Annual Color Run celebrates life

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

MSD traditionally honors 5th grade native students

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The Marysville School District (MSD) Indian Education Department held a ceremony at the Hibulb Cultural Center Longhouse on the evening of May 31, to honor their fifth-grade students who will be making the transition from elementary to junior high next fall. Native students from the Allen Creek, Cascade Grove, Liberty, Marshall, Kellogg Marsh, Marysville Co-Op, Shoultes and Sunnyside elementary schools were recognized for successfully completing grade school and beginning the next phase of their educational journey. 

The traditional graduation ceremony was inspired by the Quil Ceda Tulalip fifth grade potlatch that is held at the end of every school year. MSD native liaisons were motivated to create a similar ceremony to honor the native students who attended other elementary schools throughout the district. During the ceremony, the students are gifted necklaces with cedar-carved salmon pendants and are offered words of support and encouragement from Tulalip tribal leaders. 

“Students, you hit a milestone on going into a new school,” expressed Tulalip Vice-Chair Woman, Teri Gobin. “You’ve taken a step into a new direction and it’s going to be a wonderful. Next thing you know you’ll be going into high school and then graduating. We look forward to doing anything we can to assist you. I want to encourage you to take advantage of the native liaisons to help you through every step. We’re proud of each and every one of you.” 

The ceremony also serves as a means of introduction between students who will be attending the same middle school but attended different elementary schools; as well as between students and the native liaisons of their new school. 

“We came together as a team to honor the fifth graders as they go to middle school,” said Native Liaison, Zee Jimicum. “It’s a tough transition. Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary has a fifth-grade transition weekly course to help their students prepare for middle school. So for those kids who don’t have that connection like Quil Ceda Tulalip students, it’s super important that they see our faces so when they get to middle school next year they have that connection.”

MSD native liaisons Terrance Sabbas and Matt Remle performed an honor song for the students on the traditional round drum and presented them with cedar necklaces. Each liaison also introduced themselves and shared their excitement with the future middle schoolers. 

“As a district we wanted to honor, encourage and support these students culturally here in the longhouse,” said Terrance. “We wanted to sing our traditional songs so they can feel at home. We wanted to tie it all together with culture and honor all the work they’ve accomplished.”

The MSD Indian Education Department also thanked Cascade Elementary Principal, Teresa Iyall Williams, for her years of dedication to the youth as she’ll be enjoying the retired life after this school year. Teresa was blanketed by the Indian Education Department and referred to as an ‘inspiration to all the young native girls’ and ‘a great example of how to conduct yourself’ by Tribal member, Denise Hatch-Anderson.

The students received journals from the MSD Indian Education Department so they can document the next three years of their middle school experience. 

“The excitement you have, I hope it continues all the way until you graduate from high school and from college. Whatever you choose to do in this world, we ask you to dream big,” said Deborah Parker, MSD Director of Equity, Diversity and Indian Education.

Dreaming big is exactly what the students plan to do, including Tulalip tribal member Conner Juvinel, who plans to continue pursuing his passion during his middle school years. 

“I dream to become a scientist,” he states. “I enjoy science a lot, like earth studies. It feels terrifying but still pretty awesome to go into middle school. I don’t know what I’m most excited about but I know I’m excited.”

Celebrating Diversity with Festival of World Cultures

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

All families and students of the Tulalip-Marysville community were invited to an evening of cultural exploration at Totem Middle School on May 18th. Offering a free, fun-filled event with a variety of music, dance, art and food for all, Marysville School District (MSD) presented the Festival of World Cultures.

“The coordinator of the English Language Learner Program and I met a few months ago to discuss how we could provide a more diverse and culturally rich experience within the District,” explained Deborah Parker, Director of Equity, Diversity and Indian Education for MSD. “The idea stemmed from the need our District has to become more aware of diverse cultures, while celebrating the distinct backgrounds of our students and their families.”

