Journey Delayed: Ahousaht calls off Canoe Journey 2024

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Off the coast of Vancouver Island, only accessible by boat or plane, is the home of the Ahousaht First Nation band, an island community where close to 40% of its 2,224 enrolled membership reside. The culture and traditional ways are strong within this band and many travel hundreds of miles to witness and partake in Ahousaht events and family potlatches. 

Whenever Ahousaht singers and dancers are offering their medicine, they captivate the crowd with the execution of their songs and chants. And wherever they have the floor, whether at Thunderbird Hall in Ahousaht or at protocol during canoe journey, onlookers can count on Ahousaht to bring plenty of energy for hours on end, as their singers are known to perform well into the early morning of the next day. 

While each tribe is a must-see during protocol at canoe journey, Ahousaht is a fan favorite for many people, who will go as far as to plan their day according to when Ahousaht will be hitting the floor, to ensure they won’t miss their set. 

If you were to ask lifelong canoe journey men and women, you will find that many will fondly recollect on the 1999 paddle to Ahousaht – it’s remoteness from the busy world, the natural scenery of the sea and nearby uninhabited islands, as well as the people’s hospitality and their connection to their teachings and traditions. 

With a great reputation for their showmanship and remarkable performances at canoe journey, there was much excitement when a handful of Ahousaht members shared that the band would be hosting the summertime cultural sharing event in 2024. As soon as that announcement was made on the Tribal Journeys Facebook page last August, anticipation immediately began to build, and social media was buzzing as people started planning for a long pull to Ahousaht. 

However, it appears that that announcement was made prematurely and the request to host the 2024 canoe journey did not go through the proper channels or follow the band’s traditional protocols or procedures. 

This is according to a February 6, media release shared by Ahousaht’s leadership which informed their fellow tribes that they will not be hosting this upcoming journey. Since the Ahousaht community is located on an island, event goers would need to park their vehicles in the small tourist town of Tofino, which has limited parking space as it is, and arrange a ride via water taxi to Ahousaht. Additionally, the band does not yet have the space to host an event of such a large scale, as canoe journey has gradually grown over the years since Ahousaht last hosted 25 years ago. 

The release stated, “… Ahousaht and the surrounding region, including the District of Tofino, are not prepared to host the 2024 Canoe Journeys. Ahousaht and Tofino currently lack the necessary infrastructure (ex. parking. accommodations, food services, washroom facilities, medical and security services, etc.) to effectively and safely host the volume of canoe families that participate in Canoe Journeys. Ahousaht are currently in the development stages of several key infrastructure projects that are due to be completed in the coming years.”

At the bottom of the media release, Ahousaht did promise that they would host canoe journey once they have the capacity to do so, which they estimated would be in about five years or so. 

The release was initially met with a bit dismay, but also an overall understanding, given the band’s reasoning to not host this year. Many were supportive and commended Ahousaht’s leadership for making the hard but necessary choice to hold off until they are able to safely host a weeklong gathering for hundreds of people. 

When asked how this decision will affect Tulalip and the canoes that sail under its banner, Skipper Andrew Gobin said that the canoe family has yet to meet to discuss whether or not they will awaken Big Brother, Big Sister, and Little Sister this year. Andrew did note that the Tribe organized a pull to Lopez Island during the canoe journey’s last gap year in 2020, and also mentioned that participation in Puyallup’s youth paddle could be a possibility for local kids and teens. But he quickly followed with the reiteration that a decision has not yet been made in regard to the Tulalip canoes following Ahousaht’s media release. So, keep an eye out for any future updates by following the Tulalip Canoes Facebook page.

The next canoe journey is set for the summer of 2025, which will be hosted on the Olympic Peninsula by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. 

Valentine’s Day Social unites community for joyful celebration

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News 

On February 14, the Greg Williams Memorial Gym became a hub of delight and celebration as 477-TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) hosted a lively Valentine’s Day Social in collaboration with Child Support Enforcement. As a heartfelt way to express gratitude to their clients, the memorable occasion brought together supporting staff, clients, and their families in an informal and lighthearted setting.

 The atmosphere was brimming with excitement as parents and kids alike reveled in various activities, games and face painting, to pizza, cookie decorating, and a cakewalk. Tulalip tribal member Aiden Leora, who was having a blast running around and playing games with his mom, said, “my favorite part was the skatepark and painting cookies.” 

“It was a wonderful event,” tribal member Rosemarie Runningwater said. “I have five grandkids and live in a one-bedroom apartment, which means a lot. The kids get to be themselves, and grandma gets a little break. It’s wonderful.”

 “The highlights of this event are collaborating with the other departments and seeing all the kids run around and enjoy themselves,” 477-TANF manager Laura Wiggins said. “That’s what we live for. We are here for the children and keeping families together. As the saying goes, it takes a village, and following that, it takes all our departments and community members to enable a great path forward for our tribe.”

Laura continued,  “With staff turnover and new clients coming in, this event gives the clients and the staff a chance to meet one another in a not-so-formal event. It’s a great way to show our appreciation for our clients. We wouldn’t have a job if we didn’t have them.” 

As the Valentine’s Day Social ended, the lively atmosphere lingered, echoing the successful efforts of 477-TANF, Child Services, and our community. Laughter smiles, and meaningful connections defined the day, reinforcing the essence of our tribe. A special thanks to all who contributed, and as a parting gesture, each attendee left with a gift bag—a token of appreciation. Stay tuned for upcoming events and initiatives.

If you have any questions or want to know more about 477-TANF, call (360) 716-4719 or email 

Heritage Hawks soar into Regionals

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Ok, Hawks fans. For those of you who have journeyed with the team from as far north as Lummi and as far south as Tacoma, then major props to your dedication to fill the bleachers and cheer on the boys getting buckets. For everyone else, here’s your much-awaited playoff update. 

The last two weeks whizzed by at a frenetic pace that resembles the high-octane offense that fuels the Tulalip Hawks deep playoff run. Last we checked in, Tulalip had just claimed 2nd place in the NW1B District tournament. Falling to their inner-league rival and fellow tribal school, the Lummi BlackHawks. The silver showing punched Heritage’s ticket into the Tri-District tournament, and with it the right to host a 1st round home game.

1st Round:

Tulalip hosted Concordia Christian Academy at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium on February 10. Friends and family who filled the bleachers were treated to a good ol’ fashioned Christian beatdown. Adrian Jefferson got the party started with a transition layup, followed by Tokala Black Tomahawk hitting a midrange jumper to put the home team up 4-0. Then the boys got to work on defense; trapping ill-prepared ball handlers, coming up with one steal after another, and preventing Concordia from any quality shot attempts. Their 4-0 lead ballooned to 20-2 late in the 1st quarter.

Both offense and defense continued to fire on all cylinders well into the 3rd quarter when the boys were up 61-30. Doubling up their opponent, Coach Sanchey made the most of the moment by putting in a full unit of bench players. One by one, the bench got buckets to the delight of their fans and teammates who actively cheered them on through each 3-point attempt. Mercy finally came to those Concordia Christians in the form of the game-ending buzzer. 

The 75-38 blowout W was an ideal way to get their Tri-District tournament started. Freshman guard J.J. Gray led all scorers with 23 points to go with his 10 rebounds and 13 steals…that’s a triple-double with steals! Amare Hatch added 13 points. Notably, Tulalip had 10 players score a bucket and, as a team, amassed a whopping 29 steals. 

“Being this is Tri-Districts, we told our team pregame to view this as a whole new season. The regular season is behind us, Districts is behind us. Each team is reset and all our records go to 0-0,” said Coach Sanchey after the home W. “Now, after this win, we’re 1-0 and have to focus on keeping up the momentum and continue to play this energy on each possession moving forward. So long as we play our game like we know how, then I like our chances no matter who the opponent.”

2nd Round:

The Hawks ventured south to take on the Sound Christian Lions in Tacoma on February 13. It was a slow start for the boys as their shots just weren’t falling in the early going. Meanwhile, the Lions were feasting on offensive rebounds and getting high percentage shots at the rim. End of one, Tulalip trailed 11-15.

In the 2nd quarter, J.J. and Tokala started to sizzle. Both players made a 3-pointer, connected on a running floater and made a free-throw, which sparked a dominant 23-11 run by their team, resulting in a 34-26 halftime lead. The remainder of the game would be a near equal battle, with the Lions continuing to pursue buckets in the painted area while the Hawks used their athleticism and shooting touch to execute their offense from the perimeter. 

Threes being worth more than twos, Tulalip’s shooters connected on 10 deep balls as a team and left Tacoma with another W. This time by the margin of 62-54. J.J. once again led all scorers with 24 points, while Tokala scored 14 points and Chano Guzman added 11 points.

3rd Round:

Next up, the Hawks journeyed north on February 16 for yet another matchup with their version of basketball kryptonite, Lummi Nation. Worth knowing: if we didn’t include Lummi games, then Tulalip would be riding a massive 13-game winning streak. But that’s not how it works, so over their last 16 games Tulalip had a still impressive 13-3 record, yet all 3 of those losses came at the hands of the dreaded BlackHawks. Would the fourth time be the charm?

First quarter. Down 0-4, J.J. used a burst of speed to blow by his defender and score on a two-handed scoop shot to give Tulalip their first bucket. After Lummi hit a 3-pointer, Tokala countered with a 3 ball of his own to keep it close, 5-7. Then, Lummi did what Lummi does, which is play the classic Rez ball style better than anyone else around. They took a double-digit lead by the end of the 1st quarter and never relinquished it. 

Tulalip would trail 10-25 in the 2nd, 33-48 in the 3rd and ultimately lost 45-61. Tokala and J.J. both scored 16 points, Chano added 10 points, and Amare chipped in 5 points. With the loss, Tulalip still advanced to the Tri-District 3rd place game with significant Regional seeding impact still on the line. 

4th Round (3rd place game):

Tulalip had less than 24 hours to shake off the L to Lummi when they again travelled north. This time for a February 17 matchup with Muckleshoot at Mt. Vernon Christian’s gym. These two teams previously met way back on December 4 in Tulalip, when the Hawks were defeated 52-69. 

The second time around did not start off well. In fact, the boys trailed 0-12 midway through the 1st quarter before senior forward Hazen Shopbell put his team on the board with a tough transition bucket. Moments later, now trailing 4-16, J.J. corralled an offensive rebound and found a wide-open Hazen in the corner. Hazen splashed a 3 ball that gave his team new life.

Tulalip would start clicking on both sides of the ball and managed to claw their way back to tie the game 36-36 late in 3rd quarter. With the pressure clearly on Muckleshoot after blowing their big lead, all their players except one would buckle in the game’s decisive 4th quarter. 

In the final frame, Muckleshoot could only muster consistent offense from their senior forward. Meanwhile, Hazen continued his hot shooting and welcomed the added offense of the team’s freshman phenom. J.J. Gray would explode for 12 points in the game’s biggest moment to cap off the comeback victory. With eager chants of “Tulalip Power!” echoing from the Mt. Vernon bleachers, the boys basked in the 65-59 W knowing they had claimed 3rd place in the Tri-District tournament and punched their ticket to Regionals.

The Hawks were led by J.J.’s 20 points and Hazen’s 19 points. Tokala chipped in 13 points, 11 of which came in the 1st quarter to keep his team competitive. 

Looking ahead:

After adding a 3rd place finish in Tri-Districts to their in-season resume, Tulalip now soars into the Regional tournament with one simple goal: win and move on to State. They’ve been designated the #9 seed and will play the winner of #16 Columbia Adventist vs #17 Mount Vernon Christian. 

Mark your calendars. Tulalip’s one and only regional game will be played on Saturday, February 24, at 8pm at Arlington High School. Win and their season continues at State. Lose and their memorable run comes to a sudden end.

Operation Heart to Heart

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, 15 high school students of the Marysville School District (MSD) organized a beautiful and heartwarming event that brought endless smiles to special needs students across the district.

Officially dubbed Operation Heart to Heart, the event originally made its debut three years ago and was organized entirely by the Marysville Getchell Native American and Friends Club. The club planned the first gift giving event to spread love and kindness to developmental learning program (DLP) classrooms within MSD, and it’s grown every year since. 

This year the Marysville Pilchuck United Native Club joined-in on Operation Heart to Heart. The two clubs also partnered with Leah’s Dream Foundation and the Tulalip Tribes, both of which made contributions to the project. Additionally, the clubs released a flyer at the top of the year which asked the community for donations of coloring books, crayons, fidgets, colored pencils, stickers, stuffed animals, and small toys. The club members then assembled gift bags to distribute to several schools throughout the district in the few weeks leading up to the annual event. 

Said Charley Dick, President of the MG Native American and Friends Club, “Today we delivered all the Operation Heart to Heart donations, which was really heartwarming. It’s nice to be able to go see everyone and to just see all the smiles on everyone’s faces. It really makes me feel like our club is doing good things and like we are positively affecting the community, because we’re all about inclusion, building community, and making a good impact.”

Operation Heart to Heart 2024 kicked-off on the morning of February 13, at Quil Ceda Tulalip. In a classroom of just four students, as the new DLP is still in its infancy stage, the two clubs presented the first gift bags of the holiday season. The clubs, along with a handful of MSD Native liaisons, then offered a traditional song to the students before saying their farewells and continuing on their journey. 

In total, the clubs visited seven schools, four elementary schools, two middle school schools, and one high school over a two-hour span. Getchell’s 18-21 special needs teacher, Jim Strickland joined the excursion at the second stop and brought out his acoustic guitar to sing ‘You Are My Sunshine’ to the DLP students while the club members distributed the gift bags. 

The clubs were met with warm welcome at each of the seven campuses, some classrooms even made posters and valentine’s cards for the high schoolers in anticipation of their arrival. And though the amount of time the clubs spent at each school was brief, there was still plenty of laughter, dancing, hugs, smiles, and warm fuzzies to go around during the Valentine’s Day event. 

Amy Sheldon, MSD Special Education Native American liaison, expressed an overall excitement to see inclusivity celebrated by students in today’s school system. All throughout the Heart to Heart event, Amy beamed with pride as she watched the club members interact with the students at each and every school. 

Amy shared, “I think the important thing is for our students to realize that they’re making a difference by including others, and understanding, and being accepting of others. I’m really proud of what they’ve accomplished, and they’re really enjoying what they’re doing. My favorite part of the day was seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces. I want all special needs kids to feel like they’re part of something in our schools – and I’m really happy that our students [in the clubs] are stepping up.”

After making their rounds at Quil Ceda Tulalip elementary, Marshall elementary, Marysville Pilchuck high school, Cedarcrest middle school, Kellogg Marsh elementary, and Grove elementary, Operation Heart to Heart concluded at Totem middle school. Following the distribution and song offering, the two clubs elected to take one big group picture together. And with the success of today’s event, the groups expressed a desire to work on future endeavors together, in addition to supporting each other’s upcoming projects. 

“This is really important to me, because I just want to make sure that everyone feels included,” expressed Charley. “It’s really nice to know that we’re making a lot of these kids’ days. It’s important to let them know that they have a community, that they have people who care about them, because a lot of students do face bullying. Knowing that they’re included in activities like these, and knowing that when they do go to middle school and high school, that they have people who are there for them and who will give them that safe space is important.” 

Both of the clubs will continue to host events and activities throughout the school year. Be sure to follow the MG Native American and Friends Club and the Marysville Pilchuck High School Facebook pages for more information. 

Dr. Karen Foster-Schubert joins Tulalip Health Clinic

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

On December 18, Dr. Karen Foster-Schubert, a seasoned medical professional with a rich background, has assumed the crucial role of the new medical director for the Tulalip Health Clinic. With roots in Seattle and a long career with the University of Washington Veterans Affairs (V.A.), Dr. Foster-Schubert brings a wealth of experience to shape the future of healthcare delivery for the Tulalip community. Emphasizing the collaborative approach needed for success, she notes, “There is so much to learn and many decisions to make going forward.” 

Karen achieved her medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and did her internal residency in San Francisco. Then, she returned to the Pacific Northwest to finish her fellowship at the University of Washington before becoming a faculty member at the VA.

While immersed in roles at the V.A., Dr. Foster-Schubert found herself at the nexus of administrative leadership with an unwavering commitment to improving healthcare systems. Little did she anticipate that her extensive background, including spearheading the endocrinology department and serving as the Vice Chief of Medicine, would draw the attention of Jeremy Howell, the Health System Administrator for Tulalip. 

“I knew Jeremy from the V.A. and several specialty care work,” Karen said. “So when he reached out, I was like, this seems like a good opportunity to work with some amazing people, make a difference in how the healthcare system is organized, and bring in some specialty care. I am an endocrinologist, so I do a lot of work with diabetes and metabolic disease.”

Dr. Foster-Schubert’s decision to embark on this new chapter stemmed from a desire to make a tangible impact. Moving away from the expansive yet bureaucratic V.A. environment, she sought a more hands-on role where her insights could directly influence positive change. The pressing goal for Tulalip became clear – accreditation, which is a review process to determine if programs meet official regulatory requirements and standards of quality

“One of our biggest goals is accreditation,” Karen explained. “The accreditation process helps ensure a safety and healthcare excellence culture and improves access and equity. We have a consulting team to help look at every aspect that needs to be addressed to become accredited.”

Karen continued, “Another goal would be to focus on a culture of respect. That means that we all need to respect one another, respect everyone’s rules, and have a good understanding of everyone’s rules. This is not only for our staff and providers but also for our patients so that we are treating our patients with respect and, in return, creating a better sense of trust.”

As the tribe endeavors toward accreditation, Dr. Foster-Schubert lays out the multifaceted approach necessary for success. Addressing fundamental aspects such as the healthcare environment, safety protocols, and infection prevention systems, the tribe aims to overhaul its primary care system. 

While acknowledging the enormity of the accreditation process, Dr. Foster-Schubert views it as an opportunity for constructive change. She envisions a roadmap that aligns with Tulalip’s goals, emphasizing that accreditation isn’t a sign of past shortcomings but a collective journey toward more efficient and effective healthcare delivery. The tribe’s investment in training, particularly launching the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) process, underscores the commitment to coordinated care and continuous improvement.

“This is a little bit of a learning process for me,” Karen said. “I’m trying to understand how this system focuses on primary care delivery. I’m particularly concerned with ensuring efficient communication within our system and with external referrals. Since we can’t offer every specialty care in-house, it’s crucial to streamline the process for a seamless experience. We want to make it so that when we can’t provide the care in-house, and when they travel outside our health system to get the care they need, they know they have our support and understanding of navigating the health care system.”

Dr. Foster-Schubert concluded with a focus on change management and the importance of transparency and engaging tribal members in the process. “Change can be scary, and I want to do that in a way where everyone is engaged and excited. Be willing to be transparent; our tribal members must hear people’s voices around what perceived gaps we have and what needs aren’t being met.”

Mix Master Monie: Beauty in the beats and in the breakdown

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“One of the primary joys I get from DJing comes from knowing that I can bring people out of what they’re going through,” expressed Tulalip Disc Jockey, Monie Ordonia. “If they’re worried or stressed, they can come and get lost in the music. They can release and be in the now moment, and not think about the later, because when you’re dancing, you’re not thinking about any of that.”

Like many Native American musicians, Monie has a special relationship to the rhythm, bassline, and drum beats. Traditionally, Natives are brought up with a deep respect and love for music as certain songs and chants are held in high regard and are only brought out for special occasions. This practice is embedded in the DNA of countless tribal members. Over the years, music has served as good medicine that has helped many through heartbreak, grief, and battles with addiction. On the flipside, music has also amplified the joyous times, and people often tie happy memories to songs of that specific moment in time.

DJ Monie developed a strong connection, a thorough understanding, and an undying passion for music at a young age. Growing up off-reservation, in the central district of Seattle, Monie’s appreciation and respect for music has always been on par with her ancestral ways. 

Even though she had yet to be introduced to the traditional songs of the sduhubš, the sheer knowledge that music is sacred medicine was something that she cued in on early in her journey. And coming from a line of healers and medicine men, Monie found a way to use this particular medium of beats and breaks in such fashion when she found her home behind the turntables in the early 90’s. 

“It’s all about beats,” she exclaimed. “Beats are the biggest thing for DJs. I am self-taught, for the most part, because I can hear beat patterns when I listen to music. Because I know what other song would flow with it, I could be like ‘oh, that part would work really good with that song.”

She continued, “Growing up in the hood, I grew up with a lot of black folk, so I listened to a lot of R&B and Motown in the 70s. And of course, my older sisters, Esther and Muffy, were a huge influence. They loved music. When we would go buy gifts for each other, the majority of the time we ended up at the record store. In the late 70s, I was into Earth, Wind & Fire, The Commodores, Cameo – all those big musician groups where they all played real instruments, that was a huge influence on me.”

While attending Garfield High School, Monie chased her passion and joined the school’s band program. She set out to master the piano, and with natural talent and a great ear, she was content with learning just enough to get by in class. The temptation of a thrilling adolescence was too strong, and she put off learning how to read music in favor of a fun teenage social life. But her escapade with music was far from over. 

During this time and through her early college years, Monie perfected the technique of curating playlists, a skill that would come in handy when she found herself in the DJ booth a few years down the line. Now keep in mind, this is the 80s, a time before mixtapes were popularized and cut together on the regular by the masses. After relocating to downtown Los Angeles in 1984 and running with a crowd of USC students, Monie started receiving numerous requests for her tapes. She dedicated time to creating the perfect mixes for her group of friends and the parties they would host. That was until 1989, when she decided to take the next step in her journey with music and invested in some professional equipment. 

“One day, one of my buddies said we should have a party. And I was like, ‘I’ll go get a mixer and some turntables and play the music for the party,” recalled Monie. “I bought this Gemini mixer for like $70, it had all these little sound effects and everything on it. Next, I bought turntables for around $60, you could change the speed on it, but they were still belt driven. And last, I bought some headphones, and I started practicing.

 “I had a couple of friends that already had some DJ experience. One of my friends from Compton taught me a trick on how to rig my turntables, so I wouldn’t burn my motor out while trying to rotate the vinyl backwards or scratch, so it would slip really easy. Once I learned how to do that, I started spinning it back and holding the vinyl to where I could find the beat, to drop it right into the other song. I practiced that a lot and started getting really good at mixing and blending.”

Monie shared that her decision to purchase equipment and DJ her friend’s party ultimately led to more opportunities. The same friend that suggested they should host that party put Monie on game when a resident DJ at a local club announced she would be leaving her post for other endeavors. 

Now, this wasn’t just an average run-of-the-mill club. No, this was the historic Jewel’s Catch One Disco Club, one of the first black discos in the US, and officially the longest running black gay bar in LA. In its heyday, Catch One hosted live performances from the likes of Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Janet Jackson, Rick James, Madonna, and Tulalip’s own DJ Monie.

With some encouragement from her friend, Monie earned a residency at Catch One following a killer audition that left the club owner stunned. She started DJing regularly during the club’s weekly Ladies Night event on Thursdays, as well as during Friday’s Happy Hour spot at their downstairs bar.   

At a time where music genres hardly ever clashed, when house was house, grunge was grunge, hip-hop was hip-hop, and R&B was R&B, Monie dared to blend, which brought people to the dancefloor in droves. 

“That feeling – there’s nothing like it,” she exclaimed. “When a dancefloor is going crazy, that’s my high. I was different from all the other DJs because I would move in between genres. I’d play the popular R&B and hip-hop at the time, but then I’d mix in stuff from the 70s and 80s that I had in vinyl collection. Whenever my sister would get rid of her music, she gave me her vinyl records, so I had built a huge collection over the years. When I mixed in the old school – Prince, Cameo, Teena Marie, – the response I would get was crazy. The crowd would put their arms in the air, they’d be screaming and dancing crazy. That to me is the biggest compliment.”

Monie quickly built a name for herself, and the dancefloor would be packed each time she was on the ones and twos. She found herself in popular demand and was so well-known that she added additional sets throughout the weekends to appease frequent club-goers, while still maintaining a full-time printing job during the day. She became more comfortable and confident during her sets and perfected her craft by means of real-time experience.  

DJ Monie put in four-years at Jewel’s Catch One before the gig began to lose a bit of its luster, before the dream began to feel more like a job where she was getting underpaid for her work. When this happened, Monie was also doing some personal healing following a breakup. For these reasons, she decided to take a step away from the booth and focus on her wellbeing. During this time period, which turned out to be a one-year hiatus, Monie’s presence was missed by many. Whenever she was recognized in public or caught unwinding at a nearby club, she would leave many disappointed once they found out she would not be performing a set that night. 

This made her return to the game even sweeter for the 90’s LA club scene. Although, this time around she decided not work the clubs at all. It was by her roommate’s request that Monie found herself once again comfortable inside her sacred space – behind a mixer and a set of turntables. Upon agreeing to DJ her roommate’s backyard birthday party, the word spread like wildfire. On the night of the party, over 400 people were in attendance and the line to get into the party stretched around the block. Amongst all these attendees were some big-name celebrities such as MC Lyte, Meshell Ndegeocello, Teena Marie, as well as women’s basketball legend and Monie’s personal friend, Cheryl Miller. 

“I didn’t even get to see Meshell Ndegeocello because the place was so full,” shared Monie. “I was DJing from the back bedroom, looking through the windows out to everybody in the backyard. And that’s how I started my revitalization with DJing. That party lasted ‘til five in the morning. After that, I made everybody breakfast and my friends were still hyped up about it. So, I decided to start throwing parties. I spaced them out two or three months apart, so people would anticipate it and get excited. I averaged 300 people per party. After about a year-and-a-half, people started hiring me to DJ at their gigs. I was even throwing yacht parties at the marina. It was awesome. Those were some good times.”

DJ Monie’s sets were so epic that she once received one of the funniest requests of all time. She shared, “There was a party for one of my buddies. I was there spinning away, and everybody packed the dancefloor and was having a good time. I had someone come over and she was dancing right by me on the floor, because there wasn’t a booth set up there, we just had tables.  She came over was like ‘honey can you play a messed-up song?’ And I asked, why do you want me to do that? And she said, ‘I’ve been on the dancefloor for the last six songs, and I can’t get off the dancefloor because you’re jamming too much. Play something whack!’”

Cracking up at the memory, Monie continued, “I never heard a request like that in my life. It blew my mind when she said that. I told her I couldn’t play something whack, but I’d slow it down a bit so she could make her way off the floor.” 

Monie would go on to have a long and fruitful career as a LA DJ, one of few women DJs in the area. Throughout the 80s and 90s, Monie’s mother, Janice Wyakes, also lived in the greater Los Angeles area. However, Janice would return to Tulalip in the late 90s following a family reunification when they got in touch with Monie’s sister, who was adopted at a young age.  When the time came for Monie to return to LA, it was decided that it would be in Janice’s best interest, health wise, to stay in Washington under the care of Monie’s sisters. 

A few months after celebrating her 75th birthday, Janice made her transition to her next journey in March of 2012. It was at this point when Monie began to contemplate moving home to Tulalip. 

Said Monie, “I loved LA. I had been there for like 28 years. But when my mom passed away, the energy shifted so strong. I knew that I would be moving back here. And around the time when my mom passed away, my sister Muffy just started doing chemo for cancer. So, it was time for me to come back.”

Monie mentioned that she felt an energy shift. Now many of you who know Monie, also know that she is intuitive as heck. The universe did in fact begin to work its magic, preparing Monie for a return to her ancestral homelands. In phase one, Monie was laid off from her printing job, and since she was eligible for unemployment, she was able to save up for a possible move. On her sister’s advice, Monie put her name on the list for tribal housing. Phase two kicked off with a phone call, which informed Monie that a house became available on the reservation and was move-in ready. 

She would soon discover that her new home was on a hill overlooking her sister’s neighborhood, which was the icing on the cake. In the summer of 2014, Monie’s permanent address officially included a 98271 zip code. But by her standards, Monie initially kept a low profile in her first few years back at Tulalip, as her sole focus was spending time and caring for her sister throughout her battle with cancer. When Muffy made her journey to the afterlife, Monie found comfort and support in her community. 

“The first couple years, I had to get acclimated to the change in weather, and because LA is a big city, I had to get used to it being so quiet except for when they have coastal jams or longhouse stuff,” she stated. “I remember the first time I ever experienced the longhouse, but it was not literally down at the longhouse. I was here at home; it was summertime in the evening. I thought who the hell is doing construction work at this time? I called my sister Muffy like, ‘who’s doing all that banging outside?’. So, she went outside, and I could see her in her driveway listening. Then she looked at me while still on the phone, and she said, ‘oh that’s the longhouse!’. I never heard that in my life. So, it took me awhile to adapt from city life to rez life.”

In her past 10 years of residency on the rez, Monie made strong efforts to be there for her people, especially when it matters most. Whether you were introduced to her at a cultural gathering, community event, on the frontlines at local rallies tackling social injustice issues, or perhaps at one of her art classes for community members in recovery, Monie has become a source of good energy, and many find themselves gravitating toward her for stimulating conversation and a hearty laugh. 

Somewhere along the lines, word got out that Monie was nice on a set of turntables. Over the past few years, the local dances and community-wide celebrations have been slappin’ thanks to her music expertise. Event goers already know that it’s going to be a smash if they’re able to spot Monie and her signature setup of her MacBook Pro and her Numark digital DJ controller at the function. Her personality bleeds into her performances and her good vibes are contagious whenever she’s in her DJ element. 

“Honestly, when I first started DJing events here I started questioning if Tulalip people actually dance. Because I noticed that people would bob their heads and say they loved the music, but nobody was dancing. And being a club DJ, packing the dancefloor, and having people requesting a whack song so they can get off the dancefloor, that’s what I was normally accustomed to. But one of the most fun parties I worked is when I DJed the Valentines Day party last year. People were dancing at that one. And you know anytime people are dancing, that’s what make me happy. It lets me know that I’m doing my job.”  

You can catch DJ Monie spinning at the upcoming 477/TANF and Child Support program’s Valentine’s Day Social from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Greg Williams Court. 

Monie has also expressed a desire to share her knowledge with any youth interested in learning about the art of DJing. When asked if she had any words of advice for young aspiring DJs, she shared that it’s important to take pride in your work and invest in yourself. 

She expressed, “I take pride in my reputation as a DJ, because I know that’s one of my professions. I take it very seriously. I started with vinyl. Now, with digital controllers it’s a lot easier, everything’s at your fingertips. Pay attention to your crowd and play the music they want to hear, not the music you want to play. And start training your ear and listen to other DJs because there are different techniques going on from one song to the other. Listen to mixes – how people blend, the different beat drops, the backspin to transition to a new song. I also think it’s important to use your money to invest in yourself. And for me, my DJ equipment was investing in my joy that feeds not only my soul, but also sustains my livelihood.”

Be sure to check out DJ Monie’s playlist that she curated to highlight her career as a renowned Indigenous DJ. Add the tracks to a playlist on your Spotify, YouTube, or Apple Music accounts and be sure to hit play whenever you need a good dance session or a pick-me-up. 


Monie’s Grooves

Curated by DJ Monie, this playlist is packed with feel good beats that are sure to get the party started! Each track also follows Monie’s journey as a DJ, from her early years collecting vinyl to her favorite jams of today!

Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
Good Times – Chic
Bounce, Skate, Rock, Roll – Vaughn Mason & Crew

Candy – Cameo
Another One Bites The Dust – Queen

The Power – Snap
Poison – Bell, Biv, DeVoe

It Takes Two – Rob Base

Present Day
About Damn Time – Lizzo
Break My Soul – Beyoncé

Christopher Gobin takes on new role  as Deputy Chief  

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

Newly appointed Deputy Chief Christopher Gobin, a dedicated officer with 17 years of service with the Tulalip Police Department, said, “I had a negative experience with a state game warden when I was younger, and it left a bad taste in my mouth, and I didn’t want our tribal members to deal with people that don’t care.” This poignant experience served as a catalyst, propelling Gobin toward a career in law enforcement where honesty, fairness, and a deep connection to his tribal community would become the guiding principles of his service.

Said Christopher, “I felt honored when I was asked to be Deputy Chief. It sets an example for younger tribal members: I don’t have a college education, but I can still achieve a high leadership role with hard work and dedication.  I went to the Army and came back and have been a police officer for the tribe ever since. I’ve worked my way up, and it shows these younger tribal members that they can achieve high levels of leadership in our tribe. It’s a lot more paperwork than out on the streets. Still, it’s an honor to put my fingerprints on the department, bring my knowledge of what the community has told me they need, and, as a community member, know where this department should be going. 

I have a better understanding of what the tribe needs. It’s not someone outside the tribe trying to dictate what the tribe needs. I can listen to the community members; they trust me. So, I can coordinate with the police department and help the community get what it wants out of the police department.”

“The drug epidemic with fentanyl is probably an everyday thing with us,” Christopher explained. “It’s not only the crime that’s associated with people that are lost in addiction; it’s dealing with the mental health side of things also.” Gobin details the efforts to combat this: “We have bolstered our drug task force; five members are in it now. Every day, they are getting drugs off the street. Even one little pill can kill someone. So, if we can get one pill off the street, that’s one less chance of a tribal member dying.”

Looking ahead, Gobin outlines his goals, acknowledging the challenges faced by the police department: “Address the staffing issues; there’s so much more that we could be doing if we had the staff. Also, better training, with dedicated workers that spend 24/7 on the job and insufficient staff to take their place, makes it difficult to get extra training that is well needed.”

Building deeper bonds within the community is a crucial objective: “Getting the community know the police officers and see them as not just the police but also as people. This community does a good job of embracing our officers; I want to further that. It makes the community safer, and it makes the job safer.”

Recruitment of tribal members into the police department is a priority for Gobin: “My last goal would be to recruit tribal members to join the police department. It has been tough to get tribal members to work here. Building the police department with community members working and living in the community so they have that closer tie helps keep officers here. It builds the next generation of leaders.”

Christopher is an excellent example of how hard work, dedication, and a passion for the job can bring you to new heights and bring new opportunities to your life. 

Christopher said, “Every day, I am going to try and do the best I can with my tools, and I will strive to make this a better police department. I want Tulalip to be where establishments like Marysville and Everett go. That’s what a police department should be.”