MSD’s Native American students honored as they prepare for middle school

If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

On the evening of May 25, twenty-six Indigenous youth, from the Marysville School District (MSD), were celebrated and recognized for their hard work of completing elementary school. Bringing their 5th grade year to a close, the students beamed with pride as their parents and family cheered them on. As their names were announced, the young learners entered the longhouse of the Hibulb Cultural Center one at a time, in alphabetical succession of their last names, before taking a seat together at the head of the room. 

“Congratulations to all of our 5th grade students,” expressed Eneille Nelson, Marysville School District’s (MSD) Executive Director of Equity and Family Engagement. “You’ve accomplished a lot in getting through the first phase of your educational journey. You still have a long way to go, but you have started the journey. You’re on a great path, so stick with the path because at the end, the reward is going to be worth it.” 

The annual 5th grade honoring was co-coordinated and co-funded by the Tulalip Education Division team and the Positive Youth Development and Leadership Program. The honoring united students from over ten different elementary schools throughout the district. The new middle schoolers formally met the MSD Native liaisons as well as some of their future classmates, and a number of representatives from the Education Division.

“I want to thank you for joining us here today to honor these amazing 5th graders who will be going on to 6th grade,” said Jessica Bustad, Executive Director of Tulalip’s Education Division. “It’s going to be a big journey for you, we’re really excited to be here to support you and honor you. We’ll be here through your education journey and through your future. All these team members, we dedicate our time and lives to serving our youth. You are our future, and we value you.”

Eager to begin a new journey in their educational careers, the kids were all ears as the Native liaisons shared encouraging and motivational words with the students. Faith Valencia of the Tulalip Youth Council was also in attendance, and she invited the soon-to-be middle schoolers out to the Teen Center over the next couple months, where they planned out a fun and eventful summer that the elementary school graduates will be sure to enjoy. 

Native Liaison, Matt Remle shared, “I am very honored to be here tonight, honoring these future leaders, future middle schoolers. We wanted to show you all the support systems you’re going to have throughout your time in school, who to look out for in your time of need. Our team, liaisons, advocates, the equity department, we are here to support you in whatever capacity it is that you need.”

Each graduate received a special gift during the ceremony, a beautifully designed dreamcatcher, to commemorate their latest accomplishment. The ceremony ended with a traditional sduhubš song, performed by the MSD faculty, the Tulalip Youth Council, and Tulalip Education Division team members. 

5th grade graduate and Tulalip tribal member, Braiden Kane, reflected on the evening’s events. He stated, “Today felt really good. It was a little nerve-racking but I’m looking forward to the future, learning new things and meeting new people. And I’m just happy to be in the 6th grade!”

Following the ceremony, the kids happily posed for photos for their parents along with their fellow graduates. Their shared excitement of entering middle school together was evidenced in their wide smiles in every photo captured during the event.

Along with the dreamcatchers, the youth were sure to leave the Cultural Center with a message from Eneille. She urged the students, “Do not let anyone to tell you what you cannot do or what you cannot accomplish, because you have the ability to be anything you want to be and to go wherever you want to go. Don’t let anyone limit you to anything. If you can dream it, you can do it.”

“Remember so we don’t forget” Memorial Day commemorated at Tulalip 

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Stars and stripes waved in the breeze. Hundreds of tiny US flags were placed at the graveside of every Tulalip member who served in the military and moved on to the next journey. The Tulalip Honor Guard stood at attention. Comprised of thirteen tribal Veterans, seven held rifles and four carried flags, while Hank Williams held the Eagle Staff and David ‘Chip’ Fryberg wielded his brass trumpet. As the Tribe’s Veterans Coordinator, William McLean III, called out the orders, barrels were raised high and each of the seven veterans simultaneously shot three rounds into the air while Chip performed Taps on his horn.  

  Tulalip is the proud home of countless courageous service men and women, from as far back as the first world war to this very day. Throughout the generations, numerous tribal members answered the call to duty, trained hard, and bravely fought to defend our nation and our freedoms. And once a year, the families of those soldiers and veterans who passed, collectively join together to pay tribute to their loved ones. As always, the Tribe held two beautiful Memorial Day ceremonies, one at the Priest Point cemetery and the other at the Mission Beach cemetery.

“Across America, everybody is pausing just like we are doing right now, to remember those who served in this great country of ours,” said Vietnam Veteran and Tulalip BOD, Mel Sheldon. “And across many of the reservations, they’re doing the same exact thing as we are. Native Americans are very proud of our people signing up, being in the military. We raised our hands more than any other groups throughout history. Whether they were Marines, Semper-Fi, Air Force, Army, Navy, we had our men and women who volunteered and signed up to fight for our country, and we’re so proud of that legacy.”

