Tulalip Pride Walk celebrates LGBTQ community

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The Tulalip Youth Council hosted the very first Pride Walk in the Tulalip-Marysville community on September 29. Over one-hundred citizens gathered at the Francis J. Sheldon Gymnasium to celebrate and show love and support to the LGBTQ community. As people began to arrive, a group of youngsters raised a rainbow colored flag on the pole located outside the gym. Meanwhile on the inside, participants constructed a number of signs that read messages such as Love Wins and Love is Love.  

Participants began their two-mile trek from the gym to the four-way intersection located in front of the Tulalip Bingo Hall and Quil Ceda Village administration. With miniature pride flags and their posters proudly displayed overhead, the community members were met with an overwhelming response from local drivers on their daily commute, who emphatically honked their horns as they passed the crowd. Tribal members and local leaders showcased large smiles during the walk, happy to support their two-spirited loved ones. 

“This is important and it’s been a long time coming,” says Tulalip Youth Services Education Coordinator, Jessica Bustad. “September is back to school time and a lot of students who identify as LGBTQ feel uncomfortable and wonder if people are going to judge them. So the Youth Council wanted to show their support to their peers in the school system and show that they should feel safe and respected. I feel like there are a lot of people who are still stuck with their judgments against the LGTBQ community, so we want to show our support for those students and community members. It’s needed to prevent depression, suicide, bullying. If the community and everyone sees we’re in support of it, hopefully more people will start to show support too.”

Jessica explained that the Youth Council was inspired to begin the Pride Walk back in June during national pride month. Thanks to a few months of planning and organizing, the walk was a great success. A large turnout of youth showed that this is an important issue amongst the future generations as they continue to build each other up and encourage their friends to be who they are.

The Seattle Clear Sky Native Youth Council of the Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA) traveled north to show solidarity with the Tulalip Youth Council and the LGBTQ community. The Clear Sky Youth Council previously wrote a resolution in support of two-spirited individuals and wants to continue offering that support at marches and rallies. 

“We just wanted to come and show our support,” says Clear Sky Youth Council member, Asia Gellein. “I really like seeing everyone come together to support the LGBTQ Natives, it’s heartwarming seeing all this love for our two-spirited brothers and sisters.”

After the walk, the community met once again in the gym. This time, however, the walkers enjoyed pizza and good conversation before participating in a jam session to close out what may go down as a historic day for the Tulalip and Marysville community.

“What inspired me to do this was my own personal experience, being two-spirited, and how I was treated not only by strangers but my own family,” says Tulalip Youth Council member, Elizabeth Edelman. “It’s important to bring the community together and raise awareness because I know a lot of two-spirited people out here who struggle in school and fitting in with society, so I think raising awareness is the thing to do for our youth. I thought it was a successful day and I’m really thankful people showed up on their own time to help raise awareness. Bringing the young ones together, teaching them what this is all about is important. There were a lot of cool people here today, it was very inspiring and I’m so thankful for it.”

The Tulalip Youth Council looks to continue the Pride Walk annually, but wishes to make the event coincide with national pride month in June. For further details, please contact Tulalip Youth Services at (360) 716-4909.

Tulalip movers and shakers form Native youth council

by Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News 

 

Chena Fryberg announces her candidacy for the Youth Council media coordinator.Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

Chena Fryberg announces her candidacy for the Youth Council media coordinator.
Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

 

Native youth across Indian country are assembling to make a difference in their communities. They are known as the Gen-I movers and what they say will be heard by top-level leaders in Washington D.C. The goal is to get youth involved in their communities and to remove barriers to education and health opportunities, while growing leaders for future generations.

Generation Indigenous was announced at the 2015 United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) midyear conference. Issued by President Obama this call to action, “is the first step in engaging a broad network of people interested in addressing the issues facing Native youth and creating a platform through which Native youth can access information about opportunities and resources, and have their voices and positive contributions highlighted and elevated.”

Tulalip youth have answered the challenge by creating the first ever Tulalip Youth Council. The thirteen-member council elected their officers on Wednesday, May 13, 2015.

Officers include co-chairs Andrew Davis and Mikaylee Pablo, vice-chairs Kayah George and Jlynn Joseph, secretary Ruth Pablo, treasure/ fundraiser coordinator Isabel Gomez, event coordinator Keryn Parks, media coordinator Cyena Fryberg, recruitment coordinator Tahera Mealing, and junior co-chairs Arnold Reeves and Krislyn Parks. Senior advisors are Santana Shopbell and Deyamonta Diaz. Each officer will hold a six-month term to establish the council. Elections will be held in November for one-year terms.

“This is something we have been looking forward to for many years,” said Marie Zackuse, Tulalip Tribes Board Secretary. “We want to hear from you. We know what we think might be important to you but we want to hear what is important to you, and through this we can.”

Many youth running for council mentioned wanting equal rights to opportunities and expressed a desire to support all youth in having a voice on the council.

“I want every single voice to be heard and I want us to be the voice of change in the Tribe, not just talk about it, but be that change,” said Kayah George, vice-chair.

“I speak from my heart and I want to see my community change in a positive way. I want to break the chain in my family and graduate from high school,” said Mikaylee Pablo, who encouraged her peers in her election speech to prove people wrong about negative reputations. Pablo was elected as co-chair along with Andrew Davis, who said he wants to get youth involved with community events and have a youth presence at ceremonies.

Mikaylee Pablo, the new Tulalip Youth Council female co-chair, listens as other candidates to the youth council discuss changes they would like to see happen in their community.Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

Mikaylee Pablo, the new Tulalip Youth Council female co-chair, listens as other candidates to the youth council discuss changes they would like to see happen in their community.
Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

 

While no projects have been decided on yet, youth will meet regularly and participate in national challenges such as working in their community and volunteering with local organizations or schools. Meetings will be scheduled at a later date for the council to brainstorm with youth on how to address issues of concern in the community.

As part of the national Gen-I challenge, youth will document their community efforts and projects through photos and video, which will be used to share their stories at the National Native Youth Network. Youth will also have the opportunity to represent their tribal communities at the first ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering in D.C. this summer.

“You all are future leaders,” said Zackuse. “You are role models and we are excited to see what you achieve.”

 

For more information on the Tulalip Youth Council please contact Jessica Bustad, Tulalip Youth Services Education Coordinator at 425-280-8705 or Natasha Fryberg at 425-422-9276.

 

Contact Brandi N. Montreuil, bmontreuil@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov