Quil Ceda Village tax case underway in federal court

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

According to the Washington Department of Revenue, Tulalip’s Quil Ceda Village generates approximately $40 million in tax revenues each year, but none of these taxes go to Tulalip or the Village. Instead, the State and County collect 100% of the taxes, with the vast majority going to Olympia. The State and County do not share any of these tax revenues with Tulalip.

The Tulalip Tribes’ lawsuit challenging Washington State and Snohomish County’s authority to collect sales tax generated by businesses in Quil Ceda Village (QCV) has finally commenced. The bench trial, presided over by Judge Barbara Rothstein, is scheduled for 10-days and began on Monday, May 14, at the U.S. District Courthouse located in Seattle.

Moments prior to court going into session, Chairwoman Marie Zackuse stated, “The Tulalip Tribes are here today to present our case. This is about taxes generated in our own tribal municipality – built with our own resources. We are confident we have a strong case and look forward to a positive outcome.”

The U.S. federal government is Tulalip’s co-plaintiff in the legal battle against Snohomish County and Washington State. The United States claims the State and County’s imposition of taxes on commerce in Quil Ceda Village undermines tribal and federal interests, infringes on tribal self-governance, and violates the Indian Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“The United States takes seriously the federal role in protecting tribal self-government, which has its foundation in federal statutes, treaties, and regulations,” said John C. Cruden, the Assistant U.S. Attorney General at the time the lawsuit was filed.

“The State of Washington and Snohomish County did not contribute in any significant respect to the development of Quil Ceda Village,” according to the United States complaint filed in Seattle. “Moreover, they provide no significant governmental services at the Village and they play no role in the Village’s ongoing operations.” 

The State and County currently collect over $40 million in annual property, business and occupation and sales taxes on the on-reservation activities at Quil Ceda Village. Even though Tulalip has its own applicable tribal tax laws, State and County taxation, in effect, preclude Tulalip from imposing its own taxes and deprive the Tribe of the tax base needed to fund important governmental services.

During opening arguments, Tulalip’s legal team expressed that the evidence will show that Tulalip has done everything reasonable to build QCV into what it is today while working under the guidelines of the Tulalip Leasing Act and other federal statutes encouraging self-determination. Tulalip created an economic engine, only to have the tax-base they created be 100% appropriated by County and State governments. 


In 2001, the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved QCV’s status as a tribal municipality. Quil Ceda Village became the first tribal political subdivision in the nation established under the Indian Tribal Governmental Tax Status Act of 1982, and one of only two federal municipalities in the country, the other being Washington, D.C. As the first tribal city of its kind, Quil Ceda Village is an innovative model of tribal economic development.

The Tulalip Tribes, with support of the United States government, took what was once undeveloped land and engaged in master planning, invested in infrastructure, and created resources that benefit its tribal membership and the surrounding communities. 

Quil Ceda Village is widely regarded as an economic powerhouse, located entirely on federal land held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the Tulalip Tribes. The Village contains the Tulalip Resort Casino, Walmart, Home Depot, Cabela’s, the 130 designer store Seattle Premium Outlets, and provides jobs for over 5,000 employees. QCV has fulfilled the vision of past tribal leaders who sought to create a destination marketplace on the Tulalip Reservation.

Be a witness to history

Tulalip filed suit against the State and County in 2015, seeking the right to claim the tax revenue generated at QCV. Three years later, the lawsuit is finally being heard and is open to the public. Over the 10-day federal court proceedings, Tulalip Tribes, represented by the Office of Reservation Attorney and the Seattle-based law firm of Kanji & Katzen, will seek authorization to exercise its sovereignty over the economy and tax-base, while asking the Court to instruct the County and State to cease collecting sales tax on economic activities within the boundaries of QCV.

Tulalip Tribes, et al., vs. the State of Washington, et al. is ongoing at the U.S. District Courthouse located at 700 Stewart St, Seattle, WA 98101. Tribal members who wish to show their support are encouraged to do so. The case is being heard by Judge Rothstein in room 16106 from 9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. 

“We are witnessing history in the making as the two-week hearing for our federal city, Quil Ceda Village, is underway to preempt Washington State sales taxes within our sovereign lands,” said former Board of Director Theresa Sheldon. “It’s important to acknowledge that it has taken decades of work for us to get to this point. The efforts of so many past tribal leaders and QCV employees helped carry this vision forward.”

Michelle Sheldon, first Tulalip tribal member to pass Washington State Bar Exam

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

On the morning of April 25, Tulalip tribal member, Michelle Sheldon, accomplished her long-term goal of becoming an attorney. In a courtroom at the new Justice Department, Michelle was sworn-in to the Tulalip Tribes of Washington Office of Reservation Attorney (ORA). In attendance were her family; her father Greg, mother Heidi, sister Megan and her brother Joe; and also the Tulalip Board of Directors, showing their support of Michelle’s incredible accomplishment of becoming the first Tulalip tribal member to pass the Washington State Bar Exam.

