

Visitation were held Monday, April 29, 2013 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Schaffer’s Funeral Home. Evening services will be at 6 p.m. at Family Home. Funeral Services will be Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. at the Donald Hatch Jr. Youth Center. Burial will be at Cushman Cemetery in Puyallup, WA.

NBA panel votes to keep Kings in Sacramento

Hector Amezcua / hamezcua@sacbee.comGloria Bailey cheers Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson during a news conference Monday in Sacramento. Johnson cautioned, “We do not want to dance in the end zone. We do not want to celebrate prematurely.”

Hector Amezcua /
Gloria Bailey cheers Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson during a news conference Monday in Sacramento. Johnson cautioned, “We do not want to dance in the end zone. We do not want to celebrate prematurely.”

The league’s Relocation Committee has unanimously recommended that the NBA Board of Governors deny the application of the Sacramento Kings to relocate to Seattle.

By Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times

The NBA lowered an emphatic boom Monday on Seattle’s hopes of bringing the Sonics back, as the league’s Relocation Committee unanimously recommended that the Sacramento Kings not be allowed to relocate.

The recommendation of the seven-person committee will be forwarded to the NBA Board of Governors for a vote in the week of May 13. It is expected the board will follow the recommendation of the committee and deny the request of the Kings to move to Seattle.

That puts a halt, for now, to Chris Hansen’s nearly three-year quest to bring the NBA back to town.

But Hansen, who leads a group that reached an agreement in January to buy the Kings from the team’s owners, the Maloof family, released a statement Monday night saying the battle is not over.

“We have a binding transaction to purchase the Kings for what would be a record price for an NBA franchise,” Hansen’s statement read, “have one of the best ownership groups ever assembled to purchase a professional sports team in the U.S., have clearly demonstrated that we have a much more solid Arena plan, have offered a much higher price than the yet to be finalized Sacramento Group, and have placed all of the funds to close the transaction into escrow. As such, we plan to unequivocally state our case for both relocation and our plan to move forward with the transaction to the league and owners at the upcoming Board of Governor’s Meeting in Mid-May.

“When we started this process everyone thought it was impossible. While this represents yet another obstacle to achieving our goal, I just wanted to reassure all of you that we have numerous options at our disposal and have absolutely no plans to give up. Impossible is nothing but a state of mind.’’

Hansen made an aggressive move for the team, offering $357 million for 65 percent of a total valuation of $550 million that was the most ever bid for an NBA franchise.

The sale, and a later request for relocation, needed approval of the NBA Board of Governors to become official, however, and that gave Sacramento time to mount a counteroffer that ultimately kept the Kings where they have played since 1985.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said in an interview on NBA-TV that the Seattle bid was “very strong” but that “there is some benefit that should be given to a city that has supported us for so long and has stepped up to contribute to a new building, as well.”

The new building in Sacramento came as a result of a dogged effort led by Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former three-time NBA All-Star who made it a priority to keep the team there.

“I still think Seattle is deserving of an NBA team,” Johnson said Monday. “Just not ours.”

Stern had also said his preference was to not relocate a team, and his support for Sacramento’s offer was likely a critical part of the team staying.

Stern was seen as helping Sacramento revamp its ownership group — now led by Vivek Ranadive, a co-owner of the Golden State Warriors — to get into position to make a bid that could keep the team.

Johnson numerous times had said a key selling point of Sacramento’s bid was that the local government had “stepped up” every time it had been asked to in recent years, specifically in helping fund arenas. Sacramento’s plan for a $447 million arena includes $258 million in public money.

“I know this doesn’t mollify the anger, but I think this decision was really about Sacramento and not Seattle,” said Michael McCann, a sports legal expert and an on-air analyst for “I think it was an affirmation of Sacramento, and the significance of that, I believe, is that Seattle is still well-positioned for an NBA team.”

While many regarded Monday’s news as pretty much ending the battle over the Kings, USA Today reported that the new Sacramento ownership group has been asked to put 50 percent of the purchase price into escrow by Friday. Also, the Maloof family still has a binding agreement to sell the team to Hansen’s group — which included a $30 million nonrefundable deposit by Hansen — and doesn’t have to sell the team to the Sacramento group.

A Maloof family spokesman said Monday the family has no comment.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, one of the Hansen group’s investors, was quoted by KJR-AM saying he was “horribly, horribly disappointed” at the news.

It’s unclear, though, what happens now with Hansen’s effort to bring back the NBA to Seattle. The city has been without a team since the Sonics left for Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season.

Stern repeated in his NBA-TV interview his long-held stance that expansion is not an option.

“All I can say is that discussion will have to wait for commissioner (Adam) Silver (who is taking over when Stern retires Feb. 1) to oversee,” Stern said. “Right now, expansion is not on the agenda, but I would never say never. We will see what happens. It doesn’t make a lot of sense unless we know what the new TV deal is.”

The NBA’s national TV contracts expire after the 2015-16 season.

Hansen had targeted the Kings because they were seen as the team that might be the most vulnerable, with an aging and small arena, built in 1988, and an ownership group that had attempted previously to move the team.

McCann said “there’s no obvious other team” available. If there might be one, McCann pointed to the Milwaukee Bucks, whose arena also dates to 1988. However, the team has a lease through 2017, with reports that a new arena plan will be developed by then. And Milwaukee owner Herb Kohl, a former U.S. senator, is a Milwaukee native who is unlikely to sell the team to someone who would move it., meanwhile, reported that legal action against the league “is a near impossibility, given that the NBA requires prospective owners to sign agreements that prohibit them from taking legal action if their bids are denied.” It further reported that “a source with knowledge of Hansen’s group’s plans said Sunday that the group had never thought about taking any legal action if it lost.”

While there was much celebrating in Sacramento — Johnson scheduled a 5 p.m. rally downtown — there was consternation among Seattle officials who had worked hard to push through the arena deal. Under the terms of the deal with the city of Seattle and King County, Hansen has until Dec. 3, 2017, to secure a team.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said, “I was disappointed. I was hopeful that today would go well.”

In a brief statement, he said he is proud of Sonics fans and their work to get Seattle a team.

“We’re going to stay focused on our job: making sure Seattle remains in a position to get a team when the opportunity presents itself,” he wrote.

The mayor has perhaps the most at stake politically if an arena deal stalls. Making a deal with the Hansen investment team is one of the most high-profile accomplishments of his first term.

McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine each attended a presentation made by the Seattle group to the NBA Board of Governors in New York on April 3 to state the case for the city.

Constantine said in a statement that he will continue to work to return the NBA.

“I’m disappointed, but undeterred in our quest to bring NBA basketball back to the Pacific Northwest,’’ he said. “Today’s decision doesn’t mean this effort is over. From what I saw at the presentation in New York, Chris Hansen and his team have made the superior offer and the best pure business case for the NBA to return to Seattle.’’

In a twist that surely only deepened the wound for Seattle basketball fans, the chairman of the committee who voted Monday was Clay Bennett, who bought the Sonics in 2006 and two years later moved them to Oklahoma City. The others who voted Monday were Peter Holt (Spurs), Herb Simon (Pacers), Glen Taylor (Timberwolves), Greg Miller (Jazz), Ted Leonsis (Wizards) and Micky Arison (Heat).

The Board of Governors vote had initially been expected to come April 19 in New York. But Stern said then the league needed more time to evaluate the situation. Many speculated that also helped buy Sacramento more time to get its proposal solidified.

“If the vote was two weeks ago, I bet it was not unanimous,” McCann said. “I think the league likes to rally around one vote, and I don’t think the league was ready for that two weeks ago.”

Hansen’s quest to bring the NBA back began roughly three years ago when he began quietly buying up land in the Sodo District. Hansen first let the city of Seattle know about his plans in June 2011, and the first public notice came in December 2011.

Hansen, who grew up in Rainier Valley, has said a seminal moment of his life came in 1979, when he was 11 years old and the Sonics won their only NBA championship. It still is the only championship for a Seattle team in one of the three major pro sports.

Hansen, now a hedge-fund manager who works out of San Francisco, wasn’t in a financial position to make a bid for the Sonics when they were bought in 2006 by Bennett.

Hansen not only put together an ownership group that included Ballmer, but also helped power through an arena deal approved by King County and the city of Seattle. The $490 million project for an arena in Sodo would have included $290 million in private money. Hansen also agreed to make improvements to KeyArena for the team’s stay there.

Northwest Indian College celebrates women’s health

In observance of National Women’s Health Week, Northwest Indian College will host its 2013 Women’s Wellness Conference on May 8-9 from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Log Building on main campus.

The event brings together women from campus and the community to promote women’s health and wellness, and to provide them with opportunities and tools to improve their physical, mental and emotional health.

Topics at the conference will include:

  • Physical fitness
  • Healthy relationships
  • Native plant identification (and nature walk)
  • Diabetes cooking and nutrition
  • Teas for wellness
  • And more

For a registration form, contact Laura Maudsley at or visit The conference registration fee is $125. Those who would like to attend the conference, but who are unable to pay, can request a fee waiver by contacting Laura.

Northwest Indian College is an accredited, tribally chartered institution headquartered on the Lummi Reservation at 2522 Kwina Road in Bellingham Wash., 98226, and can be reached by phone at (866) 676-2772 or by email at

Washington tribal college students win national business competition

Source: Northwest Indian College

At the beginning of April, Northwest Indian College (NWIC) students headed to Scottsdale, Arizona with a business plan concept in their hands that they hoped was creative enough and put together well enough to out-compete the business plans of tribal college students from across the nation.

The students were in Arizona April 11-13 for the American Indian Business Leaders (AIBL) 2013 Annual National Conference, at which a student business plan competition took place.

The mission of AIBL is to increase the representation of American Indians and Alaska Natives in business and entrepreneurial ventures through education and leadership development opportunities. The business plan competition supports AIBL’s mission by requiring participating students to develop the concept for a business and a written plan for its implementation.

“The competition has us put an idea into words, and then come up with a solid plan for the idea, and then present it in a convincing and thorough enough way to persuade someone to support it,” said NWIC team member Stephanie Charlie, Suquamish. “It gave us hands-on, real world experience. We would have to do the same thing if we were applying for a loan, for instance.”

NWIC team members Jennifer Cordova-James, Allen Revey, Bonnie Russell, Robert Gladstone, and Stephanie Charlie were joined at the conference by NWIC business instructor Steve Zawoysky. Adib Jamshedi, from Lummi Ventures, didn’t attend the conference, but he did provide students with his expertise.

“Adib provided great support in developing the business plan concept,” Zawoysky said.

Students called their plan “Traditional Journeys,” a name that represents the plan’s cultural tourism focus. The plan’s four-hour journey would include a short canoe paddle, a traditional meal, storytelling, songs, dance, and a short nature walk discussing traditional plants and foods.

Charlie said she felt a mixture of emotions heading into the competition – she was both confident and nervous at the same time.

“I wasn’t nervous about the quality of our concept, but about presenting it because I get nervous speaking in front of people,” Charlie said. “Speaking about the plan got easier each time we practiced it, though.”

And the team practiced a lot, Zawoysky said.

“We spent eight to 10 additional hours just practicing the oral presentation once we arrived in Arizona,” Zawoysky said. “It was definitely a working trip.”

Charlie agreed.

“We didn’t have time to sight see, that’s for sure,” she said.

All of that practice paid off. The NWIC team’s plan and presentation was enough to win first place.

“It was really validating for the students,” Zawoysky said. “All of the students were dedicated and motivated to write and present this great business concept. The judges seemed to be most impressed with the cultural content of the concept, by the passionate presentation by the students, and sincere interest in sharing some of the cultural traditions of the Lummi people.”

Zawoysky hopes the win will help build enthusiasm and participation in NWIC’s AIBL chapter, and said it comes at an ideal time, as the college begins offering courses for its newly accredited Bachelor of Arts in Tribal Governance and Business Management program.

