Annual Color Run celebrates life

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Three years ago, Tulalip Youth Services and the Marysville School District teamed up to bring Unity Month to the community during the month of October. Jam-packed with exciting activities like movie nights, field trips to the corn maze and the pumpkin patch, school assemblies and pumpkin carving, Unity Month successfully sparked a lot of community involvement which afforded Youth Services the opportunity to talk about serious issues that are prevalent in many modern day Native communities. 

Youth Services and the school district decided to plan each week of the month with trainings and presentations focused on four issues that the youth of Native America are struggling with in today’s society; suicide, bullying domestic violence and substance abuse. Due to tremendous success, Tulalip Youth Services continues to celebrate Unity Month annually, adding new improvements each year. 

While spreading awareness and providing prevention tools for serious topics, Youth Services also brings a positive outlook to each of these issues by celebrating life, promoting kindness and healthy relationships as well as participating in National Red Ribbon Week, an alcohol, drug and violence prevention campaign. With each week comes a new trendy hashtag for participants to use when posting photos and videos to social media while attending Unity Month events. 

This October began with #LifeisSacred week, kids learned that their lives matter and that they’re needed here by their families and friends. Youth Services partnered once again with the Community Health Department to bring QPR trainings to the community. QPR is an acronym for question, persuade and refer, the three actions you must take if someone is showing suicidal tendencies. Question if they are planning to harm themselves, persuade them to seek help and refer them to the appropriate resource. The class also teaches participants how to recognize the warning signs a person contemplating suicide may be exemplifying. Tulalip leader, Verna Hill, also spoke to the kids at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary about how sacred they are to the future of Tulalip. 

The suicide rate continues to escalate throughout Native communities every year. Eighteen states agreed to participate in a report conducted by the United States Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That report showed that there are 21.5 suicides per every 1,000 Native Americans, over three and a half times higher than the national average. And according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the US with 45,965 suicides each year. Suicide is also the eighth leading cause of death in the state of Washington where on average one person dies by suicie every eight hours. Native communities see significantly more lives taken by suicide than any other race in America which is why it’s important to openly discuss this issue, especially with the youth. 

Tulalip Youth Services ended #LifeisSacred week in colorful fashion with the extremely popular annual Say Something Color Run. A little rain didn’t stop the community from showing out and ending their Friday with a mile run from the Tulalip Community Health Department to the Kenny Moses Building on the afternoon of October 5. With stylish, protective eyewear and clothes they didn’t mind getting dirty, the community ran through multiple checkpoints along Marine Drive where they were blasted with colorful chalk, resulting in tie-dyed runners reaching the finish line. 

“It’s a fun time to celebrate living and it’s for a good cause,” says Tulalip Youth Services Executive Assistant, Danielle Fryberg. “The Say Something Color Run is part of the Sandy Hook Promise, which is preventing gun violence, suicide and just bringing awareness. If you know someone whose struggling, we ask that you speak up and say something, even if you’re just reaching out to say hello. We want to help our community, our youth and adults who are struggling and let them know there’s always somewhere they can go and someone they can talk to.”

Youth Services has more fun, educational events planned for the Tulalip community for the remainder of Unity Month, including cultural events each week and Halloween-inspired activities. To view the entire Unity Month events and activities schedule, be sure to check out the Tulalip Youth Services Facebook page.

 

Tulalip Coastal Jam honors Indigenous People

“To me, Indigenous means being proud of who you are and where you come from; remembering your ancestry and all that they’ve done to get us to where we are right now; and to educate our youth to be strong as Native People and to love themselves so our culture and traditions stay alive.” 

– Denise Hatch-Anderson, Tulalip tribal member

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

For the past four years, the greater Seattle area has been celebrating the beautiful culture of the people who lived off of this land since time immemorial. Every second Monday in Octber, communities throughout western Washington host a variety of events to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which officially replaced Columbus Day back in 2014. Indigenous Peoples’ Day aims to provide Washingtonians with accurate information about the series of events that occurred after Columbus reached our lands in 1492. Many communities nationwide have joined Seattle and now celebrate Indigenous culture every year. 

To start off the second week of Tulalip Unity Month, #KindnessWeek, Youth Services hosted a cultural gathering at the Greg Williams Court on the evening of Indigenous Peoples Day. The gym was packed and the bleachers were filled as people waited in anticipation for the festivities to begin. The youth proudly led Tulalip to the floor with loud drumbeats and booming chants in a song paying respect to the four directions. It didn’t take long for the spectators to become participants as the bleachers emptied and people joined Tulalip on the floor for a large coastal jam. 

“Today I’m happy to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. That whole Christopher Columbus Day, we don’t recognize that,” says Tulalip tribal member and Tulalip Youth Services Activities Coordinator, Josh Fryberg. “The main thing is we want to honor our ancestors and make them proud and continue to set a cultural path, continue on with our treaty rights for the future generations to come. And we want to encourage the youth to continue to learn your culture each and every day and continue to fight for it so that it’s here for the future generations. Tonight, I believe we have Puyallup, Lummi, Swinomish and some from Canada, just a good mix of many tribes. We’re blessed, it shows the unity within all of our tribes and all of our bands.”

