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!

The Return of the King: Tulalip Celebrates Annual Salmon Ceremony

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Tulalip Tribal members, dressed in traditional Coast Salish regalia, gathered at the longhouse overlooking Tulalip Bay on Saturday June 17, to welcome the return of the first king salmon to the community. The ceremony had an incredible turnout as hundreds of tribal members were in attendance, both performing and witnessing the ceremony. Tribal members from other nations also traveled to observe the ceremony including Natives from Nez Pierce, Colville, Lummi, Nuu-chah-nulth, Spokane and Yakima.

“We want to thank our elders, our ancestors and our community,” stated Tulalip Chairwoman Marie Zackuse. “I want to thank everyone of you for being here today to honor our culture and carry out our teachings. Harriet Shelton Dover laid the foundation a long time ago, so that this ceremony would not be forgotten. It’s so beautiful to see all our young people here today, all our young men and young ladies. Thank you Glen [Gobin], Scho-Hallem [Stan Jones Sr.] and Bernie ‘Kai-Kai’ Gobin for carrying on that teaching, it is so important to our people. Today as we honor our yubec coming, we thank everyone for participating in this ceremony because it is an honor to be one, as a people.”

Often referred to as the visitor, the first salmon of the fishing season is honored with a blessing by means of traditional song and dance. The visitor is brought ashore in a traditional canoe as the Tribe offers a welcoming song. Tribal members continue to sing as the visitor is transported to the longhouse, on a bed of cedar branches, where the festivities continue including a blessing for the tribal fisherman, to ensure safety and a good season.

The ceremony moves to the Don Hatch Youth Center, where a feast takes place. Once the feast concludes, the visitor’s remains are sent to the water, on the bed of branches, to return to its community to tell the salmon people of Tulalip’s hospitality. Many salmon will then navigate to Tulalip’s waters throughout the season, because of the honor and respect shown to the visitor during the ceremony.

This year Tulalip honored ceremony leader, Glen Gobin, with a paddle for all of his hard work throughout the years. During the ceremony Glen spoke to the youth of the community about the importance of carrying on traditions and protecting the environment for future generations. He also spoke about the revival of the Salmon Ceremony after the assimilation era.

“Through the boarding school years after the treaty, many things were lost. When the boarding schools came in, the people were prevented from speaking the language or practicing our culture and traditions,” explained Glen. “What’s left is from a handful of elders who kind of went underground, practicing in their own different ways, keeping it alive until it was the time to bring it back out. We may not do it exactly how it was done 200 years ago, but we do it the best we can with what we have left. If we do that with pure intentions, the real intent to believe in what we are doing, then the elders on the other side will respect that and take it as such.

“Before we revived the Salmon Ceremony in 1976, whenever we caught that first salmon, it was always a family thing,” Glen continued. “Always a family salmon bake, we’d get everybody together and share the blessing. It wasn’t until ’76 that we put everything together. That’s where those teachings come from. What we thought was almost lost, was actually being done individually – as a family. Today we’re doing it as a people, as a tribe, as a community; honoring and respecting our visitor.”

 

Schack Art Center Features Haida Art

Article and photos by Kalvin Valdillez

The National Basketry Organization (NBO) is a non-profit organization consisting of basket-makers, collectors, art gallery owners, students, schools and museums. Members from the organization recently traveled to the Northwest for a basketry conference held in Tacoma.

Fiber Artist, Jan Hopkins, wanted to host a Native American art gala at her home in Everett, for the NBO. Unfortunately, due to conflicting times, NBO members informed Jan that they would be unable to attend her event. The organization, however, originally scheduled time to tour Everett’s Schack Art Center, where Jan’s husband, Chris, frequently showcases his paintings. Jan contacted art collectors John Price and Nancy Kovalik as well as Haida Master Weaver, Lisa Telford, to see if they were interested in showcasing their Haida art collections at the Schack for the NBO.

