As salmon vanish in the dry Pacific Northwest, so does Native heritage

By Darryl Fears, Washington Post 


Young salmon called "smolts" are loaded into a floating net suspended on a barge at Mare Island, Calif. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

Young salmon called “smolts” are loaded into a floating net suspended on a barge at Mare Island, Calif. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)


As a drought tightens its grip on the Pacific Northwest, burning away mountain snow and warming rivers, state officials and Native American tribes are becoming increasingly worried that one of the region’s most precious resources — wild salmon — might disappear.

Native Americans, who for centuries have relied on salmon for food and ceremonial rituals, say the area’s five species of salmon have been declining for years, but the current threat is worse than anything they have seen.

“I grew up always having salmon,” said Lorraine Loomis, fisheries director for the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, whose culture is so intertwined with the migrating fish that they’re called the “People of the Salmon.” Salmon feasts once marked every phase of life on the reservation north of Seattle — naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals, memorials to the dead. Now they are few, she said.

“We’re very worried,” said N. Kathryn Brigham, chair of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission in Portland, Ore., which helps manage fisheries for the Yakama Nation and the Warm Springs, Nez Perce and the Umatilla tribes in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

An estimated quarter-million salmon, more than half of the spring spawning run up the Columbia River, perished, probably because of a disease that thrives in warm water and causes gill rot, officials said. Normally cool streams in the river basin are 13 degrees warmer than the 60 degrees preferred by salmon, Brigham said.


The carcass of a Chinook salmon, an apparent victim of high water temperature, is shown on the bank of the Clackamas River in Oregon. Oregon wildlife officials are restricting fishing on most of the state’s rivers in an unprecedented effort to aid fish populations dying off from high water temperatures as the state suffers ongoing drought conditions. (Reuters/Rick Swart/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

The carcass of a Chinook salmon, an apparent victim of high water temperature, is shown on the bank of the Clackamas River in Oregon. Oregon wildlife officials are restricting fishing on most of the state’s rivers in an unprecedented effort to aid fish populations dying off from high water temperatures as the state suffers ongoing drought conditions. (Reuters/Rick Swart/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)


Salmon in the Northwest come in a variety — chinook, pink, coho, sockeye and chum — and that diversity has helped them survive for eons. When they hatch, some babies stay in place to eat and grow before migrating to the Pacific Ocean. Others swim to the ocean right away.

Adults stay in the Pacific for three to seven years before returning to streams where they hatched by swimming through Puget Sound in Washington or up the Columbia River, which runs from Alberta, Canada, to Oregon.

But as the climate warms, more salmon are starting to move farther north to Canada, experts say. Swimming to cooler waters in the north signals a major shift in behavior for the fish, and public officials are watching the trend with dread.

In addition to their significance to Native American communities, the salmon are worth more than $1 billion annually to each state’s sport fishing and tourism industries, which support tens of thousands of jobs.

Oregon and Washington officials recently closed dozens of recreational and commercial fishing spots. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trucked 160,000 salmon 100 miles from a hatchery in central Oregon to a cooler part of the Columbia River.

As more fish vanish, the Swinomish, whose reservation skirts five bays, rely on handouts from the state and tribal councils. They accept 5,000 to 10,000 pieces per year to freeze, Loomis said.

“There’s just no water,” she said. “The glaciers are almost gone. The snow in the mountains is not good.” Even if salmon survive, but in tiny, remnant populations, “we won’t be able to sustain ourselves.”


Commercial fisherman Les Clark pulls a sockeye or blueback salmon from his net while fishing on the Columbia River near Skamania, Wash. More than a quarter million sockeye salmon returning from the ocean to spawn are either dead or dying in the Columbia River and its tributaries. (Gordon King/Yakima Herald-Republic via AP)

Commercial fisherman Les Clark pulls a sockeye or blueback salmon from his net while fishing on the Columbia River near Skamania, Wash. More than a quarter million sockeye salmon returning from the ocean to spawn are either dead or dying in the Columbia River and its tributaries. (Gordon King/Yakima Herald-Republic via AP)


Possible extinction


Off the coast of Oregon, wild chinook salmon are gathering for a fall spawning run up the Columbia, but experts say there’s a good chance many will never arrive to lay eggs in the streams and brooks where they hatched several years ago.

Besides facing long-standing hurdles such as dams, the fish now will encounter a large patch of warming water. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Rich Johnson said the cooler ocean water probably will signal to the salmon that it’s okay to migrate up the warmer Columbia.

Earlier this year, clusters of dead and dying sockeye salmon were discovered in Oregon’s Lower Deschutes River, a Columbia tributary. Officials counted at least 100 fish but speculated that scavengers ate dozens more.

Scientists fear the chinook will suffer the sockeye’s fate. Die-offs mean that fewer eggs will hatch and hatchlings might not survive the warm water.

“The bleakest, most dire outcome is if this drought is sustained for a couple more years like California,” said Greg McMillan, science and conservation director for Oregon’s Deschutes River Alliance. Some populations “could go extinct,” he said.

But wild salmon have an array of survival tools. The species do not all migrate at the same time, and their hatchlings do not all behave the same. Some remain in shallow streams two years after hatching, while others head for the Pacific.

Tulalip Amphitheatre sold-out for R&B icon Brian McKnight

Image courtesy of Brian McKnight

Image courtesy of Brian McKnight


By Micheal Rios; photo courtesy of Brian McKnight

With over 20 million albums sold worldwide and 16 Grammy nominations, singer, songwriter and producer Brian McKnight is a genuine music icon.  Twenty successful years in the music industry – collaborating with everyone from Christina Aguilera to Quincy Jones to Justin Timberlake – is a rarity in the modern age of catchy, commercialized radio hits and party music that all sounds the same. Flash in the pan artists who derive success from YouTube hits and a popular-today hook come and go, but those who can serenade an audience have legend status.

Sticking to his true, soulful R&B roots have led to a twenty-year, sixteen album journey that echoes in the sounds and lyrics of McKnight’s heart-felt music. Now, 26 years after signing to his first record label, McKnight is still amazed to be doing what he loves most, making music.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams I would have this kind of career,” says McKnight. “I’m so grateful to have my fans behind me, still supporting me, and to still live this dream every day. And because of that, I am better.”

While gearing up for the long-awaited release of his 16th album, Better, set for worldwide release in January of 2016, McKnight is currently touring the U.S. before making his way overseas. The Tulalip Amphitheatre was fortunate enough to book the talents of Brian McKnight as part of the Tulalip Resort Casino’s summer concert series. McKnight will be sharing the stage with Boyz II Men on Thursday, August 6 in front of a sell-out crowd of faithful fans.

McKnight took some time out of his busy travel schedule to answer a few questions for the Tulalip News readers:


Where does this interview find you today? (Friday, July 24)

BM: Actually I›m in South Carolina playing in a charity golf tournament today.


How has your summer tour shaped up thus far? What has been the highlight of the tour?

BM: The summer has been great. Normally I take off most of June and July to play pro am basketball, but now things are starting to get busy again.


When did you know you wanted to be a performer in the music industry? How did that decision come about?  

BM: In my family, being musical is just like walking and talking to us. Once my brother made it in music I knew it was possible for me, so I went for it.


It has been over 20 years since you released your debut album in 1992. What motivates you to keep performing and remain in the music industry? 

BM: My fans! If they ever stop wanting to hear me and see me, that’s when I’ll have to evaluate what to do next.


Who were some of your biggest role models that you looked up to in the beginning of your career? 

BM: I’ve always looked to really successful people as my role models. Musically and otherwise, like Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Tom Brady and Stevie Wonder just to name a few.


You’ll be performing at the Tulalip Amphitheatre on Thursday, August 6 with Boys II Men. Can you tell us what audiences can expect from this performance?

BM: Two acts that sing and perform their behinds off along with twenty-plus years of hit after hit, after hit songs.


Are there any unique thoughts and/or feelings you have when it comes to performing on a Native American reservation? 

BM: There aren’t specific thoughts, but it’s always an honor when I do.


Think you’ll find time to play some slot machines or table games at the Tulalip Resort Casino while you’re in town. 

BM: I’m not much of a gambler, but you never know!


Your 16th studio albumBetter, comes out in January. Will you be performing any songs from that album at the Tulalip concert?

BM: Probably not. I have so many songs that I’m expected to sing that it can be hard to get people to pay attention to something they’ve never heard before.


Throughout your career you have collaborated with artists from seemingly ever genre of music. Who would you love to collaborate with that you haven’t yet had the opportunity to do so?

BM: I’m willing to work with just about anyone as long as we have the same goals in mind; creating something great.


I’ve read that you have been making music and performing songs with your sons, Niko and Brian Jr. As a father, how does it feel to see your kids follow in your footsteps and embrace music as an art form? 

BM: It feels really great to know they have something they’re really passionate about and they are really good at it too!


What is the most outrageous fan interaction you’ve ever had?  

BM: A really pregnant woman in a car chase with me just to get an autograph.


What is your way too early prediction for the 2016 NFL Super Bowl?

BM: Cowboys over Patriots.


Who is currently in your playlist? Any artists or genres we would be surprised to find there?

BM: I really truly listen to just about everything. If someone is making it there’s something you can learn from it.


What’s on tap next for you? What are you most excited about?  

BM: My new CD is done but it won’t be released until January. I’m really excited for everyone to hear it!



Contact Micheal Rios,

9th Cir. Hammers Out Tribal Fishing Rights

By JUNE WILLIAMS, Courthouse News Service

(CN) – A Ninth Circuit panel ruled the Suquamish Indian Tribe aren’t barred from fishing in areas the Tulalip Tribe claims as their own.
Monday’s decision is the latest in a lengthy dispute going back to a 1974 injunction by U.S. District Judge George Hugo Bolt in U.S. v. Washington that affirmed certain tribal fishing rights the state had been denying.
Among numerous sub-proceedings, the Tulalip in 2005 requested a permanent injunction to prevent the Suquamish from fishing in waters outside their usual and accustomed grounds, an area determined by the Ninth Circuit in 1990.
The Suquamish were accused in that case of fishing on the east side of Puget Sound, in violation of court order.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez last year clarified “the geographic scope” of the Suquamish fishing grounds in Bolt’s decision. He said Bolt “relied heavily” on the reports of anthropologist Dr. Barbara Lane, who testified about various tribes’ traditional fishing areas in the 1974 case.
Martinez said it was “nearly certain” Bolt intended to include Possession Sound and waters at the mouth of the Snohomish River as the Suquamish’s usual and accustomed grounds.
“On the other hand, there is an absence of evidence in her report regarding Suquamish fishing in the waters on the eastern side of Whidbey Island such as Skagit Bay, Saratoga Passage and its connecting bays Penn Cove and Holmes Harbor, and Port Susan,” the July 29, 2013, ruling says. “Therefore the court finds that Judge Bolt did not intend to include these areas in the Suquamish U&A.”
The Tulalip appealed.
On Monday, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision, finding The Tulalip “did not meet its burden to demonstrate that there was no evidence before Judge Bolt supporting Suquamish fishing or traveling through the western contested waters.”
Circuit Judge Richard Paez, writing for the panel, said the panel drew on other litigation between tribes stemming from Bolt’s 1974 decision. To win exclusive fishing rights, the moving tribe must prove the encroaching tribe’s usual and accustomed fishing grounds were ambiguously determined by the court.
The moving tribe must also show there was no evidence before Bolt that indicated the contested area was included or excluded in the determined fishing area of the encroaching tribe, Paez said.
The panel found that there was evidence the Suquamish fished or traveled in the eastern and eastern waters contested by the Tulalip.
“This general evidence, too, constitutes some evidence before Judge Bolt and supports the district court’s determination that Judge Bolt did not intend to exclude these contested bay areas from Suquamish’s U&A,” Paez wrote.
Tulalip’s attorney, Mason Morisset did not immediately return a request for comment.
In a statement, Suquamish Tribal Council chairman Leonard Forsman said, “”We appreciate the court’s work on this litigation and look forward to continuing our role as a co-manager of our treaty resources in our usual and accustomed fishing areas.” 

