By Kalvin Valdillez
Ten elementary students from the Marysville School District were selected to compete in a culinary competition on Thursday March 22, at the Marysville Pilchuck High School food commons. The young chefs, wearing aprons and tall chef hats, prepared Asian-inspired fusion dishes for a panel of guest judges. The future chef competition is held in school districts across the nation by Sodexo, a company that focuses on providing quality of life services to local communities, which include nutrition and health care. Among the ten students competing in the contest was Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary student and Tulalip tribal member Mone’t Clemens, who just turned ten years old a day prior to the competition.
“So I’m not just watching TV, I always ask my mom if I can help cook,” says Mone’t. “When I saw the flyer for the contest, I really wanted to sign up. I think the competition is wonderful, everybody is really nice and helpful. All the kids’ dishes are pretty and look delicious.”
The kitchen of MPHS was busy as the young chefs hustled about, cooking and plating their meals in sample cups for the judges. Outside, in the food commons, parents and family members were getting hungry as the smell of delicious food slowly seeped from the kitchen to the cafeteria.
“This is very exciting,” expressed Mone’t’s father, David Charley. “She always helps cook our dinners. About a year ago, she started asking her mom and was always told, ‘no, you’re too young’ but she kept pressing for her interest and here we are.”
“Today I prepared an Asian Peanut Noodle dish with chicken,” stated Mone’t as she happily described her recipe. “I chose this dish because I like peanut butter. My family and I are big peanut butter fans, so me and my mom thought it was the perfect dish to make.”
Once all the sample cups were prepared, the student chefs took their stations in the commons and anxiously waited for the judges to come by and try their recipes. Mone’t received many compliments such as ‘this has the perfect amount of spice’ and ‘very tasty’. One judge even opted to indulge in a second helping of the Asian Peanut Noodles. Once all meals were thoroughly taste-tested, the judges announced the winner of the 2018 Marysville School District-Sodexo Future Chef Competition, Joshua Earnheart of Grove Elementary.
Although Mone’t didn’t take first place, she isn’t letting that discourage her from her passion for cooking. After all, she was one of the only Future Chef’s in the competition with zero sample cups left after the judging was complete, which is saying a lot when in a room full of scrumptious food created by a group of young talented cooks.
“In the future, I see myself cooking for my family and preparing delicious dishes for my future kids and my mom when they come over for Thanksgiving. I think that if somebody really wants to learn how to cook, they should ask their parents, grandmas or guardians to help in the kitchen, because with your family is the best way to cook.”
By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
“This is one special way that our community has come together, as Marysville School District has partnered with the Tulalip Tribes to announce the Native American students of the month,” explained Deborah Parker, Director of Equity, Diversity and Indian Education, during the regular school board meeting on Monday, March 19.
By creating the Student of the Month Program, MSD Indian Education and the Tulalip Tribes Education Department celebrate individual achievement by sustaining a culture of learning that values academic success and achievement through education. The program is designed so that any Native American student in the Marysville School District, of any age or grade level, can receive the award. However, students who are nominated should prove they value their education by exhibiting academic responsibility. They are also expected to demonstrate excellent behavior in and out of the classroom, which includes being respectful to both teachers and peers.
For their commitment to excellence in the classroom and academic achievement, 10th grader Ayana Sabbas (Nuu-chah-nulth and Shoshone) of Marysville-Pilchuck High School and 4th grader Jacob Skarwecki (Algaaciq from Alaska) of Cascade Elementary were announced as Native American students of the month for March.
“Jacob is selected for his enthusiasm, his effort, his integrity, and for being a responsible citizen,” described his Cascade Elementary Principal, Teresa Iyall. “Above all, Jacob shows exemplary behavior, and I am very, very proud that he is our first elementary Native American student of the month. He represents his family, his tribe, Marysville Indian Education, Cascade Elementary, and the Marysville School District in an exemplary manner.”
“Ayana was selected as student of the month for her leadership, being a responsible citizen, and her incredible determination in both her academics and extracurricular activities,” said her MSD Native Liaison, Matt Remle. “She has excelled in her academics, demonstrated by her 3.83 G.P.A. and outstanding attendance. She plays varsity volleyball, participates in MPHS Native Girls Group, and remains active in her culture by being a jingle dress powwow dancer. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with her.”
