Celebrating Clear Sky’s decade of dedication and mentorship to Native Youth

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The stark reality when it comes to Native Americans and the education system isn’t good, in fact it’s pretty poor. The latest stats and trends only demonstrate Native students continue to have difficulty finding success (i.e. graduating high school) in comparison to their peers from different racial backgrounds.

National Congress of American Indians reports that on average, less than 50% of Native students graduate from high school each year in the seven states with the highest percentage of Native students, Washington State is included in that list. Moreover, recent numbers released from local public school districts, such as the Marysville School District and Seattle School District, show their Native student populations only graduating high school at a rate between 43-48%. For reference, the national average for high school student graduation, regardless of race, is 82%, according to recent publications from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Enter Clear Sky, the crown jewel of the Urban Native Education Alliance, a non-profit 501(c)(3), Native-led, grassroots, volunteer-based organization. Clear Sky was founded by urban Native students in Seattle as a youth centered program, serving thousands of Native youth since its inception in 2008.

The marvel of Clear Sky is that since its humble beginning ten years ago, Clear Sky continues to uphold a 100% graduation rate and academic advancement of Native learners who actively participate in its tutoring and mentorship offerings.  Read that again, a 100% high school graduation rate for these Native students.

Sustained success via a decade of dedication and mentorship to Native youth is worth celebrating, so on February 27th a 10-year celebration was held for all Clear Sky has achieved and continues to strive for. The location was none other than Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, Seattle’s newest public school named for a beloved Native American educator of the 1980s and ‘90s.

Clear Sky’s decade of dedication celebration featured a host of influential leaders, educators, activists, and former students who spoke about the immensely positive impact Clear Sky makes in the Native community.

“There are many aspects of our ten years I take pride in, given the unconventional model of being the flagship program of our Native-led, non-profit organization Urban Native Education Alliance,” stated UNEA Chairwoman, Sarah Sense-Wilson (Oglala, Sioux). “Clear Sky has flourished, expanded outreach, and has become part of the fabric of our urban Seattle community. The number of alumni students returning back to volunteer and support Clear Sky is astonishing, and a testament to the impact Clear Sky had on their success. These young adults serve as healthy, positive role models for our youth.

“I’m proud of our ongoing 100% graduation and academic advancement of Clear Sky students throughout the many years of our program. The results are a reflection of our organizations core values and the fostering of leadership through academic achievement, civic service and stewardship.”

Shared values of culture and tradition was on full-display as well, through the sharing of drum circles and song. The UNEA women, led by Roxanne White, brought out the Women’s Warrior Song to honor and remember missing and murdering Indigenous women. The A.I.M. song was performed by a group of proud Lakota men, while Roger Fernandes led the young men of the Clear Sky youth council in a Warrior Song.

“Shout out to Clear Sky and UNEA. Seattle’s Native community has an abundance of incredible leadership making this place one where Native kids can flourish,” remarked Matt Remle, local Lakota activist and Native Liaison for the Marysville School District. “To the volunteers of Clear Sky who have showed up day after day, week after week, and year after year, for the sake of our kids…to the founders, past and present board members, staff, tutors, coaches, mentors, teachers, speakers, student leaders and families, thank you and wow!”

Among the student leaders and athletic coaches is Tulalip tribal member, Cullen Zackuse. Cullen is a Clear Sky Co-Coordinator and Native Warrior Athletics basketball coach. He serves as a youth mentor and provides leadership through positive role modeling. Cullen has strong roots and cultural ties with Tulalip and he brings those cultural/traditional values into every interaction with the urban Native youth.

“I took on a formal role with Clear Sky about six months ago so I could work with the youth after school on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sunday, but mostly I coach the basketball team for Native Warrior Athletics,” said Cullen of his leadership role within UNEA and Clear Sky. “Working with tribal kids and teaching them the fundamentals of basketball, coaching them at tournaments is making a difference and creates a positive environment for learning.”

Two other notable guests in attendance for the celebration were Seattle Public School Board Member, Scott Pinkham (Nez Perce), and Seattle City Councilmember, Debora Juarez (Blackfeet). They shared in the festivities, spoke on the importance of Clear Sky, and gave special recognition by way of a City of Seattle official Proclamation declaring it “Seattle Clear Sky Day”.

“The content of the Proclamation addresses several decade long issues UNEA and Clear Sky youth have been addressing through Seattle Public Schools public testimony, rallies, community meetings, documentaries, and countless news media interviews and letters, and petitions,” explained UNEA Chairwoman, Sarah Sense-Wilson. “We plan to share the City of Seattle Proclamation with other youth groups and at various venues to illustrate that the City of Seattle supports our initiatives and our vision as a legitimate voice for Indian Education.”

For more information on the Urban Native Education Alliance and Clear Sky, or to contact about mentorship and tutoring opportunities for the youth, please reach out to Sarah Sense-Wilson by phone at (206) 941-0338 or via email markseattle3@aol.com

Native Sports and Baden join forces to create new business model

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Two Rivers Community Development Corporation, a non-profit located in North Bend, has created a new company called Native Sports to officially partner with Baden Sports Inc. in a new venture designed to empower Native youth through sports and business. The partnership also hopes to change the landscape of sports balls used on reservations across the country by providing exclusive tribal designed, top-of-the-line basketballs and footballs for play at all levels.

“Native Sports was created for the purpose of working with Native youth to create our next generation of leaders,” explained Chairman Daucey Brewington, a citizen of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. “One of our missions over the next ninety-days is to identify Native youth as potential board members both on their background/interests and their willingness to help develop this new concept.”

Native Sports and Baden Sports formally launched their partnership at the first Native Sports Youth Development Summit held at Baden’s headquarters in Renton on November 21st. Native youth from the twenty-nine tribes in Washington were invited to participate. Attendees learned about the newly formed Native Sports group and how they as youth can become involved in the organization.

Baden representatives provided product overviews and demonstrations, including balls engraved with the Native Sports logo. Proceeds from Native Sports will be used to further educational, athletic, and social development of Native American youth.

“I am proud to stand with Baden Sports to realize this dream of empowering our youth to live better lives through their own efforts,” said President and CEO of Native Sports, Lawrence SpottedBird, a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. “This dream is a result of many years of planning to come together. We will show this unique partnership can not only make a profit, but also engage young Native people to become leaders while learning key business skills along the way.”

Among the Youth Development Summit attendees were several members from Puyallup Tribe’s Youth Council and representatives from Muckleshoot. After listening in detail to how they could join the Native Sports business venture, the tribal youth got to meet Baden Sports Vice-President, Jake Licht, and then received a surprise meet and greet with Seahawks legend, Jim Zorn.

For more information about Native Sports or to learn about their products and programs for Native youth, please visit their website nativesportsllc.com

Opportunistic youth enjoy “Glamping” adventure on the Oregon Coast

Sea lions entertain the girls at Port Stevens State Park.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

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

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

The girls visit the house featured in the movie Goonies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Gen leaders step forward


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On Saturday, January 14, eight representatives of Tulalip’s future leaders were introduced to the Board of Directors. These eight strong-spirited, young men and women were sworn in to be the next cohort to make-up the Tulalip Youth Council.

“Congratulations to the Tulalip Tribes new 2017 Tulalip Youth Council. I’m excited to work with them and look forward to seeing them grow and prosper,” said Board of Director Theresa Sheldon. “Our youth are so important and when they are given a positive opportunity, they always rise to the occasion. I believe in them and am so proud of them. We are so thankful for the amazing staff who continually supports them and provides them with a safe place to be creative and build as a team.”



Being willing to step up and represent your community is a huge undertaking for anyone, especially true for our youth. They have each opted to take this critical step together and aim to be role models in and out of the classroom for their peers. When you see these youth, please congratulate them for committing to a productive year of making positive change for their peers and community, and thank them for taking on this important role of leadership.




Jlynn Joseph, Chairwoman
Kordelle Hammons, Co-Vice Chairman
Keely Gobin Mcghie, Co-Vice Chairwoman
Shayleigh Tucker, Treasurer
Irista Reeves, Media Coordinator
Ilivia Hatch, Media Coordinator
Tamiah Joseph, Junior Representative
Dexter Smith, Junior Representative

Youth Perspectives: Suicide

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Talking to adolescents and teens about sensitive issues can be a daunting task, let alone trying to start a conversation about youth suicide. However, it is of vital importance that the conversation be had and the youth allowed to speak freely on the subject. It’s imperative there be no judgement, no pressure, and no expectation. The goal is to create a comfortable space where conversation flows naturally. During these times the youth can be very enlightening and provide insight to a topic we may not have considered before.

Over a period of weeks, this comfortable space where conversation could flow freely was created with several Tulalip youth who are highly vested in their community. These are youth who range in age from 8th grade to recent high school graduates, with the majority being current high schoolers. It was made clear that their perspective on suicide would remain anonymous and be contributed to a collaboration article with several of their peers. The focus of conversation was on the recent coverage and response to community suicides over the last few months, their thoughts on what leads Native youth to contemplate suicide, and what they feel would be effective programs and developments to prevent teen suicide.



“As Native youth, we have endured so much loss and pain when it comes to losing family members or close friends or even just stress within our family. We are still suffering from the impacts of the genocide to our ancestors. Even today, almost on a daily basis the outside world still tries to strip us of what’s left of our culture. We’re like 50 years behind on education, we are more prone to addiction, alcoholism and using drugs. Let the youth know that we don’t have to continue that cycle. We can break those cycles of being addicts and uneducated. We can focus more on education, sports, and being culturally and community oriented.”


“Often partying is glorified. We should try to have more programs to go against all the things considered cool to do as a high school students. The underage drinking, smoking, ditching school, and things like that. We need prevention programs that actually speak to us, keep us busy, and focused on what’s really important. Let’s teach the youth to aspire to something greater…than just being on the Rez living paycheck to paycheck.”


“When you’re a teen you think it’s cool to look older or act older or do adult things, but you’re still just a kid. You’re still in high school. Why not learn to be a cool kid but in different ways? We try so hard to fit in but really in the world after high school its cooler to stand out.”


“There are definitely cycles that have been created. We all know and are told everything about suicide. We’ve seen the statistics that show we are more likely than other cultures to commit suicide. We know that’s there. Even when you’re in the moment, you know that’s going to be passed on, you’re going to become another statistic, but it still happens anyway. It’s hard to get out of that thinking that life just isn’t worth it anymore. Creating programs that help us to aspire, to know that whatever it is we’re going through doesn’t have to define us, that this isn’t the end of our journey, but the beginning, is critical to us breaking those cycles.”


“There’s a program at Behavioral Health that’s so amazing, but not a lot of people know about it. They offer counseling, someone for you to talk to about anything. Even if it’s something as simple as wanting to voice your thoughts they’ll listen. It’s located in the old Montessori building. They offer transportation so they can pick you up from school, will take you to appointments if your parents can’t. This program is so readily available, you just have to take the first step of reaching out to them.”


“I have cousins whose parents try to deny the fact they need help, that they have depression, and are suicidal. They need help from people who can support them and help them with what they are thinking and feeling, but their parents want to push it all under the rug. That doesn’t help anyone. It’s that old style of thinking that some of our parents still have and we need help breaking that cycle, too.”


“There’s a slippery slope that comes when discussing overdoses and deaths related to drugs and alcohol. Suicides is a part of that. The lines get blurred when it comes to a teenager who is driving drunk or high, crashes, and dies as a result. To some that’s considered not a suicide, but to others it is. Sometimes those of us closer to the situation know the true intent even if people want to deny it. If we count some of the drug and alcohol related deaths as suicides then that statistic for Tulalip looks a lot worse.”


“We hear a lot about generational trauma and the importance of our culture. After Jaylen, there were a lot of outsiders brought in and our space was no longer ours. In a way the response to bring in those outside professionals triggered more trauma in us. What do they know about our generation? What do they know about our culture? It’s hard enough for us to talk about sensitive subjects with family and friends. How were we expected to talk about these subjects and our thoughts and feelings with people we never seen before and didn’t know? It happened again after Dontae. It’s hard to talk about sensitive issues with strangers. Bringing outsiders to our spaces isn’t effective and doesn’t help us to heal.”


“When they had people who we didn’t know posted at the Teen Center it’s like you guys are messing with somewhere we feel safe, where we feel like we don’t have to be afraid or sad. Having those people there made some of us be elsewhere because we go to the Teen Center to be comfortable around our friends, not to be judged by people who don’t know us. It’s our safe haven and for that time we weren’t allowed to feel safe there.”


“I think that people find comfort in those they know and are familiar with. Starting our own teen support group is a good start. We want a place to talk about our feelings with people who understand what we’re going through. If you’re feeling suicidal or feeling like you don’t have anywhere else to go, then a peer-to-peer support group would be there for you.”


“Over the last couple months, since Dontae, there has been an increase in teens attempting suicide. I know of four or five attempts and that most likely isn’t all that have tried. I know a lot of people who feel so lonely and have suicidal thoughts, but there’s nothing I can do to help them. It’s hard because our youth are so stubborn. Trying to help someone is really hard if they don’t want to be helped. So we, as a community, need to work together on finding out what the emptiness is and how we can fill it.”


“A lot of why we are so apart as a community is we’ve lost so much of our culture. We are so disconnected from values are ancestors had. We really need to push our culture, like to an extreme extent to make up for all that we’ve lost. We hear so much talk on the importance of family and community, but it seems we are more divided than ever. Families vs. families, old feuds, and people fighting over who gets what. It’s like we need to learn to be a true community again. At the end of the day, all of us are Tulalip family.”


“There are so many of us who don’t even know who their family is because everyone is so caught up in their own day to day life. The support that should be there isn’t and we don’t know who to turn to. It’s sad. That’s where the loneliness comes from.”


“It’s interesting that when threatened by outsiders our people band together like no other. The tribal mentality and need to protect one another is super strong then. So why don’t we have that mentality all the time? Something that has stuck with me is at a community potluck put together by Natosha Gobin and Malory Simpson, it was geared towards the youth but a lot of families came together, and they said we should come together in the good times, not only the bad times like funerals. I think there should be more of a push to go to community potlucks, community gatherings, and having the youth get together. We find comfort talking to people that we know. Having events or community dinners where the youth can come and have a good time then our parents would be able to catch up with their friends, too.”


“We know the odds are against us. It’s up to us to work against these stats and cycles we hear so much about. Suicides, lack of education, alcoholism, addiction…all these things are working against us, all the percentages are negatively in our favor. We can’t just get stuck in what we know, we have to be open to what we don’t know. We have all this possibility in front of us and in our future. Why not try to turn that possibility into something positive? There’s so much more out there for us than just the stats and cycles. There’s a whole world of possibility out there, beyond this Rez. It’s up to us to realize that and not be afraid to journey on our own path. We decide what our story will be.”

Tulalip-based Juvenile Diversion Panel seeking additional volunteers

By Wendy Church, Tribal Court Director

Since starting the juvenile diversion panel (known as the Tulalip Community Accountability Board) in July 2009 here on the Tulalip Reservation, the C.A.B. has heard 58 cases so far.   This diversion program is an alternative to the juvenile court process.

The C.A.B. meets monthly with tribal member youths under the age of 18 years old who are arrested for minor offenses and are eligible for participation in this program.  Objectives of the panel are to hold the youth accountable for their actions, foster a change in the youth’s attitude, impress upon the youth the community is concerned about their conduct, increase the youth’s awareness of impact their behavior has; and to maximize opportunities for the youth.

We are actively recruiting additional volunteers for the Tulalip-based C.A.B.  Volunteers must possess an interest in youth and commitment to the welfare of others; have a non-judgmental attitude; treat youth and families with dignity and respect; have the ability to hold confidences and respect others privacy; have the ability to communicate effectively; have the ability to work and problem-solve with other volunteers; and have prior experience with youth.

The C.A.B. meets once a month at 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Tulalip Tribal Court.

If you are interested in being a volunteer, please contact Emmy Hoff, Juvenile Probation Counselor at the Denny Juvenile Justice Center for an application.  Applicants will be screened for any criminal record and will be required to attend a 2-hour training.  Ms. Hoff can be reached at 425 / 388-7917.

Native youth visualize voices as paintings




By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Well-known Native artist, Toma Villa, traveled to Tulalip and spent July 13 and 14 working with more than 80 summer youth workers on creating mural projects inside the Kenny Moses Building. Toma, who is a registered member of the Yakima Nation, has spent the last few years traveling to various reservations and inspiring Native youth to find their inner artist.

Toma uses Native American themes in the murals he paints. To date he has created 18 large-scale murals in four years that are “all up and down the Columbia River,” he says.

“In my mural workshops the youth work together to visualize their voices as paintings,” says Toma. “The best part of the workshops is watching the creative process play out and seeing how everyone interacts to take ownership over what they are creating. A big part of it is I like to tell them that you are people of the community, this is your home, and so it’s up to you to decide what goes up in your community. With these murals, it’s them putting out their ideas and their culture.”

The two-day crash-course painting workshop was the largest Toma has ever done. Usually he works with 10-15 youth at a time, but he was up to the challenge of working with the large group of 80 summer youth workers Tulalip had in store.




“It took a lot of work building and priming the walls to have enough space for 80 people to work with, but it was definitely worth the time and effort,” continues Toma. “So much good can come from the creating process and when you have young people working together amazing things can happen.”

Among the group of 80 were artists of all skill levels. With Toma helping with inspiration and guidance, every one of the youth were able to find their inner artist. There were teams of youth working on larger murals, while some preferred to showcase their solo talents with their stroke of the paintbrush.

The finished murals are in the process of being hung up around the Tulalip Youth Center for all to see.




“Absolutely amazing artwork took place with the Summer Youth program during their two days in the Kenny Moses Building working alongside Toma Villa. I loved seeing our youth so engaged and involved,” stated Theresa Sheldon, Board of Director, on Facebook. “If you have a youth in the Summer Youth program, you should be so proud of the amazing artwork they have created. Please give them a big hug and thank them for being so awesome! The Youth Services staff has been going above and beyond for them this summer. Next step is to put these master pieces up around our Youth Center. t’igʷicid to all who made this happen.”

Tulalip hosts unprecedented Jr. NBA camp

jr nba web


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

History was made at the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club over the weekend of July 8, as the National Basketball Association (NBA) selected the Tulalip Tribes to host a first of its kind summer basketball camp focused on engaging Native American youth. The three-day Jr. NBA camp was developed to be a youth basketball participation program for boys and girls ages 10-14. With the NBA holding this event on Tulalip Tribes’ land, it marked the first time ever a Jr. NBA camp took place in Indian Country.

“The Jr. NBA is always looking to engage different communities that love basketball,” said David Krichavsky, the NBA’s vice-president of youth basketball development. “Working with Tulalip provides us a unique opportunity to connect with our young fans and their coaches alongside some of the NBA’s best ambassadors.”

Jr. NBA camps are designed to teach the game’s fundamental skills and core values at a grassroots level to help grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches, and parents. Within the Tulalip community, we know how much our people, especially our youth, love the game of basketball. To have NBA players involved, such as SuperSonics legend Detlef Schrmpf and former University of Washington stand-out Spencer Hawes, the opportunity for camp participants to make life long memories and have memorabilia signed added even more benefits.




“Our Native community loves basketball and the NBA,” stated Marlin Fryberg Jr., executive director for the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club. “The Jr. NBA camp acknowledges our Native American passion for the game and will help make NBA fans for life while teaching basketball’s important values.”

With the assistance of NBA and Boys & Girls Club staff, the Jr. NBA camp taught our youth the importance of hard work, teamwork, discipline and self-respect. Their focus was to provide the young Tulalip athletes of all skill levels with the instructions and training that have made some of the NBA’s brightest stars elite on and off the court.

“Skills like teamwork, passion, accountability, and responsibility are at the core of these communities and the core of our game,” said Brooks Meek, NBA vice-president of International Basketball Operations and 1994 graduate of Marysville-Pilchuck High School. “I am especially excited to help bring the NBA to my home community, having grown up with so many friends from Tulalip. We are very fortunate to work with such committed partners as we bring our League to these passionate fans.”

Every camp session started with plyometric warm-ups that got the youth primed for the next series of basketball training. After several rotations through four different fundamental skill stations that emphasized proper footwork, ball handling, shooting and defense the campers would get a short water break before moving on to team competitions. Team competitions varied by day and age group. There were shooting competitions showcasing the forgotten art of the mid-range jumper, a team oriented 3-point shot contest, and even a point-blank range, lay-up style competition. But what the youth looked forward to most were the daily 5-on-5 half court and full court games that ended every session.




During the spirited team competitions there were several game winning shots made. Each one was met with a booming celebration from the kids and the NBA staffers. A highlight of day 3 took place during the 5-on-5 full court championship game between the 10-12 year olds. With the score tied and only seconds remaining, 11-year-old Frank Salomon from Lummi corralled a rebound and launched and connected on a fade-away jumper as the game buzzer sounded.

“Hitting the game winning shot was amazing,” boasts Frank. “I didn’t know it would go in. I just shot the ball and can’t believe I made it before the buzzer. It was awesome!”

It was an unprecedented weekend all around. From all the youth who got up and got to the Boys & Girls club by 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday and Sunday, the dedicated parents who made it happen, the NBA and Boys & Girls Club staff and trainers who made this Jr. NBA camp special and memorable for all the youth participants, to breaking down a barrier and hopefully forming a lasting partnership between the NBA and the tribes.




“The Tulalip Boys & Girls Club had a great experience working hand in hand with the Jr. NBA basketball team,” adds Marlin Fryberg Jr. “We were selected to be the first Tribe ever to host a Jr. NBA camp for kids. Talking to the kids over the weekend they really enjoyed themselves. We had approximately 140 boys and girls participate, which involved representation from other tribes including Puyallup, Nooksack, Lummi, Muckleshoot, Swinomish, Klamath, and Alaska Natives.

“We are very proud to say we are the first tribe in Indian Country to host a Jr. NBA camp. To know now that Tulalip has opened the door for the NBA to expand their basketball clinics and resources to include tribes is truly an honor.”





Contact Micheal Rios at mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Little pullers, big ambitions


Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Through the commitment and guidance of several Tulalip tribal members, led by Natasha Fryberg, the Tulalip Tribes has its very own youth canoe club. They’ve been practicing three times a week, rain or shine, since April. With a consistent turnout of kids and their dedicated parents, the canoe club has established itself as a safe and fun activity for our youth to practice traditions of our ancestors.

“For most of these kids, this was their first ever experience with pulling canoe. We teach them the skills and proper technique outside of the canoe first,” says Natasha. “We really focus on each kid’s individual comfort level, so that they enjoy their experiences in the water and in the canoe.”




The current age range is of club members is 5-years-old to 16-years-old, with a good mix of boys and girls. A goal of Natasha and her fellow instructors is to train the canoe club members to the point they can participate in the war canoe races circuit. Thus far, the future is bright as the kids have really taken to the water and enjoy the rigorous activity of war canoe racing during their practices.




“My kids had zero previous experience with canoe pulling, let alone being in a canoe until now,” says Nickie Richwine, mother of three daughters participating in the canoe club. “It’s been an honor to watch these kids excel on the water. I’m so thankful for their coaches Natasha and Tawny Fryberg, Alicia and Clayton Horne, and Ryan. They’ve really been a blessing for taking the time to teach and encourage our kids to be on the water.”

For those interested in getting their kids involved with Tulalip’s youth canoe club, please contact Natasha Fryberg at 425-422-9276.



Using sports to inspire lifelong fitness


Throughout the 3-Day fitness camp, Tulalip youth had conversations about how to properly workout and take care of their bodies, and learned the importance of a good warmup that includes stretching to avoid injury.
Photo/Micheal Rios


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Dietreich Rios, Suquamish tribal member and owner/operator of Dietreich Fitness in Orlando, Florida, hosted a Native youth basketball camp and fitness clinic at the Donald Hatch Jr. gymnasium, November 23-25. The 3-day health expo was all about health and fitness, while promoting a tobacco-free lifestyle.

““I’ve trained a lot of athletes, from professional basketball players to body builders, but my passion is motivating and helping our Native peoples stay healthy and strong individuals,” says Dietreich while in the midst of a stretching routine he does before day one of the basketball clinic. “Over the past couple years I’ve become more involved in not only the fitness community, but in Native American health across the nation.

