Yard work and music strengthen bond between elders and youth

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Tulalip Elder Karen Fryberg sat outside on her deck on a warm spring afternoon with a smile on her face, giving all of her attention to two young men, JJ and Messiah, who introduced themselves to her, as well as informed her of their family lineage and their favorite pastime, which happened to be football for both of the kiddos. The boys, led by Tulalip Youth and Family Enrichment Manager Josh Fryberg, then offered Karen, now joined by husband Cy, a traditional song, sending the family strength during the COVID-19 era.

Pre-pandemic, the Tulalip Tribal elders received routine lawn care courtesy of the Tribe. However, since the Tribal government’s initial shut-down, and subsequently a limited amount of people now on staff, a number of services have been postponed until further notice. In fact, the only remaining grounds that are tended by the Tribe are tribal government properties and the cemeteries.

Months passed by as grass blades and pesky weeds continued to grow longer and sharper at the homes of many local seniors. For the majority of 2020, the elders were constantly encouraged to stay home and indoors, in order to best protect the well-being of present-day Tulalip wisdom keepers. The Tulalip Youth and Family Enrichment program saw an opportunity in the overgrowth, a chance to strengthen the bond between the youth and elders of the Tribe, by means of good-old-fashioned hard work. 

“We are teaching our youth how to properly use a lawn mower, how to put gas in it, how to put oil in it, how to safely run one so that they can provide that service for their families,” said Youth and Family Enrichment Manager, Josh Fryberg. “The ultimate goal is to encourage all of us to do as much as we can for our elders in our community. What really inspired us to create this program is to rebuild the connection with our youth, staff and elders of the Tulalip Tribes and also provide cultural songs and send strength to our elders.”

Josh stated that the Tulalip Youth Council, along with the Youth Council Advisor Marc Robinson, are partners in the new program, and the future leaders often lend a helping hand with the lawn care services. Karen and Cy’s home was the third property they have visited since the start of the program, previously providing services for Annette Napeahi and Annie and Johanna Moses. 

“I didn’t put my name in but they said they were running around the rez to see which elders needed it, and our yard must’ve looked like needed it bad,” said Karen before bursting into a fit of laughter. “And it did need it, bad! It’s really been neglected. I think that it’s good for the youth to realize how much work our seniors can’t do and how much help we do need. It’s nice that they recognize that we need this type of service. We don’t even own a lawnmower. It’s neat to meet the young people who want to do this for us. It would be nice to have even more kids coming by so we can learn about them and who they are.”

The Youth and Family Enrichment team intends to offer the once-a-week lawn care service to Tulalip elders throughout the summer months. If you would like to nominate an elder who is need of lawn care assistance, please e-mail RBennett@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov 

Josh expressed, “this is a program we created to build that togetherness, unity, culture and to take care of some yard work at the same time. Our goal is to provide some interaction time between the youth and elders to gain that knowledge that is needed, and to rebuild that bridge. The best way for parents to get their kids involved is to send them down to the youth center. If they are not signed-up, we have membership forms at the front desk. We require masks and do temp-checks. Come on down, we have a lot more programs for our youth to take part-in.”

For more information, please call (360) 716-4909.

Autism walk connects community, raises awareness

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Although it was a dark and cloudy day that threatened rain at any moment, smiles shined bright on the afternoon of April 30. While music played over a large sound system, a group of approximately 100 Tulalip citizens socialized, danced, and munched on delicious salty and sweet kettle corn outside of the Don ‘Penoke’ Hatch Teen Center, eagerly waiting for the main event to begin. 

“Normally, we couldn’t come to an event like this because Jared isn’t good with lots of people and loud noises,” emotionally expressed Tulalip mother, Kristie Fryberg. “But because this is for him, it’s awesome. It feels really good. My family, we’re all excited to come out and do this. I just know the more we talk about it, the more it’s going to be better for him when he becomes an adult and we can’t be here for him.” 

Every April, communities around the country focus their efforts on a shared goal of raising awareness and providing support to individuals who have been diagnosed with autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopment disorder that reportedly affects 25 million people globally and impacts each person in a different manner. The disorder is known largely to present a challenge in the early childhood development phase of life, particularly when it comes to communication and sensory sensitivity.  

