Tulalip wrestlers put on a show at Novice Championship

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Of the many sports children can participate in, wrestling is perhaps the most misrepresented, misunderstood, and underrated. Each year hundreds of thousands of kids participate in this non-violent combat sport, yet the average person knows as much about wrestling as they might know about rugby or polo.

“Wrestling is perhaps the purest form of athletic competition to exist in the realm of organized sports,” explained Young Champions President Bill Campbell. “There are no bats or balls, or pucks or sticks. No pads or helmets or jerseys. There’s no time to rethink strategy, regroup, or even to catch your breath. There’s only you, and your opponent of equal weight and size. Experience, preparation and the will to succeed will determine the victor. There’s no doubt about it, wrestling tops the list of intense, highly competitive sports.”

Put that way, it’s no wonder why there is a multi-generational connection of Tulalip athletes who are coming up in the sport and finding serious athletic achievement and personal growth, on and off the mat. Coached by Tulalip tribal members and former wrestling standouts, Sam Davis and Tony Hatch, the Marysville Tomahawks wrestling program has amassed quite the youth following. They have wrestlers of all ages, skill level, and quite a few girls who prove wrestling isn’t just for the boys.

There are additional youth tribal members who are making quite the name for themselves while wrestling under the Punisher wrestling banner, located in Arlington. Regardless of team camp, the aspiring athletes are learning invaluable lessons such as self-discipline, hard work, skill building, and an inner strength that’s only developed over countless hours of practice. Plus, there are many social skills and benefits that come naturally for athletes who learn what it means at an early age to be part of a team. 

“To us, Marysville Tomahawk wrestling is our family,” shared Katie Lancaster-Jones, mother of two Tulalip wrestlers, Milo and Cole. “We started seven years ago when Milo was six-years-old and Cole was only four. They started with Tony Hatch and his family. Now, we work with coaches Sam Davis and Brandon Davis. From the coaches, athletes and families we are all here to help the youth move forward in life, not just the sport. 

“We motivate our wrestlers to keep their grades up, respect one another, and to stay healthy by being active,” continued Katie. “The team is here to teach and to learn from. Wrestling is a life style. There’s a lot of coordinating, planning, and fundraising that requires commitment by our athletes and their families. The team gives them a place to go; gives them goals to work toward. It’s all about our future generations learning how to handle tough moments on and off the mats.”

A large group of local wrestlers were invited to participate in the WWKWL 2019 Novice Championship, which took place on January 27 at Kirkland Middle School. The novice designation means only wrestlers within their first two years of competition. 

In front of family, friends, and hundreds of onlookers, the novice wrestlers competed in an all-day, round-robin style tournament. Win or lose, the collection of wrestlers demonstrated strong grappling maneuvers and a variety of defensive techniques. Several of the kids’ wrestling prowess stood-out even in a gym where eight matches were going on at any given time. 

One such wrestler was 8-year-old Julie Blevins. Representing Tomahawk wrestling, Julie’s limber frame and quickness caught spectator attention as she went heads-up with the boys. She held her own in every match, not allowing herself to be pinned nor giving up any points easy to her male counterparts, and came away victorious in the hearts of her adoring fans.

“She found wrestling naturally because her dad (Jason) wrestled for coaches Sam and Tony back in his wrestling days. Now, he coaches for the Tomahawks program,” said Julie’s mom, Victoria Blevins. “It’s been so awesome watching Julie grow as an athlete. When she first started she was really scared and tentative, but now she pushes through even if she gets hurt or competes against boys tougher than her. Going up against the boys, Julie relies on technique more and that’s given her opportunities to learn some go-to moves. Her confidence has soared since she has learned she’s capable of picking up her opponent and slamming them for a pin.”

Wrestling, like any sport, has its share of phenoms; those that make excellence look like ease. Five-year-old, Tulalip tribal member Julian Lawrence is such a phenom. This year alone he has accomplished quite a bit, taking 1st place in several tournaments held in Spokane and Oregon. In fact, the day before the Novice Championship, Julian competed in another tournament and entered in two separate brackets. He dominated both and took home two 1st place medals for his efforts.

The dazzling five-year-old put on a show in front of community members who couldn’t help but gravitate to whatever mat he was competing on. Pin after pin, Julian overpowered his opponents en route to being crowned a novice champion and earning yet another 1st place medal.

“As parents, we couldn’t be any more proud of our son. Watching him grow stronger, faster and smarter…pushing himself to be the best that he can be…he has so much passion and heart for the sport,” beamed his mother Honeykwa Lawrence. “We are very proud of his sportsmanship, win or lose. Julian has grown into a polite, respectful little boy on and off the mat.

“He has grown so much within these past few months since joining team Punisher. He is constantly learning new things and he soaks it all up like a sponge,” continued Honeykwa. “After this tournament, Julian’s record is currently 50-4, so 50 wins and only 4 losses. We are looking forward to State coming up next weekend. We have high hopes for him and think he will take State title!”



Out of the local Tulalip/Marysville competitors, quite a few wrestled into a high placing or earned a 1st place medal at the Novice Championship. Julian Lawrence, Donte Luong and Conner Juvinel all took home top honors for their brackets. Karter Wright took 2nd place, Troy Blevins took 3rd, and his brother Jason Blevins took 4th. 

For any parents who are interested in getting their kids participating in youth wrestling, feel free to connect with Marysville Tomahawk Wrestling through their Facebook page or email Marysvilletomahawkwrestling@gmail.com

King tides and the impacts of rising sea levels

Crowd gathered at Flintstone Park in Oak Harbor to view the king tide.

By Kalvin Valdillez; photos by Kalvin Valdillez and Ben Lubbers

Bright and early on the morning of January 25, a gathering of about thirty people met at Flintstone Park in Oak Harbor. Similar to Tulalip Bay, the waters of the Salish Sea travel into the inlet of Whidbey Island, providing a scenic view for the citizens of Island County. This morning in particular was gorgeous. While the sun emerged into the sky, fog slowly ascended from the water that was now approaching the paved boardwalk of the park. This was the event the locals came to witness, a king tide. 

On the night of January 20, you may have caught a glimpse of the super blood wolf moon as the sun, earth and moon aligned perfectly. This rare lunar eclipse is also known as syzygy and causes a stronger gravitational pull and therefore, higher tides. At an estimated thirteen feet, the tide was highest at 8:28 a.m. in Oak Harbor that Friday morning. The long stretch of sand, rocks and driftwood that makes up the beach of Flintstone Park appeared to have vanished as large waves splashed against the coast. 

“King tide is not a scientific term, it simply means higher than our normal everyday tides,” explained Bridget Trosin, of Washington Sea Grant, to the crowd. “In this area, we get king tides usually in November, December, January and February. One of the situations where we get a king tide is at a perigee tide. Basically that is when we orbit the sun and as the moon passes in that close section we get higher than high tides. As the moon is hugging the earth in its orbit, it’s bulging out our ocean waters. 

“The other situation is when we have a nice alignment of the sun, earth and moon, that’s where we see a nice king tide from the pull from the sun and the pull from the moon as they’re compounding upon each other. And another event happens only on January 2. That’s as Earth is orbiting around the sun, we’re closer and that creates pull from the sun and makes our tides a little larger than normal. Any one of those situations can happen at the same time and each one gives the tide a directional pull.”

Now that the Oak Harborites acquired both a better understanding as well as a live visual of a king tide, Bridget requested that each member of the group download an app to their phones called MyCoast. The purpose of the app is to measure king tides at local shores by using user submitted photos. She then stressed that king tides are an important occurrence and the need to monitor them is crucial because they give us a glimpse into the future of what normal, or perhaps even low tides, might look like in a few decades due to sea-level rise.

Rising sea-level is a complex topic that will in time impact the entire planet. Many major cities across the world will experience severe flooding and in some extreme cases will be underwater completely. Because sea-level rise is so dynamic and there are several factors in play, it’s hard to determine exactly when specific areas will begin to see major impacts. However, the general consensus appears to be that sea-level will continue to rise at about its current rate until the middle of this century and then will actually accelerate at even a faster pace after that.

So what causes sea-level rise exactly and why should you be concerned? Since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800’s, the Earth has been heating up due to the burning of fossil fuels and the production of greenhouse gases. As the planet traps those emissions in its atmosphere, the warmer Earth gets. And as a direct result of global warming, the amount of water in the ocean is increasing because as water heats, it expands. Another large contributing factor to sea-level rise is the melting ice caps and ice sheets happening in both Greenland and Antarctica. 

“Sea-level has risen eight or nine inches in the last hundred years and it’s accelerating,” says Phillip North, Tulalip Natural Resources Conservation Scientist. “Since global warming is happening faster than we expected, that means the water is getting warmer faster and expanding. We’re getting more sea-level rise than expected. Plus, the warmer ocean is melting the ice faster. Greenland is melting faster, Antarctica is melting faster, all the continental glaciers; everything’s melting faster than we expected. We’ll see a pretty steady progression up until the middle of the century and then it will start to speed up. It does seem that anytime anyone has ever said something like that, it’s happened sooner than expected and more than expected. We are already seeing it.”

Shortly after the King Tides event in Oak Harbor, and we’re talking merely a few hours, reports from major news sources were released. Alerts from the New York Times, BBC News and CNN began to pop-up onto people’s smartphones claiming that Greenland’s ice caps are indeed melting at an even much faster pace than predicted by scientists, environmentalist and conservationists. 

The news was shocking to say the least and sent social media into a bit of a frenzy. The reports show ice caps in Greenland’s southwest region have been melting at least four times faster in the past decade than they have over previous centuries. Due to the combination of global warming paired with oscillation, a weather phenomenon that affects air temperature, Greenland’s ice caps are not only breaking off into large icebergs, which over time melts into the ocean, but are also beginning to thaw at the top of the glaciers which is causing ‘rivers’ of meltwater to pour into the ocean, and is subsequently melting more ice as it travels down the glaciers. Cities along the east coast of the United States will be the first to be affected and will see significant sea-level rise and are also now susceptible to more hurricanes. 

Northwest tribal nations have been anticipating a rise in water for at least a few generations now. As coastal communities, Salish tribes are one the first to feel and witness the effects of sea-level rise. As you may recall, the Quinault tribe is currently in the early process of relocating both of their entire villages of Taholah and Queets because rising sea-level and high tides have already begun to flood the communities.

 As sea-level rises, it has the potential to change entire landscapes. In a report released in the summer of 2018, the Projected Sea Level Rise for Washington State, evidence shows that because of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, many Puget Sound communities are currently sinking while Neah Bay’s land is actually rising. 

In addition to inundation and landform change, another huge impact sea-level rise will have on tribal communities is habitat loss, reducing marshes, mudflats and intertidal habitats. Habitat loss can cause significant changes to the food chain and as Phillip explains, this happens due to the erosion of coastlines. 

Mission Beach, Tulalip.

“One thing we are studying in Tulalip is our outer coast,” he states. “Because as sea-level rises, a couple things will happen. One, the water will be at base more often and it’s the water at the base of the bluff that erodes the bluff more than anything else. But also because it will be higher than the storms that are coming in. When storms come in, you have the distance over open water that the winds are blowing, the greater the distance the bigger the waves. But also the deeper the water, the less those waves are dragging on the bottom of the ocean floor and losing energy. So the deeper the water is, those bigger waves will come further in and hit the bluff more often. So you end up with faster erosion. As it erodes faster, that means that all the material is coming down faster. 

“That material is what makes up the intertidal habitat. So how will the system deal with that, that’s another important question. That’s where all the clam beds, juvenile crab are and that’s where all the juvenile salmon and forage fish hang out. The dynamics of the energy of the waves on the beach sorts all that material, so you end up with patches of fine sand and gravel. All of those different patches are different type of habitat, so if you change the energy on the beach, those things all change. Those changes of energy change the habitat. Most of the detrital food chain are not eating the grass and seaweed directly but they’re eating it when it dies and starts to decay – that’s the base of a food chain. The way the detrital material gets distributed changes the habitat for juvenile crab, juvenile salmon, forage fish and all those organisms that live in those areas.” 

Unfortunately, sea-level rise is inevitable. Yes, you read that correctly. In time, which is proving to be closer than we thought, all of the ice caps will melt and the world’s water to land ration will increase. How much it will increase and when is still yet to be determined but if the recent news of Greenland’s ice caps are any indication, scientists are predicting by the year 2100, cities around the globe can see anywhere from three to ten feet of sea-level rise. And although the east coast will probably see the effects on a larger scale, the entire west coast along the Cascadia subduction zone could be pushed back, making many current coastal cities uninhabitable. Researchers are hoping communities can look at these statistics and estimations to plan for relocation if need be and to prepare for a series of natural disasters such as extreme floods, storms and hurricanes that could result from sea-level rise. 

“Get involved in your communities,” urges Bridget. “Let your planning commissioner know that this is something that you are concerned about, this is something we need to get on board with and make a priority. This is something that is extremely important to the resilience of your community.”