With the art collectors and Lisa on board, the Art Center allowed Jan to guest curate Courtesy of: Extraordinary Basketry, Textiles and Sculptures from the Northwest Collections. The exhibit features paintings, carvings and weavings created by Haida artists Delores Churchill, Isabelle Rorick and Evelyn Vanderhoop – to name a few.

Lisa, who also works for the Tulalip TERO program, is a world renowned Haida Weaver. Her works are featured in museums nationwide including exhibits at the Burke Museum in Seattle, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

“[Weaving] is my thread to sanity,” states Lisa. “When my older brother passed, the first person in my family to pass away that affected me, I didn’t weave for about six months. When I started weaving again, I went to work on Monday and everybody asked ‘what happened to you’ and when I said nothing, they said ‘yeah, something life changing happened to you this weekend because you’re glowing.’ I feel like it keeps me grounded and it makes me happy, so I just say it’s my thread to sanity, when I do it I’m happy, I don’t know how else to say it.”

“I come from a family of weavers; everybody wove,” continued Lisa. “My grandmother wanted to teach me when I was thirteen, but when you’re thirteen you’re too busy running around to settle down. My grandmother sat me down and said ‘I want to show you something,’ and I said ‘I don’t have time for that.’ I always regretted that. After she passed away, I moved to Washington and joined a dance group and I wore her hat. People would ask ‘where’d you get that hat?’ and when I said my grandma, they asked ‘can she could make any more?’ That’s what made me start weaving. I realized that I took it all for granted. I told my mom and she called my auntie and shortly after that I started apprenticing for my aunt Dolores.”

Lisa created six weavings for the exhibit. Her art submissions include a big spoon basket, a traditional hat, two small baskets as well as two pairs of cedar high heel shoes.

“I think it was probably in 1999, this fellow from the Heard Museum asked me if I would give a pair of shoes for this show called Sole Stories,” explains Lisa.

After trial and error, she created a pair of high heels, using BBs and a dress weight to shape the shoes. When submitting the shoes, the museum was shocked by her invention.

“I brought them to the show, the guy goes ‘Oh my God! I didn’t know you were going to make a pair of shoes. I didn’t even know that was possible! I meant a pair of your personal shoes.’ Now people keep wanting the shoes, even after I say I’m done with it. Every time I think I’m done, they pull me back in,” she states.

Many of the works that were provided by the art collectors, were weaved by Lisa’s family members.

“It really could be called my family’s show because the person who wove the tunic was my cousin Evelyn, the person who wove the canoe cape was my cousin Holly and the person who wove the robe was my aunt Dolores,” Lisa exclaimed.

The Courtesy of: Extraordinary Basketry, Textiles and Sculptures from the Northwest Collections exhibit is featured until July 29 at the Schack Art Center., 2921 Hoyt Ave, Everett, WA 98201. For additional information, please visit www.Schack.org

Cedar bark harvest

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News. Photos courtesy of Ross Fenton & Natosha Gobin

Over the weekend of June 10, the Tulalip Tribes membership was once again presented with the opportunity to participate in the cultural upbringings of their ancestors; specifically by journeying into their ancestral woodlands and using traditional methods to pull, gather, and harvest cedar.

Led by Forestry staff from Tulalip’s Natural Resources Department (NRD), participating tribal members ventured into the 10,000-acre Reiter Foothills State Forest located in Snohomish County 30-miles east of Everett, between Gold Bar and Index.

The annual cedar harvest showcases a partnership between several agencies working as a team to coordinate this culturally significant opportunity. The Tulalip Natural Resource’s Timber, Fish, and Wildlife Program generally arranges a cedar harvesting site for the upcoming season by utilizing existing relationships with off-reservation landowners and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

“The relationships Tulalip Natural and Cultural Resources has nurtured over the years with outside agencies for cultural cedar bark gathering continues to go exceptionally well. For tribal members who base their household incomes on products they make from cedar bark, it’s crucial to maintain these positive relations,” explains Ross Fenton, Forestry Technician II. “This year, it was requested that only 1/3 of the cedar tree diameter be pulled in order to allow them to remain alive; this is how it was done traditionally in the past. The tribal members understand this, and respected the request.”