Community involvement played a large role in the development of the Festival, as coordinators reached out to local businesses, cultural performance groups, and a variety of vendors who could engage with people of all ages, from children to elders. The planning paid off big time as more than 300 people showed up to celebrate diversity and learn about other cultures. 

Attendees were each given a mock passport that were then stamped with approval throughout the evening as they travelled the world and learned from representatives of twenty different nations.

“It is important to both teach students about different cultures and experience cultures that are different from their own,” stated MSD Lead Native Liaison, Matt Remle. “These experiences help to grow students understanding about the broader world around them. Meaningful cultural sharing can lead to meaningful relationships and meaningful relationships can only help our students and communities engage in our diverse world.”

There was something offered for everyone in the family-based atmosphere providing entertainment and many laughs, while engaging everyone’s curiosity as they made their way through a variety of informative booths. Several culture representatives distributed knowledge through collaborative activities that had people learning while having fun.

“Everyone enjoyed the decorative and fun activities for kids, like the paper flower making with the group of Spanish-speaking volunteer moms from Cascade Elementary,” said Wendy Messarina, MSD Parent Liaison. “Also the group of Mexican dancers from Mary’s Place, in Everett, was a highlight when they shared ballet and folklore.”

Some families made quite the journey to learn about cultures different from their own, even families with students from outside the Marysville School District.

Gloria Campbell and her granddaughter Araba, both of West African ancestry, saw a flyer for the Festival of World Cultures online and travelled from Mukilteo to partake in the event. 

“We are very culturally motived,” said Gloria. “It is very important for us to embrace the cultures that are around us. I take my granddaughter with me everywhere to explore this region. I want her to learn as much as she can about people who don’t necessarily look like her.”

After feasting on a diverse selection of food, including the ever-popular fry bread station, Festival guests were treated to song and dance offered by Native, Hispanic, Pilipino, and Hawaiian cultures. 

Officer Sparr of Marysville Police Department enjoyed the Festival and having the opportunity to interact with so many children in such a positive setting. “This is how community events should be”, Officer Sparr said.

The Festival’s success garnered enough excitement that one for next school year is already being planned. 

“It was such a beautiful and harmonious event. We want to continue to expand on the enthusiasm and cultural understanding that was gained through just one evening. The YMCA has already asked to be a co-sponsor for next year,” added Deborah Parker. “Events like this not only helps build stronger relationships in our community, but also strengthens the commitment to our children’s success. It’s about finding ways to honor the diversity of students we have in the District and uplifting them for who they are and where they come from.”

Cultural fair celebrates diversity at QCT Elementary

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Students of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, along with their families, were captivated by the richness of Native American song and dance during the Cultural Fair held on the evening of April 24th. In collaboration with Marysville School District (MSD) Indian Education, Tulalip Youth Services and school staff, the Cultural Fair celebrated the wonderfully diverse community that is the Tulalip/Marysville area. 

Over a hundred participants filled the elementary multi-purpose room where a hearty dinner was enjoyed by all. Following the meal, there was a variety of family-friendly activities to engage in. Interactive booths and presentations represented several cultures from around the world, including Tulalip, Guam, the Philippines and the United Kingdom.

“It’s always nice to learn about other cultures because it creates a better understanding between people,” shared QCT Teacher, Ms. Sablan. Along with her daughter, the duo were presenters of the Guam station. “I taught on Guam for six years and during that time I loved learning about the culture. While there I married and had a daughter who is Pacific Islander. My passion for embracing vibrant culture was the reason I became an educator at Tulalip after attending a Salmon Ceremony years ago.”

As fair goers made their way around the room they gained insights into other cultures and traditions. Of course, the variety of Native cultural stations was the most popular. There was dreamcatcher making under the guidance of experienced staff members and even a fry bread station manned by Chelsea Craig and her daughter Kamaya. 