$500,000 grant for Tribal Heritage Project to be used at Grand Canyon’s Desert View

Grand Canyon National Park’s Desert View Watchtower and overlook area. Loretta Yerian/WGCN

Grand Canyon National Park’s Desert View Watchtower and overlook area. Loretta Yerian/WGCN

By Grand Canyon News

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. – ArtPlace America recently announced that the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), on behalf of the tribal heritage project partnership, received a grant of $500,000 to further arts and culture at Desert View inGrand Canyon National Park.

The grant will transform Desert View into a place to celebrate, share, and learn about inter-tribal cultural heritage.

AIANTA, along with Grand Canyon National Park and the park’s Inter-tribal Advisory Council (ItAC), will specifically use the grant to preserve murals inside the historic Watchtower, continue the Cultural Demonstration Series, and develop inter-tribal tourism opportunities.

In addition to ArtPlace America and AIANTA, Grand Canyon Association and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have partnered with Grand Canyon National Park on the reinvigoration of Desert View.

A signature project for next year’s National Park Service Centennial, the revival of Desert View as a cultural heritage site will provide opportunities for the public to connect with Grand Canyon’s traditionally associated tribes.

This transformation also ensures that future generations of tribal members and visitors will have an opportunity to make and share meaningful experiences and stories.

“This project re-envisions how visitors experience Desert View and the entire park and will lead us and the NPS into the next century. We are grateful for the support of ArtPlace America and the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association and the hard work of our Inter-tribal Advisory Council,” said Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga.

Grand Canyon’s ItAC, established in 2013, is composed of representatives from the park’s 11 traditionally associated tribes who collaborate with the NPS on issues that affect each of the tribes and the park. Those tribes-Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, Havasupai, Hualapai, Yavapai-Apache, and five bands of Southern Paiute represented by the Kaibab Paiute-work with the park on programs such as youth development, tribal tourism opportunities and cultural demonstrations.

One of the programs, the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps, supported by the NPS Washington Office of Youth Programs, employed 10 Navajo and Hopi students for 12 to 22 weeks. The hope is to develop the program further to engage youth from the traditionally associated tribes.

Working with Arizona Conservation Corps, the crew worked on multiple projects throughout Grand Canyon, ranging from trail maintenance to creating interpretive programs, as part of the ongoing changes at Desert View.

The Desert View area has been used as a gathering place for thousands of years. Visitors can see a glimpse of the ancient past at the Tusayan Ruin and Museum. Architect Mary Colter modeled Desert View’s centerpiece, the Watchtower, after the architecture of the Ancestral Puebloan people of the Colorado Plateau.

Today Desert View represents the physical and cultural gateway from Grand Canyon National Park to the Navajo and Hopi reservations.

Desert View is the eastern entrance into Grand Canyon National Park. It is located on the South Rim approximately 45 minutes east of Grand Canyon Village. To plan your visit to Desert View, go to

For more about ArtPlace America visit

To see some of the projects from the Arizona Conservation Corps, check out

California Indian Tribe Pursues Rights to Groundwater

Photo © Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images for Circle of BlueA groundwater recharge facility for the Coachella Valley adds water imported from the Colorado River to the valley’s main aquifer and prevents the land from sinking and damaging the surrounding infrastructure.

Photo © Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images for Circle of Blue
A groundwater recharge facility for the Coachella Valley adds water imported from the Colorado River to the valley’s main aquifer and prevents the land from sinking and damaging the surrounding infrastructure.

A court test of federal water law by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has implications for the American West.

By Brett Walton, Circle of Blue

As California implements a landmark law to balance demand for groundwater with available supplies, an Indian tribe’s lawsuit in federal court has the potential to add new layers of complexity to managing a prized resource that is in short supply during California’s worst ever drought.

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians filed the suit on May 14, 2013 against the Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency, two water suppliers in the tribe’s southern California desert region near Palm Springs. The case, straightforward in its goals, addresses two primary concerns: halting groundwater levels that have declined at an average rate of more than one meter per year since 2000, and stemming pollution in the groundwater beneath the 12,545-hectare (31,000-acre) reservation.

The Agua Caliente complaint reflects the growing willingness of Indian tribes across the American West to pursue, by court action or negotiated settlements, clear legal recognition of water rights that are held in trust by the U.S. government. The flexing of tribal legal muscle, which occurred first for surface water rights in the 1980s, has now expanded to seeking more authority over the use of groundwater. The result of these actions is that a new era of water management in the West is taking shape, one in which the old brokers — the cities, counties, and irrigation districts — will have to make room for another seat at the table.

Just like the tribal lawsuit, California’s 2014 law to fortify supplies and improve distribution of groundwater was prompted by rapidly diminishing aquifers and inadequate authority by local or state officials to curtail indiscriminate use. The convergence of the new state law and the federal lawsuit, along with helping to clarify who in California has access to and control of groundwater, has other wide-ranging implications. The Agua Caliente case could be a model for tribes in California that seek greater influence in water management decisions. And the tribe’s suit could set a precedent for how groundwater rights for Indian tribes are interpreted nationally.

Some see the case, now in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, eventually reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. “The lawsuit is very significant,” Anecita Agustinez, tribal policy advisor for the California Department of Water Resources, told Circle of Blue, explaining that the case could prompt other tribes in California to file claims to groundwater. “I believe you can’t have groundwater management unless you have tribal participation. They live on significant rivers and watersheds.”

Tribes Pursue Water Rights

California is an important legal testing ground. The state is home to more than 100 federally recognized Indian tribes, from the Karuk reservation near Oregon to the Campo reservation on the Mexican border. The Agua Caliente is perhaps the first in the state to seek official recognition and quantification of its legal rights to groundwater. The tribe, by suing for its rights, wants a greater say in how water is managed in the valley.