Native families created a circle around the gym and took turns performing their traditional songs and dances. A few songs were known to all of the coastal families in which more dancers hit the floor and the words were sung at a much louder volume by the entire crowd, causing that goosebump sensation during a beautiful moment for the culture. The youth ruled the night. Kids of all ages, infants to teens, sang their hearts out and danced all evening. After performing a song, the Tulalip youth put down their drums and rattles and joined the dancers on the floor until it was their turn to sing again, repeating this cycle for over two hours.

“It makes me feel good, it makes my heart warm because this is something that we needed,” says Tulalip tribal member and Marysville School District Native Liaison, Denise Hatch-Anderson. “October is always hard for our youth, not just because of the change in seasons but because of what happened four years ago. October has been a hard transition for our teens ever since. To see our teens here, knowing they’re going to get the healing they need from the songs tonight warms my heart and it’s going to uplift them as well as our tiny ones and our elders.”

Tulalip Youth Services will continue hosting a variety of activities throughout October for Unity Month including many fun autumn themed events that bring attention to issues such as bullying, domestic violence and substance abuse. For more information, please visit the Tulalip Youth Services Facebook page.

 

Celebrating Indigenous People

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On the second Monday of October 2014, Seattle became the third place in the United States to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The process to end the celebration of a genocidal, slave trading, lost navigator was strenuous, but thanks to tireless work by activists like Matt Remle and many others, the proclamation was voted on by the Seattle City Council and signed into law by Mayor Ed Murray in 2013.

“People ask, ‘Why Indigenous Peoples Day and why not American Indian Day or Native American Day?’ It’s only appropriate that we honor the legacy of the work [that’s been done],” explains Remle. “It’s not only honoring legacy, but when we say ‘Indigenous peoples,’ it’s referring to more than just the tribes of colonized United States. We’re talking about all Indigenous peoples who’ve been impacted by settler colonialism around the world. We want to represent and acknowledge the Taíno, they’re the ones that first faced Columbus.”

Over the past four years, the Indigenous Peoples’ Day movement has spread to over 70 places in the United States, while locally becoming a day to celebrate global Indigenous cultures. On Monday, October 8, Indigenous people and allies from around the Pacific Northwest gathered at Westlake Park, on ancestral Duwamish land, for a march and rally to celebrate the 5th year Seattle has celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day. More than 200 people marched in heavy rain from Westlake Park to Seattle City Hall, where a rally of celebratory song and dance was held. 

In the evening, the festivities continued at Daybreak Star Cultural Center with an honoring celebration for Native communities in the Puget Sound Region. Sponsored by Tulalip Tribes community impact funds, the Daybreak Star gathering included hundreds of urban Natives, dancers from a variety of tribal nations, and non-Natives who wanted to share in the memorable event.

“When we have an honoring gathering in our community, it is a way for us to show respect, to listen, and to acknowledge the incredible work our people do for one reason and one reason only – the love of Native people,” said Abigail Echo-Hawk, emcee for the Daybreak Star celebration. 

The American Indian Movement (AIM) honor song kicked off the evening, followed by Taíno dancers, and then a riveting performance by Indigenous Sisters Resistance. After a short intermission, a truly captivating fire ritual was performed by the Traditional Aztec Fire Dancers. The overflowing crowd was treated to performances by Haida Heritage and a powwow squad as the evening’s finale. 

“It’s been a beautiful day to see so many Indigenous people come together and be filled with so much joy,” shared 19-year-old Ayanna Fuentes, a member of Indigenous Sisters Resistance. “Our younger generation is growing up not knowing what Columbus Day is, and that’s an amazing thing.”

“It’s also a celebration of the amazing resiliency of Indigenous peoples, period,” added educator and activist Matt Remle. “Despite the Euro colonizers greatest efforts at mass genocide, disposition, slavery, and assimilation, we as Native peoples are still here. Native communities continue to fight to protect the land, air, and waters. We continue to live traditional roles and responsibilities, which have been passed down from our origins as a peoples since the beginning of creation. We continue to sing our songs, relearn our languages and express ourselves through our dances and cultures.”

A variety of States, cities, towns, counties, community groups, schools, and other institutions observed Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 8th. They all did so with activities that raised awareness of the rich history, culture, and traditions of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. 

Tulalip Pride Walk celebrates LGBTQ community

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The Tulalip Youth Council hosted the very first Pride Walk in the Tulalip-Marysville community on September 29. Over one-hundred citizens gathered at the Francis J. Sheldon Gymnasium to celebrate and show love and support to the LGBTQ community. As people began to arrive, a group of youngsters raised a rainbow colored flag on the pole located outside the gym. Meanwhile on the inside, participants constructed a number of signs that read messages such as Love Wins and Love is Love.  

Participants began their two-mile trek from the gym to the four-way intersection located in front of the Tulalip Bingo Hall and Quil Ceda Village administration. With miniature pride flags and their posters proudly displayed overhead, the community members were met with an overwhelming response from local drivers on their daily commute, who emphatically honked their horns as they passed the crowd. Tribal members and local leaders showcased large smiles during the walk, happy to support their two-spirited loved ones. 

“This is important and it’s been a long time coming,” says Tulalip Youth Services Education Coordinator, Jessica Bustad. “September is back to school time and a lot of students who identify as LGBTQ feel uncomfortable and wonder if people are going to judge them. So the Youth Council wanted to show their support to their peers in the school system and show that they should feel safe and respected. I feel like there are a lot of people who are still stuck with their judgments against the LGTBQ community, so we want to show our support for those students and community members. It’s needed to prevent depression, suicide, bullying. If the community and everyone sees we’re in support of it, hopefully more people will start to show support too.”

Jessica explained that the Youth Council was inspired to begin the Pride Walk back in June during national pride month. Thanks to a few months of planning and organizing, the walk was a great success. A large turnout of youth showed that this is an important issue amongst the future generations as they continue to build each other up and encourage their friends to be who they are.

The Seattle Clear Sky Native Youth Council of the Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA) traveled north to show solidarity with the Tulalip Youth Council and the LGBTQ community. The Clear Sky Youth Council previously wrote a resolution in support of two-spirited individuals and wants to continue offering that support at marches and rallies. 

“We just wanted to come and show our support,” says Clear Sky Youth Council member, Asia Gellein. “I really like seeing everyone come together to support the LGBTQ Natives, it’s heartwarming seeing all this love for our two-spirited brothers and sisters.”

After the walk, the community met once again in the gym. This time, however, the walkers enjoyed pizza and good conversation before participating in a jam session to close out what may go down as a historic day for the Tulalip and Marysville community.

“What inspired me to do this was my own personal experience, being two-spirited, and how I was treated not only by strangers but my own family,” says Tulalip Youth Council member, Elizabeth Edelman. “It’s important to bring the community together and raise awareness because I know a lot of two-spirited people out here who struggle in school and fitting in with society, so I think raising awareness is the thing to do for our youth. I thought it was a successful day and I’m really thankful people showed up on their own time to help raise awareness. Bringing the young ones together, teaching them what this is all about is important. There were a lot of cool people here today, it was very inspiring and I’m so thankful for it.”

The Tulalip Youth Council looks to continue the Pride Walk annually, but wishes to make the event coincide with national pride month in June. For further details, please contact Tulalip Youth Services at (360) 716-4909.

TERO grads join forces with Snohomish County Public Works to benefit salmon recovery

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Salmon habitat restoration, honoring treaty rights, and tribal members showcasing successful employment within the construction trades are themes currently in action at an on-reservation construction project. Heavy construction equipment has owned Marine Drive between 19th Ave NE and 23rd Ave NE since September 10, while Snohomish County Public Works replaces a poorly conditioned culvert with one that is fish-friendly by design.

A culvert is basically an underground pipe that allows water to pass beneath roads and other obstructions. The Marine Drive culvert carries water flow from Hibulb Creek to the Snohomish River estuary, which is a fish bearing stream. 

According to Snohomish County officials, the existing 24-inch corrugated metal culvert under Marine Drive is in poor condition and undersized. The current culvert is a fish barrier, while the new larger box culvert will meet fish passage requirements.

“Originally engineers designed road crossing culverts to maximize the capacity to carry water with the smallest possible pipe size. This was efficient and economical,” stated Snohomish County representatives. “A fish-friendly design approach is a culvert wide enough and sloped properly to allow the stream channel to act naturally.”

On June 11 of this year, the Supreme Court split a decision resulting in the enforcement of a lower court order requiring Washington State to pay for the removal of over 900 culverts that have become clogged or degraded to the point of blocking salmon migration. 

It was a decision that had been passing through the courts for 17 years. The U.S. government sued Washington back in 2001, on behalf of 21 Northwest tribes, to force the state to replace culverts blocking fish passage with structures that allow fish to pass through. Because the pipe-like culverts block salmon from reaching their spawning grounds, they deprive the tribes of fishing rights guaranteed by treaty.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that the treaties promised tribes there would always be salmon to harvest, and that the State has a duty to protect those fish and their habitat,” said Lorraine Loomis (Swinomish), chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “The ruling will open hundreds of miles of high quality salmon habitat that will produce hundreds of thousands more salmon annually for harvest by everyone.”

Snohomish County officials also point out, “The ability of salmon and steelhead to swim upstream to their traditional spawning grounds, while allowing juvenile salmon to move upstream and downstream unimpeded for rearing is vital to their recovery across Washington.”

This specific culvert replacement is vital to salmon recovery and habitat restoration on the Tulalip Reservation, and it’s of particular significance to three TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC) graduates who are part of the construction team.

Jay Davis, Jess Fryberg and Brando Jones graduated from TVTC before starting their construction careers.

Jess Fryberg (Tulalip), Brando Jones (Tulalip) and Jay Davis (Sioux/Turtle Mountain Chippewa) all trained in the construction trades at TVTC and graduated with hopes of pursuing a career pathway that was previously unavailable. Now, each is earning prevailing wages and gaining lifelong skills while working on a project beneficial to protecting treaty rights and salmon recovery.

“Construction has opened up a variety of work for me and each site I’ve worked on teaches me something new,” shared Jess, a 24-year-old tribal member. “Working on this culvert project on the Rez has been a great opportunity. Plus, a long time down the road I’ll be able to tell my kids I helped build it.”