Going forward, a selection committee will review all student nominations based on their academics and school engagement. Each month two Native students (one boy, one girl) will be recognized as students of the month.
“It feels amazing!” admitted Ayana about receiving student of the month. “It’s so refreshing to get recognized for my achievements in school because I’ve worked so hard to be in this position. My dream is to go to the University of Washington and become a bio-engineer. I really love numbers and want to use that passion to change the world for the better.”
“I don’t believe in magic. I believe in the sun and the stars, the water, the tides, the floods, the owls, the hawks flying, the river running, the wind talking. They’re measurements. They tell us how healthy things are. How healthy we are. Because we and they are the same. That’s what I believe in.”
– Billy Frank Jr.
By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
Billy Frank Jr. is a hero, especially to Northwest Indigenous tribes. Hailing from Nisqually, Billy learned at a young age that salmon are integral to the Coast Salish traditional way of life. At 14, he was arrested for seine fishing in non-reservation waters of the Nisqually River. Billy knew his arrest was in violation of his treaty rights and that experience marked the beginning of his active advocacy for tribal fishing rights. He understood that the treaties signed by the United States Government and Washington State tribes guaranteed his people the right to fish the same waters his ancestors did since time immemorial.
The state of Washington attempted to deny, restrict and regulate where and how Native Americans were fishing during the sixties and seventies, an era known as the ‘fish wars’. During this time Billy organized ‘fish-ins’ or gatherings where Natives exercised their fishing rights. Natives were arrested and many times beaten during the fish wars. Billy was arrested for civil disobedience on more than fifty occasions.
The arrests led to lawsuits which in turn helped lead to the Boldt Decision, a federal case between the United States and Washington State which reaffirmed the tribes’ right to fish. After the Boldt Decision and up until his passing in 2014, Billy focused on protecting the environment and preserving the salmon habitat for future generations. He received several accolades for his activism for treaty rights as well as his advocacy for environmental protection, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Did you know that Billy Frank Jr. was arrested more than fifty times for fishing?” asked a Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary student. “That’s a bad reason to go to jail. It’s really bad.”
Throughout the nation, during the first week of March, students participate in a Dr. Seuss inspired spirit week. The students of QCT, however, participate in a spirit week which honors the northwest Native American hero Billy Frank Jr. by teaching about, and therefore continuing, his legacy.
“Honestly, the inspiration came from my grandpa, who is in heaven. He guided me to this work last year,” says QCT Cultural Specialist and Tulalip tribal member, Chelsea Craig. “When the state acknowledged his birthday (March 9) as Billy Frank Jr. Day, I thought, well if we can study Dr. Seuss for an entire week, then we can certainly celebrate Billy Frank.”
During Billy Frank Jr. Spirit Week, the students had a blast making arts and crafts, learning new songs and participating in themed days all while preparing for a community cultural celebration on Billy Frank Jr. Day. Themes included Salmon Day where students made a collaborative art piece, the length of the school’s entrance to the gym, displaying multi-colored paper cutout salmon swimming upstream; as well as Water is Life Day in which the students were encouraged to wear blue to show support of protecting our waters. The students also celebrated Twin Day and Tell Your Story Day.
QCT begins each day with a morning assembly. During spirit week, students learned about Billy together during the assembly. The students were even treated to the award winning Billy Frank Jr. cartoon, σčəδαδξʷ, which is a fun animation based around his voice from a recorded interview about the lifecycle of salmon.
Throughout the spirit week, Tulalip tribal leaders spoke to the kids about treaty rights, environmental protection and also shared stories of Billy. Guest speakers included Patti Gobin, Deborah Parker, and Inez Bill as well as Glen Gobin and Ray Fryberg.
“Billy said the next big battle is protecting the environment because the salmon need a place to come back to. I’m really happy that the school is sharing the efforts of Billy Frank Jr. and what he stood for because he was a great man and a great example of a true leader for the Indian People,” shared Ray.
On Billy Frank Jr. Day, the morning assembly was extended to two-hours and the students showcased everything they learned about Billy for the community. The students were featured in class presentations as well as a video presentation where the kids emotionally boasted, ‘I am Billy Frank Jr.!’ at the end. The Tulalip community joined QCT in traditional song and dance to conclude the ceremony and QCT’s second annual Billy Frank Jr. Spirit Week.