“I try my best to reach and help inspire, motivate, and teach as many people as I can. I preach fitness and basketball since that’s what I grew up doing; playing basketball was all I did as a kid then as I got older I got heavily into fitness. I try to integrate the two whenever I can.”


Dietreich Rios, a Suquamish tribal member and owner/operator of Dietreich Fitness in Orlando, Florida.Photo/Micheal Rios

Dietreich Rios, a Suquamish tribal member and owner/operator of Dietreich Fitness in Orlando, Florida.
Photo/Micheal Rios


Dietreich grew up in the greater Seattle area before moving to Florida to pursue dreams of opening his own fitness center. He has become a renowned personal trainer and basketball skills coach to many high school hoopers, D-1 college athletes, and has even added the likes of Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis (an NBA player) to his clientele.

We’ve all witnessed how the health and fitness movement has grown immensely over the past several years. Currently, there are no shortage of gyms and workout areas in Marysville, and it wasn’t too long ago that the Tulalip Teen Center and Tulalip Bay Crossfit opened their doors to our reservation based community.

“Getting Natives to keep their minds and bodies healthy through fitness, exercise, and sports is a big movement right now. We’ve always had basketball, rez ball you know, but from what I’ve been seeing there is more of an emphasis on overall fitness and health within tribal communities,” explains Dietreich. “Our people are getting inspired from seeing the Nike N7 movement and by seeing famous athletes like WNBA all-star Shoni Schimmel. More Native youth are seeing people who look like them have success on the professional level, especially young girls who look up to Shoni and her sister Jude, they are motivated play basketball.”

Preaching and advocating for a healthy lifestyle that includes being active through exercise and sports is nothing new for Native Americans. Natives have always been known for their athletic ability, but in the last couple generations the numbers say that athletic skill isn’t being utilized like it once was. Obesity, diabetes, and heavy alcohol/drug use have been running rampant through our communities, making it harder and harder to find the well-conditioned Native athlete above the age of 30.

Whatever the reason may be, tribal departments and communities nationwide have ramped up their focus on engaging Native youth to stay active through sports and fitness. Get them started when they are young and the hope is they’ll continue to maintain that healthy lifestyle and be a role model to others later in their life.

“The movement is definitely growing. Through my travels I’ve seen more community fitness centers and youth athletic centers being built on reservations,” reflects Dietreich. “Now there’s a big emphasis to have a gym, to have places for our people to work out and stay fit, and to have departments getting our young ones involved in sports and fitness.”




The Tulalip Tribes Youth Services Department has been monumental in creating activities, services, and teaching fitness based curriculum to our youth. Since opening the Tulalip Teen Center, the Youth Services Department has been steadfast in reaching out and bringing motivational speakers, fitness experts, and Native celebs to engage with our youth.

Shortly after we hosted the Gary Payton Basketball Camp, Youth Services, with the help of DeShawn Joseph, learned of Dietreich and his assortment of fitness skills he uses to motivate and energize Native youth. Within the past year Dietreich has taught fitness and basketball camps on the Jamestown S’Klallam Reservation and within the Navajo Nation. He is also preparing to do some fitness camps up north for a few First Nations tribes in Canada.

Throughout the 3-Day fitness camp, Tulalip youth had conversations about how to properly workout and take care of their bodies, learned the importance of a good warmup that includes stretching as to avoid injury, and covered tobacco prevention.

“Tobacco prevention is an interesting topic to me because it should be a no brainer for all athletes, but still there are so many young athletes who choose to smoke,” asserts Dietreich. “If you are going to play sports, then you shouldn’t smoke tobacco because it’s detrimental to what you’re trying to do.”




The exercises the kids enjoyed most during the camp were undoubtedly those that called for dribbling or shooting a basketball. They were all able to participate in a multitude of basic and semi-advanced basketball skill building exercises. Each exercise is something Dietreich hopes the kids will continue to make part of their fitness routine.

Following the fitness camp, Dietreich took to Facebook to thank the Tulalip community. “In the spirit of being thankful, I want to thank the Tulalip Tribes for hosting me this week while I put on this youth basketball and fitness clinic. I had a great group of kids! Hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.”