The weather was perfect on the day of the ceremonies, which set a beautiful backdrop for the immaculately manicured landscapes of the two cemeteries. Many thank-yous were expressed to the Tribe’s groundskeepers for preparing both sites for the Memorial Day commemoration. 

At the Mission Beach cemetery, Mel addressed the families in attendance, “Take a look around at how beautiful this cemetery looks today. Seeing all the rhododendrons in full bloom and all the other shrubbery with flowers, it’s a magnificent cemetery. It’s great to be here today, to remember so we don’t forget.”

Sharing roll call duties, Cy Hatch III and Sara Andres read the names of nearly 300 tribal members who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country, as well as all those veterans who are no longer with us. Families listened intently and waited patiently to hear the name of their fallen heroes. 

A handful of veterans shared their personal experiences of time spent in the military, and recalled their past campaigns, while also taking time to honor their friends of family members who didn’t make it back to their homelands. Mel also held a special dedication for Cy ‘Saigon’ Williams and Stan Jones Sr., who both recently passed and were a big part of the Tulalip Veterans community. 

Tulalip Chairwoman, Teri Gobin, shared, “I want to thank each and every one of you who served in the military, and those who also gave the sacrifice of their lives, and the gold star mothers. It’s so important that we continue this to remember those who made that sacrifice, and their families because they make the sacrifice right along with them when they’re in the military.”

Once the ceremony at the Mission Beach cemetery concluded, the families stopped to visit the final resting places of their loved ones before they headed to the Gathering Hall to share a little good medicine together after the moving day of remembrance – a meal, some memories, and of course, some hearty laughter. 

Training for a better tomorrow: TERO hosts graduation ceremony

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

This past February, sixteen men and women took a chance on themselves and committed to a sixteen-week course at the Tulalip TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC). Entering the game with little to no experience, those individuals showed up every morning for five days a week to soak up as much knowledge as they could about the booming construction industry. At TVTC, their slogan is ‘Training For A Better Tomorrow’, and that day officially arrived for those sixteen students on the afternoon of May 26. 

A transformation took place at the space where the latest round of TVTC students learned numerous skills over the past few months in carpentry, cementing, plumbing, blueprint reading, and also in electrical and mechanical work. Tables were set up at the center of the TVTC building, and as soon as the clock struck 1:00 p.m., families and friends of each of the students began to pour in to show their support to their loved ones on their special day of recognition. 

“This is an amazing program,” said Teri Gobin, Tulalip Chairwoman and former TERO Director. “You all have improved your skills in all of the different trades that are offered here to help you. This is a good step. You are making a big difference in your life, your family’s lives, and especially your children’s lives. You are setting the example for the next generation by being somebody they can look up to. I’m so proud that we have so many here today that are graduating.”

TVTC is a construction-focused course, and it’s the first of its kind. To date, TVTC remains the only Native American pre-apprenticeship program in the nation. The course is offered to tribal members enrolled in any of the 574 federally recognized tribes, as well as to their parents, spouses, and children. Throughout the years, TVTC has helped hundreds of Natives find their career path, some from as far away as Alaska and Wyoming. And that’s not to mention the countless homegrown students. Out of the sixteen graduates this quarter, eleven are enrolled Tulalip tribal members.

“We are accredited through LNI. And what that does is it gives our graduates direct entry into an apprenticeship, in whatever union that they choose to go into,” explained Jerad Eastman, TVTC Site Specialist. “So, it checks a box that gives them a step up, compared to anyone coming off the street, into a union. Some of the other things that we do here is we give them OSHA-10 training, we give them First Aid/CPR and AED training, they get certified in boom lift, forklift, scissor lift, and they also get HAZWOPER-40 hours, which is like asbestos abatement and working with hazardous materials. Those are all beneficial for anyone who’s looking to get into the trades.” 

As soon as the students complete their 455 hours of coursework, they are introduced to a world full of opportunity with their newly acquired experience. According to the latest report by the U.S. Department of Labor, construction jobs are currently in high demand and are expected to grow exponentially over the next five years by an estimated 700,000 jobs. 

Many, if not all, of those available positions pay much more than the state’s minimum wage of $15.74. And a majority of those jobs are entry-level positions, so there is plenty of opportunity for TVTC students to make gains in both hands-on experience and financial health once they’ve completed their required apprenticeship hours. 