Please visit www.WAcoastalnetwork.com to view the most recent reports and projections of sea-level rise in Washington. And be sure to check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sea-Level Rise Viewer at www.coast.noaa.gov/slr/ to see how sea-level rise, of up to ten feet, can impact your communities, as well as for additional information.  

2 Wheels, 1 Engine, No Limits: Melissa Hammons thrives in arenacross racing

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

High-revving engines, roaring exhausts, and non-stop adrenaline rushes…that’s the atmosphere of amateur arenacross racing. Think of it as action packed motocross, but taking place indoors. Within the non-stop, dirt bike racing scene is 15-year-old Tulalip tribal member Melissa Hammons is seeking glory on a dirt battlefield. 

“Racing arenacross is my passion, it’s what I love to do most of all,” declared the fierce teenager who has been riding dirt bikes and quads since she was just 5-years-old. “The sport of arenacross has changed my life because when I’m racing I feel free, nothing else matters.”

Arenacross races take place in sports stadiums and arenas all over the globe. They are run over man-made terrain courses with hills, jumps and tight turns. The scaled-down version of motocross features shorter, more technical temporary tracks and often attract large crowds. Recognized as one of the most strenuous sports in the world, it’s also one of the most fun. 

What draws a female like Melissa to a sport so physically demanding and potentially dangerous? For her it’s the excitement, the thrill of riding on the edge, of performing to peak potential and above all else beating other racers to the checkered flag.

“What matters most to me is getting that 1st place trophy,” explained Melissa. “This past racing season was my fourth on the amateur circuit and best season I’ve ever had. Sure, I had my share of crashes and DNF’s this season, but I’ve also placed in the top three a bunch. For me, taking 1st place twice this season in my women’s 16+ class and 1st once in my Lites class with boys is what I’m most proud of.”

That’s right, not only does the 15-year-old rider compete in higher age women divisions, she also regularly races with the boys…and wins.

“My girl is a badass!” boasted Melissa’s mom, Sara Hart. “She dominates the track even when competing against guys. As a mom, I still get nervous every time before she races with the men, but once she’s out there I have full confidence in her abilities.” 

What was once just raw ability and a fierce competitive spirit during her early racing days has since been honed in and given a laser-like focus based on countless hours spent practicing with racing coach Eric Waunch of E.W. MX School.

“I’ve been working with Melissa for about a year now, and she’s really put in the time and effort into making herself a better rider,” reflected coach Eric, a former long-time motocross pro. “Her commitment and willingness to always push her abilities to new limits is really a joy to coach and fun to work with. With Melissa, keeping her focus on the technical side of riding is most important. She’s so fast and fearless, but when she adds precision and controlled aggression to the mix her racing goes to a whole new level.”

This past season, Melissa has been placing (finishing top 3) regularly and adding to her countless bounty of racing trophies. She admitted that when she first started racing against the boys it was added motivation to win, but now that her skills have grown so much it no longer matters who or what age she is competing against. Also, it helps that she has a mighty large contingent of fans who follow her from race to race and are always cheering for her, win or lose.

“I am forever thankful for my support of family and friends, especially to my grandpa Don ‘Wheatie’ Carpenter who has always been my number one supporter,” shared Melissa. “If it wasn’t for my coach Eric, I wouldn’t be achieving the things that I am right now. I’ve learned you can’t just race and expect to go somewhere; you need to put in the time, work, and effort even if that’s blood, sweat and tears.”

Her skills were on full display on January 19 when she competed in WHR’s Northwest Arenacross Nationals that took place in Monroe. In front of family, friends, and numerous spectators, Melissa showcased her riding expertise while competing in two divisions: women’s 16+ and against the boys in Lites. 

Blazing around the track on her 250cc Honda 4-stroke, Melissa wowed the dirt bike enthusiasts in attendance with a level of speed and aggression she is known for. After a series of practices and qualifying races, the four-lap Final races were a go. Against the women, Melissa finished 2nd overall. In her race against the boys, when the checkered flag flew, she took 1st to the delight of her fans and family.

“Racing in a male-dominated sport and succeeding like she does proves she is a confident, strong and independent young woman,” said Melissa’s grandmother, Lena Hammons following the 1st place showing. “Her aggressiveness in the races says she will not settle for less in her life. Melissa is an amazing role model and her family is so proud of her.”

Looking to the future, the multi-trophy winning dirt bike rider has set her sight on bigger ambitions already. She wants to accomplish what many have been unable to do, become a professional motocross rider. 

“A female rider going pro, yeah a lot of people don’t see it,” admitted Melissa when pondering her future in the sport. “But all I know is I’m going to work hard and keep bettering my skills until it happens. Just wait, I’ll be 16 soon and have a driver’s license. Then I can really accomplish even more while chasing my dreams.”

Steven Madison is teaching traditional carving, and it’s cultural importance

Steven Madison (left) helps a student learn carving techniques.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The pleasant smell of freshly cut cedar floated out of classroom 2 of the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) on the afternoon of January 19, as a group of ten local citizens gathered for the center’s first Intro to Carving class. The museum enlisted longtime HCC collaborator and Tulalip Master Carver, Steven Madison, to teach the two-part culture series. Wood shavings fell to the floor while the group worked, constructing small projects and exchanging stories and laughter. 

Each participant was challenged to learn the art of carving in an expedited fashion, picking up new tips and tricks throughout the two, three-hour courses. As Steven bounced about the room, personally assisting each student with their carvings, he introduced them to an assortment of tools such as the drawknife, a two-handed blade used to shape wood, and emphasized technique for safety reasons, constantly reminding the class to pay attention when sculpting their pieces. During the class, Steven carefully used a bandsaw to cut a whale design out of a block of cedar for one of his students.

One young lady needed assistance with an adze, a large axe-like tool with a sharp blade used for cutting and smoothing out large pieces of wood. He took a seat next to the student and placed a large slab of cedar on his knee, picked up the tool before advising with a chuckle, ‘don’t do this on your leg’ and began hacking with the adze as strands of wood flew all around him. All eyes appeared to be fixated on the master carver as he gave them a step-by-step tutorial on using the traditional tool. 

“This all started with me simply wanting to teach people how to use the adze,” Steven recalls. “I did a carving demonstration here last year at the [HCC annual Salmon Bake Fundraiser]. During that demonstration, a lot of people were interested and asked their questions about my technique and the history, so I end up teaching them a lot about carving that day. After that, we decided we might as well do the carving class.

“This actually had a pretty good turnout. I really didn’t know how I was going to approach this series,” he admits. “Two, three-hour classes aren’t really enough time to get into depth with carving. So what I did with this class is I told them to go online and find a project they wanted to make, and let them know that we’re going to go all in, hands-on. Each of them chose a design; a salmon, the Tulalip whale, one girl is creating a carving with mountains and tress, like you’d see on a cedar basket. We just start carving wood and they’ve been learning as we go.”

The traditional art of carving has been passed down generation after generation. Amongst Coast Salish tribal communities, carving was important to the cultural lifeways of our people. The ancestors carved items for both ceremonial purposes and everyday use, sculpting canoes, paddles, rattles, masks, totem poles and even longhouses out of the spiritual cedar tree. 

“I’ve always been interested in carving,” expressed young tribal member Khianna Calica. “With that being said, I had no idea where to start or how to get involved. I’ve come to other [HCC] events and when I saw this workshop on the events list, it was perfect timing. Prior to this, I have never touched any carving tools and with the two classes I feel more comfortable with the execution. I came to the workshop today because I think that events at the cultural center are a phenomenal way to preserve the old medicine and the traditional arts and craft. We have to participate. If the knowledge keepers are willing to be here, people need to show up. I found it really important for me to show up and invite these traditions in my life, it’s so healing.”

Steven believes this series is an ideal way for beginning carvers to get familiar with the tools and technique. His partnership with the museum extends throughout the course of this year, hosting another Intro to Carving class before starting an in-depth six-week course in the late summer where students will craft paddles and spindle whorls. 

“The reason we’re doing this is really because we want to keep this alive forever,” states Steven. “That’s why it’s always so good to see the younger generations learning. A lot of kids want to learn but don’t necessarily have the patience for it. I’m one of few people who learned from my grandfather [Frank Madison] and Bernie Gobin. There’s a lot of great carvers, but those are the ones I learned from. There are so few of us left who know the technique of the old ways and the reason why we carve. You can go to anybody to learn how to carve a totem pole, it’s not rocket science, but the reason we do it is because each carving has a point and there’s a story to each one. 

“Carving is so important to our people. It was almost gone before [William] Shelton carved his story poles at a time when they were prosecuting people for carving and practicing traditions. Carving was passed down from my grandfather to my uncle to me and now I’m teaching that to the upcoming generations who want to learn.”

For further details about the Intro to Carving classes, please contact the museum at (360) 716-2600.

Our treaties are the last line of defense

Tulalip Tribes educates community on Treaty Rights

Indigenous women were at the forefront of Seattle’s Women’s March on January 21, 2017. Photo by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

If you’re an avid Instagram user, and let’s face it most of us are, chances are you’ve stumbled across somebody’s profile that is filled with gorgeous photos of mountain ranges, waterfalls, beaches and tall evergreens. Every day, more and more people are exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest, hiking hidden trails in search of breathtaking views and secret camping grounds. 

A 2016 study, conducted by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, reported that outdoor recreation generated over twenty billion dollars in this state alone. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, outdoor recreation is a three-hundred-billion-dollar industry and is continuing to grow exponentially. And while it’s important to disconnect, inhale fresh air, enjoy scenery and experience the great outdoors, it’s equally important to remember that this land is sacred and has strong spiritual ties to the original caretakers of this region, who have lived off its resources since time immemorial.  

Let’s use the power of imagination to travel back about two-hundred years or so. You’re a young Coast Salish hunter who has been tasked to provide food for your family and village. After many years of cultural teachings, you’re finally ready to head into the woods to get your first elk.

 While you’re trekking up to the mountains, you recall all of the stories about elk roaming about in abundance in an area your family has hunted for generations. But you arrive only to see that there are hundreds of people hanging out, sleeping beneath the stars and enjoying themselves in a not-so-quiet manner. Because of all the people and constant foot traffic, there isn’t an elk in sight. So, you decide to try nearby areas to see if the elk have migrated, but instead you’re met with more people. Now you face the dilemma of providing another source of sustenance for your people, who depend on that meat for the upcoming winter months. 

Although crowded hunting grounds weren’t an issue two hundred years ago, you can see how big of an impact it would’ve had on tribal villages. When the Coast Salish people signed their treaty one hundred and sixty-four years ago, they kept the right to hunt and harvest on the same lands their ancestors had since the beginning of time.

Fast forward to the summer of 2018. A story was released by a popular local radio broadcast, KUOW, with the headline reading, ‘Seattle Hikers: You may be trampling on tribal treaty rights.’ Within the article, Tulalip Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Director, Jason Gobin, shared a similar story but in modern time, claiming that many outdoor adventurers are showing a total disregard to the tribe’s ancestral lands. He expressed that due to over congestion, the areas for tribal members to conduct their spiritual work, whether it be hunting, gathering cedar or harvesting huckleberries, has decreased substantially since the signing of the Point Elliot Treaty of 1855. 

The story spread like wildfire across Facebook and Twitter as people shared the link, voicing both their support and concern. Over the course of a few months, the article inspired several outdoor recreational organizations and non-profit conservation groups to reach out to the tribe in an effort to learn more about tribal sovereignty. Because of the inquires, the Tulalip Natural Resources department hosted a daylong event for local non-governmental organizations to learn about treaty rights and the history of the Tulalip Tribes.

On the morning of January 9, around thirty individuals from recreational and conservation groups gathered at the Hibulb Cultural Center to begin the day with a tour of the museum. While having fun with the interactive displays, the group gained a basic understanding of tribal lifeways.

“It was a very powerful cultural exhibit, I learned so much I didn’t know before,” expressed Erika Lundahl of the outdoors publishing company, Mountaineers Books. “Particularly about the woolly dogs and also to see the special relationship the people share with the salmon in the area, as well as the weaving and the residential schools. It was powerful to hear first person accounts, it’s a lot to take in. There were things I’ve heard before, but getting a chance to hear the full story is something we all need to look at very closely to get an understanding of the impacts of generational trauma.”

The group then journeyed across the reservation and made their way to the Tulalip Administration building. In conference room 162, Natural Resources’ Environmental Liaison, Ryan Miller, spoke passionately about protecting the treaty rights his ancestors fought to keep. 

Ryan Miller, Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Environmental Liaison, speaks on the importance of treaty rights and the need to protect them.

“Treaty rights are an inherent right,” he explained. “Treaty rights were not given to tribes, it’s a common misconception that the government gives Native Peoples special rights. That’s the exact opposite of how it works. Tribes are sovereign nations, they give up rights and they retain rights. Treaty rights are rights that are not given up by tribes and they’re upheld by the federal government as part of their trust relationship with the treaty tribes. The tribes right to self-govern is the supreme law of the land. It’s woven into the U.S. constitution as well as many legal decisions and legislative articles. The constitution says, congress has the power to make treaties with sovereign nations and that treaties are the supreme law of the land. 

“We all love the Pacific Northwest,” he continues. “Other people love it here too and they keep coming back, it’s really getting aggravating. I’m not talking about one person going out and hiking. That’s not the issue. What we’re concerned about, just like the population increasing, is that those people are coming here for what we all love to do, get out into nature. They want to see all those places that you love and I love, that I have a spiritual connection to. We have to figure out a way that we can provide that for people in a way that protects not only the inherent rights of tribes but the resources, so all of us can enjoy it.”

Libby Nelson, Natural Resources Senior Environmental Policy Analyst, gave the group an in depth look at the Point Elliot Treaty. During her presentation, she familiarized the participants with the term, ‘usual and accustomed grounds’. She also touched on the Boldt Decision and spoke of the Tulalip’s current co-stewardship with the U.S. Forestry department, which dedicated an area solely for spiritual use such as berry picking and the annual mountain camp for tribal youth during the summertime. 

Natural Resources Special Projects Manager, Patti Gobin, shared a personal and moving story about her grandma, Celum Young, who was a first generation Tulalip boarding school student. As she shared her grandmother’s painful experiences, she quickly followed with a heartwarming story of Celum, depicting her as a woman full of love who struggled loving herself. Because of years of forced assimilation, Celum endured physical abuse for speaking her language and practicing her traditions while at the boarding school. And as a direct result from the boarding schools, Patti admitted that her grandmother never spoke Lushootseed or taught the language to her children and grandchildren, in fear that they would be punished just as she was. 

Patti Gobin, Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Special Projects Manager, speaks passionately about the boarding school era and asks that attendees honor the tribal treaties.

Native children who were around Celum’s age also experienced these atrocities at the boarding schools. Indigenous languages slowly began to slip away from their respective tribal communities. It wasn’t until recently that the language saw a major revitalization within the Tulalip community. Patti shared all this information, weaving together tales of happiness during dark times, to paint a picture that showcases how the trauma from the boarding schools trickled down generation after generation. 

Patti then asked the group to help honor tribal treaties, now that they are equipped with more knowledge and understanding of treaty rights and the tribal experience. She suggested signage depicting the tribe’s history as well as murals, such as the ones that will be displayed shortly in Skykomish and the San Juan Islands. 

“You don’t have to tell the intimate story of the Stu-hubs people,” she stated. “You can simply begin with the most general knowledge, that there are Indian tribes in the area and we will respect their treaty rights.”

At the end of the presentations, Ryan handed out a list of principals to the recreationalists and conservationists, stating that the tribe wants to be included in any project proposals and to build strong relationships with each organization. He urged them to bring the principals back to their team and discuss and modify the list to meet their mission and values. 

“Protection of treaty rights protects endangered species and habitat for all of Washington citizens, not just for tribes,” he said. “All the places that you love, all the species you care about, the orca, the salmon; our treaties are the last line of defense. When our state’s governor was telling the Trump administration that they couldn’t drill for oil off of our coast, he said it would be a violation of tribal treaty rights. We’re the last vanguard, help us protect it. Treaties are the supreme law of the land. They’re living documents and they have as much importance today, to us as Indian People, and they should to you as Washington citizens, as they did the day they were signed.”

The Tulalip Natural Resources Department plans on hosting several more Treaty Rights events like this throughout the year, tailoring their presentations to groups such as environmentalists and governmental entities. For more information, please contact Natural Resources at (360) 716-4480. 

Related Articles: 

The Treaty of Point Elliott: A living document

Tulalip prepares for Treaty Days

Tulalip youth exercise treaty rights, learn hunting safety

New colonizer in chief, same fight to protect our treaty rights

Tulalip educates community on habitat restoration and treaty rights

Point Elliott Treaty, 159 years later

Tulalip Tribes stewardship recognized by the Harvard Project

Pacific Northwest Tribes unite to protect and defend salmon

 

 

Tulalip Tribes first in state to introduce Aristocrat gaming machines

Tulalip tribal members and Slot Shift Managers, Andrew Flores and Erin Reyna showcasing one of several Aristocrat gaming banks.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Aristocrat has installed its first Tribal Lottery System (TLS) games in the State of Washington at the Tulalip Resort Casino and Quil Ceda Creek Casino. The new games – Birds of Pay™, Buffalo Gold Collection™, Wild Lepre’Coins™, and Wild Panda™ Gold – are the first games in the state provided by Aristocrat on the TLS platform. 

“Aristocrat is an Australian based slot manufacturer and one of the largest in the world,” explained Jason Woodall, TRC Slots Engineer. “It’s been close to ten years now that we’ve been working with them to bring their product to the Washington State market. Aristocrat is well-known for making games with big payouts and sought after jackpots.” 

While the Aristocrat games have only been installed for a few weeks at both Tulalip gaming properties, they already have a committed player base. Dale Horton of Arlington is one such player. Dale has been playing the new machines diligently since their arrival and his commitment paid off big time on the morning of January 7 when he hit a whopping $72,000 jackpot.

Dale Horton of Arlington hit a $72,000 jackpot
playing the newly installed Aristocrat machines.

“I’ve been playing Buffalo Gold quite a bit since it’s been put in,” shared Dale. “I frequent the Tulalip Casino nearly every day. I enjoy the mornings when it’s quieter and not as smoky, that allows me to socialize with the friendly staff who have always treated me well. It feels pretty good to have hit a jackpot, it’s my first in a long while.”

The games come to Tulalip and Quil Ceda by means of the Tulalip Tribe of Washington’s sponsoring Aristocrat’s entrance into the TLS market. That sponsorship allowed the company to sell its cabinets and games in the State. 

“We are excited for the Tulalip/Aristocrat partnership and what it means to the Washington market. Aristocrat has established solid product performance and will bring a superior library of content for our guests’ enjoyment,” said Don Hegnes, Tulalip Resort Casino Slots Director. 

“Tulalip Resort Casino and Quil Ceda Creek Casino are excited to be the first properties to introduce Aristocrat cabinets and games into the Washington market. Since the first install, our guests continue to embrace the product,” added Quil Ceda Creek Casino Slots Director, Belinda Hegnes.

The games are the first in a series of titles Aristocrat plans to bring to the State over the next year. “We are very excited to bring these new games to Tulalip, Quil Ceda, and Washington State,” said Siobhan Lane, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Gaming Operations. “We have worked diligently to create new games based on player-favorite titles that fully comply with TLS regulations, and we are grateful to The Tulalip Tribe of Washington for their sponsorship and encouragement throughout this process.” 

Aristocrat Technologies Inc. is a subsidiary of Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL), a leading global provider of land-based and online gaming solutions. The Company is licensed by more than 200 regulators and its products and services are available in more than 90 countries around the world. Aristocrat offers a diverse range of products and services including electronic gaming machines and casino management systems.*

*Source: Aristocrat press release (1/2/2019)

Glimpse of Glory: Tulalip Hawks create legendary moments

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Twenty-one aspiring athletes recently returned from a once in a lifetime experience in which they not only represented their Tulalip community with pride, but did so while playing the sport they love, tackle football. For these boys, football is much more than just a game. It’s a passion that teaches discipline, perseverance and commitment. And for those fortunate to play at the highest level, they got a glimpse of glory on the national stage.

Such was the case with the Tulalip Hawks 12-u youth football team. With a loaded roster of thirteen talented Tulalip kids along with Anthony Najera (Port Gamble S’Klallam) and Michael Abbott (Alaskan Native), the Hawks squad made history all season. They went undefeated, being crowned North Sound league champs and Northwest Regional champs along the way, before receiving a highly coveted invitation to play in the Pro Football Hall of Fame World Youth Championship hosted in Canton, Ohio. The Hawks were one of only ten teams in the entire country within their age bracket to be invited to play for a national title. 

“This is a special place for football, where only the best are called to play,” explains Rich McGuiness, Director of the Hall of Fame World Championship. “We think football is the greatest team sport and more than that, it is the most democratic. Height and weight, speed and strength all have their value, but those qualities alone don’t win games. Football is a great equalizer that way, in that regardless of color or socioeconomic status athletes have to play as a team to create a game plan and execute it on the field versus quality competition.”

With team sponsorship covered by the Tulalip Tribes, and a devoted group of team moms that fundraised nonstop for weeks, the Hawks were able to afford the hefty price tag and ancillary costs that come with a national tournament.

“I was very impressed with our parents who went out of their way to help fundraise for the trip. In total, we raised $13,000 in a month’s time with a variety of fundraising events,” said Malory Simpson, one of two official team moms. “The community support we received was amazing! As parents, we’re so thankful to have had the opportunity to travel with the boys and support them on their Ohio journey.”

The team spent nearly an entire day traveling across three time-zones before arriving in Canton on the evening of Tuesday, December 11. They got a much needed night of rest ahead of their introduction to a national viewing audience at Media Day. 

At the team’s Media Day, the young athletes moved as one cohesive unit with coaches in tow while taking in a number of unique experiences. They glimpsed the custom championship belts that would be awarded to the winners of each age bracket before being put on stage and interviewed about all the hard work that got them to this point. In a random chance meeting, the boys got to meet and take photos with former NBA slam dunk champion and Seattle-area icon Nate Robinson. Another highlight of the day was getting a quick lesson by a Hall of Fame educator detailing the history of football. Nearly each Hawk player got their mind blown when viewing football equipment used in the 1920s through the early 60s.

“It was cool to see the history of football helmets and the evolution of footballs,” said 13-year-old wide-receiver Jayden Madison. “After seeing how small and different old school cleats, helmets and pads were, I think it must have been pretty hard to play football in that stuff.”

“When I first saw that old equipment I wondered ‘what the heck is that stuff?’” added 12-year-old Image Enick. “The first helmet didn’t cover the whole head or have a chin strap. I wouldn’t play football if that was the only gear we could play in.”

Luckily for youth playing today, they have loads of gear that can be considered revolutionary when compared to what was used at the sport’s inception. The boys’ equipment includes one-of-a-kind Native American designs that is only befitting of the first-ever tribal team to qualify for the Hall of Fame’s national tournament.

During the afternoon of Thursday, December 13 the undefeated and multi-championship winning Tulalip Hawks made their Hall of Fame tournament debut versus the Georgia Bulldogs. In near freezing temperatures, the Hawks were on fire early. As a team the boys were executing their game plan and playing with the same style that had garnered them national spotlight. Lead running-back Gio Hernandez rushed for a touchdown on the opening drive and the Hawk’s stifling defense came up with a 4th down stop on Georgia’s next possession. After running-back Gaylan Gray rushed for a touchdown early in the 2nd quarter, Tulalip jumped out to a 15-0 lead.

They say football is a game of adjustments. Georgia didn’t wilt after the early deficit and adjusted their game plan to make use of their near 6-foot tall pass catchers. In combination with a bunch of Tulalip penalties, including costly turnovers and some that were very iffy, Tulalip saw their lead disappear. Georgia would score 25 unanswered points to finish the game, handing the Hawks a 15-25 loss. The stunning defeat was the Hawks first ‘L’ in two years under Coach James Madison. 

“It’s tough because it was our first loss in two years, but we are using it as energy for the next game. I’m using that loss as motivation for sure,” insisted defensive end Ryelon Zackuse. “We’re representing Tulalip and that feels good because we’re a small tribe and we’re the only tribal team that made it here playing against teams from states like Georgia and New York.”

With a quick turnaround, the Hawks had no choice but to get over their disappointing first game ahead of an early morning matchup with the Las Vegas 49ers. The determined Tulalip football team did use the previous day’s loss as motivation to showcase their skill and game breaking ability. In 30-degree weather, versus a loaded Las Vegas squad, the Hawks earned an impressive 30-14 victory backed by a stellar defense that came up with two interceptions and two forced fumbles. They represented the Tulalip/Marysville community with pride, showing their resilience. With the ‘W’ the boys proved they can compete with the very best in the country.

“We stood tall, played hard, fought hard and gave both games everything we had. I couldn’t be prouder of any set of kids in my life,” beamed head coach James Madison. “The greatest thing I saw out of this whole trip is seeing these boys step up and play the best competition in the nation. To have the season we had, it’s beyond a dream come true. I want to thank everyone who has sponsored us and supported our kids all season long. It’s been one amazing achievement after another and we did it all as a family.”

Only teams that went 2-0 in their opening games continued to play. The Hawks’ 1-1 record left them out of the remaining tournament games, but even so they left the national platform with a top eight ranking among the best of the best. 

The boys had a lot of fun at Media Day, made memories galore exploring the Ohio area and Hall of Fame complexes with their family and teammates, and had their competitive spirits fulfilled with a historical win. The glimpse of glory allowed them to dream bigger and set loftier goals with their football futures. 

“It means a lot to me making it all the way to the Hall of Fame tournament and especially good when we were all on stage together at Media Day,” shared Hawks standout Gaylan Gray. “My goals are to return next year and win it all, then my focus will be to get good grades in high school and make it to the NFL.” 

“It’s been really cool to be in Ohio to play football and win a game with this team because we play as a family. We protect each other and always have each other’s back,” reflected 13-year-old cornerback Adrian Jefferson, who has played football since he was just 5-years-old. “What I’m going to remember most is how we worked so hard just to get here and experiencing Ohio as a team, but I’m ready to be back home. I’ve missed school, I mean football means a lot to me, but school is more important. Being gone a week means I have a lot of homework to make up.”

Joseph Davis and Jacoby James journey to Ohio

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The recent big buzz around the reservation surrounded the Tulalip Hawks 12-u team and their performance at the Pro Football Hall of Fame World Youth Championship. However, they weren’t the only Tulalip tribal members vying for a national title. Youngsters Joseph Davis and Jacoby James were also in Canton, Ohio at the same time playing under the Marysville Tomahawks banner.

Marysville Pilchuck’s feeder team, the 11-u Tomahawks, won-out in their age bracket at Northwest Regionals and in doing so earned an invitation to the Hall of Fame tournament. The Tomahawks feature Joseph at lead running-back and middle linebacker, while Jacoby plays special teams and back-up safety. 

“It’s been really fun traveling with the team and just exciting to be here in Ohio,” said Joseph at his team’s Media Day. “We’ve been practicing in the cold weather back home to get ready for the games here. We’ve gotten used to it and I’m looking forward to having fun and kicking some butt.”

“It’s good to get our program on the map and make it so we get more good football players,” added Jacoby. “I’m excited because it’s a once in a lifetime experience to play football in Ohio.” 

From December 11-16, Joseph and Jacoby, along with their families, got in on the Hall of Fame experience both on and off the field. Their first game was played against the Louisiana Knights. The 1st half was all defense as neither team found the end zone, leaving the score tied 0-0 at intermission.

At halftime, Jacoby’s grandmother Verna Hill shared her thoughts on what Ohio meant to their family. “For both boys to represent their family name and their tribe is a wonderful thing,” she said. “I have twenty grandchildren and Jacoby is the only athlete out of all of them. Watching him play is amazing! He is one of the two smallest players on the team, but his energy and quickness give him an edge.”

Moments into the 2nd half, tragedy struck for the Tomahawks when their do-it-all player Joseph absorbed a helmet to helmet hit that knocked him out of the game with concussion-like symptoms. Without Joseph his team wasn’t able to compete at the level they are used to. The Tomahawks went on to lose to Louisiana, and struggled again without Joseph in their next game versus the Columbus Bucks.

  Off the field, the Davis and James families made the most of their time in Ohio, no more so than when together they toured the Hall of Fame museum and were awed by Native American sports legend, Jim Thorpe’s exhibit and bronze statue. 

“It was an amazing trip and I’m thankful to spend the time with my boys,” reflected Joseph’s father, Sam Davis. “Ohio was something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. It meant a lot to Joseph to travel with his team and play on the national level. It was a proud dad moment for me to watch my son lead his team because he works so hard all year round to be in that position. Football has allowed him to grow not just into a well-rounded athlete, but a leader as well. Even injured, he was on the sidelines with his teammates cheering them on and keeping his guys pumped as best he could.”

Joseph’s final message before departing Ohio was, “Thank you to everyone back home for all the support in getting us here.” He’s already looking forward to next season and coming back to lead his Tomahawks team to victory. 

Twenty-three students celebrate TERO graduation

TVTC grad, Jackson Bascue (Tulalip), is ready to build a better tomorrow, equipped with proper certifications and new tool belt.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

“It feels great,” says TERO Training Vocational Center (TVTC) graduate and Tulalip tribal member, Joseph Henry. “It’s a blessing to be a part of this program. It gives us a lot of opportunities, opens many doors for us. It’s the stepping stone of where we want to go. What I learned from this program is to be humble, utilize all your tools. It gives us a career, more than just a temporary job. I have several trades that I wouldn’t mind pursuing, cementing, masonry or carpentry, that really caught my eye. The goal is to build my own house one day. We’ve gained so much skills, it’s really an honor to be Native and take part in a program like this.”

TVTC is a hands-on learning experience that trains Native Americans, from all tribal nations, and their family members in the construction trades. During the sixteen-week course, the students learn several skills that they can apply at a variety of well-paying jobs including carpentry, cementing, plumbing as well as electrical and mechanical work. In addition, they also earn their flagging, first aid and safety certifications. 

TVTC is well known throughout the nation and has welcomed Indigenous Peoples from many tribes. It is one, if not the only, Native pre-apprentice program in the United States. Most recently, the training center began adding new vocational trainings for their students such as marine technology and medical pre-apprenticeship. 

On the morning of December 17, friends and family of twenty-three TVTC students gathered at the Hibulb Cultural Center longhouse to witness their loved ones graduate from the program.

With fifteen Tulalip graduates, seven graduates from other tribal nations and one Tulalip spouse, this latest graduating class saw a whopping twenty-two students complete the construction program and one student successfully finish the medical apprenticeship program. TERO strives to provide ‘training for a better tomorrow’ by teaching tribal members how to work with their hands, giving them the tools and foundation to build a new future for themselves.

“Our construction students did sixteen weeks of intense training,” explains TERO Director, Summer Hammons. “That’s five hundred and sixty-hours and twenty-eight college credits. They’re walking away with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) training, forty-hours of HAZWOPER [Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response] training, forty-hours of scaffolding, flagger certification, CPR/First Aid training and boom, scissor, and fork-lift certification. 

“Our medical apprenticeship program, we started at our health clinic,” she continues. “It’s about a year-long and we worked with the Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Services. They do forty hours a week, completing a 2000-hour apprentice program in the medical field, requiring additional online classes, ten to fifteen hours a week, plus three Saturday, full-day clinical workshops. And bringing the cultural element, we’ve also brought a new aspect called marine technology and that’s working with the waters and the fishing component, so that our students can learn how to fabricate their boats and work on their engines.” 

Indigenous mother and TVTC graduate, Katrina Black Elk (Fort Belknap), with her kids who proudly display their mom’s achievements for student of the quarter and perfect attendance.

The TVTC participants work on a number of projects throughout the course, all while developing important and necessary skills like time management, finance and resume building. The program is largely based on creating a brighter future for tribal families. Therefore, TVTC puts a special emphasis on including the families throughout their loved one’s journey, hosting fun family nights and providing a number of resources for children, to parents who are enrolled in the classes. 

As the graduation ceremony continued, the students received their diplomas as well as a tool belt they can put to use once they’ve landed their first job. Upon receiving their certificates, it was easy to see that each student shared a unique connection with their instructors Mark Newland, Billy Burchett and Lisa Telford.

“When I first started I wasn’t sure if I would complete it because my whole life I’d quit things before finishing,” expresses Tulalip tribal member and TVTC grad, Rose Runningwater. “Lisa pushed me really hard to do this for myself. I completed this class because I wanted it and I realized that because she pushed me. It was a really good experience and I know today that I’m a woman who can spread my wings, fly and get what I want out of life.” 

 Many students offered hugs and even shared a few words of appreciation about their teachers, gifting them with items such as paddles and blankets. 

“I can’t describe it; it makes me want to well up right now,” says Mark after receiving a beautiful Eighth Generation wool blanket. “I’m so humble, I just try to pass on what I know to the people of my community. We had a large class – lots of strong personalities, leaders and also six strong women to help out. We built four tiny houses that will be utilized here in Tulalip and we also built some looms for this museum that are on display right now. It was a really fun class and I’m excited to see where this will take them.”

Committing to a program that takes months to complete is no easy feat by any means. Although a majority of the class lives locally, a handful of student’s live hours away from Tulalip and made a long-distance trip every day, including Warm Springs tribal member, Nalani Brisbois, who lives nearly one hundred miles away in Nisqually. By befriending fellow classmate and Colville tribal member, Annette Squetimkin, Nalani fortunately did not have to make the entire commute alone.

“I would wake up at 3:30 every morning, get ready and hit the road by 4:30,” Nalani says. “I’d stop in Tukwila and pick up Annette and we’d get here around 7:30. It was kind of hard – early mornings every day. Sometimes I didn’t want to come back but I kept at it and I’m happy because it was really worth it.” 

Puyallup tribal member, Sandy Dillion, can relate to his classmates as he had early mornings as well and would return home late evenings after traveling through stop-and-go traffic, taking away much needed family time from his wife and kids. 

“It was pretty tough,” he says. “Waking up at 4:30 in the morning and having to leave the house at 5:05. It was worth it for me though because just thinking about it, in the long run, driving this far every day to make some money in my future is definitely going to pay off. Our TERO department [in Puyallup] is not as big as this one, so for them to reach out to other tribal members to get them educated and started on a career path is important. I’m really appreciative of this opportunity and I want to thank the Tulalip Tribes.”

Several union representatives were in attendance, looking to introduce themselves and recruit new employees. The TERO department recognized two local construction business owners, Chris Winters and Gordy Sansaver, who acted as liaisons, assisting TVTC graduates find work throughout the years. Many TVTC Alumni sat amongst the crowd, supporting the new graduates. Alumni took a moment to share their success stories and experiences with the program, encouraging other tribal members to consider a career in the trades. 

“If you have any interest at all, come sign up,” said Mark. “You’ll find out that working with your hands, working outside and building a future is for you because the rewards are tremendous. The Tulalip TERO program has paved the way for so many students. It’s there for the taking, you just have to reach out and put your mind to it and go for it.”

The TVTC pre-apprentice construction program is accredited through Renton Technical College and South Seattle Community College and is funded by the Tulalip Charitable Fund and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. There is no cost to enroll in the apprenticeship and the program comes highly recommended from previous students. 

For further details regarding the TVTC program, please contact TERO at (360) 716-4747.

Tulalip Hawks win NW Regional title, next up World Championships in Ohio



By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

“On offense and defense, this team is simply amazing!” boasts James Madison, head coach of the 12-U Tulalip Hawks youth football team. “It’s been an honor to coach this team. From the coaches and players, to the parents and extended families, there is a strong sense of pride we all have representing our tribe. We’ve stuck together all season as one big family, and the results really show that.”

The results have been impressive, to say the least. A brand new team playing in the competitive North Sound Junior Football League for the first time, the Tulalip Hawks ‘Bantams’ received high praise as they dominated their competition during their (8-0) regular season. Then in the postseason they made quick work of their first two playoff foes, posting back-to-back 50-0 and 40-0 shutouts. 

It wasn’t until the league championship game vs. Lynnwood that the soaring Hawks finally played in a competitive game. But even then, after being tied 19-19 early in the 2nd half, they would close out the game with two impressive touchdown drives to seal their first-ever North Sound league championship.

Led by a core of talented Tulalip youngsters, the Hawks to this point were undefeated and scoring on average a whopping 40.7 points per game while only giving up a paltry 5.5 points to their opponents. Those impressive numbers on both sides of the ball, plus the league title qualified them to participate in a Northwest Regional tournament with a chance to play in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s World Championships, hosted at Canton, Ohio in mid-December.

“The vision of the Hall of Fame was to create the little league world series of football, a postseason tournament that stacks up the best programs in the country to crown a true national champion ,” explained Gary Howard, Pro Football Hall of Fame’s national scouting director. Each winner of the fourteen regional tournaments automatically qualifies for the national tournament.

The Northwest Regional tournament kicked-off for the Hawks on November 24, when they hosted the Bellingham Knights at the Tulalip Youth Complex. In front of a raucous home crowd, the Hawks continued to showcase their skyrocketing potential on both sides of the ball with a 39-6 dismantling of Bellingham. The win catapulted the young Hawks into the Regional championship game played at Archbishop Murphy High School. Their opponent was the Sedro Woolley Cubs, a team who hadn’t lost a game in two years.

  With two undefeated teams set to matchup for a regional title, the game was expected to a barnburner. However, as they’ve done all year, Tulalip made quick work of previously unbeaten Sedro Woolley with a series of game breaking athletic plays and timely defensive stops. The Hawks won the highly anticipated matchup 34-12. With the victory they were crowned Northwest Regional champs and earned the opportunity to play in Canton, Ohio for a national title. 

If the team success wasn’t enough, individual accolades were achieved by five stand-out Hawks players. 00 Ignacio Vega-Hillaire, 3 Gaylan Gray, 7 Ryelon Zackuse, 13 Jayden Madison, and 48 Gio Vega-Hernandez each received a hand delivered invitation to participate in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s elite three-day training camp. This invitation-only training camp features the best of the best in their age division, while offering a once in the lifetime opportunity to develop and train under the guidance of former NFL coaches and players. 

7 Ryelon Zackuse, 3 Gaylan Gray, 48 Gio Vega-Hernandez, 00 Ignacio Vega-Hillaire, and 13 Jayden Madison all received hand delivered invitations to participate in an elite three-day training camp sponsored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“This year is the first of many yet to come. We strive to get the most exposure at the National level for all youth in the Northwest,” said Board of Director Marlin Fryberg, Jr., who also serves as a Pro Football Hall of Fame regional scout. “Having teams and players represent us in Canton, Ohio will be a great thing for our youth football programs. It’ll be a once in a lifetime experience for the kids and their parents.”