Several programs answered the call when the Youth and Family Enrichment Manager, Josh Fryberg, began planning the end-of-the-month celebration including, the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club, Jared’s Corner, the Tulalip Police Department, the Tulalip Bay Fire Department and Leah’s Dream Foundation. 

“When you have a child and they are diagnosed with autism or any disability, you feel alone,” said Founder of Leah’s Dream Foundation, Deanna Sheldon, as Leah happily found amusement in a bubble wand. “With something like this, where you see the community coming together for a greater good to create awareness, it’s really fantastic and an honorable feeling. With autism or any disability, there’s isn’t any one thing. Any child can look neurotypical but with autism there’s so many hidden layers; some children may not talk, some children may have sensory issues or whatnot. This is a great way for Leah’s Dream to embrace our community and raise awareness and show people we are all not the same.”

Leah’s Dream Foundation was established in 2015 by Deanna and family when her daughter was diagnosed with autism. The funds raised by the non-profit goes directly towards resources, sensory items and toys, parties, gifts and activity packages for local children and young adults living with autism and special needs. The foundation also awards grants to the Marysville School District to help autistic students succeed in school, by ensuring they are afforded adequate curriculums, programs, tools and supplies during their educational journey.

Joyous laughter erupted across the youth center’s campus as the group enjoyed each other’s company. Turquoise event t-shirts were thrown over everyday attire to proudly display the garment’s messaging that read, ‘Fighting for Autism’. 

The event was chiefly organized by the Tulalip Youth and Family Enrichment program, who called upon their community, local organizations and a handful of departments from the Tribe to present a fun-filled day to not only raise awareness, but more importantly, to celebrate the unique, loving individuals living with autism within the community, who continue to teach us in more ways than we know on a daily basis. 

Upon seeing the turn-out for the afternoon gathering, Tulalip Youth and Family Enrichment Activity Specialist, Anthony Mclean shared, “It’s really heartwarming to get so much support and to raise awareness for a good thing. This is a good gathering for us to be together and see everyone’s faces. It’s nice to have all the departments come together as one, just to show the Tribe we can work together on something positive.”

Masked-up, signs in-hand and led by a TPD escort, the participants took a step for the cause, walking from the youth center to the Katherine ‘Molly’ Hatch Senior Center, where the collective stopped to offer a traditional song to the elders. In a moving moment, the elders shared knowledgeable and encouraging words in return to the group, thanking them for the song and spending some time. 

After exchanging good-byes, the people made their way back to the teen center to enjoy the rest of the afternoon together. Upon return, a special ‘happy birthday’ solo-dance-performance was dedicated to Tyler Fryberg, who thoroughly enjoyed the moves of his friend, Kai Holmes, as he got down in front of the brand new kettle corn truck, while the popcorn chef himself added some background vocals to Kai’s dance recital.   

“This was all Josh Fryberg,” said the Founder of Jared’s Corner, Jared Parks. “He’s the one who reached out to me about the Autism Walk. I told him I’d come out and donate about 400-800 free bags of kettle corn, because that’s what we want to do is give back to the community and raise more awareness for autism.”

In case you didn’t know the origin of Jared’s Corner, Jared Parks and Kristie Fryberg began the kettle corn business in honor of their 7-year-old son, who shares the same name as his father. Kristie is often quick to admit that her son’s autistic diagnosis changed her entire family’s perspective on life, ultimately bringing everybody closer together to rally behind and support Jared throughout his journey. 

“That’s why we created this, to give back in this way,” Kristie shared. “This is exactly what we talked about when starting it, to have days at the Tribe where we can give away free popcorn, have the kids gather, and to give back to those people who spend time with our children and are helping them, the therapists and the teachers.”

Over a few short months, Jared’s Corner has grown from a small popcorn stand to a full-blown food truck where the Parks family can whip-up, bag-up and hand-out large quantities of their kettle corn, which comes in a variety of flavors. A portion of all their proceeds are donated to a number of pro-autism programs and foundations to continue raising awareness.


“We want to let the people know we really appreciate their support,” said Jared. “Even if it’s just five bucks here and there, it’s created this – a bigger trailer. It’s created the ‘Autism Awareness Mobile’ and I’m going to be everywhere, Microsoft, T-Mobile. I’m going to be crossing boundaries and representing Tulalip in a good way.”

