Exploring Healthy Boundaries With the Help of Horses

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News.  Photos courtesy of Monica Holmes

The horse was a major part of Native American history and still plays a vital role in enabling Native youth to connect to their heritage of being caretakers of Mother Earth and all her animals. A new form of spiritual healing can also be derived from individuals and their interaction with the majestic horse, called equine therapy.

Using horses in a therapeutic setting offers youth clear opportunities to learn about themselves and others in an effective way. This is why on October 6 the Girl’s Talking Circle took a trip to Cedar Groves Stables in Stanwood, WA for a fun-filled, therapeutic afternoon.

“Our trip to Cedar Groves Stables was for an ‘Exploring Healthy Boundaries’ workshop with the goal to enlighten the youth about their own inherent boundaries and the need to adjust those boundaries based on the people they encounter along their journey,” explained event coordinator and para-pro Monica Holmes. “We did many exercises individually and with one another that illustrated each person’s ability to tap into their own gut instinct to determine where they position themselves, how they behave around others, and how they may need to regulate their emotional output.”

Horse and human encounters provide opportunities for learning about relationships and further understanding about boundaries. Once the girls transitioned inside the stables and began interacting with the herd of horses, they found themselves using the personal boundary skills they just learned and adjusting to the horses’ needs.

“I learned horses sometimes feel trapped or unsafe, so they tell us to back off by moving their heads and trying to get away,” beamed 11-year-old tribal member, Tieriana McLean. “When we humans did boundary work we learned that we sometimes flinch or feel stressed or react and that means we were setting our own boundaries with others.”

Horses, much like people, are social creatures and require mutual trust and respect in order to engage in a productive relationship. If a horse is acting stubborn or defiant, then it can often be understood as a lack of engagement and thoughtfulness on the part of the person.

“I liked learning about how you need to calm yourself around the horses, so they’ll learn to trust you and won’t hurt you,” remarked 14-year-old Ariyah Guardipee (Salish Kootenai).

For the girls, making a connection with a horse required self-awareness in order to produce positive intentions, while also reading the emotional output of the horse. Once a balance has been reached, the girls were able to approach the horses and establish a bond. How much space to give a certain horse and when or if they could reciprocate attention or affection is a learned skill they showcased brilliantly.

“Rather than shying away from them or feeling overwhelmed by the horses’ size, the girls were zoned into reading the horses individually,” added Monica. “They adjusted their interactions accordingly, so the horse was on the receiving end of the time and attention it wanted and needed. Miraculously, each girl walked away with a deeper connection to the horses, each other and themselves.”

Volunteer chaperone and tribal member, Darkfeather Ancheta, jumped at the opportunity to attend the workshop with the Girls Talking Circle. She witnessed first-hand the girls learn personal boundary skills and then use them to develop bonds with the horses. “It was very powerful! The girls’ energy and moods changed instantly around the horses. To watch them react, learn, and respond the way they did was so amazing. This program can change lives for the better,” stated Darkfeather.

The connection established with these equine companions brought out the hidden inner strength and courage of each and every youth participant. Overcoming doubts and developing confidence are only a couple of supplemental results they also enjoyed from their time at the Stables.

Activities that teach skills ‘outside of the box’ are vital to programs like the Girls Talking Circle for developing healthy, well-rounded individuals and groups of youth in our community. These are experiences the youth and those adults who are privileged enough to work with them won’t soon forget.

Over 5,000 Indigenous athletes compete in NAIG 2017

Let the Games begin!

NAIG opened with a surprise musical appearance from Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, flanked by traditional hoop dancers putting on a mesmerizing cultural performance.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On the spectacular evening of Sunday, July 16 an estimated 5,250 Indigenous athletes, coaches and support staff proudly marched into the Aviva Center, located just outside of Canada’s largest city Toronto, for the opening ceremony of the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) 2017.

The over 5,000 athletes represent 26 regions across North America, consisting of 13 provinces and territories in Canada and 13 regions in the United States. Since 1990, Indigenous competitors between the ages of 13 and 19-years-old have taken part in the showcase that celebrates their athleticism and heritage. This year’s Indigenous Games marks the 9th edition of the multi-sport, multi-disciplinary event dedicated to Indigenous youth from the United States and Canada. The Games offer 14 sport competitions in addition to a vibrant cultural program.

For the first time in over 25 years NAIG returned to eastern Canada, notably allowing the province of Ontario to host its first ever Indigenous Games. For many of the young tribal competitors who reside on reservations in the United States, their athletic expertise allowed them their first ever entrance into Canada, to sightsee the City of Toronto, and, most importantly, to experience and connect with Indigenous cultures from around the continent.

Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation elder Gary Sioux lit the ceremonial smudge and offered a blessing, while his granddaughter fanned the flames of competition for NAIG 2017.

