Annual Color Run celebrates life

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Three years ago, Tulalip Youth Services and the Marysville School District teamed up to bring Unity Month to the community during the month of October. Jam-packed with exciting activities like movie nights, field trips to the corn maze and the pumpkin patch, school assemblies and pumpkin carving, Unity Month successfully sparked a lot of community involvement which afforded Youth Services the opportunity to talk about serious issues that are prevalent in many modern day Native communities. 

Youth Services and the school district decided to plan each week of the month with trainings and presentations focused on four issues that the youth of Native America are struggling with in today’s society; suicide, bullying domestic violence and substance abuse. Due to tremendous success, Tulalip Youth Services continues to celebrate Unity Month annually, adding new improvements each year. 

While spreading awareness and providing prevention tools for serious topics, Youth Services also brings a positive outlook to each of these issues by celebrating life, promoting kindness and healthy relationships as well as participating in National Red Ribbon Week, an alcohol, drug and violence prevention campaign. With each week comes a new trendy hashtag for participants to use when posting photos and videos to social media while attending Unity Month events. 

This October began with #LifeisSacred week, kids learned that their lives matter and that they’re needed here by their families and friends. Youth Services partnered once again with the Community Health Department to bring QPR trainings to the community. QPR is an acronym for question, persuade and refer, the three actions you must take if someone is showing suicidal tendencies. Question if they are planning to harm themselves, persuade them to seek help and refer them to the appropriate resource. The class also teaches participants how to recognize the warning signs a person contemplating suicide may be exemplifying. Tulalip leader, Verna Hill, also spoke to the kids at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary about how sacred they are to the future of Tulalip. 

The suicide rate continues to escalate throughout Native communities every year. Eighteen states agreed to participate in a report conducted by the United States Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That report showed that there are 21.5 suicides per every 1,000 Native Americans, over three and a half times higher than the national average. And according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the US with 45,965 suicides each year. Suicide is also the eighth leading cause of death in the state of Washington where on average one person dies by suicie every eight hours. Native communities see significantly more lives taken by suicide than any other race in America which is why it’s important to openly discuss this issue, especially with the youth. 

Tulalip Youth Services ended #LifeisSacred week in colorful fashion with the extremely popular annual Say Something Color Run. A little rain didn’t stop the community from showing out and ending their Friday with a mile run from the Tulalip Community Health Department to the Kenny Moses Building on the afternoon of October 5. With stylish, protective eyewear and clothes they didn’t mind getting dirty, the community ran through multiple checkpoints along Marine Drive where they were blasted with colorful chalk, resulting in tie-dyed runners reaching the finish line. 

“It’s a fun time to celebrate living and it’s for a good cause,” says Tulalip Youth Services Executive Assistant, Danielle Fryberg. “The Say Something Color Run is part of the Sandy Hook Promise, which is preventing gun violence, suicide and just bringing awareness. If you know someone whose struggling, we ask that you speak up and say something, even if you’re just reaching out to say hello. We want to help our community, our youth and adults who are struggling and let them know there’s always somewhere they can go and someone they can talk to.”

Youth Services has more fun, educational events planned for the Tulalip community for the remainder of Unity Month, including cultural events each week and Halloween-inspired activities. To view the entire Unity Month events and activities schedule, be sure to check out the Tulalip Youth Services Facebook page.

 

Tulalip Coastal Jam honors Indigenous People

“To me, Indigenous means being proud of who you are and where you come from; remembering your ancestry and all that they’ve done to get us to where we are right now; and to educate our youth to be strong as Native People and to love themselves so our culture and traditions stay alive.” 

– Denise Hatch-Anderson, Tulalip tribal member

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

For the past four years, the greater Seattle area has been celebrating the beautiful culture of the people who lived off of this land since time immemorial. Every second Monday in Octber, communities throughout western Washington host a variety of events to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which officially replaced Columbus Day back in 2014. Indigenous Peoples’ Day aims to provide Washingtonians with accurate information about the series of events that occurred after Columbus reached our lands in 1492. Many communities nationwide have joined Seattle and now celebrate Indigenous culture every year. 

To start off the second week of Tulalip Unity Month, #KindnessWeek, Youth Services hosted a cultural gathering at the Greg Williams Court on the evening of Indigenous Peoples Day. The gym was packed and the bleachers were filled as people waited in anticipation for the festivities to begin. The youth proudly led Tulalip to the floor with loud drumbeats and booming chants in a song paying respect to the four directions. It didn’t take long for the spectators to become participants as the bleachers emptied and people joined Tulalip on the floor for a large coastal jam. 

“Today I’m happy to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. That whole Christopher Columbus Day, we don’t recognize that,” says Tulalip tribal member and Tulalip Youth Services Activities Coordinator, Josh Fryberg. “The main thing is we want to honor our ancestors and make them proud and continue to set a cultural path, continue on with our treaty rights for the future generations to come. And we want to encourage the youth to continue to learn your culture each and every day and continue to fight for it so that it’s here for the future generations. Tonight, I believe we have Puyallup, Lummi, Swinomish and some from Canada, just a good mix of many tribes. We’re blessed, it shows the unity within all of our tribes and all of our bands.”

