More than fireworks, Boom City represents Tulalip culture

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

“Boom City is much more than a business or money making venture. It’s part of my culture, my history, and really represents what it means to be Tulalip,” declared Rocky Harrison while peering out from his stand as potential customers walk into Snohomish County’s firework epicenter. “Most advocate for hunting, fishing, or gathering Cedar and berries as what it means to be Tulalip, but to me Boom City is just as strong and just as much a part of our culture.”

For nearly 40 years now, the Tulalip Tribes have turned a vacant lot on their reservation into an excitement-filled marketplace for those looking to satisfy the celebration demands of Independence Day. 

Thousands of customers from all over the Pacific Northwest journey to Boom City every year seeking the perfect purchase consisting of child friendly sparklers and snap poppers and, of course, the thrilling sights and sounds of more advanced explosives, such as artillery shells and 500 gram, multi-shot cakes.

Largely illegal in the State of Washington, the sale of fireworks is permitted on Tulalip lands as a direct result of tribal sovereignty. Embracing that sovereignty is some 80 or so stand owners, each a Tulalip entrepreneur looking to cash-in on 4th of July festivities. Together they form a powerful voice in the community that personifies self-determination and tradition.

“Seeing old friends from school, church, and every job I’ve ever had is the best part to me,” shared Terry Parker, Jr. He’s been selling at Boom City for 39 years now. “We all have our repeat customers and through those relationships we’ve seen kids become adults and eventually parents themselves bringing their kids out here. I’ve witnessed three generations of families grow up via their annual trips to buy fireworks. That’s three generations worth of laughter and priceless stories.”

For Dan Pablo, Jr. and wife Kelsea, they’ve factored prominently in the firework marketplace for years, too. So much so they created custom branded products to go with their towering stand, JR Cadillac, that always captivates the attention of first time patrons.

“We got lucky with a distributor we’ve known for a long time, and he made us some custom rapid-fire cakes with our name on them,” explained Dan. “It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of hours and long days go into being successful, but it’s worth it in order to pay off bills and afford things for our family that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.” 

The financial incentives for those willing to embrace the Boom City life are tried and true. In recent years there’s been a trend by Negative Nancy’s to try and diminish the hard work and sacrifice made by those willing to put their marketability and people skills to the annual test.

From nearby cities instituting zero-tolerance policies on fireworks, to recent dry spells causing worry about fire hazards, to even COVID-19 creating concern for some, yet Boom City persists and prevails. Like culture and tribal sovereignty, it remains stronger than anything attempting to tear it down. 

“For me and multiple stand owners, this was the best opening weekend of Boom City we’ve ever had…and we almost didn’t have it,” reflected Rocky. For the past 13 years he’s co-managed a stand with his brother, Josh Fryberg.

Tensions ran high as Tulalip leadership and the Boom City committee negotiated this year’s regulations. There were strong indications it would be cancelled altogether before finally getting the green light just two weeks ago. 

“All this revenue and income was nearly taken away from us and the many families who depend on Boom City to supply the atmosphere for their 4th of July celebrations,” added Rocky. “The community we have here every single year brings people together in a way few things can. I’m just thankful to be a part of it and look forward to teaching my kids how to continue on this tradition in the future.”

Liven up your meals with fruits and vegetables

By Tulalip Tribes SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator, AnneCherise Jensen 

Sadly, fruits and vegetables often get a bad rap. For some, they aren’t the most popular foods on the menu. However they contain extremely high amounts of vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health and immunity. They are low in fat and calories, and contain lots of fiber and other key nutrients. Most Americans should eat more than 3 cups — and for some, up to 6 cups — of vegetables and fruits each day. Vegetables and fruits don’t just add nutrition to meals, they also add color, flavor, and texture, bringing the meal to life. When cooked and paired together properly, fruits and veggies create unique and exquisite flavor combinations.  Here are some fun and creative ways to bring healthy foods to your table. 

Fire up the Grill. Summertime is finally here! Now is the perfect time to fire up the grill to cook vegetables and fruits. Try grilling mushrooms, carrots, peppers, or onions on a kabob skewer. Brush with oil to keep them from drying out. Grilled fruits like peaches, pineapple, or mangoes add great flavor to a cookout. 

