Blazing a trail for community inclusion

Tulalip tribal members Kelsey Sheldon (center) and Tyler Fryberg (far right) have been selected as students during the Learning Center’s inaugural year.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On the afternoon of Tuesday, September 11, the repurposed Damascus Road Annex in Marysville was home to a warm gathering of inclusive-minded citizens and their families. The occasion? To celebrate the grand opening of the Marysville Tulalip Integrated Learning Center.

The Integrated Learning Center is a post- secondary education center for adults with developmental disabilities who have graduated from Marysville School District. At the Center, students will learn how to ride public transportation, take art classes, and learn the fundamentals of cooking, nutrition, and adaptive fitness. They will have the opportunity to raise their own vegetables and flowers. Also, students will practice reading to animals and develop employable skills at Sky Haven Farm. 

Mayor Jon Nehring and several Eagle Wings disAbility Ministries staff members were on-hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony, marking the official kick-off to a program nearly two years in the making. 

“The Integrated Learning Center has the potential to be a transformative program for the young adults of our community with special needs,” announced Mayor Nehring. “Where they previously had limited opportunities for continued growth, there is not a substantial option right here in Marysville.

“This is the culmination of a lot of dedicated hard work by so many people who have a heart and passion to help these individuals reach their full potential.”

Tulalip tribal members Kelsey Sheldon and Tyler Fryberg were selected as students for the inaugural year of the Integrated Learning Center. 

Kelsey and Tyler will be among the first group of select students to forge lasting connections with the community that will help them establish relationships and increase employment opportunities, while developing health and safety skills. Together they will help establish the foundation for other tribal youth with special needs to develop skills that further their independence and enhance their lives.

An inclusive community with concerned parents, school teachers, key leaders from Tulalip, job coaches and citizens, it is the Integrated Learning Center’s goal to see everyone in our community live a full, independent life.

“A program for individuals with disabilities who have aged out of school, I’m so thankful for everyone who has made this possible,” stated Kelsey’s mother, Amy Sheldon. “It really is a dream come true.”

New backpacks and fresh supplies for the upcoming school year

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Back to school shopping season can be a financially straining time for families everywhere. According to the National Retail Federation, parents will spend over $27 billion on K-12 back-to-school necessities this year. That averages to approximately $700 per child. 

Fortunately, for Tulalip students and families, the annual Tulalip Tribes back-to-school bash reduces those costs by offering free backpacks, school supplies, and even stylish haircuts.

Held on August 22nd, the Don Hatch Youth Center looked like Christmas morning with hundreds of children and their families scurrying excitedly through the bash in order to get first dibs on a variety of fresh, new school supplies. 

“I appreciate the generosity of the Tulalip Tribes for purchasing the amazing backpacks along with all of the supplies that they include, too, for not only my children but all of the children that get to participate,” shared Melody Hatch, mother of three. “I love to see the excitement on the kids’ faces as they get to pick out their cool new backpack, then watch as they put them on to go show off their to their friends.”

“We’re very blessed as a tribe to get these things and to have events like this for our children,” added Winona Shopbell-Fryberg, mother of five. “There are a lot of tribes that don’t get to do this. Thankful to our tribe for always thinking of our youth, and thank you to all who helped with backpack day.”

Some families come further than others in order to attend, including those who arrive hours early in order to ensure their kids get one of only a limited few, highly coveted North Face backpacks. Such is the case with mother Shandra Rude and her five children, ranging from elementary grade to high school.

“We got here over two hours early and were one of the first families through the door,” explained Shandra. “This day is a fun outing that the kids look forward to every summer. They all got the backpack they wanted.”

In total 1,715 backpacks were distributed to Tulalip tribal youth and other Natives enrolled in the Marysville School District. Each backpack was filled with basic school supplies required by grade level. For those students in search of a stylish haircut for their first day of school, the staff of Essential Earth Organic Salon was on-hand offering free haircuts.

“We want our youth, families and community to know how much we value education,” stated Education Coordinator, Jessica Bustad. “We need our parents, families and community to join us in sharing this message with our youth. Your education is important and so is your future as young leaders of this community. 

“Our staff worked really hard on preparing this event, I am grateful for our Tulalip Youth Services team for the dedication to our youth and community. Seeing our youth happy, excited and prepared for back to school reminds us of our purpose here.”

Earlier that morning, the Youth Center held a breakfast social for students with special needs and their families. This allowed the students with disabilities to come socialize together and get their backpack before the large crowd arrived.