For 27-year-old, single father Brando Jones, he moved from Tacoma to Tulalip two years ago just to have an opportunity to change his future by attending TVTC classes. It was a big move that is now paying off huge dividends as he won sole custody of his son, Dakota, and is building a solid foundation for a career in the construction trades.

“Being able to work on my own reservation while building a future for me and my son is such a good feeling,” shared Brando. “The fact that this replacement culvert will help salmon and protects our treaty rights is a bonus all on its own.”

The Marine Drive culvert construction is expected to complete in the next few weeks, while its positive impact to local salmon habitat restoration is expected to last generations.

House Bill 2951 to increase resources for finding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

During the final months of 2017, Washington State Republican Representative, Gina Mosbrucker, of the 14th Legislative District chose a DVD rental from Redbox one evening for a relaxing movie night. Had she picked a comedy or romance she may have missed her calling, but she decided on a film titled Wind River and was taken on an emotional journey into the world that is unfortunately a haunting reality for many Indigenous families across the country, and even a bigger issue in Canada. 

The powerful movie follows a professional tracker and an FBI agent throughout the Wind River reservation in Wyoming as they try to uncover a crime when a young, missing Indigenous girl’s body is found dead on the reservation. The film gives insight to the epidemic that is taking away our mothers, sisters, aunties and cousins and how jurisdiction, lack of resources and underreporting causes many missing and murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) cases to go unresolved. 

The end of Wind River concluded with a message that shook Rep. Mosbrucker to her core. It read, ‘While missing person statistics are compiled for every other demographic, none exist for Native American women.’ With that statistic on her mind, she began to conduct her own research and found that was indeed true and felt the strong urge to help. A short time after watching the movie and learning about MMIW, Gina was at her office at the Washington State Capital on the morning of January 20, when hundreds of Indigenous activists marched on the Capital to bring awareness to the epidemic. 

“There are things in life that keep coming back to your mind over and over and you know you need to work on it,” says Representative Mosbrucker. “For me, this is my calling. There were repeated messages to me from the movie Wind River and the message at the end of the movie is not acceptable. After further research I found that was true and I also had a tribal girlfriend from high school call me up and she told me I have to fix this. I think the final straw was the large group of Native Americans who were in full tribal dress with drums in the middle of the Capital. Afterwards, I was in my office working late and I couldn’t get it out of my head and I said, I’m called to do this work. Senator McCoy’s staff was nice enough to introduce me to a tribal member who happened to be in his office that night. She came to my office and shared her story. We spent an hour discussing the challenges, how she’s been trying for a decade to get help.”

She began working immediately and wrote HB2951, getting the bill approved days after the MMIW March on the Capital and pulling in tribal citizens at the last minute to share their testimonies of lost loved ones. The bill went through the long process of becoming law, reaching the senate floor where it was nearly passed unanimously and shortly after, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed the document, making the bill law back in June. HB2951 is essentially a study that requires Washington State Patrol to work with local tribes and tribal law enforcement to increase resources for reporting and identifying MMIW. 

The first phase of this study was initiated on September 27 at the Tulalip Administration building during the Washington State Patrol Tribal Community Outreach Tour. State Patrol officers, Washington State legislators and the Indigenous community of Tulalip met to discuss HB2951 and determine ways to help find MMIW and put an end to the heart wrenching epidemic.

“I am a Tulalip member so this is an important subject for us and we need to get to some resolution,” said Washington State Senator John McCoy. “Under the federal law VAWA (Violence Against Women Act), Tulalip are one of the three tribes that are part of that pilot project so we have the resources to help make this happen. It’s time to gather information and get something done.”

For three hours the committee spoke to the community about MMIW and HB2951 as well as ongoing cases that are happening now in Indian Country. Citizens learned that nearly 90% of Indigenous women have experienced some sort of abuse in their lifetime, whether it was verbal, mental or physical. Another shocking statistic conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that over half of the Native American population of women have been sexually abused, and out of those cases, over 70% claimed the offense was committed by a non-tribal member. On many reservations, the chances of a women experiencing abuse are significantly higher, around 10%, than the national average. 

The group also brainstormed ideas on how to get all tribes on board to help find these missing cases around Washington. A problem the committee has run into is tribal cooperation from family members, board members and law enforcement. Due to a variety of cultural reasons and perhaps lack of trust, tribes are opting to handle missing cases on their own, unless the case is ruled a homicide in which the FBI takes over. The groups current goal is to present an estimated number of Washington MMIW to the state by June 2019.

Tribes are also limited in resources as well as access to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the FBI’s database, which includes records of missing persons. Many times a missing person case will not be entered into NCIC due to limited access and the fact the person is over eighteen. Many people aren’t flagged as missing because adults often take solo journeys to escape the everyday grind and there is no evidence of foul play. 

“I wanted to share some current information about NCIC in Washington State,” says Washington State Patrol Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit Manager, Carri Gordon. “Right now we have 1,841 missing person records active records in Washington. Of those 1,841 about 90% of those missing persons are runaway youth who run and return. Of those 1,841, 98 of those records were coded ethnicity-wise as being Native American. That’s assuming that the ethnicity was reported correctly and entered correctly.”

Carri went on to explain that investigators are not required to indicate the victims race and more than not investigators confuse Indian Americans for Native Americans, so the number of missing Indigenous women in Washington maybe a lot higher than the 98 reported in the NCIC. If this is true in the State of Washington, thousands of cases could be very well underreported nationwide. 

In 2015, Canada conducted a similar study and were able to close many cases but hundreds of women are still missing and hundreds of murders are still unsolved. Canada believes that their true number of MMIW cases are over 4,000 and experts believe the United States is close behind, ranging between 1,000-4,000 cases nationwide. 

“This series is the first step to make sure we’re reaching out to each tribe individually or whichever way is most respectful,” says Mosbrucker. “Whether it’s a group convening or individually, we’re willing to do whatever that work is to report back a number to Washington State. I can’t fix congress, I can’t fix this issue nationally, but I can get us a number in Washington State that will serve as a model to fix it across congress and throughout the nation.”

The Washington State Patrol Tribal Community Outreach Tour will continue over the course of the next few months with the next meetings at the Snoqualmie Casino on October 15, Yakama Convention Center on October 29, and Little Creek Casino on November 8. For more information and to view HB2951 please visit www.leg.wa.gov

Wellness garden offers sense of community and strength of Cedar

Wellness Garden and Trail

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

In the midst of fast-paced urban Tulalip, there exists a lush, quiet oasis. A special place that invigorates the spirit and awakens our long-held connection with nature. Located next to the health clinic, this hidden gem is the Wellness Garden and Trail.

Carefully cultivated and crafted over the last few years, the Wellness Garden and Trail has come to represent community engagement at its finest. Veronica Leahy, Diabetes Program Coordinator for the Tulalip Health System, and her dedicated team of health-conscious staff members have been instrumental in fostering the sense of community a wellness garden can offer.

“Our goal has always been to make everyone feel welcomed, needed and valued,” reflected Veronica on the success of garden day classes routinely hosted at the Wellness Garden. “Our diabetes prevention team is greatly appreciated; everyone gives their all for our events. I feel humbled to be a part of the effort to teach people about healthy foods and increased activity in ways the community connects with. This is the essence of a proactive, holistic approach to diabetes care and prevention.”

A community of expert and novice gardeners made up of tribal members of all ages routinely attends the monthly garden day classes. Over the past planting season, the group tended the soil and grew vegetables (kale, squash, zucchini, cabbage), edible flowers (sunflowers, lavender, nettles), an assortment of seasoning herbs, and berries galore. Raspberries, strawberries, elderberries, and salmonberries, just to name a few, have all taken to the Wellness Garden’s planting beds and have shared their sweet nectar via healthy snacks and meals.

During summer’s final Saturday, the community gardeners came together for this season’s last garden day walk and gathering. There were nearly 30 community members altogether, varying in age and expertise, who enjoyed getting their hands dirty by weeding and pruning the garden, before harvesting apples and pears aplenty. A memorable experienced was shared when the group planted several baby Cedar trees. 

“It’s been such a lovely day,” shared honorary tribal member, Father Pat Twohy. “Everybody came together with good spirits to work in the garden. There was so much happiness shared while we picked apples, pulled weeds, and especially when we planted Cedars. To top it off, the cooks provided us with a lovely breakfast and magnificent lunch. Altogether, it was a happy day and I’m so grateful for everyone who made this possible.”

Gardening is a great way to incorporate the power of ancient wisdom and traditions while cultivating food to bring about growth and healing. There is tranquility in the sounds of nature, the smell of fresh earth, and the warmth from the sun. Most gardeners agree that they feel a sense of calm wash over them as they work with the plants and flowers. Some even are reminded of a time not too long ago, before cell phones and the internet ruled the day.

“It warms the heart to see so many happy people in one place,” beamed Tulalip elder Virginia Carpenter. “I just love gardening, and it’s so great to see the younger generation come out and be a part of this. Seeing families, parents with their kids, out here having a good time it reminds me of the olden days; when kids used to go with their parents everywhere and people were happy to be out of the house.”

Of the 30 community member who attended the September 22 garden day, several were first-time tribal member participants. They jumped right in to the garden activities and assisted their elders whenever possible. 

The youngest and longest attending tribal member, 15-year-old Kaiser Moses who has been attending gardening classes since he was just 4-years-old, was seen teaching others how to plant a variety of crops and how to best harvest the ready fruits. Kaiser reiterated our connection with nature by sharing, “the plants and trees are alive, and it’s up to us to take care of them and keep them healthy.”

“I stood back and listened to Kaiser’s words and teaching and my heart was so full, it was hard to hold the tears back,” added Veronica. “I watched our elders work with the new tribal members and saw real joy in their faces; this is my motivation for the garden days. Every bit of effort and time is worth it to see and feel the community effort shared by all. It has always been and continues to be a very special time for whoever comes and joins us.”

Following several mindful hours in the Wellness Garden, the group organized indoors for a delicious meal cooked by culinary chef, Britt Reed. There were pumpkins and pumpkin carving kits given to everyone, along with a variety of raffle prizes that included gardening supplies and cooking utensils. 

This upcoming winter, an all-new greenhouse project will be opening to the community which will allow the gardening activities to continue inside and more classes to be taught around food preservation. Be on the lookout for future flyers detailing this project on Tulalip News and Tulalip News Facebook page.

Hibulb Film Festival celebrates music, language and culture

Tulalip filmmaker David Spencer Sr. (2nd from left) takes photo with family after the premiere of his award-winning film, I Am Frog, at the 6th Annual Hibulb Cultural Center Film Festival

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The art of storytelling has been passed down generation after generation since time immemorial. In Native America, stories are shared to teach youth valuable lessons while incorporating traditional songs, dances and language. Sacred animals such as killer whales, eagles, wolves, bears and ravens often play a role in many traditional stories as well as legendary creatures like Slapoo, Sasquatch and Thunderbird. Indigenous stories explain the mysteries of the universe like how the sun, stars and moon came to be and also emphasizes cultural values like respecting your elders, helping your community and practicing your ancestral teachings. 

As technology advanced, storytellers began to explore new forms of storytelling through art, poetry, music, film and animation. Classic stories have been given new life through film and new ideas are created to raise awareness about current issues in the Native American community like climate change, declining fish runs, missing Indigenous women, suicide and overdose. Native musicians often use their storytelling abilities to construct powerful songs that promote positive messages about protecting our waters, healing from generational trauma, decolonization and of course, finding love. 

In today’s fast-paced social media society, the most popular form of storytelling is multimedia. Thousands of creative Native minds upload visuals to platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram every day, whether they’re showcasing their comedic skits, music videos, news or short films, the artists are using their voice, video footage and photos to perfect the art of storytelling. 

On the first day of fall, September 22, the Hibulb Cultural Center hosted their annual film festival, celebrating the new wave of storytelling. Local and international filmmakers were invited to share their work with the Tulalip community and nine video entries were selected for this year’s festival, which was centered around music. 

“This year is the 6th Annual Film Festival, with a music theme entitled Frog Catches a Song,” says Lena Jones, Film Festival Organizer and Hibulb Cultural Center Education Curator. “The Hibulb Cultural Center Film Festival initially began as a way to celebrate the power of cinema, to tell the stories of our many cultures and to honor and recognize Coast Salish filmmaking and filmmakers. We always hope to introduce or strengthen the filmmaking and artistic talents within our own community. This year, we continued to receive outstanding programming with films that featured traditional and contemporary music, language and culture. The festival had an international flair as well, by films from Tomer Werechson of Israel, Bernard Weilavani (Wolfsheart) of Austria, and Ian McKay-Weaselfat of Canada.”

La Gran Final de Piano, by Tomer Werechson, was a one-minute film about an old, classic piano but the keys played the kicks and snares of an 808 drum kit, much like a modern midi-keyboard. Bernard Weilavani, professionally known as Wolfsheart, is a Native American flutist who submitted two of his music videos, Walking the Wolf Path and Wolfsheart House of the Rising Sun. And First Nations rapper, Ian McKay-Weaselfat, chose to share the music video for his song, Puppy Love. 

Tulalip filmmaker, David Spencer Sr., participates in the festival every year and creates his films based upon the theme. Last year, David wowed the crowd with his movie, Waiting for Blackberries and followed this year with I Am Frog, which was performed entirely in Lushootseed. David received the Best Film Award this year for his fifteen-minute presentation which included original songs and photos within his film. 

“It’s a story about frog who didn’t have a song,” says David. “She despised all her friends; crow, coyote, bear and owl because she didn’t have a song. All of them offer advice on how to prepare yourself to get a song. Once she realizes they’re trying to help her, she gets her song. The moral of the story is, even though we all may despise somebody or they might despise us, we’re meant to come together and to do this spiritual work and help one each other out.”  

Following I Am Frog, the Film Festival featured an important screening, created by Lummi tribal member Freddie Lane, about the southern resident orcas and the Lummi Nation’s effort to return the last remaining poached orca, Tokitae, back to the Salish Sea.

“This year, the judges chose to honor Frederick “Freddie” Lane for Special Recognition for a Lifetime Achievement in Filmmaking and Cultural Sharing,” states Lena. “He has been an important voice in the nation. His film Qwel lhol mech ten (the People that Live under the Water) is exemplary of his commitment to protecting the earth, educating communities about tribal history and standing with leaders to preserve and promote the Coast Salish way of life for all future generations. Qwel lhol mech ten received the Best Documentary Short Award.”

Three local film lovers were selected as judges for this year’s event, Brit Reed (Choctaw), Robin Carneen (Swinomish) and Lois Landgrebe (Tulalip). Robin judged over half of the festivals throughout the years and assisted with this year’s theme and artwork, stating the story Frog Catches a Song came to her in a dream. 

“It’s fascinating seeing all this creativity,” expresses Robin. “I used to do a lot of media with the kids here at the Boys and Girls Club. I really wanted to help create more storytellers in the generations that are coming up. I’d definitely like to see more youth films; however, I’m thinking maybe we need to have a youth film festival and really challenge the youth to turn in some films and explore storytelling. In the meantime, we’ve had some really great entries. This year was unique and that’s what I love about film festivals, you don’t know what each film will look like because everyone’s a storyteller but they tell their stories in different ways.”

Robin’s love for multimedia led to a large involvement during the 2018 film festival. This year she spread the word by inviting local filmmakers and musicians to participate from the many forums that she follows on Facebook. The invitations gained a lot of inquiry and three films were submitted resulting from the social media outreach, including the two Wolfsheart music videos and a four-minute film called Thought Dream by Edmonds songwriter and filmmaker, Ed Hartman. 

“They found me on Facebook,” said Ed. “I’m a composer and I make videos mostly to promote my music. I post my videos on different filmmaker pages and groups because I’m trying to score movies in the future. They invited me to submit to this festival so I went ahead and did it. It’s a wonderful, intimate festival. The film was this serendipitous moment. We live in Edmonds and go down to the beach quite a bit. There was a guy who was releasing giant bubbles and all I had was my phone with me, so I started to shoot some video. There was smog out at that time, it was late in the evening so the sun was on the low horizon.

“When I got back in my studio I looked through my music to see what matched the footage,” he continues. “I found an interesting track that matched called Thought Dreams. Very much like the theme of this festival, Frog Catches a Song, everything about this project has been just that; catching the bubbles, the bubbles catching the sun, the festival catching me, the video catching the song. Everything’s coming full circle and I’m just thankful for the invitation, this absolutely inspires me to work more on the filmmaking side.”

The attendees were intrigued by a film about Hispanic American artist, Roberto Chavez, who is famous for his murals in Los Angeles during the seventies. The film, The Execution Painting, was a time-lapse of the artist painting a bar scene which featured many people of different ethnicities enjoying a good time. While he created his mural he spoke about his art being destroyed on walls throughout the city, before painting over his own mural with white paint, seconds after it’s completion. 

The afternoon ended with an informational film put together by the Hibulb Cultural Center. The video explained the history of Tulalip music beginning with traditional songs performed during ceremonies. During the boarding school experience, several Tulalip tribal members picked up instruments such as the trombone by Robert Shelton and the violin by William Shelton. Many Native girls were in choirs and as the video explains, standout vocalist Maria Sneatlum became Tulalip’s first opera singer.

After a year’s worth of hard work, the Hibulb Cultural Center film festival featured many important and intriguing films. The museum will continue hosting their monthly film series with the next screening held on October 18 at 6:00 p.m. about cultural survival and Indigenous child removal. 

“We are grateful to this year’s judges,” says Lena. “We also thank film volunteer Mike Van Luvan and Cary Williams who opened the event with his exceptional flute playing. As always, we encourage Tulalip members who are interested in filmmaking and media work, or any artform, to continue following their interests or passion. Filmmaking is a great avenue to share your voice and is a valuable artform to preserve cultural art, language, and ideals. It gives us the means to unite communities and showcase the beauty in our culture and our community.”

To view the films featured at the 6th Annual Hibulb Cultural Center Film Festival as well as the winners, please visit www.HibulbCulturalCenter.org

Tulalip welcomes new police chief

On September 24, Police Chief Chris Sutter was formally introduced to lead the Tulalip Police Department.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

After longtime Police Chief Carlos Echevarria resigned back on December 4, 2017, the Board of Directors named Commander Sherman Pruitt interim chief. Since that time, the process to fill the post permanently was ongoing, but it has finally come to a close. On September 24, Police Chief Chris Sutter was formally introduced to lead the Tulalip Police Department.

“The Tulalip Tribes is pleased to announce that Chris Sutter is joining the Tulalip Police Department as our new Chief of Police. Following a comprehensive search for the right candidate, Chief Sutter’s experience and background quickly rose to the top of our candidate pool. We welcome Chief Sutter and his family to our community,” stated Chairwoman Marie Zackuse.

Chief Sutter met with syəcəb staff for an interview detailing his past experience as a law enforcement officer and what his immediate vision is for leading the tribal police department. What follows is an unedited transcript of that interview.

Q: The first thing many are wondering is what is your law enforcement background?

A: I come to Tulalip with 32-years of law enforcement experience. The last 26 years has been with the City of Vancouver in southwest Washington, where I served as assistant chief of police the past 10 years.

Q: Please describe your experience working with Native communities?

A: My experience working with Native communities is more on the personal family side. I’m married to an enrolled tribal member of the Navajo nation. For 38-years, we’ve enjoyed a very happy family and close relations with our tribal family. Also, in my previous role as assistant chief, I held a monthly diversity advisory meeting with representatives of the diverse Vancouver community which included Native American representation. 

Q: Uprooting from Vancouver, will you be living in Tulalip now?

A: Yes, I found a rental home here in the community and am very much looking forward to being part of the community. As the school year completes, my wife and daughter will joining me here in Tulalip.

Q: What are some of the goals you’d like to achieve over the next couple years with the Tulalip Police Department?

A: I have many goals and a high-level vision for moving the department forward. Number one is to make sure Tulalip is a safe and secure place for families, children and the elders. We’re going to start by eradicating the drug problem in the neighborhoods. We’ll also be working on community outreach to make sure people know that their police department is here to serve them. In addition, we’ll be looking into ways we can best serve the fish and wildlife branch of the department to ensure tribal sovereignty and treaty rights are always respected and upheld.

Q: Our last few police chiefs have tried to tackle the opioid epidemic. What are some ideas you bring to the table on this issue?

A: Number one is we can’t allow people to be selling drugs to our tribal members and anyone else in the community. We have to crack down on those who are profiting on this horrible trade that causes such devastating impacts to individuals and families. We’ll be implementing a very robust narcotics taskforce that’s going to take down the dealers. In my opinion, the first step is to go after those people who are bringing the drugs into our community. 

Q: How do you see the Tulalip Police Department engaging with the community going forward?

A: Community engagement is as simple as directing all the officers to make sure they are taking the time to get out of their cars in order to walk and talk with people we serve. Making face-to-face, personal connections is the first step to building a better relationship. We are also going to find opportunities to sit with tribal elders and receive their guidance and wisdom, ensuring we have good open lines of communication. Additional outreach will involve our youth. I strongly believe the youth are our future and the more we outreach, mentor, and guide them to make good life choices the better the outcomes.

Q: Describe your experience working with tribal police?

A: During my time in Vancouver, I acquired experience working with the Cowlitz Reservation and their newly created police department under former Tulalip police chief Goss. Through that connection we built a quality working relationship and provided assistance to each other when needed.

Q: What’s your message to the Tulalip community?
A: I feel blessed to be here to serve the people. My message is we are here to serve you. We want to make sure you always feel welcome and comfortable to make contact with our dedicated staff of officers and civilians. My commitment to the community is we are going to do our very best to make your neighborhoods secure and to make Tulalip Reservation a place residents are very proud to live. 

The gift of food and good health

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Tulalip’s own Diabetes Prevention Program is dedicated to making the community healthier by educating any and all motivated individuals who are willing to learn about nutritional awareness and healthy eating. With diabetes and obesity prevalence continuing to rise in Native communities throughout the United States, many families feel a need to change their eating habits, but just don’t know where to begin. 

Adjusting to a healthier lifestyle and diet can be an overwhelming task, therefore, the Diabetes Prevention Program has created The Gift of Food & Good Health, an all-new series of cooking classes offering guidance and hands-on instruction. Hosted every Tuesday at the Tulalip Dining Hall from 3:00pm to 4:30pm, these classes are uniquely created for our people to enjoy while learning about the many health benefits of our foods. The classes are open to tribal members, their families, and patients of the Tulalip Health System.

The latest class, occurring on Tuesday, September 18, communicated the importance spices and herbs can have in creating healthy meals. 

“Herbs and spices make food tastier while boosting your health,” shared Jessica Bluto, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator for the Tulalip Health Clinic. “We should all be cooking with herbs and spices regularly and, if possible, using several at a time.”

Herbs, like basil, are the leaves of a plant, while spices, like cinnamon, are usually made from the seeds, berries, bark, or roots of a plant. Both are used to flavor food, but research shows they’re chock-full of healthy compounds and may help prevent illness and disease.

Chef Brit (left) explains best cooking practices while preparing a nutritional meal.

Adding herbs and spices to your diet has another benefit, “Because they’re so flavorful, they make it easier to cut back on less healthy ingredients like salt, sugar, and added fat,” explained culinary chef Brit Reed. “Herbs and spices contain so much nutritional value, from cleaning out toxins in your blood to fighting inflammation to even lowering blood pressure. We’re all about promoting healthy foods habits that can really make a difference with a variety of health issues our people may be going through.”

Tulalip elder Marvin Jones attended the September 18 session as a first-timer. He enjoyed learning about the variety of health benefits herbs and spices can offer, even though he admitted to not enjoying the flavor of most of them.

“I don’t like the taste of most seasonings, but I’ll try to eat them and come up with a combination that works for me because I want to eat better,” said Marvin while going through the process of mincing garlic. “I want to learn to cook healthier foods and meals. These classes will help me with that.”

Tulalip elder Marvin Jones minces garlic during a class devoted to benefits of herbs and spices.

The exciting hands-on learning experience walked each class attendee through the food preparation process, to the large Dining Hall kitchen for cooking as group, and then back to the table where a grilled chicken and broccoli meal was enjoyed by all. The meal was made flavorful with the aid of garlic (anti-inflammatory), basil (digestive aid), ginger (nausea reducer), and thyme (antimicrobial), along with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

“The staff here have been so helpful in teaching me which foods to eat more of and how to make sense of a nutritional label,” shared Joyce Alexander, a Haida elder. Joyce routinely attends healthy cooking and food classes offered by the Diabetes Prevention Program. “I was diagnosed with border line Diabetes two years ago and was told by the doctors it could be reversed by changing the foods I eat. Since then, I’ve lost nearly 52 pounds just by changing my diet and staying away from processed foods. I’ve taken back control of my life and it feels great.”

The Gift of Food & Good Health series will continue next Tuesday with a class dedicated to tender, juicy steak. As always the Diabetes Prevention Program welcomes any community members interested in learning about the many health benefits of food. 

“There is so much information available about healthy eating and cooking skills, and we want to aid, however we can, in our people being comfortable applying these skills in their daily lives,” said Chef Brit. “This series of classes will cover a whole range of health benefits. And don’t worry if you can’t make them all. If you can make time to attend just one or two, we’d love to share a nutritious meal with you.”

To find out more information about The Gift of Food & Good Health series please contact Brit Reed, Diabetes Program Culinary Services Provider at 360-716-6594 or Veronica Leahy, Diabetes Program Coordinator at 360-716-5642.