“It’s interesting. On my very first day of law school, my first teacher instructed us to write down a list of people that we wanted at our graduation/swearing-in because that’s what would keep us going and I remember writing down my family’s names like it was yesterday,” recalls Michelle. “I was very proud to have my parents there and my brother and sister. It was so nice to be able to share that day with the people who encouraged me along the way. I was also incredibly honored that the Board came. It was a nice surprise. I was very humbled that they took the time out of their day to acknowledge my accomplishment. I felt really supported as a tribal member.”

Michelle Sheldon and family.

Michelle’s journey to attorney was no easy feat. In fact, it took years of hard work and dedication to reach her goal. 

“After high school, I earned my associates degree from Northwest Indian College, I was that year’s valedictorian,” she explains. “Throughout my educational journey, I’ve always worked full-time and always went to school as a night time distant learning student. When I was working on my associates and earning my undergrad bachelor’s degree, I was working at my family’s restaurant. As soon as I earned my degree, they sold the restaurant. So, I applied for a position with the Tribe. I started briefly in TGO before a position as file clerk opened up at beda?chelh. That’s when I was first exposed to the work of the Tribal attorneys working on behalf of the Tribe, the children and their families, really making Tulalip a healthy and whole community. I really appreciated their work.

“I was very excited when a position opened up at the Tulalip tribal court as a court clerk,” she continues. “I immediately went for that position and was very thankful to have gotten it. I think that position solidified my desire to get into the legal field. I’ve always been inspired with the area of law and justice, so I knew I wanted to get an undergrad degree in that area. I attended night classes at Colombia College at their Smokey Point location after work and earned my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from there. Soon after, I enrolled through the Boston University distance program where I earned my paralegal certificate, kind of an introduction to the law area. I took a bit of a break between my master’s degree and pursuing a law degree, trying to figure out what I wanted to do career wise, what would be best for me and what could best benefit my community. And I thought, you know what, I’m going to go the extra mile, I want to pursue this.”

Michelle discovered that the Seattle University School of Law offered a night program and remembers applying multiple times before finally being accepted. At this point in her career, she was in her most recent position as the ORA Department Manager. For three years, after clocking-out at Tulalip Admin, she would hop onto I-5 to attend night classes in Seattle. Michelle claims that her positions with the Tribal Court and the ORA allowed her to gain useful experience that she was able to apply in law school. 

“Michelle is truly an extraordinary individual,” states Tulalip Tribal Court Director, Wendy Church. “I’ve never had any doubt she would excel in her academic goals and now that she’s passed the State Bar Exam, the sky is the limit. Both Michael Taylor and Tim Brewer have expressed their appreciation of her work in ORA. She worked full-time and went to law school, which is truly remarkable. I think most importantly, she serves as a role model to our next generation of students with aspirations of careers in law.”

Michelle recalls advisors and teachers telling their students to not get set on the idea of working locally throughout the career, to keep an open mind and be prepared to work in different states.

“That was never an option for me,” says Michelle. “I lived on the reservation for most of my life, so I’m definitely a part of this community. I’ve always wanted to do something career and educational wise to where I can still work in my community and bring any knowledge and skills I learned off the reservation back to the reservation. Keeping Tulalip at heart was always at the forefront of my inspirations and goals.”

Michelle hopes to inspire young tribal members to pursue their degrees and encourages them to not give up on their journey when the waters get rough. 

“It takes a lot of dedication and perseverance to pursue something,” expresses Michelle. “You make a lot of sacrifices, but if you’re prepared to do that, you definitely have the ability to achieve anything. I want people to know that no matter what your goal is or how big your dream is, as long as you stick with it, you will get there. I was very thankful to have a very supportive family. The tribe has been extremely supportive as well; they’ve been able to help with anything I’ve needed throughout the years. Having that support and knowing that people are thinking about you gives you that little extra boost. It always meant a lot. I hope this opens the wave of getting more tribal members interested in this field and considering it when they start their own educational journey. I hope that by sharing my journey, it shows that if you put the hard work in, you’ll get your reward at the end.”

Michelle wants to extend an open-invite to those who are considering pursuing a law degree, stating she can offer advice and application assistance as well as encouragement.

“It feels good to protect Tulalip’s best interest, knowing that we’re helping tribal members and saving our tribal land and our resources. It makes me feel good that we’re trying hard to do something good for Tulalip. We talk about the seven generations; we always want to think ahead. That’s what I appreciate, everyone’s thinking not just for today but for twenty years from now. My best advice for the next generation is, if I can do it, you can do it too.”

Terry Willams Receives Lifetime Achievement Award for Salmon Habitat and Puget Sound Preservation

Tulalip Tribes Board of Director, Bonnie Juneau, presented Terry Williams with the award, custom-made with spawning salmon design, created by Camano Island artist, Molly LeMaster.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

On a gorgeous evening in Mukilteo, a considerable amount of conservationists attended the annual Snohomish Conservation District’s Better Ground Showcase on April 12. The showcase was held at the Rosehill Community Center, providing a beautiful view of Possession Sound where Washington State ferries were traveling from Mukilteo to Clinton. The Conservation District works with farmers, city residents as well as rural and suburban landowners to promote and encourage conservation and responsible use of natural resources. During the showcase, the Conservation District honored a number of Snohomish County citizens for their work in protecting the environment, presenting awards for Conservation Leaders of the Year, Youth Conservation Leaders of the Year and Volunteer of the Year as well as Lifetime Achievement Awards. Among the evening’s honored guests was Tulalip tribal member, Terry Williams. 

Terry received a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his decades of dedication to protecting our Mother Earth and preserving the salmon habitat. Since the early ‘80’s, Terry has been an advocate for the conservation of natural resources for future generations. He has led the Tulalip Natural Resources department in a variety of positions including Tribal Liaison to the Environmental Protection Agency as well as his current position as Commissioner of Fisheries and Natural Resources. Terry has built strong partnerships with local environmentalists and has also created a number of commissions and committees within the county. 

Tulalip Board of Director Bonnie Juneau presented Terry with a unique award that was constructed from tile and depicted spawning salmon. The handmade award was created by Camano Island artist, Molly LeMaster, and did not leave Terry’s possession for the rest of the entire evening. 

“This whole event was really wonderful,” Terry beamed. “Working with all of these folk has been extremely educational not only for me but also for the Tribe. I think it’s terrific. I’m really glad to see everybody here, it shows that community support. We’ve got so many problems to fix and everyone does a wonderful job when we all work together.”

Daryl Williams accepted an award for his work with Qualco Energy.

Terry was also essential in helping establish Qualco Energy, a local company that also received an award at the showcase for Conservation Leader of the Year. Accepting the award, along with his business partners, was Tulalip tribal member and Terry’s brother, Daryl Williams. 

“Qualco Energy is three-way partnership between the Tulalip Tribes, Northwest Chinook Recovery and the Sno/Sky Agriculture Alliance,” explains Daryl. “The partners came together to create a bio-digestive project where we collect cow-manure from Werkhoven Dairy. We capture methane that comes off of it and use that to create electricity and we store the liquids that come out for irrigating the fields during the growing season. Our main goal is for water quality purposes to get the raw manure off the fields. Over the last year we built a large rain garden at our facility to treat roof water coming off the farm, plus some of the runoff on the driveways. So, we’re just trying to clean up the water that’s coming off the farm.”

Daryl also shared his excitement for his brother stating, “I started working for the Tribe in ’77, so he must’ve started in ’82 or ’83. We’ve worked together for a long time. I’ve stayed on the habitat side of things, but Terry has done a blend of everything that encompasses Natural Resources. He’s done whatever it took to allow our fisherman enough time to harvest what they need and to protect the habitat so the fish have somewhere to go when they head upriver.”

“My dad always used to say treat your neighbors like you’d have them treat you. It’s the same with the environment,” expressed Terry. “To produce all the things that we really love and enjoy, we need to take care of it. And the more we take care of the environment, the better we’re going to be.”

Tulalips take their stories, courage and advocacy to Capital Hill

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

When the Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors passed a motion to support the March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C., they followed through by sending a delegation of twenty individuals to support the Tribe’s national efforts to stop gun violence, specifically to put an end to mass shootings.

The Tulalip delegation was comprised of those most affected by the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting; the families of victims and survivors, along with a support group of community members. With a heartfelt message that could only come from those who have known great loss and tragedy created by gun violence, this normally private and reserved group visited Capitol Hill and advocated for gun-law reform.

When it comes to potentially saving innocent lives, the silence was broken so that the families could speak their truth, giving voice to those who couldn’t be there in person, but were undoubtedly there in spirit.

Mothers of MPHS shooting victims, Lahneen Fryberg, Lavina Phillips and Denise Hatch-Anderson shared their stories and experience with gun violence, then advocated for stronger gun legislation to representative Suzan DelBene, U.S. Congresswoman representing Washington’s 1st District. Then they spoke with the office of Rick Larsen, U.S. Representative for Washington’s 2nd congressional district.

Next up was the office of senior U.S. Senator from Washington, Patty Murray. Then they met with legislative aides to Maria Cantwell, junior U.S. Senator from Washington.