The first day of school is Wednesday, September 5th. In celebration of the new school year, there will be a variety of outdoor activities that day at the back-to-school BBQ from 3:00pm – 8:00pm hosted at the Youth Center.

Why study Business Administration?

Submitted by Jeanne Steffener, Tulalip Tribes Higher ED

There are numerous reasons for studying business administration at college. In gaining an understanding of business, you will learn the necessary skills needed to succeed in life while making a major investment in your own future career.

More and more entry-level jobs are now requiring a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university because of a competitive labor market. A business degree will provide you with the skill set that you will need to get your foot in the door. The courses that you be required to study will help you improve and perfect your communication, presentation and writing skills. Business programs are placing a huge focus on teaching students how to think critically, learn to problem solve in innovative and creative ways while managing their time reasonably. 

In earning your four (4) year degree, you will also learn how to deal with ethical issues, interacting with others, exercising leadership skills and working in team situations. This will also help you to adapt to the uncertainties of life. Business courses spend time helping you to develop your interpersonal skills so that you will feel more confident in the workplace. Students learn how to deliver outstanding customer service by developing an understanding of their customer’s needs.

During the time you spend earning your degree, you will meet other students, instructors, and counselors that might be able to contribute to your career growth. These contacts can provide a lifetime of referrals, professional advice, references and networking opportunities, as well as friendships.

This is a good resume building degree. Graduates in this field tend to receive salaries on the higher end of the spectrum. Those who go on to pursue their Master of Business Administration degree(MBA), can expect to see a profitable return on their investment. This degree will be helpful in getting a job in these other industry areas: healthcare, technology, business, finance, social services, marketing, protective services, non-profit agencies, transportation, accounting, human resources management, and management. 

An increasing number of employers are elevating their standards in hiring a candidate with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. There are many reasons for this but one of the major reasons is the skills required for many jobs has increased over time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “professionals with a bachelor’s degree earn about $400 more per week than those with only a high school diploma. Additionally, bachelor degree graduates have 50% more job security”.

Now if you have ever thought of starting your own business, this is the perfect way to gain that knowledge to start your own business. A business degree gives you the basic knowledge in accounting, finance and investment, human resources and marketing, the foundations to any business. Students can test out their own business ideas in class using their plans and strategies in a safe environment. If you do end up working for someone else, employers will be impressed by new and innovative ideas, especially, if they have been tested in a controlled environment.

Business is at the forefront of everything. Money and buying/selling controls much if not all aspects of our life. A business degree will give you an understanding of the global world and market. On a personal level, a business education will contribute greatly to your skills and knowledge necessary to make informed decisions about your own life and how you can better control your own finances.

Business Administration can give you insights into how you can make your life successful. If you are interested in making some sound decisions and finding out how to do this, please call the Higher ED staff at 360-716-4888 or email us at for assistance with this educational path.

Aspiring Native youth make journalism workshop a success

By Micheal Rios

Media, be it print-based, television or on a social media platform, continues to shape the world by dictating public opinion. From words one reads or hears to the images one may be exposed to, the media landscape is never-ending in its pursuit of an audience. Which is why it’s so important to have proper representation in media. 

Aside from portraying our world through a realistic lens, credible and accurate representation in media also allows those belonging in minority and marginalized groups, such as Native Americans, to feel validated for who they are. By being depicted in a positive light and empowered to tell their own stories, Natives can distance themselves from stereotypes and other prejudices, allowing them to gain confidence in themselves, their culture, and the future.

Putting these concepts to practice, the Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA), a non-profit organization based in Seattle, and the Clear Sky Native Youth Council collaborated to create an all-new workshop series dedicated to increasing knowledge and improving critical thinking for high schoolers intent on a career in journalism. Dubbed the Aspiring Journalist Series, the five session process took place over the first three weekends in August. 

“We see the value in providing the opportunity for youth to explore the vast field of journalism and learn the many facets and mediums available to utilize as platforms for having visibility, voice and influence,” explained UNEA elected Chairwoman, Sarah Sense-Wilson (Oglala Sioux). 

“Aspiring Journalist Series inspiration was driven by several converging forces, starting with the current trend in the underrepresentation of Natives in the profession of journalism. Also, we wanted to address the importance of leveraging Native voice in mainstream outlets such as high school papers, radio, blogs, social media, and local papers,” continued Sarah. “We want to raise student consciousness on dominate societies narratives and impact on attitudes, beliefs, and biases towards Native Americans.”

Student consciousness was indeed raised during the series, as nine Native high schoolers were introduced to the journalism field and the tribal role in mass media by a collection of individuals dedicated to telling the stories most important to them and their communities. Series participants toured the University of Washington’s Communications Building, visited The Daily newspaper, and got first-hand knowledge from those who do the job every day. Quality Native and non-Native professionals in the field of journalism served as guest instructors who educated, inspired, and motivated the eager to learn youth.

“I learned that you may not go into your first profession you thought you would be passionate about. You can find something else that you’d enjoy more along the way.”  – Miguel Echo-Hawk Lopez (Pawnee, Athabaskan)

“I thought the part when the instructors explained that people randomly come up to them to share something was interesting because that means people are comfortable sharing things with them.” – Autumn Yellowbear (Kiowa, Northern Arapahoe, Eastern Shoshone)

“Speakers such as Matt Remle, Gyasi Ross, Micheal Rios, and Brian “Red Bone” Frisina, all offered valuable lessons for developing critical thinking as a necessity to empower and challenge youth to upend the mainstream narrative and to raise their visibility using writing, reading and voice for meaningful causes,” added Sarah. “Each presenter shared interesting perspectives, insights and challenges to our youth, which made the trainings engaging, interactive and fun.”

Over the five sessions, students improved their critical thinking, writing, and reading comprehension, while learning to discern fact from opinion. All those skills are vitally important for youth to achieve academic excellence in their pursuit of a steadfast career. Students also learned about newspaper layout, interviewing techniques, research methods, and the roles and responsibilities of publishers, reporters and photojournalists. 

The enthusiasm for journalism and an interest for exploring the Native voice in media was a common theme from each student, especially when the Native journalism professionals took front and center. These professionals provided a Native perspective and critical cultural framework for developing tools and techniques to the vast and diverse field of journalism. Many questions were asked by the students and much truth was shared by the instructors. 

“I’ve learned the positive and negative of people who consider themselves right or wrong, and that it takes action from writers/activists to get accurate information to Native American tribes.” – Nevelen Yellowbear (Northern Arapahoe, Kiowa)

“I learned that Tulalip had its own news coverage. I also found that Tulalip News live streams events for people, such as elders, who can’t make it to events can still watch from home, for free.” – Joanne Sayers (Ojibwa, Nez Perce)

“I learned way more about journalism than what I thought I knew, like the daily roles of being a journalist and how to gain access to specific people and places,” shared workshop participant Josiah Vaomu (Northern Arapaho). “Also, learning about how you would want audiences and readers to feel, so that’s pretty cool. I found it interesting how being a journalist means you can cover multiple and diverse topics, like sports and music.”

  “What stood out most to me was that in journalism you try and reflect a specific message or an emotion in the work, whether that’s in writing or even the pictures you take,” said Logan Lebeau (Cheyenne River Sioux). “I also learned to look at both sides of a story and incorporate all viewpoints into my evaluation.”

“What I learned was that Tulalip was its own newspaper. Also learned about what you have to do to be a successful journalist.” – Timothy Shay (Yakama)

“I learned that journalism is more than just reporting, it’s about informing people about what’s happening in the community.” – Noni Echo-Hawk Lopez (Pawnee, Athabaskan)

“Today, I learned that all family members get updated on events or news from the Tulalip News website and social media platforms. Also, the articles they produce cover both positive and negative topics.” – Taleah Vaomu (Kiowa Apache, Northern Arapaho)

Investing in high school students takes time, commitment, and dedication. The Aspiring Journalist Series encouraged Native high school students to work together to tell the stories that are most important to them and their communities. By using current Native media professionals to interact with and inspire the high schoolers, this workshop series not only broadened horizons, it demonstrated that given the opportunity Native young people can and will perform successfully in the media landscape.

TELA host annual zoo field trip, plans picnic for families

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The Woodland Park Zoo recently welcomed a variety of new animals over the summer including two rhinoceroses, Taj and Glen, as well as baby red panda twins who were born just a month ago. Last year, Lulu the giraffe was born at the zoo and now she is getting ready to leave her parents and move to the Lincoln Children’s Museum in Nebraska. The students of the Betty J. Early Learning Academy (TELA) were there to witness some of Lulu’s first steps during last summer’s annual zoo trip, which made this year’s trip all the more special as they got to visit with her once more before her new journey as well as welcome all of the new animals to the zoo. 

The students woke early on August 16, and along with their families, met the academy’s teachers and staff at the bear gate at 8:00 a.m. for a fun day at the zoo. The kids excitedly observed the penguins upon entry, watching them swim through the waters of their exhibit. The families had their choice of visiting the Northern Trail with brown bears, elk and wolves; Australia with emus and wallaroos; Tropical Asia with rhinos, tigers and orangutans; African Savanna with lions, zebras and giraffes; Temperate Forest with red pandas, flamingos and bug world; or the Tropical Rain Forest with jaguars, lemurs and monkeys. After a few hours of exploring, the families gathered at the North Meadow, located next to the zoo’s historic carousel. 

“We secured half of the north meadow for our program,” says  Katrina Lanes, TELA Family and Community Engagement Coordinator. “It’s been a really good thing because everybody’s been able to spread out and picnic and be together. There’s face painting and also an animal encounter. It’s a lot of fun. We’ve been going to the zoo for eight years now and this is the first year we planned the picnic for our families and they seem to enjoy it. I think the reason we continue to come back to the zoo is because everyone looks forward to it, they’re always asking when’s the next zoo trip.”

Tulalip community members got a chance to catch up while enjoying lunch at the North Meadow. TELA provided box lunches with sandwiches, chips, apples and cookies. With freshly painted faces, the students followed two potbelly pigs throughout the park, asking their zookeepers many questions while being careful not to pet or frighten the pigs. After the animal encounter, the students and their families visited the rest of the animals at the zoo before heading home.

This year’s trip to the Woodland Park Zoo was both a fun and educational experience for the students. The kids spent quality time with their families and friends while learning about different mammals, insects, reptiles and birds and the type of climate in which they live. 

 “I had a lot of fun today,” expressed young Gabriel Ahlberg. “I saw all of the animals – a bear, komodo dragon, the baby giraffe, monkeys, snakes and birds. The komodo dragon was the coolest one of them all, it looked like a big green lizard!”

EPIC Basketball Camp more than just hoops

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

A one-of-a-kind basketball camp was offered to the youth of the Tulalip Community during the week of August 13-17. The camp was brought together by a team led by Sharmane Joseph and Tulalip Community Health, with help from Tulalip Youth Services and the Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention Program. The camp taught local kids the fundamentals of the game and brought a number of guest speakers to talk with the youth about growing up Indigenous.

“It’s called EPIC Basketball Camp and stands for Explore, Pursue, Invest and Challenge,” says Sharmane. “It’s our first year and I’m part of the Community Health department and we wanted to show the community that we don’t work with just one age, we work with the entire community and we’re here for everyone. The first day we had about eighty-one participants and we opened it up at the Boys and Girls Club for the kids who don’t get to come to the youth center.”

During morning drills, the kids worked on their ball handling skills and their shooting techniques. The kids also listened to many keynote speakers throughout the week including Native American rapper Sten Joddi of Tattoo Muzik Group, Native Comedian Mylo Smith Jr. as well as Dereck Stonefish and the Reawakening Warriors and Patty Stonefish of the Arming Sisters group. 

“The kids learn about a variety of things from the guest speakers,” Sharmane explains. “Like Sten, he taught about cultural identity; Patty Stonefish taught self-defense; Dereck Stonefish and the Reawakening Warriors talked about the different things the men go through with abuse and connecting with each other; and Ryneldi Becenti, the first Native American woman to get drafted in the WNBA, had an amazing story about never giving up and building family support.”

Since the camp was split into two different groups, one at the Boys and Girls Club courts and the other at the Greg Williams court, Ryneldi instructed the kids at the youth center while Randy July Jr. ran his Elevate Your Game basketball camp at the Club. Randy had an impressive ball career at Haskell University with potential to play at a professional level. Randy went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft but continued his journey with basketball by bringing both his experience and message to kids on reservations across the entire country. Ryneldi is in the same line of work and played professionally for the WNBA team Phoenix Mercury in 1997. 

“I’ve been here all week,” says Ryneldi. “I travel to all different reservations and do youth work. I enjoyed my time here in Tulalip. The kids were great, we did a lot of passing, dribbling, shooting drills, footwork and agility moves and then we scrimmaged in the afternoon. It’s been a lot of fun.”

After a week of basketball and motivational speeches, the kids received their own basketball designed with Coast Salish art by the Native American company, Trickster.

“I live in Everett and I love basketball,” says young camper Junior Parrish. “I learned a few new tricks on how to get my hops up. The speaker who stood out to me the most was the lady that taught us about self-protection. Learning about self-defense is really important and I think I could use that in real life. Every morning we’d run a few drills first and then we’d have some fun scrimmaging and playing king of the court later in the day. It was definitely a lot fun and felt good to get some runs in.”