“There were many Tulalip tribal participants this year of all ages, it is great watching experienced bark pullers teach the future generations,” continues Ross, who was one of the Tulalip Forestry staff members on-site over the weekend. “Some tribal members traveled from as far as Hawaii to reunite with their Tulalip family to pull cedar bark. It’s a cultural activity membership truly yearns for.”

Ancestors of Western Washington tribes relied on cedar bark as a resource for making items for everyday use. Today, tribal members continue harvesting and teaching the handicraft to the next generation by making traditional items such as baskets, hats, regalia and tools.

Master weavers, elders, and youth alike all echo the very same cedar harvesting technique employed by their ancestors. With a small ax and carving knife, they skillfully remove strips of bark from designated cedar trees. They then shave off a small section of the rough bark, revealing a smooth tan inner layer. After harvest, the cedar strips are typically laid out to dry for a year before being made into baskets and hats or used in regalia.

Many Tulalip youth participated in the two-day cedar harvesting event, gathering strips for elders and learning techniques of separating the smooth inner bark from the rough outer bark. For some, this was their first trip to gather cedar.

Lushootseed teacher Natosha Gobin was one of the cultural leaders who made it a priority to pass on the teachings of cedar harvesting. She guided five first-time cedar gatherers whose energetic spirts and eagerness to learn made for a memorable experience. Kylee Sohappy, Martelle Richwine, Kane Hots, Oceana Alday, and Xerxes Myles-Gilford were among those first-time gatherers receiving instructional guidance while offering their support to stock pile cedar for future projects.

“Any opportunity for our community as a whole to learn our culture is important,” says Natosha. “Each time we have a cedar gathering opener, community members who wish to learn how to gather are encouraged to participate. Our Lushootseed department uses the cedar to make roses for funerals and for weaving projects taught in classes and at Language camp. We had asked if any volunteers wanted to join us this year and these youth stepped up to help us out. It is up to us to reach out to our youth and encourage them to learn these types of teachings for the survival of our culture.”

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.”

Tulalip Hosts 8th Annual Stick Game Tournament

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Slahal is a well-known gambling game played amongst Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest coast. Known by a variety of names such as hand game, bone game and stick game, Slahal has been used since time immemorial by Native American ancestors to settle a multitude of disputes including the rights to hunting and fishing territories. In many Northwest Native American communities it is believed that Slahal was gifted from the animals as a means to prevent war and unite the Coast Salish tribes.

Each year, the Tulalip Tribes hosts a weekend-long stick-game tournament at the Tulalip Amphitheater, located north of the Tulalip Resort and Casino. Coast Salish families’ journey, some from as far British Columbia, to join in on the festivities and for the opportunity to win cash prizes.

Gameplay requires two opposing teams, consisting of three to five players, to face each other. Salhal game pieces include two pairs of bones, one pair decorated with beaded stripes, as well as a set of sticks, used to keep score. The bones are separated amongst the players and the opposing team has to correctly guess where the beaded bones are. Traditional songs are performed while the team discreetly shuffles the game pieces between players, as a means of distraction.

This year, the 8th Annual Tulalip Tribes Stick Game Tournament was held Friday June 2 through Sunday June 4 and featured a total weekend payout of $63,000. Over one hundred and seventeen teams competed for a chance to win the grand prize of $50,000. Stick games promote positive lifestyle choices as the event is drug and alcohol-free. The tournament is open to all ages, providing the opportunity for multi-generational families to learn, share and enjoy the traditional game of Slahal.