“Gun violence is a topic of national concern. Our entire community was devastated in varying ways, whether you were directly or indirectly effected by the Marysville-Pilchuck shooting, it hurt deeply,” said Deborah Parker, who coordinated the day on Capitol Hill. “The families most affected by gun violence were able to speak out against the violence occurring nationwide.

“For many of the families who lost a loved one, the sentiment was consistent – it felt like it happened yesterday. The pain was real and the hurt pervasive. Our families who have suffered the greatest loss of their lives have a powerful voice and should never be silenced. As difficult and painful as it was for our families to bring forward their devastating memories, they did it. They spoke eloquently and candidly to U.S. government representatives about their experience with gun violence while offering policy solutions.”

Keeping their momentum, the Tulalip delegation made their way to the set of “The American Indians’ Truths” radio show for WPFW-FM hosted by Jay Winter Nightwolf. Again, the families shared their truth. Speaking on her experience was Keryn Parks, a seventeen-year-old student who was forced to bare witness to the MPHS shooting.

“I was hesitant to even speak and share my story,” expressed Keryn. “Nothing happened to me physically and I do feel tons of guilt that nothing did. Maybe one of these moms would have their baby still with them if I sat somewhere else. It was a huge weight off my chest to speak and let everyone know how I feel for them. These mommas need all the loving, healing words they can take.

“As a group, we were so strong and powerful anywhere we went today, and that was felt by everyone who listened to us. It was a day of reopening wounds none of us wanted or even thought we were going to reopen. It was powerful and real. Above all else it was healing.”

The final destination on their Capital Hill visit was to the Embassy of Tribal Nations. Though it was the last stop, it may have been the most impactful as the three moms, Lahneen, Lavina and Denise, shared details of their experience they had never shared before. Tears flowed from everyone in the room who sat in absolute awe of what was being said.

In attendance was Jackie Pata, Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians. She stated afterwards, “My life has been forever changed by these Tulalip families. They have exhibited so much courage and strength to come forward and share their story. I will not forget them in the work I do.”

“Being there, with the families, was powerful and extremely healing,” said Matt Remle, who accompanied the families and supported them with his spiritual leadership. “Privately, over the years, I have shed many tears over what happened, but this was perhaps the first time that I was able to be with others and openly cry. Mostly what I took away from them is their bravery and courage. I don’t know much, but I do know that we simply need more love and compassion for each other, to support and give of ourselves to help others. That’s not politics, that’s living how we were meant to be.”

Being an effective advocate for legislative change, such as laws that can make a significant impact at reducing gun violence and putting an end to mass shootings, requires building strong relationships with our members of Congress and their staff members. It is important to use every opportunity to reach out and maintain these relationships. The Tulalip delegation did an admirable job honoring their loved ones lost to gun violence, while advocating for gun law reform.

“This Capitol Hill trip was for those families to voice their concerns and find healing in the process,” added Deborah Parker when the day’s itinerary came to an end. “It was a blessing to witness the transformation of everyone who took this journey. The mothers, and their support network, stood together for their truth while seeking justice. None of us would ever want this type of violence to happen to anyone else. It was clear, gun violence must stop.”

March for Our Lives

By Micheal Rios

During the chilly spring morning of Saturday, March 24, a wave of warmth came over a group of twenty Tulalip community members as they navigated the streets of Washington, D.C. to join in the March for Our Lives. Reaching their destination, 12th and Pennsylvania, the group found their wave of warmth connect with a powerful tide of uncompromising encouragement and spiritual healing.

The youth-led and student organized March for Our Lives isn’t an anti-gun rally. It is an anti-gun violence and pro-gun law reform rally participated in by hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and families who marched in front of the U.S. Capital Building. Marchers demanded their lives and safety become a priority by passing legislation and school safety measures that make a significant impact on ending gun violence and mass shootings, especially in schools.

According to its mission statement, March for Our Lives is led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar. In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short at a Florida high school, the time is now to talk about gun law reform.

School safety is not a political issue. There cannot be two sides to doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing, and growing. The mission and focus of March for Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues. No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.

With over 600 sister marches taking place nationwide and millions estimated to have participated, the collective voice of the March for Our Lives movement was received loud and clear. More importantly, for the Tulalip group in D.C., the march yielded an opportunity to have the voice of victims and survivors of the Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting be heard.

Lahneen Fryberg, Denise Hatch-Anderson and Lavina Phillips, mothers of Marysville Pilchuck shooting victims, showed great strength by giving voice to their children during March for Our Lives.

Lahneen Fryberg, mother of MPHS shooting victim Andrew Fryberg, attended the march with her three daughters, Tanisha, Josephine, and Leila.

“My Andrew, along with many others taken too soon by gun violence, will have a voice today!” said Lahneen prior to the march. She shared her son’s story with a news crew where she repeatedly stated she was accompanied in the march by her angel, Andrew, and that her family couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be in D.C. to honor him.

Lavina Phillips, mother of MPHS shooting victim Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, made the D.C. trip with her children, Shania, Chaska, Keenan and Caleb. March for Our Lives was even more impactful for Lavina as it came just two day before Shaylee’s 18th birthday.

“Super blessed to be able to attend the March for Our Lives event,” said Lavina. “I was surprised when asked to attend. The dates they gave me, what it was for, then knowing Shay’s birthday is on March 26th. I took it all in as a sign from my girl…she wanted us to go, represent and celebrate her life on her birthday. I’m very thankful for everybody that was here with us and stood with us. It was a very emotional few days, but sometimes you have to let it out. Tried my hardest to hold it in because that’s what I do, but when you can’t stop the tears you have to let them flow. This whole experience was healing for my family and I’ve very proud of my daughter, Shania, for telling her story at the march. She talked to so many reporters, she wouldn’t let her sister be forgotten.”

For Denise Hatch-Anderson, mother of MPHS survivor Nate Hatch, she went through a gauntlet of emotions being her child survived the shooting, but is forever changed as a result. Surrounded by parents like herself at the march, Denise found strength and a new understanding that she isn’t alone as a parent of a mass shooting survivor.

“This whole experience has been overwhelming with emotions, but as a mother of a survivor of a school shooting, I walked away not feeling so alone in this situation,” reflected Denise on her march experience. “I had the opportunity to meet other mothers of survivors and I received some answers to question I’ve longed to ask another. My heart broke again telling the story, but in the end I grew stronger from this trip. I healed in ways I needed to and now that my son is in a place of healing I feel like this journey has made us both spiritually stronger. I can’t thank the Tribe enough, especially Theresa Sheldon for never giving up on us moms and families effected by 10-24-14.  The pain will always be there among us all, but we get stronger everyday with the help of others.”

Seventeen-year-old Keryn Parks was in the cafeteria, sitting at the ill-fated table that was center to the MPHS shooting. Keryn participated in March for Our Lives in honor of her lost loves ones and to advocate for gun law reform to prevent more school shootings from occurring.

“The March for Our Lives meant a lot to me because it not only recognizes my friends and family I lost on 10/24/14, but also all the other people that have been taken from their families due to gun violence,” stated Keryn after an emotional day marching in front of the Capital Building. “The emotion and feeling from walking in the march was surreal…. I know our angels were with us every step of the way. It was such a great experience. It was heartwarming, but also so devastating.

“Our community and these families traveled all this way because they have been grieving for three and a half years. Throughout those years, shootings have occurred in schools, concerts, malls, corner stores, and clubs, everywhere really; these shootings have become normal. It hurts to know that our country hasn’t done anything to help these families heal, or these children and students around the nation feel safe, and not have to worry if someone might have a firearm. It is terrifying, but it’s the truth.”

Also the truth, the sun shined onto March for Our Lives supporters who gathered with a unifying mission to end gun violence and prevent school shootings. The Tulalip group showed such fierce strength and determination by giving voice to the victims of the MPHS shooting, not allowing their loved ones to be forgotten.

As sprits soared and healing found the hearts of those who needed it, each step taken in the march was a reminder that the truth cannot be silenced. Gun violence and school shootings are preventable. Those in power who are disbelievers in that sentiment just needed to look out their Capital Hill office windows, onto the hundreds of thousands of who demonstrated how powerful the people are when working together with common goals.

“What was beautiful to see from the youth is that they have been able to connect the dots between all the various forms of violence and not placing any sort of value hierarchy on those experiences,” said Matt Remle, Native Liaison for Marysville School District, who supported the mothers and the families during the March for Our Lives. “Their movement isn’t just about school shootings, but about addressing all forms of violence and abuse. That’s powerful. Sharing in such a truly historic occasion was good medicine for all our spirits.”

Lushootseed Family Night

Quality time to empower one another, keeping culture thriving

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Today, quality family time often takes a back seat to all the other directions that people are pulled, whether it be work, school, manufactured drama, or personal entertainment. One way to bring back that sense of quality time is to start a dedicated family night, which is exactly what Lushootseed Family Night intends to achieve.

In coordination with the Hibulb Rediscovery Program, the Lushootseed Language Department has brought back its Family Night on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the month of March. Meeting from 5:00pm – 7:00pm at the Lushootseed building (the gymnasium of the old Tulalip Elementary), the evenings are a dedicated time for Tulalip families and members of the community to share in keeping a language and culture thriving. Its two-hours of undivided attention given by the Language Warriors to any and all who wish to learn Lushootseed words and phrases, whether it be children, adults, or elders; all are welcome.

The community’s response has been very positive thus far, with near 70 participants joining in on March 8th’s Family Night.

“Any participation in our Family Night is appreciated. When we have a large number of participants, like our second night, we are excited to see so many people who want to be exposed to Lushootseed or want to become Language Warriors and speak with us,” said Natosha Gobin, Lushootseed Teacher and co-coordinator of Family Night. “For those who don’t feel comfortable since they don’t know the language, or think they will have a hard time learning it, these classes are intended to be fun and laid back. Just being exposed to the language being spoken will help in eventually speaking it.”

This particular series of Family Night classes in March are focused on canoe terms in order to prepare families that intend on participating in this year’s Canoe Journey, but the dialogue is not limited to canoes only. Language Warriors are also working to assist participants to learn their own introductions and speeches, while getting accustomed to traditional prayers, stories and songs. The Lushootseed Department aims to support the teachings that are important for canoe journey participants, while passing on lessons that are relevant for daily use.

Each Family Night begins with the sharing of a hot meal, a significant activity shared by any family, while the next generation of Lushootseed speakers read aloud from a collection of traditional stories. Then, children and adults learn together select Lushootseed words and phrases by a variety of activities.

Among those activities is the hearing of traditional songs. Andrew Gobin, of the Tulalip Rediscovery Program and former Lushootseed Teacher, provides his resonant voice and drum in order to pass along the teachings and well-intending meanings with each song.

“Language belongs to all of us. Culture belongs to all of us. Getting involved is the first step,” stated Andrew. “At these language and culture nights, the people come to share with one another. Those that may know more than others are helping those that are just beginning to engage with who they are. It’s always exciting to have people come to gather together and share in what our culture has to offer.

With an increase in technology and a dwindling attention span, family time will still often get set aside because of other demands and duties. Despite busy schedules and long workdays, for families and individuals looking to build strong bonds through culture and create lifelong memories for children, Lushootseed Family Night is a welcome site.

“This language belongs to us all,” explained Natosha. “We pray that when our days come to an end, that we can hear it being used daily in our community by everyone. These are the same prayers of our ancestors. They didn’t want the language to die with them, and we don’t want the language to die with us. We hope that through these Family Nights and the other language learning opportunities that we are working on, we will continue to grow our Language Warriors, empowering speakers to rise up and help keep our language, culture and teachings alive.”

The current Lushootseed Family Night series will continue each Tuesday and Thursday during March, from 5:00pm – 7:00pm. Dinner will be provide and all ages are welcome to attend.

For more information, questions or request contact

Michelle Balagot, Lushootseed Department Manager by phone at 360-716-4495 or email mbalagot@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Natosha Gobin, Lushootseed Teacher by phone at 360-716-4499 or email ngobin@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

The Effects of Gambling on Families

Submitted by Sarah Sense-Wilson, Problem Gambling Coordinator, Tulalip Family Services 

Why Can’t They Just Stop?

Most people with gambling problems slowly lose control over how much time and money they spend gambling. They focus only on gambling and ignore other responsibilities and the harm their gambling causes. Some people who gamble excessively do not connect their life problems to their gambling. Others have tried to cut down or stop before, but have failed. Now they feel irritable and upset whenever they try to change.

Most people who gamble excessively have mixed feelings about gambling. They know they are causing problems for the people they love. They may become anxious and unhappy, and often hate themselves. But the urge to gamble is too great to resist. They feel they can’t give up on all the time, money and emotion they have put into gambling. They can’t accept that they will never win back what they have lost.

Other people promise to quit, but can’t. They fear their loved ones will find them out. This drives them deeper into hiding and further into debt. They keep hoping a big win will end their problems. The first step for people with gambling problems is to give up on their losses and their hope of a big win. Then they can begin to regain control over their gambling and their lives.

Impact on Families

You probably already know how much gambling can hurt families. Families may be affected in different ways. Gambling problems can be hidden for a long time, so many families are shocked when they learn how much money has been lost. Some relationships do not survive a gambling problem. Other families struggle through difficulties and grow stronger together. People can and do recover from problem gambling, but it takes time and patience to work through all the issues. Don’t make important decisions about your relationship while you are under stress. Take time to think things through, and consider the feelings and needs of the whole family. Counselling can help you explore your options and decide what will work best for you and your family.

How are families affected?

Money Problems- The most common problem is the loss of money. Savings, property or belongings may suddenly be lost. This kind of money crisis makes the family feel scared, angry and betrayed.


Emotional Problems and Isolation

Gambling problems cause strong feelings. Family members may feel ashamed, hurt, afraid, angry, confused and distrustful. These feelings make it harder to solve problems. The person who gambles may even deny that there is a problem.

Isolation is another problem:

  • Many partners do not want to be emotionally or physically close with the person who has hurt them.
  • Many people affected by gambling problems avoid other people, because they feel ashamed. This makes it hard to get love and support.
  • Friendships may end because of unpaid debts.