Youth create LEGO robots during STEM week

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Located behind the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club, a group of young Tulalip summer school students occupied one classroom in each of the three Tulalip Education Department buildings during the week of August 6– 10. Separated by age, the kids intently worked behind laptops as they constructed a series of robots, programing them to move and perform tasks. The youth had so much fun in fact, they got lost in the LEGO robotics software and forgot they were in summer school learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

After two successful years of STEM ROBOTICS week, the Tutoring and Homework Support Program of the Education Department once again reached out to Kathy Collier and her team at to bring the fun, hands-on learning experience to the students of the summer school.

“They don’t even realize they’re inventing,” says Kathy. “They are taking part in what is called upper-level critical thinking but they’re having fun. They’ve learned two different physics principals this week and had a blast with it.”

The students are split into three groups based on which grade they will be entering at the beginning of the school year; kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grade and sixth through twelfth grade. The students began each day with a new science experiment and assembled their bots in the afternoon. 

“K through second graders are doing science experiments in inertia, centrifugal force, momentum, stored energy and they use the Lego WeDo Robots,” explains Kathy. “They are doing simple coding, they can actually explain to you the function of each LEGO piece, interpreting the software language at a kid level. The third through fifth grade kids are using the EV3 Robots, that’s the latest version of LEGO robots, which is actually being used at MIT. First year college students in engineering have a course where they explore all kinds of principals using the EV3 robot. It’s a very sophisticated little machine. And the sixth through twelfth are teaching their robots. They built a custom obstacle course and have to program the robots to make a decision at each turn like forward, right or left.”

Through a set of commands on their laptop, the kids are able to control their bots. While the older kids created one spider-bot that they worked with throughout the week, coding it to make directional choices, both younger groups assembled a number of robots. The youngest group built lions, monkeys and airplane robots and the third through fifth grade students invented both rolling EV3 robots as well as a dog robot. 

 “This entire week we’ve made a bunch of different little LEGO robots and took them apart because that was our practice for programing, it’s been a lot of fun,” said Alexis Bowen while putting the finishing touches on her bot.

“We learned how to build robots!” young Jala Jimenez enthusiastically expressed. “The airplane one was fun. We put the human LEGO in it and made the propeller spin. We did a lion yesterday, that was the most fun. I learned how to make it move on the computer, it was good and easy. Oh and you can record your own sounds like a roar for your lion. After the lion we built a drumming monkey and he drummed on some cups.”

Tulalip Youth Employment worker, Quintin Yon-Wagner, attended the camp to assist the team during STEM week. Quintin, who will be a freshman this year, also built a spider-bot and used it to race his fellow peers through an obstacle course comprised of text books and wastebaskets. 

“This past week has been amazing because we’ve learned so much,” states Quintin. “Starting with programming the computer and learning how the Bluetooth connects with the robots that we made out of LEGOS. The building process takes some time but the benefits that the students take away and how much you learn about programing is amazing. But this isn’t just about programming, it expands on different, new ideas like artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“My favorite part has been building my robot and programming it to move its way through an obstacle course, knowing where and when to turn at the exact time and angle,” he continues. “We actually got it through a huge obstacle course and it was a huge accomplishment. I’ve made great friends and connections this week. This all can help you get different types of jobs or into a good college. Learning about STEM can ultimately lead to a new career path for your future.”

For additional details please contact the Tulalip Tutoring and Homework Support Program at (360) 716-4646.

TELA students receive first diploma during Moving Up ceremony

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Family members gathered in the lobby of the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy to cheer on their kids as they completed the very first phase in their educational journey. On August 14, forty-two students graduated from the Early Head Start birth to three program and took a symbolic walk across a mini podium as they moved up from the Early Head Start side of the Academy to the Montessori and ECEAP side of the building.

The kids received certificates for completing Early Head Start along with cedar-carved pendant necklaces. Many of the students have been enrolled in the program since infancy and are ready to expand their knowledge as well as see what the big kids have been up to in Montessori. 

“My son will be going into Montessori, leaving the birth to three program,” says parent and Early Head Start teacher, Teresa Frane. “He’s been in the program since he was six-weeks old, he started right away. It’s been very emotional but very exciting at the same time watching him go through the whole Early Head Start process. My son has grown into this amazing little man because of Early Head Start. I especially love the cultural aspect because they do a lot of the drumming and get to learn about the canoes and the salmon. It was a very emotional day; I’m excited to see what the next two years brings him through this academy.”