Prior to this year’s walk, Jared Sr. shared a few words about his son exclaiming, “I don’t call it a disability, my son has a superpower!”

The collaborative walking event was the perfect way to cap-off Autism Awareness Month, as well as a great opportunity to set-off a chain of upcoming summer events geared toward inclusion, raising awareness and supporting our loved ones living with autism. Tulalip Youth and Family Enrichment intends on hosting events every-other-week alternating between field days and gym days, Leah’s Dream Foundation will hold their annual Golf Tournament fundraiser on July 17 this year, and the Parks family has plans of expansion, raising awareness one kettle corn order at a time. 

“It felt good just walking together, coming together to raise awareness for autism and for our kids with disabilities,” said Josh. “I think for a lot of us, it felt really good seeing a lot of our youth we haven’t seen in a while. It was a sense of unity, coming together in a safe and friendly way. With COVID going on, everyone was masked-up, we had our temp-readers in the front when everyone came in. The words I’d like to share is just continue to be yourself. Continue to do the best that you can do. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. For us, as adults, let’s help as much as we can and let’s continue to raise awareness and provide as much as we can for our youth and community members. We’re here for you, we love you and if you need anything please let us know. It’s going to take every one of us to make that difference.” 

Response to Rick Santorum

By Ryan Miller, Director Treaty Rights and Government Affairs 

Last week, Rick Santorum said, “candidly, there isn’t much Native American Culture in American culture.” He is not just speaking from a place of ignorance but privilege and ignoring critical truths of the foundation on which America was built. The interactions between native people and Western European culture helped shape the United States into the country it is today.

When Benjamin Franklin met with Canassatego, an Onondaga leader, Canassatego presented him with a single arrow. Ben Franklin looked at him puzzled, so Canassatego took the arrow back from him and broke it over his knee. He then handed Franklin six arrows, and Franklin was still confused. Canassatego took the arrows back and attempted to break them over his knee but with no success. In this way, he was relaying to Franklin the importance of unity. The six arrows represented the six tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy. The idea of a powerful central government with smaller regional governments was borrowed from the Iroquois system. Franklin would bring this important lesson with him when he met with other continental leaders to discuss the future governance of the United States.

In the U.S.’s infancy, their sovereignty and status as a country were called into question by nearly every established nation on the planet. In response to this and growing concern over their control in their country, several President’s and their appointees began making more and more treaties with Native tribes. Because treaties are an agreement between sovereigns, the United States hoped that this would help establish their place as a sovereign on the world stage, and it worked.

These are just two examples of the many instances in which tribal culture is woven into the essential parts of American culture. There are countless others, farming and hunting techniques, ecological protection and conservation, art, food, sports such as canoeing, lacrosse (also from the Iroquois), and tug-of-war. The names of many important places are taken from Native names for those places.

Native Americans have served in the armed forces at a higher rate per capita than any other ethnic group. The effort of Dine code talkers gave American forces an invaluable advantage over axis forces which helped protect American lives and ultimately delivered victory.

Since time immemorial, the indigenous people who have called this place home have given much and suffered greatly for America to be the country that it is today. We have helped shape it much more than Rick Santorum ever could. Tribes deserve respect and acknowledgment of our contributions. We are strong and resilient. We have survived over 500 years of attacks and stand here today, proclaiming our sovereignty, protecting and providing for our people, and contributing to a better America and a better world. 

Wrestling icon reveals championship insight to youth wrestlers

Giving up is easy. Making decisions to overcome and choosing actions that will get you to where you want to be is what makes champions.”

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Seventeen local youth with aspirations to become wrestling champions someday were surprised by a special guest appearance from professional wrestling icon, Ken Shamrock, on Friday, April 23.

“It’s not too often a guy like this walks in the room when you’re in the middle of practice, so it’s exciting to say the least,” expressed coach Tony Hatch. “To be honest, I’m star struck to have a legend of his caliber here with us. Shamrock is one of the pioneers of Ultimate Fighting Champions, he’s a Hall of Famer, and we’re really lucky to have him in the area to share his insight with our kids.”