“These practices are not acceptable for long-term health and viability of the Coachella Valley water supply,” Tribal Chairman Jeff Grubbe said in a statement in March, referring to the shrinking aquifer and decline in water quality. “We called out this detrimental practice and brought it to the attention of the water districts over and over for years simply to be ignored.”

The Lawsuit

The Agua Caliente lawsuit covers a few exacting points of jurisprudence — legal ownership, for example, of the space between soil particles that could be used for storing water underground. But the lawsuit makes two broad claims about water quantity and quality that could rebalance current management practices in the region and state.

The first claim is that the tribe has a federal reserved right to groundwater from two basins beneath the Coachella Valley. A federal reserved right was established in the seminal 1908 Winters decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that the U.S. government, by establishing a reservation, implicitly set aside enough water for the tribe to make a living from the land. On March 20, 2015, the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California ruled that the Agua Caliente do have a reserved right to groundwater. An appeal of that ruling is being heard by the Ninth Circuit.

The second broad claim is that the valley’s two water agencies — Coachella Valley Water District and Desert Water Agency — are polluting the aquifer with imported Colorado River water, which is saltier than the local sources. The agencies pour Colorado River water, which is delivered by canals, into sandy-bottomed percolation basins throughout the valley to bolster sagging groundwater levels. The agencies acknowledge that the Colorado River supplies are saltier but do not admit that the practice of recharging the aquifer has increased its salinity. The Agua Caliente argue that their groundwater rights entitle them to water without added salts. This claim is being litigated in a second phase of the lawsuit.

A third phase of the lawsuit will consider numbers: How much groundwater do the Agua Caliente own? Do they have a right to water of a certain quality? What should the standard be? Only phase one — the determination that the tribe does indeed have a right to groundwater – has been completed by the district court.

Local and State Implications

The lawsuit makes the Coachella Valley water agencies nervous. The changes that are in store if the Agua Caliente are granted rights to a significant portion of the aquifer could be substantial.

Photo © Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images for Circle of BlueChris Thomas, 44, works as a zanjero, or ditchrider, who regulates waterflow to agriculture in the Coachella Valley. Zanjeros deliver irrigated water to farmers and other users, adjusting flow according to calculations from the Coachella Valley Water District Authority. Click image to enlarge.

Photo © Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images for Circle of Blue
Chris Thomas, 44, works as a zanjero, or ditchrider, who regulates waterflow to agriculture in the Coachella Valley. Zanjeros deliver irrigated water to farmers and other users, adjusting flow according to calculations from the Coachella Valley Water District Authority. 

“There’s a great deal of speculation,” Katie Ruark, spokeswoman for Desert Water Agency, told Circle of Blue. “The tribe hasn’t said what they plan to do with their rights.” Ruark mentioned water rate increases — if the agency was forced to buy back water from the tribe — as one potential effect. Then there is the tribe’s well-documented displeasure with the decline in groundwater levels, which could prompt a reduction in pumping.

Agua Caliente’s spokeswoman Kate Anderson referred Circle of Blue to the tribe’s website and did not respond to follow up questions about the tribe’s role in managing the region’s aquifers and what changes it would like to see.

The lawsuit coincides with a transition in California’s groundwater practices. The state’s groundwater reserves plunged to record lows in the last four years of drought. Little snowmelt or rainfall percolated into the ground while prodigious amounts of water were pumped out to sustain the country’s largest agricultural economy. Thousands of rural wells have gone dry.

Farmers and cities in most of the state were allowed to pump without limits because there was no authority to regulate groundwater. That changed last September when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires the state’s most important groundwater basins to form management agencies by 2017 and align water withdrawals with water availability by 2040.

Anecita Agustinez, the state’s tribal policy advisor for water, said that how the tribes fit into the evolving management picture is still being discussed. Tribes are not allowed to form their own groundwater management agency, but they can participate in a joint effort with cities, farm districts, and other local agencies. She called the integration of tribal authority a “potential hurdle.”

“It’s all very new,” Agustinez said. “We’re working on guidelines now.” She said that the documents that local agencies must fill out when they form a management body asks whether they consulted with tribes.

Integrating tribal claims represent a new demand in the system and could displace existing water uses, not just for California but for all western states, according to Steve Greetham, chief general counsel for the Chickasaw Nation, in Oklahoma. “It’s a challenge when looking at potentially thousands of property owners who have a stake in the outcome,” he told Circle of Blue.

In Arizona, which has settled more Indian water claims than any other state, the tribes have emerged as co-managers and essential partners with the state’s cities and water agencies.

If the Agua Caliente are granted rights to a certain quantity and quality of water, as they seek in the lawsuit, they will force the issue in the Coachella Valley and potentially open a door for other groundwater claims in California.

Federal Implications

How a groundwater right would work in practice in California, where “pump as you please” is the current operating principle, is an unresolved question. Courts elsewhere have faced the same issue and have ruled in favor of tribes. In the last 15 years, the Arizona and Montana Supreme Courts, and a U.S. district court in Washington State determined that Indian tribes do have rights to groundwater based on the reserved rights doctrine. The U.S. district court decision in the Agua Caliente case follows that precedent.

“There’s a trend toward the courts finding that tribes have a right to groundwater,” Ryan Smith, a lawyer at Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, and Schreck who specializes in Indian law, told Circle of Blue.

The U.S. Supreme Court has not heard a case pertaining to groundwater for tribes. Though it ruled in 1976, in Cappaert v. United States, that groundwater is a reserved right, the nation’s highest court has not set a national standard for applying the reserved right doctrine to groundwater. Without a clear national definition, each state divides its groundwater for tribes in a different way. Arizona, for instance, says that tribes have groundwater rights only when surface water is insufficient for the reservation.

The lack of a standard has “muddied the waters” at the state level, Greetham asserted. “As a tribal advocate, I think that’s terrible,” Greetham told Circle of Blue. “[The states] don’t all apply the doctrine with the same rigor.”

The variability is one reason that the U.S. Supreme Court could take up the Agua Caliente case. Roderick Walston, the attorney representing Desert Water Agency, told Circle of Blue he thinks that the losing side will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and there is a good chance the justices will review it. Smith agreed, saying that the court might want to conclusively settle the matter.

Others argue that the precedent set by the lower courts is compelling evidence that a groundwater right does exist and that any U.S. Supreme Court decision would refine the definition of how to apply it.

“I think there is a certain level of optimism on the part of non-tribal actors that the Supreme Court will address Winters rights and more narrowly define them,” Greetham said. “Non-tribal actors are fooling themselves if they think the Supreme Court will issue more restrictive rights.”

The legal right to groundwater, in other words, is likely to be upheld. For California agencies, it is another factor to consider as they follow the long path toward groundwater sustainability.

Hate Leftovers? Time for a leftover makeover

By Niki Cleary, Tulalip News

All photos by Niki Cleary


If you’re like me, you’re chronically short on time, so home cooked meals can be a challenge. Maybe you’re like a couple of my family members, you hate eating the same meal twice and will avoid it like the plague. If you’re frugal, the idea of good food going to waste just makes your blood boil. Enter the leftover makeover, and suddenly, everyone is happy.

The leftover makeover is all about planning ahead and being flexible. It starts at the beginning of the week with a foundation meal. If you read my last recipe article, “It’s too hot to cook,” you know I’m a bit of an amateur foodie. I’m also a huge believer in food activism. You don’t have to be an extremist to be an activist, by the way. In my opinion one of the best ways to affect change is to vote with your dollars.

Most of the food I buy and eat is local, and whenever possible, I buy it from people I know. I also purchase a produce box from a local organic farm every week. That said, I’m not afraid to pick up a handful of ingredients based on pure convenience. A bit of advice, don’t make health too difficult or you won’t stick with it.



Food is far more than nourishment, it’s a way to connect with the people around you. Most of the meals you see in the syəcəb didn’t happen at my house, they happened at my mom’s, or a friend’s. Why? Food is better when it’s shared with good company. Plus you can enlist the diners as prep cooks before the meal and dishwashers after (I love food, not dishes).

Making a meal that can be plated all at once takes practice. Don’t feel bad if you botch it. I do all the time. Trust me, the people eating will be just as happy to snack in courses as they will be when you hand them a full plate. You’ll get the hang of cook times the longer you cook.

Don’t be afraid to try things out. Don’t know how to cook over live fire? Learn. Or just cook indoors, the broiler setting on your oven works like an upside down grill. If you see unfamiliar produce at the grocery store go ahead and buy it. Google it for recipes and maybe find a new favorite. Be flexible, it’s not brain surgery, just dinner.


The foundation meal: Salmon and salad




A foundation meal is like a ‘choose your own adventure,’ book. It’s just a starting point and the rest of the week’s menu can go anywhere from here. We’re starting with a fresh King Salmon caught right here in Tulalip Bay. Remember, support our local fisherman, they are a living link of our culture.

If you’ve eaten food cooked over a wood fire, then you know the rich flavor wood smoke adds. That said, I don’t cook over a fire, instead I buy salt. Not just any salt, but alder wood smoked sea salt produced by a company called Salish Saltworks.

We cooked our salmon on a Weber grill, over indirect heat. Because this is a large fish, we had to cook the halves one at a time, for about 30 minutes each. Indirect heat (notice the coals aren’t directly beneath the fish), allows the meat to cook more evenly. Large cuts of meat cooked over direct heat tend to be burnt on some areas and raw in others. The grill should be hot, about 400-450 degrees.





Salmon is tasty. It really doesn’t need much to dress it up. In this case I coated it evenly with smoked sea salt and pepper and topped it with butter. I use Plugra which is a European style butter. Why? Because America’s Test Kitchen gave it great reviews, and sometimes I totally buy into the marketing. Plus, I think it tastes good. Each fillet is cooked for about 30 minutes, no need to flip the fish, just leave it alone.

Remember when your mom used to yell at you for opening the door because, “You’re letting the heat out!” Same principle. Every time you raise the lid on the grill or open your oven door you let the heat out and extend the cooking time. Be patient, what’s the worst that happens, you burn it? Trust me, it’s still tasty, just add some cayenne pepper on the backside and call it ‘cajun’ blackened salmon.




For a quick side I chopped some red peppers and apples and tossed them over a bed of mixed greens. A healthy meal definitely needs something decadent, so I went to the freezer. Anytime I make cookies, I make a double batch and freeze half the cookie dough.




The cookies pictured are adapted from a Quaker oats recipe for cowboy cookies ( Since I’m not fond of raisins and chocolate together, I cut the raisins out. I use real butter, and reduced the sugars from 1 cup each to ¾ cup each. You can generally reduce sugars by ¾ to ½ without affecting the texture, but be aware, the cookies don’t brown as quickly. Pay attention or you’ll overcook them. Of course, if you’re like me, crispy cookies are even better, so, who cares if they get overcooked? Break out the milk or coffee, dip them and enjoy anyways.

As soon as you’ve eaten, prepare your salmon for the following meals by flaking it (peel it apart with your fingers and pull out all the bones), then packing it up and freezing immediately. You have two hours from safe temperature (off the grill) to refrigeration. Food safety is one of the few places where I am a fanatic. Process your leftovers immediately or just throw them away. Don’t risk food poisoning. It’s not worth it.


prepare your salmon for the following meals by flaking it (peel it apart with your fingers and pull out all the bones), then packing it up and freezing immediately.

prepare your salmon for the following meals by flaking it (peel it apart with your fingers and pull out all the bones), then packing it up and freezing immediately.


It’s okay to put it in the fridge and pack it the next day, but better to freeze it the same day you cook it. My rule of thumb is that meats are good for about six days total. Three days from the time you buy it to the time you cook it and an additional three days after you cook it. However, you can keep meat in the freezer for about 1-3 months. Just thaw overnight in the fridge prior to use.


