Making Great Strides toward a cure for cystic fibrosis

By Kalvin Valdillez

On the morning of July 7, over one-hundred and fifty community members laced up their best pair of walking shoes and gathered at the Tulalip Amphitheater for the annual Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Walk. 2018 marks the organization’s thirtieth anniversary as well as the tenth anniversary since the first Great Strides Walk took place here in Tulalip. Great Strides Tulalip was organized by two local mothers of children living with cystic fibrosis (CF) who wanted to help find a cure for the life-threatening disease. Since then, the walk continues to raise awareness, helping the community get a better understanding of what CF actually is. 

CF is a rare, complex genetic disease which causes an excessive buildup of thick mucus in the lungs as well as the pancreas and other organs throughout the body. People living with CF are prone to respiratory and pancreatic issues and also a number of infections due to bacteria buildup. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, more than thirty-thousand people are living with CF nationwide. Due to years of research and scientific advancement, the average lifetime for people living with CF has increased significantly to the age of forty. Circa the 1950’s the average child living with the disease rarely made it to elementary school. 

“There are eightwalks we put on across Washington and Alaska,” states Washington CFF Development Director, Anna Lester. “We have about six-hundred and fifty thousand dollars raised and around twenty-five hundred to three-thousand walkers across the two states. It’s the CFF’s largest fundraising initiative, nationally there’s around five-hundred walks and forty-million dollars raised. This walk is the only walk north of Seattle in Washington.”

Kelsie Pablo co-founded Great Strides Tulalip to help find a cure for her son, Keldan, who was diagnosed with CF at birth. 

“We start at the Tulalip Amphitheater and walk all the way around the Outlet Mall, around Boom City and cut through the Casino for about a three mile walk,” says Kelsie. “I started this walk with another mom ten years ago. And the reason why I started the walk is because my son has cystic fibrosis. The very first year we did the Seattle walk and that was a long commute for all of our families so we thought, why not start one in Tulalip?

“My son is a Tulalip tribal member and we have a huge group of supporters and we’ve just grown so much in these past ten years,” she continues. “We’re out here raising awareness for CF and all the money that we raise goes towards new medication, ultimately medication that will cure the underlying cause of CF.”

Over the course of its ten year run, the walk has inspired many families in the Snohomish County area to join on behalf of a loved one living with CF. A number of families’ and local organizations register as teams to participate in the walk. Each team wears different color t-shirts, displaying graphics that bring awareness to the disease, as well as the name of their teams such as Team Keldan and Team Alicia. This year there were twelve teams fundraising to help bring an end to the CF disease. 

Several Tulalip Lions Club members attend the Great Strides Tulalip event every year, volunteering their time and assistance to ensure the walk’s a success. Many members also help spread the word leading up to the event, bringing out more and more walkers each year.

“I have been a member from the very beginning of the walk,” says Linda Tolbert, Tulalip Lions Club Community Services Chairwoman. “We’ve had Lions Club members from Arlington, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens, Seven Lakes, Marysville, Stanwood, Mill Creek and Tulalip participate. Our role is getting more people involved so they’re more aware of CF. Most patients have to take thirty to forty different drugs a day just to survive, we want to find a cure.”

Once all of the CF awareness walkers make their way back to the amphitheater, they’re treated to some midmorning entertainment as a live band plays rock n’ roll classics while participants get a chance to enjoy company and a snack, bringing the Great Strides Tulalip event to a close. 

This year the goal for the teams of Great Strides Tulalip was a combined total of $34,004. Although the goal wasn’t met on the day the event took place, supporters can still make contributions to the team of their choice until December 31, by visiting the Tulalip 2018 page at

Special Olympians carry Flame of Hope through Tulalip


By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The Flame of Hope was once again proudly carried through Quil Ceda Village on the evening of June 28, for the ‘Final Leg’of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. The flame is carried by law officials and Special Olympic athletes through local communities nationally to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics every summer.

At the end of May, the Tulalip Police Department participated in the Torch Run. Two local officers carried the Flame of Hope for over twelve miles through the Stanwood, Marysville and Tulalip communities in anticipation of the 2018 Special Olympics State Spring Games at Pacific Lutheran University.

The Final Leg is the last torch run of the year and takes place prior to the Special Olympics USA Games. Washington State hosted the main event this year at the UW Husky Stadium, making Tulalip one of the last stops.  The group of nearly thirty law enforcement officials and Special Olympians who carried the Flame of Hope throughout Quil Ceda Village, also ran through many other communities in Washington, some as far away as Spokane.

The runners began their one-mile journey at the Bank of America and were cheered on by local commuters all the way to the Tulalip Amphitheater, where an intimate ceremony occurred comprised of Washington State Patrol officers, the Marysville Police Department, Tulalip Bay Fire Department and Tulalip Police Department. Interim Chief Pruitt was on MC duty for the ceremony, welcoming the group of runners once they arrived at the amphitheater.

“The Special Olympics was founded in 1968 and it strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people,”the Chief explained after a remarkable performance of the National Anthem by the Everett Chorale. “It reflects how the power of sports instills confidence, improves health and inspires the sense of competition. The Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sports every day, everywhere.  It is the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities, with more than 4.9 million athletes in over one hundred and seventy-two countries. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest grassroots fundraising and awareness campaign for the Special Olympics across the globe. More than 97,000 law enforcement personnel participate in volunteering and fundraising internationally. This year Team Washington has two hundred and fifty athletes that were selected to compete in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.”

Many Special Olympians were among the group, including Ernie Roundtree who found a passion for running in marathons through the Special Olympics. Ernie, who is from Pennsylvania competed in a number of events in the Special Olympics for over eighteen years.

“Today I would like to talk about how the Special Olympics impacted my life,”said Ernie to the crowd of supporters. “Special Olympics changed my life and impacted me to do more. Because of the Special Olympics, I’ve completed seven full marathons, two in Disneyworld and one Marine Corps marathon. Special Olympics has taught me not to give up, to stay strong and if you put one foot in front of the other, soon you’ll be crossing the finish line.”

Tulalip Chairwoman, Marie Zackuse, was also in attendance. She admired all of the athlete’s spirits, noting the games hold a special place in her heart, as she has a nephew who loved to participate in the Special Olympics.

“It’s my honor to welcome the delegation that came running in,”said Marie. “I’m so very proud of each and every one of you. We are very appreciative and want to honor all those community members and athletes. We are truly honored to host this stop and we wish that each and every athlete not only wins but has fun. My hands go up to the law enforcement here, the ones that came in on the run and all those who brought this together.”

The event concluded with an inspiring moment. Keeping true to Tulalip traditions, the Tulalip Police Department gifted the Special Olympians with necklaces featuring a small cedar paddle pendant, carved by Tulalip artist Tony Hatch.

The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games are happening July 1-6 at the UW Husky Stadium and features over 4,000 athletes. For more information, please visit


New documentary explores Indigenous families’ long history of forced separation

Georgina Sappier-Richardson screenshot.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News; Photos courtesy of Upstander Project & SIFF

There has been a nationwide controversy over the United States government’s immigration policy in recent weeks. The sweeping wave of shock and disgust directed at the Trump Administration resulted from national news outlets detailing immigrant children being separated from their parents after being caught entering the U.S. illegally from Mexico. 

For Native America, visual confirmation of the federal government forcibly removing innocent children from their parents, while arguing it’s for the good of the child, is nothing new. ‘Kill the Indian, save the man’ was a long-lasting theme by which Native children were separated from their communities and put into boarding schools or even unwillingly placed with white families. 

For much of the last century, the United States government maintained a genocidal policy that forcibly removed Native American children from their homes and placed them into white communities. As recently as the 1970’s, one in four Native children nationwide were living in non-Native foster care, adoptive homes, or boarding schools.* Many of them faced traumatic physical and emotional abuse by white adults in effort to erase their cultural identity and history.

It’s hard to know just how many children experienced this separation phenomenon of the 19th and 20th centuries because there was no system in place to account for them and many disappeared. 

Stolen children, racism, devastated families, and a cultural genocide resulting from government sanctioned atrocities committed against Native peoples are topics thoroughly explored and weaved together in the intense, feature-length documentary Dawnland.

Dawnland SIFF audience

“Today, Native American children are far more likely than other children to grow up away from their families and tribes,” stated Dawnland Co-Director Adam Mazo. “Many of us are familiar with popular culture’s portrayal of the westward expansion, Indian wars, and boarding schools. We are often taught to think that these occurred in a distant time, disconnected from people who are alive here now.”

Dawnland sheds light on the decades of forced assimilation and misguided child welfare policy that devastated generations of Indigenous people. Revealing the untold narrative of Native child removal in the United States, the film goes behind-the-scenes as a state-sanctioned Truth and Reconciliation Commission goes to the Wabanaki tribal community of Maine with the sole purpose of recording the actual history of this policy and to witness sacred moments of truth telling and healing.

The film follows both Native and non-Native commissioners as they travel across the state speaking to tribes of the Wabanaki people. These recorded meetings, the first state government sanctioned of their kind, produce intimate and harrowing moments of truth and reconciliation. But they soon discover these atrocities are more than just history, as current state policy continues to shatter Wabanaki families and threaten the tribe’s very existence. What begins as a learning process evolves into a modern fight for a people’s inalienable human rights.*

As part of this year’s Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), a special public screening of Dawnland was held at the Seattle Central Library. Sponsored by Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, the screening was a hit as the library’s auditorium was filled to max capacity to watch the extraordinary documentary. 

“The film will air on Independent Lens nationally on PBS in the 2018-2019 season and we’re super excited,” said filmmaker Adam Mazo in a Crosscut interview. “As far as we know this will be the first time that Wabanaki people are featured on a nationally televised program.”

*Source: Dawnland and SIFF press materials

Safe Zone: Tulalip Family Advocacy assures client safety

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Did you know that the Child Advocacy Center, the Legacy of Healing and the Family Advocacy building, home to beda?chelh and Family Haven, are considered ‘safe zones’?  The programs, which are all departments of Tulalip Family Advocacy, wanted to spread the word about the safe zones to help the community get a better understanding of what the zones are and why they were established for the protection of their clients. 

“There are three properties out here that have a safety zone policy through the tribe,” explains Jade Carela, Tulalip Child Advocacy Center Manger. “Soon I’ll be getting signs that say Safety Zone, so people know that they’re entering a safe zone. Basically, what safety zone means is people with certain things in their background will not be allowed on the property. And that’s for the safety of our children and clients we work with.” 

Jade further explained that beda?chelh and the Legacy of Healing both had safety zone policies in place with the tribe for a number of years. According to the policies, the purpose of the safe zones is to provide a safe environment at each of the Family Advocacy sites. The policies vary depending on the program but are similar in that they prohibit persons convicted of crimes against children, domestic violence and sexual offense from the property; as well as those subject to an ongoing investigation of a sexual offense. 

Since the policy’s establishment at the Child Advocacy Center, she has seen a positive impact on the kids, who often worry about their security when at the center, reassuring them that they are safe and out of harm’s way. 

The Child Advocacy Center, the Legacy of Healing and beda?chelh all work with survivors of sexual and domestic abuse in a certain capacity. The safe zones help assure their clients that their abuser and anyone convicted of domestic or sexual assault are not allowed on the property at any given time. All properties took extra precautions in providing client security, requiring visitors to meet certain credentials before granting entrance at each site. People with a history of domestic or sexual violence will be asked to leave the property, if they refuse to leave or the situation escalates, the authorities will be contacted to remove them from the premises.  

Jade is spreading awareness about the safe zones to survivors, to let them know that the programs provide a safe space. And to those who have been previously convicted of a crime, Jades states their services are still available to them, and they can meet with those clients off-property. 

“Because someone has something in their background doesn’t mean we won’t help them,” says Jade. “This policy is in no way stating that we won’t help you, it is strictly to ensure our children and adult victims feel safe. I work with these victims daily and I see how important it is to them, how safe these places are. I personally know that people can change and can grow, I get that, but we need places on this reservation for our victims of crime to feel they are completely safe and know that no one, no matter how long ago their crime was committed, will be allowed on the property.”

For further details regarding the safe zones and what services the programs offer please contact the Child Advocacy Center at (360) 716-5437; the Legacy of Healing at (360) 716-4100; Family Haven at (360) 716-4402; or beda?chelh at (360) 716-3284. 

Teachings of the cedar tree

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News; Photos courtesy of Natosha Gobin & Theresa Sheldon, Tulalip Tribal members

“Pray, pull, peel …it’s so peaceful being out there. Being disconnected from the busyness of daily life is refreshing and that silence is healing,” reflected tribal member Natosha Gobin of her day spent walking in the shadows of her ancestors near Lake Chaplain, harvesting cedar. “It’s amazing to watch the experienced ones of the group pull strips and separate them with ease. This is just one of the many ways to stay connected with not only each other but our ancestors, through keeping their teachings alive.”

Coast Salish tribes believe the Creator gave their people cedar as a gift. Traditionally, a prayer was offered to honor the spirit of the tree before harvesting its bark, branches and roots. Their ancestors taught them the importance of respecting cedar and understanding how it is to be used, so that it will be protected for future generations.

Cedar was the perfect resource, providing tools, baskets, bowls and carvings in addition to having medicinal and spiritual purposes. The highly sought after inner bark was separated into strips or shredded for weaving. The processed bark was then used like wool and crafted into clothing, baskets and hats.

Those same traditional teachings are practiced today and passed down to the next generation. Over the weekend of June 15, the Tulalip Tribes membership was given the opportunity to participate in the cultural upbringings of their ancestors by journeying into their ancestral woodlands and gathering cedar. Led by Forestry staff from Tulalip’s Natural Resources Department, participating tribal members ventured just north of Sultan to Lake Chaplain, located on the outskirts of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

The annual cedar harvest showcases a partnership between several agencies working as a team to coordinate this culturally significant opportunity. The Tulalip Natural Resource’s Timber, Fish, and Wildlife Program generally arranges a cedar harvesting site for the upcoming season by utilizing existing relationships with off-reservation landowners and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

“We have grown and maintained a wonderful working relationship with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), who provides opportunities to pull cedar bark from trees within DNR’s timber stands that would otherwise not be available to tribal members,” explained David Grover, Tulalip Tribes Forestry Program. “Having opportunities not just to acquire the bark itself, but also to spend time practicing the cultural tradition of harvesting from the cedar trees, and passing that tradition on to the tribal youth is invaluable for the tribe.

“This [opportunity] also offers the DNR foresters that help us on site during these events a chance to gain a better understanding of the forest resources they manage, as well as a unique glimpse into the different types of relationships people have with those resources that are not tied to timber sales,” added Grover.

The relationship Coast Salish peoples have with cedar cannot be understated. Our ancestors relied on the magnificent tree as an integral part of their life on the Northwest Coast. From birth to death, the powerful cedar provided generously for the needs of the people – materially, ceremonially and medicinally. Those teachings have not been lost.

Master weavers, elders, and youth alike all echo the very same cedar harvesting technique employed by their ancestors. With a small ax and carving knife, they skillfully remove strips of bark from designated cedar trees. They then shave off a small section of the rough bark, revealing a smooth tan inner layer. After harvest, the cedar strips are typically laid out to dry for a year before being made into baskets and hats or used in regalia.

Many Tulalip youth participated in the three-day cedar harvesting event, gathering strips for elders and learning techniques of separating the smooth inner bark from the rough outer bark. For some tribal members it was their very first trip to gather cedar, while for others it was another step in the continual journey to connect with the spirits of past and present.

“Thankful for Natural Resources and the Rediscovery Program who constantly advocate and work hard so we can have access to gathering locations,” shared tribal member Theresa Sheldon. “Their work is appreciated and much needed as more and more traditional areas are being gated off and made harder to access.

“Taking our children out to learn how our people harvested cedar is a gift. We were able to share with our young ones that our people have always cared for the grandmother Cedar trees and in return they care for us by providing clothing and protection from the elements. Appreciating each other, sharing our energy together, and respecting our ancestors by teaching our children how to value nature is who we are as a people.”

Martin Napeahi Jr. to begin college football career

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News; Football photos courtesy of Geoff Vleck, USA Football

“When football season ended, I didn’t think I was going to play anywhere because no colleges were really talking to me,” recalls Tulalip tribal member Martin Napeahi Jr. “It was tough, some of my teammates were getting scholarships and I was working just as hard as them, if not harder. But I stayed focused and kept working. And then Central [Washington University] called and gave me an offer. I went and visited and it’s a really nice campus. They have a good community especially within their football program, everyone’s very welcoming.”

Martin set a goal at a young age. A goal that he would work tirelessly toward throughout his entire high school career. Six years ago, while he was in the seventh grade, Martin attended an Archbishop Murphy High School football game. Although Archbishop lost that game by a major deficit, Martin left that game knowing he wanted to attend their high school and be a part of their football program. The decision to attend the private Catholic college-prep school was based around attaining his goal of playing college football.

“The football program at Archbishop is ran similar to a college program, it’s very intense,” says Martin Napeahi Sr., Archbishop Murphy Football Coach and Martin Jr.’s father. “The amount of work these guys put in is tremendous. It’s practically football seven days a week from August to December.”

“I became interested in Archbishop Murphy when I was in middle school, I had some family there,” says Martin Jr. “My freshman year we made it to the first round of playoffs and got smoked. We placed third at state my sophomore year, junior year we won state and my senior year we placed third again.”

Martin’s first season initially sparked the fire that fueled his work ethic. After failing to secure a starting position as a freshman, he was determined to work even harder during the offseason to ensure his spot as starting center during the next season. Ever since, he’s applied that same energy and received a variety of accolades, proving that hard work does indeed pay off. 

“It wasn’t easy, especially my junior year,” he states. “Looking back at all of that now, it’s kind of funny because I know that myself and the other kids who weren’t from the Mill Creek-Everett area – none of us were recruited.”

During the 2016-2017 high school football season, the Archbishop Murphy Wildcats made national headlines and were even mentioned on ESPN. The news, however, was unfortunate to Martin and his teammates who trained hard all season only to see a number of opponents forfeit their games against them. The concern was for safety reasons as other teams noted that Archbishop’s players had a size advantage over their players. This sparked a bit of controversy as several private schools were accused of recruiting students for sports rather than academics. 

“Even with all the forfeits and the people saying we were recruited, I loved it. It was fun,” Martin expresses. “The schooling was great, it got me to where I am. If I went to any other school, I don’t know what kind of opportunities I would’ve been presented football-wise and school-wise. Football’s been a blessing because it got me to college. That was always my goal, to play college football.”

On National Signing Day 2018, Martin Jr. officially accomplished his goal. He signed on to play with the Central Washington University football program. From an Archbishop Wildcat to a CWU Wildcat, Martin is ready and eager to begin his new journey.

“It’s two hours away from home, so not too far, yet not too close either. It’s going to be nice being on my own, trying to figure the world out by myself. After college, if I were to go to the NFL or CFL, that would obviously be awesome but I’m going to major in exercise science and minor in nutrition so I can stay in the athletic field to become an athletic trainer or sports nutritionist.”

After committing to CWU, Martin finished his high school career by competing in track and field, throwing both the discuss and shotput. He is currently the record holder for both events at Archbishop Murphy and placed fourth this year at state. 

“I think he wanted to do better at state, he was a little upset,” says Martin’s grandmother Annette Napeahi. “But that is still a great accomplishment. We’re just so proud of him for working hard to achieve his goals. He’s going to college for football, that’s not easy. People aren’t just handed sports scholarships, you have to work for it and he definitely worked hard for his. It’s been so awesome to watch him and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

On the evening of Friday June 8, Martin received his high school diploma.  

“Graduation was cool,” he says. “I was wearing a cedar cap and everyone thought it was cool. And because of my Hawaiian side, I had a ton of leis that covered up my entire face. My auntie Betty was in the process of making one of the leis for me and she passed away. Her daughter finished it for me and I was able to wear it on graduation day, it was really special. It was cool to see everyone’s reaction to my culture because that’s important to me. Not everyone has the same culture that I’ve been blessed with, so I’m glad I got to share a part of who I am.” 

“I feel an overwhelming sense of pride,” says Martin Sr. “Especially knowing what we’ve been through. From his early life, he was five and a half weeks premature and the doctors didn’t know if he was going to develop properly. And here we are today. He does great in school and is a pretty low-key kid, doesn’t go out and do a bunch of crazy stuff. Its bittersweet, coaching him all these years and being on the sideline as his number one fan. As a coach, I’m super proud. As his dad, all you can ask for is that your kids are successful and do more or better than you when you were at that age. I think we did a pretty good job.”

Before beginning his first year at Central, Martin’s summertime plans include hanging out with family and friends as well as playing Fortnite. But most importantly, Jr. plans to keep up with his early morning weight room regimen, training for the game he loves. Martin also offered solid advice to the younger students of the community who wish to follow a similar path to his.

“You just have to keep working at it. It’s going to be hard and discouraging at times, especially with football, the practices and coaches constantly in your face, but keep at it. Have a goal in mind and set out to achieve it, work your tail off and keep building on that goal. And when people try to shoot you down, block them out and keep working toward your goal.”

Parade highlights Strawberry Festival celebration

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

A Marysville/Tulalip community tradition since 1931, thousands of families filled the sidewalks of State Street on Father’s Day to enjoy the Strawberry Festival’s Grand Parade. Tulalip Resort Casino was recognized as the top-level, Orca sponsor for the 87th annual Strawberry Festival.

The festival took place over the weekend of June 15 to 17. During those days Marysville Middle School and Asbery Field were home to children’s activities, live entertainment, a talent show, craft making, a large outdoor market, and a fun for all ages carnival. Concluding the festival was the Grand Parade.

Tulalip was well-represented with a variety of themed displays throughout the parade, adding to the spectacle of stunning visuals and raucous sounds. Tulalip Bay Fire and the police department lent the sirens of their emergency services vehicles to signal the parade’s start. 

Board of Director Teri Gobin served as Grand Marshall.

Beginning at 7:45pm, the parade lasted approximately 90-minutes, ending shortly after sunset. Unlike years past, there was no dazzling firework show to mark the parade’s end because of Marysville’s city-wide ban on fireworks, even for display purposes. 

Journey to a healthier you

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Everyone wants to live a healthy life. The ideal health for most is reached by eating nutritious meals to fuel the body and mind, while being balanced with enough physical activity to keep the body working properly. 

But where does one start? There seems to be an endless amount of questions to ask and information to gather before starting a journey to a healthier you. Luckily, for the Tulalip community, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) and a team of health experts are here to help by offering a series of nutrition and cooking classes that are fun and interactive.

Eat Smart, Be Active classes will be taking place every Tuesday from now until July 31 at the Tulalip Dining Hall from 5:00pm – 6:30pm. If you are interested in learning more about whole foods, quality health, exercise, meal prepping, or cooking quick and healthy meals on a budget, then this is the perfect opportunity.

“Making healthy lifestyle changes is not an easy thing to do, but in the end the reward is so worth it!” stated AnneCherise Jensen, SNAP-Ed Nutritionist. “Eat Smart, Be Active classes really do give you an opportunity to learn, to ask questions, to discuss, and gain the tools you and your family need to live a happy, healthy, energetic life. Overall, these classes are very positive, energetic, and fun. We have a great preventative care team that truly cares about your health and wellbeing.”

Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean dieting or giving up all the foods you love. During the opening class on Tuesday, June 5, the twenty-five health conscious participants learned about ditching junk food and give their bodies the nutrient-dense fuel it needs by making a meal together. The main course? A delicious chicken stir fry made with nine different flavorful vegetables. 

After learning a 15-minute aerobic exercise routine that can be done at the comfort of home, the community members received basic cooking instruction before gathering in the kitchen. There each participant had a job to do in order to make the evening’s meal. Finally, while enjoying the freshly prepared chicken stir fry, instructors reviewed all the nutrients being consumed and emphasized how simple the process had been.

“It was empowering as a community to get together and participate in a healthy, nutritious meal,” added AnneCherise after the evening class had ended. “There are so many amazing health benefits to making these small, gradual changes. You start to have more energy, you begin to feel more confident in yourself, you find yourself in better moods, and the more and more you do it – the more friends you will find to exchange recipes with and encourage each other along the way.”

If you missed out on the opening class, no worries. The invite is open to anyone who wishes to learn about healthier lifestyle choices when it comes to nutrition and physical activity. Come in to as many classes as you can, if not all of them.

Questions? Please contact AnneCherise Jensen, SNAP-Ed Nutritionist at 360-716-5632 or OR Brooke Morrison, Tulalip Diabetes Prevention Assistant at 360-716-5617 or 

Building a better future with Tulalip’s construction career program

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Educators, parents and others often place emphasis on college preparation and earning an Associate or Bachelor’s degree by traditional means. But some students see a more hands-on future for themselves. For those unafraid of getting their hands dirty and learning the true meaning behind a hard day’s work there are ample opportunities available within the construction industry. 

In fact, look around the Seattle area and you’ll see more cranes than you can count. While other career pathways may be oversaturated and hard to come by, the construction trades are booming. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, open construction positions are expected to increase by more than 745,000 jobs nationally through 2026, a faster growth than any other occupation. In Washington State alone, there are already more than 3,200 unfilled construction jobs, of which many pay more than the average state wage of $54,000 a year. 

Whether it be laborer, carpenter, ironworker or heavy equipment operator, there are countless openings for work and advancement within construction trades, especially for sought after minorities, like Native Americans and women. A major access point for entry into the construction trades for tribal citizens and their families continues to be Tulalip’s own TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC).

On Wednesday, May 30, eighteen TVTC students were honored with a graduation banquet for their commitment to building a better future. Over 200 guests attended, including several Board of Directors, trade union representatives, and many cheerful friends and family members of the graduates. 

Of this latest graduating cohort, nine students are Tulalip tribal members, two are children of tribal members, and seven are other Native. Three hardworking ladies were among the graduates; Sela Kalama (Quinault), Verla Wapato (Yakama) and Pamela Dick (Colville). The desire to build a new skillset while creating new career pathways was the main motivator, as each of these three women left their home and children in order to reside within the Tulalip area for the duration of the intensive, sixteen-week pre-apprenticeship construction trades program 

As far as we know, the TVTC program, which is managed by the Tulalip TERO, 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 sixteen-week program provides 501-hours of hands on instruction, strength building exercise, and construction skills that can last a lifetime. In addition, students are trained and awarded certifications in flagging, first aid/CPR, and OSHA 10-hour safety training. Also, students receive certification in the scissor lift, boom lift, industrial fork lift, and powder-actuated tools. Upon completion, each graduate’s diligent training is rewarded with a wide-range of new employment opportunities as they navigate the construction trades career path. 

  “I took this class to better my work experience, gain new skills, and become more comfortable with interviews,” said Tulalip tribal member and now TVTC graduate, Izzy Wolftail. “My favorite part of the TVTC experience was making new friends from different tribes and working side-by-side with them to complete our tiny home project. I plan on bettering my future and the Tribe with my new skills.”

TVTC pre-apprenticeship 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 and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“This particular group of students was just tremendous,” described instructor Mark Newland during the graduation ceremony. “They came prepared and ready to work every single day. Each student was eager to learn and they worked really well with one another. It was a pleasure being their instructor.”

Under the supervision of Mark and co-instructor Billy Burchett, spring quarter students constructed four tiny homes as their final class project. These houses, which are approximately 120-square-feet in size, are the first batch of tiny homes that will be staying on the reservation, with plans for them to provide shelter for homeless tribal members. The insulated houses will be a major upgrade for their soon-to-be residents as they offer electricity, heat, and, most importantly, a measure of stability.

“Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors requested this TVTC cohort build the first four tiny houses for the Tribe. The Board provided the materials and the class built the houses,” explained Lynne Bansemer, TERO Coordinator. “According to instructor Mark Newland these were the best home that have been built to date by our students. We feel the reason is because they were built with love. Bringing this home has meant so much for the TERO and TVTC staff, but our students knew they were building for potential family and friends. What a difference this made!”

Beyond construction skills, several students, who are also tribal members, reached major milestones during the pre-apprenticeship program. Quinton Hill retrieved his driver’s license, while Carter Paul and Hayden Cepa both put in the work necessary to be awarded their high school diploma. 

“For persons on the path to recovery, we have seen them find success during their time as TVTC students and beyond,” added Lynne. “This program introduces them to so many new experiences, shows them their unique individual strengths, and builds their confidence to new heights. We have had families reunited and people find the success they have hoped for because they are able to see daily how strong and capable they are.”

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