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.”

Partners with Paws: TPD welcomes two K-9 Officers

K9 Officer Tipper with her partner, Officer Jacob Wilcox.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

For over two centuries, many law enforcement agencies often relied on a special breed of detectives to help enforce the law and protect their communities. These specialists possess a certain skillset, using their heightened sense of smell to help with search and rescue missions, crime scene investigations and special taskforce assignments involving drugs or homicide. These officers go through extensive training, sharpening their skills and learning a number of commands as well as how to conduct themselves while on duty. With an affinity for serving, protecting and always catching their perpetrator, these officers share many similarities with their fellow police men and women – with a few minor exceptions of course, including the fact that these officers have fur, four legs and a tail. 

It’s easy to see how the term ‘man’s best friend’ came to be. Looking back on the history of K-9 officers, it’s no shocker that dogs have assisted on many major cases throughout the course of time, helping shut down major crime operations and drug distributions as well as tracking runaway youth, fugitives and missing people. K-9 officers are simply motivated to do a good job and are an important asset and an excellent addition to any police department. 

Officer Tre Pruitt with his partner, K9 Officer Kait.

On Sunday November 18, the Tulalip Police Department (TPD) welcomed a new officer to the team by the name of Tipper, a nineteen-month old black lab. The following day, a three-year old border collie named Kait also joined the unit. After several weeks of training, the young lady pups are now officially TPD K-9 Officers and are focused solely on ridding the Tulalip community of illegal drugs.

“This nation is dealing with an opioid epidemic,” says TPD Deputy Chief Sherman Pruitt. “It’s one of the big issues going on right now on this reservation, as well as all reservations throughout the United States. Bringing on two K-9 officers is beneficial for our police department as well as the reservation to combat that epidemic. They are trained to identify certain drugs, as you know marijuana is legal in the state of Washington, so they’re mainly trained with heroin, meth as well as cocaine. We’re exposed to a lot of drugs out here including fentanyl which is ten times stronger than heroin. Having these K-9 units will help combat that.”

Kait’s partner, TPD Officer Tre Pruitt, recently explained the long but worthwhile process of becoming a certified handler of a K-9 officer. He expressed that he always wanted to have a K-9 partner and immediately applied when the opportunity came. Five fellow TPD Officers also applied. They wrote essays, took a series tests and interviewed for a chance to become certified handlers by attending a six-week long K-9 training at the Washington State Department of Corrections Narcotic Dog Academy in Shelton, Washington. After a competitive application process, Officer Pruitt and Officer Jacob Wilcox were selected and traveled to Shelton to meet their new partners. 

“She’s very friendly and calm,” Officer Pruitt beams as his partner obediently sits by his side. “Most of the dispatchers call her a therapy dog, everyone loves her. She pays a little more attention to detail than most other dogs and is very particular with her work. Once she’s tasked with finding something, she’s dead set on finding it.”

All of a sudden Kait sat up at attention and her ears perked up. Seconds later, the door at the opposite end of the police department opened. 

“Who’s that, girl?” Officer Pruitt asked his excited partner. “Is that your friend?” 

He let her off her leash and she did a quick spin before sprinting down the hall. Just as quick as she vanished, she reappeared, only this time she was chased by Tipper. 

The dogs hurried to the large open space at the center of the department. Kait stopped on a dime and Tipper also halted as they faced each other. Kait juked left before immediately running in the opposite direction. Tipper recovered quickly, as she was fooled only briefly, and was now hot on Kait’s tail. The dogs continued to engage in a friendly game of doggy tag before duty called for Kait and Officer Pruitt. Tipper trotted back to Officer Wilcox who happily spoke about becoming acquainted with his new partner.

“She kind of took to me,” he says. “We trained with a bunch of a different dogs and this dog fit with me; wherever I went, she followed. We grew a bond together while at training. She’s a pup so we had to introduce her to narcotics, this is what it smells like and here’s your ball if you find it. She wouldn’t sit right away when she smelled the drugs, she’d actually give me an animated look like, ‘dad I found it, now give me the ball’. So we had to get her to sit, that’s how I know she’s got something.”

Officer Tipper.

The K-9 officers also live in the homes of their partners. Officers Pruitt and Wilcox had to learn how to care for the dogs while off duty and learn what to feed them, what toys they can play with and how their families should interact with them, so the dogs are ready and focused when it’s time to return to work.

“Right now we have the two new K-9s, they will be working primarily late afternoons throughout the evening, seven days a week,” states TPD Chief Sutters. “Our goal is to have at least one K-9 on duty, helping patrol the streets of Tulalip. This is the introduction and part of our overall drug [taskforce] strategy. 

“When there’s suspected narcotics on a call, in a car, in a residence or on a person, the dogs can be summoned to the scene and can use their detection senses,” he continues. “If they detect the presence of illegal drugs, officers are trained to take it to the next step. We want to use all the tools available to protect the citizens of Tulalip. These dogs are great assets to the police department, they can smell through luggage, clothing, locked containers, cars, they can detect narcotics in hidden places that our officers wouldn’t be able to find easily.”

Officer Kait.

During their first few weeks on duty, the K-9 officers have already discovered a significant amount of stashed baggies hidden in vehicles, backpacks and on-person of users entering and leaving the reservation.