“The Native way is to take care of your people because that’s what we do, we take care of each other,” said TVTC Family Career Navigator, Lisa Telford. “Construction wages are livable wages that you can support your family on. I’ve always been interested in helping Natives enter the construction industry, mainly because it is such a good wage.”

In addition to helping their graduates get their foot in the door of the construction industry, the TVTC staff actively makes an effort to offer continued support throughout the graduate’s newfound career journey. And due to spending several hundred hours together, each class forms a unique bond with each other and the instructors. Classmates often keep in touch with one another far beyond their TVTC experience, and some even enter the same field together. 

The comradery was on full display at this quarter’s graduation ceremony. During the celebration, the students sat together at the back end of the classroom and let out enormous whoops, cheers, and applause each time their classmates received their certificate of completion. 

Said Jerad, “One of the things that we always talk about is that when you come to this program, you’re family. You gotta come back, and you gotta talk to future students. And another thing is that we’re always here to help you after this program. We’re always here to provide support, we’re always here to provide insight for them in whatever they need. At the end of the day, in the classes, we say ‘we leave together’, so we make sure no one’s leaving early. We all gotta leave together when everything’s done. We build a lot of groups here and we’re all one big family.” 

 After parting ways with their previous instructor at the end of the 2022 Fall quarter, Lisa, Jerad and TERO Client Services Coordinator Billy Burchett took on the instructor role for this group of students. 

Prior to the start of the quarter, Lisa shared, “Billy, who is a sheet metal worker and was the teacher’s assistant, is now the Client Services Coordinator of this program. And Jerad worked for Quil Ceda Village as a Project Manager, he knows a lot about blueprint reading and construction. We’re all going to do it together. I know about carpentry, Jerad knows about blueprints, Billy knows about math, plumbing, and electrical. We’re going to put it all together to make one exceptional instructor.”

After taking on that challenge, the instructors enjoyed the fruits of their labor on graduation day and shared laughter, hugs, personable daps, and happy tears with their students as they came forward to accept their certificates and gift bags.

“To me, the graduation is not really the finale because no matter what, they belong to the TERO vocational training center,” Lisa expressed. “We’re always going to be supporting you and reaching out to you. We can work as an advocate, act as a liaison, whatever we have to do to make your transition into the construction industry smooth. Throughout the whole program, I have the opportunity to watch them grow and shine. My favorite part is when they realize that they enjoy what they are doing, you can hear their laughter and see the pride on their faces. I enjoy watching them grow into that person.” 

The next TVTC course begins this September. Classes are held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a few exceptions such as days when the class travels for a job site tour or when participants take part in a hands-on experience known as an ‘apprenticeship for a day’. Please feel free to reach out to Lisa at (360) 716-4760 for additional information and an application.

And hold up! Before you fold your copy of the syəcəb or exit the Tulalip News website, we put together a short Q&A with a select few of this quarter’s TVTC graduates. Check it out below! 

Tirja Greenwell, Tulalip Parent

Tulalip News: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the program?

Tirja: Yes, absolutely. I am a tribal parent, the grandmother to my children is Benita Rosen. She knew that I was really interested in working with my hands and building things. She actually turned me onto this program about year and half ago, but that was during COVID. I finally took it this quarter and it’s a super cool program.  

Tulalip News: What were some of the skills you picked up through the course and what was your overall experience with TVTC?

Tirja: We had a crap-ton of hands-on experience, which was really cool and a lot of fun. We did personal projects, and I really grew through this program. I think one of the things that was most interesting was learning how to make blueprints.

Tulalip News: Now that you’ve completed the program, what’s next?

Tirja: I actually ended up leaving the program a couple of weeks before completion because I ended up getting a job at a small local plumbing company as a project manager. The program made a huge difference. Walking in there, and just having this this huge bag of knowledge, I was so confident, I was so prepared in that interview. After they hired me, they told me that I was one of the most impressive candidates they’ve ever seen. And I put my hands up to Lisa for that because I feel like she really harped on us to learn our strengths to help us succeed out in the real world. 

Jazlyn Gibson, Tulalip tribal member

Tulalip News: Can you share how it feels to complete the TVTC course?

Jazlyn: It was a great accomplishment for myself and my fellow students. We all accomplished getting our diplomas on top of getting our certificates for construction.

Tulalip News: Can you describe your experience with the TERO program?

Jazlyn: It was a very hands-on experience. It was great to be here and to get know everybody. And we were the first to experience the program with three different teachers who weren’t used to being teachers. And also, as students we got to learn from each other because a lot of them had some prior experience. So that definitely helped us grow and do everything we needed to do to get through the program.

Tulalip News: Why do you believe this program is beneficial for tribal members and their families?

Jazlyn:  It definitely helps get your foot in the door. You gain the necessary skills and have all these different possibilities that you can pursue so that you can get out there and be successful.

Tulalip News: Now that you completed the course, what do you plan to do next?

Jazlyn: Personally, I am looking to get into a sheet metal position or electrician. This definitely helped me figure out what I wanted to do as a career.

Erik Cruz, Colville Spouse

Tulalip News: You completed the course; how does this accomplishment feel?

Erik: It feels great! I’m not sure what I’m going to do next, but I’m definitely going into the construction field. This has been a really great traditional way to learn about the construction industry. Carpentry is my future.

Tulalip News: As a tribal spouse, why do you believe this program is beneficial to tribal members and their families?

Erik: Honestly, it’s something that people can get into early. And if young people can get into the trades early, they’ll be set for life. If you want to be rich, this is a great way to do so, it’s not the only way but it’s a good way to support yourself and your family.

Tulalip News: Do you have any advice for those interested in starting the course?

Erik: This is a pivotal program and it’s changed many people’s lives for the better. TERO is the GOAT!

Armando Vega, Tulalip tribal member

Tulalip News: What is the biggest thing you are going to take away from this TVTC experience?

Armando: All the experience and tools that I gained here – working with machinery, telehandler, boom lifts, scissor lift. And getting to know what goes together when building a tiny home, from the framing, roofing, flooring, the shingles, learning all of that was pretty cool. And also, taking in all the electrical work. They taught us about Ohm’s Law and how to wire three-way circuits. I was really good at that. They taught us about sheet metal workers and the air systems in buildings, and I was really interested in that. And I built a table here and it made me really like carpentry. It was nice to learn how to nail things with the nail gun and about what goes between wood, and how wood glue sticks good.

Tulalip News: Why do you think this program is beneficial for tribal members, other Natives, and their families?

Armando: It’s really beneficial because you learn new skills and learn more about yourself. It opens up everything – it opens your mind and opens all your options. 

Tulalip News: Now that you completed the program, what’s next?

Armando: What’s next for me is going into a union. I got three applications that I’m finishing up. I’m going to apply for carpentry, electrician, and sheet metal worker. So, I’m doing whatever one gets back at me first.

Still Alive, Not Petrified

“Gooch” Wolf Mask. Red cedar, acrylic paint, cedar bark. 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

In an era of rapid technological advancement, the art world is undergoing a profound transformation. Artists, once limited by traditional mediums, are now free to embrace modern tools and digital platforms to push the boundaries of their creative mind. 

Tulalip citizen James Madison is one such artist who isn’t simply embracing this challenge of adapting to an ever-evolving art market, he’s actually empowered by culture and tradition to forge forward and demonstrate to the next generation what’s possible. A mindset he inherited from his grandfather Frank Madison.

Self Portrait “Triptych.” 
Limited edition case bronze, carbon fiber backing, lexan base.

“I started learning how to carve at 5-years-old,” shared the now 49-year-old James in a recent episode of Hibulb Conversations. “Some of my earliest carving memories are from when I’d be dropped off at my grandma Lois and grandpa Frank’s house every day during elementary. I’d basically receive my culture teachings from them in the morning, before going to school at Whittier Elementary, then continue the culture teachings with them after school. Back then, my grandpa would carve around the kitchen table. He’d sit me down with my cousin Steven and we would watch and learn.” 

James comes from an artistic family that spans multiple generations and includes both Tulalip and Tlingit forebearers who were deeply rooted in cultural traditions and storytelling. They used a variety of tools and elements that were at their disposal at the time to preserve their culture through art. 

Whale Mask. Hand carved yellow cedar.

Today, as the world becomes increasingly interconnected and technology-driven, James and his contemporaries are finding ways to evolve their craft by blending traditional techniques with new mediums that require a functional knowledge of the latest techno wizardry. Welcome to the competitive art scene of 2023. Where true master’s of the craft must push themselves to learn exciting and innovative methods to preserve their cultural heritage like those before them.

“I always dreamt of being an artist like my grandpa and father before me,” admitted the Tulalip master carver. “There was a Haida artist named Bill Reid, who I never actually met in person, but he had a profound impact on me through his books filled with northwest coastal art and stunning sculptures that were 15 to 20-feet large. When I was young, his books were accessible to me and I’d look through them constantly; studying his technique and visualizing what I’d do if I had the ability to create things larger than life.”