Expand Flavor of Casseroles. Mix vegetables such as sautéed onions, peas, garlic, broccoli, spinach, or tomatoes into your favorite dish for that extra flavor. If you dice them up small enough, you can even get away with sneaking them into the dish without anyone knowing. 

Planning something Italian? Add extra vegetables to your pasta dish. Slip some peppers, spinach, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic or cherry tomatoes into your traditional tomato sauce. Vegetables provide texture and low-calorie bulk that satisfies.

Get Creative with Salad. Toss in shredded carrots, strawberries, spinach, watercress, orange segments, or sweet peas for a flavorful, fun salad. With the summer heat upon us, a crisp and refreshing salad is both healthy and satisfying! One of my favorite summer salads is an ‘Apple Walnut Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette’. Check out the recipe provided below!

Substitute Fruit for Dessert. Try a fruit based dessert instead of processed or overly sweetened dessert. Fruit based dessert will provide you with more nutrients while also preventing you from consuming excess calories throughout the day. Options could include a fruit smoothie, berry parfait, fresh whole fruit, or fruit based popsicles. These are great options to satisfy the sweet tooth in the summer heat! 

Get in on the Stir-Frying Fun. Try something new! Stir-fry your veggies — like broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, bok choy, peppers, mushrooms, onions or green beans — for a quick-and-easy addition to any meal. Add a lean source of protein and some whole grain rice to make the meal complete! 

Add to Sandwiches. Whether it is a sandwich or wrap, vegetables make great additions to both. Try sliced tomatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, or avocado on your everyday sandwich or wrap for extra flavor. These are great to bring to lunches for work, hiking, or any other outdoor activity. 

Be Creative with Baked Goods. Add apples, bananas, blueberries, or pears to your favorite muffin recipe for a treat. Doing so gives some extra flavor and nutrients, all while being creative in the kitchen! 

Veggie and Fruit Trays: I’ve learned the best way to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables, is to prepare it in a fun and eye appealing manner. Make some fruit and veggie trays that have a wide variety of options. This is a great way to get individuals to try new foods they may not have originally tried on their own. Some of my favorite summer choices include watermelon, honeydew, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cherries, grapes, celery and cherry tomatoes. Add a few healthy dipping options like low fat ranch, hummus or Greek yogurt to compliment the assortment. 

Liven up Breakfast. Boost the color and flavor of your morning omelet or egg scramble with a variety of vegetables. Simply chop, sauté, and add them to the egg as it cooks. Try combining different vegetables, such as mushrooms, spinach, onions, or bell peppers. This is the perfect way to fuel for the day! 

Want local, organic fresh produce delivered to your front door? Check out Klesick farms online produce department at They have a wide variety of produce you and your family would love. 

With Covid-19 on the rise, it is comforting knowing healthy produce can be delivered to your door without having to leave the house. You can create your own assortment of goods, or you can sign up for specific box packages/sizes that include, “Family on the Go” “Harvest Box” “Fruits” or “Veg /Salad” options. If interested, you may also purchase local meats, eggs and grain products. Check out the following steps to get your family signed up for your own Klesick Box of fresh produce! 

**This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP.  This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Tulalip weight loss challenge: Determined to lose that “quarantine 15”

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

*Trigger Warning* The following combination of letters and punctuation depicts a factual desire to make healthier choices, lose body fat, and become better role models for children. In the era of #AllFeelingsMatter, some readers may find this kind of content offensive. 

Heard of the quarantine 15? The phrase started popping up on social media back in March, as people considered how quarantining at home would affect their eating and exercise habits. Like most things on social media, it started mostly as a joke, but three months of shelter-in-place orders later many can attest to gaining a few inches around the waist line. For these folks, the intent to steer clear of coronavirus resulted in an unintended consequence of catching the quarantine 15.

“Wonder why we crave pizza, potato chips, and chocolate during the coronavirus quarantine? When we’re worried or frightened, we’re more likely to seek out sugars, fats, and carbs for a quick energy boost,” explained Psychology Today’s Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. “These comfort foods act like a natural tranquilizer that calms us down in times of peril.