Officer Wilcox pointed out that the drugs up north are  made and cut with different chemicals than the drugs they were originally trained with, claiming they emit a different odor. Because of the recent findings, the K-9s are becoming more familiar with the smell of the drugs they will be primarily searching for in Tulalip. 

“If anything, it’ll scare a lot of drug dealers from coming out here, now that they know we have the dogs,” says Officer Wilcox “You’ll be seeing the K-9 officers out on the road and that will impact the amount of incoming drugs.”

Aside from busting local drug operations, Tipper and Kait are excited to get to know the people of Tulalip and will be visiting with the youth at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy, Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary and Heritage High School. The dogs will also be in attendance at many upcoming community events and are happy to meet you and your family, so be sure to say hello if you get the chance. 

“Bringing our K-9 units out to the community and to the kids at the schools is beneficial for both the department and our community,” says Deputy Chief Pruitt. “Our K-9 officers are a tool and a resource to our agency but are also a friend and a family member. Working for the Tulalip Tribes, we are very family oriented, so bringing on the K-9 officers to the TPD family means we are also welcoming them to our Tulalip family.” 

Junior Hawks crowned North South champions

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The North Sound Junior Football League is the most competitive and officially coordinated league in the area for youth eager to showcase their skills on the gridiron. This season North Sound welcomed five new teams into the league; Pee-Wees, 89ers, Juniors, Bantam, and Seniors all proudly represented the Tulalip Hawks program over the last several months. 

The Bantam (12-u) team, coached by tribal member James Madison, separated themselves from all other teams thanks in part to an explosive offensive and lockdown defense. Loaded with talented, young Tulalip athletes, the Junior Hawks Bantam squad had Championship or bust expectations from the get-go. 

“Our kids are out here representing Tulalip the best way they can,” said Coach Madison prior to the season opener’s kick-off. “They all know each other, most are family, and they get out on the field and just play hard. We know, as a program, we’re brand new but we’re determined to show every week that we’re Tulalip and proud of it. These kids have set a goal from day one to win a championship, and we expect to do just that.”

With lofty expectations, this group of youngsters played at a championship level by steam-rolling their competition week after week. During the regular season, they routinely exploited defenses with their overpowering running game, while stifling their opponents’ best players. Producing blowout victory after blowout victory, these Junior Hawks outshined everyone in the Bantam division. 

Going into the postseason they averaged 40.8 points on offense, while giving up just 5.1 points on defense. That whopping margin of victory increased after a 50-0 victory in their 1st round playoff game, followed by a 40-0 win in the semi-finals. The pair of playoff Ws setup the North Sound championship game between the Tulalip Hawks vs. Lynnwood Royals on Saturday, November 10 at Arlington High School.

The kick-off temperature was around 40 degrees, which made the 200+ fans in the stands layer up with winter coats and blankets galore. But on the field, the boys’ blood was running hot with excitement knowing they were just one more victory away from reaching their championship goal. 

In the opening quarter, Tulalip scored first when running back Gio Hernandez took a direct snap from center and scored on a 25-yard run. Lynnwood quickly countered with a score of their own, which Tulalip then topped with another Gio touchdown, this time off a 38-yard run and score. 

Lynnwood again matched the Junior Hawks with a running touchdown of their own, marking the first time since their first game of the season that Tulalip gave up multiple scores to their opponent. It was obvious that Lynnwood had brought their A-game and Tulalip would have to take their play to another level in order to win.

Midway through the 2nd quarter, running back Gaylan Gray added to his highlight reel with 37-yard touchdown run that included a sweet spin-move to break a tackle. The touchdown put Tulalip up 19-13 going into halftime.

To start the 2nd half, Tulalip coaches watched from the sidelines as Lynnwood was again moving the ball well against their defense. The Royals tied the game at 19-19 after a punch in from the 1-yard line. The game tightened up from that point, with both teams’ defenses coming up with multiple 4th down stops. The score remained 19-19 for the remainder of the 3rd quarter and most of the 4th. 

With only minutes left in the title game, Tulalip marched down the field with an impressive drive. Lynnwood’s defense finally buckled when running back Gaylan took a 14-yard hand off to the left sideline, broke two tackles and dove towards pay dirt. His touchdown put Tulalip up 26-19 with three minutes left to play. The Junior Hawks defense came up huge on Lynnwood’s subsequent drive when they forced a fumble and several Tulalip defenders jumped on the loose ball.

With the ball back in the hands of their explosive offense, the Junior Hawks iced the game with another direct snap to their running back. Once again it was to Gaylan who followed his blockers up the right sideline for a 29-yard score. With a mighty 32-19 advantage and just two minutes remaining the game was all but over. Moments later, a pair of quarterback sacks by Gio and Ryelon Zackuse sealed the Junior Hawks victory. Tulalip had achieved their preseason goal and was crowned North Sound division Champions!

“The 1st half was a real battle between two good teams. When we were tied up, the coaches kept telling us to keep playing hard and stick to the game plan,” reflected 12-year-old Gio following his two-touchdown game. “In the 2nd half our defense really stepped up and set the tone, which got us fired up on offense.”

“Last time we played Lynnwood we shut them down, so we were surprised they played so well to start the game,” added Gaylan, who also scored two touchdowns. “But we came together as a team during halftime and hyped each other up. It was a great game and I feel really good because this is my first football championship.”

Looking forward, the Champions from Tulalip will be playing in a Northwest Regionals tournament Thanksgiving weekend. That will be their final test before they travel to Canton, Ohio where they’ve been invited to play in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s World Youth Championship. This is a once in a lifetime experience for these boys who are making memories they’ll never forget.  

 

Music yoU ROCK

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

For one hour, every Monday evening, the Tulalip Youth Council board room is turned into a music studio where a live rock band rehearsal takes place. As you approach the building, you hear the sound of drum patterns increasing and decreasing in pace and volume, accompanied by small fits of laughter. In the middle of the youth council chambers was a small circle of young musicians banging out beats on large paint buckets. The band is so caught up in the moment and exuding so much joy that their smiles become extremely contagious and every four measures somebody ends up making the entire group crack up with just a grin. 

As the drums started to decrescendo, a voice that many local youth would instantly recognize, began to sing the hello song, welcoming everybody to the rehearsal. Victoria Fansler, of the Snohomish County Music Project (SCMP), led the band with the first song of the day. Victoria often works with the Tulalip youth at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy, Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary and many other schools and tribal programs, helping the kids overcome traumatic experiences through music therapy. Over a year ago, representatives of SCMP attended a meeting held by the Tulalip Youth Services Inclusive Advocacy Committee,  and from the meeting, Music yoU ROCK was created – an interactive, inclusive rock band instructed by SCMP Music Therapist, Colby Cumine. 

“We started about a year ago,” says Colby. “We attended a few parent committee meetings for tribal youth with special needs and there was talk about a lack of opportunities for kids with special needs, especially those who are aging out of services. After high school, there are no federal requirements to continue providing services for individuals with disabilities who graduate from high school. We started the program a year ago and we had three or four people sign up each quarter. And we’ve had three other successful quarters since then.”

After Victoria welcomes everybody to the class, the band practices a few more rhythmic exercises before Colby calls upon someone to pick a song the class can get down to. Colorful scarves are passed out as Colby queues up the jams on his phone. Once the beat drops, everybody is out of their seats, dancing and waving their scarves. Following the dance party, the group picks the instrument and partner of their choice and begin practicing a song. This particular day, the band worked on the Michael Jackson classic, Billy Jean. After practicing with their partners, the band reforms their circle in the middle of the room to perform the song altogether. 

“We are using music for goals that aren’t necessarily musical,” says Victoria. “In Music-Ed or a typical rock band experience, the focus would be on the final product, the performance and quality of the music. Here we’re focusing on that ensemble connection, noticing how each other plays and communicating together.”

“Music is a level playing field, everyone enjoys music in some form or another,” adds Colby. “In the music therapy setting, we don’t emphasize how well you can play the instrument but how much fun you’re having while playing the instrument. So if you’re a super talented guitar player who can play all the chords, licks and chops, or if you’re just strumming along having fun, both of those are equally as successful in this program. 

“It’s a really good way to bring people together,” he continues. “People are sharing songs here; every week we drum along to a song chosen by someone attending the group. Even today one of the guys was singing along to a song he doesn’t listen to outside of this group but he’s picking those lyrics up and connecting with other people through that song and that makes my day. It’s always cool to see their growth, it’s always such a rewarding reminder of why we started this program and why we want to continue it.”

Before the class ends, Victoria sings farewell to her bandmates. Many of the musicians meet up briefly after the class to discuss their day and speculate on how much fun next week’s class will be. 

“I come in every Monday,” says young rocker Ernie Mapanoo. “I like to play the guitars and learn to play the piano. Today I was working on a Michael Jackson song, I like that song a lot too, it was fun. I work on all kinds of songs though because I love music. I play the drums and guitar, that’s why I come out all the time to this rock band. [Colby and Victoria] are pretty cool too; I like them a lot.” 

This quarter, the band was joined by future music therapists Lindsey and Kesha, Seattle Pacific University music therapy practicum students. Throughout the entire session, the young ladies assisted the musicians with chords and tempo and shared laughs during both of the dance and drumming sessions. 

The musicians will continue vibing out the Youth Council board room every Monday from 4:30-5:30 p.m. until December 17. Towards the end of Music yoU ROCK, the band will record a few of their hits and have a listening party on the last day of the program.

Music yoU ROCK is funded through the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA). The program is open to the entire community. Those who are DDA participants can attend the program with no charge. For non-DDA particpants, the cost of the progam is $220.

For more information, please contact Tulalip Youth Services at (360) 716-4909 or the Snohomish County Music Project at (425) 258-1605.

N8tive Vote 2018 Rez-to-Rez tour visits Tulalip

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On October 27, tribal leaders embarked on a momentous 10-day tour to visit all 29 of Washington State’s tribal nations in a first-of-its-kind effort to encourage Native citizens to have their voice heard by voting in the November 6 midterm election. 

According to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), nationwide 34% of eligible Native voters are not registered to vote. The turnout rate of American Indian and Alaska Native registered voters is also very low, being historically 5 to 14 percentage points lower than the rate of many other racial and ethnic groups. The Rez-to-Rez tour aimed to change that by going directly to Native voters and encouraging them to vote.

“The Puyallup Tribe is proud to sponsor the N8tive Vote 2018 Rez-to-Rez tour,” said Puyallup Tribe Chairman Bill Sterud. “This is the very first time we’ve had an intertribal tour like this. Now is the time to stand up and use your voice so get out and vote!”

While encouraging Native voter turnout, N8tive Vote 2018 also shared information about initiatives 1631 (Carbon Emissions Fee Measure) and 940 (De-Escalate Washington).

“This is a historical election year for Washington natives with both I-1631 and I-940 involving Native peoples and communities at their core,” said Quinault President Fawn Sharp. “As Natives, we have power… the power of our voice, the power of our unity and strength, and the power of our vote. We encourage all Natives to exercise that power by voting in this year’s election.”

The N8tive Vote 2018 movement came about thanks to a political coalition, called the First American Project, founded by an all-star collective of Native American leaders from within the state and their allies from fellow communities of color. With a mission to advocate for righteous environmental and civil rights policies, the First American Project’s first priority was to pass I-1631, the comprehensive climate change policy that was co-authored by tribal leadership. 

After visiting 21 tribes in seven days, N8tive Vote’s Rez-to-Rez tour made their 22nd stop at Tulalip on Friday, November 2. An engaged gathering of 40+ individuals from youth to elders convened at the Tulalip Youth Center for an evening dedicated to empowering each and every Native citizen to cast their votes and mail in their ballots. 

“My hands go up to all of you who are committed to spreading awareness and encouraging participation in this most important midterm election,” expressed Tulalip Chairwoman Marie Zackuse during the voting rally. “We must work hard to protect our people and our sovereignty that is being attacked every single day. We must never forget our ancestors who stood up strong and fought for us as a people to have the right to vote, to have our voices count.”

Tulalip tribal member Ryan Miller was recognized for his steadfast commitment to advocating and creating policies that protect the environmentand our treaty rights.

During the evening’s event, Tulalip tribal members Terry Williams and Ryan Miller were both recognized for their steadfast commitment to strengthening our community by advocating and creating policies that protect the environment and our treaty rights. For their years of service and dedication they both were wrapped in blankets and gifted cedar woven headbands. 

Tulalip tribal members Theresa Sheldon and Terry Williams with
Tim Reynon, Puyallip tribal council member. Terry was recognized by N8tive Vote Washington for his work in fighting climate change and protecting our treaty rights.

“It has been a very good day. A day where we came together as different tribes to speak the same language and see the same vision of what’s in front of us,” reflected Terry, who made his career as a treaty rights commissioner working for Natural Resources. “The togetherness allows us to walk in unison with good hearts and good minds as we look to protect our Mother Earth.” 


Celebrating midterm election results

Progress, justice, and history is being celebrated around Indian Country as Election Day results showed Democrats regaining control of the House of Representatives, Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk) and Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) becoming the first-ever Native women elected to Congress, and the tribal-sponsored Initiative 940 (De-Escalate Washington) passed with strong support.

“Washington becomes the first state in the nation to respond to the national conversation about use of force by passing a ballot measure by a direct vote of the people,” stated De-Escalate Washington’s official campaign page following the victory. “Yes on 940 will improve training, save lives, and help build better relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

A large contingent of 250+ Native citizens gathered at the Puyallup Tribe’s stylish showroom for an election night viewing party. The occasion also marked the final destination of N8tive Vote 2018’s Rez-to-Rez tour. 

“We are so grateful for Theresa Sheldon’s (center) leadership during our Rez-to-Rez tour. I call her the cheerleader because at every tribe we visited she would always lead us with her enthusiasm.”  – Puyallup Tribe councilman Tim Reynon.

“Today, we finished our 29th tribe on our amazing Rez-to-Rez tour,” reflected Tulalip tribal member Theresa Sheldon while addressing the crowd of supporters. “We have driven across the state from plateaus to the ocean, up and down the Salish Sea to encourage our people to vote! It’s been a fast and furious trip and I’m so thankful for this time.

“It’s been an absolute honor and privilege to have served on this journey to empowering our Indigenous communities,” she continued. “That fact that Initiative 940 passed is amazing; that is victory, that is justice, and that is speaking to the power of what we can achieve when we stand united.”

Celebrations were also enjoyed more locally by the Tulalip Tribes and their allies thanks to tribal member Senator John McCoy retaining his position by defeating challenger Savio Pham, and the passing of Fire District 15 Proposition #1, which will provide the Tulalip Bay Fire Department with much needed funding to upgrade emergency medical services.

Raising Hands: Celebrating charities and community groups making a positive impact

“We have not forgotten what it’s like to be in need; as we succeed because of our community,
we have a responsibility to give back.” – Chairwoman Marie Zackuse (2nd from left)

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On the evening of October 27, the Tulalip Tribes recognized and gave thanks to the 488 Washington non-profits and community groups who made a significant difference over the past year at the 11th annual Raising Hands celebration event. Held in the Tulalip Resort Casino’s Orca Ballroom, the stylish space was filled to max capacity as representatives of these high-impacting organizations came together to create an atmosphere of gratitude and shared values for making our community better.

“In the Tulalip Tribes tradition, we raise our hands to show appreciation to the numerous organizations that work so hard to contribute services to our community,” stated Chairwoman Marie Zackuse. “It is truly remarkable how many of our citizens, non-profits, and community organizations are involved in efforts to improve health care, education, natural resources and the well-being of our communities. The Tulalip Tribes holds this event every year to let these individuals, organizations, and surrounding communities know that we value their good works.”

This year’s Raising Hands recognized the prior year in community achievement stimulated by a record $7.9 million in Tulalip support to more than 480 charitable organizations. Since 1992, the Tulalip Tribes charitable giving program has donated over $92.1 million in critical support to the community and, indirectly, to their own membership by supporting regional efforts to improve education, health and human services, cultural preservation, public services, the environment, and the economy.

But the Raising Hands event isn’t all about dollars and cents. At the annual celebration, our community’s change makers are given a chance to celebrate each other, to share their plans for the future, and to learn how others are striving to make a difference in our communities. This is an invaluable benefit for organizations who can sometimes struggle to get their message broadcast to the larger community. 

This year, six recipient non-profits received special recognition for all that they do. Habitat for Humanity of Snohomish County, Leah’s Dream Foundation, Long Live the Kings, NorthWest Therapeutic Riding Center, Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), and Seattle’s Youth Symphony Orchestra (Musical Pathways Project) were highlighted for their good work serving the community. 

Additionally, there are traditional songs, speeches from tribal leaders, and videos that underscore the good work that is being done. Lushootseed language teacher, Maria Martin, opened the event with a compelling prayer. She was followed by the next generation of Tulalip culture bearers, 10-year-old KT Jean Hots and 8-year-old Allyea Lu Hernandez, performing Martha “səswix̌ab” LaMont’s Berry Picking Song. The exchange of cultural knowledge and understanding that took place at this year’s event was truly a sight to behold. 

“When you see people having these amazing, positive conversations that is when we see we are making a difference. Giving people the opportunity to work together is worth its weight in gold,” asserted Marilyn Sheldon, manager of Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund. “We try to show respect and honor these charities that give so much of themselves for this community. We want them to feel like the red carpet got laid out, and that it’s just for them.

“Each year, as soon as the event is over, we ask ourselves how we can help make the next one better,” continued Marilyn. “Some days, I feel so blessed that this is my job. We are so fortunate to be able to work with these amazing organizations in Snohomish and King Counties, and throughout Washington State that do so much good in our communities.”

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 allows tribes to conduct certain types of gaming if they enter into a gaming compact with the state. Tulalip’s tribal-state gaming compact, like most, includes a provision to donate a percentage of gaming earnings to organizations impacted by gaming, as well as other charitable organizations. From this provision the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund was created.

Charitable Contributions Fund provides the opportunity for a sustainable and healthy community for all. The Tulalip Tribes strives to work together with the community to give benefits back to others to help build a stronger neighborhood. That’s why, in Tulalip, it is tradition to ‘raise our hands’ to applaud and give thanks to the numerous organization in our region that strive to create a better world through positive action. 

Non-profits and community groups may apply for quarterly awards through the Tulalip Cares program. For more information, visit the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Funds website at www.TulalipCares.org 

 

Tulalip Tribes stewardship recognized by the Harvard Project

Albert Moses. Photo by Ross Fenton.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The Harvard Project’s Honoring Nations program has announced the selection of 18 semifinalists for the 2018 Honoring Nations awards. Among those selections are a variety of outstanding programs exemplifying self-governance and resource management, which includes the Tulalip Tribes ongoing demonstration of sovereignty through stewardship. 

Honoring Nations identifies, celebrates and shares excellence in Native American tribal governance. At the heart of Honoring Nations are the principles that tribes themselves hold the key to generating social, political, and economic prosperity and that self-governance plays a crucial role in building and sustaining strong, healthy tribal nations

Since 1999, Honoring Nations has endeavored to spotlight successful governmental programs across Indian Country. This year’s applications included nearly 70 outstanding tribal programs representing 51 tribes. Of these, 18 were selected as semifinalists. These programs have demonstrated incredible impact in their communities, evidenced by their effectiveness, significance to sovereignty, cultural relevance, transferability, and sustainability – the criteria by which Honoring Nations assesses applicant programs.*

“Each year we are blessed with the gifts of Indigenous peoples’ resilience and perseverance reflected in their response to the challenges our people and nations face. They rise to the same levels as our forefathers did in their time to define the inheritance of the next generation,” stated Regis Pecos, Chairman of the Honoring Nations Board of Governors. “We are proud to share their wisdom and their vision.”

swədaʔx̌ali: Sovereignty through Stewardship”

Tribal communities in the Pacific Northwest have long-standing relationships to ancestral lands now managed by federal land management agencies. Generally speaking, during the centuries before colonial expansion, Indigenous peoples were profoundly connected with their natural surroundings. These cultures approached the natural world with an attitude of reverence and stewardship rather than dominion. In recent years, federal and state governments have increasingly recognized tribal rights to cultural resources on public lands and to participate in their management.

In the summer of 2009, three Tulalip staff accompanied the Skykomish District Ranger to a remote high elevation area of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (MBS). This 1,280-acre area located 5,000 feet up in the mountainous highlands is now referred to as swədaʔx̌ali, a Coast Salish Lushootseed word for ‘Place of Mountain Huckleberries’.

“Over the last seven years, since the area’s formal designation, Tulalip has guided the management of this special area based on tribal values and ecological knowledge, and in direct support of the treaty, cultural, spiritual, subsistence and educational needs of our membership and our future generations,” explained Libby Nelson, Senior Environmental Policy Analyst for Tulalip’s Treaty Rights Office. “For example, rather than allowing continued encroachment of conifers that would eventually shade out huckleberries and other associated plants, Tulalip staff will remove many of them to stall natural succession in certain areas at swədaʔx̌ali. This will allow us to maintain productive berry fields and other cultural plants of importance, and enhance habitat for wildife that forage in open meadows.

“The swədaʔx̌ali co-management area did not happen easily or overnight,” continued Libby. “Instead, it was the result of a committed and sustained effort initiated by Tulalip to get the attention of our federal trustee, the U.S. Forest Service. Dialogue over three years culminated in the signing of the first tribal Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in 2007. As our relationship with the Forest Service grew under our MOA, so too did the breadth of projects undertaken.” 

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 Tulalip Mountain Camp began in 2015, providing an annual weeklong, overnight natural resources and culture camp for middle-school tribal youth at σωəδαʔξ̌αλι This outdoor program seeks to connect youth to nature in a remote setting, teach them about their ancestral lands in the mountains, and engage directly with elders and our natural resources staff in huckleberry enhancement. This camp program has had a very positive impact on youth participants, as measured by camper surveys, feedback from families, and the significant number of return campers each year.  

This initiative at swədaʔx̌ali is not only relevant to Tulalip culture, but is designed specifically to help sustain it. Continuation of tribal lifeways is dependent on having the resources that support these lifeways, access to them, and opportunities to transfer tribal knowledge and traditions to our youth. The 1,280-acre mountain area that constitutes σωəδαʔξ̌αλι, offers not only a diversity of habitats, plants and animals, but also remoteness, solitude and a relatively pristine environment needed for many cultural activities.

“We view our MOA and our work at swədaʔx̌ali as a strategic and dynamic government-to-government collaboration, with benefits directly proportional to the time and resources we invest in it,” reflected Libby. “The swədaʔx̌ali co-stewardship area most benefits Tulalip by providing an area for treaty gathering of high elevation resources, and for huckleberries in particular. It’s a place for our membership to connect to their ancestral mountain lands in a quiet, pristine, private setting, that is accessible to elders.”

The Harvard Project selected Tulalip’s ongoing stewardship of swədaʔx̌ali as a semifinalist for the 2018 Honoring Nations awards. As such, Tulalip’s commitment to stewardship is an active exercise in self-determination and implementing effective solutions to common governmental challenges in the areas of environmental research and resource management.

“Every day, tribal nations are solving complex issues in meaningful and effective way,” stated Director of Honoring Nations, Megan Hill. “Their work is inspiring, and holds examples for other governments, Native and non-native, to learn from.”

*Source: Honoring Nations press release, 3/28/2018

Yes on I-1631

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

On a sunny autumn afternoon, a gathering was held outside of the Western States Petroleum Association building in Lacey, Washington on October 17. Many participants arrived wearing cedar hats and headbands and carrying traditional hand drums, as tribal members journeyed from around the state to show support of Initiative Measure No. 1631, an effort to charge pollution fees to large greenhouse gas emitters and conserve our natural resources for generations to come. As more and more participants arrived, they began to make signs to wave at local commuters who were taking a shortcut through an I-5 overpass. A number of small drum circles began to form and prayers were shared while they waited in anticipation for the I-1631 rally guest speakers to take the floor, including former Standing Rock Chairman, Dave Archambault and Quinault Indian Nation President, Fawn Sharp. 

“Today we are here to raise awareness and to rally support around I-1631 right in front of the Western States Petroleum Association,” passionately expressed President Sharp. “They have sunk over twenty-two million dollars into their campaign to stop us but we are resilient, we are strong and we want to amplify our voice. We are confident that through our prayers and through the rich legacy of leadership throughout the ages, from the beginning of time to the end of time, we are going to be victorious on election day.”

As this year’s General Election date of November 6 draws nearer, it’s important to understand what I-1631 is and why it’s important for Northwest tribes. The initiative is a climate policy that imposes a fee on organizations that burn or sell fossil fuels, that includes motor vehicle fuel, natural gas and electricity. The measure is expected to generate over two-billion dollars within five fiscal years, beginning on January 1, 2020, and is set at fifteen dollars per metric ton of carbon content, or the carbon dioxide equivalent released from burning fossil fuels. This will increase by two dollars each year until 2035, putting the state on target to reach its 2035 and 2050 greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The monies generated from the carbon fee are prioritized as follows: 70% of carbon fees will go toward a new clean-energy infrastructure for Washington, utilizing clean, renewable energy, providing public transportation that uses cleaner fuels as well efficiency upgrades to homes and businesses to help save money on utilities; 25% of funds from the measure will go toward clean water and healthy forests, ensuring our forests are well taken care of and can protect the air quality, clean-up polluted lakes and rivers, increase the amount of drinking water and ensure cleaner water for salmon; and the remaining 5% will be invested into the local communities, preparing for any future problems that may arise due to climate change. 

Fawn Sharp, Quinault Indian Nation President

“I-1631 is a specific climate policy tribes’ gathered over the last year and a half,” says Fawn. “Quinault has been working on this initiative for well over two years and we’ve been working on climate policy for about twelve years. It was very clear to us that we’re not going to achieve climate policy in Olympia, it’s not going to happen in Washington D.C., but we were also confident that the average citizen understands the role of tribes as leaders. 

If you look to Lummi at Cherry Point or Quinault fighting crude oil in Grays Harbor, the average citizen understands our treaties are the last line of defense to keep corporations out and from continuing to exploit our natural environment. We pulled all those resources together, the brain trust of Indian Country, our scientists, our lawyers, our tribal leaders and we adopted thirteen basic principles of climate policy that we knew were the minimum standards for us to effectively combat climate change.”  

As the rally continued, tribal and community leaders from Tulalip, Quinault, Puyallup, Nisqually, Squaxin and several other sovereign nations shared their traditional songs as well as words of encouragement that got the crowd of over one-hundred I-1631 supporters hyped. Young Tulalip and Tsleil-Waututh Indigenous Activist, Cedar George-Parker, spoke to the youth about the importance of their voice and Earth-Feather Sovereign talked about MMIW (Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women), continuing to bring much needed awareness to the epidemic that is claiming the lives of our Native women. Dave Archambault journeyed from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to show his support of the initiative.

“For me, [I-1631] means the things that happened at Standing Rock lives on,” he says. “The effort that was put forth to protect Unci Maka, Mother Earth, wasn’t lost just because that one battle didn’t work out the way we wanted it to. The policy that fails us is consultation and 1631 is a way to address that and a way to assure that tribes have complicit consent when a project threatens their homelands or threatens their environment, threatens mankind or humanity. When tribes speak up, we will be heard and that’s transcends from Standing Rock and that’s what today means to me.”

I-1631 does in fact have a provision for the tribes of Washington state that requires any state agency to consult with tribes on any decisions that could directly affect the tribes, their land or their usual and accustomed fishing grounds. Projects that are funded or begin on tribal land without prior consultation will be forced to end upon request of the tribe. Keeping the tribe’s sovereignty at heart was the First American Project comprised of several tribal leaders and El Centro de la Raza, a Latino based organization that promotes unity amongst all races. 

“The First American Project was originally founded when tribes organized to take out Slade Gordon and elect senator Maria Cantwell,” explains Fawn. “When it came time to organize for I-1631 we thought it would be a natural fit to revive something that worked so well for tribes in the past. We wanted not only to create space for tribal nations but also our partners like El Centro de la Raza who helped us during the fishing wars. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to join our communities that have worked effectively in the past. We view I-1631 as the first issue we are going to take up. We understand that there are many issues of our generation like immigration that we can partner with El Centro because I think tribal nations have something to say about immigration and separating children from families.”

Theresa Sheldon, Tulalip tribal member and First American Project Board member

Tulalip tribal member and First American Project Board Member, Theresa Sheldon, took up emcee duties during the rally. She is also the project’s Campaign Chairwomen and has been tasked with informing and educating Native Peoples on why the initiative is important.

“It’s important for us because we’re the first ones who feel it,” Theresa states. “Native Peoples are like the canary birds in the coalmines, we’re the first ones to show signs of it not being safe. We’re already seeing that; we’re seeing that in gathering our cedar, gathering our huckleberries, we’re seeing the change in the seasons happen and the change in our plants. Sea level rise is already impacting our nations, look at Taholah, Queets and Hoh who have to relocate. They’re the first ones on the ocean so it’s already impacting them. Tulalip Tribes just did our climate change flood levels and in fifty years we’re looking at a lot of different areas of our reservation that potentially could be under water. That’s scary to think about, that will be during my lifetime so I’ll probably see that.

“It’s also important for Natives because carbon is what warms our water,” she continues. “Carbon pollution warms our Puget Sound and our rivers and that’s what’s impacting our fish. That results in not being able to have our fish, crab, our traditional foods. And once it’s gone, there’s no coming back. All the studies have shown that we’re the ones who can make the change, this generation has to make monumental changes. It has to be radical, it has to be fierce and intense changes, it can’t be to just stop using straws.”

Studies show that climate change is real and is currently happening at an alarming rate. If we continue to emit pollution into the environment, scientists predict that in a hundred years the world will frequently experience deadly, extreme heatwaves for days at a time. And if you think about it, one-hundred years isn’t that far away and the heatwaves are going to be something your great-great-grandchildren will have to live through. As Theresa pointed out, tribal lifeways are already being threatened by climate change, namely the Quinault Indian Nation’s villages of Taholah and Queets. 

“This is important as Quinault tribal leader because we are right now facing an emergency situation where I’m having to relocate two of our villages to higher ground, the villages of Taholah and Queets,” says Fawn. “In my tenure as President of the Quinault Nation, I’ve seen it first hand, it’s created an unreal sense of urgency for me and we’re going to continue to fight this until we achieve those policies that we know are minimally necessary for us to defend ourselves and advance our future.”

If voters pass I-1631, the initiative will create over 40,000 jobs in the clean energy field, developing and maintaining renewable energy resources such as wind turbines. A number of big name supporters including Bill Gates and Pearl Jam recently expressed that they are in favor of the measure. And organizations such as Microsoft, Expedia, Union of Concerned Scientists and the American Lung Association are funding the initiative.

On the other side of the coin, Western States Petroleum has dug deep into their pockets and raised over twenty-five million dollars to run a slew of misleading TV ads against I-1631 claiming that the fee is ‘unfair’ to big oil. The opposition also wants you to believe that a large amount of companies are exempt from the fee, which is true to a degree if they are referring to coal burning factories or power plants that have been legally bound to close no later than 2025. 

A real concern for undecided voters is that the cost of gasoline, electricity and natural gas is expected to rise as a result of the companies’ obligation to pay the carbon fee. However, funds raised from the fee will actually help Washingtonians transition into more of a clean energy lifestyle by utilizing renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power, so we’re not dependent on companies who are harming the environment.  

“The power of our tribal communities is so remarkable and I firmly believe that when we come together, no matter what the issue, we’re unstoppable,” expresses Fawn. “When you look at this last year, we were victorious on the culverts case, we were victorious on eleven different treaty conflicts with the state of Washington. At any time, anyone or anything tries to attack us and we come together, we’re quite successful. 

“We envision a clean, healthy future. A prosperous future where renewable energy, new technologies and new economies are going to be developed and you’re going to see an explosion of growth in Indian Country. The one thing I would like to tell the voters is to get out there and vote. If you’re not registered, register [by October 29] and make sure your voice counts on November 6.”

For more information, please visit www.YesOn1631.org

TELA celebrates first Cultural Day

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

On the morning of October 12, the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA) gymnasium was occupied by tiny future leaders who sat crisscross apple sauce while listening to the Killer Whale story told by a team of nine Lushootseed Language Teachers. In addition to stories, the teachers also performed a number of traditional songs, receiving plenty of crowd interaction as the youngsters knew many of the words and happily sang along in Lushootseed. This joyful gathering was just the first of many upcoming Cultural Days where the students attend an assembly in the morning and create crafts in the afternoon, all while learning about the traditional lifeways of the Tulalip people. 

“The second Tuesday of every month we are having a Cultural Day during a full day of school,” explains TELA Montessori Manager, Tami Burdett. “We start with a cultural assembly and invite the families and then we do a cultural craft in the classrooms. We teamed up with the language department and it was wonderful because the kids know these songs and they proudly sing them.”

This year TELA has implemented a language immersion curriculum, partnering with the Lushootseed language department to teach the revitalized Coast Salish vocabulary to the kids. Every day the language warriors pay a visit to the classrooms, sometimes leading the class by sharing stories and songs in Lushootseed, other times simply interacting with the kids and speaking the language to them individually during playtime or lessons. 

Studies have shown that kids soak up the most knowledge during early childhood development, making the expression ‘a child’s brain is like a sponge’ seemingly true. Families of other cultures have proven that kids can learn to fluently speak two languages at a young age, speaking their native tongue at home and English while at school or with friends. More importantly, TELA is proving that right now with the language immersion approach, ensuring Lushootseed lives well into the future. 

Cultural Day takes the traditional teachings and the language immersion idea to a new level. Each assembly features local guest speakers who offer their stories and teachings to the students. The half hour assembly is followed by cultural crafts. Once the kids return to their classrooms, they participate in a hands-on traditional art project. 

“Each of the classrooms are going to be doing a fish print today,” says Tami. “Once completed those will be going home with the kids to share with their families. It’s actually really neat, they take the salmon and paint it and then they take the fish and put in on fabric and you have a beautiful fish print. We’ve known many families that frame their kids’ fish prints and display them at home.”

Many TELA teachers use craft time as an opportunity to expand their lesson plan and teach the kids the cultural significance the craft has to Native communities. For instance, as her students covered their fish in red paint, TELA teacher Alix McKiernan asked them a few questions about salmon, like where do salmon live and if they liked to eat salmon. After the kids responded, Alix added a number of ‘did-ya-know?’ facts about the relationship between salmon and Northwest tribes and also asked the students if they’ve ever caught a salmon or went fishing with their families. 

After their prints were finished, Alix’s classroom was treated to more interactive education as she cut open the salmon so the kids could get an up close look at the anatomy of the fish.

TELA’s next Cultural Day will be held on November 13, and families are welcome to join and watch Tulalip’s future generation learn their ancestral teachings to strengthen the culture for years to come. 

“It warms my heart to hear the children sing and speak the language and to see them so excited to learn about our culture,” Tami expresses. “[At future Cultural Days,] the boys will be making drums with their families and the girls will be making clappers. Those will follow them until they graduate and then they get to take them home and use them to practice and perform. The kids love the songs and the language, even when we welcome them into the school every morning we hear ηαʔɬ δαδατυ ανδ ηαʔɬ σψəψαʔψαʔ in the afternoon. We love hearing the language.

“We would like to send a big shout out to Brandon Carrillo for donating fish; Ms. Kris who coordinated with her brother-in-law, Steven Young, from fisheries, they donated nine salmon. And also, Rudy Madrigal, who bought twelve fish from our fishermen and donated them to [TELA Policy Council Chair] Mike Pablo for us.”

For more information about Cultural Day, please contact the Betty J. Taylor Academy at (360) 716-4250. 

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.