An evening of empowerment with 2017 graduates

Tulalip Tribes senior girl and boy student of the year are Myrna Redleaf and Carter Wagner.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On Friday, June 16, the Tulalip Resort’s Orca Ballroom was home to the Graduation Banquet held for the Tulalip tribal member graduating class of 2017. In all there were seventy-four high school graduates and sixty higher education graduates who, accompanied by their friends and families, convened for an evening to commemorate the rite of passage. There was entertainment, a catered buffet-style dinner, and plenty of motivational speeches from their peers and elders reminding the graduates this is just the first step on the path to success.

The Marysville Getchell High School band provided good music and lively tunes for the first hour of the celebration, while Board of Director Mel Sheldon controlled the mic as emcee.

“It is a privilege and an honor to be here with you all tonight on this special night where we come together and celebrate the academic achievement of our young ones,” stated Mel in his opening speech. “We are so proud of each and every one of our graduates for their commitment to education. We thank the parents, grandparents, extended family, and all the school faculty who were always there for the students and made it possible for them to be here today.”

Graduating seniors Keely Bogin-McGhie and Lukas Reyes, Jr. both took stage and offered encouraging words to fellow graduates. They each told a favorite high school experience, thanked their families for always supporting them, and shared their excitement for great things yet to come in their bright futures.

Educator, poet, higher education administrator, and voice for his generation, Christian Paige provided a truly memorable keynote speech that left many in the crowd feeling inspired. He is a first generation college graduate who has committed himself to empowering others to reach for goals larger than themselves.

“The individuals in this space are making room on their shoulders for the next generation. It is powerful to know that you are setting the example and paving the way for the people to come after you, for they will know where it is to go by witnessing what you have achieved,” said HOPE initiative founder Christian Page. “We come from cultures with a long, rich lineage of beauty and strength based upon overcoming adversity. The generations before us weren’t given access to traditional literacy, so they had to tell stories in order to keep our traditions and histories alive.

“It is so important to understand where you come from, the history of your ancestors, and the legacy you want to leave. Think of your life as a story and yourself as the main character. As the main character it is up to you to take the narrative of the trajectory and make it into what you believe it should be. This may sound difficult but really it’s not. Changing your world starts with the three-feet around you. If you are constantly changing yourself and constantly speaking life into the individuals around you, then it will be a short time before you actually get to see changes in your world. That is the power you have as the main character in your story.”

Following the keynote speech a special recognition ceremony was held to honor the Tulalip Tribes senior boy and girl student of the year.

Myrna Redleaf, a graduate of Tulalip Heritage High School, received the female student of the year honors. Myrna was very active during her high school years; participating in many student activities while being an ASB officer and playing varsity basketball and volleyball. Her teachers said she was “an exceptional individual and student in every way and it was a privilege to know her. She’ll be successful in any career field she chooses. Her ability to multi-task while maintaining priorities is exemplary, as evidence by her balancing a 3.9 GPA while being a two-sport athlete.” Myrna plans on attending Everett Community College in the fall to get her Associated Degree before moving on to a University.

“I’m so honored to be selected as a student of the year!” said Myrna as she acknowledged the crowd of community members. “Thank you to my community, my family, and all the teachers and staff who helped me make it here.”

Carter Wagner, a graduate of Lakewood High School, received the male student of the year honors. Carter was on the honor roll for his junior and senior years, was a member of his school’s drama program, and is an avid snowboarder. His teachers say “we wish we had more students like him. He’s a very thoughtful and intelligent young man who participated in class discussions and always did well on his tests.” Carter has received an academic scholarship to attend Pacific Lutheran University in the fall where he plans to get a degree in Business Administration.

“A huge thank you to the Tulalip Tribes and the community for giving me this award and allowing me to move on to attend University,” remarked Carter. “I’d also like to thank my awesome family who has loved and supported me every step of the way.”

Higher education graduates

Congratulations to all those Tulalip Tribal students who put in the hard work and dedication to earn their graduate status. Chasing a dream requires your efforts and passion. The hard work isn’t over now that you have graduated, it’s only the beginning as you now prepare for the new challenges waiting in the next chapter of life. Good luck and congratulations!

Student Potlatch Promotes Learning, Healing, Culture

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

A potlatch is a ceremony held by Pacific Northwest Native Americans. Potlatches, typically hosted by families within a tribe, are held to commemorate major life events such as birth, traditional namings, coming of age, weddings and the celebration of life. During the event, hosts often share their traditional family-owned songs, dances and stories with the community. Items are gifted to guests including money, blankets, baskets, paddles and canoes to show the families’ social status as well as their appreciation of support. By accepting the gifts, the community can confirm that the event took place. Official witnesses are appointed to remember what occurred during the event. Potlatch ceremonies have been practiced by the Coast Salish people for centuries.

Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT) hosted their Annual 5th Grade Potlatch at the Francis J. Sheldon Gym on June 5, 2017. The event is held to congratulate the students on the successful completion of elementary school while honoring Native American heritage.

“Our people, long ago, used to have potlatches. Often times at a rite of passage – the first deer a young man might get or when a little girl turns into a young lady. So it’s a perfect time to hold a potlatch and honor them during the transition of life,” states QCT Cultural Specialist, Chelsea Craig.

During the potlatch, the fifth graders performed traditional songs and dances. Elected student speakers reflected on their time at QCT, thanked their favorite teachers and offered words of encouragement to their fellow students. The students also appointed official witnesses, Tulalip Board Member Jared Parks and Lushootseed Language Teacher Michelle Myles.  The fifth grade class offered advice to the fourth grade class during the passing of the paddle, a tradition that signifies the transferal of leadership.

“We’ve been doing [the passing of the paddle] since Tulalip elementary, it’s safe to say for at least the last ten years. We’ve revived it from Harriet Shelton Dover, she did the passing of the totem, which was a ceremony that she started when working in education many, many years ago,” explains Chelsea. “We wanted to bring back the work that she started. She would always have the same little totem they would pass, while passing on words of advice and the idea of passing on leadership.”

The fifth graders were presented with certificates as well as beaded necklaces that featured a small cedar-carved paddle as the medallion to commemorate the QCT potlatch commencement ceremony. The students made a variety of items including handmade cedar-woven baskets to gift to everybody in attendance.

“This year, every single month we took a Friday and made gifts the whole day with the fifth graders. The Lushootseed department sent two of their workers and liaisons throughout the [Marysville School District] sent their workers. It really felt like how school should be – our own community members teaching our kids,” states Chelsea. “When I say teaching, I mean working alongside them, kind of like how an auntie teaches someone. The kids really enjoyed it and got into it. Every single student made a cedar basket, that was our goal, we made ninety-five baskets this year.”

QCT is making strong efforts in changing the education system to work in favor of the future generations of Tulalip. During the assimilation era, Native American children were forcibly removed from their families and sent to boarding schools, where they were punished for speaking their native language and practicing cultural traditions, in an attempt to ‘kill the Indian, save the man’. Traditional ceremonies such as potlatches were also nationally banned during this time period. The school aims to begin the healing process of generational trauma, caused by assimilation, through cultural and community-based teachings.

“In everything that we do, we think about what our ancestors tried to get going in a time when it wasn’t comfortable or safe to be Indian, especially in a school setting,” Chelsea explains. “With the work we do, we think about healing for our ancestors. What our ancestors weren’t allowed to do, we try to do now in a school setting.”

“Our potlatch event is an example of what the classroom and the whole school should be. It should be community-based learning, obviously teaching reading and writing within that setting,” continued Chelsea. “That’s my dream – that the feeling of what happens at a potlatch transitions to the classrooms as well as everything we do here at this school. Our school does not have to look like mainstream America schools; we know based on the last hundred years, that doesn’t work for our people. So now we’re trying to heal by finding something that works for our kids.”

Keryn Parks: Turning Resiliency Into Success

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News. Photos by Micheal Rios and courtesy of Keryn Parks

Resilience is a term used to describe a set of qualities that foster a process of successful adaptation and transformation despite risk and adversity. Individuals who are resilient have the capacity to withstand, overcome, and recover from threatening conditions. Simply put, resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity.

As it relates to Native youth, resilience is exemplified by certain qualities possessed by those who are subjected to undue stress and adversity, yet do not give way to school failure or juvenile delinquency. By those standards 16-year-old Tulalip tribal member Keryn Parks is resiliency personified.

The Tulalip Heritage High School junior has experienced things many couldn’t even begin to comprehend, but she didn’t surrender to the adversity. Instead, she conquered it with success.

“With everything that’s happened over the last few years, I just feel way more comfortable in a smaller setting. That’s why I loved Heritage from the first day I transferred during my sophomore year,” says Keryn on her changing of high schools. A former student at Marysville Pilchuck, she first transferred to Lakewood before finding her academic home at Heritage. “I feel way more comfortable in a setting where I know every single person in the room. It’s a friendlier setting that’s both family and culture oriented.”

The change of scenery not only provided Keryn with a much more comfortable learning environment, but it also gave her the opportunity to engage with her cultural roots, excel in the classroom as a student, and flourish on the hardwood as an athlete.

At Heritage, she received traditional teachings like fundamental beadwork from Bubba Fryberg and learning some of the ancestral language of her people under the guidance of Lushootseed language teacher Michelle Myles.

“I’ve learned that I really enjoy beadwork. It’s something I’ve gotten good with and look forward to getting better and learning new techniques. I actually love doing it,” admits Keryn. “Lushootseed was really cool to learn and hear about, especially from Michelle because she’s such an awesome teacher. Hearing her tell us the importance of passing our language down to younger generations so it doesn’t vanish motivated me to learn more.”

Keryn also seized the opportunity to take classes at Marysville’s Arts & Technology High School to bolster her student profile for future college applications. Though the course load was challenging at times, she excelled as a student of both Heritage and Arts & Tech. Using the student tracker application Skyward, Keryn was able to stay on top of all her assignments from both schools to ensure she remained ahead of the curve.

“She’s one of our star students. Her dedication to getting her classwork done and commitment to helping her classmates definitely stands out,” beams Principal Shelly Lacy. “For example, when she sees students in her class who might be having trouble with an assignment she’s always willing to help them. She has such a warm smile and friendly demeanor, so her classmates are open to her assistance. Also, her attendance is great. She’s always here at school and attends all her classes.”

Keryn’s commitment to her education yielded amazing results. In fact, she was recognized for being the only Heritage student with a 4.0 GPA at the end of the 1st semester grading term.

Excelling in academics and athletics can be a daunting task for most, but Keryn found a way to successfully balance the two. Her success in the classroom was also being echoed with athletic achievement. During this past volleyball and basketball seasons she grew into her team’s go-to playmaker. She admits that basketball is her true passion and volleyball was more for fun, yet she reluctantly accepted a leadership role in both.

“She was chosen as a team leader by [her teammates] on and off the court. It took her time to adjust to that role because she didn’t want it at first,” points out Tina Brown, Athletic Director and volleyball coach at Heritage. “It was obvious to us that Keryn’s energy was contagious. When she was in the zone and encouraging her teammates, the whole team’s play would go to a new level. Eventually, she embraced the leadership role and accepted the responsibility to encourage her teammates at the right moments to keep the momentum going. The whole team benefited because of it.”

With Keryn embracing the leadership role, the Lady Hawks volleyball team found unprecedented success. They started off the year (5-0) and made their first ever appearance in the Tri-District Tournament. The Lady Hawks’ success carried over to the basketball season, where Keryn continued to develop as a key playmaker and clutch shot maker. She averaged career highs in nearly every statistical category, while shining in the biggest moments. The team finished with an astonishing (20-6) record including a deep postseason run that ended at Regionals. Recognizing her efforts, Keryn was named to the All-League 1st Team.

The end of basketball season marked the end of the athletic year for Heritage sports. Refocusing all her efforts towards her education, Keryn understands the significance of making the most out of opportunity while still in high school. For her upcoming senior year she intends to enroll in Running Start, a program that allows high school students to take college courses at community colleges. She’ll be earning both high school and college credit for courses taken at Everett Community College.

Keryn and family.

“I’m more excited than anything. I know it’s going to be challenging and a lot of hard work, but I’m ready for it,” says Keryn a few days after testing into the Running Start program. “I want to make the most out of my senior year by earning college credits. It’ll be really beneficial in the long run. Educationally, I want something more for myself and I hope to show my friends and family what’s possible.”

Of Keryn’s decision to do Running Start during her senior year Principal Lacy adds, “I’m really excited for her. Our goal is to get our students to see what they are capable of and to promote the pathways to college the best we can. The first year of college is always the hardest, there’s so much the students have to adjust to, but through Running Start we get to support them through the process. It’s been wonderful to witness Keryn grow into the person she is. I’m confident that with her dedication she’ll succeed with Running Start.”

Continuing to raise the bar with her education and succeeding at every step helps to change a culture and breaks the stereotypes of Native youth in the academic realm. The stats show that overwhelmingly Native students have difficulty succeeding at college. However, as with basketball in the biggest moments, Keryn has a knack for delivering in the clutch. And thus far, her ability to turn adversity into success through sheer force of will is what makes her so unique.

“I’m proud to be Native American, I’m proud to be Tulalip. In everything that I do and achieve I’m representing my family. Parks, Fryberg, Gobin, and Joseph, all those family names I represent. That’s the weight I hold on my back, that’s who I am,” proclaims Keryn. “While growing up my dad would tell me, ‘Don’t drag our name through the mud, Keryn.’ Now that I’m older I understand what he was getting at. Holding myself accountable, being successful, and focusing on what’s best for me is totally within my control. When people see me doing well and achieving, I want them to think of my parents and grandparents because they are the support system that makes me who I am.”

Lastly, to her peers and fellow Tulalip community members Keryn has this advice, “Know your worth. Know how much your success helps everyone around you. If you’re bettering yourself, then you’re bettering your siblings and little cousins. In this community, you are always going to be a role model know matter what. There are people looking up to you and you don’t even know it. So try to set the best example you can and be that positive role model for the younger ones because it matters to them. It matters to us all.”

Promoting overall wellness for our youth

Article by Micheal Rios; photos by Micheal Rios and courtesy of Sarah Sense-Wilson

Promoting the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of today’s youth, especially teenagers, is largely a labor of love. It’s difficult enough getting them to give their social media accounts a break, put their cellphones away, and actually focus on educational activities, let alone holding their attention long enough to get them to interact in a group setting. Yet, it is in the commitment to our youth, to their well-being and personal growth that brings about positive changes in lifestyle, relationships, and overall wellness.

Enter the Tulalip Tribes 5th Annual Wellness Conference and its dedicated day, May 16, to promoting overall wellness to our community’s youth.

“Our youth flourish when provided guidance, tools, resources, and encouragement. They thrive when we set good examples of self-care, and live by example. Our individual and collective actions are always far more meaningful and impactful when we are embracing challenges, and having an open mind for learning and taking the time to nurture healthy relationships,” eloquently states Sarah Sense-Wilson, Wellness Conference Coordinator. “I believe our conference really embodies these values and the presenters and workshop leaders exemplify traditional and cultural values we want our children and youth to follow.”

Approximately 90 students from Heritage High School, Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Totem Middle School, and Marysville Middle School were shuttled to the event hosted within the Tulalip Resort Casino’s Orca ballroom. The adolescent youth were treated to a large and healthy buffet-style breakfast after filling out their registration cards and putting on a name tag. As they settled in keynote speaker Layha Spoonhunter (Eastern Shoshone, Northern Arapaho, Oglala Lakota) took center stage.

Layha is a youth consultant, motivational speaker, Two Spirit Native citizen, and vocal advocate for Two Spirit people. He provided honest, open and engaging discussion on LGBTQI (a common abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersexed community), Two Spirit, and Allyship advocacy.

Layha describes Two Spirit as a “person who has both masculine and feminine identities.” He says it is a spiritual term that encompasses Native culture, language and history. His expertise and experience as a youth spokesperson and advocate for Native youth empowerment bridges differences and strengthens relationships among groups of community members. Layha offered his story as an example for other young LGBTQI and Two Spirit individuals to express themselves and embrace their identities.

“Build an environment of fairness and openness within your community. Stand up against stereotypes and racism. Stand up against bigotry and discrimination,” resounded Layha to his largely youth audience. “Take pride in your identity and use it to make positive change.”

Following the keynote address, the youth were given the choice of three interactive and experiential based workshops to attend. The three diverse workshop presenters were specifically chosen for their ability to reach our Native youth in a variety of ways.

Credentialed Native American mental health specialist and award-winning artist LisaNa Red Bear offered her workshop attendees the opportunity to create a mural art project. Participants engaged in three experiential learning art exercises that support a better understanding of complications associated with smoking. The hands-on creative art project was a hit, as the Native youth’s artistic abilities shined.

“We see an amazing level of creativity expressed by youth who engage in artistic activities. When they allow themselves to imagine and sit still long enough to allow that creativity to flow through them, the results can be awe-inspiring,” reflects LisaNa on the impact of her art mural workshop. “Young people have creativity inside them, innately, and it just depends on whether or not it’s nurtured or repressed.”

Grammy award-winning artist Star Nayea led a Project R.I.S.E Up workshop. She empowered the youth to create video vision statements that involved creating handheld signage decorated with personalized cultural artwork. Participants then took turns filming their own P.S.A. style videos. Star’s unique ability to reach youth and engage them in expressing their ideas, thoughts and feelings led to some amazing video production both individually and collectively. The youth offered messages of hope, vision and inspiration for believing in yourself and living a drug free life.

“Kids just want to know that we, as adults and teachers, are legit. They want to know that we are there for all the right reasons, that we care about them, and that they can thrive from the knowledge and experience we offer,” says Star. “It’s so important for their voices to be heard and for their faces to be seen as they speak the words. It’s one thing to have thoughts and a whole other thing to rise up and share those thoughts, to inspire. In making the P.S.A. videos they help to inspire one another and their community.”

The third workshop option was called In the Spirit of the Story. The tradition of storytelling is a way of passing down, teaching vital lessons, and of course entertainment with a purpose. Gene Tagaban (Tlingit) is an incredibly skillful, knowledgeable and talented storyteller who led this workshop. Using story as a medium for empowerment and self-expression, Gene connected with participants in a deep and meaningful way which transcends all generational differences. The power of storytelling was illuminated through his interactive workshop as a tool for teaching, healing and growing.

“Offering our youth a range of different interactive workshops was intentional and purposeful. We are always wanting to reach our youth for supporting their interests and appeal to their generational issues,” explains Sarah on the importance of workshop variety when working with youth. “Community wellness requires positive action, not passive existence. Some have to work harder because we are up against more barriers, walls, and obstacles. Nonetheless, we have a responsibility to ourselves, our youth, and our community to strive to do better and be better.”

Concluding the youth wellness day was a very special Native Hoop Dance

performance by Tulalip tribal member Terry Goedell. Several youth were brave enough to join Terry on stage and receive a tutorial on hoop dancing basics.

There’s a popular saying in Native communities, “be careful in the decisions we make today as they will impact the 7th generation – our grandchildren’s grandchildren, grandchildren.” Respect for this wisdom continues to guide events like the annual Wellness Conference, where a commitment to preparing Native youth for a brighter future is on full display.

ELA students honor moms, with muffins!

I am like a flower that is raised

with love by you,

like a flower that is watered each day.

You help me grow, stand tall

You nurture and shape me until

I am big and strong.

One day, I will be grown and 

my hand will

be as big as yours

thank you for all you do,

I sure love you.

 

By Kalvin Valdillez

Students of the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (ELA) celebrated their moms, aunties and grandmas this year with a special afternoon to kick-off Mother’s Day Weekend. Moms and Muffins is an annual event that provides an opportunity for children of the academy to honor their mothers while enjoying delicious snacks.

 

The May 11 event, held at the former Tulalip elementary gym, had a springtime theme. Mothers and students were treated to their choice of blueberry, double chocolate or red velvet muffins as well as a variety of fruit-infused waters. Numerous mothers were honored during the two-hour event.

Laughter, accompanied by chocolate-filled smiles, were shared amongst students and mothers alike. After enjoying baked goods with their mothers and the last muffin top crumb was consumed, the students visited the photo booth to capture a memory with their favorite ladies.

The event also included an arts and crafts project in which both mothers and kids participated. ELA provided a poem (see right) in which the growth of a flower is used as a metaphor to describe the bond between a mother and child. The poem also contained a photo of two flower stems, one large and one small, yet empty spaces stood on top of the flower stems. Mothers and students stamped their hands and these handprints served as the flowers from the poem.

Moms and Muffins continues to provide a fun (and tasty) opportunity for kids to spend quality time with the most important and influential women of their young lives.

Tulalip youth shine at ‘Living Breath’ Symposium

Tulalip Tribal members Jacynta Myles-Gilford, 7th grader, and Kaiser Moses, 8th grader, bravely conducted a 40-minute presentation, with little assistance, in front of a jam-packed Intellectual House audience on Friday, May 5.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Over the weekend of May 5, the University of Washington’s longhouse, dubbed Intellectual House, held its 5th annual ‘Living Breath’ Symposium. This year was highlighted by Native youth grades 7th-12th who were willing to give a presentation or conduct an interactive workshop that aligned with Indigenous knowledge and tribal sovereignly.

After sifting through many deserving applicants, the Intellectual House advisory committee accepted a one-of-a-kind presentation from Tulalip youth who offered to share their experiences and knowledge gained as participants in Tulalip’s Mountain Camp program. Tribal members Jacynta Myles-Gilford, 7th grader, and Kaiser Moses, 8th grader, bravely conducted a 40-minute presentation, with little assistance, in front of a jam-packed Intellectual House audience on Friday, May 5.

Jacynta and Kaiser’s presentation was titled ‘Swedaxali: Huckleberry Fields Forever’. The young, prideful tribal members worked as a team and took turns on the mic describing their many experiences from their two summers participating in Mountain Camp. They shared critical details like how the camp is located in our ancestral mountain areas, which are now part of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Tulalip Tribes has reserved treaty rights to continue to hunt, fish and gather on these ancestral lands in the mountains, like Swedaxali (Lushootseed for “place of mountain huckleberries”). With a base camp at about 5,000 feet elevation, the area is very remote and beautifully untouched by the deconstruction that comes with urban areas.

They spoke of the many different kinds of plants that our ancestors used for medicinal purposes and as nourishment for their ever mobile bodies. Jacynta reminisced about walking in her ancestors’ footsteps while learning to make a traditional berry picking basket out of cedar bark from our grandmother cedar tree.

“My first summer at Mountain Camp was the first time I ever ate huckleberries. That was two years ago during a drought in that area, so they weren’t as ripe. The shrubs were dry and it was sad to see this usually lush green area look like that,” described Kaiser. “We still did all as planned and was still fun and enjoyable to pick the berries, eat them, make baskets and so on. At last year’s Mountain Camp adventure, there were so many berries, all of them were ripe and the taste was spectacular!”

As part of Mountain Camp last year, campers launched the very first work that is part of our Tribes’ 10-year plan to make sure huckleberries continue to grow in this area.  The work they began in the huckleberry fields involved work to enhance the huckleberries’ growth by cutting down competing species that were shading out the berries and could prevent the mountain huckleberries from flourishing.  This was a team effort by all the kids, camp staff and a few more volunteers. A highlight of their presentation, pictures and video were shown detailing the huckleberry stewardship work.

Concluding their presentation there was a question and answer segment provided for the many inquisitive minds in attendance. The huckleberry stewardship being diligently done by the Tulalip youth was further asked about. Jacynta provided an awesome response to one such question, “Working with the huckleberries and being taught how to take care of them like our ancestors once did is such an amazing experience. I feel we continue to gather berries in the area and take care of the plants in a good way like our elders teach. It’s really important to share our experience with others because then that means we are helping to spread the message behind Mountain Camp and what us youth are trying to do for the better of the Tulalip Tribes community.”

Dr. Charlotte Coté (Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation), chair of the UW’s Intellectual House Advisory Committee and co-founder of the ‘Living Breath’ Symposium, was among the audience who listened intently to Jacynta and Kaiser’s presentation.

“It was really inspiring to see young people from these Native nations understanding their culture, their traditions, and understanding it’s more than just about health. It’s about culture, community, family, and spirituality,” remarked Dr. Coté about the Tulalip youths’ presentation. “It’s all tied into connecting or reconnecting to your traditional foods and we really saw that in their presentation. You could tell they were speaking from their heart. It’s so important because this event focuses on youth so that we can inspire each other, but to also emphasize listening to the next generation. They are our future leaders, and here they are at such a young age understanding the importance of living their culture, while sharing their beautiful experiences with us.”

Gee Willikers! Early Learning Students Answer Bat Signal

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The weather on the afternoon of Friday April 28 was perfect for travel conditions as the sun was shining and there was a slight breeze. Which was great news for the students of the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy who, based on their capes and costumes, would presumably be flying, swinging from self-produced spider webs or driving customized all-black armored vehicles to the Greg Williams Court to bust a move for the first Annual Spring Dance hosted by the Parent Committee of the Academy.

Each year the spring dance will offer a new theme, where the children get to dress up in costumes while getting their groove on. The first year did not disappoint as the kids were incognito in costumes such as Captain America, Wonder Woman, Batman, Batgirl and Spiderman for the superhero theme, which was fitting as the dance fell on National Superhero Day.

Upon entry to the gym, the kids were instantly transported into another world – of comic books! Decorations made by teachers and parents were remarkable as the inside of the gym mirrored the city of Metropolis, home to Superman. A live DJ engaged the kids during group dances and activities. Many parents got into the spirit as well, dressing as their favorite superheroes and joining their children in several dances including the Cha-Cha Slide and a conga line that turned into the limbo dance.

Gasps, screams and shrills of excitement were heard from students upon the arrival of special guests Batman and Spiderman, who danced with the students for the entire evening. Families showed up by the masses, with over three hundred people, according to the Early Learning Academy’s Family/Community Coordinator, Katrina Lane.

The first ever Annual Spring Dance was a success as evidenced by the large turnout and the many smiles from the students as they zoomed across the gym showing off their incredible speed and their special crime fighting moves.

Money is raised for the dance by the parents of the Academy and through various fundraisers, such as auctions and book fairs.

Petting Zoo and Story Time Enhance Family Day

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News; photos by Lynne Bansemer

The latest cohort of TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC) students made some pretty cool memories with their family and friends during the spring session’s ‘Family Day’.

“We set aside a day every session to bring families together, allowing for the children of students to visit the training center and experience their parents’ success,” says Lynne Bansemer, Tulalip TERO Coordinator. “Family Day focuses on literacy as well. We partnered with Sno Isle Libraries who come in for storytelling, library card sign-up, book check out, and this year they brought gifts of learning materials and books. With funds provided by a grant, WKKF (Kellogg Foundation), TVTC made a large book purchase allowing for each child to leave with five brand new books.”

Making the day even brighter for everyone was the transforming of the training center into a temporary petting zoo filled with farm animals and even a young kangaroo. Animal Encounters provided the group of furry and feathered friends for both the kids and adults to hold and pet.

The gathering of students with their young children also allowed for some hands-on experience with trade skills. Several of the kids assisted their parents putting final touches on their personal projects. Whether it was hammering a nail or adding additional flare with some bright colored paint, the children apprentices made their presence felt.

“It really meant a lot to me for my son to watch me working at the training center and witness the positive things I’m doing with my life,” says TVTC student and Tulalip tribal member Rocky Harrison about his son Rocky Jr. participating in Family Day. “It helps instill good morals and work ethic into him at a young age seeing his father learning and doing hands on work. It brings me great pleasure to know that I am being the best father I can be to my son and that I am able to show him what it means to be a good father and hardworking man.”

 

UW Bothell empowers Native American students to plan for higher education

 

For the Native high school students, the hope is by getting a taste of the university experience they will be inspired and motivated to attend a higher education program after graduating high school. 

 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The University of Washington Bothell campus held its 5th annual Reaching American Indian Nations (RAIN) diversity recruitment event Friday, April 21. RAIN is a day dedicated to preparing students of American Indian, Alaskan Native and Native American backgrounds with the tools necessary to access higher education.

Tribal high school students and faculty from Native American educational programs from all across Washington State were invited to attend RAIN 2017.

For the Native high school students, the hope is by getting a taste of the university experience they will be inspired and motivated to attend a higher education program after graduating high school.

Creating culturally relevant events where advocates, faculty, and college alumni can speak on all the reasons why potential high school graduates should attend college helps turns dreams into reality. Explaining why higher education is important as a Native American person, how the education can be used to connect to and better the community is all integral to changing the narrative. It doesn’t matter if it’s a community or technical college, online or big-time university, so long as Native students start thinking about and planning for life after high school.

Interestingly enough, the inspiration that led to UW Bothell creating RAIN five years ago happened right here on the Tulalip Reservation. It was during a routine admission workshop that Rachael Meares, former UW Native American Outreach Coordinator, was undertaking at Tulalip Heritage High School that inspiration struck. The junior and senior high school students at Tulalip Heritage were so eager to participate in her workshop and to learn of the opportunities available at UW Bothell that Meares thought it would be really beneficial for the students to spend a day at the UW Bothell campus. While on campus, students participated in various workshops, while exploring and learning about what university life at UW Bothell has to offer them. The Tulalip students received an alternative college perspective that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them here on the reservation.

A few months later, the entire Tulalip Heritage High School student body, with chaperoning from teachers, spent a day at the UW Bothell campus learning about the university and opportunities available only a short thirty minute drive south on I-5. That day marked the first culturally relevant outreach event for Native American students, which was given the name Reaching American Indian Nations, or more commonly referred to as RAIN. The next year Meares and her colleagues from the UW Bothell Division of Enrollment Management extended invites to Tulalip Heritage and other tribal schools across Washington.

Matt Remle, Marysville School District Native American Liaison.

 

At this year’s RAIN, the students were welcomed with breakfast, introductions of the coordinating event staff, and an opening prayer by Matt Remle (Lakota), Native American Liaison for Marysville School District. The students then heard a culturally oriented key-note speech from Abigail Echohawk (Pawnee/Athabascan).

Following their warm welcoming, the high school students chose two available on-site workshops to attend. Keeping the idea of cultural relevancy in play, each workshop was specifically tailored to the Native American students pursuing higher education. Each workshop was also led by a Native American staff member of UW Bothell.

For the participating students, they received a glimpse of the university life that pushes the boundaries for what opportunities are available to them after graduating high school. They were able to learn about higher education opportunities and campus programs, while participating in cultural and educational workshops. The college admissions process, touring UW Bothell, and networking with community partners were designed to give students a better understanding of college life, while relating the importance of education to the individual and their communities.

Fleece, Love and Happiness

Handmade drum stick, featuring horse and otter fur constructed by Tulalip tribal member, Richard “Two Dogs” Muir.

 

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

In Native America, blankets hold a significant value to many tribal communities as they are associated with honor and respect. Traditionally, blankets are gifted at various ceremonies including potlatches, pow wows and graduations. Pendleton, a blanket company based in Oregon, grew in popularity during the trade era due to their bright colors and tribal inspired designs. Not to mention they were a necessity, because the blankets are made from wool, they were warm, durable and weather resistant. In 2016, President Obama was honored and blanketed by the tribal nations of America during his last White House Tribal Nations conference.

Newborn babies are often swaddled in the wool blankets and most Native children grow up surrounded by Pendleton. For this reason, the Parent Committee of the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy are raising money, by means of a raffle, to purchase over three hundred blankets for the students of the Academy. The blankets will be fleece and feature Pendleton-esque designs.

The Parent Committee is raffling a handmade drum stick, featuring horse and otter fur that was constructed by Tulalip tribal member, Richard “Two Dogs” Muir. Tickets can be purchased through April 28 in the Early Learning Academy’s lobby between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. The cost is $5 per ticket, five tickets for $20, or an arm’s length worth of tickets for $30. The winner will be announced April 28 during the upcoming Superhero Dance, which is also organized by the Parent Committee.

For more information, please contact the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy at (360) 716-4250.