Thunderbird Blackfish Panel. Hand carved red cedar, acrylic.

As his portfolio grew, so too did his public commissions; to the point that his previous childlike visions of one day creating larger than life carvings and sculptures came to fruition. James has created stunning 10, 20 and even 25-foot installations that are easily visible all across Coast Salish territory. From his home reservation (at Tulalip Resort Casino, Hibulb and the Admin Building), to Mukilteo’s Lighthouse Park, Stanwood’s Kayak Point, Arlington’s Centennial Trail, and Everett’s Evergreen Arboretum. 

Now in his first solo exhibition with Stonington Gallery, located in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood, James mastery of the latest artistic mediums is on full display. His unique cultural expression fills the gallery space and allows onlookers to explore complex themes, while immersing themselves in the awe-inspiring creations developed by a master at work. 

“I know it’ll sound kinda goofy, but I don’t look at myself as a Native artist. I look at myself as an artist,” reflected James while reviewing his latest gallery collection. “My grandpa always told me, ‘we need to not just carve things out of the books, but look to create new things to show that we’re still evolving. We’re not petrified. We’re still alive.’ That was his mantra and I’ve incorporated into my life by always pushing myself creatively to create something new. To show that we’re not petrified. We’re still alive and still evolving.”

“Eclipse” Moon Mask.
 Hard carved yellow cedar, carbon fiber.

Fittingly titled Still Alive, Not Petrified, his Stonington Gallery exhibition embodies what an artistic mind can achieve when experimenting with different techniques, collaborating across disciplines, and creating groundbreaking works that challenge conventions, while intending to inspire new ideas from the next generation of artists.

“I’ve been so enthralled by not just the level of mastery James routinely exhibits, but the sheer diversity of his mediums as well. It was his carvings and public works that really caught my eye, and why I initially contacted him over Instagram,” explained Jewelia Rosenbaum, director of Stonington. “In my 24-years with Stonington, we’ve made it a mission to spearhead the connection between this region and Coast Salish art. In 2005, we were the first to put out a wide-ranging, largescale exhibit of only Coast Salish artwork. This went hand-in-hand with our partnership with University of Washington Press to publish a book titled Contemporary Coast Salish Art.

Stonington Gallery exhibit display. 

“We are so honored to feature a James Madison solo exhibition because he truly encapsulates contemporary Coast Salish art,” she added. “From metal sculptures and glass woven panels to intricately carved cedar masks and paddles to even molded carbon fiber weaves that contrast beautifully with a carved cedar panel backdrop, he represents everything one might want when coming to the art form.”

As he continues to evolve his use of traditional storytelling through new mediums and digital tools, James is actively revitalizing the Coast Salish art scene by injecting innovation, vibrancy, and relevance into the creative process. By leveraging technological advancements to preserve and showcase his culture, he’s also bridging the gap between generations and diverse backgrounds to create a collective understanding of what it means to be alive, not petrified.

Tulalip Foundation awards mini grants to multiple tribal programs

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News; photo courtesy of Nicole Sieminski 

Six Tulalip tribal departments sang nothing but praises about the Tulalip Foundation for their assistance in getting their projects up and running this year, as well as expanding their program’s outreach and services for the community. And it’s a guarantee that if we were to speak about every project that the Foundation has helped since its inception in 2007, countless other tribal departments and outside organizations would join in on the chorus. 

Nicole Sieminski, the woman behind the scenes, has made a huge impact within the tribal community from the moment she took on the role of the Foundation’s Executive Director in the mid-teens of this millennia. Through her hard work and guidance, the non-profit has become a well-known organization, and therefore, many local businesses and nationwide corporations have donated thousands of dollars for the betterment of both Tulalip’s governmental programs as well as community-led and focused projects. 

The Tulalip Foundation has helped raise monies, and also accepted and dispersed donated funds, on behalf of numerous efforts and causes based on three core values: culture, justice and education. Undergoing a recent strategic planning process, the Foundation is excited to announce that they expanded from those three project support areas to five – culture and natural resources, law and justice, education and workforce, community and development, and health and social. These newly defined areas give the Foundation the ability to fully support Tulalip’s community at large. 

“We’re currently working with fourteen tribal programs and departments and a couple outside ones as well,” said Nicole. “We just reorganized a little and our new project support areas really gives us that flexibility that we need to support our community.”