Native families created a circle around the gym and took turns performing their traditional songs and dances. A few songs were known to all of the coastal families in which more dancers hit the floor and the words were sung at a much louder volume by the entire crowd, causing that goosebump sensation during a beautiful moment for the culture. The youth ruled the night. Kids of all ages, infants to teens, sang their hearts out and danced all evening. After performing a song, the Tulalip youth put down their drums and rattles and joined the dancers on the floor until it was their turn to sing again, repeating this cycle for over two hours.

“It makes me feel good, it makes my heart warm because this is something that we needed,” says Tulalip tribal member and Marysville School District Native Liaison, Denise Hatch-Anderson. “October is always hard for our youth, not just because of the change in seasons but because of what happened four years ago. October has been a hard transition for our teens ever since. To see our teens here, knowing they’re going to get the healing they need from the songs tonight warms my heart and it’s going to uplift them as well as our tiny ones and our elders.”

Tulalip Youth Services will continue hosting a variety of activities throughout October for Unity Month including many fun autumn themed events that bring attention to issues such as bullying, domestic violence and substance abuse. For more information, please visit the Tulalip Youth Services Facebook page.

 

Jr. Hawks make list for best teams in WA State

Junior Hawks 89ers

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

We’re midway through the North Sound Junior Football season, and two Tulalip Junior Hawks teams are garnering state-wide attention. The latest update to the Western Washington Junior Football power rankings have the fourth-grade level 89ers (4-1) ranked 8th in state, while the seventh-grade level Bantams (5-0) are all the way up to 4th. 

Both teams excellent play on the field and growing hype, as far as championship expectations go, has led to extra attention from opposing coaching staffs. It’s often the case lately that coaching staffs of soon-to-be opponents are coming out to video record the Junior Hawks’ games in order to scout formations and particular players. It’s respect of the highest honor really; youth football teams playing so well that extra time and attention is being given to them like a high school or college program. 

On Saturday, October 6, the Tulalip 89ers hosted Oak Harbor in a week six matchup. Coming into this game, the 89ers defense has been tremendous. In fact, they’ve only allowed one team to score all season. That level of defensive play would continue and overwhelm Oak Harbor.

The 89er defense was relentless, putting a lock on Oak Harbor’s offense in every way. Meanwhile the 89er offense was focused on using their ground game to move the ball up and down the field. In the red zone, running back Jesse Voss ran in a touchdown to give his team their first lead at 6-0. Later in the game, once again in the red zone, quarterback J.J. Gray scrambled for a touchdown of his own to push their lead to 13-0.

The defensive would hold it down from there. Once again holding their opponent to zero points, the Junior Hawks’ record moved to (5-1) with the 13-0 victory. Bryson Fryberg, one the leaders on defense, had several QB pressures and several key tackles during the game. Bryson shared it felt good to hold Oak Harbor scoreless, but that his favorite moments were the hard tackles he dealt out. 

Following the victory Coach Omar Gray said, “Our kids stepped up big against a quality opponent. Offensively and defensively our players are really focusing on playing as a team and that allows us to play great football.”

 

JR Hawks Bantam

Later that Saturday, the undefeated Junior Hawks Bantam squad took the field in a matchup with Arlington at Arlington High School. The Bantams are led by a high-octane offense that averages nearly 45 points per game, while their opponents only average a single touchdown.

“The most important thing for us as a coaching staff is to make sure our boys play for each other and as a family,” shared Coach James Madison prior to kick-off. “We’ve had several key players go down with injury, but it’s up to our players to step up and show the quality of our depth.”

Tulalip took it to Arlington early and often. At halftime they led 26-0 and piled on several more offensive highlights in route to a 34-0 victory. Wide receiver Jayden Madison led the Junior Hawks with three touchdowns. After the win he said, “I thought it would be a closer game, but our passing attack was just too good. My favorite play was when Gaylan threw me a perfect pass in the corner of the end zone and I caught it over two defenders.” 

With two more regular season games before playoffs start, both the Junior Hawks Bantam and 89ers teams are playing great football and keeping their eyes on the prize: a Junior Football League Championship.

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.

TERO grads join forces with Snohomish County Public Works to benefit salmon recovery

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Salmon habitat restoration, honoring treaty rights, and tribal members showcasing successful employment within the construction trades are themes currently in action at an on-reservation construction project. Heavy construction equipment has owned Marine Drive between 19th Ave NE and 23rd Ave NE since September 10, while Snohomish County Public Works replaces a poorly conditioned culvert with one that is fish-friendly by design.