“But what feels like a satisfying solution in the short term grows into a bigger problem in the long run. Comfort eating traps us in a hard-to-break eating cycle that adds to stress levels, resulting in serious health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, as well as emotional problems, such as depression and anxiety.”

Over the past several weeks, states and cities all across the United Sates have gradually loosened their shelter-in-place orders. Locally, Snohomish County is in phase two and will be entering phase three in a matter of days, which means more and more businesses and outdoor recreation activities are available to the public. A group of local mothers look forward to returning to some semblance of normalcy and together they share a desire to make healthier choices, which means shedding that unwelcomed quarantine 15.

Knowing that weight loss alone can be difficult, they are pooling their emotional and physical support in a way that is fun, constructive, and gets the competitive juices flowing. Enter Tulalip’s own weight loss challenge – the mommas gotta get it done edition. The inspired group consists of ten Tulalip tribal members, all women and all mothers.

“We’ve created a Facebook group to motivate each other, share recipes, and support one another through this process,” said Malory Simpson. “We’ve set this up to be a challenge, hoping the completive nature comes out to help us stay motivated, but at the same time we’ll be able to rely on the group for support when it’s needed.”

The group met in person on Monday, June 22, near the stunning overlook of Tulalip Bay to both officially weigh-in and pay the buy-in that ultimately adds a competitive wrinkle to further incentivize living a healthier lifestyle.

“I need all the motivation I can get. Having money on the line just helps to jump start the process for everybody,” shared Michelle Martin. “It’s been rough being stuck at home during this whole quarantine. Especially being a mom of three young boys who never seem to be full. I’m constantly feeding them or giving them snacks, and it’s so easy to snack along with them. Participating in this weight bet will help me hold myself accountable and knowing there are nine other ladies watching me gives me even more drive.”

A change in lifestyle is never easy. Making wholesale changes to your typical grocery list, creating brand new go-to meals, and cutting out sugar-filled beverages like sodas, energy drinks, and those tasty caffeinated drinks from your favorite coffee stand sounds daunting, there’s no doubt about it. But for an entire nation that went into a 3-month long quarantine over fear of catching what some refer to as a largely overhyped virus*, the goal to live a healthy and more active lifestyle is even more substantial. 

Countless reports show overwhelming evidence clearly showing that not only is eating nutritious foods and regular exercise good for you holistically, together they will also mitigate underlying health conditions which are the most emphatic precursors to COVID-19 related deaths. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading serial killers in modern day Native communities and remain pervasive threats to our culture. So much so that they are attributed to an estimated 50% of all Native American deaths. 

For the ten moms participating in a weight loss challenge, their courage to go outside their comfort zone and engage in a healthier lifestyle can have tremendous effects not just in the short term, but in the long term as well. By holding themselves accountable, channeling stress in proactive ways, and staying active, each mother will be promoting immeasurable health benefits to not only each other, but their easily influenced children, too.

“It can only be a huge positive for our kids to see us choosing to make good changes and live healthier,” added Malory. “As moms, realizing that what we cook is what our kids will eat only adds a layer of importance. Of course our kids have their own snacks, but by focusing on adding more fruits and vegetables to our daily meals, and cutting out the unhealthy stuff, our entire households will become healthier.”

An opportunity for parents to teach their kids how to be healthy, shutting off the TV, computer and phone screens more often to go outside and enjoy the outdoors, while working together as a family is a win-win-win.  Plus, there are huge bragging rights to whoever comes out the victor of Tulalip’s own weight loss challenge and puts a little extra coin in their pocket. 

The group is set to reconvene on July 22 for another weigh-in. Regardless of what the scale shows, by choosing to be healthier with food selection and engaging in more exercise each determined woman is a winner.

“It’s so important to acknowledge everybody has a different body that will react uniquely to different weight loss methods,” said Courtney Jefferson. “Sharing this information lets us know its ok when a particular type of diet doesn’t work. For example, we hear a lot of talk about the Keto Diet, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Same applies to Paleo, Atkins, and even going vegan. We each have our own nutritional requirements and need to, most of all, be in tune with out body and how it reacts to different foods. 

“There are sure to be some difficulties on this journey, but that’s why we’re doing it together,” she added. “Our support for one another will make it easier to keep moving forward.”