During the opening ceremony of NAIG 2017, which was delayed approximately 90-minutes due to a thunderstorm, the capacity crowd of over 9,000 was rightfully energized by a surprise musical performance from Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, flanked by traditional hoop dancers putting on a mesmerizing cultural performance.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor to be here. I represent the Shoshone and Hopi Nation,” said Taboo before performing his musical medley. “I am very proud to be Native American representing here with you all in Toronto. We represent the future. Natives, Indigenous, First Nations, and Aboriginals all coming together as one people, one nation, one tribe to make dreams come true.”

Spanning the week of July 17-22, more than 5,000 athletes from across the continent will compete in 14 sporting categories on the traditional lands and homelands of the Huron-Wendat Nation, Metis Nation of Ontario, Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation, Mississauga of Scugog Island First Nation, and Six Nations of the Grand River.

Government and Indigenous leadership from various regions took to stage to deliver rallying messages of encouragement, strength, and unity through sport.

“On behalf of the Six Nations, we are the Haudenosaunee and we welcome you. We are so excited and proud to be one of the community partners hosting these Games,” exclaimed Chief Ava Hill, representing the Six Nations of the Grand River. “To the athletes, these are your Games! It is so emotional to me as a leader to witness all you young people here today because each and every one of you is a dream come true. You are role models for the younger ones who are watching you. You are ambassadors for your families and for your communities. You are all winners! You are all winners just by being here and being a participant in the North American Indigenous Games.”

Following a rocking performance by A Tribe Called Red, fireworks filled the night sky at the Aviva Center to signal the beginning of the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games.

Sport can be a launching pad for many great things yet to come for youth. Through participation in NAIG 2017, youth are given many opportunities to travel, make new Indigenous friends, and form life-long connections. As athletes participating in NAIG 2017, Indigenous youth learn many character building skills, such as team building, courage, determination, and goal-setting in a familiar setting located at the intersection of culture and sport. These are all skills that will help greatly as the youth move on to the next chapters in their lives.

Representing the Pacific Northwest region of the United States is Team Washington and its 19U men’s basketball team which includes three Tulalip tribal members: Robert Miles, Darion Joseph, and Bryce Juneau. They are joined by Michael Leslie (Muckleshoot), who played basketball for Tulalip Heritage during his sophomore year, Tre Williams (Nez Pierce), Xavier Littlehead (Northern Cheyenne), and Isiah Strom (Yakama). They are coached by Tulalip tribal member Harold Joseph, who participated in the first four editions of NAIG as a competitor and has coached in every NAIG since.

“Having three Tulalip tribal members on the team is special because they get to share this experience with the younger youth back home,” says Coach Harold. “All three of them are positive role models in our community. They each played high school sports; Robert at Heritage, Bryce at Marysville-Pilchuck and Darion at Archbishop Murphy, so the younger kids see that and it pushes them in the right way. I want to thank the Tulalip Tribe for supporting us and giving us the opportunity to represent all our people back home in our quest for a gold medal.”

Schack Art Center Features Haida Art

Article and photos by Kalvin Valdillez

The National Basketry Organization (NBO) is a non-profit organization consisting of basket-makers, collectors, art gallery owners, students, schools and museums. Members from the organization recently traveled to the Northwest for a basketry conference held in Tacoma.

Fiber Artist, Jan Hopkins, wanted to host a Native American art gala at her home in Everett, for the NBO. Unfortunately, due to conflicting times, NBO members informed Jan that they would be unable to attend her event. The organization, however, originally scheduled time to tour Everett’s Schack Art Center, where Jan’s husband, Chris, frequently showcases his paintings. Jan contacted art collectors John Price and Nancy Kovalik as well as Haida Master Weaver, Lisa Telford, to see if they were interested in showcasing their Haida art collections at the Schack for the NBO.

With the art collectors and Lisa on board, the Art Center allowed Jan to guest curate Courtesy of: Extraordinary Basketry, Textiles and Sculptures from the Northwest Collections. The exhibit features paintings, carvings and weavings created by Haida artists Delores Churchill, Isabelle Rorick and Evelyn Vanderhoop – to name a few.

Lisa, who also works for the Tulalip TERO program, is a world renowned Haida Weaver. Her works are featured in museums nationwide including exhibits at the Burke Museum in Seattle, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

“[Weaving] is my thread to sanity,” states Lisa. “When my older brother passed, the first person in my family to pass away that affected me, I didn’t weave for about six months. When I started weaving again, I went to work on Monday and everybody asked ‘what happened to you’ and when I said nothing, they said ‘yeah, something life changing happened to you this weekend because you’re glowing.’ I feel like it keeps me grounded and it makes me happy, so I just say it’s my thread to sanity, when I do it I’m happy, I don’t know how else to say it.”

“I come from a family of weavers; everybody wove,” continued Lisa. “My grandmother wanted to teach me when I was thirteen, but when you’re thirteen you’re too busy running around to settle down. My grandmother sat me down and said ‘I want to show you something,’ and I said ‘I don’t have time for that.’ I always regretted that. After she passed away, I moved to Washington and joined a dance group and I wore her hat. People would ask ‘where’d you get that hat?’ and when I said my grandma, they asked ‘can she could make any more?’ That’s what made me start weaving. I realized that I took it all for granted. I told my mom and she called my auntie and shortly after that I started apprenticing for my aunt Dolores.”

Lisa created six weavings for the exhibit. Her art submissions include a big spoon basket, a traditional hat, two small baskets as well as two pairs of cedar high heel shoes.

“I think it was probably in 1999, this fellow from the Heard Museum asked me if I would give a pair of shoes for this show called Sole Stories,” explains Lisa.

After trial and error, she created a pair of high heels, using BBs and a dress weight to shape the shoes. When submitting the shoes, the museum was shocked by her invention.

“I brought them to the show, the guy goes ‘Oh my God! I didn’t know you were going to make a pair of shoes. I didn’t even know that was possible! I meant a pair of your personal shoes.’ Now people keep wanting the shoes, even after I say I’m done with it. Every time I think I’m done, they pull me back in,” she states.

Many of the works that were provided by the art collectors, were weaved by Lisa’s family members.

“It really could be called my family’s show because the person who wove the tunic was my cousin Evelyn, the person who wove the canoe cape was my cousin Holly and the person who wove the robe was my aunt Dolores,” Lisa exclaimed.

The Courtesy of: Extraordinary Basketry, Textiles and Sculptures from the Northwest Collections exhibit is featured until July 29 at the Schack Art Center., 2921 Hoyt Ave, Everett, WA 98201. For additional information, please visit www.Schack.org

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World

Poster image of RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana, an official selection of the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The contributions of Native Americans in modern music (from Link Wray to Robbie Robertson, Charley Patton to Buffy Sainte-Marie) got a much-deserved showcase at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) premiere of Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World. A celebratory documentary uncovering the indigenous influence on American music history, Rumble was received by an energetic crowd at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre on Friday, May 16.

“First off, let us recognize we are on the land of indigenous peoples, the Coast Salish people,” stated Tracy Rector (Seminole/Choctaw), SIFF Program Director and Native activist as she introduced the film. “Tonight is a celebration of indigenous art, indigenous musicians, and our community.”

From Charley Patton and Mildred Bailey to Link Wray and Jimi Hendrix; from Jesse Ed Davis and Buffy-Sainte Marie to Robbie Robertson and Randy Castillo, the contributions of Native Americans to the soundtrack of popular culture music are as undeniable as they are underreported. The Indigenous influence spans nearly all the musical genres like blues, jazz, pop, rock and heavy metal.

In the celebratory exposé Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, director Catherine Bainbridge takes us through a rollercoaster of fantastic music and wide-ranging interviews – Martin Scorsese and Taj Mahal rub shoulders with Pat Vegas and late poet John Trudell – while never losing sight of the politically precarious place indigenous persons hold in America’s troubled history, a history in which Native culture has been systematically silenced.

“There was this key express: be proud you’re an Indian, but be careful who you tell,” says Robertson (Mohawk), best known for his work as lead guitarist for The Band, recounting advice he once received. Loud, lively, and endlessly illuminating, Rumble is as powerful as the 1958 Link Wray song it’s named after, one of the rare instrumental tracks banned from radio airwaves since it supposedly “glorified juvenile delinquency.”*

Film producers Lisa Roth and Ernest Webb attend the SIFF premier of their documentary Rumble.

“People don’t understand nor realize that there was a Native contribution and influence, an intermingling of cultures from so long that helped shape the early sounds of many musical genres,” says Producer Lisa Roth on the film’s vision to entertain while educating the public. “This isn’t commonly known because at the time [the U.S. government] was attempting to erase Native culture, essentially. We know this is a lot of information to take in and absorb. I’ve been approached by many Native people after viewing the film who tell me, ‘I learned something that I should have known and I didn’t. Thank you for that.’”

“We don’t want to take anything away from anybody, it’s just that we want to add to the story. We want the contributions of Native musicians and artists who helped shape music recognized in the history,” adds Executive Producer Ernest Webb (Cree). “Just because we hid, they thought we had disappeared. A lot of our people and culture was forced to go underground in order to survive. Presently, a lot of our ceremonies and traditional ways are coming back.

We’re in a new age, especially with successful music groups like A Tribe Called Red. We don’t need to hide who we are anymore. With the new and young generation coming up I’m hopeful our culture will continue to grow and thrive on the foundation our ancestors provided.”

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World will be wide-released to select theaters in the Seattle area later this Summer.

To view the Rumble trailer you can visit http://rezolutionpictures.com/portfolio_page/rumble/

*Source: Rumble press material provided by Seattle International Film Festival

Veterans and Gold Star Mothers honored at Tulalip

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

In commemoration of Memorial Day, the Tulalip Tribes held memorial services at both Priest Point and Mission Beach cemeteries, to honor and remember the fallen soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for this Nation’s freedom. The Tribe thanked the veterans, Gold Star Mothers and active duty members of the military for their service.

Tulalip Board member and Vietnam Veteran, Mel Sheldon, hosted the services and thanked the Honor Guards, veterans and families who prepared the cemetery for the memorial services.

“It’s heartfelt to see all the flags on bedsides of Veterans who served, especially for those who paid their life, the ultimate sacrifice,” Mel expressed.

Several Tulalip Veterans shared their experience with the community, recounting their days while on active duty. The services included roll call as well as a 21-gun salute at each cemetery. This year, the Tribe enlisted two Vietnam veterans as guest speakers for the memorial services.

Washington State Council President for the Vietnam Veterans of America, Francisco Ivarra, spoke to the Tulalip community about the important role of family during wartime.

“When we talk about a veteran we have to include his wife, girlfriend and family. It has to be inclusive, because when a Veteran comes home from war, combat and foreign lands, they are not the same person,” said Francisco. “For those of us who served, war will always be with us for the rest of our lives. That war filters down to our families. What we are feeling, going through and experiencing, so are our families. We fought the battle, but when we come home, they are also fighting the battle.”

President of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, John Shafer, served alongside Mel during Vietnam. John shared that there were over 42,000 aviators during the Vietnam War and made sure to take a moment to pay respect to Raymond Moses, a Tulalip Veteran who recently was laid to rest.

John also thanked the Tulalip Veterans and community members stating, “It is an honor to be here today with the Tulalip families and Veterans. [In the military,] Native American men and women have the highest participation role, in history.  The Tulalip families stepped up for our country and I thank each of you for your service.”

 

A Gathering of Coast Salish peoples

 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Western Washington Tribes and British Columbia First Nations of the Salish Sea came together to speak with one voice at the Tulalip Resort Casino’s Orca Ballroom on February 27.

As one voice, the tribal leaders, activists, and caretakers of the environment spoke for the continued protection of the land and waters of our aboriginal homeland and the preservation of our culture. As brothers and sisters, they shared their culture and concerns for the endangered eco-region, and continued their dialogue on the need for strengthened environmental policies and practices in our ancestral homelands.

These Coast Salish ancestral homelands, the Salish Sea and its people continue to face detrimental damages to the environment and resources based on the pollution based economy, and they will continue to move on co-management and co-decision making on the Salish Sea. The agenda for the 2017 gathering was to discuss:

  • Aboriginal and Treaty Rights at Risk
  • Resource and Environmental Challenges
  • Laws, Policy and Regulation
  • Coast Salish 21st Century Nations and Tribes
  • Federal, State and Tribal Dispute Resolution
  • Decision making, uniform consent

Following the day’s seminars and presentations, attendees were treated to an evening filled with traditional song and dance. The next generation of Tulalip drummers, singers, and dancers opened, led by cultural specialist Chelsea Craig.

 

Tulalip drummers and singers

 

Succeeding the young and spirited Tulalip group was one of the top Native dance groups on the west coast, Git-Hoan.

“We are Git-Hoan, the People of the Salmon. We are a makeup of Tsimshian, Haida, and Tlingit people from southeast Alaska and are proud to be in your territory to sing and dance for you,” stated group creator David Boxley, a renowned Tsimshian artist and carver. “What a beautiful place to dance. Thank you for allowing us to be here.

“This dance group has been in existence since 1996. We use a lot of masks to tell our stories. All of our tribes, including [Tulalip], at one time danced with masks and this form of expression is coming back strong over the last decade. The songs and dances you are about to see are old in their origins, but relatively new in their make-up. Missionaries were very successful with our people. We are trying to change that by [revitalizing our culture] like how it was before the missionaries. We are proud of the fact we try really, really hard to look like the old days, with the masks and telling the stories like our people once did.”

 

 

Git-Hoan performed for nearly an hour to the marvel of gathering attendees. Included in their selection of dances was a brand new song debuted for the Coast Salish occasion.

“We are the People of the Salmon, and so are you. We are all People of the Salmon,” explained Boxley. “Historically, our ancestors’ lives depended on the salmon. The next song we are going to show is a brand new song that shows our pride in being People of the Salmon .We dedicate this song to all of you.”

With the conclusion of the day’s events, Board of Director Theresa Sheldon shared her amazement in watching the performances by several Coast Salish tribes.

“It’s always a blessing to see our young students singing our ancestors songs, especially for this Coast Salish Gathering. A gathering that’s all about our Mother Earth and how we can work together on protecting our waterways. It was truly a delight to witness the Alaskan group perform their traditional mask dances. They had the most amazing raven dance, with the mosquito ancestor dance, and the supernatural eagle dance. It’s truly an honor when our relatives bring out their masks to share with us. Sharing our songs and dances together is the way of our people. I’m so thankful to the parents and teachers who help our young ones embrace this.”

On a Wave: Tulalip artist Nathan Kix ‘holds it down’ for Native American and hip-hop culture

Nathan Kix.
Photo/Kalvin Validillez, Tulalip News

 

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

 

Cool, calm and collected is the demeanor of Tulalip hip-hop artist, Nathan Kix. Still in his early twenties he has his mind set on the future, looking to be the first Native artist to crossover to music mainstream. Many Indigenous rappers such as Litefoot and Red Cloud have seen success and have spread their voices throughout reservations nationwide. However, their fan base has been limited to the Native American community.

Nathan and his team have created a unique modern sound that emphasizes his clever wordplay. Until recently Nathan was releasing singles on Soundcloud, which revealed glimpses of his musical direction. He released his debut project this past December, on his birthday, in the form of a six-track EP titled Autumn which has received positive reviews across social media. And he is only beginning, stating his future projects will each contain a unique sound as he plans to build a strong catalog during the course of his music career.

With a fan base that continues to grow by the day, I have no doubt in my mind that Kix could be the first Native rapper to break down genre barriers. I personally met Nathan a few years back while we were both working as concierge’ for the T Spa at the Tulalip Resort and Casino. As an avid hip-hop enthusiast myself, I would often talk music, recite Jay Z lyrics and even drop the occasional freestyle with Nate during downtime at the spa (when no guests were around, of course). Which is why I was excited to sit down and talk with the young emcee about his new release, culture, and of course the genre of music that captivated us both at a young age: hip-hop.

 

Let’s start off by talking about your background. Has growing up on the reservation affected your writing?

For the most part I’ve kept my culture modest, up until this point. Solely for the fact I feel I don’t want to expose too much too early. I want to appeal to as many people as possible, strictly through human experience, without playing the culture card. I don’t want to use that to gain popularity. I want to build my skill level. So, at this point it hasn’t [affected the writing] but it does inspire why I want to do this.

 

What is your writing process?

When I first started, I used to write without a beat, which was a burden when it came time to record because I couldn’t stay on beat. But I stuck with it and kept writing. Once I figured out what bars were, it was a field day. With the writing process now, I am very punch line oriented. I studied Lil’ Wayne’s delivery and wittiness, and took those components and made it my own. When writing today, I will loop the beat and figure out the exact flow first, like how many syllables I can fit into particular verse or line and once I figure that out, I’ll pause the beat and keep flowing in my head, until I get it down, and then plop the words in.

 

Was there a defining moment when you knew this is what you’re supposed to do?

I started writing raps around seven or eight, but they were trash and I was one of those people who want to be good at something right away. I realized [at that time] I wasn’t good, so I held off until I was about sixteen, and then I gave it another shot.

At the beginning of my sophomore year, there was this one girl who I was trying to, you know, holler at. She actually asked me to have a rap battle on paper. I was like ‘oh okay,’ you know whatever it takes to keep the conversation going. Ever since then I’ve enjoyed the process [of writing], so that was the defining moment for me. Whenever I get the chance to talk to her, I still let her know she was the one who got the ball rolling.

 

What’s the story behind the name Nathan Kix?

Roughly around that same time [in high school], I started getting into personal style. The one thing I enjoyed the most about an outfit were the shoes, that’s switched up now, but I was known in high school for having all the Jordan’s and all the fly shoes. People identified me as the dude who had forty different pairs of shoes. Every day, for at least a month and a half, I wore a different pair. That’s basically where the name came from.

 

How important is originality?

Originality is everything. I can’t emphasize that enough. If you want to progress a genre and make your stamp, originality is going to take you there. There are artists out there who cut and paste styles from already established artists and [by doing so] they make it well known that they aren’t on their own wave. Originality should be the focal point when becoming an artist.

 

Who is your biggest musical inspiration?

It’s a toss-up between two or three people. I really fell in love with Kanye West’s music when he came out with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I liked Kanye [before] but that album really sparked my interest and made me want to become a better artist. Drake always had a huge impact on the way I approach the phycology of writing. And, Jim Morrison for the creativity and the depth he brings to writing music.

 

If you could collaborate with one artist who would it be? Producer?

A$AP Rocky. For producer, I have to go with ’Ye (Kanye West).

 

How do you feel about the local hip-hop scene?

I don’t feel like there really is one, but we definitely need it. I feel like it would create a lot of creative ventures for people. If you have all these creative minds such as videographers, photographers, and graphic designers coming together, who can contribute to improve the image of an artist, the scene can essentially build everybody up.

 

Where do you see your art taking you? 

Representing all the First Nations people. Like, the Shoni Schimmel of music. Basically what I am trying to do is bring Natives into the mainstream. Shoni Schimmel dipped her finger in the water; I want to be the person to create the biggest wave out of [the water]. When I do, I want to look back at my people and help them find a way to creatively express themselves, because there are passionate Natives out here and I want to help create a market for them.

 

What separates you from your competition?

The awareness of how to be different; I like to incorporate the modern sound with my own textures. I have a producer who I work with, Paul Koshak. He produced Autumn, well ninety-eight percent of it. Mason Gobin, who is also a tribal member, produced half of [the song] 100 Thousand.

I think a lot of rappers aren’t giving it their all, as far as song content. I feel like that is my sole focus and I am able to deliver that in a very witty way.

 

 

Why did you decide to go with the Moon, in traditional Native artwork, for your album cover?

The moon is representing that something new is about to happen. The moon comes every night and provides you with a new day. So in a way, it is the same concept of Autumn. You see the leaves falling every autumn, signifying new change.

Most people go with a summer vibe with their music because everyone likes to feel good. My favorite season is autumn because the gloominess it has. When the leaves fall, there is a gap of time where it feels like nothing is happening. That’s the overall vibe: transition.

I feel like I made a huge change in my life, within this last year, mentally. It felt like I was dropping as many leaves as possible, I still feel like I’m in that phase, but I know they are going to grow back and blossom as beautiful as ever. That’s the metaphor behind [the artwork and concept].

 

Prior to the release of Autumn, you dropped a documentary that showed you in the studio as well as in the community. Shortly after the EP came out, you released a music video for your song Gravity. How important were those videos to your overall presentation?

They were very crucial, especially the documentary because it gave people a taste of what exactly I am about. A lot of people may perceive me as bashful; when in reality I’m just introverted. The documentary allowed me to show what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, without having to spoon-feed it to you.

The [music] video was not a calculated move. We shot it back in the summertime and we didn’t actually have anything planned for it. People were responding and saying they really appreciated Autumn so director Luis Perez – a phenomenal photographer/videographer – sent me a text and wanted to release the video. We picked the date and dropped it on Christmas Eve.

 

The EP has received a lot of love – what has been the best feedback you received?

I enjoy any type of feedback I get, but the best feedback has been from people I didn’t even expect to give it a listen. Sometimes when walking around, people will stop me and tell me they’ve been listening to my songs. When they tell me they like my music in person, that’s what I appreciate the most.

 

You’ve talked about your collective a lot, the group of creative minds that you work with. How important is it to have your group with you, as you gain more exposure going forward?

I feel like it’s necessary to have a team because you’re not going to always be the one with the right idea. There are decisions that have to be made, that have nothing to do with the craft itself. Having a team behind you to take things on, such as business ventures, that is something that an artist can benefit from.

Having your own team is basically like having your own label. I feel like I would rather give a percentage [of profits] to the people I know. I think most artists are taking this route because they realized that record labels will rip your soul apart. When it’s with people you know, you feel a more genuine connection.

 

Do you plan on staying on the independent grind or would you sign the right deal?

If they had my agenda in mind, and allowed me to operate at the speed that I’m comfortable working at, I might consider it. Even then, I don’t believe I would fully commit to a label. If anything, I would like to do a publishing deal to handle all the business ventures such as marketing.

 

What is one record label you would consider?

I’m not sure if I would necessarily fit at any of the labels. But I would maybe consider [signing a deal with] G.O.O.D. Music (Kanye’s record label) because they have a lot of diversity going on over there. I love OVO (Drake’s record label) and what they are doing; they have a certain aesthetic they are keeping. I don’t feel like I sound anything like them, so I don’t think I would mesh well, in that aspect, same with T.D.E. (Top Dawg Entertainment, record label associated with Kendrick Lamar)

 

 

A top to bottom Autumn performance would be lit! Do you plan on performing in the near future?

Yeah, like I mentioned before, the [local hip hop] scene needs to be more prominent. I would like to work with the right promoters to make sure that our shows are the best they can be for us, and for the people as well. I also have a lot more songs than the six-track EP, so we’re looking at possible set lists and looking at other local acts as well. There’s a lot of talent around here and we want to do multiple shows. There are definitely plans for live performances; we’re just ironing out the details.

 

Who are you currently listening to and who is on your top-three emcee list?

Most of the time what I like to listen to is the polar opposite of what I make. Right now it’s a lot of Lil Uzi Vert, this artist named 6lack he made that song PRBLMS, I love that joint. I’ve also been bumping a lot of Frank Ocean. Syd, from [the music group] The Internet, just dropped a solo project that is amazing. I also go back in time too; I love The Doors.

And for top three, these are not in order and they all have reasons for being on here: Kanye West, Drake, and Travis Scott. I would say they are the most influential to me.

 

If you could change a common misconception about the hip-hop culture what would it be?

I want people to respect how artistic and influential this genre is. Because, agree with it or not, rap is the new rock and roll.

 

How about in Native culture?

The stereotypes. Also, that we are unexposed to the world outside of the reservation.

 

What do you want tribal members to take away from your music?

That there is somebody out here looking to expose our culture to the world.

And my advice for young aspiring Native artists is to go with your gut instinct on what exactly you want to portray yourself as, and make sure that everything you’re doing stays true to yourself and is original as well.

 

Autumn is currently available on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify and Soundcloud with plans of a physical release in the near future. To view the documentary, the music video for Gravity, and for additional information visit the Nathan Kix Facebook page.

Tulalip students learn traditional language

 

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

In the late 1800s, the U.S. Government deemed it necessary to forcibly remove Native American children from their families and send them to boarding schools. Among the many atrocities that occurred in the boarding schools, Native children were punished whenever they spoke their language. This practice resulted in many tribal nations losing their language completely. After the horrific boarding school practice ended many tribes immediately began to restore and preserve their language.

Lushootseed is the Coast Salish language of the Native Peoples in the Northwest. Primarily spoken in the greater Seattle area of Washington, Lushootseed is the language of the peoples of Puyallup, Swinomish, and of course Snohomish.

In Tulalip, Lushootseed is taught to children early between the ages of three and five at the Tulaip Early Learning Academy. The children learn songs, stories, numbers and animals in Lushootseed. Tulalip also offers their employees and community members Lushootseed classes, showing how important the language is to the tribe.

The Northwest Indian College (NWIC) offers Lushootseed classes to college students in which the student receives five college credits towards a foreign language. In collaboration with NWIC and Heritage High School, the Tulalip Tribes is now offering Lushootseed 101 to the students at Heritage.

In the Lushootseed class students revisit vocabulary learned at a young age and use that as a starting point. Lushootseed 101 has ten enrolled students who have been learning phrases and introductions. After three months into the curriculum students are able to state their name, where they are from, and who their families are. In solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, students even created a Water Is Life video in Lushootseed.

“It is a great way to get back to our traditions and it makes me feel connected to my ancestors.”

– Myrna Red Leaf, Heritage H.S. student

 

Lushootseed Language Instructor, Michelle Myles states, “They are learning the 101 college level so this will be one of their fulfillments for college. They’re learning right alongside the Northwest Indian College [students]. Our goal this quarter is to have the college students come and speak with the high schoolers, and have our students greet them, so they can see that others are learning as well, and it’s not isolated to the classrooms.”

Tulalip’s effort in preserving their language is outstanding and it is reflected through the fun, respect, and appreciation the students show during class. During an entire class period, the only English spoken was when students needed assistance with a Lushootseed word. And as student Myrna Red Leaf states, “It is a great way to get back to our traditions and it makes me feel connected to my ancestors.”

Promoting Men’s Health

 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Early detection is key for the treatment of heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, and many other diseases that disproportionately affect men. However, men are less likely to seek preventative care than women. Despite growing awareness, men usually take a back seat approach to maintaining their health. We will shy away from seeking advice, delaying possible treatment and/or waiting until symptoms become so bad we have no other option but to seek medical attention. To make matters worse, we refuse to participate in the simple and harmless pursuit of undergoing annual screenings.

Enter the Annual Men’s Health Fair held at the Karen I. Fryberg Tulalip Health Clinic on Friday, December 16. This year’s health fair provided us men the opportunity to become more aware of our own health. With various health screenings being offered for the low, low price of FREE, we were able to get in the driver’s seat and take charge of our own health. Blood sugar, cholesterol, and prostate screenings were among the options for men to participate in. Along with all the preventative health benefits of participating in these screenings, as if that was not reason enough, they gave out numerous goodies and a complimentary “Indian taco” lunch to every man who showed up to take charge of his health.

At 16.1 percent, Native Americans have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among all U.S. racial and ethnic groups. Also, Native Americans are 2.2 times more likely to have diabetes compared with non-Hispanic whites (per Diabetes.org). Clearly we are at a greater risk when it comes to diabetes, making it all more crucial to have glucose testing and diabetes screenings performed on an annual basis. For those men who attended the health fair, they were able to quickly have their glucose (blood sugar) tested with just a prick of the finger.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the first and stroke the sixth leading cause of death among Native Americans. High blood pressure is a precursor to possible heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure is also very easily detected by having routine checks of your blood pressure taken periodically.

 

 

Representatives from Health First Chiropractic, the Marysville branch, were on hand as well to offer a free posture analysis. Using a spinal analysis machine, the patient advocate conducted postural exams on a number of men and reviewed the results with each participant. Good posture can help you exercise more safely and achieve better general health. When you sit or stand correctly, your organs will be better aligned, which reduces indigestion and helps your lungs to function at full capacity. Your core muscles will be strengthened and your back and shoulders will feel more comfortable.

Along with the various health screenings being offered there were information booths available that ranged from alternative health care options in the local area, ways to have cleaner air in your home, and methods to change eating habits to live a heathier lifestyle. There was a booth where we could have our grip tested, a method used for assessing joint and muscle fatigue. Another booth offered us the opportunity to have our BMI (body mass index) and body fat percentage measured. Wondered if you need to cut back on those weekend treats? Or if you need to start leading a more active lifestyle? Well if that BMI was too high and you didn’t like what your body fat percentage was, now you know the answer.

 

 

Face it, as we get older, we all need to become more aware of the inevitable health concerns that may one day affect us. The possibility of having to deal with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or the possibility of prostate cancer looms over us all. The only way to avoid such health concerns to heighten our awareness of these preventable conditions. Health educators empower us to be more proactive about our health by getting annual screenings, detecting issues early, as well as seeking medical treatment before a simple, treatable issue becomes life altering.

At the conclusion of the Men’s Health Fair, Jennie Fryberg, Health Information Manager, said the following, “I’d like to personally thank all the men that came out and participated in the men’s health fair today! Way to come and take care of your health, men.”

 

“What a time to be alive and in education!”

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

 

Certified STI instructor, Dr. Laura Lynn.

Certified STI instructor, Dr. Laura Lynn.

Since Time Immemorial (STI) is a curriculum created to educate Washington State elementary through high school students on the history, culture, traditions and sovereignty of the Northwest coastal tribes. The school districts will meet frequently with local tribes so their students can learn first-hand about the resilient people of Native America and the unfortunate journey we have experienced since Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the new world.

In the early 2000’s, Tulalip tribal member and Washington State Senator, John McCoy wrote House Bill 1495 that encouraged Washington school districts to teach students about local tribes. Since the bill was passed less than 30% of the school districts participated in teaching the history of neighboring Native communities. In 2014, Senator McCoy presented a new bill, Senate Bill 5433. House Bill 1495 and Senate Bill 5433 were essentially the same, however, the slight alteration of verbiage changed Native American education from being encouraged to a requirement.

During the time period between the two bills, STI was created and made available for the schools that chose to participate. Since then the creators have been able to fine-tune the curriculum by trial and error of participating school districts. The end result is a free, easy accessible curriculum that includes full lesson plans, videos, reading material, and activities that will potentially put an end to stereotypes and misconceptions of Native People that many non-natives possess.

Certified STI instructor, Dr. Laura Lynn, recently spoke to educators, administrators, and parents from the nearby school districts of Edmonds, Mukilteo, Monroe and Arlington at the Hibulb Cultural Center to discuss the background, and to present an in-depth view of the curriculum.

“What a time to be alive and in education!” Dr. Lynn exclaimed. “The intent of this meeting is not to shame but to give a clear understanding of the Native communities. By sharing the curriculum with our students, it is going to help them become informed citizens. As our youth step up into leadership roles they will be deeply connected with the community. As educators we aren’t teaching our students so they can leave, but so they can grow. We need to assist them as they perfect their talents and give them the tools they need to enrich our communities.”

Dr. Lynn expressed that the youth need to understand the true history of local tribes. She explained that America often tries to downplay the tragedies that occurred to Natives and make it feel like it took place a long time ago. When in reality the elders of today’s tribes were taken from their families and placed into boarding schools where they were forced to learn the white culture and lose their traditional cultural teachings.

Before STI, the story of the birth of America often leaves out the fact the U.S. Government stole its land by murdering Native Americans. That is only the beginning of the countless atrocities the government committed against the Indigenous community.  Dr. Lynn stated, “We are not fulfilling our duties if we are not being honest about the genocide, the assimilation, and the boarding schools. It is important that you know the history because you can teach a curriculum, but if you don’t understand the spirit and the intent behind it, you will tend to make the same mistakes repeatedly.”

Dr. Lynn quickly went through a lesson plan with the educators titled ‘The 600 Memorial Lesson Plan’ she said, “Since [House Bill 1495] was signed, over 87% of school districts did not participate in teaching the history of Native People. The only native history we have been teaching is in a post 1900 context. Think about it. Close your eyes and envision the image of a Native American tribal member. Because of what is portrayed in our history books, in our minds we are living with a stereotype. The image is usually in a post 1900 context and its usually of a tribal member who is not from this region. The 600 Memorial Lesson Plan addresses the stereotype issue. During this lesson, students will learn about contemporary issues that local tribal communities are facing today. It will give our students a chance to meet with and understand contemporary Native People, giving us a chance to finally dissolve those stereotypes that often lead to racism and barriers.”

The event concluded with a story, exclusively for the educators, by Master Carver/Storyteller Kenny Moses. As more schools are starting to implement the STI curriculum, the hope of a better tomorrow emerges. An opportunity for a future without harmful stereotypes and offensive mascots is presented. Coast Salish tribes will finally get to share our similar yet unique story as Native Peoples.

For more information about STI and for upcoming classes and seminars, visit www.indian-ed.org