Pow Wow Honors Veterans of Native America

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

During the first weekend of June, the Tulalip Tribes hosted the 26th Annual Veterans Pow Wow. The event, located at the Greg Williams Court, attracted a considerable amount of traditional singers and dancers as well as hundreds of onlookers.

Draped in traditional and vibrant regalia, the dancers took to the floor to celebrate Native American culture, while over fifteen drum circles provided the beats throughout the weekend. The bleachers of the gym were overflowing as attendees witnessed various tribal members gather, from across the nation, to honor the Veterans of Native America.

Master of Ceremonies, Vince Beyl, worked alongside Arena Director, Anthony Bluehorse, during the drug and alcohol-free event. Numerous vendors were stationed outside of the gym, selling an array of goods including art, clothing, jewelry, beaded regalia, Pendleton blankets and traditional foods such as frybread and Indian tacos.

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World

Poster image of RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana, an official selection of the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The contributions of Native Americans in modern music (from Link Wray to Robbie Robertson, Charley Patton to Buffy Sainte-Marie) got a much-deserved showcase at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) premiere of Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World. A celebratory documentary uncovering the indigenous influence on American music history, Rumble was received by an energetic crowd at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre on Friday, May 16.

“First off, let us recognize we are on the land of indigenous peoples, the Coast Salish people,” stated Tracy Rector (Seminole/Choctaw), SIFF Program Director and Native activist as she introduced the film. “Tonight is a celebration of indigenous art, indigenous musicians, and our community.”

From Charley Patton and Mildred Bailey to Link Wray and Jimi Hendrix; from Jesse Ed Davis and Buffy-Sainte Marie to Robbie Robertson and Randy Castillo, the contributions of Native Americans to the soundtrack of popular culture music are as undeniable as they are underreported. The Indigenous influence spans nearly all the musical genres like blues, jazz, pop, rock and heavy metal.

In the celebratory exposé Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, director Catherine Bainbridge takes us through a rollercoaster of fantastic music and wide-ranging interviews – Martin Scorsese and Taj Mahal rub shoulders with Pat Vegas and late poet John Trudell – while never losing sight of the politically precarious place indigenous persons hold in America’s troubled history, a history in which Native culture has been systematically silenced.

“There was this key express: be proud you’re an Indian, but be careful who you tell,” says Robertson (Mohawk), best known for his work as lead guitarist for The Band, recounting advice he once received. Loud, lively, and endlessly illuminating, Rumble is as powerful as the 1958 Link Wray song it’s named after, one of the rare instrumental tracks banned from radio airwaves since it supposedly “glorified juvenile delinquency.”*

Film producers Lisa Roth and Ernest Webb attend the SIFF premier of their documentary Rumble.

“People don’t understand nor realize that there was a Native contribution and influence, an intermingling of cultures from so long that helped shape the early sounds of many musical genres,” says Producer Lisa Roth on the film’s vision to entertain while educating the public. “This isn’t commonly known because at the time [the U.S. government] was attempting to erase Native culture, essentially. We know this is a lot of information to take in and absorb. I’ve been approached by many Native people after viewing the film who tell me, ‘I learned something that I should have known and I didn’t. Thank you for that.’”

“We don’t want to take anything away from anybody, it’s just that we want to add to the story. We want the contributions of Native musicians and artists who helped shape music recognized in the history,” adds Executive Producer Ernest Webb (Cree). “Just because we hid, they thought we had disappeared. A lot of our people and culture was forced to go underground in order to survive. Presently, a lot of our ceremonies and traditional ways are coming back.

We’re in a new age, especially with successful music groups like A Tribe Called Red. We don’t need to hide who we are anymore. With the new and young generation coming up I’m hopeful our culture will continue to grow and thrive on the foundation our ancestors provided.”

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World will be wide-released to select theaters in the Seattle area later this Summer.

To view the Rumble trailer you can visit http://rezolutionpictures.com/portfolio_page/rumble/

*Source: Rumble press material provided by Seattle International Film Festival