Meal 2: Salmon tacos




Even if you didn’t remember to thaw your frozen cooked salmon the night before (I didn’t, as usual), you can toss the freezer bag into a bowl of cold water and it will thaw in about 30 minutes. While your salmon is thawing, chop veggies. These will end up in your tacos, so pick stuff you like.

I have some general rules I follow when making tacos. I rarely use lettuce, I choose cabbage instead. Why? Lettuce is a pesticide heavy crop and cabbage isn’t. Cabbage also tends to be less expensive and it’s crunchier. As for the other toppings, I’ve almost always got bell peppers on hand during the summer, I love cilantro, and lime, so that’s what I chopped. This week we also received pluots in the produce box, a pluot is a hybrid between a plum and an apricot. It tastes like a plum, but slightly sweeter. I diced those up too. A little fruit added to something savory just takes it to the next level. Trust me, it works. Don’t be shy with the veggies, any extra will be repurposed later this week.




Finally, I’m prejudiced against microwaves. I don’t actually own one anymore and I find that I rarely miss it. Instead of nuking your tortillas, toss them directly on the burner over low heat (if your burner has settings from 1-10, that’s generally a 2 or 3). The tortillas end up flexible and the char marks add flavor. Want tostadas? Just cook them until they’re crunchy instead of flexible.

Now that all your toppings are prepared, and your salmon is thawed, toss it in a skillet along with whatever seasonings you love. If you were hoping for specifics, sorry, I don’t measure unless I’m baking. I do toss my spices in a bowl, mix and taste before I add them to the food. In this case I used garlic powder, chili powder, salt, paprika, black pepper and a little bit of allspice. Trust me on this, the allspice doesn’t taste sweet in small amounts, and it plays well off the pluots.

Now that everything is done, heat your tortilla’s and assemble. Eat. Repeat.


Meal 3: Chicken tenders, stuffed jalapenos,  pasta and fruit salad




You’re probably wondering, where is the salmon? It’s in the freezer, we’ll use it tomorrow. Tonight we’re taking the leftover veggies from our tacos and turning them into homemade pico de gallo or fresh salsa. Size matters. The finer your ingredients are chopped, the more surface is exposed and the more the flavors pop. This salsa is made from finely diced red and yellow bell peppers, garlic scapes (which taste like a cross between green onions and garlic, what can I say, my mom has a lot of random ingredients in her fridge), roma tomatoes that have been seeded (slice them into quarters and scrape all the wet stuff out) and diced, juice from about half a lime and the same spices we used on tacos yesterday. Cover this and let it sit out at room temperature, cold food doesn’t have as much flavor as warm, so unless there’s a food safety reason, I don’t refrigerate before serving.

Once the the pico de gallo is done, we need to light charcoal for the grill. Everything being cooked today is actually grilled, which means high heat and short cook time. Barbecue has become a general purpose term, but it actually means low heat and long cook time. So for future reference, grill = hot and fast, BBQ = low and slow.

Slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise and seed them. Fill each with a small rectangle of pepper jack cheese, top with pico de gallo and sprinkle with fajita seasoning and toss on the grill.

Slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise and seed them. Fill each with a small rectangle of pepper jack cheese, top with pico de gallo and sprinkle with fajita seasoning and toss on the grill.


Stuffed jalapenos are up next. First, slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise and seed them. Fill each with a small rectangle of pepper jack cheese, top with pico de gallo and sprinkle with fajita seasoning. Then set them aside. We’ll grill them as soon as the coals are ready.

Now we’re going to get some pasta underway. Here’s where convenience rules over principles. Instead of making it from scratch, I opened a box, in this case the box is Kraft Suddenly Salads (pasta) classic flavor. Prepare according to the box instructions and if the mood strikes you, add pico de gallo or veggies of your choice to the finished pasta.

Time to prep the chicken. We used chicken tenders because they cook quickly. I basically rolled the chicken in olive oil and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. Done. There’s so much flavor going on in this meal, you don’t need extravagant chicken too.

For desert today we have fruit salad. I chose peaches and blueberries because both are still in season and yummy, I added bananas to cut the acid and sweeten it, then tossed it all with juice from about half a lime. No sugar needed.


For this desert of peaches and blueberries, I added bananas to cut the acid and sweeten it, then tossed it all with juice from about half a lime. No sugar needed.

For this desert of peaches and blueberries, I added bananas to cut the acid and sweeten it, then tossed it all with juice from about half a lime. No sugar needed.


The peppers cook on the grill for about 3-5 minutes at about 450 degrees. Once they come off, put the chicken on. The chicken only needs 2-3 minutes per side. When in doubt, stab it with a knife. The juices should run clear, if it’s still bleeding, toss it back on the grill.

I’m lucky, my mom lets me invade her kitchen often. Prior to this meal I gave her a call and asked if she’d make deviled eggs. She said yes and the deviled eggs were done before I started cooking. Deviled eggs, by the way, are super easy, a great way to use eggs when they approach the expiration date and can be easily turned into egg salad sandwiches the following day (if there are any leftover, which there never are at our house).

The leftover fruit salad can become a breakfast smoothie. Leftover chicken can be sliced in half for chicken sandwiches at lunch. Save your leftover pico de gallo for tomorrow. All leftovers should be refrigerated as soon as you’re done serving today’s meal.


Meal 4: Salmon burgers


Salmon burger with fruit. Photo/Niki Cleay

Salmon burger with fruit. 


Now it’s time to throw all those leftovers together. It’s the end of the week, so this is the simplest meal of the bunch. Toss your flaked salmon in a bowl with a couple eggs to bind it together. It’s going to be wet. Add enough crushed crackers or chips (you can always go fancy with Tim’s Cascade Jalapeno chips, or whatever you like, for some extra flavor) to make it about burger consistency. Form into baseball sized balls and drop them on a piece of foil. Flatten with your hand and then slide the patties into a non-stick skillet over medium heat (about 300 degrees).


Form into baseball sized balls and drop them on a piece of foil. Flatten with your hand and then slide the patties into a non-stick skillet over medium heat (about 300 degrees). Photo/Niki Cleary

Form into baseball sized balls and drop them on a piece of foil. Flatten with your hand and then slide the patties into a non-stick skillet over medium heat (about 300 degrees).


I bought dinner rolls to use as buns. Slice them and top with some of that pepper jack we bought yesterday. I also used the avocados that I bought for tacos. Unfortunately, they weren’t ripe on taco day, but they’re perfect here on burger day. You can either cut the avocados into thin slices, or put them in a bowl and mash them with a little bit of lime to keep them from browning. Add the burger and top with the pico de gallo from yesterday.

Desert today is honeydew melon. Because we had one and it needed to be eaten. Tada! A week’s worth of meals from one foundation dinner. Remember to be flexible and don’t take it too seriously, food should be fun.




3-on-3 tournament takes over Tulalip Teen Center

Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Over the weekend of July 25 and 26, the Tulalip Teen Center hosted an ages 16 and up, 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Originally slated to be an All-Native tournament, it was amended to ‘open’ status, meaning anyone could play, last minute in order to field enough teams for ample competition. Similar to the very popular Hoopfest tournament held in Spokane every year, the Tulalip 3-on-3 featured multiple games being played at the same time, all made baskets inside the 2-point arc count as one point, while all made baskets outside the 3-point arc count as two points, and the winning team is determined by the first to score 21 points (must win by two).

In total there were 12 teams who participated in the Tulalip 3-on-3, varying in age and ability. While teams were primarily comprised of Native players, most from Tulalip, there were also Natives from Lummi, Puyallup, Yakama, and Metlakatla, Alaska. The open status of the tournament made it possible for D-II collegiate basketball player Juwan Buchanan, of Adams State University, to showcase his talents on the Tulalip hardwood. The non-native Buchanan is originally from Seattle, WA and was in the area participating in the 2015 Seattle Basketball Pro-Am, one of the premier competitive summer men’s basketball leagues in the United States. Needless to say that with his talents, his team was the early favorite to win it all.

To facilitate the most entertaining and competitive tournament possible, tournament coordinator Lonnie Enick tweaked the day one schedule from single elimination games to pool play on Saturday and moved the single elimination games, based on seeding, to Sunday. All the hoopers enthusiastically agreed with the decision because it meant each team would be playing five games on Saturday and would be guaranteed at least one more game on Sunday. A six game guarantee for only a $100 buy-in per team is major deals for any basketball tournament.


Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios


Day one of pool play got started at 9:00 a.m. and went very smoothly, with the more talented teams getting their reps in for the day to come, while the less competitive teams enjoyed being able to spend the day just having fun while playing basketball. After the day’s pool play was over, the seedings were determined for the day two single elimination bracket.


Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios


Day two games kicked off at 9:30 a.m. and saw some very competitive games be played. There were even some upsets to be had, as a Tulalip team lead by brothers Monnie and Nate Williams managed to defeat the undefeated Yakama team who featured two 6’7 collegiate players.

When it was all said and done, the championship game saw Buchanan’s team matchup against a Tulalip team featuring Bradley Fryberg and Shawn Sanchey. It was a highly competitive game that had its moments with players get testy due to the 1st place and cash grand prize of $600 on the line. In fact, from the early going each team seemingly matched every point scored by the other. In the final moments, the game was tied 20-20, and with the game on the line Fryberg had a chance to win the game on a 3-point attempt that was just short. Buchanan would score the next point for his team to take a 21-20 lead and, after another Tulalip miss, he found a wide-open teammate for the game winning bucket. Final score 22-20 for the 3-on-3 tournament champs, Team Buchanan.


Teams placing 1st, 2nd and 3rd received Native design t-shirts and hoodies along with a cash prize. Photo/Micheal Rios

Teams placing 1st, 2nd and 3rd received Native design t-shirts and hoodies along with a cash prize.
Photo/Micheal Rios


Contact Micheal Rios,

Wisdom Warriors find strength and balance in yoga

Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

It’s a gorgeous, warm summer morning on Thursday, July 23. The Tulalip Wisdom Warriors are sitting only mere feet away from the calm, chilled waters of Tulalip Bay. They marvel at the magnificent world in front of them; the gentle rays of sunshine, the beautiful sky, the flagrant ocean breeze that blows ever so softly against their skin, the soft crunch of dried grass beneath their shoes. It’s the perfect day and relaxing setting for them to experience the happiness, confidence, and mental sharpness that are direct results of practicing Anusara chair yoga.

“What I’d like to encourage today is people really listening to their body, to know what your body’s capabilities are,” explains second year UW medical student and Karen I Fryberg Tulalip Health Clinic volunteer Autumn Walker. “You know what injuries you have and what limitations you have with your body, so when we are doing today’s yoga class I want you to use that inner mind to listen to your body and say ‘I know I can only go this far with this pose because of my limited ability with my spine’ or ‘I’ve already had an injury with this leg so I’m going to go easy on this side.’ If you have any questions at all let me know.”

And so the class begins.

It is the monthly Wisdom Warrior Provider Class and for this class, an open invitation was sent out to anyone who would like to attend and share in this new experience of learning Anusara chair yoga. For the Wisdom Warriors, the monthly provider class has become a tradition of gaining new experiences that bring them together every month, to chit-chat, catch up on current events, and gets them outside, off the couch and away from the TV.


Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios


Taking full advantage of the picturesque summer day, Walker and Veronica Leahy, the  Tulalip health clinic Diabetes Care and Prevention Program Manager, decided to have their monthly provider class just below the Kenny Moses building, on the edge of Tulalip Bay. They came up with the idea of teaching the Wisdom Warriors chair yoga as a means of creating accessible paths to wellness for those who could not benefit from traditional physical activities due to age and/or limiting physical conditions.