Physical and Mental Health

The stress of gambling problems sometimes causes health problems, for both the person who gambles and the family. This can include anxiety, depression and stress-related problems such as poor sleep, ulcers, bowel problems, headaches and muscle pains.


Many families under stress have trouble coping. One member may try to keep things in control by taking on more tasks. This can lead to burnout. Family members often focus on the person with gambling problems, and forget to take care of themselves or to have fun.

Impact on Children

When a parent or caregiver has a gambling problem, children can feel forgotten, depressed and angry. They may believe they caused the problem and that, if they are “good,” the problem will stop. Some children take care of younger brothers or sisters, or try to support their parent. This responsibility causes children stress.

Children may also believe they must take sides between their parents. They may stop trusting a parent who makes promises he or she doesn’t keep. They may steal from the parent or get in trouble at school. Some children may try to draw attention away from the parent with the gambling problem, by:

  • using alcohol or other drugs
  • gambling
  • breaking the law.

It is important to help children understand that the family’s problems are not their fault. Children need to return to a safe and balanced home life and a normal childhood. Family or individual counselling can help children deal with these changes. Family members often over focus on the person with the addiction and forget to take care themselves.

Physical and Emotional Abuse

Family violence is more common when families are in crisis. Gambling problems can lead to physical or emotional abuse of a partner, elder parent or child. Children may be hurt due to pent-up anger or neglect. If this is happening in your family, get help right away.

Anxiety and Depression

Stress, anxiety and depression are common both for people with gambling problems and for their families. This can make sleeping, thinking and solving problems more difficult. If you have some of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, making your day-to-day life difficult, you may have a major depression:

  • You have lost interest in usual activities.
  • You feel depressed, down or irritable.
  • Your sleep has changed (e.g., you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, or you sleep too much).
  • Your appetite has changed. You have lost or gained weight.
  • You feel helpless, hopeless or despairing.
  • It is hard to think and to remember things, and your thoughts seem slower.
  • You go over and over guilty feelings. You can’t stop thinking about problems.
  • You have lost interest in sex.
  • You feel physically tired, slow and heavy; or you feel restless and jumpy.
  • You feel angry.
  • You think about suicide.

If you have any of these difficulties, speak to your family doctor, counselor or mental health professional. Tell him or her about the gambling problem too. Treatment may include medications and/or counselling and other support.

Suicide Risk

Rates of suicide are higher for people who gamble excessively, and for their family members. The people most likely to attempt suicide are those who also have a mental health problem (such as depression) or who use alcohol or other drugs. People who have threatened suicide or hurt themselves in the past are also more at risk.

If you feel suicidal or are making plans to end your life, get help right away. You don’t have to deal with your problems alone.

Please contact Sarah Sense-Wilson for more information about Problem Gambling services and support at (360) 716-4304 or Washington State Helpline 1-800-547-6133


Broadway Dreams, Starring Bella Fryberg

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

It was a near sold-out show at Arlington High School as the Drama Club prepared for the opening night of Seussical the Musical on March 2. The play’s inspiration draws from the great imagination of Dr. Seuss and features a number of his famous characters, such as the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch and Horton the Elephant. The cast of young high schoolers awed the audience with their amazing talents, belting out a number of tunes accompanied by the school band. One of the standout performances of the play is Arlington High School sophomore and Tulalip tribal member, Izabella ‘Bella’ Fryberg, who plays a feature role as Mayzie LaBird from the book Horton Hatches an Egg.

“I sing at home a lot. I started acting my freshman year but I’ve been singing since fifth grade,” expressed Bella minutes before the start of the show.

Bella is no stranger to the spotlight. At the young age of fifteen, she’s been in Tae Kwon Do competitions and ballet recitals, as well as jazz dance performances. In the addition to Seussical the Musical, Bella is preparing to sing in a cabaret this April with her choir who meets every day before school to rehearse. It was during her freshman year that she was cast in the school’s rendition of Guys and Dolls: The Musical and fell in love with the performing arts.

“This is important to me because it’s a great way to express and show my creativity and honestly it’s a lot of fun,” she says. “It’s a good way to get out your creative juices. It’s great hanging out and getting to know everyone, you get so close because you go through rehearsal, makeup and the stress together. I want to go to a performing school in New York. While I’m there, I want to pursue a degree in music, but also be auditioning for shows because I want to be on Broadway – that’s my main goal.”

“Bella is like a ball of energy,” says Drama Director Scott Moberly. “She’s got an incredible voice and stage presence you can’t really teach. I think it’s her greatest attribute because she is so natural and comfortable on stage. If it’s a matter of raw talent, at this age, she’s solid. She is naturally gifted. What will make a difference is the training she will get. The natural talent will get you so far and the training will get her a little bit further. My guess for Bella is that she’ll make her break, she’ll create that for herself. She has a way of just drawing people to her and that is really special.”