*Snohomish County health department reports 3,814 confirmed cases, with 3,209 of those individuals recovered and 164 deceased (4% mortality rate), as of 6/23/2020. 

Senator McCoy named 2020 Public Official of the Year

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Well renowned Tulalip tribal member and now retired U.S. Senator, John McCoy, was named ‘2020 Public Official of the Year’ by Evergreen State College during the college’s virtual commencement on June 12th.  

“The motto of our Master of Public Administration program is ‘be the change’,” explained Evergreen’s MPA Director Dr. Michael Craw. “Senator McCoy has personally shaped the education of many of Washington’s leaders as an adjunct faculty member in our program and as the sponsor of numerous internship opportunities for students. In his courses, Senator McCoy has provided the wisdom of experience that can only come from a skilled practitioner of governance and public administration. Senator McCoy truly has been, and continues to be, the change we hope to see in Washington and the world.”

After 17 years of service in the Washington State Legislature, McCoy announced his retirement after submitting a resignation letter to Governor Jay Inslee in April. The longtime Democratic lawmaker leaves behind a legacy of steady leadership and commitment to serving his community. He brought a career in military service and years as a computer technician to his work at the Legislature, culminating in a lawmaker who effectively advanced economic development and equality of opportunity for his district. 

His work is characterized by tireless advocacy for Native American communities, expanded access to high-quality education, and environmental sustainability. Before McCoy became one of the longest serving Native American legislators in the state’s history, he led efforts to bring better telecommunication infrastructure to the Tulalip Tribes. He also helped bring to fruition the economic powerhouse that is Quil Ceda Village.

In addition to being named public official of the year, Evergreen’s faculty also voted unanimously to bestow an honorary Master of Public Administration degree upon the Tulalip elder. 

“Senator McCoy has provided extraordinary educational leadership for us at Evergreen,” said college president Dr. George Bridges. “He and his tribal nation helped establish the Tribal Governance concentration in our Master of Public Administration program, which Alan Parker (Chippewa Cree) and Linda Moon Stumpff (Apache) co-founded. We look forward to celebrating the graduation of our 10th MPA Tribal Governance cohort this year.” 

Senator McCoy always prioritized the education of his people. Here he visits the Early Learning Academy to hear youth singing in Lushootseed.

During his five terms in the Washington State House of Representatives, McCoy fought for students, for the environment, for a healthy economy and for tribal communities. He sponsored policy that expanded support for students struggling with behavioral and emotional health needs, protected water rights and access, and integrated comprehensive tribal history and cultural education into teacher preparation programs.

Most notably, he authored Senate Bill 5433 which was signed into law in May 2015 by Governor Inslee, making it mandatory for schools to educate students about the history and governance of northwest coastal tribes. The State has since worked diligently with Native Nations to develop a first-of-its-kind curriculum, Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State.

“When I first came home and started to work on building the Tribe’s resources, one of those resources was getting our tribal members educated,” reflected McCoy from the comforts of retirement. “Getting them educated was very important so that we could build on our resources and help our people grow.”

Additional plans are underway at Evergreen State College to create a scholarship in the Senator’s name to support future Tribal Governance students.

Peaceful march against racism

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Over 1,000 community members from the Tulalip/Marysville area came together on Thursday, June 11 to peacefully march against racism. Organized by the Black Student Unions of Marysville School District, the crowd of demonstrators met at Jennings Park where they listened to several inspiring black youth offer a heavy dose of reality.

“We’re here to honor all our fallen sisters and brothers: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery,” said 17-year-old Jenasis Lee, president of the Marysville Getchell’s BSU and one of the co-organizers of the youth-led event. “Racism is taught. Our long-term goal should be to educate all of our friends, family, community members on what being black truly is.

“How many more of our people have to die in order for the world to see how much damage has already been done?” she asked. Her powerful words reaching the many minds now eagerly open and receptive to take in the depth of her message. 

Among the student speakers was Tulalip’s own RaeQuan Battle. The former Marysville Pilchuck basketball phenom spoke candidly about his time on the basketball court, where he routinely heard opposing fans call him the N-word. Learning to excel through that kind of adversity ultimately helped him achieve his dream of playing hoops for the University of Washington.

“Being a Native American and an African American, it was heartbreaking to watch that eight-minute video [of George Floyd being murdered by the police],” shared 19-year-old RaeQuan. “My heart really dropped and I just couldn’t imagine being in that position.

“My little brother Tayari saw that video. He comes up to me and asks what’s happening. It sucked to explain to my 10-year-old brother that he could be in that position.”

Acknowledging concepts like systemic racism and police brutality, both of which are impossible to ignore in today’s society, is one thing, but to take action in a common cause to denounce these insidious mechanisms used to oppress people of color in our country is something else entirely. As the student speeches continued to ring out through the loud speakers, so too did their message in the hearts and minds of concerned citizens of all colors uniting under a common goal: to eliminate racism in all its forms. 

The day’s event received a blessing of radiating sunshine that brought an extra layer of warmth to the 1,000+ people crowd. A torrential downpour had many turning out with raincoats and umbrellas ready, but minutes before the march started the rain came to an abrupt stop. Under a clear spring sky, the march began from Jennings Park to Ebey Waterfront Park. Non-stop chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “Say his name. George Floyd!” brought out many onlookers from their residential homes to take in the scene.

Near the march’s core was a cohort of Tulalip tribal members offering their support through rhythmic drum beats and melodic song. Heartfelt messages written in Lushootseed were seen proudly displayed by both tribal and nontribal alike. 

The peaceful march against racism concluded at Ebey Waterfront Park with an impassioned speech by Tulalip Chairwoman Teri Gobin.

“We stand with George Floyd’s family and the families of every person who has been a victim of racial inequity and violence,” she stated. “As people of color we understand the oppression and the historical trauma it causes. We have felt this pain. We have endured this hatred. None of our children should have to live like this. 

“If we stand together as a community, we can change our future. We can build a world where we can see the value of a person, not the color of their skin. We can all become social justice warriors by challenging ourselves to change the way we treat each other.”

Change the way we treat each other. It really is that simple, and yet remains so challenging for us as a society to do so. However, the hope remains. Every person who showed up and marched against racism with the Tulalip/Marysville community, each handmade sign made, each powerful word shared, all of it and more are positive proof that hope remains. 

A look inside the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ)

By Daniel R. Smith

The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle, established by Black Lives Matter protestors, has inspired a wave of negative media attention (false rumors of extortion initiated by a rightwing blogger were repeated by Police Chief Best, she later retracted the statement) along with a threat of military force by President Trump on Twitter. CHAZ, comprising several blocks near Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, is a self-governed area, largely free of police presence, established when SPD abandoned the precinct Monday. Following a week of violent police actions directed at protestors, CHAZ has been transformed from a raucous war zone with teargas and flash-bang grenades, to a mecca for activist speeches, mural painting, leafleting, and free food and water.

Having visited CHAZ three successive days this week, Tuesday—Thursday, it’s obvious the protestor’s position is tenuous. During the day, crowds swelled to several thousand and with the sun out it’s incredibly relaxed, like Seattle’s most vital street fair. But the fear of police returning is constant—protestor speeches are punctuated by calls for bodies to man street barricades. On Wednesday I saw police nonviolently repelled twice by protestors, but a chain of bike police did manage to enter the East Precinct in the afternoon. They installed themselves in windows directly above the people’s mic at 12th and Pine, monitoring the protests from above.

Protestors see the police as an occupying force which uses violence disproportionately against people of color. Among protestor demands are defunding the SPD, essentially redistributing funds to the community, turning the precinct building over to the community, so no return of the police. The protestors give near-constant recognition to the fact that CHAZ sits on stolen land, and encourage collaboration with Native movements. Roxanne White, Yakima, Nez Perce, Nooksack and Gros Ventre, an advocate for the families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) spoke on Wednesday about the connections between Native people and BLM:

The future of the zone is unclear. Protestors say they are willing to talk to Chief Best but that she backed out of a meeting yesterday. In the meantime the city is experiencing a flourishing of voices and mutual-aid collaboration not seen since Occupy. At a minimum, everyone hopes a resolution is achieved, non-violently, that brings significant reform to the way Seattle is policed.

Petition to Defund SPD:

Reading helpful to understand the context of CHAZ: