Empowering our Native girls 


girls group1


By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 


“Every day I ask, what are your goals?” said Sasha Smith, Family Haven Project Coordinator, about her Girls Group. “And one day they asked in return, ‘OMG Sasha why are you always talking about goals?’ And I told them if you don’t have goals, you’re not thinking about your future. Your future can be tomorrow, six months, or a year away so you need to be setting little goals such as graduating or buying your first car while focusing on the bigger picture like your career, buying a house, do you want to get married? Do you want kids?”

Goal setting is just one of many life skills that the Girls Group, created by Tulalip Family Haven, practices every day

Girls Group, located next to the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club, is a year-round program designed specifically for Native American teen girls, ages 14-17, from the Tulalip Community. The group meets every week, Tuesday through Thursday, is free to join and transportation is provided. The group offers the girls a safe place to learn life skills, discuss important topics, and just be themselves. Not only that, Girls Group also gives them the necessary tools and resources for every situation the girls may face during those trying adolescent years.

Based on June LeMarr’s curriculum created for Native youth, Canoe Journey, Life’s Journey, Girls Group is customized for the girls in the program. Life skills are practiced daily and allow the girls the opportunity to learn a variety of new efficient techniques for cooking, budgeting, and being active in the community, transforming them into healthy successful leaders of tomorrow.

Who Am I? is a section at the beginning of LeMarr’s curriculum that covers the important topic of cultural awareness. This lesson reminds the girls of the history and values of Native Peoples. The group frequents culturally rich places around the community visiting elders, collecting trash from the beaches, and touring the Hibulb Cultural Center.

“Most of the girls hadn’t visited the museum yet, so it allowed us to revisit our history and to also talk about who we are as natives, women, and as a society in general,” stated Sasha.

Other life skills that Girls Group practices is the art of communication and the importance of your emotions. Effective communication equips the girls with skills in listening, expressing yourself and coping with negative moods. This skill teaches the girls how to overcome obstacles in relationships at school, work, and home in a positive way.


girls group



It was when studying communication that a group of girls, who weren’t particularly fond of each other, began to work on a problem solving poster board together. The poster board required the girls to work as a group and come up with alternatives to fighting, consequently teaching the girls about conflict resolution. Sasha states the girls expressed real life situations and feelings they were going through and the project resulted in the biggest lesson Girls Group has to offer, the importance of friendship.

“In the beginning we had booklets and PowerPoints, the girls weren’t really into it because it was like they were leaving school to come to school,” Sasha said in regards to the first year of Girls Group.

Eventually working out the kinks, Girls Group hit a stride and has been running smoothly ever since. By customizing the curriculum Sasha has attracted more girls to the program. The most noticeable and notable change being paperwork is no longer a requirement. Instead Sasha creates handouts daily and has open discussions with the girls, allowing them to speak honestly with a group that they feel safe talking to. This subtle change made it possible for the girls to build and experience trust with each other.

With the girls’ best interests at hand, the group helps its participants with both job and college prep. Sasha, having previous experience in the employment department, teaches the girls what to expect during an interview and why picking the right outfit is crucial to the interview process.

The group helps young native women create their own paths by offering them the opportunity to discover who they are through fun and inspiring activities. Arts and crafts, Pokémon Go, and outdoor field trips are a few of the many activities Girls Group has to offer.

Once a month the Girls Group hosts a family night, and the girls are encouraged to bring their families as well as their friends to show them projects they have been working on and share the memories created while at the program.


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Other than countless activities the group has to offer, the program gives the girls the opportunity to travel to attend conferences. This past February two girls from the program had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to attend the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s Annual National Leadership Forum and Prevention Days, where attendees learned how to actively decrease the drug and alcohol usage within their communities. Another conference the group recently attended was an All Native Women Conference held in Chehalis.

Members of the Girls Group were also in attendance at Tulalip’s Annual Wellness Conference, where the youth of the community learned about native activism. “After that conference we were able to talk about activism, being a woman today versus ten to thirty years ago, and not depending on significant others to take care of you. It’s important for them to know they can succeed on their own,” stated Sasha.

One of the greatest things Sasha loves about her job is watching the process of evolution the girls go through. Most girls begin the program quiet and reserved until they become comfortable and start to come out of their shells.

The program consists of about twenty girls throughout the year, however, around half of the girls are involved in extracurricular activities such as sports and attend Girls Group whenever they have the opportunity to join in on the fun. As for the other ten girls, Sasha states they are present and ready to participate every night that Girls Group meets.

“The girls who aren’t interested sports, this is their team. They come here to learn, grow, and laugh with each other and they are still able to create that really close bond with each other.”

Topics that young girls in today’s society need to be aware of and know how to respond to when in particular situations such as bullying, depression, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse are discussed throughout the year.

Heading in the right direction, Girls Group is becoming a beloved program and is giving the Youth Center and the Boys and Girls Club some friendly competition. Although all three offer amazing programs, Girls Group provides a little something special with its customized curriculum, and the bond the girls created with the Family Haven team members is incredible.

Sasha reflected on the evolution of Girls Group stating, “I remember it used to be like pulling teeth. ‘Come on girls, you should come to group today we are doing this.’ And now three years into the program I get texts hours before group begins asking where I am, if I am still picking them up, and what are we doing today? Girls Group has come a long way. I remember it feeling like it was just a job, but now I love waking up in the morning to come to work to make a difference for these girls. This is for them; this is their home away from home.”



Contact Kalvin Valdillen at kvaldillez@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov 

New NWIC Manager brings fresh perspective and energy to Tulalip campus

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Photo courtesy of Colette Keith

Photo courtesy of Colette Keith

Northwest Indian College (NWIC) Tulalip campus has a new site manager, her name is Colette Keith. An enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, Colette left her position as an instructor and guidance counselor at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, located on tribal land in North Dakota, to relocate to the greater Seattle area and join the NWIC team.

Colette has a very unique professional background that has seen her successfully navigate University systems. She has worked for the University of Colorado (Denver), the University of North Dakota, the University of South Dakota and the University of Nebraska. Along with her experience working at a tribal college on a reservation, Colette’s higher education background makes for an ideal fit to manage the NWIC satellite campus located in Tulalip.

“I absolutely love the tribal college system,” confesses Colette. “When I found out about NWIC I was determined to become part of this college. It’s only been a few weeks, but I’m loving it here. Tribal colleges just have certain elements that reflect our indigenous lifestyles and make us feel safe and secure. Even though I’m far from my home reservation, working here on the Tulalip Reservation feels like I’m close to home.”

NWIC is part of the Tulalip community, as a college offering a variety of educational programs to meet academic, vocational and cultural needs. At Tulalip NWIC, students are encouraged to develop themselves, be proactive about their academic goal setting and achievement, and discover ways to contribute to their communities and families.

There are about sixty students currently enrolled at the Tulalip NWIC campus. Through partnerships and joint recruitments efforts with other education based programs Tulalip provides, Colette hopes to see the applicant and student enrollment numbers increase over the next several quarters.

“It’s really important that we network with all the community education stakeholders, from the Sylvan Learning Center to the Higher Education department and Teen Center staff to name a few,” says Colette on her immediate and long-term goals for expanding NWIC opportunities. “There are only two of us here, myself and Katie Lancaster-Jones, and for us to have a reach, to make some impact in this community, we need to network heavily with the education-oriented departments and programs.”

In addition to her responsibilities as the on-site manager, Colette plans on doubling as an NWIC instructor to impart knowledge she has collected from twenty years in University systems.

“I’ve taught for two years at my last tribal college and look forward to doing the same for NWIC,” affirms Colette. “Foundations in English will be the first course I oversee. It’s so vital for our tribal people to know how to write a proper paragraph and form their thoughts as clear sentences. The bridge is communication. We know that effective communication and transparent messages are so important for working in a professional setting, whether that’s on or off the reservation. After taking Foundations in English, students will be more confident in their writing and assured they are communicating effectively.”

Colette also plans on teaching a Public Speaking class after she is settled in. Motivating students and helping educate tribal communities is her passion and we look forward to NWIC benefiting from all she offers.

For more information about Tulalip NWIC or to set-up a meeting to discuss educational opportunities and degree programs, feel free to contact Colette directly at 360-594-4094 or by email ckeith@nwic.edu

Colin Ivarra, Tulalip’s Chief for a Day





Article by Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Photos by Tulalip police officer Joe Dyer


Helicopters, armored trucks, motorcycles, and multiple squad cars rolled into the city of Burien on August 18, 2016. All of these vehicles, some transporting precious cargo, were en route to the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center. Many passengers in the vehicles were police chiefs hailing from multiple jurisdictions in the state of Washington. The ‘precious cargo’ is in reference to whom those police chiefs were handing over their reigns and titles to: the little chiefs.




Witnessed by police officers, family and friends, law officials held a swearing-in for local children to the honorary role of police chief.  Kids who have been diagnosed with chronic illness and life threatening medical conditions were celebrated for the strength, love, and inspiration they show daily to their communities in an event known as Chief for a Day.

Among the dozens of police departments in attendance was none other than the one that protects our community, the Tulalip Police Department (TPD). Chief Carlos Echevarria made the trip to Burien to transfer his authority to a twelve-year-old Tulalip tribal member, decked out in a TPD uniform, Colin Ivarra.

Full of excitement and always sporting a smile Colin has reminded the Tulalip community about the power of optimism. Colin, who is visually impaired, has already won a battle, a battle that most people with similar conditions to Colin often fight their entire lives.

Colin has conquered self-acceptance. A lot can be said about the little chief – all of it positive. Colin radiates so much positivity and good vibes because he never allows being blind to interfere with having fun, being a kid, and most importantly, his values.

Although he might not know it yet, family is one of the values that Colin, taught by his Auntie Sarah Ivarra, practices everyday.  A close-knit family, perhaps a main contributing factor, is Colin’s key to success. Sarah and his entire family have stood by his side, supporting him every step of the way in his young life.

Sarah stated that Commander Kenn Johnson personally contacted Colin to recruit him for the Chief for a Day event. In preparation for the event, Colin completed an ‘About Me’ questionnaire and submitted it to the TPD.

The event included police demonstrations, pony rides, face painting, and carnival rides. The highlight of the event was the swearing in ceremony. Chief Echevarria and Commander Johnson presented Colin with an authentic TPD badge and array of gifts personalized for Colin based on his ‘About Me’ quiz. The gifts included an iPod, toys, movies, camping gear, and Colin’s favorite gift, a scooter.




“It was awesome! I was excited cause I got to talk and control a robot, I watched some people get tased, there was a robot boat, and free ice cream,” Colin exclaimed about his experience as little chief of Tulalip.  “It was sooo cool, everyone is nice and the gifts are really cool.” His advice to future little chiefs is simply to have fun.

“It was just really nice to see [Colin’s experience] so personalized,” Said Sarah. “It is great to see him honored.

Sarah thanks the TPD, especially Chief Echevarria, Commander Johnson, and Officer Dyer for honoring Colin and accompanying him to the event.




“I really want to be Chief again in a couple years, when I grow up,” expressed Colin. With a goal set in place and a great supporting cast, Colin is now stepping into a lead role, in which he portrays resilience, more exciting and important than any blockbuster on the big screen this summer. A role that promises to grab the attention of it’s viewers immediately. An action-packed story that will involve plenty of good laughs and happy tears, the story of a future Chief, Colin Ivarra.



Tulalip TERO takes home top honors

Photo courtesy of Tulalip TERO

Photo courtesy of Tulalip TERO


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The Council for Tribal Employment Rights held their 2016 National TERO Convention in Bellingham, Washington from August 1-3. The three day convention was highlighted with an awards banquet that gave special recognition to TERO programs, commissions, and directors for excelling at what they do and being leaders to their fellow tribes.

Tulalip’s very own TERO program was honored with the National “TERO Program of the Year” award. Teri Gobin, TERO Director, accepted the award on behalf of her TERO team; Tory Chuckulnaskit, TERO Manager; Linda Henry, TERO Admin Assistant; Lynne Bansemer, TERO Client Service Coordinator; Lisa Telford, TVTC   Family Career Navigator; Billy Burchett, TVTC Site Coordinator; Mark Newland, TVTC Teacher; Robert Henderson, TERO Compliance Officer; Ginny Ramos, TERO Compliance Officer.

Teri accredited her staffs innovative thinking and passion to better serve the Tulalip Community by improving the quality of their lives, through job preparation, training, employment, business and economic opportunities.

TERO stands for Tribal Employment Rights Office. TERO codes require that all employers who are engaged in operating a business on reservations give preference to qualified Natives in all aspects of employment, contracting and economic opportunities; while prohibiting employment discrimination. TERO offices were established and empowered to monitor and enforce the requirements of the tribal employment rights code.

Through the commitment and steadfast determination of Tulalip TERO, the TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC) has become the first and only state and nationally recognized Native American pre-apprenticeship program in the country. In recent months the TVTC program has garnered much attention and praise for its constructing and contributions of tiny homes to homeless communities in the Seattle area.