A culvert is basically an underground pipe that allows water to pass beneath roads and other obstructions. The Marine Drive culvert carries water flow from Hibulb Creek to the Snohomish River estuary, which is a fish bearing stream. 

According to Snohomish County officials, the existing 24-inch corrugated metal culvert under Marine Drive is in poor condition and undersized. The current culvert is a fish barrier, while the new larger box culvert will meet fish passage requirements.

“Originally engineers designed road crossing culverts to maximize the capacity to carry water with the smallest possible pipe size. This was efficient and economical,” stated Snohomish County representatives. “A fish-friendly design approach is a culvert wide enough and sloped properly to allow the stream channel to act naturally.”

On June 11 of this year, the Supreme Court split a decision resulting in the enforcement of a lower court order requiring Washington State to pay for the removal of over 900 culverts that have become clogged or degraded to the point of blocking salmon migration. 

It was a decision that had been passing through the courts for 17 years. The U.S. government sued Washington back in 2001, on behalf of 21 Northwest tribes, to force the state to replace culverts blocking fish passage with structures that allow fish to pass through. Because the pipe-like culverts block salmon from reaching their spawning grounds, they deprive the tribes of fishing rights guaranteed by treaty.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that the treaties promised tribes there would always be salmon to harvest, and that the State has a duty to protect those fish and their habitat,” said Lorraine Loomis (Swinomish), chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “The ruling will open hundreds of miles of high quality salmon habitat that will produce hundreds of thousands more salmon annually for harvest by everyone.”

Snohomish County officials also point out, “The ability of salmon and steelhead to swim upstream to their traditional spawning grounds, while allowing juvenile salmon to move upstream and downstream unimpeded for rearing is vital to their recovery across Washington.”

This specific culvert replacement is vital to salmon recovery and habitat restoration on the Tulalip Reservation, and it’s of particular significance to three TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC) graduates who are part of the construction team.

Jay Davis, Jess Fryberg and Brando Jones graduated from TVTC before starting their construction careers.

Jess Fryberg (Tulalip), Brando Jones (Tulalip) and Jay Davis (Sioux/Turtle Mountain Chippewa) all trained in the construction trades at TVTC and graduated with hopes of pursuing a career pathway that was previously unavailable. Now, each is earning prevailing wages and gaining lifelong skills while working on a project beneficial to protecting treaty rights and salmon recovery.

“Construction has opened up a variety of work for me and each site I’ve worked on teaches me something new,” shared Jess, a 24-year-old tribal member. “Working on this culvert project on the Rez has been a great opportunity. Plus, a long time down the road I’ll be able to tell my kids I helped build it.”

For 27-year-old, single father Brando Jones, he moved from Tacoma to Tulalip two years ago just to have an opportunity to change his future by attending TVTC classes. It was a big move that is now paying off huge dividends as he won sole custody of his son, Dakota, and is building a solid foundation for a career in the construction trades.

“Being able to work on my own reservation while building a future for me and my son is such a good feeling,” shared Brando. “The fact that this replacement culvert will help salmon and protects our treaty rights is a bonus all on its own.”

The Marine Drive culvert construction is expected to complete in the next few weeks, while its positive impact to local salmon habitat restoration is expected to last generations.

House Bill 2951 to increase resources for finding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

During the final months of 2017, Washington State Republican Representative, Gina Mosbrucker, of the 14th Legislative District chose a DVD rental from Redbox one evening for a relaxing movie night. Had she picked a comedy or romance she may have missed her calling, but she decided on a film titled Wind River and was taken on an emotional journey into the world that is unfortunately a haunting reality for many Indigenous families across the country, and even a bigger issue in Canada. 

The powerful movie follows a professional tracker and an FBI agent throughout the Wind River reservation in Wyoming as they try to uncover a crime when a young, missing Indigenous girl’s body is found dead on the reservation. The film gives insight to the epidemic that is taking away our mothers, sisters, aunties and cousins and how jurisdiction, lack of resources and underreporting causes many missing and murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) cases to go unresolved. 

The end of Wind River concluded with a message that shook Rep. Mosbrucker to her core. It read, ‘While missing person statistics are compiled for every other demographic, none exist for Native American women.’ With that statistic on her mind, she began to conduct her own research and found that was indeed true and felt the strong urge to help. A short time after watching the movie and learning about MMIW, Gina was at her office at the Washington State Capital on the morning of January 20, when hundreds of Indigenous activists marched on the Capital to bring awareness to the epidemic. 

“There are things in life that keep coming back to your mind over and over and you know you need to work on it,” says Representative Mosbrucker. “For me, this is my calling. There were repeated messages to me from the movie Wind River and the message at the end of the movie is not acceptable. After further research I found that was true and I also had a tribal girlfriend from high school call me up and she told me I have to fix this. I think the final straw was the large group of Native Americans who were in full tribal dress with drums in the middle of the Capital. Afterwards, I was in my office working late and I couldn’t get it out of my head and I said, I’m called to do this work. Senator McCoy’s staff was nice enough to introduce me to a tribal member who happened to be in his office that night. She came to my office and shared her story. We spent an hour discussing the challenges, how she’s been trying for a decade to get help.”

She began working immediately and wrote HB2951, getting the bill approved days after the MMIW March on the Capital and pulling in tribal citizens at the last minute to share their testimonies of lost loved ones. The bill went through the long process of becoming law, reaching the senate floor where it was nearly passed unanimously and shortly after, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed the document, making the bill law back in June. HB2951 is essentially a study that requires Washington State Patrol to work with local tribes and tribal law enforcement to increase resources for reporting and identifying MMIW. 

The first phase of this study was initiated on September 27 at the Tulalip Administration building during the Washington State Patrol Tribal Community Outreach Tour. State Patrol officers, Washington State legislators and the Indigenous community of Tulalip met to discuss HB2951 and determine ways to help find MMIW and put an end to the heart wrenching epidemic.

“I am a Tulalip member so this is an important subject for us and we need to get to some resolution,” said Washington State Senator John McCoy. “Under the federal law VAWA (Violence Against Women Act), Tulalip are one of the three tribes that are part of that pilot project so we have the resources to help make this happen. It’s time to gather information and get something done.”

For three hours the committee spoke to the community about MMIW and HB2951 as well as ongoing cases that are happening now in Indian Country. Citizens learned that nearly 90% of Indigenous women have experienced some sort of abuse in their lifetime, whether it was verbal, mental or physical. Another shocking statistic conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that over half of the Native American population of women have been sexually abused, and out of those cases, over 70% claimed the offense was committed by a non-tribal member. On many reservations, the chances of a women experiencing abuse are significantly higher, around 10%, than the national average. 

The group also brainstormed ideas on how to get all tribes on board to help find these missing cases around Washington. A problem the committee has run into is tribal cooperation from family members, board members and law enforcement. Due to a variety of cultural reasons and perhaps lack of trust, tribes are opting to handle missing cases on their own, unless the case is ruled a homicide in which the FBI takes over. The groups current goal is to present an estimated number of Washington MMIW to the state by June 2019.

Tribes are also limited in resources as well as access to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the FBI’s database, which includes records of missing persons. Many times a missing person case will not be entered into NCIC due to limited access and the fact the person is over eighteen. Many people aren’t flagged as missing because adults often take solo journeys to escape the everyday grind and there is no evidence of foul play. 

“I wanted to share some current information about NCIC in Washington State,” says Washington State Patrol Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit Manager, Carri Gordon. “Right now we have 1,841 missing person records active records in Washington. Of those 1,841 about 90% of those missing persons are runaway youth who run and return. Of those 1,841, 98 of those records were coded ethnicity-wise as being Native American. That’s assuming that the ethnicity was reported correctly and entered correctly.”

Carri went on to explain that investigators are not required to indicate the victims race and more than not investigators confuse Indian Americans for Native Americans, so the number of missing Indigenous women in Washington maybe a lot higher than the 98 reported in the NCIC. If this is true in the State of Washington, thousands of cases could be very well underreported nationwide. 

In 2015, Canada conducted a similar study and were able to close many cases but hundreds of women are still missing and hundreds of murders are still unsolved. Canada believes that their true number of MMIW cases are over 4,000 and experts believe the United States is close behind, ranging between 1,000-4,000 cases nationwide. 

“This series is the first step to make sure we’re reaching out to each tribe individually or whichever way is most respectful,” says Mosbrucker. “Whether it’s a group convening or individually, we’re willing to do whatever that work is to report back a number to Washington State. I can’t fix congress, I can’t fix this issue nationally, but I can get us a number in Washington State that will serve as a model to fix it across congress and throughout the nation.”

The Washington State Patrol Tribal Community Outreach Tour will continue over the course of the next few months with the next meetings at the Snoqualmie Casino on October 15, Yakama Convention Center on October 29, and Little Creek Casino on November 8. For more information and to view HB2951 please visit www.leg.wa.gov

Wellness garden offers sense of community and strength of Cedar

Wellness Garden and Trail

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

In the midst of fast-paced urban Tulalip, there exists a lush, quiet oasis. A special place that invigorates the spirit and awakens our long-held connection with nature. Located next to the health clinic, this hidden gem is the Wellness Garden and Trail.

Carefully cultivated and crafted over the last few years, the Wellness Garden and Trail has come to represent community engagement at its finest. Veronica Leahy, Diabetes Program Coordinator for the Tulalip Health System, and her dedicated team of health-conscious staff members have been instrumental in fostering the sense of community a wellness garden can offer.

“Our goal has always been to make everyone feel welcomed, needed and valued,” reflected Veronica on the success of garden day classes routinely hosted at the Wellness Garden. “Our diabetes prevention team is greatly appreciated; everyone gives their all for our events. I feel humbled to be a part of the effort to teach people about healthy foods and increased activity in ways the community connects with. This is the essence of a proactive, holistic approach to diabetes care and prevention.”

A community of expert and novice gardeners made up of tribal members of all ages routinely attends the monthly garden day classes. Over the past planting season, the group tended the soil and grew vegetables (kale, squash, zucchini, cabbage), edible flowers (sunflowers, lavender, nettles), an assortment of seasoning herbs, and berries galore. Raspberries, strawberries, elderberries, and salmonberries, just to name a few, have all taken to the Wellness Garden’s planting beds and have shared their sweet nectar via healthy snacks and meals.

During summer’s final Saturday, the community gardeners came together for this season’s last garden day walk and gathering. There were nearly 30 community members altogether, varying in age and expertise, who enjoyed getting their hands dirty by weeding and pruning the garden, before harvesting apples and pears aplenty. A memorable experienced was shared when the group planted several baby Cedar trees. 

“It’s been such a lovely day,” shared honorary tribal member, Father Pat Twohy. “Everybody came together with good spirits to work in the garden. There was so much happiness shared while we picked apples, pulled weeds, and especially when we planted Cedars. To top it off, the cooks provided us with a lovely breakfast and magnificent lunch. Altogether, it was a happy day and I’m so grateful for everyone who made this possible.”

Gardening is a great way to incorporate the power of ancient wisdom and traditions while cultivating food to bring about growth and healing. There is tranquility in the sounds of nature, the smell of fresh earth, and the warmth from the sun. Most gardeners agree that they feel a sense of calm wash over them as they work with the plants and flowers. Some even are reminded of a time not too long ago, before cell phones and the internet ruled the day.

“It warms the heart to see so many happy people in one place,” beamed Tulalip elder Virginia Carpenter. “I just love gardening, and it’s so great to see the younger generation come out and be a part of this. Seeing families, parents with their kids, out here having a good time it reminds me of the olden days; when kids used to go with their parents everywhere and people were happy to be out of the house.”

Of the 30 community member who attended the September 22 garden day, several were first-time tribal member participants. They jumped right in to the garden activities and assisted their elders whenever possible. 

The youngest and longest attending tribal member, 15-year-old Kaiser Moses who has been attending gardening classes since he was just 4-years-old, was seen teaching others how to plant a variety of crops and how to best harvest the ready fruits. Kaiser reiterated our connection with nature by sharing, “the plants and trees are alive, and it’s up to us to take care of them and keep them healthy.”

“I stood back and listened to Kaiser’s words and teaching and my heart was so full, it was hard to hold the tears back,” added Veronica. “I watched our elders work with the new tribal members and saw real joy in their faces; this is my motivation for the garden days. Every bit of effort and time is worth it to see and feel the community effort shared by all. It has always been and continues to be a very special time for whoever comes and joins us.”

Following several mindful hours in the Wellness Garden, the group organized indoors for a delicious meal cooked by culinary chef, Britt Reed. There were pumpkins and pumpkin carving kits given to everyone, along with a variety of raffle prizes that included gardening supplies and cooking utensils. 

This upcoming winter, an all-new greenhouse project will be opening to the community which will allow the gardening activities to continue inside and more classes to be taught around food preservation. Be on the lookout for future flyers detailing this project on Tulalip News and Tulalip News Facebook page.

Tulalip welcomes new police chief

On September 24, Police Chief Chris Sutter was formally introduced to lead the Tulalip Police Department.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

After longtime Police Chief Carlos Echevarria resigned back on December 4, 2017, the Board of Directors named Commander Sherman Pruitt interim chief. Since that time, the process to fill the post permanently was ongoing, but it has finally come to a close. On September 24, Police Chief Chris Sutter was formally introduced to lead the Tulalip Police Department.

“The Tulalip Tribes is pleased to announce that Chris Sutter is joining the Tulalip Police Department as our new Chief of Police. Following a comprehensive search for the right candidate, Chief Sutter’s experience and background quickly rose to the top of our candidate pool. We welcome Chief Sutter and his family to our community,” stated Chairwoman Marie Zackuse.

Chief Sutter met with syəcəb staff for an interview detailing his past experience as a law enforcement officer and what his immediate vision is for leading the tribal police department. What follows is an unedited transcript of that interview.

Q: The first thing many are wondering is what is your law enforcement background?

A: I come to Tulalip with 32-years of law enforcement experience. The last 26 years has been with the City of Vancouver in southwest Washington, where I served as assistant chief of police the past 10 years.

Q: Please describe your experience working with Native communities?

A: My experience working with Native communities is more on the personal family side. I’m married to an enrolled tribal member of the Navajo nation. For 38-years, we’ve enjoyed a very happy family and close relations with our tribal family. Also, in my previous role as assistant chief, I held a monthly diversity advisory meeting with representatives of the diverse Vancouver community which included Native American representation. 

Q: Uprooting from Vancouver, will you be living in Tulalip now?

A: Yes, I found a rental home here in the community and am very much looking forward to being part of the community. As the school year completes, my wife and daughter will joining me here in Tulalip.

Q: What are some of the goals you’d like to achieve over the next couple years with the Tulalip Police Department?

A: I have many goals and a high-level vision for moving the department forward. Number one is to make sure Tulalip is a safe and secure place for families, children and the elders. We’re going to start by eradicating the drug problem in the neighborhoods. We’ll also be working on community outreach to make sure people know that their police department is here to serve them. In addition, we’ll be looking into ways we can best serve the fish and wildlife branch of the department to ensure tribal sovereignty and treaty rights are always respected and upheld.

Q: Our last few police chiefs have tried to tackle the opioid epidemic. What are some ideas you bring to the table on this issue?

A: Number one is we can’t allow people to be selling drugs to our tribal members and anyone else in the community. We have to crack down on those who are profiting on this horrible trade that causes such devastating impacts to individuals and families. We’ll be implementing a very robust narcotics taskforce that’s going to take down the dealers. In my opinion, the first step is to go after those people who are bringing the drugs into our community. 

Q: How do you see the Tulalip Police Department engaging with the community going forward?

A: Community engagement is as simple as directing all the officers to make sure they are taking the time to get out of their cars in order to walk and talk with people we serve. Making face-to-face, personal connections is the first step to building a better relationship. We are also going to find opportunities to sit with tribal elders and receive their guidance and wisdom, ensuring we have good open lines of communication. Additional outreach will involve our youth. I strongly believe the youth are our future and the more we outreach, mentor, and guide them to make good life choices the better the outcomes.

Q: Describe your experience working with tribal police?

A: During my time in Vancouver, I acquired experience working with the Cowlitz Reservation and their newly created police department under former Tulalip police chief Goss. Through that connection we built a quality working relationship and provided assistance to each other when needed.

Q: What’s your message to the Tulalip community?
A: I feel blessed to be here to serve the people. My message is we are here to serve you. We want to make sure you always feel welcome and comfortable to make contact with our dedicated staff of officers and civilians. My commitment to the community is we are going to do our very best to make your neighborhoods secure and to make Tulalip Reservation a place residents are very proud to live. 

Protecting our Salish Sea, the salmon and the southern resident orcas

Jessica Janes helps clean up the coast.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip news

The traditional Tulalip story, the Seal Hunting Brothers told by Martha Lamont, is the story of two young Tulalip men who lived at Priest Point. The brothers would travel the Salish Sea hunting for seals, salmon and shellfish for the entire community. The brothers prepared and delivered plates of fresh seafood to the elders as well as to their sister and her family, informing their sister to save some food for her husband, who was a carver and often away from home. The sister, however, disregarded her brother’s advice and distributed her husband’s share amongst herself and her children.

When the carver returned home, there was no food in sight. He asked his wife if her brothers dropped off any food for the family while he was away, to which she replied no. Upset at this news, the carver constructed a lifelike seal carved from cedar and enchanted the structure with magic to trick the brothers. They took the bait. The brothers harpooned the cedar seal statue while on a hunt and were pulled deep into the ocean only to wash ashore days later, miles away from home. Realizing what their brother-in-law did, they began their long journey home where they were presumed to be dead.

Upon their return to Tulalip, the brothers shared their story with their family and decided because of the complexities of the situation, they should live away from the tribe. They chose to begin a new life upon the waters that long provided food for their community, the Salish Sea, and became killer whales. Their descendants are said to be the southern resident orcas that still frequent the Salish Sea waters searching for Chinook salmon.

Similar stories of the brothers are shared within Indigenous communities all along the waterways of the Salish Sea, comprised of the waters now known as the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound and Strait of Georgia. As the story goes, the brothers chose to stay close to home and often provided seafood to the Coast Salish peoples in times of famine.  The story teaches many important values of the Northwest tribes as well as explains our strong connection with the orca, who is often honored within the culture through stories and artwork.

The southern resident orcas are intelligent, sociable mammals who share a lot of the same values and traditions of the Coast Salish people. For instance, the southern resident orcas are known to perform ceremonial practices during social gatherings when all three pods, J, K and L, meet up, which is known as a superpod. The most recent superpod was held last week in the waters near Vancouver Island where footage of the gathering was caught by the locals and tourists of Victoria, British Columbia. The orcas also travel with the same pod for their entire life, relying on each other’s strengths within a multi-generational family, much like many Native communities.

Another similar interest we share with the orcas is our love for salmon. The importance of salmon to Coast Salish people has been well documented over the years and is integral to each tribe’s way of life. The tribes of Washington State were guaranteed fishing rights when signing the treaties with the United States Government in exchange for land. Since the Fish Wars, the Boldt Decision, and even up until today, tribes exercising that right have been met with a number of challenges.

Over recent years, the salmon population has seen a dramatic decline. A number of manmade dams and blocked culverts are preventing salmon from swimming upstream during spawning season and less salmon are returning each year. In fact, many tribes opted not to fish this season in hopes more salmon will spawn and increase salmon population. Pollution remains another constant concern for aquatic life in the Salish Sea with chemicals and waste pouring into the waters from storm water runoff and local ferries traveling the straits. The lack of salmon has caused tribes to stray from their traditional diets and therefore more tribal members are faced with health concerns.

The same can be said about the southern resident orcas. The lack of salmon and polluted waterways caused some serious health concerns for the whales including reproduction. The orcas are crying out for help. This past summer’s heartbreaking story about southern resident orca, Tahlequah (J35), carrying her dead newborn calf for seventeen days on a ‘tour of grief’ caused tears across the entire nation. And the recent proclamation of Scarlet’s (J50) death is further evidence that we need to take immediate action.

In the sixties and seventies, a third of the southern resident population were hunted at a young age and held captive at marine life amusement parks like SeaWorld. Orcas often live well past their eighties, but unfortunately all but one of the orcas captured have died at a young age. Tokitae, the last remaining poached orca, resides at the Miami Seaquarium and the Lummi tribe has been fighting for years to return the whale to the Salish Sea.

As a result of starvation, theme park poachings and pollution, the southern resident orcas were placed on the endangered species list in 2005 after a significant drop in population of nearly twenty orcas over the course of a decade. Since then, the number of orcas has been steadily declining. With the passing of Scarlet, only seventy-four orcas remain.

Because of the recent news, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee established a southern resident orca task force whose main focus is orca protection and recovery. Members of the task force include representatives from Washington state, a handful of tribes and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The passing of both J35’s calf and J50 is opening up an important conversation about respecting Mother Earth and taking care of the environment. More and more citizens are participating at rallies in support of the salmon and orca such as the Festival of the Steh-Chass in Olympia and the Salmon Celebration in Seattle. The most recent effort united over thirty communities throughout Washington state and British Columbia.

September 15 marked International Coastal Cleanup day, where seaside communities participated in clearing their local beaches of any trash or harmful products. Communities of the Salish Sea, along with a number of non-profits like 350 and the Orca Network, banned together to tailor International Coastal Cleanup day to the Pacific Northwest communities by organizing Salish Sea Day of Action, which provides information and resources about the state of the Salish Sea, the southern resident orcas and the salmon habitat at the cleanup events.

Citizens of Tacoma, Port Townsend, Edmonds, Shoreline, Bellingham, Lopez Island and Mount Vernon, as well as Victoria and Vancouver, gathered in their respective hometowns to clean the beaches, offer prayer, honor and thank the water for its plentiful resources on the rainy Saturday morning.

“Today is a day of action for the Salish Sea and we wanted to join in,” says Amanda Colbert of the Orca Network at the Action for Orcas event in Mount Vernon. “It’s also International Costal Cleanup so there are quite a few events all up and down the coast with multiple organizations. Orca Network decided we wanted to be a part of this because, as you know, any trash, pesticides and chemicals that wind up in any of our rivers eventually leads to the ocean. I’ve run a beach cleanup once out here before and I just thought that this would be another wonderful opportunity to jump in and get the community on board.”

The Orca Network event attracted many participants and the sands of the Bayview State Park in Mount Vernon were trash free in no time. During the cleanup, attendees passionately spoke of protecting the environment and the southern resident orcas.

Ryan Rickerts, volunteer.

“The oceans are definitely in trouble,” says Ryan Rickerts of Bellingham. “Most of the planet is covered by water, it’s our source of everything. Coming here today is a way for me to connect and give back a little bit. The orcas are in real big trouble, so I wanted to be around likeminded people that care about the ocean, the orcas and wanted to do something to help. Hopefully we keep this up; good energy is building. With the orcas that have been dying, hopefully that creates a sense of urgency for people to get together. The Swinomish hosted the orca task force meeting a couple weeks ago and I think it’s good for people to come together to keep talking about it and try to find solutions. We have to take action and it helps to have conversations and get everybody at the same table because it’s going to take everyone.”

Tulalip tribal member and Water Protector, Kayah George, hosted a prayer service the day following Salish Sea Day of Action where she shared spiritual and cultural teachings about the water during Sunday worship at the Woodland Park Presbyterian Church.

“What concerns me about what’s happening in the Coast Salish Sea is the same thing that has been concerning my people for hundreds of years,” Kayah passionately expressed in a video leading up to Salish Sea Day of Action and her prayer service. “It is the disrespect. The utter and complete lack of respect for our brothers and sisters in the sea and for the sea itself. It’s not seen as a living thing; they see it as something that’s disposable.”

The number of supporters at the Salish Sea Day of Action events shows that people are beginning to listen to the calls for help by the beautiful coastal killer whales. And through a combined effort, we can all make a difference in protecting the orcas by restoring the salmon habitat, and that begins with the removal of dams, culvert repairs and environmental awareness.

“There are plenty of ways that people can start,” shares Amanda. “A lot of it is being focused on what you buy at the grocery stores. There are cleaner, greener products out there that are biodegradable. We have to move away from single use products. A lot of what was picked up here today was plastic wrappers, straws and cups that are only used once. So it’s helpful anytime anybody can pick up a water bottle or a green bag. If you don’t want to give up straws, there are companies making reusable metal or BPA-free plastic straws. What we treat our lawns with also has a huge impact. We get a lot of rain here so a lot of things end up in the storm drains. I’m thankful for all the volunteers that came out today and for the opportunity to reach and talk to people about our southern residents and what they’re going through.”

To stay up to date on the southern resident orcas, please visit www.OrcaNetwork.org or check out the Department of Ecology at www.ecology.wa.gov to find out more about the Orca Task Force, Salish Sea spills and cleanups, salmon recovery and upcoming meetings and events.

Tulalip community members trained in overdose awareness

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

A trail of signs was posted along Totem Beach Road leading to the Tulalip Dining Hall on Friday, August 31. Each sign displayed a single person silhouetted in purple, with the main Dining Hall sign saying, “Each nameless, faceless person represents a life lost to overdose.” Inside, the community gathered on International Overdose Awareness Day to remember lost loved ones, share personal stories and learn more about the opioid epidemic that has claimed more lives than the Vietnam War, in 2017 alone.  

In their second year hosting the annual International Overdose Awareness event, the Tulalip Community Health department united the people of Tulalip while shining light on a serious topic. The theme for this year’s event was Time to Pull Together and participants were invited to write personal messages to any friends or family members who lost their life due to an overdose, on large posters displaying traditional cedar paddles.  

“There was over 72,000 drug overdoses in the United States last year,” said Tulalip Interim Police Chief Sherman Pruitt to the group of attendees. “That’s almost two hundred people dying every day from overdose. In Snohomish county, the percentage of drug related deaths was approximately thirty-two percent in 2017; in the state of Washington, the number of drug related deaths was approximately thirty-three percent. The Tulalip tribal reservation drug related deaths is at two hundred and twenty-three percent.”

Gasps were heard from around the Dining Hall as the Chief shared this statistic. Event participants were shocked and shared a look of disbelief.

“It’s a serious problem,” he continued. “Our officers carry two Narcan kits on them and we are constantly using them. The Board of Directors wanted us to implement a Drug Task Force, so I started that in March. I’ve assigned officers to the task force so we can start addressing some of these issues with the individuals who are supplying drugs to our family members and community, and make sure we hold them accountable as well as provide services to get them the help that they need.”

Chief Pruitt also explained the Good Samaritan Law to the participants. The Tribe adopted the law back in 2014 after Lois Luella Jones died from an overdose. Authorities believe her life could have been saved, but in fear of arrest, her peers failed to contact emergency responders. 

“It’s okay to call,” he reassured. “Because of the Good Samaritan Law, you’re not going to get in trouble. Our priority as law enforcement officers is the preservation of life, so give us a call so we can provide assistance.”

Community members shared stories of addiction, heartbreak and loss from substance abuse. The Health Department also held a Narcan training for the community so they know how to quickly revive someone who has overdosed. The training was led by Gina Skinner and Jane Jacobson who explained in detail how the Narcan nasal spray works.

“In an overdose situation, the opiate has hit receptors in the body that cause respiratory depression and your pupils to get small. The Narcan comes in and kicks the opiate out of the receptors and takes its space,” explains Jane. “That makes the patient go into a withdrawal and it allows their respiratory rate to improve, making it easier to breathe and they start to come out of that overdose situation. But they have to get treatment within about thirty to ninety minutes otherwise the opiate could come back and kick the Narcan out of the receptor and cause an overdose situation again.”

The Tulalip Bay Fire Department joined the trainers to give insight on their procedure during overdose emergencies and how they utilize Narcan. Each participant who attended the training received a free Narcan kit. Tulalip community members are encouraged to pick up a kit of their own, free to Tulalip tribal members at Tulalip Family Services and available to community members through their insurance at the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic pharmacy.

“This was our second annual International Overdose Awareness Day event,” states Tulalip Community Health Director, Jenna Bowman. “It’s important that we let people know we’re here and we’re creating awareness about things they can do to help prevent overdose and also a space just to be around other family members who may be suffering. As a community, we’re all connected, we’re all suffering. There’s always been a stigma behind talking about overdose and addiction and I think it’s important we move passed that and support each other, whether we’re going through it and lost someone or maybe we’re struggling to find the answers ourselves. It’s important that we support each other.”

For more information, please contact the Tulalip Community Health Department at (360) 716-5622.