With the weather cooperating, many people wound up outside after hearing the call of the Native round-drum. Terrance Sabbas, Native Liaison for MSD, led a series of round-drum songs that held the attention of everyone young and old. Several young girls, dressed in their powwow regalia, shared their dance skills to the rhythmic beats of the drum. 

“It means a lot for our kids to have pride in who they are and where they come from,” said Terrance. “When different tribes come together to celebrate with song and dance it’s even more special. Seeing youth who have the confidence to share their dances is awesome. To know they have that within themselves and are willing to share that with our community is inspiring.”

The musical jam session continued with a variety of hand-drum songs led by Ray Fryberg.

The Cultural Fair was a success in putting a spotlight on the richness of a diverse community; knowledge was gained and shared. For those with a strong understanding of historical context, the fact that so many were able to participate in traditional song and dance is a testament to the strong Native spirit.

“When the boarding school was here, our songs, our dances and all our ceremonies were prohibited by law. It was the aim of the government to assimilate the Indians into American society. For many years our people couldn’t speak their language or sing their songs for fear of punishment,” explained Ray Fryberg, Executive Director of Natural Resources. “It’s important for us to know who we are and where we come from, to retain the parts of our culture that make us unique. The boarding school era sought to take all that away from us, but we endured.

“Now, we have our own schools where we can teach our culture to the young ones; it gives them a cultural identity and builds up their self-esteem. The drum has a voice that calls to our people; it has its own good medicine. You can see how much the children love learning their culture. Our songs and dances are an expression of the inner spirit and that’s the one thing that can’t be taken away from us.”

Native Students of the Month Announced for March

Ayana Sabbas, 10th grade, Marysville-Pilchuck H.S.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

“This is one special way that our community has come together, as Marysville School District has partnered with the Tulalip Tribes to announce the Native American students of the month,” explained Deborah Parker, Director of Equity, Diversity and Indian Education, during the regular school board meeting on Monday, March 19.

By creating the Student of the Month Program, MSD Indian Education and the Tulalip Tribes Education Department celebrate individual achievement by sustaining a culture of learning that values academic success and achievement through education. The program is designed so that any Native American student in the Marysville School District, of any age or grade level, can receive the award. However, students who are nominated should prove they value their education by exhibiting academic responsibility. They are also expected to demonstrate excellent behavior in and out of the classroom, which includes being respectful to both teachers and peers.

For their commitment to excellence in the classroom and academic achievement, 10th grader Ayana Sabbas (Nuu-chah-nulth and Shoshone) of Marysville-Pilchuck High School and 4th grader Jacob Skarwecki (Algaaciq from Alaska) of Cascade Elementary were announced as Native American students of the month for March.

Jacob Skarwecki, 4th grade, Cascade Elementary

“Jacob is selected for his enthusiasm, his effort, his integrity, and for being a responsible citizen,” described his Cascade Elementary Principal, Teresa Iyall. “Above all, Jacob shows exemplary behavior, and I am very, very proud that he is our first elementary Native American student of the month. He represents his family, his tribe, Marysville Indian Education, Cascade Elementary, and the Marysville School District in an exemplary manner.”

“Ayana was selected as student of the month for her leadership, being a responsible citizen, and her incredible determination in both her academics and extracurricular activities,” said her MSD Native Liaison, Matt Remle. “She has excelled in her academics, demonstrated by her 3.83 G.P.A. and outstanding attendance. She plays varsity volleyball, participates in MPHS Native Girls Group, and remains active in her culture by being a jingle dress powwow dancer. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with her.”

Going forward, a selection committee will review all student nominations based on their academics and school engagement. Each month two Native students (one boy, one girl) will be recognized as students of the month.

“It feels amazing!” admitted Ayana about receiving student of the month. “It’s so refreshing to get recognized for my achievements in school because I’ve worked so hard to be in this position. My dream is to go to the University of Washington and become a bio-engineer. I really love numbers and want to use that passion to change the world for the better.”

Marysville School District Statement Regarding Student Marches

In October of 2014, our community experienced first-hand the horror of a senseless school shooting. Unfortunately, we were not the last community to experience such tragedy. In light of the recent events, students across the country, including Marysville, are organizing to express their unique perspectives on this continuing national issue. We, the Marysville School District, support our students in exercising their First Amendment rights, including participation in the student-led marches. Our responsibility as educators is to keep students safe on campus, and to encourage respectful dialog and expression of ideas and beliefs. We stand beside our students in their advocacy and share our sadness for the loss of life in these senseless acts of violence.

Ray Sheldon Jr. looks to bring fresh perspective to Marysville School District

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The Marysville School District (MSD) is comprised of twenty-two schools including ten elementary, four middle and eight high schools.  The majority of Tulalip students attend schools within MSD as the entire reservation is under the school district. Tulalip is home to Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary School, 10th Street Middle School, Tulalip Heritage High and Marysville Arts and Technology High School. MSD is split into five separate districts based on location, the Tulalip reservation is within and accounts for a large portion of District One. A representative from each district is elected by the community to serve on the school board every four years.

For the past eight years, Chris Nations has been the MSD District One Board of Director and is up for re-election this year. Tulalip tribal member, Ray Sheldon Jr. is challenging Chris for the District One seat and is progressively gaining more support as the election day of November 7 draws near. Ray has been actively involved within his community, coaching little league baseball for nearly thirty-five years. He also is a strong supporter for special needs children, volunteering his time to numerous non-profits including Leah’s Dream Foundation, an organization, founded by Tulalip member Deanna Sheldon, which assists local students with autism by raising funds, planning events and providing support to both parents and students.

“I’m an advocate for special needs and the kids that need care because I have four grandkids who are categorized as special needs,” Ray explains. “I don’t think the school district spends enough money for these people and kind of shoves them in the corner, which bothers me big time. I think we need to help those special needs children. Special needs doesn’t necessarily mean they’re stuck in a wheel chair, special needs are also the kids who have trouble reading or with dialect or anything else. The school doesn’t pay enough attention to them and we should start teaching and spending time with them.

“Budget-wise I feel they [MSD] just work for higher education,” he continues. “Those early years are really important. We should start in the beginning [of their education] and have therapists who are able to help these children. I think there really needs to be change with special needs education. It’s not just tribal children, its non-tribal too. We need representation for these children. We’re not getting it. We’re not getting it from Chris Nations, so we need to make a change so someone is there to represent our children.”

Former MSD board member, Don ‘Penoke’ Hatch, not only endorses Ray, but has been the main source of inspiration, providing the candidate with advice and encouragement throughout the race. In previous years, while Penoke served for MSD, community members voted only for their district representative; now community members can vote for all five district representatives. Ray believes that this procedure is flawed because it allows candidates to campaign outside of their district, therefore leaving many of the districts’ needs unattended when the candidate takes office.

“Don Hatch used to be on the school board. Years ago we used to visit on Saturday mornings, when he was a school board member, and he told me ‘when it’s time, you should take over because you care so much about the kids.’ He mentioned that he was getting up there in age but is still so passionate about it. I told him last spring that I really wanted to run this year. They changed the rules about district voting just before he left, so he told me it’d be an uphill battle. And it is an uphill battle, but he’s helping as much as he can. He’s inspired me to keep going and makes suggestions about where I can visit and help. My goal, if I get on, would be to make District One always a tribal district. That’s the way it should be. District One is a big district and since we’re a sovereign nation we should have that seat no matter what.”

During the 2016-2017 school year, MSD had just over 11,000 students attending their schools. Of those 11,000 students, six hundred and ninety-six were Native American and 1,749 students were special needs children. Over the course of recent years, MSD has slowly seen a decrease in attendance.

“We’re having a lot of children who are now leaving the school district and going to private schools,” Ray states. “I think sometimes they leave the school district because they’re not paid attention to, other than they’re just a number. Our future is really important, it’s important to have our children educated. It will be a better community and they’ll be great parents – that’s the whole dream. They can do it; they just need someone to make them understand that they can do it. This is the first year I coached the tribal baseball team, they just needed the confidence. I supplied that and they did really well, we only lost one game. All they lack is confidence and once you give them the confidence, they can do it. I think the teachers out here do their best because moneywise they can’t hire extra help. If we can better educate our people, maybe some of our issues will go away that we have in the community. I really think we need a Voc-Tech school in our high school area so the lower-tested kids can understand and learn a trade, like we do here with TERO.”

“There’s five districts, they meet a couple times each month and what bothers me the most is I’ve been to a few meetings and some of these members they’ll sit there and look at their watch and figure ‘we spent two hours here so it’s time to go’,” he expresses. “There are over 10,00 kids in the school district, you’d think they would push and put a little more effort into the schools and be able to help the Superintendent and give her the direction of where to go and how to help. I’d like to make them more accountable. What’s a little more disturbing is that a few years ago, it was up to nearly 12,000 students within the school district. They’re slowly dropping off because all these kids are also going to private schools where the curriculum is a little harder and they’re being pushed. They’re all treated like students, not the bottom third. That’s what I get a little frustrated with, they need to spend the time, whether its three or four hours, they need to have some sort of accountability to the kids. 10,000 – if you looked at it as if the Tribe used that same model, we’d be in trouble.”

Tulalip and Marysville community members who are not registered to vote in Snohomish County must do so online or in person at any Washington Department of Licensing office by October 9, in order to be eligible to vote for Ray during the upcoming election. Ballots will be mailed out to registered Snohomish County voters by October 25, and must be filled out and mailed by 8:00 p.m. on November 7.

“The reason I’m trying to get involved now is because for the past eight years the representative who’s in our district now hasn’t done anything for the tribal children – at all. So, we need a change quick,” urges Ray. “When he needs help, he never comes here to ask, this is where I would like the help. I think it’s really important that we need to make a change but I can’t do it myself. You can’t do it by yourself either. It needs to be done together so that we can get in there and let them know where they’ve been dropping the ball; and that they also need to worry about us. If we can get a tribal person on there who can help push and get the Tribe back involved with school, things will happen for the better.”

For additional information please visit the ‘Ray Sheldon Jr. Candidate for MSD #25 District 1 Director’ Facebook page.

Jazz Therapy: Preservation Hall Legacy Jazz Band visits Tulalip community

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

As the last note of their second set was hit and spit valves were emptied, trumpet extraordinaire, Gregg Stafford, approached the microphone at the Francis J. Sheldon Gymnasium. He graciously thanked the audience of middle and high school students for the standing ovation he and his fellow band members of the Preservation Hall Legacy Jazz Band were receiving. The traditional six-piece New Orleans jazz band recently traveled to Tulalip to perform and speak with the youth of the community about jazz history, culture and the importance of keeping traditions alive. During their week-long visit the band performed for over 4,000 students at schools within the Marysville School District including Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, and Heritage, Getchell and Marysville-Pilchuck high schools.

After the much deserved cheers and applauds began to quiet down, Gregg informed the students that the band would be answering any questions the students had for them. The kids asked a variety of questions ranging from who is your favorite jazz singer to more complex questions regarding mutes, tempo and time signatures. Inevitably, a student asked ‘how long have you guys been playing?In this moment Gregg, along with trombonist Fred Lonzo, clarinetist Louis Ford, pianist Lars Edgrean, bassist Richard Moten and drummer Joesph Lastie Jr collectively grinned as Greg looked at his watch and responded ‘oh about twenty-five minutes now.’ Laughter filled the entire room, most notably from the band.

Those small joyful moments, within the twenty-five-minute jazz set, where the entire room is smiling ear to ear, sharing laughter with one another and getting lost in the music is the reason Tulalip Tribes Employee Assistance Counselor, Jessica Talevich, brought the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to the Pacific Northwest.

Tulalip Tribes Employee Assistance Counselor, Jessica Talevich (right) dancing to the band during their performance at  the Hibulb Cultural Center.

Nearly two years ago, after witnessing the band live in their native New Orleans and once again in Seattle a week after, she discovered the band offers outreach work to high schools nationwide. In the wake of tragedy amongst the Tulalip-Marysville community, Jessica consistently witnessed division as several messages from ‘talk-based’ outreach programs missed their mark and constantly reminded community members of their hard times.

In an effort to change the cycle and promote healing, Jessica and the Tulalip Tribes partnered with the Marysville School District to bring the unique outreach program to the community.

“They just exude so much joy,” exclaimed Jessica. “The history of New Orleans is built on tragedy. From the early days of illness’ and diseases killing off many people, to the whole city burning to the ground and being rebuilt, and slavery is a whole other aspect. And then there’s instance after instance of hurricanes coming through and decimating [the city] such as Katrina and then the gulf oil spill that happened after [Hurricane Katrina]. These are resilient folks and their culture and arts, especially their music, have a lot to do with their resiliency so I wanted to bring that up here and talk about creativity as a tool for resiliency.”

After a tour of Tulalip, hosted by Tulalip tribal member Freida Williams, the band performed for the community at the Hibulb Cultural Center. Plenty of audience members danced and joined in a march led by Fred while he performed a solo on his trombone. Following the performance, the band had an open discussion with the audience touching on subjects such as the ever-changing music industry and music education. Gregg inquired about the local population of black bears and the tribe’s hunting regulations.

Tulalip tribal member Natosha Gobin and her children were present for nearly every Preservation Hall Jazz Band performance to offer prayers and gifts to the musicians.

She states, “It was a good week, my kids had so much fun! I think that music is such a great outlet and sometimes there are youth out here who kind of feel overwhelmed with not knowing our own traditional songs or like they can’t sing their songs and express themselves through our culture. And I think that a lot of the youth were able to find a connection and a love and passion for another music outlet and they understand more about Preservation Hall, although they are not an Indigenous group. They’re not a tribe, yet everything that they struggled with is parallel to what our people struggle with. So you can make those connections and those connections help – they’re inspiring for kids. For our youth, I think its inspiring that music does have a culture.”

On their last night in the community, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band spent the evening performing for a large crowd in the Marysville-Pilchuck auditorium. Both Getchell and Marysville-Pilchuck high school jazz bands showcased their skills for Preservation Hall. Fred, Louis and Gregg made special appearances and performed alongside the bands.

During their final performance the band shared the stage with Native American Grammy Award Winner, Star Nayea. The band played Dixieland jazz, jazz blues, and ragtime as well as jazz funeral music. The audience was highly engaged and interactive throughout the bands last set. The crowd sang along to classic songs such as What a Wonderful World and A Closer Walk with Thee. Nearly everyone in attendance marched around the auditorium before rushing the stage while the horns blew to the tune of When the Saints Go Marching in.

“Witnessing the interactions between our musicians with students from the Tulalip community was both inspiring and impactful,” states Preservation Hall Foundation Program Director, Ashley Shabankareh. “We saw such passion from students in the community for their own cultural traditions and were able to make meaningful connections to how we pass traditions in New Orleans. This trip is something myself and our musicians will never forget – we were overjoyed to see the power of music bringing communities together.”

For additional information about the Preservation Hall Jazz Band please visit PreservationHallJazzBand.com

ABC Curriculum promotes healing at Tulalip schools

 

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

During a recent visit from the Washington State Board of Education, Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT) provided an inside look at their ABC curriculum, an acronym for the new approach to the education system within the Tulalip community. ABC stands for the Academic instruction, Behavioral and social-emotional support and Culture based curriculum that the Marysville School District and the Tulalip Tribes have recently began implementing at the elementary.

QCT is one of few schools in Washington State that is integrating traditional Native teachings into school subjects such as music, art, language, math and history. The school often invites tribal members to help teach the children about the Tulalip culture. Each morning the school holds a fifteen-minute assembly where students perform traditional song and dance. QCT holds an annual cultural fair where tribal members are invited to share traditional foods as well as tribal history with the students. The elementary school also observes Tulalip Day every November and holds a fifth-grade potlatch at the end of each year. Most recently the school held a Billy Frank Jr. themed spirit week, honoring the man who dedicated his life to fighting for Native American fishing rights.

“We all had heroes growing up. I remember going to the library and spending all day reading about Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Jim Thorpe. You know growing up as Indian People, we don’t have a lot of Native heroes we can look up to, but Billy Frank Jr. is a true Coast Salish hero. He is someone we all look up to because of the amazing work he did for fisheries. Thank you for honoring him, he definitely deserves to be celebrated,” stated Tulalip Chairman Mel Sheldon.

The ABC curriculum puts emphasis on family and community, connections that are often strong in Native America. QCT makes an effort to communicate regularly with their student’s family members. The school also ensures the students stay up to par with the utilization of modern technology, both for research and to create documents. During a classroom walk-through the State Board of Education observed the curriculum in action during an art class as well as a writing class.

 

 

Representatives from the Tulalip Board of Directors, Marysville School District and QCT faculty spoke about cultural assimilation and the affect it left on Native communities. Each explaining to the Board of Educators that assimilation caused trauma that is still affecting the descendants of boarding school victims today, although the events occurred several generations prior. Families were broken and cultures were stripped during the ‘kill the Indian, save the man’ era.

“Our people were [originally] taught in a traditional way at the foot of our grandmothers, not in classrooms but out in nature. When the education system was forcibly put on us, it was done in way that stripped everything away from our children. It was done purposely to take away who we are as Indian People in a very painful way. That was our introduction to education. Since then we’ve had elders try to get this work, our voice and our story, into the public schools to try to heal. I believe we are continuing the work of our ancestors,” states Tulalip tribal member and QCT Instructor, Chelsea Craig.

The tribe, school district and Board of Educators are well aware and prepared for the hard work that will be required, and they started the healing process through the ABC curriculum.

Senator McCoy shares thoughts on MSD education issues

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On Tuesday, October 18, the Marysville-Pilchuck High School auditorium was home to Marysville School District’s first Education Town Hall. The panelists included Washington State Representative June Robinson, Marysville School Board President Peter Lundberg, and Tulalip tribal member, Senator John McCoy.

“Senator John McCoy and Representative June Robinson serve the communities of Everett, Marysville and Tulalip in Olympia during the State Legislative Session which starts every year in January,” states Dr. Becky Berg, Marysville School District Superintendent. “When they are not in Olympia, they also work tirelessly for our local communities in their day-jobs and by meeting and working with citizens to understand concerns and advocate new ideas.”

During the 90-minute Town Hall discussion the focus was all about education; from defining what basic education is, how to best educate MSD students, and how that education may be funded going forward. Senator McCoy took point on many of the discussion questions and, as is his style, didn’t hold back with his honest assessments and ideas on how to best equip MSD students with a quality education that yields productive citizens.

Sen. John McCoy, D-38 Photo/wastateleg.org

Sen. John McCoy, D-38
Photo/wastateleg.org

In your opinion, what is basic education? 

“Because we have such a diver legislature, lots of different opinions, there are a lot of different ideas about what basic education is. You can say we are constantly defining basic education because each community across the state of Washington is a little bit unique in terms of their diversity and needs. For the students, their community determines what they need survive in that area. I’ve been preaching that you have to take it community by community, which means the school districts, and they have to decide the necessary skill sets of that community in order to survive. For every community, there is a focus and codes of language based on the resources in that area.

Here in the Everett/Marysville/Tulalip area we have Boeing, Fluke, and medical centers. These are technical companies, companies manufacturing aerospace parts, and a large contingent of the healthcare sector. So we have to figure out what needs to be in the skill sets of our students in order to take advantage of these local companies. That’s going to be a different skill set required than students in the Tri-City area, or the Bellevue area, or the Neah Bay area. Each community needs to work on what is required for them to survive and they should gear your education systems to those requirements.”

 

How do you propose to level the educational playing field?

“I’m watching out for that square peg trying to get into the round hole. No child walks through the door with the same information, even if they live in the same house. We have to get down to where they are, find out where they are, so that we can educate them. Now not every kid is going to be a STEM person (STEM is a curriculum based on science, technology, engineering and mathematics). That’s probably only 15-20% of students who are going to be STEM people, so why are we gearing everything to STEM? By doing that we are leaving 80% of our students behind when they could be trained up to be very productive citizens of the community.

Whenever I talk to kids I tell them ‘find that one thing that makes you want to get up in the morning and go do it’ because there will be some crazy guy like me who will pay you to do it. Be happy in your work. I think we’ve all seen people who are not happy in their work and their product showed it. Not everyone is going to be an engineer or become a programmer. So that’s what we have to do, we have to get our educators to where the kids are. I have the highest respect for every teacher in the system. I thank them every time I can. They have a hard job. They’re educating the people who are our future. We need to prepare them for everything.”

We seem to all agree that the State needs to meet its duty to fully fund education. In your opinion, where should the money come from?

“The fact remains we need to devise a system that will have everybody in the State participate, everybody. Not everybody is participating in the revenue process. Right now, because of our sales tax system, the middle class and low-income are carrying the burden of all taxes. The upper incomes are pretty much unscathed, so we need to devise a method that everybody participates.”

What do you see your individual role being during the 2017 State Legislative Session when it comes to the State’s mandate to fully fund education by 2018?

“Well, I’m not on any of the finance committees by design. In my prior life I did a lot of working with budgets and quite honestly I got tired of it. Now, I delve into just policy. But that does not relieve any legislator from their responsibility to do due diligence and fund education. We all have something at stake. We all have skin in the game to bring it home for all students in the state of Washington, all students. We need to work together, with one another in order to achieve this.

One thing the Supreme Court was quite clear on, and I agree with, is that salaries should be part of basic education. There will be lots of discussion and we need to solve that problem and move forward. We all have hard work to do and I think we’re up to it. We’re going to do the best job we can to fully fund education so all our kids down the road can become productive citizens.”

What is the one thing you’d like to see the State Legislator accomplish this session when it comes to K-12 education?

“I’ve been in the State Legislator for fourteen years and twelve of those fourteen I’ve dropped the bill to delink, and I will continue to do it. The last three years the Chair of the Senate Education Committee refused to allow that bill to come up, to not even be heard. I will submit another bill to clean them out again and see what happens.

I think the Education Committee ought to be disbanded for five years. Everybody thinks they’re an expert when it comes to education. The Legislator turns over 20% every two years and out of the group we get all these folks who think they have the magic fix. That’s why we have an unsettled education system because every two years a group comes in who wants this or that and everything remains unsettled. We have to stop, let things settle, and see the process work. In my opinion, we have a pretty good school system, but we keep messing with it. We need to stop that and allow current processes to work.”

In your opinion, what skills and capabilities do students need to be a productive citizen?

“That depends on the child. Autistic students can demonstrate great skill and be productive when they are educated at their level. They have skills that will help the community. Every child in the State of Washington has the capability to be a very strong citizen and be productive in this state. Like I said earlier, we have to find out where the student is at and teach them at their level.”

 

 

 

Contact Michael Rios, mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov