Team Outreach provides support and encouragement to Tulalip youth

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The transition from adolescence into adulthood is no easy feat. The teenage years are filled with triumphs and numerous setbacks. In many Native communities, kids are exposed to much more pain growing up, witnessing their loved one’s attempt to fight through adversity and find ways to cope with the years of generational trauma that is embedded in our DNA. Sometimes we find healthy outlets to work through that trauma and other times we look for ways to escape it. In addition to finding their personal identity, studying, participating in social activities and preparing for college, Native youth face many similar challenges as the average teen, but arguably at a higher extent, such as depression, violence at school or at home, the pressure to abuse drugs as well as the loss of friends or family to suicide. 

Teens often need an extra bit of encouragement to help them through their periods of struggle. Many kids look to confide in somebody outside of their families, who can listen, relate and provide a positive perspective to help them keep pushing forward. Tulalip Outreach workers, Dakota (Cody) Monger and Cassandra Jimicum, are providing exactly that for several local youth of the community. 

The Family Haven program, Team Outreach, is designed to provide support to Tulalip youth, helping them accomplish their goals and get things back on track. Cody works with the young men of Tulalip between the ages of thirteen and twenty-two, while Cassandra works with the young ladies between fourteen and twenty-two. The teens learn how to set, prioritize and accomplish both short and long term goals while also receiving assistance with recovery, physical and mental health, legal issues, obtaining a driver’s license, money management and resumes. The program assists high school students get re-enrolled if they dropped out of school and also helps those who wish to transfer schools within the Marysville School District. 

“We will help them with everything and anything really,” says Cody “It’s like a role model program or a mentorship. Everything you can think of that our youth needs, we cover it like self-esteem, or if they’re suicidal and too scared to talk with somebody about it. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific area we work on, but we work at their pace. The biggest thing is we want to earn their trust and just be real with them, like call their bluff out or if they’re doing something wrong, tell it to them like a friend would, like dude you’re messing up.”

“They set their own goals and we go at their pace,” adds Cassandra. “I just started in February and I’ve already helped my girls with TANF, I awarded a few shoe vouchers, I got one of my girls into Drivers Ed, I got two girls enrolled back in school and helped a girl get into counseling. We have a referral process and when we get referrals, we go out and just talk with them. They tell us everything they want to accomplish and then we narrow it down to two goals and then we work on those goals and once those are completed, we work on two more.”

Both Cody and Cassandra have seen a number of success stories from the youth who participate in their groups. They explained that they proudly watched several individuals overcome personal obstacles and achieve huge feats, rising to the challenge one issue at a time and getting things done. 

“I had a young man who posted every day that he didn’t want to be here,” Cody states. “It took about six to eight months pinpointing where the issue stemmed from. We had to break everything down, just so he could be happy again. Now the only thing he posts are messages saying ‘I’m doing fantastic, I’m going to school today or I love being a stepdad.’ He went from a deep, deep depression to being happy and thankful every day. He’s holding down a job, getting his GED, he became a stepfather and recently he’s started traveling more.  

“Another one of my guys got in a fight with a family member and literally barricaded himself in his room for months on end and had no communication with anybody, not even his mom. Now he’s into classical music, he’s holding B’s and A’s in school and is going to be doing a few concerts in the summer.”

The Outreach workers meet one-on-one with their teens on a weekly-basis, allowing them the chance to vent about any current difficulties they are experiencing as well as celebrate any new victories. Cody and Cassandra make the experience as smooth as possible for their clients by meeting them where they’re most comfortable, whether that’s at the Family Haven office, home, school, a coffee shop or a restaurant. 

Since Cody’s program has been established for a few years, many members of his group are well-acquainted with each other and have created a strong support system within the group. Cody also holds a study day on Wednesdays as well as an end-of-the week gathering, where those who wish to participate can meet up to talk about the week or participate in a physical activity together, like weight training or a pick-up game of basketball at the Marysville YMCA. As Cassandra’s program continues to gain momentum and additional participants, she also wishes to hold group gatherings throughout the week to enhance life skills with cooking and exercising classes as well as fun art and craft activities. 

Currently Cassandra is guiding six young ladies through the program and Cody is serving twelve young gentlemen on a consistent basis. They want to extend a friendly welcome out to other young adults in the area who can benefit from this program, as well as to those parents and teachers who may have someone in mind that could use a helping hand, and some encouragement to reach their full potential and beyond.

 “It’s important for our kids to know that there is somebody out there willing to go above and beyond for them, to help them through their darkest times,” expresses Cody. “I know sometimes it’s hard to reach out to ask for that peer support, or help in general. It’s a good feeling for them, knowing that there are people who are genuinely looking out for what’s best for them and their future.”

Nodding her head in agreement, Cassandra adds, “I feel the same way. It’s important that people know we are here to help our kids get back in school and that we are here to assist in any way we can to make sure they are successful in life.”

For more information about the Team Outreach program, please contact Family Haven at (360) 716-3284.

A perfect day, a perfect moment’: UNITY mural revealed

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Don “Penoke” Hatch Youth Center. Kenny Moses Building. Greg Williams Court. Alpheus “Gunny” Jones Ball Field. Debra Barto Skate Park. 

These locations have become five common place names in everyday Tulalip lexicon. However, the people these locations are named after are anything but common.            They were influential individuals who dedicated much of their lives to supporting, bettering, and empowering tribal youth. 

Each a Tulalip citizen, their commendable spirits are now immortalized in paint as part of a five portrait project known as the UNITY mural. The highly anticipated mural reveal took place on Saturday, April 13.

 “This is a perfect day, a perfect moment,” declared Herman Williams Jr., a representative from Greg Williams’ family shortly after the murals were unveiled. “This is what we are about as Tulalip people, honoring those who had a positive effect on ourselves. Each mural is of someone who was very influential to us as young people, old people, and everything in between.” 

More than 150 community members gathered at Greg Williams Court to share in the special moment as the curtains were pulled down and the vibrant portraits were put on full display. This type of gathering was exactly what the project coordinator had in mind.

“Initially, I envisioned something that would bring the community together and bring families together,” explained mural coordinator Deyamonta Diaz. “These murals tell the stories behind our buildings, who they are named after, and the legacy these people left. To see all five people together gives the families an opportunity to share memories. 

“Also, for the people who don’t know them, they are going ask ‘who are these people?’ and ‘why are their pictures up?’” added Deyamonta. “I think that’s a great conversation starter for the community to keep these people’s legacies alive.”

Legacy was a concept routinely mentioned as speakers and representatives for each painted figure shared loving words and fond memories. A shared hope for future generations to carry on their family member’s legacy through resolve and action, while looking to each painting as a symbol of support when needed, was also expressed repeatedly at the podium. 

Don “Penoke” Hatch gets an up close and personal view of his portrait, while daughter Denise speaks of his long-time commitment to the youth.

Four of the five mural honorees have passed on, with Penoke Hatch being the lone exception. 

“As we look at these murals, it’s important to know each one of them is still here with us. They are here in their families who tell their stories,” shared Penoke. “Each one of them made an impact in different ways. They always took care of everybody, especially the young ones. Thank you to the artists, Youth Services, and the Tribe for what they did here to honor us.” 

Honoring those represented on the Tulalip Bay athletic campus with a UNITY mural was made possible in partnership with Youth Services and local Native artists, Monie Ordonia (Tulalip) and Jordan Willard (Tlingit).

Tulalip artist Monie Ordonia (right) and assistant Jordan Williard (Tlingit) reflect on their painting process during the mural reveal.

“They had a vision of having portraits in mural form of all the legends that these building are named after,” said Monie. “The concept incorporates Native colors, so we used red, black, yellow, and white as the backgrounds. For Debbie, we used gray as the background and then incorporated her grandchildren’s hand prints.

“I like to feel the energy of who I’m painting, like an activation, it helps bring the person to life,” continued Monie. “Once the murals are complete and I look into the eyes of the painting, then I can feel them communicating with me. Hopefully, that helps other people have the ability to do the same.”

The memories of Kenny Moses, Debra Barto, Greg Williams, Penoke and Gunny Jones are kept alive by those who knew them best. Some were beneficiaries of their admirable determination, while others were fortunate to witness their heroic exploits in action. For everyone else, the UNITY mural serves as a reminder that legends are never forgotten. 

Tulalip seniors visit Tulip Festival

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Every April, people travel from around the world to the outskirts of Mount Vernon, Washington to witness thousands of tulips burst into bloom at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, officially welcoming the arrival of the spring season. At two featured sites, Roozengaarde and Tulip Town, spectators are treated to a stunning visual experience provided by Mother Earth, and the bulb growers as well. 

Since its inception thirty-four years ago, the festival continues to grow in popularity, garnering more and more tulip enthusiasts each year. The tulip festival is in fact Washington State’s biggest festival, attracting over one million participants annually. 

This year, the Tulalip Senior Center organized a trip for the local elders of the community to join in on the outdoor fun at the festival and witness the beauty of Mother Nature firsthand. Eleven elders met bright and early at the Tulalip Dining Hall on the morning of April 9, and made the hour-long journey north to Roozengaarde Flowers and Bulbs, a family owned establishment that has been in the tulip growing business for over seventy years. 

Arriving well before the rush, the seniors had plenty of time to walk about the enormous garden and admire the tulips without feeling overcrowded or pressured to hurry along. Rows and rows of tulips, varying in all different types of vibrant red, pink, yellow, purple and white colors, were just beginning to bloom during the seniors visit, generating a lot of oohs and ahhs as well as several smiles from the elders, as they stooped low to get an up-close look at the flowers. 

The idea was originally presented by Tulalip elder, Barbara Jones, when brainstorming field trip destinations for the seniors. She stated that she thought it would be a great way for the fellow elders of the community to enjoy a springtime activity as well as get some fresh air and ‘to get out and get moving’.

“We thought it was a fun idea to bring the seniors out here today,” explained Jessica Leslie, the Senior Center Manger’s Assistant. “We left at nine this morning to come and walk around the tulip fields. It’s beautiful out here. They’re not fully in bloom yet, but we just wanted to get out and go for a walk. We like to get our seniors out and about to see different things. Some of them don’t drive, so we try to bring them places to do fun stuff like this and get them out of the house to break up the routine a bit.”

The elders broke off into small groups as they made their way through the garden, enjoying company and exploring hundreds of acres of tulips, as well as daffodils, for approximately an hour-and-a-half. The seniors finished their self-led tours just on time as people began to arrive by the carload with their cameras in hand, to capture the gorgeous flowers as they began to open up.

The group also enjoyed a picnic lunch and visited the Roosengaard merchandise shop where they could purchase any of the tulips that were on display to take home and add to their personal garden.  

 “It finally feels like spring is here,” expressed Tulalip elder, Tina Lyle. “It feels great to be out here, it wakes you up and brings your senses alive and strengthens our connection to the Earth. The tulips are all so beautiful, the blood orange ones are my favorite so far. And to come out here with other Tulalip seniors is special. If you get a chance, you got to come up here and enjoy it and see the tulips in-person for yourself.”

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival will continue for the duration of April and will feature a variety of events including the annual Tulip Parade. Roozengaarde Flowers and Bulbs is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., while Tulip Town is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For directions and more information, please visit www.TulipFestival.org

Nutrition and safety emphasized at TELA mini health fair

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

As parents picked up their kids from the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA) on the afternoon of Friday March 22, they were welcomed by the TELA administration staff as well as local programs and businesses who were stationed throughout the lobby and the conference room of the early learning academy. Twenty-six informational booths provided useful tips, ranging from nutrition to safety, in an effort to promote better overall health and wellness within the community. Parents hurried to retrieve their kids from their classrooms so they could return and participate in TELA’s seventh annual Mini Health Fair.

A popular event that has continued to grow over the years, the mini health fair is a fun experience for TELA students. Each booth offers hands-on interaction from the likes of the Tulalip Police and Tulalip Bay Fire departments, as well as plenty of prizes like books, toys and even animal washcloths that promote the practice of healthy habits such as reading and good hygiene.

Perhaps the biggest highlight for the kids is sampling all the snacks. AnneCherise Jensen and the SNAP-Ed team created fruit kabobs with orange slices, pineapple, grapes, kiwi and strawberries, showing the families a new, fast and easy snack that is both delicious and nutritious. The fruit kabobs were such a smash that the SNAP-Ed booth had a line nearly the entire duration of the health fair. The TELA kitchen crew also handed out healthy snacks to the students including fruit and veggie cups as well as smoothies. 

Upon checking into the mini health fair, the families received a passport. As they visited each booth, the vendors signed their passports, indicating that the families learned either a new health tip or were provided with new resources from programs such as WIC, Healthy Homes and the Snohomish County Music Project. Once their passports were filled out, the families turned them in for a chance to win a variety of prizes including gift baskets, blankets and an inflatable swimming pool – just in time for the upcoming summer season.

“We like to partner with Children’s Hospital, Red Cross, WIC, the Child Strive program and the police and fire departments as well as Disaster [Tulalip Office of Emergency Management] for those families that are in need of extra services,” explains Katrina Lane, TELA Family and Community Engagement Coordinator. “It’s been a good event to provide for the families over the years. It’s really heartwarming to see the families here with their kids, and for the kids to actually be excited about healthy things; the smoothies, the veggies, the fruit kabobs – they are just excited. It’s a good feeling to know that we’re starting them out young and that they’re getting a good idea of what health is.”

By creating a fun learning experience catered to our future leaders, the academy puts an exciting and entertaining twist on educating the community about the many benefits and the importance of good physical, mental and spiritual health.

Tulalip and Stanford partnership strives to cure opioid-based addiction

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Native Americans are hit hardest by opioid addiction. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that Native Americans have the highest drug overdose death rates and the largest percentage increase in the number of deaths over time from 1999-2015, compared to all other racial and ethnic groups. Indian Country is all too familiar with the opioid epidemic.

Opioid epidemic, seems like a trendy phrase that’s received national recognition recently. But on reservations across the country, Native families have been dealing with the pain, trauma, and loss associated with opioid use, from drugs like heroin and OxyContin, for a couple generations now.

With an aim to successfully combat a crisis that’s run rampant through the community for years, the Tulalip Tribes partnered with the brightest minds at Stanford University’s School of Medicine to create a one-of-kind medical cannabis research project. The goal: curing opioid-based addiction. 

An eagerly awaited community meeting took place on March 11 led by tribal leadership and Stanford scientists to share the leading edge study’s early indicators.

“Through Stanford’s expertise and reputation, our partnership will scientifically prove cannabis can cure addiction”, said Les Parks, Tulalip Tribes Board of Director.

“This meeting has been a long time coming,” stated Board of Director Les Parks. “We’ve been working on this medical cannabis research project since 2014, and this is the first time membership will be briefed with its details and results to date. Stanford is one of the most renowned universities in the country, if not the world, and happens to have a one-of-a-kind laboratory dedicated to the neurosciences. Through Stanford’s expertise and reputation, our partnership will scientifically prove cannabis can cure addiction.

“Nobody in this country has yet to scientifically prove that cannabis is an actual healer,” continued Les. “In partnering with Stanford University, our goal is to be the first to produce those scientific results. We think the cannabis plant has miraculous properties about it, such as healing the body and potentially curing type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and specific forms of cancer. First and foremost, we think cannabis can cure heroin addiction and all forms of opioid-based addiction.”

A painful, yet illuminating, moment was shared by all eighty community members who attended when Les asked the crowd, “Raise your hand if you have not been personally affected by the opioid crisis? If you have not had it affect your family or loved ones?” Not a single hand went up.

