C.R.E.A.T.E. Space brings out the smiles while promoting mental health awareness

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Tulalip Youth Services celebrated “Say Hello Week” with an added focus of taking the stigma out of mental health awareness. The week included a variety of learning activities for the children and teenagers of the community. The biggest event was without a doubt the open house and grand opening of the C.R.E.A.T.E. Space on Friday, February 2.

From 10:00am-6:30pm on that Friday, the 2nd floor of the Youth Center was a destination for celebration and hands-on learning while becoming acquainted with the newly created space designed for inclusion, offering a place for community youth to go when they need to decompress.

C.R.E.A.T.E. Space stands for Calm Room & Expressive Art to Empower. It’s the result of a collaborative effort of the Methamphetamine Suicide Prevention Initiative through Behavioral Health and Youth Services. All community members and youth are invited to visit the space and learn more about its uses and how to remove the stigma and shame surrounding mental health issues.

“With the recent creation of the Tulalip Special Needs Parent Association by several key community members and Youth Services, we wanted to honor the great work that’s going on by making sure that we create activities and places that are wholly inclusive of all youth,” explained Monica Holmes, C.R.E.A.T.E. Space designer and Parapro for the M.S.P.I. Grant. “That meant taking a look at our facilities first and asking the question: Are we accessible in every sense of the word to our youth with special needs be they social, emotional, physical or mental?

“The C.R.E.A.T.E. Space has two major components that were developed to meet those needs. The Calm Room is a sensory inclusive space with various elements that can be utilized to provide a sensory environment which promotes a sense of calm and well-being, while addressing the individual sensory input needs of our youth with sensory overload challenges. We’ve stocked it with items like play dough, Legos, fidgets, soft furnishings, lower lighting, colored mood lighting, essential oil infusers, nature sound machine, yoga mats and resistance bands that can deliver the right amount of sensory input and/or relax the nervous system that is agitated or overloaded by typical lights and sounds of most spaces.

“The Expressive Art studio is the second component to the C.R.E.A.T.E. Space which serves youth in a unique fashion. It doubles as an art studio and gathering spot for teens who want to hang out in a homey, quiet, comfortable location to interact in small groups or one-on-one with a staff member trained to use art and games as a means to express creativity and emotion in a safe space.”

For the grand opening event many Tulalip service departments were invited to setup their own information booths where they could interact with visitors to the Space. Community Health, Smoking Cessation, Problem Gambling, Chemical Dependency, and Behavioral Health were among those who accepted the invite. Partnerships are key in spreading awareness and resources to our community members. With all those services under one roof at the same time, they were able to let people know they have many choices and places to go for help with various addictions or issues. They also helped de-stigmatize the act of reaching out for help.

A variety of free expressive art classes were offered to visitors and attendees of the grand opening event. The one receiving the most youth attention and excitement was the Broken Bowl Project. The bowl represents us as an individual, we are vessels that hold many things. But sometimes we break and need to be put back together. Our brokenness changes us, makes us who we are. And so the painting on the outside of the bowl represents who we are on the outside, and the words on the inside of the bowl express all the hidden components that make us who we are.

“The lesson of the Broken Bowl Project is to embrace the brokenness, to add words and colors and fill the cracks and holes with beautiful reminders and positive messages about the things we have overcome or hope to be someday,” says Monica, who guided over fifteen youth undergoing the project. “But mostly we should be able to stand back and admire this new vessel we have become, not despite but inspite of all we have done, been or had happen to us.”

The C.R.E.A.T.E. Space is a place to decompress and also learn positive coping skills with an adult who has been trained to provide sensory appropriate options during times of high stress and overload. As the mother of four special needs children with sensory processing issues, Parapro Monica Holmes has spent years learning ideas from occupational therapists and creating spaces like this at her own home and in public settings for children.

Hours of C.R.E.A.T.E. Space are Monday – Friday from 3:30p.m. – 6:00p.m. Individual sessions can be made by appointment or small groups wanting a private setting can make a reservation. For more information please contact Monica Holmes at 360-631-3406 or mholmes@tulaliptribe-nsn.gov

Build your career with the Tulalip Job Ready program

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Searching for a job can be frustrating, time consuming and discouraging. Especially when you apply for an entry-level position that requires prior experience. When working with money, it’s important that an applicant has at least a working knowledge of accepting and distributing cash, especially in gaming establishments like the Tulalip Resort Casino, Tulalip Bingo and Quil Ceda Creek Casino. For positions within the Resort, it’s expected that a future team member understands how to communicate with guests in a professional manner to uphold the AAA Four Diamond rating. To maintain these standards and ensure that each guest is treated with respect and receives quality service, the Tulalip Gaming Organization (TGO) requires six months of prior cash handling experience and/or guest service experience for entry-level positions.

Many people who are job hunting might have found themselves on the Tulalip career website thinking, ‘how do I get experience if all entry-level positions require experience?’ Although that question may be rhetorical, TGO has an answer in the form of a week-long training known as the Tulalip Job Ready Program. Originally open to Tulalip tribal members only, the trainings expanded upon gaining interest from spouses of Tulalip tribal members as well as from other natives. Beginning last September, the trainings have now opened up to applicants who are identified as Tier 5 in the Tulalip hiring process, or non-natives who are current team members.

The trainings are held on a monthly basis and will take up to ten participants, requiring a minimum of four to conduct the classes. In the course of a week, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., participants gain the equivalent of six-month cash handling and guest service experience. Upon successful completion, participants will be able to apply for any ‘frontline’ position at any of the Tulalip gaming establishments as well as Tribal positions with the Hibulb Cultural Center, the Chevron gas stations and the liquor store. To help ensure further success, the trainings also cover interview skills. At the end of the week, the students participate in mock interviews and discuss their strengths and areas to improve. Trainees also get to turn the tables and interview the trainer. The idea behind the role reversal is that by seeing the hiring process from a different perspective, the applicant will essentially be rooting for the trainer during the interview and think of new ideas and answers they want to hear as the person conducting the interview.

“I learn as much as they do, it keeps me within the community which is important to me,” states Tulalip Resort Casino Training Manager, Lisa Olver. “I’m hoping to build the future of our workforce and whatever I can do to help people realize their potential is what I’m aiming for.”

Now that the trainings are open to Tier 5 team members, many TGO employees have attended the classes in order to move up within the organization. On recommendation from his supervisor, Eagles Buffet Host, Nicholas Leech, attended the trainings and plans on using his newfound knowledge to obtain a new position.

“With the knowledge I’ve gained, I plan on reaching for a supervisor position and move up in the near future,” states Nicholas. “But with all the stuff that I’ve learned, I can also take it and apply for a number of positions as well as to my everyday life. I think everyone should take the class, it gets people in the door. It gives you that experience and gets you going. It gives you a reason to say, I’m willing and able to get that job.”

Lisa explained that often times, participants like to take the trainings with their significant others with hopes of beginning careers at Tulalip to support their families. Family members and friends are encouraged to attend the classes with each other to help build support and confidence in one another. Recently Tulalip mother and son, Danelle and Danicio Gomez, successfully completed the training together and are ready to start applying for positions at the casinos, preferably somewhere in the cage.

“Everything about the class is good,” says Danelle. “It gives you a different point of view. I’m forty-six, I came in to do the classes with my son. This class got me thinking outside of the box, they have honestly helped. It’s important because you gain knowledge and skills in these classes and the trainers are here to help you get into these jobs.”

“It’s actually a lot more fun than I thought it would be,” adds Danicio. “I learned a lot about cash handling, using the ten-key [calculator] and how the cage handles cash. It helps everybody. Anybody who wants to work in the cage or somewhere in the casino, they have to know the regulations and this is like a crash course to teach them.”

To sign-up for the next Tulalip Job Ready Trainings please contact the TGO Hiring and Resource Center at (360) 716-1562.

Contest winner Announced for National Problem Gambling Month Design

Tulalip tribal youth Jaycenta Miles-Gilford’s Indigenous Resilience design was chosen as the winner of the ‘Reclaiming Wholeness Through Recovery’ contest. The Problem Gambling Program will feature her art on t-shirts.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Tulalip Family Services held a contest during the month of January for the youth of the community. The contest encouraged kids to explore their creative minds to create a t-shirt design for the upcoming National Problem Gambling Awareness Month in March. Open to kids between the ages of twelve and eighteen, the theme for the contest was Reclaiming Wholeness Through Recovery. Family Services’ Problem Gambling Program has several special events planned next month to help bring awareness and education to the Tulalip community about gambling addiction.

The Problem Gambling Program often collaborates with the Tulalip Youth Council to brainstorm ideas for upcoming events. The t-shirt contest idea was so popular, the council spent an extended amount of time, excitedly discussing ideas and debating whether the design should be created on computer or by hand.

“We went to the Youth Council and asked for their input on awareness month and what they want to see, because we want them to know that they’re heard and that their voices mean something. We want them to know that they’re included in this process because a lot of times we hear how gambling, whether it’s them personally or a family member, this disease is impacting their lives,” states Robin Johnson, Problem Gambling Counselor.

Family Services accepted art designs through January 30th and received several submissions. On the first of February, young Tulalip tribal member Jaycenta Miles-Gilford was informed that her art was picked as the winning design. The Problem Gambling Program will feature her art on t-shirts that will be handed-out at all of the upcoming events during National Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

“It’s the ribbon of awareness,” states Robin. “And the color for National Problem Gambling Month is blue. She also incorporated the cultural aspect with the canoe and paddle. And I love the message, Indigenous Resilience, that’s exactly what it’s all about, not giving in and fighting back. The young lady who won is going to be honored at our Annual Community Dinner and will be presented with a three-hundred dollar Wal-Mart gift card.”

The program aims to provide as much education as possible about the addiction to the Tulalip Youth. Sarah Sense-Wilson, Tulalip Problem Gambling Coordinator, believes that many times the youth become gambling addicts because they find it taboo and thrilling because of the risk and reward, as well as exciting when competition is involved which is extremely popular in the sports realm.

“March is identified as National Problem Gambling Month because of March Madness and the mainstream promoting of gambling during the entire month,” Sarah explained. “It’s really a campaign to promote awareness. Three years ago, we initiated the campaign in the tribal community here in Tulalip. We really want to show people that this is a real illness, this is an addiction and that it’s something that affects tribal communities just like it affects non-tribal communities. And given the proximity of the casino and other gambling establishments, we want to let people know that there is treatment and that treatment does works. We’re available and accessible to everyone.”

Sarah explained that when the Problem Gambling Program was in early development, they chose to focus on two age groups, the elders and the youth, who are statistically more vulnerable to the disease. For the elders, she attributes the addiction to an excess amount of time due to retirement, as well as an escape from both physical and emotional pain caused by grief and loss. Studies conducted by the American Society of Addiction Medicine show that gambling causes a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, which seemingly appear to ‘numb’ the pain receptors, when in actuality the gamblers found a way to temporarily mute their problems and relieve their pain.

“We wanted to do community outreach, supporting these groups so they know that we’re a resource,” states Sarah. “If you want to come and learn more or see about setting up an intervention for a family member, we’re here to offer support, education, materials and anything we can do to help promote the wellness of our community. We strongly encourage people to get their families involved because statistics and data show that the more the family is involved – spouses, extended family, friends and the important people in their life – then the likeliness of that individual getting well increases dramatically.”

The upcoming National Problem Gambling Awareness Month events include the 3rd Annual National Problem Gambling Month Community Dinner on March 3rd at the Hibulb Cultural Center from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., a community movie night on March 17th at the Boys and Girls Club beginning at 5:00 p.m. as well as the Annual Honoring Elders Luncheon at the Tulalip Senior Center on March 21st from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

For more information, please contact Tulalip Family Services at (360) 716-4304.

 

Tulalip prepares for Treaty Days

“We honor the good intentions our ancestors had for us in negotiating and signing the treaty. I encourage young folks to listen to their elders when they talk about the treaty and our sovereignty. Understanding the treaty will help you understand the influence it has in every aspect of our lifeways. It accepts the fact that our people have the right to organize themselves, protect our way of life, and care for our resources. Our tribes have significant control of, and rights to, important natural resources such as fishing. As our language and culture become stronger, we are able to help others understand how to take care of the earth and one another.”
– Lena Jones

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Numerous northwest native nations including tribal leaders of the Snohomish, Lummi, Swinomish and Suquamish people met with Washington Territory Governor Isaac Stevens one hundred and sixty-three years ago this January 22. During this gathering, the Coast Salish people would sign the Point Elliott Treaty, which granted the United States Government an enormous area of land for white settlement that now makes up Washington’s King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. The treaty also established the Tulalip, Port Madison, Swinomish and Lummi reservations. In exchange for ceding such a large portion of land, the tribes reserved the right to fish on their usual and accustomed grounds.

Tribal communities would face difficult years after the signing of the treaty, including the boarding school era. Fifty years after the signing of the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855, the Tulalip Indian Boarding School opened. Native children were forced to attend these schools to learn to live the new westernized lifestyle. The institutions were established to ‘civilize’ the Indigenous population, but while in the boarding schools the kids were often punished, physically and mentally, for speaking their traditional language and practicing their spiritual and cultural traditions.

During these times the U.S. Government outlawed traditions such as songs, dances and language that the Coast Salish tribes practiced for generations. Longhouses were demolished and modern day houses were erected on the reservations. The people were to learn the ways of agriculture to become farmers.

The people of the land were in the middle of forced assimilation when the last hereditary chief of the Snohomish, William Shelton, stepped in to save his people’s heritage. By convincing the right people, including the Tulalip Superintendent and the Secretary of Interior, to build a longhouse in Tulalip, William created a way for the tribes who signed the Point Elliott Treaty to practice their traditional ways of life once a year. William informed U.S. Government officials that the people would be celebrating the anniversary of the treaty, which they did. However, this short amount of time was often used to teach the younger generations their culture that seemed to be slipping away at an alarming rate. The annual gathering became known as Treaty Days, as the yearly potlatch often extends into the early morning of the following day. Though the horrific boarding school era has since passed and the practice of traditional lifeways are no longer punishable by law, the annual Treaty Days’ commemoration is still celebrated every January at the longhouse overlooking Tulalip Bay.

As the Tulalip community prepares for the 104th Treaty Days Commemoration on Friday January 19, 2018, a handful of Tulalip tribal members took a moment to reflect on the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855 as well as Treaty Days.

“I think it’s a responsibility that keeps passing down from generations of those who actually signed the treaty. And also living on the reservation and protecting those rights that were reserved for us as well as the spiritual and cultural way of life. I think that we have the responsibility to revisit the treaty all the time so we know we are keeping our younger people abreast and informed as much as possible. Because we gave up a lot in the treaty to keep our sovereignty to be able to determine our own future and our own direction in our tribal path.” – Ray Fryberg

“The Point Elliott Treaty is important to me because it has to do with our tribal rights and how we live.” – Image Enick

“Treaty Days is a commemoration of the signing of the 1855 Point Elliott that affected the coastal tribes. At this time, we remember and acknowledge our ancestors that signed the treaty and reflect on the importance of that treaty, who we are as a people and how to continue our way of life.”
– Inez Bill

“The treaty is literally my livelihood. We fight for our rights every day, fighting to keep our treaty rights. I want my kid’s kids to come out here and be able to exercise their treaty rights. Not everyone has to be a fisherman, but it should be there if they want to exercise it.”
– Brian Green

“The treaty is important because it talks about our history and it connects me with my ancestors.”
– Deandra Grant

She Got Game: Women Tribal Members Featured in College Hoops Matchup

Tulalip tribal members Adiya Jones (left) and Kanoa Enick (right) are matched up for the first time as collegiate adversaries.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

They’ve grown up together on the Tulalip Reservation playing more games of rez ball than can be remembered. Years and years of dribbling, rebounding, and hearing the net swish has created countless memories on the hardwood, but an all-new memory was created for Tulalip tribal members Adiya Jones and Kanoa Enick when they matched up for the first time as collegiate adversaries.

In her second year playing for Skagit Valley Community College, Adiya has stepped up and taken the reigns as the team’s unquestioned leader. She is the primary playmaker on offense while also anchoring the team’s defense.

“Adiya is our best player and there’s a reason why. She has a high basketball I.Q., she’s so smooth with the ball, has a great shooting touch, and she’s a willing passer; making her a tremendous asset to our team,” beams Steve Epperson, Skagit’s Athletic Director and Women’s Basketball Coach. “Over the last few games she’s rebounded the heck out of the basketball as well.

“I’m really proud of her as a student, too, because she’s doing really well in school and making great progress towards her degree.”

Meanwhile, Kanoa recently decided to test her medal at Northwest Indian College (NWIC) by enrolling in Winter quarter. Her appetite for getting buckets still strong, she walked onto the women’s basketball team and is quickly showing promise.

“She adds another dimension to our team. Kanoa is a good hustle player, she’s very long and is able to contest shots on the perimeter,” states Matthew Santa Cruz, NWIC’s Women’s Basketball Coach. “She’s also able to take it to the hole, get fouled, and make her free-throws. That’s a real asset in this game.”

And so the stage was set for the two home-grown college athletes to face-off for the first-time ever.

The historical moment took place at the Lummi High School gym, the home court for NWIC, on Friday, December 5. Adiya shined while leading her team with 24-points, but it was Kanoa’s NWIC team taking the W in a 64-61 nail biter.

The following day, the two team’s played once again, this time in Mt. Vernon, giving Adiya’s Skagit squad the opportunity for payback. There were several Tulalip fans in the crowd who journeyed to watch the matchup. Skagit came away with a convincing 66-35 W the second time around, giving both Tulalip women a victory over the other.

Following their second matchup in as many days, Adiya and Kanoa reflected on this new experience.

“I was nervous and excited when I realized we were about to play against each other,” said Kanoa. “It doesn’t come off like we know each other on the court because we’re both so focused on the game. It was really cool to see Tulalips in the stands rooting for us.”

“It was definitely fun. It hit me when I was warming up for our first game; I was thinking ‘this is so weird I’m about to play Kanoa’,” smiled Adiya. “For the younger generation at home in Tulalip, I hope they see this and realize they can attend college and play ball, too. Get outside your comfort zone because, honestly, once you try it you’ll realize how exciting new opportunities are.”

Training for a better tomorrow

TERO Vocational Training Center  instructor Mark Newland (right) celebrating the graduates achievements.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On Wednesday, December 20, fourteen Native students were honored at the Dining Hall with a graduation banquet for their commitment to training for a better tomorrow. The fourteen students, five of whom are Tulalip tribal members, were the latest cohort to complete an intensive, fourteen-week pre-apprenticeship construction trades program offered by the TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC).

As far as we know, the program, which is managed by the Tulalip TERO department, is the first and only state and nationally recognized Native American pre-apprenticeship program in the country. The program is accredited through South Seattle Community College and Renton Technical College, while all the in-class, hands-on curriculum has been formally approved by the Washington State Apprentice and Training Council.

The fifteen-week program provides curriculum that teaches a variety of core construction skills that can last a lifetime. Upon completion, the graduate’s dedication to a better future is rewarded with a wide-range of new employment opportunities now available to each graduate as they navigate the construction trades career path. In addition, students are trained and awarded certifications in flagging, first aid/CPR, and OSHA 10-hour safety training. Graduates have also received certification on three pieces of lift equipment, specifically the scissor lift, boom lift, and industrial fork lift. TVTC students graduate trained and ready to safely and productively enter the construction work environment.

“This TERO program is an amazing opportunity for any Native American, regardless of which tribe you’re from,” says Tulalip tribal member and now TVTC graduate, Brando Jones. “I was living in Tacoma when I first learned of this class. After meeting with Lynne and Robert from Tulalip TERO I knew this class was the best chance for me to reconnect with Tulalip, while at the same time building a foundation for a better future. Now that I’ve graduated, my goal is to use this experience as a stepping stone towards success. I’m really going to miss the teachers and students. To my fellow graduates I say this, ‘We have the tools to build and keys to unlock doors, so let’s get it!’”

The TVTC pre-apprenticeship program is a unique, nationally known model that supports tribal members from sovereign nations across the United States. The program is not dependent on tribal hard dollars. In fact, zero hard dollars are used to fund it. Instead, due to the dedication and commitment of so many individuals the TVTC program continues to grow and gain more recognition while being funded by the graciousness of the Tulalip Charitable Fund, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, DOT’s Ladders of Opportunity Grant, and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Pass Grant.

This Fall session gave TVTC students plenty of opportunities to showcase their newly acquired construction-based skill set with a series of projects. Community projects included a two-day demo and refurbishing of the Hibulb Cultural Center’s fence, constructing a presentation booth for Hibulb, and making a concrete sidewalk at the apprenticeship training headquarters in Seattle.

“This particular group of students was a very together, cohesive unit,” describes instructor Mark Newland. “They looked after one another real well and were always willing to help each other out. When it came to the culminating project, building three tiny houses, the students showed a lot of passion in their work and did an awesome job.”

Under the supervision of instructors Mark Newland and Billy Burchett, the students constructed three tiny houses for their final class project. These houses, which are approximately 120-square-feet in size, are being donated to homeless families located at a yet to be named, newly created homeless village in Seattle. The insulated houses will be a major upgrade for their soon-to-be residents as they offer electricity, heat, a much safer environment and, most importantly, a measure of stability.

“TVTC works with Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI). To date we have built 18 tiny Homes for this organization, which donates all supplies and materials required. This has saved TVTC thousands of dollars as these houses are used for training purposes, and lumber that was previously purchased for class is no longer needed,” explains TERO Coordinator, Lynne Bansemer.

“This most recent TVTC session we added a specialty course – a forty-hour scaffolding course – that was developed by the Carpenters Union Training division,” adds Lynne. “TVTC is excited to bring this opportunity to our students as scaffolding is used across many trades and this allows more employment opportunities for our students.”

Since the Fall of 2013, when TERO took over the program, 141 students have graduated the pre-apprenticeship program. Of those 141 graduates, 57 have been Tulalip Tribal members, and 17 have either been Tulalip spouses or parents. That’s 74 graduates from Tulalip and 67 fellow Native Americans from all over the region who have opted to train for a better tomorrow by completing the construction training program.

TVTC has seen an increasing number of persons who balance a full-time job while attending the training program. This term they had several students who came to training school every day who held full-time jobs by working swing or graveyard shifts. These students wanted more opportunities in their future and were willing to put in the dedication and sacrifice necessary in order to open more doors.

For more information on Tulalip TERO’s TVTC program or to inquire about admission into the next pre-apprenticeship opportunity, please contact Lynne Bansemer, TERO Coordinator, at 360-716-4746 or visit TVTC.TulalipTERO.com

 

Santa joins firefighters in visiting children and collecting donations

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

“HO! HO! HO! Merry Christmas!” rang throughout the neighborhoods of the Tulalip reservation during the weekend of December 15-17. The loud holiday expressions were from none other than Santa Clause himself, as he walked the streets of the community accompanied by the Tulalip Bay Fire Department. Every year, Santa joins the firefighters to hand out candy canes to the children, while the Fire Department collects canned foods and cash from community members who are kind enough to donate to the less fortunate during the holidays.

The yearly occurrence is known as the Tulalip Bay Fire Department Annual Santa Run and is remarkably popular within the community. Many children anxiously wait for the Christmas-decorated firetruck to pull up on their street, because they know that means Santa is near. Equally shocked and excited, the children enthusiastically greet Saint Nick to let him know what’s at the top of their Christmas list.

Santa Run is a three-day event in which Tulalip Bay Fire visits several neighborhoods on the reservation. All food and money collected by the fire department is donated to the Tulalip Food Bank located at the red church. This year’s donations totaled over 1,000 pounds of non-perishable food items as well as over six hundred dollars.

“Not everybody has food to put on the table during the holiday season,” explains Tulalip Bay Volunteer Firefighter and Santa Run Coordinator, Patrick Dinneen. “The food that we bring in, everything goes straight to the red church the day after we’re done. It’s a huge deal just to get our faces out in the community because on people’s worst days, they can call on us to make it better. We want to be familiar with our community we want people to know who we are and that we’re here for them.”

Taking care of patients as a whole, Clinic integrates to one Tulalip health system

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Tulalip community members who pass by the Karen I. Health Clinic on their daily commute may have noticed recent construction occurring at the front of the building. Over the past few months, many people have seen a small, new addition being built at the clinic that will serve as a conference room to its faculty. What many may not know, however, is the entire clinic also received renovations. Unless you have recently received care at the health center, you are in for a big surprise upon stepping into the clinic.

One of the first things you may notice is how clutter-free the lobby is. Where once stood a totem pole is now a spacious open area where patients can register at one of the five new check-in stations.

“It has that beautiful longhouse look with high ceilings, made of cedar, which helps with the acoustics,” explains Tulalip Health System Administrator, Jim Steinrick. “Our focus with the lobby was to make it welcoming, warm and cleaned up. There are four new check-in areas with lighted panels that go off and on. There will be a sign that says ‘if you see a blue light come on up and we’ll take care of you’. Around the corner we also have our ADA compliant, lower counter check-in area for people with wheelchairs.”

The idea of the check-in stations came about upon a visit to the Monroe Providence Clinic. According to Tulalip Health Information Manager, Jennie Fryberg, the entire remodel initially began with a need to centralize check-ins. Prior to the renovations, patients would often become frustrated after waiting in line at the wrong check-in stations. Now patients can check-in at any of the new stations for any services at the clinic.

A few short months ago, once you were finally checked-in at the clinic, the waiting game began. The Health Clinic made changes within the facility that are sure to cut that wait time significantly, beginning with four new healing rooms for acute care.

“We separated the acute walk-in care from scheduled patients,” says Jim. “So, if someone comes in and needs to be triaged, the nurse will bring them into one of the four new healing rooms.”

“Before we were tight on rooms because the scheduled appointments took all the healing rooms,” added Jennie. “We have two new acute care doctors so we can get patients in, out and through faster so they aren’t having to wait as long.”

The new healing rooms feature state-of-the-art equipment as well as hands-free lighting and water faucets. The previous healing rooms also received a make-over with fresh paint and hardwood floors, as did the hallways. The clinic placed a referral station near the healing rooms, by the entryway to the lobby, so referral specialists can assist patients on their way out.

The health clinic has also gone paperless, converting all of their patient’s health records to electronic format in a system that is able to communicate with both the Everett Clinic and Providence. The decision helped create a lot more space during reconstruction resulting in the expansion of the clinic’s lab and dental areas. The lab received new equipment and dental received three new chairs, which will be used to prep patients before seeing the dentist.

Another space enhancer is the consolidation of the doctors and nurses workspace from individual offices to an open work area known as the hub.

“The hub will have doctors and nurses all together, so everyone’s on the same page” Jennie explains. “We did away with all the doctor’s offices. We wanted to open it up so the whole team can be together and communicate more efficiently.”

Inside the hub is a large flat screen TV that displays the clinic’s new Versus Tracking System.

“When our patients check in at the desk, they’ll receive a sensor to carry with them,” says Jim. “We’ll have a big screen where we’ll be able to tell where they are. So if they’re waiting in one place too long, we can check on them and let them know we’ll be right with them, instead of letting someone sit and wait for twenty minutes.”

During the brief wait after checking in or after receiving care, the patient can visit any of the services that are conveniently located in the lobby including Alternate Resources for Elders, Everett Optometry and two additional referral desks.

In an effort to treat the whole patient and provide wrap around care, the Health Clinic is welcoming eight new behavioral health specialists to the team. The specialist will be readily available to meet with individuals seeking mental health care.

“When we work as a team on a patient we focus on the whole body, so teeth, eyes, mind, body and spirit,” Jim explains. “We can have the specialist meet with the patients while they’re here and take care of the whole person. We’re working on destigmatizing mental health. Some people say it’s too personal, but it’s like dental.  The old adage is the mouth is part of the body, well so is the mind.”

The conference room that many saw constructed over the Fall was a much needed addition. In previous years, large meetings would often take place in the employee break room, which received a makeover as well.

“We’ve integrated to a health system now,” states Jim. “We used to be the clinic, behavioral health and recovery, and chemical dependency. Now we’re one health system and part of the same health team. I want to make sure that our Tulalip tribal members know that we’re doing this so we can provide better continuity of care, so we’re more seamless. And also that this is a good place to come and when they come here, they will get good customer service and good quality clinical care. I think there are some misconceptions out there about the care that’s given here, once people are in here, they will really see the changes we made.”

Jennie adds, “As a Tulalip health system, our whole purpose is to take care of the patient as a whole and to smoothly get people in and out easier. Its good changes that were doing and it’s to better our services. So we’re hoping to get some of our Tulalip tribal members back here to see the changes that we are making for the betterment of our community.”

Be sure to visit the newly remodeled Health Clinic and for more information please contact (360) 716-4511.

Tulalip holds groundbreaking for QCC replacement

Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors prepare to break ground on new Quil Ceda Creek Casino with celebratory gold shovels.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Members of the Tulalip Tribes, various officials, and employees were in attendance at a groundbreaking ceremony held at the future site of the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino (QCC) on Tuesday, December 12.

“I raise my hands to everyone who came here to celebrate with us,” greeted vice-Chairwoman, Teri Gobin. “What an honor it is to take part in this journey for the Tribe. It’s so exciting we’re finally doing this groundbreaking, and to think what it means for the Tribe and our community, creating new jobs and helping with economic development. This will be a good project for our whole community and the surrounding communities that benefit from our type of development.”

The multi-million dollar project to relocate the QCC facility from its current location to a sixteen-acre property across the street is based on a number of factors, the most prominent being a stagnant revenue stream that is unable to grow due to logistical and structural challenges posed by the current facility.

“We’re replacing [the existing QCC] because it is bursting at the seams,” explained Les Parks, Board of Director and Treasurer. “The revenue cannot grow anymore, they are using every square foot they can, and our customers are screaming for more machines and a hotel to stay at. This new journey is going to get us there.”

The project cost is “rolled into the $155 million syndicated loan that includes the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino and hotel, its parking structure, and the future Gathering Hall,” continued Les. “This is the same amount that was approved by General Council two years ago. Without increasing the loan amount, we were able to add in the hotel by extending the deferred payment process, which is typical of loans we do, to put more money towards actual construction.”

The new casino will span across 110,000 square feet that will allow for 1,500 gaming machines, a lofty increase from the current 1,000 operating at the existing QCC. Besides the additional 500 machines, there will be additional table games, an innovative dining hall experience, an upgraded entertainment venue, and a state of the art smoke elimination system included in the new QCC.

In recent weeks, the Tribe announced the new QCC with also feature a 150-room hotel and 1,200-stall parking garage. The property will be called Quil Ceda Creek Casino Hotel and is expected to open in spring 2019.

“We have a tag phrase: ‘It’s not just bigger and better, there’s more to love’,” stated Ken Kettler, President of Tulalip Gaming Operations. “When you think about it, we’re just expanding on the experience we have today and we’re going to give you more of it. It keeps us competitive and protects the current revenue stream. The competition is pretty tough out there, so we, as a leader, have to step up and set the example of what can happen at a local’s casino.”