Over the past several years, the Tulalip Foundation has been the recipient of a yearly donation from Kendall Subaru of Marysville. Throughout the winter months, Subaru dealerships participate in a nationwide initiative known as the Share the Love Event in which local dealerships contribute a donation to an organization or charity of their choosing each time a vehicle is sold throughout the duration of the event. As Kendall Subaru’s handpicked ‘hometown charity’, the Foundation has been fortunate to accept upwards of $20,000 each year that they have been selected. 

Following a springtime check presentation, the Foundation divvies up the donation into $5,000 mini grants which programs, projects, and departments can then apply for. After receiving last year’s donation of $25,000, the Foundation began their strategic planning process and decided to hold onto those funds until the reorg was completed. Combined with this year’s Share the Love donation, the Foundation was able to award a total of six mini grants in 2023.

Upon hearing where the mini grants were allocated, Tulalip News spoke with all six of those recipients to discuss how their programs will benefit from the donation and how they plan to utilize those mini grant funds. 

Tulalip Vocational Training Center – Lisa Telford, TERO TVTC Family Career Navigator

We got a mini grant to update our welding supplies so we can do a welding class. It will be focused on the basics of welding, so you’re not coming out as certified welder, but you’ll have a better understanding of how to lay a bead. The funds are going to refurbishing the machines that we already have, making sure they’re usable, and purchasing another.

We’re always trying to expand what we teach so people can have a good base for their career or to further their career. For me, I’m always looking for ways to expand their knowledge so they’re more successful, and it just so happens that the mini grant came up. 

We have a graduation this Friday (5/26) and we are recruiting for our new classes that starts in September!

Tulalip Legacy of Healing and Tulalip Child Advocacy Center – Sydney Gilbert, CAC/LOH Coordinator

It feels great and supportive to receive these funds for our clients. We were able to get one mini grant for each center, and that will be able to be used directly for client assistance. We do receive a lot of grant funding that does go towards client assistance, but often times there isn’t endless flexibility with the things you can use those funds for. So having access to these funds, we can really meet our clients where they’re at, so they can work with their advocate to identify what their needs are in their situation, so we can financially assist in a much more flexible way. 

There are so many barriers when you think about domestic violence. Leaving an abusive situation, a lot of times abusers financially silo their victims, so they don’t have access to funds. A lot of examples people run into is the ability to bring their pets, you might have to board an animal and that costs money, you might have continued vet care. Animals and pets are really important to people so being able to potentially assist with getting their pets out of the situation is a more flexible cost that we can assist with. 

We just want to honor the fact the victims and survivors are the expert in their story, they know what they need, and we need to be listening to them and supporting them. Thank you to the Tulalip Foundation and we’re really happy to have access to those funds.

Tulalip Office of Civil Legal Aid – Chori Folkman, TOCLA Lead Attorney/Youth Attorney

It’s incredibly supportive of the Tulalip Foundation to award us with this grant because it’s funding a really important piece of infrastructure that we need to be able to operate as a law office. What it’s going toward is to pay for an annual subscription to a legal case management system. A client management system that allows us to be able to serve the needs of the Tulalip community through our civil legal aid office. 

It allows us to keep all files, client contact information, the ability to conflict check, and access information all in one place. It’s through the web, so we can access it from any place we are, whether it’s in the courtroom, in the community, or on the weekend dealing with an emergency, we can access our entire case files. It also allows to ensure confidentiality between our different divisions.

The Tulalip Office of Civil Legal Aid is holding office hours every Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. where tribal members can stop by and get screened to talk to our attorney that morning about their legal needs. We’ll also be having open office hours once a month at the admin building. People can drop by anytime during normal business hours to talk to our pro se navigator who can give them guidance on how to fill out forms or the legal process, and that’s accessible by phone or in person all week. 

Natural Resources: Education and Outreach – Melissa Gobin, Environmental and Education Outreach Coordinator

“The $5,000 that we got from the Foundation mini grant is being used to get equipment for cedar pulling, for being out in the woods. I am trying to get more rain gear for the kids. 

We’re also going to be doing fish camps, because we had fish camp and mountain camp going before COVID, so we’re trying to get that back up and running. In the middle of July, we’re going to be doing our first fish camp at the youth center, so it’s close. We’re going to bring the kids out fishing, bring them back and teach them how we prepare it, how we store it for the whole year, smoking, canning, all that kind of stuff. We’re going to try to build a smoker on the beach, that’s our big goal, to have the youth help build that smoker and teach how we traditionally made sure we had salmon for the whole year.

I think the kids really need to know about natural resources in a way that’s fun, and not just on paper. I want them to see the different plants and medicines we have. And see why we’re protecting these wetlands, why we’re protecting the forest, why we’re trying to go out and make buffer zones to the fish. You can see it in their eyes once they get out there and start getting into everything, they get excited. You can see which kids want to come back and work in natural resources. And that’s what I’m really trying to do, after they go to college, get them back here and working for us.

Natural Resources: Restoration, Acquisition, and Stewardship Program – Austin Richard, Stewardship Ecologist

Receiving this mini grant is really valuable to our program to help alleviate capacity issues and support day to day functions. Our program has received multiple large grants to support salmon habitat restoration work, but the flexibility around this mini grant allows us to purchase equipment and gear in a more efficient way that will help support larger scale restoration projects from the ground up.

Funding from this mini grant will support critical efforts to provide the equipment and gear necessary to further prevent the spread of invasive plants that negatively impact Tulalip land and Tribal member’s properties. The majority of the funds will be used to purchase a Conex container, which will allow us to store our equipment (e.g., brush cutters, shovels, weed wrenches, etc…) in a more spacious and organized manner. This will also improve our ability to obtain additional gear and equipment that will help accomplish the Restoration, Acquisition, and Stewardship Program’s ultimate goal of protecting and restoring Tulalip Treaty Retained Resources through conservation, stewardship, restoration, and enhancement of critical habitat and natural processes.

It is exciting to get an inside look of the Tulalip Foundation and their process of dispersing donations throughout the community while remaining focused on those key project support areas. They recently received a surprise $25,000 donation from the Taylor Family Foundation through the Community Foundation of Snohomish County, and the Tulalip Foundation is eager to continue to build upon that newfound relationship. The Foundation also assisted the Tulalip Village of Hope by accepting a $3,000 donation on their behalf from homebuilding company, LGI Homes. And of course, the Tulalip Foundation will be hosting their annual Salmon Bake Fundraiser to benefit the Hibulb Cultural Center on August 19.

And if you are interested in learning more or looking for additional info, listed below are the contacts of the Tulalip Foundation and each of the programs that were awarded this year’s mini grants. 

  • Tulalip Foundation: (360) 716-5400
  • Tulalip TERO Vocational Training Center: (360) 716-4760
  • Tulalip Legacy of Healing: (360) 716-4100
  • Tulalip Child Advocacy Center: (360) 716-5437
  • Tulalip Office of Civil Legal Aid: (360) 716-4773
  • Tulalip Natural Resources Department: (360) 716-4617

Honoring Our Heroes: TPD holds special gathering to commemorate fallen officers

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News; photos submitted by Paula Cortez, Teri Nelson, and Anita Matta

On the morning of May 17, an intimate ceremony took place at the Tulalip Dining Hall as the community, Tribal police department, and the families of William Williams Sr. and Charlie Joe Cortez gathered to pay tribute to the two fallen heroes of Tulalip. Nationwide, police departments take the time to honor and recognize those officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice and died in the line of duty every May 15th, and its corresponding week, which is officially known as Peace Officer Memorial Day and Police Week. 

Tulalip Police Department Chief of Police, Chris Sutter, shared, “Just a little history on the importance of this day – in 1962 President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designates this week of May 15th as Peace Officer Memorial Day and Police Week. That was sixty years ago. Today and this week in Washington D.C., officers from all over the country and their loved ones are having ceremonies at the [United] States Capitol.

“This year, President Joseph Biden sent out a Presidential Proclamation and in part, this what that proclamation reads: ‘Every day when law enforcement officers pin on their badges, they make an extraordinary commit to the American people. To rush towards danger, regardless of the risks, and to faithfully stand up for the rule of law. Across our neighborhoods, towns, and cities, they put themselves in harm’s way, hoping to return safely to their families. On Peace Officers Memorial Day and during Police Week, we celebrate the remarkable courage of our law enforcement community and honor the fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their fellow Americans’.” 

At the beginning of the month, the annual Washington State Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Project took place in Spokane. During the memorial project, a candlelight vigil is held for fallen officers from around the state. Each year, a select number of fallen officers are recognized during the memorial project and their names are etched into a granite wall outside of the Public Safety Building in Spokane. At this year’s remembrance, Tulalip tribal member and TPD Fisheries Patrolman, William Williams Sr.’s name was unveiled on the wall next to Charlie Joe Cortez.

On the Officer Down Memorial Page, a website dedicated to the memory of all of the fallen officers across the nation, Williams’ dedication states that he drowned while patrolling Quil Ceda Creek in July of 1965, and that he was reported missing after his boat was found unoccupied. His body was recovered along the creek in the days following, just west of the I-5 overpass in Marysville. 

TPD Fish and Wildlife Officer, Charlie Cortez’s End of Watch date was on November 17th of 2020. While on duty, and after assisting a distressed boater in rough and stormy conditions, Charlie’s fisheries vessel capsized in the Salish Sea. After a two-day search and recovery mission, Officer Cortez was pronounced lost at sea and his body has yet to be recovered and returned home to his family. 

These two brave men and Tulalip tribal members dedicated their lives to protecting their beloved tribal community. And with each passing day, their presence is missed more and more by their families and community, but their memory continues to live on through their loved ones and fellow TPD officers. Which is why gatherings such as Honoring Our Heroes event are of the utmost importance, to remember their sacrifice and their commitment to keeping the people of Tulalip safe.

Chief Sutter expressed, “I’m excited to see the community come together – this is good medicine for healing, supporting, and loving each other. We are gathered here today to show respect and remembrance for our fallen officers. This is a solemn event and we want to support each other and love each other and celebrate the lives of our two fallen heroes from Tulalip. And it’s not lost on me that they were both from the fish and wildlife patrol enforcement, and how dangerous and how quickly the waters can change. I want to acknowledge our fish and wildlife officers today and thank them for their sacrifice and service to the community along with all of our police officers.”

Following a blessing by Tribal youth drummers, the people were invited to share stories of their time spent with the fallen officers. Speakers included family members, their fellow brothers and sisters of the badge, and several Tribal leaders.  

“When I got up and spoke, I remember thinking that this was such a healing moment for the families and officers,” said Officer Cortez’s mother, Paula Cortez. “It was special. I’ve seen ceremonies like this held at other departments, and I’m just so grateful that TPD decided to do it as well.”

While recollecting on a time period during Charlie’s childhood, Paula continued, “I shared a cute story about Charlie when he was a little boy. We were driving down the road, he’d see a cop pass by and he’d say, ‘cheese man, cheese man!’. I looked at him like what are you talking about, and he’d be pointing at the policeman. I was wondering where in the world he got cheese man out of policeman. So, when we were driving down the road again one day, and I saw another cop, I said, ‘oh it’s the cheese’. That’s what it meant; they were the cheese men.”

The Tulalip Police Department plans on holding an Honoring Our Heroes event every year during Peace Officer Memorial Day and Police Week to bring healing to the community from here on out, by recognizing those two fallen officers who died in the line of duty while protecting their homelands.

“The honoring was really special to me, and it turned out really nice. It gave everybody who didn’t get to make it to the memorial services an opportunity to share some of their stories that they had together. As Charlie’s mother, I will always do anything and everything that I can to keep his memory alive.” 

Gilbert Eugene Moses III

JUNE 1, 1999 – MAY 12, 2023

Gilbert Eugene Moses III, 23 of Tulalip passed away on May 12, 2023 in Everett, WA.

He was born June 1, 1999 in Warm Springs, OR to Gilbert Eugene Moses Jr and Monica Alleen Wahnetah. He was raised by his grandparents and his father in Tulalip, Enjoyed playing his PlayStation and going to the mountains with his grandparents, He read a lot of books. He worked at the “QCC” and the Buzz Inn.

He is survived by his father, Gilbert Moses Jr; his mother Monica Wahnetah; siblings, Tarly Florendo, Nicole Wahnetah, Kari Wahnetah, Irmah Wahnetah, Briann Tewee-Wahnetah, Lindsey Tewee-Wahnetah ; great aunts Johanna, Rachel, April and Julie, Vicki, and Teresa,; great uncle, Daniel; aunts Sylvia (Robert) Myers and Arnel (Alan) Williams; grandmother, Kate Jackson; and numerous cousins.

An evening service will be Monday, May 22, 2023 at 6:00 PM at Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home. A celebration of life will be held Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 10:00 AM at the Tulalip Gathering Hall with burial to follow at Mission Beach Cemetery.

Vienna Elita Ruiz

NOVEMBER 6, 2022 – MAY 11, 2023

Sweet little Vienna Elita Ruiz went home to be with our father on Thursday May 11th, 2023 while she peacefully slept. Though we may not understand this unimaginable loss, her spirit will continue to live on through the hearts she touched during her 6 precious months here on earth.

Matthew 5:4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

A celebration of life for Vienna will be held Saturday, May 20, 2023 from 11:00 AM at Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home, 804 State Ave, Marysville, WA 98270.