Native Heartbeats Creates Personalized Novelties With an Indigenous Twist


By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Three short years ago, young Tulalip tribal member Mackenzie Parks found herself in an auspicious situation while at a trade show in Los Angeles. Her eyes fell onto a laser-engraving machine, used to customize jewelry with personal messages. After inquiring about the machine from a salesperson at the show, she continued to observe the laser machine in action. As she studied the product, people began to approach Mackenzie, asking how the machine worked. She happily informed the small crowd about the laser-engraver and while doing so, decided to purchase one of her own, essentially selling the product to herself. Thus beginning her new business venture, Native Heartbeats.

“I am a young, entrepreneurial tribal woman with some big dreams for Native Heartbeats,” Mackenzie states. “I’ve invested my life savings into this business knowing that there are tons of people out in this world doing the same thing. Every time a team goes to get sports plaques, they go to a business like mine. The trouble with their business model is that they’re all fighting for the same customer. My vision is to create a new customer, kind of like my own niche market. What better than my Native American culture?”

The inspiration for Mackenzie’s new project came in the form of one of the world’s favorite carbohydrates, the potato. When hearing about a humorous story of a man successfully selling personalized potatoes nationwide, Mackenzie, along with her father Les Parks, conjured the idea of gathering and customizing flat beach rocks for tribal members across the nation. Now Mackenzie is the owner of a unique company that combines traditional Native American artwork with modern technology to create items such as drums and carvings that are engraved with family photos and personal messages.

Since purchasing the laser-engraver, Mackenzie has been perfecting her craft by learning the machine’s software and engraving several different types of materials. In addition to drums and woodcarvings, Mackenzie has successfully engraved photos and designs onto glass and stone, as well as leather. Les has been involved with Mackenzie’s project from the beginning, often bringing new ideas to the table. More importantly, he owned and operated a number of small businesses, and offers Mackenzie strong advice along her journey with Native Heartbeats.

Mackenzie’s father, Les Parks, brings new ideas and a helping hand to the business.

The father-daughter duo have put their brains together on more than one occasion to create new products. Perhaps one of their most astonishing creations are wooden salmon carvings which feature engraved Coast Salish designs, as well as additional space for a picture and a message. The salmon carvings are one of many popular items and have been commissioned for both gifts as well as memorial plaques for celebrations of life. In the near future, Mackenzie plans on packaging smoked salmon and attaching it to the back of each personalized salmon carving.

Currently, Native Heartbeats has a variety of novelties such as mirrors, jewelry boxes, hot plates and coasters that are ready to be engraved with your favorite designs and photos. Mackenzie is eager to grow her new startup and equally excited to create custom keepsakes for tribal members all across Native America.

“I love my culture and I’m happy I can get into it by creating unique pieces for people who love it just as much as I do,” she expresses. “While I’m just now nurturing my business plans, watch how it will grow in coming months and years. I would be happy to sit with anyone and talk about what my business can make for you and your families.”

If you are searching for the perfect gift this holiday season that is both personal and unique, please visit the Native Heartbeats Facebook page; and be sure to send the page a message for orders, pricing and all other inquires.

Traditional foods for a healthy community

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

On the evening of Wednesday November 8, the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy Gym was filled with excited Tulalip community members as they eagerly waited for the Traditional Foods and Medicine for the Family class to begin. The class is the second in a series of six that is hosted by the Tulalip Diabetes Prevention and Care Program. During the course of each three-hour class, attendees learn the importance of traditional Coast Salish foods such as deer, elk, berries, tea, salmon and shellfish; and also the uses of a variety of medicinal plants. The Diabetes Program assembled an all-star team to present these teachings to the people of Tulalip.

“We were really just looking for the right educators to come work with us, teachers who have the same diabetes focus but have an alternative approach to traditional types of diabetic care,” explains Diabetes Care and Prevention Coordinator, Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy. “We know Elise Krohn, she used to work at Northwest Indian College and she worked with the Diabetes Prevention Program. A lot of community members are familiar with Elise as well as Valarie Seacrest, they started a new company called GRuB – Garden Raised Bounty. We hired her and her team to do a series of six classes for us. They touch on diabetes, but they also touch on the traditional aspect of food and the health of those foods.”

The Diabetes Program brings in the Lushootseed Department to start each class with a traditional Tulalip song and blessing. Community members are treated to a meal catered by local tribal-member owned business, Ryan’s Rez-ipes. While preparing the meals for each class, Ryan caters the menu to the class attendees who are living with diabetes. Per Roni’s request, Ryan created three homemade salad dressings, low-sugar and diabetic friendly, which were an instant crowd favorite.

While enjoying the healthy dinner, all eyes turn to Roger Fernandez,  a storyteller from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. Roger is known throughout the Northwest tribal communities for providing thought provoking stories and has also been featured at Hibulb Cultural Center. During the classes, Roger shares a handful of traditional stories which emphasize the ancestral teachings in regards to the traditional Coast Salish diet.

Following the meal, attendees have the option to indulge in dessert, such as mixed berries, while the class continues with a lesson presented by the GRuB team. Participants learn about the nutritional aspect of the day’s food and compare the modern diet with the traditional diet. The Diabetes Program ends each class with an interactive cooking demonstration in which attendees put their newly acquired knowledge to use by creating a snack and/or remedy to take home, such as herbal infused beverages, pemmican, tea and herbal infused honey. In addition to the food, including leftover Ryan’s Rez-ipes and homemade snacks, the Diabetes Program also sends a select few home with gift bags.

“The giveaways are always cooking related or health food related,” says Roni. “We weave everything together, it’s our health and it’s all connected. And part of that is teaching about feeding the seven generations; learning to live with the spirit, diversifying your diet, eating more plants, traditional and wild foods, how we cook and eat with good intention and giving back to the land. They’re not aspects a western medical clinic, even in our surrounding communities, would be teaching about. That’s what makes Tulalip and Native communities so special. We have the opportunity to talk about the land, the environment and the water. It’s really worth it to bring the people together There were four generations here tonight and that’s a really good thing.”

Upcoming Traditional Foods and Medicine for the Family classes will be held December 6, 13 and 18 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The December 6th class is an all-day ‘train the trainer’ event where the Diabetes Program will be sharing the Traditional Foods curriculum with the teachers and instructors of the community. For more information, please contact the Diabetes Prevention and Care Program at (360) 716-5642.

Opportunistic youth enjoy “Glamping” adventure on the Oregon Coast

Sea lions entertain the girls at Port Stevens State Park.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Exploring the great outdoors is a concept lost on most youth today. The digital age has ushered in a generation of children who would rather use their digital devices within the confines of an available Wi-Fi signal than to go outside and play. For precisely this reason, it is imperative children are exposed to nature and their surrounding environments if for nothing else than to remind them there is a whole wondrous world out there and they are a part of it.

“Glamping” is a new term used to describe a method of exploring the outdoors, but still having some of the luxuries and comforts of home. Imagine, a primitive cabin located next to a beach that has bunk beds and electricity to provide heat, but no TVs, no computers, no Wi-Fi. Instead of a kitchen there’s an available fire-pit to make fires and then cook over. Oh, and the only available restroom in the evening is the one you construct. Talk about getting back to nature.

The girls visit the house featured in the movie Goonies.

For eight opportunist youth, plus their two chaperones, this was precisely their set of circumstances as they unplugged for three days and two nights in order to experience the great outdoors, namely the Seaside, Oregon coastline.

Jacynta Myles-Gilford, Kendra McLean, Savannah Black Tomahawk, Hazel Black Tomahawk, Lovaiya Guardipee, Tahlanna Guardipee, Mirayna Guardipee, and Ariyah Guardipee were all glamping first-timers eager to try out the new experience. Their chaperones were Barbara Hinchcliffe, Therapist at Behavioral Health, and Monica Holmes, MSPI Grant Behavioral Health.

“As part of the MSPI grant and values of Tulalip Youth Services, we hope to expose youth to various opportunities to learn and grow, build skills and positive coping mechanisms, while boosting their resiliency and quality of life,” explains Monica on the decision making that ultimately led to the glamping opportunity. “I believe that engaging youth in activities that stimulate their growth mindset, put them in a position to learn and practice self-sufficiency skills, and mentorship through adults who care about them helps our community get one step closer to solving the problem of teen suicide and addiction.”

During the three-day adventure along Seaside’s coastline, each young lady learned some basic outdoor essentials, like how to start a campfire, prepare food, and to cook over a campfire. They were introduced to financial literacy as well. Each participant was given a per diem to cover a meal out, souvenirs and entrance fees to various activities. Many of them learned to budget their money wisely and save for a rainy day.

Stormy weather made-up most of their first two days at the coast, however that didn’t stop the girls from having fun and finding new experiences. Despite the wind and heavy rainfall, the girls geared up in rain ponchos and explored the Seaside beach for adventures in the surf and sand.  Whether it was charging up sand dunes or splashing around in the ocean, there were plenty of smiles to go around.

A high-tide adventure was found at Fort Stevens State Park where the Peter Iredale shipwreck remains along the shore. The youth reveled in the sea foam, waves and climbed the wreck like a jungle gym. They also collected a variety of seashells, sand, and other beach trinkets for their memory cups they created.

While exploring their surroundings, the group came into contact with a variety of animals, such as elk, deer, raccoons, sea lions, and seals. In fact, at one of the coastal docks was a host of seals that entertained the girls with their funny antics and graceful swimming. When the girls bought sardines and tossed them out for the seals to eat as snacks, the seals gave a loud applause through their vocalizing.

The group came into contact with lots of other marine life when they enjoyed a tactile adventure at the Seaside Aquarium. A favorite spot was the octopus tank where those brave enough could reach into a water tank and feel the underside of octopus tentacles. The touch tank exposed the girls to a wide variety of local sea life located in the Pacific Ocean. Creatures like starfish, anemone, and sea urchins beckoned them to learn more about a range of textures, colors and habitats of each animal through a completely hands-on approach.

“My favorite part was…probably all of it!” exclaimed 11-year-old Savannah of her glamping experience. “I learned to work together and spend my money wisely.”

“I liked seeing such big waves. I’ve never seen ones like that before,” added 14-year-old Hazel.

While she enjoyed the getaway and seeing all the sights, 13-year-old Lovaiya said she “learned to be prepared” when it comes to the outdoors and inclement weather.

Reflecting on the Oregon Coast adventure with eight energetic youth minus smart phones and TV, chaperone Monica can’t help but smile. “Eight girls in two small cabins did not come without its minor setbacks. Youth were encouraged to express their issues in a forum where they could be resolved in a calm and constructive fashion. Each girl walked away learning how to resolve issues, trust each other, and live up to expectations for conduct and healthy communication. They represented the Tulalip Tribes, their families, and themselves well during our travels. I am so proud of the leaps and bounds everyone has made and look forward to watching them bloom into their highest potential.”

Tulalip Honors Our Veterans

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Throughout the weekend of November 11, citizens of Tulalip and its surrounding areas commemorated Veterans Day with several ceremonies in the community.  The gatherings allowed community members the chance to thank the veterans for their service in the United States Military as well as pay tribute to those who bravely fought for this nation’s freedom and are no longer with us.

On the morning of Thursday November 8, Tulalip Honor Guards journeyed to Totem Middle School for an assembly honoring veterans. The assembly included speeches from teachers and students as well as a spirited, patriotic-inspired performance by the Totem Middle School Band. Following the middle school assembly, the Honor Guards traveled to Quil Ceda Elementary for another assembly, which featured personal thank-yous from the young students. The Honor Guards were presented with a carved canoe paddle medallion necklaces as fifth graders spoke about the history of Veterans Day.

“Hi my name is Lupita and I am going to tell you a few things about Veterans Day,” stated a fifth grade Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary student. “Veterans Day is a United States public holiday. Veterans Day is on November 11. The reason it’s on November 11 is because World War I ended on the eleventh day of the eleventh month on the eleventh hour. We celebrate Veterans Day to recognize the people who served for our country.”

On Saturday November 11, Tulalip and Marysville community members gathered in the longhouse of the Hibulb Cultural Center to honor and pay tribute to the brave men and women who fought for our freedom. Veterans shared their experience in the Military during roll call as well as recognized the fallen soldiers and Veterans who have passed.

Seven Tulalip tribal members spent their summer crafting quilts to gift to the vets during the ceremony. The veterans were both surprised and graciously appreciative for the quilts. The Veterans Day event included a series of classes geared to veterans and their families – a lecture series with John Campbell, a glass art culture series with Robert Mitchell and a veterans healing forum with Rev. Bill Topash.

A huge thank you to the brave veterans who fought for our county and those who are currently serving in the military.

Future leaders sworn into Youth Council

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

In May of 2015, the Tulalip Tribes empowered their youth by creating the Tulalip Youth Council. The Youth Council meets regularly to discuss issues within the community as well as plan events, working closely with Tulalip Youth Services. Most importantly, the Youth Council presents a platform for future leaders to use their voice to communicate and present ideas to the Tulalip Board of Directors. The Youth Council gives young tribal members insight to how the Board operates, providing leadership tools and also preparing the youth for the day when they’re at the helm.

Now in its second year and fourth term cycle, the Youth Council continues to inspire and teach young tribal members how to run a sovereign nation. Youth Council elections were held in the Chinook Ballroom of the Tulalip Resort and Casino on November 1. Over thirty future leaders, grades sixth through twelfth, ran for a seat on the council and fourteen tribal youth were selected as Youth Council and Junior Council.

JLynn Jospeh (Chairwoman), Arnold Reeves (Vice Chairman), Eddie Reeves (Secretary), Evalea Cortez (Treasurer), Elizabeth Edelman (Officer I), Kaiser Moses (Officer II) and Irista Reeves (Media Coordinator) make up the Youth Council; and the Junior Council is Jacynta Myles-Gilford (Chairwoman), Shalana McLean (Vice Chairwoman), Ocean Reeves (Secretary), Damon Pablo (6th Grade Rep.), Kendra McLean (7th Grade Rep.), Angel Cortez (8th Grade Rep.) and Taysha Napeahi (Media Coordinator).

On the morning of Saturday November 4, the newly elected Youth and Junior Council members were officially sworn into office by the Tulalip Board of Directors in the Board Room of the Administration Building. After the fourteen council members traditionally introduced themselves, they were presented with shawls and drums by Youth Services; as well as congratulations, encouragement and advice from all seven Board members.

“You’re stepping up to the plate in a good way and learning how to make a difference,” stated Board of Director Mel Sheldon. “Remember, in your leadership position you’ll have a lot of your friends who look up to you, and if there’s a chance to help them along their journey, you’re going to have that opportunity. By standing here today you made that pledge not only to yourself, but to our greater community about our culture, our history, education and about what you can do for those who take the wrong journey towards drugs and other substances.”

Board of Director Bonnie Juneau is excited to begin working with the new council stating, “Youth Council holds a special place in my heart because the first time I was sworn in was with the first Youth Council. I see some familiar faces and I see new faces, which gives us all hope. We know that we have a great future to come. We know that you’ll take that leadership and you’ll lead your peers. We need that right now. A lot of your peers are struggling with a lot of loss and grief so we look to you to help us think of those ideas of how we can help you help others. I just want to say that we’re here, we’re so proud of each and every one of you and I love you all and I look forward to the next year of leadership, congratulations.”

Fellow Board Members, Marie Zackuse, Teri Gobin, Theresa Sheldon and Les Parks gave emotional, heartfelt advice to the youth. Before presenting the youth a traditional song, Jared Parks also offered guidance as the youngest member of the Tulalip Board of Directors.

“I just want to tell you all that I love you,” he expressed. “I have somewhat of a personal connection with almost every single one of you, I’ve watched you grow. I want to tell you that I’m very proud of you because it takes a lot to put your name in the hat. It took me ten years to get that seat. Hard work and dedication pays off. This tribe has 4,758 people in it – [ages] zero to thirty years old is sixty-one percent [of the tribe], that’s you. You’re the majority of this tribe and you have a different mentality to bring us home. It’s a new day in Tulalip Bay, so it makes me feel really good to see these young people stepping up and doing these good things.”

Youth Council Chairwoman JLynn Joseph was reelected as Chairwoman and is eager to learn how to progress as a leader amongst her peers today, in preparation to become a strong leader for her people in the near future.

“I’m super excited and ready for what’s to come. Ready to progress as a youth but also ready to progress as a Youth Council and ready for the future,” JLynn stated before leaving the Board Room to begin planning for the future with her fellow council members, by reviewing the Youth Council’s constitution and bylaws for the remainder of their Saturday.

For the latest news and updates from the Tulalip Youth Council be sure to like their Facebook page and for further details please contact Youth Services at (360) 716-4909.