Quality time to empower one another, keeping culture thriving
By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
Today, quality family time often takes a back seat to all the other directions that people are pulled, whether it be work, school, manufactured drama, or personal entertainment. One way to bring back that sense of quality time is to start a dedicated family night, which is exactly what Lushootseed Family Night intends to achieve.
In coordination with the Hibulb Rediscovery Program, the Lushootseed Language Department has brought back its Family Night on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the month of March. Meeting from 5:00pm – 7:00pm at the Lushootseed building (the gymnasium of the old Tulalip Elementary), the evenings are a dedicated time for Tulalip families and members of the community to share in keeping a language and culture thriving. Its two-hours of undivided attention given by the Language Warriors to any and all who wish to learn Lushootseed words and phrases, whether it be children, adults, or elders; all are welcome.
The community’s response has been very positive thus far, with near 70 participants joining in on March 8th’s Family Night.
“Any participation in our Family Night is appreciated. When we have a large number of participants, like our second night, we are excited to see so many people who want to be exposed to Lushootseed or want to become Language Warriors and speak with us,” said Natosha Gobin, Lushootseed Teacher and co-coordinator of Family Night. “For those who don’t feel comfortable since they don’t know the language, or think they will have a hard time learning it, these classes are intended to be fun and laid back. Just being exposed to the language being spoken will help in eventually speaking it.”
This particular series of Family Night classes in March are focused on canoe terms in order to prepare families that intend on participating in this year’s Canoe Journey, but the dialogue is not limited to canoes only. Language Warriors are also working to assist participants to learn their own introductions and speeches, while getting accustomed to traditional prayers, stories and songs. The Lushootseed Department aims to support the teachings that are important for canoe journey participants, while passing on lessons that are relevant for daily use.
Each Family Night begins with the sharing of a hot meal, a significant activity shared by any family, while the next generation of Lushootseed speakers read aloud from a collection of traditional stories. Then, children and adults learn together select Lushootseed words and phrases by a variety of activities.
Among those activities is the hearing of traditional songs. Andrew Gobin, of the Tulalip Rediscovery Program and former Lushootseed Teacher, provides his resonant voice and drum in order to pass along the teachings and well-intending meanings with each song.
“Language belongs to all of us. Culture belongs to all of us. Getting involved is the first step,” stated Andrew. “At these language and culture nights, the people come to share with one another. Those that may know more than others are helping those that are just beginning to engage with who they are. It’s always exciting to have people come to gather together and share in what our culture has to offer.
With an increase in technology and a dwindling attention span, family time will still often get set aside because of other demands and duties. Despite busy schedules and long workdays, for families and individuals looking to build strong bonds through culture and create lifelong memories for children, Lushootseed Family Night is a welcome site.
“This language belongs to us all,” explained Natosha. “We pray that when our days come to an end, that we can hear it being used daily in our community by everyone. These are the same prayers of our ancestors. They didn’t want the language to die with them, and we don’t want the language to die with us. We hope that through these Family Nights and the other language learning opportunities that we are working on, we will continue to grow our Language Warriors, empowering speakers to rise up and help keep our language, culture and teachings alive.”
The current Lushootseed Family Night series will continue each Tuesday and Thursday during March, from 5:00pm – 7:00pm. Dinner will be provide and all ages are welcome to attend.
For more information, questions or request contact
Michelle Balagot, Lushootseed Department Manager by phone at 360-716-4495 or email email@example.com
Natosha Gobin, Lushootseed Teacher by phone at 360-716-4499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, visit NR.tulaliptribes.com
By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
The stark reality when it comes to Native Americans and the education system isn’t good, in fact it’s pretty poor. The latest stats and trends only demonstrate Native students continue to have difficulty finding success (i.e. graduating high school) in comparison to their peers from different racial backgrounds.
National Congress of American Indians reports that on average, less than 50% of Native students graduate from high school each year in the seven states with the highest percentage of Native students, Washington State is included in that list. Moreover, recent numbers released from local public school districts, such as the Marysville School District and Seattle School District, show their Native student populations only graduating high school at a rate between 43-48%. For reference, the national average for high school student graduation, regardless of race, is 82%, according to recent publications from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Enter Clear Sky, the crown jewel of the Urban Native Education Alliance, a non-profit 501(c)(3), Native-led, grassroots, volunteer-based organization. Clear Sky was founded by urban Native students in Seattle as a youth centered program, serving thousands of Native youth since its inception in 2008.
The marvel of Clear Sky is that since its humble beginning ten years ago, Clear Sky continues to uphold a 100% graduation rate and academic advancement of Native learners who actively participate in its tutoring and mentorship offerings. Read that again, a 100% high school graduation rate for these Native students.
Sustained success via a decade of dedication and mentorship to Native youth is worth celebrating, so on February 27th a 10-year celebration was held for all Clear Sky has achieved and continues to strive for. The location was none other than Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, Seattle’s newest public school named for a beloved Native American educator of the 1980s and ‘90s.
Clear Sky’s decade of dedication celebration featured a host of influential leaders, educators, activists, and former students who spoke about the immensely positive impact Clear Sky makes in the Native community.
“There are many aspects of our ten years I take pride in, given the unconventional model of being the flagship program of our Native-led, non-profit organization Urban Native Education Alliance,” stated UNEA Chairwoman, Sarah Sense-Wilson (Oglala, Sioux). “Clear Sky has flourished, expanded outreach, and has become part of the fabric of our urban Seattle community. The number of alumni students returning back to volunteer and support Clear Sky is astonishing, and a testament to the impact Clear Sky had on their success. These young adults serve as healthy, positive role models for our youth.
“I’m proud of our ongoing 100% graduation and academic advancement of Clear Sky students throughout the many years of our program. The results are a reflection of our organizations core values and the fostering of leadership through academic achievement, civic service and stewardship.”
Shared values of culture and tradition was on full-display as well, through the sharing of drum circles and song. The UNEA women, led by Roxanne White, brought out the Women’s Warrior Song to honor and remember missing and murdering Indigenous women. The A.I.M. song was performed by a group of proud Lakota men, while Roger Fernandes led the young men of the Clear Sky youth council in a Warrior Song.
“Shout out to Clear Sky and UNEA. Seattle’s Native community has an abundance of incredible leadership making this place one where Native kids can flourish,” remarked Matt Remle, local Lakota activist and Native Liaison for the Marysville School District. “To the volunteers of Clear Sky who have showed up day after day, week after week, and year after year, for the sake of our kids…to the founders, past and present board members, staff, tutors, coaches, mentors, teachers, speakers, student leaders and families, thank you and wow!”
Among the student leaders and athletic coaches is Tulalip tribal member, Cullen Zackuse. Cullen is a Clear Sky Co-Coordinator and Native Warrior Athletics basketball coach. He serves as a youth mentor and provides leadership through positive role modeling. Cullen has strong roots and cultural ties with Tulalip and he brings those cultural/traditional values into every interaction with the urban Native youth.
“I took on a formal role with Clear Sky about six months ago so I could work with the youth after school on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sunday, but mostly I coach the basketball team for Native Warrior Athletics,” said Cullen of his leadership role within UNEA and Clear Sky. “Working with tribal kids and teaching them the fundamentals of basketball, coaching them at tournaments is making a difference and creates a positive environment for learning.”
Two other notable guests in attendance for the celebration were Seattle Public School Board Member, Scott Pinkham (Nez Perce), and Seattle City Councilmember, Debora Juarez (Blackfeet). They shared in the festivities, spoke on the importance of Clear Sky, and gave special recognition by way of a City of Seattle official Proclamation declaring it “Seattle Clear Sky Day”.
“The content of the Proclamation addresses several decade long issues UNEA and Clear Sky youth have been addressing through Seattle Public Schools public testimony, rallies, community meetings, documentaries, and countless news media interviews and letters, and petitions,” explained UNEA Chairwoman, Sarah Sense-Wilson. “We plan to share the City of Seattle Proclamation with other youth groups and at various venues to illustrate that the City of Seattle supports our initiatives and our vision as a legitimate voice for Indian Education.”
For more information on the Urban Native Education Alliance and Clear Sky, or to contact about mentorship and tutoring opportunities for the youth, please reach out to Sarah Sense-Wilson by phone at (206) 941-0338 or via email email@example.com
Lushootseed Family Nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays during the month of March.
This 8 class series will focus on canoe terms, dialogue, introductions, speeches and prayers. All ages are welcome, please be sure to RSVP so we can have enough food and materials for all participants.
Family Nights will be held in the Lushootseed Building, located at 7736 36th Ave NW (Old Tulalip Elementary Offices), meeting in the Library.