“I highly recommend other students get involved in AIBL,” Charlie said. “It’s an experience I will remember for the rest of my life and I look forward to going back again next year.”


Northwest Indian College is an accredited, tribally chartered institution headquartered on the Lummi Reservation at 2522 Kwina Road in Bellingham Wash., 98226, and can be reached by phone at (866) 676-2772 or by email at

Grant helps educate tribes on drought management

By Ciji Taylor, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

With the help of a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service grant, the American Indian Inter Tribal Buffalo Council is working to make tribal lands more resilient to drought.

The Conservation Innovation Grant will give $640,000 to the council to help bridge the knowledge between 58 tribes spanning over one million acres in 19 states with a collect heard of more than 15,000 buffalo.

“The council’s mission is to restore bison to tribal land, which is subject to the whims of the land like fire, drought and carrying capacity,” Jim Stone, ITBC executive director, said.

To tribes, buffalo represent a way of life and are a critical part of the ecosystem, making their survival through drought a deep cultural significance, he added.

“American Indians were our nation’s first conservationists. This (grant) project will help make sure tribes have the resources and knowledge to improve and conserve land for their future generations,” Dr. Carol Crouch, NRCS National American Indian Special Emphasis Program manager, said.

The first step of the project will be an assessment of the impacts of drought across member tribes, their response to drought, and the effectiveness of the responses.  The findings will be used to create regional trainings and adoption of best management practices

“Often, our members don’t know where to get information or resources for drought. Our goal is to build a one-stop shop for tribes where they can easily access the most up-to-date information,” Stone said.

An online database will be created for tribes to find drought resources. It will include links to drought forecasts, drought funding assistance, management practices, and the data needed to fill out forms and grants for assistance.

“This is a big project to tackle, and we currently only have six staff members,” said Stone.

The grant allows the council to hire additional staff to help do drought assessments, trainings, the online database, and bring in other partners to help educate the tribes.

Overall, it’s a chance to protect the land, the buffalo, and a way of life, he added.

Visit NRCS’s website for more information on drought and CIG grants.


USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps America’s farmers and ranchers conserve the Nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment.

Follow NRCS on Twitter. Checkout other conservation-related stories on USDA Blog. Watch videos on NRCS’ YouTube channel.


Blueprint to Advance Culturally & Linguistically Appropriate Service in Health Released

Source: Native News Network

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday Health and Human Services released enhanced National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care, a blueprint to help organizations improve health care quality in serving our nation’s diverse communities.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

The enhanced National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services standards are grounded in a broad definition of culture, one in which health is recognized as being influenced by factors ranging from race and ethnicity to language, spirituality, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and geography.

“We are making great strides in providing quality care and affordable coverage for every American, regardless of race or ethnicity or other cultural factors because of the Affordable Care Act,”

said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“The Enhanced National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services Standards will help us build on this ongoing effort to ensure that effective and equitable care is accessible to all.”

A key initiative in the department’s effort to reduce health disparities, the update marks a major milestone in the implementation of the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.

Long existing inequities in health and health care have come at a steep cost not only for minority communities, but also for our nation. As cited in a recent report from the HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the burden of insufficient and inequitable care related to racial and ethnic health disparities has been estimated to top $1 trillion.

“Disparities have prevented improved outcomes in our health and health care system for far too long,”

said Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH.

“The enhanced Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services Standards provide a platform for all persons to reach their full health potential.”

Specifically, the enhanced Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services Standards provide a framework to health and health care organizations for the delivery of culturally respectful and linguistically responsive care and services. By adopting the framework, health and human services professionals will be better able to meet the needs of all individuals at all points of contact.

“Many Americans struggle to achieve good health because the health care and services that are available to them do not adequately address their needs,”

said J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the HHS Office of Minority Health.

“As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, improving cultural and linguistic competency across public health and our health care system can be one of our most powerful levers for advancing health equity.”

The enhanced standards, developed by the HHS Office of Minority Health, are a comprehensive update of the 2000 National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services Standards and include the expertise of federal and non-federal partners nationwide, to ensure an even stronger platform for health equity.