Cooking Together with Brit Reed

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention program is working to make Tulalip a healthier community. With diabetes prevalent in Native communities throughout the United States, many families feel a need to change their die,t but don’t know where to begin, After a day’s hard work, it’s far easier to order in or carryout than to hit the stove and whip up a meal. The Diabetes rogram knows that adjusting to a healthy diet can be an overwhelming task, therefore, the program has created a series of cooking classes, hosted twice a week at the Hibulb Cultural Center. The exciting hands-on learning experience teaches community members how to prepare healthy, diabetic friendly, easy-to-make meals.

The Diabetes program called upon Tulalip community member Brit Reed to lead the series of classes. As a member of the Choctaw Nation, Brit found her passion for cooking at a young age while assisting her aunt in the kitchen. But it wasn’t until she received an assignment while working on her Master’s Degree at Evergreen State College, that she revisited her passion. For her assignment, she created the Facebook group page, Food Sovereignty is Tribal Sovereignty, where members of the tribal community can discuss traditional foods and share stories and recipes with one another. Brit continued to explore traditional foods and became inspired by Native cooks, such as the Sioux Chef, to attend culinary school and enrolled at the Seattle Culinary Academy. Most recently Brit became a member of I-Collective, a non-profit organization consisting of Indigenous chefs, activists, herbalist, and seed and knowledge keepers from across the nation.

“I grew up in a family where it was really important to cook at home,” Brit explains. “My parents were really strict about us eating around a table together, every single day, and having dinner. Even though I kind of hated that as a kid, when I grew up I really grew to appreciate that; I actually think I was initially inspired by that. Later on, I started working with my auntie in Nevada, cooking for our family and our community, learning about traditional foods and the way it can help people get better mentally, physically and spiritually.

“I started researching more about traditional foods, food sovereignty and food security,” she continues. “And also our history as Native Peoples and how being separated from our traditional foods has affected our health negatively. And how coming back to those healthier foods and traditional foods has helped address things like diabetes, hypertension and all those different things that now plague our communities.”

During the Cooking Together classes, community members learn new recipes, experiment with new foods and seasonings, and also learn new techniques such as knife skills. Once the meals are prepared, students enjoy their food creations together while sharing stories and exchanging life advice. The classes are open to the entire community and frequent attendees include the Tulalip Wisdom Warriors who provide both valuable insight and loads of laughs to each class.

“The Wisdom Warriors give us good direction, they’re kind of like our elders advisory group,” says Diabetes Care and Prevention Coordinator, Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy. “They’re invested in what we’re doing because they believe in it. We’re creating memories with the elders. While they’re at these classes they share their health issues and talk to each other about how they’ve overcome it, and that’s where the healing is.”

The classes currently take place on Saturdays and Mondays through December and will be taking a brief holiday break before returning in February of 2018. The Diabetes Program recently dedicated the Monday classes to making a variety of soups from scratch and will be donating the food to the homeless shelter as well as the Senior Center.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to learn the basics in soup-making, like how to make a good healthy stock rather than using a box,” explains Roni. “Because we’re going to be making such large quantities, instead of giving the food to people who come to event, we decided to do more outreach in the community. Even though they aren’t at the classes with us, they are in our hearts and we’re thinking of them. We want to share the food with them and share that goodness that comes from the kitchen.”

So far, the students have enjoyed many delicious dinners together including chicken wings, roasted lemon chicken and BBQ pork loin accompanied by some scrumptious sides such as beet salad, roasted Brussels sprouts and roasted squash. Future requests from the Wisdom Warriors include seafood like clam chowder, geoduck and salmon.

“We try to make foods that are healthy, but we really want to cook foods that are exciting and also happen to be healthy and colorful,” Brit states. “I think it’s important to get people familiar with different ingredients that are readily available and are healthy; and also with the techniques on how to be able to cook in the kitchen, so they feel they can be creative and they actually enjoy being in the kitchen. I definitely want to incorporate more traditional ingredients in things that we are able to easily access from the grocery stores. I would really love to hear what the community is interested in learning because I’m here to help serve the community and want to teach what they want to learn about.”

The Diabetes Program also works with Tulalip TERO to hire Tulalip tribal cooks to assist Brit during the classes.

Help Chef Brit Reed close out the year by joining her last two classes of 2017 on Saturday December 9 and Monday December 11 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and be sure to keep an eye out for the upcoming Cooking Together classes slated for a fresh start in February of next year. For more information, please contact the Diabetes Prevention and Care Program at (360) 716-5642.