The former WWF Intercontinental Champion and one-time UFC Superfight Champion shared his experience growing up with a rough childhood and being known as troubled teenager before ultimately turning his life around for the better. The still sweaty from conditioning youth had their attention captivated as the icon detailed how at just thirteen-years-old, his future did not look bright. 

Ken had grown up fatherless in a poor neighborhood in Georgia, where he learned life’s lessons on the streets. While his mother worked to put food on the table, he cruised the neighborhood with his friends, causing trouble wherever they could. The first time he ran away from home, he was only ten. He found refuge in an abandoned car with other delinquents, but wound up in the hospital after getting stabbed by another child. In the years that followed, he would be ousted from seven group homes and serve time in Juvenile Hall. 

Although the strong-willed youth only weighed 125 pounds, Ken had his own way of looking at the world, and he was always ready to protect his pride with his fists. Showing no signs of rehabilitation, the State grew weary of him. He was given one last chance to turn his life around: he would go to a group home, the Shamrock Ranch, run by Bob Shamrock, a man renowned for working with misguided youths. 

Bob had raised more than six hundred boys in his home, and his methods were both unique and effective. In response to the feuds that often arose with prideful boys sleeping under the same roof, he offered them an unorthodox method of resolution. If both parties were willing, he allowed them to throw on boxing gloves and duke it out in the backyard. It did not take long before Ken was the house champion in both boxing and wrestling. 

Recognizing the boy had tremendous athletic ability, Bob redirected Ken’s anger into sports. He got him on a weight-lifting program and registered him in wrestling and football. Along with becoming a leader for the other boys in the group home, Ken also became the son Bob Shamrock never had. Shortly after Ken turned eighteen, Bob legally adopted him, which is the origin story to how Shamrock got his now famous moniker. 

“Your coaches have shared with me that some of you can relate to aspects of my upbringing,” said Shamrock after detailing his childhood to the attentive teenage wrestlers. “For those who can relate, I stand here as a testament of what’s possible despite growing up under such challenging conditions. For those who can’t relate, I promise each and every one of you are going to go through some kind of adversity in your life, whether it’s in high school or as an adult, that will test you to the core. And in those moments, only you can make a decision to do something about it, to choose a means of action to overcome the challenge, or to give up.

“Giving up is easy. Making decisions to overcome and choosing actions that will get you to where you want to be is what makes champions,” continued the legendary mixed martial artist. “You can start right now, at your age, and make the decision on what it is you want to do and start following a path of hard work and commitment that will get you there. Hard work goes beyond the wrestling mat; it’s at home with how you nourish your body and manage your family relationships, it’s in the classroom with embracing your education, and it’s in your commitment to being your best self even on the hard days.”

Following his heartfelt words of encouragement, Shamrock sat down with 15-year-old Tulalip wrestler, Milo Jones for a one-on-one session. They discussed chasing dreams, the importance of staying properly hydrated and eating the right foods for maximum physical performance, and weight lifting techniques used by the pros.

Millions of fans worldwide have not forgotten all Shamrock has contributed to the sport of MMA and WWF over the years. Whether it be choking competitors out in the octagon, slamming his opponents in the rings of professional wrestling, or entertaining the masses in mainstream movies and books, Shamrock has always embodied the essence of what it means to be a Hall of Famer. His legendary reputation only grows after taking time out of his busy schedule to inspire the next generation.

Elevate your game with strength and conditioning

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“I think it’s important to stay fit and healthy,” expressed young Tribal member Kyla Fryberg. “I play a lot of sports and I don’t want to get super tired in games or practices. I’d like to see more people get up, come out and do this with us instead of staying inside because I know quarantine has been a lot on everybody. I think it would be nice to see more kids.”

Glimpses of normalcy can be spotted every now and again in a world post the global COVID-19 pandemic. As restrictions are lifted, vaccines administered and the outside world continues to open back-up, people are re-engaging and re-igniting their love for activities that were either limited or altogether banned to stop the spread of the disease. 

Throughout the pandemic, the Tulalip Youth and Family Enrichment program has remained a space for Tulalip youth to experience some of that normalcy by continuing to provide services, host gatherings, and offer all sorts of fun for in a safe, responsible manner. As school districts turned to Zoom to offer teachings and instruction to their kids, the Youth and Family Enrichment department converted their entire campus into a socially-distant learning environment, where students could work online and complete assignments in their own safe-spaces. 

Now that schools are back to teaching in-person lessons and many youth sports have fully-resumed, Youth and Family Enrichment are slowly rolling out some of their activities and events that were popular amongst the public, pre-coronavirus, as well as debuting many new ideas. 

The Youth and Family Enrichment department recently began a new activity-program called Strength and Conditioning, to help build endurance as well as promote health and fitness to kids who spent the majority of 2020 indoors and more-than-likely in front of a screen.

Youth and Family Enrichment Manager Josh Fryberg explained, “We’re doing basketball conditioning every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Right now, it’s open to 6th – 12th grade. Eventually, we want to do family nights to encourage the families to come workout together and be as healthy as we can. Conditioning, overall, is something all of us need and something that all of us should practice on a regular basis, so we can have nice long healthy lives.”

 With good early 2000’s hip-hop blasting in the background, a group of five showed up to the Greg Williams Court on April 27, for the tip-off, so-to-speak, of the new Strength and Conditioning program. With a shared goal of fine-tuning their game in anticipation of summertime tournaments, the group was locked and zoned-in throughout the hour-and-a-half class, sprinting the full-length of the court multiple times and hustling their tail-ends off during drills. 

“A lot of things we’re doing right now are fundamentals for lay-ups, left-hand and right-hand dribbling, we’re also working on spin-moves as well as doing a lot of cardio and shooting on our shooting machine,” said Josh. “I usually have them go about three to five minutes in each area. We’ll also stretch, drink a lot of water and work on breathing techniques, in through the nostrils and out through the mouth, so you get the maximum amount of oxygen.”

 Basketball is an important aspect in many Native cultures as countless bonds have been made through the sport, by way of both local rez-ball pick-up games and inter-tribal tourneys. Reservation-based high school basketball games are popular community events where friends and families ban together to support their tribal teens as they showcase their on-the-court skills and love for the game. 

With only five participants at the first session, Josh led a fun and fast-paced class that had the feeling of a summertime basketball camp, like the ones often hosted by former NBA all-stars and local hardwood legends. It’s easy to envision, in the near-future, the Greg Williams Court jam-packed with youngins working hard to elevate their game. 

“Basically, what we did today was strength and conditioning and we were working on running,” said Lillyannah Fryberg. “It was like basketball training, getting us in shape for tourneys and really, it’s just better for our overall health in general.”

Added Kyla and Lillyannah’s sister, Julianna ‘Julie’ Fryberg, “It’s my dad so he goes extra hard on us. He makes us do a lot of exercises that he knows we can handle, just pushing our limits to see how far we can go. It’s really nice to see him help other kids too, other than his own. It would be nice for more people to come though, we had five people today, and we definitely want to see a bigger group. We are working on a bunch of drills; spin-moves, lay-ups, free-throws, three-pointers and running to build our conditioning. So, come on out, it’s fun and I can’t wait to see everybody next time.” 

Josh explained that there is a-whole-nother aspect of the basketball skills and stamina building program, aside from improving one’s basketball IQ and skillset, and that is diabetes prevention and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. And thanks to a strong relationship with the Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention Program, the Youth and Family Enrichment team received two basketball shooting machines that automatically rebounds your shot and feeds you the rock at different locations on the court.  

“A big thing that we face in Indian Country is diabetes,” he stated. “With these shooting machines, that were donated by our Diabetes program from Roni Leahy and Dale Jones, the goal is to get as many shots for diabetes as you can. So, that’s one of the things we’re doing with this program as well, prevention work for us to be as healthy as we can.”

Josh assures that this is just the beginning, stating that the Youth and Family Enrichment program is planning more activities, events and programs extending into the Summer and Fall months. And after helping establish both a little league division and a football program, the department is now in the early-planning process of bringing yet another new sporting league to the community. 

Josh shared, “One thing we’re currently working on is starting up a Tulalip AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] program. We want to start with three divisions and work our way up, for all of our players and volunteer coaches to participate in. That way we can really bring our youth in and get them to that next level of competition, so that we can get more of our athletes into college and the recognition that they deserve.”

The Strength and Conditioning course takes place from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at the Greg Williams Court. For more information, please contact the Tulalip Youth and Family Enrichment program at (360) 716-4909.