Just before show time, Bella’s father and Tulalip tribal member Georgie Fryberg shared his excitement as the crowd began to take their seats.

“I’m totally nervous for her,” he exclaimed. “But, she’s been in the spotlight all of her life and done a lot of stage work before, so she’s ready for it. This is the start of her career, she wants to do this for the rest of her life. She’s still got a couple years in high school to work hard at it and I’m excited to see what she’s going to do.”

From the moment the curtains rose, to curtain call, the audience was completely engaged and thoroughly entertained, many surprised by the singing talents of the young students. Bella sang a number of solos, which blew the crowd away, including Amayzing Mayzie, How Lucky You Are, Mayzie in Palm Beach and Amayzing Horton. At the end of the play as she approached the stage to curtsy before the crowd, she was met with enormous applause from the audience.

“Wow, she was phenomenal wasn’t she? Such a great voice,” stated Arlington community member and theater lover Sharon Richardson who brought her mother, a huge Dr. Seuss fan, out to the show.

Bella with family at the Arlington High School Drama Club’s
opening night performance of Seussical the Musical.

“She was so good,” expressed Karen Fryberg, Tulalip tribal member and Bella’s grandmother. “I can’t believe that she would get up there in front of so many people, she’s always been like that though. She wants to study theater after she graduates. She did an amazing job tonight, I’m so proud of her. It’s neat that she’s got these goals and is actively working towards them. She’s a great student and I’m excited for her future.”

“You just got to shoot for it,” stresses Bella. “People will tell you that your dreams are too big – they’re never too big. Just go for it and work towards it. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s always worth it.”

You can catch Bella in Suessical the Musical on March 9 and 10 beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center, located at Arlington High School. There will also be a special matinee performance on March 10 starting at 2:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at www.ByrnesPerformingArts.org.

Minor Trust Accounts

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

At the beginning of 2017, changes were made in regards to the allocation of per capita trust funds for Tulalip youth. Prior to the change, Tribal members would receive their entire trust account funds in one lump sum. Due to a variety of reasons, including a large amount of feedback from the community, the disbursement of minor trust account funds changed from one payment, in which the tribal member received the entire amount of their account, to yearly payments, over the course of four years, where they receive 25% of their funds each year. Tulalip tribal members who successfully receive their G.E.D. or high school diploma can access their funds at the age of 18. Tribal members who do not complete their G.E.D. or diploma can access their first trust disbursement upon turning 22. The Tulalip Enrollment department wants to extend a friendly reminder to the community about the recent changes and the new disbursement process, as they were implemented just a short year ago.

The allocation alterations were created initially for tax purposes. Because the funds are considered gaming revenue, tribal members were forced to forfeit a large percent of their trust to the IRS upon receiving the money in one lump sum. Less money is withheld when lower payments are distributed, so the four yearly installments means tribal members will receive thousands of more dollars, up to $10,000 on average, over the course of the payments.

“There are two main reasons for the changes,” explains Tulalip Enrollment Manager, Rosie Topaum. “One of them is the tax portion. Once you receive roughly over $56,000.00, they’re going to tax it at 25% and that’s because its gaming revenue. That’s a big chunk you’re losing. You’re so young when you receive this money and you’re at this huge tax bracket under income and you got per capita that you also have to factor in. Taxes are the biggest reason we changed it. When you divide it out over four years at 10-15%, which we’d have to tax, you’re going to pay-in less.

“The second reason is because the kids were just kind of spending it like yay, I’m going to get some clothes, a car and live nice for about a year, or loaning it out to family members with nothing really to show for it. This way it gives them some options, because most likely you’re going to end up splurging maybe the first two of them [payments], but you’re going to see how quick it goes. And hopefully by the last two, you’re going to do something with those payments.”

Tribal members can still request larger distributions for college expenses, medical bills, purchasing a home or land and starting a business. If you wish to request a larger payment, you must submit a formal request and provide any necessary proof and paperwork to the Trust Committee.

Parents now also have the option to invest more money into their children’s minor trust accounts by selecting a higher percentage to be taken from the kid’s per capita distributions, therefore lessening the tax burden on the parent and saving more money for the child’s future. Enrollment is also in the early process of creating a procedure that allows the youth to pick their minor trust account beneficiaries if the unthinkable were to ever happen.

Before receiving the first disbursement, tribal members are required to successfully complete a finance class, which can be accessed online by e-mailing Enrollment@TulalipTribes-nsn.gov. If you wish to take the class in person, please contact the Tulalip Enrollment Department at (360) 716-4300, as well as for further information.