For more information about Tulalip TERO programs, classes and employment assistance please contact TERO at 360-716-4747 or go to www.tulaliptero.com


TERo award

Tulalip-based Juvenile Diversion Panel seeking additional volunteers

By Wendy Church, Tribal Court Director

Since starting the juvenile diversion panel (known as the Tulalip Community Accountability Board) in July 2009 here on the Tulalip Reservation, the C.A.B. has heard 58 cases so far.   This diversion program is an alternative to the juvenile court process.

The C.A.B. meets monthly with tribal member youths under the age of 18 years old who are arrested for minor offenses and are eligible for participation in this program.  Objectives of the panel are to hold the youth accountable for their actions, foster a change in the youth’s attitude, impress upon the youth the community is concerned about their conduct, increase the youth’s awareness of impact their behavior has; and to maximize opportunities for the youth.

We are actively recruiting additional volunteers for the Tulalip-based C.A.B.  Volunteers must possess an interest in youth and commitment to the welfare of others; have a non-judgmental attitude; treat youth and families with dignity and respect; have the ability to hold confidences and respect others privacy; have the ability to communicate effectively; have the ability to work and problem-solve with other volunteers; and have prior experience with youth.

The C.A.B. meets once a month at 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Tulalip Tribal Court.

If you are interested in being a volunteer, please contact Emmy Hoff, Juvenile Probation Counselor at the Denny Juvenile Justice Center for an application.  Applicants will be screened for any criminal record and will be required to attend a 2-hour training.  Ms. Hoff can be reached at 425 / 388-7917.

Toribio “Toby” Marius Martin


Toribio “Toby” Marius Martin

May 26, 1998 – August 19, 2016

Toribio “Toby” Marius Martin, 18, passed away August 19, 2016.


Toby was born May 26, 1998 in Seattle, Washington to Fermin “Cubby” Martin and Misty Hammontree. Toby was an enrolled member of Tlingit Native American Tribe. He enjoyed playing baseball and basketball.


He is survived by father, Fermin “Cubby” (Lena); his mother, Misty Hammontree; sisters, Monique (Charlie) and Midget (Ralph); brothers, Damien (Melinda), Jared (Jada), and Bart; grandpa Dennis and grandma Dar; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, aunties, uncles, and other relatives.


Visitation will be held Thursday, August 25, 2016 at 1:00 pm at Schaefer-Shipman with an interfaith service to follow at 6:00 pm at the Tulalip Gym. Funeral Services will be held Friday at 10:00 am at Tulalip Gym with burial to follow at Mission Beach Cemetery.


Arrangements under the direction of Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home, Marysville, WA.

Mamie Harriett “Mae” Williams (1928 – 2016)



March 31, 1928 – August 18, 2016 Mamie “Mae” Harriett Williams, 88, of Tulalip, Wash. went to be with her husband, George S. Williams Sr. on August 18, 2016.

Mae was born March 31, 1928 in Frazer, Montana. She was an avid gardener, especially enjoying her dahlias. She was known for her smoked salmon.

She is survived by her three children, Carol and her husband, Dan Hunter; Valerie Williams, and Roger Williams Sr.; 11 grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, and other relatives. She was preceded in death by her husband, George S. Williams Sr.; brothers, Larry Brown and Russell Martin; sister, Kathleen Martin; son, George S. Williams Jr.; and daughter, Georgia Mae Williams.

Recitation of the Rosary will be held Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at Schaefer-Shipman. Funeral Services will be held Wednesday at St. Anne’s Catholic Church at 10:00 a.m. with burial to follow at Mission Beach Cemetery.

Women’s Healing Circle Relapse Prevention Group

by Sarah Sense-Wilson

The Tulalip Tribes Family Services Women’s Healing Circle –Relapse Prevention Treatment Group, is a cultural based approach to supporting Native women in their efforts to address relapse prevention within the context of community, family and individual. The Women’s Healing Circle meets twice a week (10:00am-12noon) Tuesdays/Thursdays for 6 weeks at TFS. We include Native perspective, worldview and culture specific exercises and activities which build on strengths, and supports a holistic approach for wellness and health. Our Women’s Healing Circle group is designed to incorporate traditional universal Native values and beliefs for enhancing identity and fostering healthy relationships. You must be enrolled in TFS chemical dependency treatment program for participation in Women’s Healing Circle group. Please contact TFS for more information at 360-716-4400


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