“Roni and I were talking about how the community has been encouraging a lot of the members of the Diabetes Prevention Program, the Wisdom Warriors, to do walking as exercise,” said Walker. “When you walk without using other wellness strategies sometimes that can lead to injury. For example, if you’re walking without stretching or not being mindful of your body then that can lead to injury. Since we want our Wisdom Warriors to be able to use their bodies for a long time and walking pain-free, we wanted to setup some programming for them that would support that health and wellness.

“I’m familiar with yoga. I’ve been practicing yoga for almost ten years, and it’s helped me a lot with the pain I’ve been having, keeping my muscles healthy and strengthened, and it also provides me with awareness of my body as I’m using it. So when I’m exercising in ways that’s not yoga, I know better how to take care of myself. I was hoping to share that with the individuals today; to teach them a little bit about how to be mindful about what their body needs and wants, to respect the injuries that they have, to accept themselves for that without judgement, and to practice a little bit of stretching.”

It is no secret that America (and most of the world for that matter) is faced with a health crisis.  The U.S. Surgeon General states that “25 percent of all adults, approximately 50 million, are not active at all through some form of exercise or physical activity.”  If you number yourself in this sedentary group or your physical fitness activity is limited because of various physical conditions, then you belong to a large population underserved by innovative means of exercise, like chair yoga exercise programs.

“Props like a chair and towel are used as support as we gain more of an awareness of our body while recognizing and accepting limitations. For example, if you don’t have that hip flexibility that you once had, then you can use a chair to get into a better position for your own body’s needs. You can custom use the props depending on your body’s needs, so the practice becomes individualized, where you’re not saying everyone has to be a certain way,” continued Walker. “Some of the people who came today have varying limitations. One person has had hip surgery, so she needed a different modification so she could adapt the practice to what’s best for her and what her body needs, not just saying I need to do this because everyone else is doing it. She was able to listen to her body and modify the poses to fit her body’s needs.”


Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios


Chair yoga offers the ability to improve your health through an amazing form of adaptive exercise.  You are supported by a chair, so you can receive yoga’s healing and restorative benefits that have been known for thousands of years. Yoga relaxes your body and mind, improves your musculoskeletal fitness and flexibility, and elevates your overall health and well-being. The Wisdom Warrior chair yoga participants were full-on recipients of the mind and body relaxation benefits.

“This was the most perfect setting for relaxing that I’ve felt in a long time,” said Mabel Norris, a Haida tribal member elder from Hydaburg, Alaska who is a regular at the Wisdom Warrior events. “The thing is I find that my balance isn’t quite as strong as it once was, but I was pleasantly surprised I had some and was able do the stretches.”

You are invited to join Wisdom Warriors and start your path to better health, with the support of your community. Class locations can vary. Please call 360-716-5642 or go to the Tulalip Health Clinic for more information.


Contact Micheal Rios,





Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act moves forward after markup session

capitol hill, congress

By Kim Morrison, World Casino News

H.R.511 gains momentum as members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce attend the July 22, 2015 markup session which was packed with members of the National Indian Gaming Association in Washington, D.C., for a legislative summit.

The Act which exempts tribes and their casinos from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act was passed on Wednesday at the short markup session on Capitol Hill.

According to the Chairman of the Committee, Rep. John Kline (R-Minnesota) who introduced the bill, “it’s not about big business versus big labor and it’s not about Republican versus Democrat.”

Kline went on to add that “the bill we are considering today is about whether Native Americans should be free to govern employee-employer relations in a way they determine is best for their workplace.”

In what Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Indiana) described as a “bipartisan, commonsense proposal that will provide legal certainty to the Native American community,” the Act would exempt tribes and their casinos from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from asserting jurisdiction at those businesses.

Rokita also went on to state that the Act would give authority back to tribal leaders and end the National Labor Review Board’s (NLRB) overreach, and restore the standard that was in place long before the National Labor Relations Board made the misguided decision to change course. An amendment in the nature of a substitute to clarify that tribal governments are also exempt from the NLRA, was offered by Rokita.

Opposition to the Sovereignty Act was voiced by the only Democrats present, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut) and Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), who accused Republicans and their allies of using tribal sovereignty as a smokescreen to attack the NLRB.

Representative Pocan accused proponents of the bill, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, of endorsing the bill in an attempt to help destroy the NLRB rather than support for the sovereignty of the tribes.

The three also noted that most employees of tribal casinos are non-Indians and argued that the bill will degrade labor standards Indian Country.

Although it hasn’t been taken up by the full Senate, on June 10th the Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved S.248, its version of the bill which is gaining traction among lawmakers from both parties.

At that legislative summit which opened Tuesday on Capitol Hill (hosted by the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA)), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) stressed that every conversation about gaming should begin by stating that gaming is not something that the federal government authorized you to do, but a sovereign right.

She added that, “If the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act went away tomorrow, you would still be able to conduct gaming,”

Exemption from the NLRA has been sought after by the tribes ever since a 2004 ruling in which the NLRB asserted jurisdiction over Indian Country for the first time in decades, but efforts to address the issue ran into serious opposition from Democrats and their labor union allies at that time.

Since that 2004 ruling, tribes have won support from key Democrats by pitching the issue as one of parity with other governments, and with Republicans in control of the House and Senate, the bill has moved quickly in the 114th Congress.

The bill would resolve uncertainties like the one that arose in early June when the NLRB declined to assert jurisdiction at the WinStar World Casino and Resort, a casino owned by the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, citing the tribe’s treaty-protected right to self-governance.

Less than a week later, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals backed the NLRB’s jurisdiction over the Little River Casino and Resort, a casino owned by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in Michigan, and three weeks later, expressing serious doubts about the application of the NLRA in Indian Country, the same court rejected the treaty claims of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, also in Michigan.

The U.S. federal law that establishes the jurisdictional framework that governs Indian gaming, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), has been a source of extensive controversy and litigation since it was passed in 1988.