“Here in Tulalip, we’re losing 7 to 8 people a year to overdose,” shared Tulalip Tribes Vice-Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “This study and the implications for creating addiction therapies and remedies would be not only a game changer, but a life saver for our community.”

Tulalip Tribes Vice-Chairwoman, Teri Gobin, speaks on the benefits of using cannabis for healing opioid addictions.

People have used marijuana, also called cannabis, for a variety of health conditions for at least 3,000 years. More recently, individual components of marijuana or similar synthetic substances have also been used for health purposes. These substances are called cannabinoids.

Balancing traditional values with the realities of the 21st century means embracing a changing culture that views marijuana and cannabinoids as natural medicines, especially when compared to prescription pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals with countless side-effects and man-made chemicals that receive FDA approval, only to come out later those same chemicals cause a litany of damaging health concerns with sometimes fatal consequences.

The changing tide in not only popular opinion, but science-based evidence as well with regards to medicinal properties of cannabis is rapidly gaining momentum. Since 2014, when retail marijuana became legal in Washington State, consumers have spent $2.95 billion on various forms of cannabis, according to the state Liquor and Cannabis Control Board.

Remedy, the Tulalip-owned retail cannabis store and one of the first legalized marijuana dispensaries in Indian Country, opened its doors in August 2018. Tulalip was originally seen as embracing cannabis for business purposes only, but now with the Stanford partnership and the study’s implications for saving lives that narrative is changing. 

  “The intellectual property, any and all results found in this study, whether it be related to diabetes, Alzheimer’s or whatever it may be, will be owned by Tulalip,” added Vice-Chairwoman Gobin. “The medical applications of cannabis are really exciting because not too long ago we declared a state of emergency for opioid addiction and if this research project can save just one life then it’s worth it.”

Dr. Annelise Barron, Stanford Associate Professor and bioengineer, was on hand to share early results of the study and to answer any questions concerned community members may have had.  

“It’s important for people to know this research we’re doing with whole cannabis oil, meaning it came from the whole plant, the leaves and the flowers, and its effect on addiction has never been studied before,” explained Dr. Barron. “This is the first time a study of this kind has been done, and it’s only possible because Tulalip invested in our ability to do the research.

“We’ve undertaken a research project to study the ability of cannabis oil extract to treat heroin addiction. In order to scientifically address this question we are conducting controlled studies at Stanford Behavioral and Functional Neuroscience Laboratory. We’ve essentially done large-scale experiments that demonstrate cannabis oil suppresses the craving and desire to continue using heroin. This means, I think with high certainty, we would see the same effect on people if we treated them with cannabis oil after they stopped using heroin.”

Striving to cure opioid-based addiction, the Tulalip and Stanford partnership has a lot of work ahead of them including the peer review process and submission to medical journals. Yet, only ten months into a thirty month study, the early indications are most promising. Reiterating an earlier sentiment, if lives can be saved then it’s all worth it.

Moms Group is working to empower all mothers

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Every Tuesday, Tulalip Family Haven hosts a two-hour gathering for expectant, new and experienced moms, as well as grandmothers and aunties who are currently caring for their younger loved ones. Known as Moms Group, the class was created over ten years ago in an effort to build community and empower local women of all ages who are raising children. The program is currently hosted at the old Tulalip elementary and has continued year-round since originally debuting, delivering a positive and powerful experience for its participants throughout the years.

“We are a support group that allows mothers and women raising kids the opportunity to come together,” says Sasha Smith, Family Voices Coordinator and Moms Group moderator. “We wish to provide a sense of belonging, a sense that there’s other women in our community to support each other. This is a place where we can come and just talk about motherhood and ask questions that are hard to ask your doctor or anybody in your family. They’re able to open up and just have a healthy discussion about childbirth, raising your children and adolescents. It gets the moms out of the house and gives them something to look forward to every week.” 

The group enjoys a home cooked meal prepared by Sasha at the beginning of each gathering while catching up with one another. The moms then participate in daily activities such as crafting, working on their baby books or simply taking in wisdom from a variety of guest speakers.

“Lushootseed comes in and teaches the language during the first week of the month,” Sasha stated. “We have nutritionists, Annie Jensen and Brooke Morrison (SNAP-ED), who teach about healthy foods, how to prep and cook food. They guide us through some exercises and talk about the importance of being active. We also do a lot of arts and crafts and just enjoy spending time together.”

Sasha explained that the group members participate in an incentive program in which they create baby books. Moms take the time to recount the events that happened during the week and mark down whenever they performed a positive task, whether it was in the best interest of their family, such as taking their child to their doctor’s appointments, or if they set aside some time to recalibrate, focusing on self-care with a relaxing bath or a refreshing walk outdoors. Their points are then tallied and converted into a credit in which the moms can spend at the Moms Group store, purchasing essential items such as diapers, clothing and car seats. 

Moms group, by extension of Family Haven, is currently in a partnership with Tulalip Community Health and WIC (Women, Infants and Children supplemental program) to help young mothers learn and sign-up for the WIC program, providing rides to those moms in need of transportation to the monthly WIC event in Tulalip. And as an added bonus, those who attend three WIC events receive a gift card incentive.

Kids are welcome to tag along with their moms to the group. One mom notes that it’s an excellent way for her children to interact, meet and have fun with other youth of the community. On special occasions, participants bring in their newborns to meet the ladies of the group whose voices they heard during their mother’s pregnancy while she attended Moms Group.

Family Haven would like to send a shout out to the Tulalip Charitable Fund who continues to support Moms Group by funding a program where moms can learn from each other’s experiences and lend advice, as well as few tips and tricks to other mothers who are bringing up the future generations. 

“I came because I wanted to get connected with other moms,” expresses young mother Alayna Helland. “This is my first child. I don’t know anything about being a mom, so I wanted to learn some basic things and get some advice from other moms. A lot of my questions have been about labor and anticipating that – like what to expect during the actual birthing process. I enjoy learning about other resources like WIC and we do a clothes trade here [at Moms Group] as well. The main thing though is support, you get to talk to other moms and get that support and feedback. It’s nice to have a place where you can go and the people are kind and in the same situation as you are.”

For more information about Moms Group or the monthly WIC event, please contact Family Haven at (360) 716-4402.

Our Healing Journey

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“Who is a problem gambler?” asked Tulalip Problem Gambling Coordinator, Sarah Sense-Wilson. “A problem gambler is anyone whose gambling is causing psychological, financial, emotional, spiritual, relational, legal or other difficulties for themselves and others around them, including family and community.

“Here’s a little data for you,” she continued. “Up to 1-3% of Washingtonians struggle with problem gambling. To get some perspective on that, imagine the Seattle Seahawks stadium filled to capacity four times – that’s the amount of problem gamblers in Washington state. Sadly, only 1 in 10 seek professional help. 92% of problem gamblers experience suicidal ideation at some point in their gambling, up to 40% attempt suicide. That number is too high.” 

Many of us have shared a story about one of our gambling escapades with a close friend or family member. You know the one, it usually begins as a fun night out with good company at a casino and includes plenty of dancing, delicious delectabls and drinks. And if you’re feeling lucky, you might even hit the floor. Whether your poison is table games or the machines, the story can only have one of three outcomes; you win, lose or break even. At times we recall these stories as if they were tales of war, recapping each spin or hand dealt. However, it tends to end along the lines, ‘I was winning and then lost it all. Should’ve left while I was up’, or ‘I won! I got the bonus, five free spins and then hit a bunch wilds’. Because in the moment it’s all fun, it’s as if you become hypnotized by the music and obsessed with obtaining more credits.

For most, gambling is a fun social event. Many set a limit of how much money they will gamble before even stepping into a gaming establishment. That way if they lose, it’s already accounted for. While others can get caught up in the thrill of chasing jackpots, willing to risk it all in hopes of a big payout. Like most vices, gambling is addictive and provides a high. And if you’re a compulsive gambler, you lose the concept of time and reality, only to snap out of it when you’re forced to stop i.e., run out of cash or hit a jackpot. The odds are always against you, but even when you lose, you might feel compelled to ‘win it back’ and visit the nearest ATM.

At each ATM located within a Tulalip Gaming Establishment, a message is provided at the bottom of the screen throughout the entire transaction process. A message that unfortunately goes unread, or is ignored, quite too often. A message for compulsive gamblers from the Tulalip Tribes Problem Gambling program that states, ‘if you or a loved one suffer from a gambling addiction, please contact (360) 716-4440.’

Every March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, an initiative that launched fifteen years ago and was inspired largely in part by the mass amount of NCAA March Madness basketball bracket pools. In an effort to raise awareness and to provide support as well as education, the Tulalip Problem Gambling program actively participates in awareness month by hosting a number of events every third month of the year. 

On the evening of March 2, the Tulalip Problem Gambling program kicked off National Problem Gambling Awareness Month at the Hibulb Cultural Center during their 4th Annual Community Gathering night. 

The community gathering is a popular event that welcomes those who are recovering from their addiction, as well as their families. The theme for this year’s event was titled ‘Our Healing Journey’ and the Problem Gambling program offered good medicine throughout the night. The community filled the Hibulb Longhouse, enjoying an evening complete with dinner and entertainment. Master of Ceremony and Tulalip tribal member, Whaa-Ka-Dup Monger opened the event with a prayer before community member Terrance Sabbas led his family in a drum circle, offering a prayer song to the participants.

One of the highlights of the evening came right before dinner as two young Tulalip Youth Council members, Image Enick and Kaiser Moses, offered words of encouragement and a traditional Tulalip song for those healing from problem gambling.

“I’m speaking on behalf of the Youth Council and representing the youth,” said Kaiser. “I’d like to say that we’re all very proud of you for being here and taking a moving step forward. It’s very important. It touches all of our hearts that you care so much and that you’re able to recognize how this affects us. We’re happy and overjoyed to be here with you and we’re really proud and hopeful for your future.”

Tulalip Problem Gambling Coordinator, Sara Sense-Wilson, gives a hug to attendee Charlotte, for sharing her moving story about overcoming her gambling addiction.

Charlotte, who was celebrating three years and six months of her personal healing journey, openly shared her intimate story with the community. In 2015, she was caught embezzling from a non-profit, of which she was the treasurer, to fuel her gambling addiction. She eventually was admitted into a deferment program for her crimes and found herself at the Tulalip Problem Gambling program with Sarah who helped her through the recovery process. Sarah tasked Charlotte with creating a timeline of her gambling problem. When working on her timeline she learned that the addiction stemmed from a year of hardship, in which she lost family members due to cancer and alcoholism, along with a traumatizing event concerning her child. 

“You’ve done everything you can, you’re trying to keep yourself together but your family’s falling apart, your kids are falling apart. So what did I do? I gambled,” admitted Charlotte. “Because at that casino, I checked out. I did not feel; I did not think. I checked out emotionally, physically, mentally. It’s very easy to hide. I’d get up and go to work every day and come home and play mommy, but at nine o’clock every night I was leaving. My excuse was always, I’m just so stressed out and I need to get away.”

Charlotte explained that she made recovery a priority and began learning about her addiction; why she gambled, how it was affecting her and why she was covering it up. Therefore, she learned how to deal with her feelings and work through her adversity. 

“I started learning I could live and not gamble. Wow, I just said that. I can live and not gamble – amazing! I found people who understand my gambling, people I can talk to about it. I’m not hiding it anymore. That’s my recovery. Today, I’m healing.”

The community gathering concluded with a performance by Native comedian Vaughn Eagle Bear whose claim to fame was the song John Wayne’s Teeth which was featured in the Native cult classic, Smoke Signals. After participants finished drying their eyes following Charlotte’s moving testimony, Vaughn made the crowd cry once more, but this time the tears were caused by his hilarious rez humor. 

“This evening we really wanted to highlight and celebrate that whole healing journey, it’s not just the individual or the family, it’s the community,” said Sarah. “This is a disease, it’s an addiction, it’s a problem. At Tulalip Tribes we recognize that and we provide a variety of services to support problem gamblers, their families and the community. Some of those services are family night where we provide education and support, we do individual counseling, referrals to in-patient or other treatment programs, we also do individual assessments. We are one of the most comprehensive tribal-run gambling programs in the entire state of Washington and we’re really proud of that. To me, that reflects the dedication and commitment of the tribe to promote health and wellness throughout both tribal and the local community. Our services are for non-natives too and the fact that Tulalip Tribes is so progressive in providing that support speaks to the value system and the overarching cultural beliefs.”

Problem Gambling will continue to host a number of events throughout National Problem Gambling Awareness month. If you or a loved one suffer from a gambling addiction, please contact the Tulalip Problem Gambling program at (360) 716-4440. 

RaeQuan leads Marysville-Pilchuck to best ever showing at State

RaeQuan Battle

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Back in early December, the much-hyped boys basketball team of Marysville-Pilchuck high school (M-P) were in the midst of early season struggles after starting their 2018-2019 campaign with a disappointing (1-3) record. Incredibly, the bumpy start has been all but forgotten as the Tomahawks responded by winning their next 19 games in a row.

Led by Tulalip tribal member RaeQuan Battle, a 6’4 shooting guard and fourth best Washington State recruit*, the Tomahawks strong finish to the regular season proved the pre-season hype was legit. Their 19-game win streak included domination over their league foes when they stampeded through the 3A District Tournament (beating Shorecrest 64-42, Stanwood 80-50 and Arlington 65-47) en route to claiming back-to-back District Championships. 

After dispatching Kelso 72-51 at Regionals, Marysville-Pilchuck earned the #4 seed for the WIAA Hardwood Classic, Washington State’s Championship Tournament. The annual tournament took place February 27 – March 2 at the Tacoma Dome.

A hard fought battle with O’Dea in their opening round resulted in a 53-63 loss, the team’s first since December 10. In that game O’Dea attempted 26 free-throws compared to just 9 attempts for M-P. RaeQuan’s stat line of 24 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks proved he did everything possible to keep his team in the game

Alec Jones-Smith

The Tomahawks had no choice but to shake off the loss quickly with a matchup against Ingraham only hours away. M-P went up 36-31 at halftime, continued to build on their lead in the 2nd half, and won 80-68. RaeQuan double-doubled in the game, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Fellow Tulalip tribal member and high school junior Alec Jones-Smith received quality minutes down the stretch while chipping in 5 points.

Fourth place was on the line when M-P took on Kelso in the waking moments of March 2. In a tightly contested matchup, the Tomahawks jumped out to an early 16-9 lead in the 1st quarter. However, Kelso battled back by running play after play through their talented 6’6 center Shaw Anderson. Having no one on the roster capable of guarding the Kelso big man straight up, M-P trailed 26-31 late in the 2nd quarter.

Aggressive, fast-faced Tomahawk basketball ensued in the 3rd and 4th quarter. RaeQuan showcased his 3-point shooting touch by knocking down five long-range buckets and managed to block Kelso’s center for a huge defensive play to fire up his squad. After going up 50-38, the boys wouldn’t look back and claimed a decisive 71-60 victory.

The 4th place finish at State marks the best ever showing for a Marysville-Pilchuck team. 

Three Tulalip tribal members on the M-P
Tomahawks team are
senior RaeQuan Battle (holding trophy), junior Alec Jones-Smith (11th from left) and junior TJ Severn (4th from left).

“I’m so proud. This is a special group,” said M-P Coach Bary Gould postgame. “They played for the love [of the game] and made history. So much of what we do hinges on RaeQuan and when he lets the game come to him, he is incredible…he’s such a difference maker. The surrounding pieces all stepped up in a big way to put us over the edge.”

“Our journey to State was a total team effort and showed our mental toughness,” added RaeQuan. During the State Tournament, when competition is at its highest, he averaged a whopping 23 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks per game while leading his team to the history books.

“I was ready and prepared to play against this level of competition thanks in part to playing on the Nike AAU circuit last spring and summer,” explained RaeQuan. The four-star recruit has committed to the University of Washington. “Hard work really does pay off. Looking forward, my goals are to keep getting stronger over the summer to prepare myself for the college level.”

A huge congratulations to the M-P team on their history-making efforts, especially their trio of Tulalip hoopers: senior RaeQuan Battle, junior Alec Jones-Smith and junior TJ Severn. 

*Source: 2019 ESPN Recruiting Database

Heritage Hawks take care of business at Tri-Districts, move on to Regionals

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

After an impressive regular season showing, the Tulalip Heritage Hawks took 2nd at the 1B District Tournament. Now, with an (18-3) overall record, the boys earned the right to host an opening round game of the Tri-District Tournament.

On Thursday, February 14, Tulalip hosted the Mustangs of Rainier Christian at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium. It was a sluggish start for the home team, as the Hawks fell behind 0-8 in the early going. Coach Cyrus “Bubba” Fryberg called a 1st quarter timeout to fire up his team and they responded in a big way. Led by guards Leno Vela and Paul Shay Jr., Tulalip righted the ship and went on an impressive 29-10 scoring run to take a 29-18 lead midway through the 2nd quarter.

With the defense clamping down and forcing turnovers left and right, Heritage was able to transition into their fast-break offense and score easy buckets. Being at the Tri-District stage, every team was more than capable of game changing scoring barrages to shift momentum. Early in the 3rd quarter the boys took a 42-29 lead only to watch it slowly fade away. Rainier Christian didn’t buckle and starting knocking down contested shots. What was once a 13 point lead was whittled to only 4 points, 46-42, with two minutes to go in the 3rd. 

In a pressure filled situation, in front of a raucous home crowd, the boys responded yet again. Shay, Jr. caught fire from long range to hit three consecutive 3-pointers, while Alonzo Jones was attacking the rim and finishing multiple acrobatic shots. A 27-11 run gave the Hawks a 20 point lead, up 73-53, with only four minutes remaining. The big lead allowed Coach Bubba to sub in his bench and let the team’s youngsters get a taste of the Tri-District playoffs.

Tulalip won 84-65. The team was led by Shay, Jr.’s game-high 20 points, while Alonzo and Isaac Comenote scored 17 points each.

“Our defense sparked on our offense in both halves,” reflected Coach Fryberg postgame. “Sometimes we get too comfortable shooting 3-point shots when we could be driving more and feeding our post players. When we force turnovers and are playing aggressive defense it carries over and allows us to be aggressive and attack the basket, like we did in the second half.”

Due to the snow days and resulting school district closures, Tulalip didn’t get any days rest like the Tri-District Tournament usually calls for. Instead, they hit the road the very next day and travelled to Port Angeles for a highly anticipated matchup with Neah Bay. 

The Hawks offensive momentum carried over from the day before, as they took a 15-13 lead after the 1st quarter. But everything changed in the 2nd quarter. One foul call after another quickly mounted and threw Heritage off their game. They only managed to score 6 points in the quarter and trailed 21-26 at halftime. 

In the 2nd half, Tulalip bounced back early. Alonzo Jones and Josh Iukes combined to score 13 of the team’s 17 points in the 3rd quarter. They held their team afloat but still trailed 38-45 going into the final quarter. Neah Bay took complete control in the 4th, while Tulalip struggled again to put up an offensive fight. The Hawks were outscored 6-21 in the game’s final minutes, resulting in a 44-66 loss. The 44 points marked a season-low in scoring for the Hawks. 

The loss to Neah Bay pitted Tulalip in a high-stakes matchup with league foe Cedar Park Christian in a 3rd round Tri-District game. A high seeding and berth in Regionals was at stake. The game took place Saturday, February 16 in Mount Vernon. 

Knowing the stakes and having confidence from beating Cedar Park decisively three times this season already, the Heritage Hawks (19-4) steamrolled for big time victory in front of a large Tulalip crowd that made the journey to cheer them on.

In the 1st quarter, Heritage jumped out to a 15-4 advantage thanks in part to a patient offense that probed Cedar Park’s zone defense. The patience led to uncontested jumpers from the outside or easy buckets at the rim. Leading by 11 points at the halftime, Tulalip hosed Cedar Park in the 3rd quarter by holding their opponent to a measly 2 points. Meanwhile, Paul Shay, Jr. once again caught fire from deep and made three triples to push his team’s advantage to 51-20. 

With a comfortable lead, Coach Bubba was able to get his bench players some run in the 4th quarter en route to a 61-31 blowout victory. Tulalip was led by Shay, Jr.’s game high 16 points, while Alonzo Jones scored 15 and Rodney Barber added 14.

“My team’s season is going great so far,” said senior guard Shay, Jr. following the win. “In the middle of the regular season we did struggle a bit with our mindset by letting little stuff get us down, but now that playoffs are here we’ve been playing really well again. We took a tough loss to [Neah Bay] that has us more than ready to chase a State title. We’ve come together as a team and a family. The mindset of us seniors is getting back to State and winning it all this time!”

The quality showing at Tri-Districts has boosted the Hawks to the #4 spot for all 1B schools in the state, according to the WIAA rankings. Next up, the Hawks will matchup with fellow tribal school Muckleshoot in a Saturday showdown at Jackson High School in Mill Creek.

Mindful Movements: Yoga for Elders

Tulalip elder, Marvin Jones is learning the many health benefits of yoga.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Originally introduced to the world centuries ago, the practice of yoga continues to uplift the spirit, sharpen minds and improve the overall health of millions to this day. Whether you’re a beginner practicing stretches such as the downward dog or a master yogi who can easily flow into a firefly pose, you are more than likely experiencing the endless benefits of yoga. Those who practice yoga often see a number of physical and spiritual improvements such as flexibility, anxiety relief, injury recovery, and muscle and bone strength as well as a strong sense of balance of the mind, body and soul.

One of the many great things about yoga is the fact that anybody can take it up, no matter where you’re at in terms of your own personal journey and fitness level.  Over recent decades, the ancient art of exercise, discipline and mediation has become a popular go-to workout as many yoga classes are held throughout various local gyms and available to stream online on platforms such as YouTube and Glo.com. The majority of avid yogis range in age between their early-twenties to mid-forties, however, new studies are encouraging individuals of the older generations to join in on the fun and incorporate a little yoga and meditation routine into their daily lives. 

“Yoga’s such a good experience. Most people are scared to try something new, but I can guarantee if you try this, you will probably like it – a lot,” expressed Tulalip elder, Marvin Jones. “I did yoga once and now I think everybody should try it out. When we get up there in age, we need to do something, some form of exercise. This could prolong your life because it gets you moving and it’s better than just sitting around watching TV. You can do it at home, you can do it anywhere.”

Marvin is the first student of a new program called Mindful Movements brought to Tulalip by the SNAP-Ed and the Diabetes Care and Prevention programs. On the morning of February 19, Marvin sat in a circle and carefully followed the instruction of Autumn Walker, Diabetes Care and Prevention volunteer, who guided the class through an hour long yoga session. Autumn encouraged Marvin to try new poses but also to know his own personal limits as they focused their attention on breathing techniques and gentle stretches. 

“The intention teaching this class is to provide a space where people can take care of themselves and have some thoughtful reflections on what works for them, both with their mind and with their body,” Autumn explained. “There’s a lot of benefits to yoga and meditation. A lot of our lives are filled and busy, so setting aside some time where we can be quiet and focus on our wellness is beneficial. We can really find some movement and warmth with the stretching of the muscles, which can ease any pain people have with their joints and really facilitate flexibility of joints over time. If these motions and activities are practiced regularly, they can promote good circulation as well as the healing and wellness of the joints and muscles of the body.”

The first of many gatherings, Mindful Movements is held every Tuesday and is catered to the local elders of the community. Throughout the majority of the class, the students are in a seated position as they delicately flow through each pose for a relaxing exercise. A visible smile that seemed to indicate relaxation and ease grew wider and spread across Marvin’s face the further the class progressed. 

“I liked sitting in the chair, I found it a lot easier,” he said. “It’s great for people that can’t stand too long. My left leg is weaker and sometimes I can stand long periods and other times I can’t. If I can sit down and do it, it makes it a whole lot easier because I know I won’t fall. Today I was able to work on my neck, back and shoulders – that’s my main concern because I have weak shoulders. I noticed I got a little sore but that’s a good thing. It goes away after a little bit and you’ll get used to it because exercise helps make you stronger.”

According to many experienced yogis, yoga is absolutely safe for the older generations. Not only does yoga help elders with balance, mobility, heart health and strengthen the respiratory system and blood circulation, it can also relieve stress, inflammation and pain as well as lower blood sugar levels for those living with diabetes. 

After experiencing the benefits of yoga at a few of the Diabetes Care and Prevention Garden Day events, the elders began requesting a class of their own at the Senior Center. SNAP-Ed and the Diabetes program recruited Autumn, who also led the Garden Day sessions, to teach the initial classes of Mindful Movements. After a few months, Autumn will pass the baton to SNAP-Ed Nutritionist AnneCherise Jensen who will take over instructing duties. Originally scheduled to start at the beginning of February, Mindful Movements grew a lot of anticipation from local elders but unfortunately due to the recent snow storms, the first two classes were canceled. AnneCherise extends a friendly reminder that the classes are still occurring and invites the community to participate. 

“The elders inspired us as well as the whole aspect of wellness,” AnneCherise stated. “So bring your aunties, grandparents, anybody who is looking for a spark of motivation to stay active and feel good. We welcome everybody. It’s suitable for all fitness levels and ages. If you have any injuries or disabilities, we’re able to work around it, we work with everybody’s needs.”

Autumn adds, “We really want the class to be accessible for everybody to come and participate in the parts that work for them and to leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated as well as with a new curiosity about how their bodies operate and what they’re able to do with them. They can take some of these stretching exercises home and incorporate them into their everyday lives. We want people to leave feeling empowered, like yes, I can participate in this program that’s good for my wellness and yes, I found some physical activities that work for me.”

Mindful Movements is held every Tuesday at the Dining Hall between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. For further details, please contact SNAP-Ed at (360) 716-5632 or the Diabetes program at (360) 716-5642.