Class of 2024 celebrate being ‘dreamt into existence’

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On the evening of Tuesday, June 11, the Tulalip Tribes hosted a memorable banquet in the resort’s Orca Ballroom for eighty-two recently graduated high schoolers. The graduates, a combination of Tulalips and other Natives from within Marysville School District, were surrounded by friends and family in the Four-Diamond setting, making for an ideal setting to celebrate their latest rite of passage – reclaiming their educational future.

Klayton Sheldon and Mariana Richwine were announced as 
Tulalip boy and girl of the year winners.

This latest crop of graduates is part of a generational movement comprised of Native students desiring to reclaim their educational futures by achieving academic success enroute to earning their high school diplomas. Historically, Native communities like Tulalip have faced systemic barriers in education, including underfunded schools, cultural insensitivity, and policies that aimed to assimilate rather than celebrate their heritage. However, through perseverance, community support, and inclusive initiatives, our Tulalip students are increasingly crossing the high school finish line, an accomplishment that can significantly impact the trajectory of their personal and collective futures.

 “I want to start by thanking all of the parents, families, and members of our education team for being here and bringing their good energy into this space so we can uplift our graduates,” said Director of Education, Jessica Bustad. “We are so grateful to have an education division made up of seven different departments full of team members who put their hearts into all the work that they do to support our community’s youth.

“Coming together as a community to honor all our Native graduates is one of the most important things we can do. Our graduates are a true reflection of resilience, dedication, and perseverance. As we are spiritual beings in this human experience, it is important we honor our roots. Our ancestors laid a strong foundation so that we could be here today. We honor them by being proud of where we come from and doing all that we can to reclaim, revitalize, and preserve the way of life our ancestors sacrificed so much for. In being intentional about this work, our people ensure that they always show up as their best selves.”

Cody Barnett earned the male IEPC scholarship.

For many Native students, graduating high school is not just an academic achievement but a reclaiming of their identity and heritage. Education systems have often sought to erase Native cultures, most infamously through boarding schools where Native children were forbidden and often punished from speaking their traditional languages and practicing their traditions. 

Today, Native students and their communities are reversing this trend by integrating cultural education into their learning experiences, such as what’s been achieved within Tulalip’s Early Learning Academy, Quil Ceda Elementary and Heritage High School. Marysville School District has aided the cultural integration movement by offering Tulalip’s ancestral language, Lushootseed, as an elective class taught within certain schools. Schools that offer Native language courses and culturally relevant extracurricular activities help students see their education as an extension of their cultural identity, not a replacement for it.

“We have been dreamt into existence,” explained banquet keynote speaker, Gene Tagaban (Tlingit, Raven Clan). “There was a time they didn’t want us as Native people to even be born, yet here you are. You made it through birth. You made it through elementary. You made it through middle school. You made it though high school, and now you are graduating. That is the power of our ancestors who dreamt and prayed for the resiliency of their future generations, which is you all in this room today. Each and every one of you have been dreamt into existence.”

Community involvement continues to play a crucial role in supporting our high school students as they seek diplomas to broaden their future pathways. Tribal leaders, elders, and parents are increasingly active in school boards and educational planning, ensuring that the curriculum and school policies reflect and respect their cultural values. Mentorship programs that connect students with Native professionals, like what is implemented through Heritage’s ‘big picture learning’, provide local role models to reinforce the idea that academic success and cultural pride can fuse a career ladder’s foundation.

Kamaya Craig earned the female IEPC scholarship. 

Indian Education Parent Committee scholarship awardee Kamaya Craig embodies that professional and cultural fusion in a way that dismantles the misbegotten narrative that Natives can’t thrive in the academic setting. Her father Dr. Anthony Craig is a professor at the University of Washington and her mother Chelsea Craig is a vice principal at Quil Ceda Elementary. Together, they’ve raised a daughter who graduated high school with an astounding 3.7 GPA, but more than that she intends on following in her parents’ footsteps and decolonizing local education systems from within.

“I plan on furthering my education at Evergreen State College where I will join the Native Pathways program and pursue a degree in education,” shared the inspirational 18-year-old, Kamaya. “I am passionate about creating curriculum where our Tulalip students can learn about our actual Tulalip elders and past ancestors. There is so much wisdom and cultural grounding we can learn from our own people, it just needs to be made accessible to the younger generation. I’d love to be a part of making this happen.”

When asked what she thinks of those who continue to push the narrative our people can’t succeed in the classroom or on the college level, she responded, “It’s imperative that we decolonize these education systems from within. In order to accomplish this, we need our people to get educated. I love learning and want to see our future generations learn all the things so they can find their true passion, whatever it may be.”

The impact of increasing high school graduation rates among Native students extends beyond individual success. Like Kamaya and her fellow young Tulalip matriarch Mariana Richwine, who will be attending Lesley University in Massachusetts in pursuit of a criminal justice degree, educated Natives are more likely to return to their communities and contribute to cultural preservation, economic development and positive health outcomes for their people. They become advocates for their people, using their voices to influence policy and career pathways previously thought unattainable.

To recap, the graduation banquet for the class of 2024 was a celebration of being dreamt into existence by their ancestors, and a recognition of the significant importance high school diplomas have become for our inspiring youth leaders. They aren’t just a piece of paper, they are a symbolic cornerstone for community empowerment and self-determination.

Ribbon shirt making with Winona Shopbell-Fryberg

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

On a cozy, rainy Saturday afternoon, June 15, the Hibulb Cultural Center was alive with a shared sense of creativity. The unique ribbon shirt class, led by the renowned Tulalip artist Winona Shopbell-Fryberg, brought together a diverse crowd. From the Sauk-Suattle Reservation to local enthusiasts, everyone was united in their eagerness to delve into the art of creating their ribbon shirts.

The ribbon shirt, whose origins are deeply rooted in the Great Lakes and throughout the Prairie, Plains, and Northeast tribes, carries a profound historical significance. Shopbell-Fryberg explained, “These shirts were created as replacements for war shirts when there was a shortage of hides to make them.” 

Following the French Revolution, extravagant clothing decorated with ribbons went out of style and was exported to the Americas. There, the French traded silk ribbons along with metal for knives and cookware, bells, small mirrors, glass and brass beads, guns, alcohol, and wool blankets to the Native Americans in the latter part of the 18th century. By the 19th century, Europeans noticed that many tribes had incorporated ribbon work applique into their culture.

Shopbell-Fryberg is widely recognized as a respected cultural leader. She is revered for her exceptional beadwork on earrings and medallions and her expertise in creating ribbon skirts. Her classes offer invaluable guidance to those looking to acquire these skills, and given the success of her second ribbon shirt class, it’s evident that her teachings are highly sought after. 

“I’m self-taught in making ribbon shirts,” Shopbell-Fryberg said. “My son needed a shirt, so instead of finding a pattern, I used one of his existing shirts to create my design. I have been teaching various classes for over ten years. This is my second ribbon shirt class, and I would like to teach more classes if there is a demand.”

Her hands-on teaching approach effectively demonstrates simplified methods for creating ribbon shirts. Anyone with basic sewing machine skills can quickly master these methods. By breaking down the project into manageable steps, she instills confidence in individuals with limited sewing experience, showing them they can achieve success.

One of those who was there to learn a new skill was Tulalip tribal member Bryce Carpenter-Juneau, who said, “It was easier than I thought. I was nervous about the sewing going into it because my wife usually sews. So, I figured I would try to learn myself. That way, I could help her out in a pinch. I enjoyed the class, and instead of just purchasing a ribbon shirt, I thought it would mean more to make one myself, knowing my sweat went into it. I would definitely retake this class.” 

“I made a ribbon shirt about 20 years ago,” said Hermina O-Raven from Sauk-Suattle. “I like this style because you can use anybody’s shirt as an outline instead of buying a pattern. I enjoyed the class, but we always want it to be longer. I couldn’t finish my shirt, but with the start I got from the class, I will be able to finish it at home.”

As the afternoon concluded, participants left the Hibulb Cultural Center with new ribbon shirts and a deeper connection to their heritage. 

For more information on workshops and other events at Hibulb, visit their website at

Rez Reads: Summertime Edition

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Whether you’re catching some rays by the relaxing shores of the Salish Sea, out harvesting traditional foods in the natural world, or looking for something to capture your attention to pass the time while working in a firework stand at Boom City, make this short list of Indigenous novels your companion this summer for some fun, entertaining, thrilling, and emotional reads. 

Each of the following books are filled with rez humor, traditional lessons, and haunting tales that ultimately bring attention to issues that we face as Indigenous people in 2024, such as boarding school trauma, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women/People, and substance abuse/addiction. 

What makes all of the stories so powerful and inspiring for the Native community is the fact that most of the main characters must recall and rely on their ancestral teachings to get through a number of dilemmas and survive the story. What that looks like in today’s modern society is half the fun, and it’s what makes each of these books certified page-turners. 

If you are an audiobook listener or old-school paperback reader, be sure to pick up a copy of these works to help support Indigenous art and writers. Happy reading!

Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange

Following up his classic debut, There, There, Tommy Orange returns with an emotionally heavy novel that takes a deep dive into the assimilation era, and the trickle-down effect it’s had on tribal families for multiple generations since. 

Wandering Stars is technically a sequel and revisits some of the main characters from There, There and digs into their family history. However, Wandering Stars can easily be read as a standalone. But there are several references and connections between the two novels, so if you have the time and haven’t read There, There, just yet, we highly recommend it!

“Extending his constellation of narratives into the past and future, Tommy Orange once again delivers a story that is by turns shattering and wondrous, a book piercing in its poetry, sorrow, and rage—a masterful follow-up to his already-classic first novel, and a devastating indictment of America’s war on its own people.”

Never Whistle at Night:  An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology by Shane Hawk

Fair warning, some of the stories in this book will stick with you for several days and are downright scary. We’re talking ghosts, monsters, curses, hauntings, sinister revenge plots. But of course, you were probably able to surmise that on your own from the title, as the message to Never Whistle at Night is embedded into the brain of every Indigenous youth, adult, and elder all across the nation. 

In this book, we are introduced to nearly thirty original stories by well-known Indigenous authors like Stephen Graham Jones, Morgan Talty, Kelli Jo Ford, Nick Medina, Norris Black, Waubgeshig Rice, and many, many more.

“Many Indigenous people believe that one should never whistle at night. This belief takes many forms: for instance, Native Hawaiians believe it summons the Hukai’po, the spirits of ancient warriors, and Native Mexicans say it calls Lechuza, a witch that can transform into an owl. But what all these legends hold in common is the certainty that whistling at night can cause evil spirits to appear—and even follow you home.”

Indian Burial Ground by Nick Medina

Like most of Nick Medina’s works, Indian Burial Ground, is extremely difficult to put down once you get started. With fast pacing and short chapters, you are sure to fly through this book in no time.

Through his stories, Nick Medina tackles Indigenous issues head-on. In his bestseller, Sisters of the Lost Nation, Medina does an excellent job of bringing attention to the MMIW epidemic and its effects on a tribal community. The two underlying themes that he explores in Indian Burial Ground are teen suicide and alcoholism. 

In an attempt to make this recommendation completely spoiler free, we’ll leave the shocking mystery to you. But what we will share is that Medina ramps up his storytelling ability and has the reader following two timelines; one in present time and the other occurs during the summer in the 80’s. 

All Noemi Broussard wanted was a fresh start. With a new boyfriend who actually treats her right and a plan to move from the reservation she grew up on—just like her beloved Uncle Louie before her—things are finally looking up for her. Until the news of her boyfriend’s apparent suicide brings her world crumbling down. But the facts about Roddy’s death just don’t add up, and Noemi isn’t the only one who suspects something menacing might be lurking within their tribal lands.”

Where They Last Saw Her by Marcie R. Rendon

Set on the Red Pine reservation in Minnesota, this novel follows Quill as she decides to take it upon herself to find answers after another woman from her rez goes missing. Out of all the fantastic reads on this list, Where They Last Saw Her, has the highest rating across all platforms, including Goodreads, Amazon, Audible, and Apple books. 

Trigger warning, this book touches on difficult subjects that Indigenous women unfortunately often experience such as violence against women and sex trafficking. This book is raw, heartbreaking, as well as powerful and educational, and Rendon masterfully provides insight and perspective on the MMIW/P epidemic. 

“As Quill closes in on the truth behind the missing woman in the woods, someone else disappears. In her quest to find justice for the women of the reservation, she is confronted with the hard truths of their home and the people who purport to serve them. When will she stop losing neighbors, friends, family? As Quill puts herself, her family, and everything she’s built on the line to make a difference, the novel asks searing questions about bystander culture, the reverberations of even one act of crime, and the long-lasting trauma of being invisible.”

The Indian Lake Trilogy by Stephen Graham Jones

Truth be told, every single literary piece of fiction by SGJ should be on everybody’s TBR list. Ahead of The Indian Lake Trilogy, Stephen Graham Jones became famous for weaving in traditional stories into contemporary reads with a horror twist. However, this series isn’t that. Sure, there may be callbacks to certain Indigenous legends and lore, but the main character in this series is a badass Indigenous teen girl, Jade Daniels, whose love for slasher films may just save her life as well as her loved ones. 

The three novels of the trilogy are: My Heart is a Chainsaw, Don’t Fear the Reaper, and The Angel of Indian Lake. This series is like a cross between Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and the entire Friday the 13th film collection. The Indian Lake Trilogy is a must read. It is gory, beautiful, and most importantly, it teaches a significant lesson about caring for the land and the impact colonization has on sacred territories. 

“You won’t find a more hardcore eighties-slasher-film fan than high school senior Jade Daniels. And you won’t find a place less supportive of girls who wear torn T-shirts and too much eyeliner than Proofrock, nestled eight thousand feet up a mountain in Idaho, alongside Indian Lake, home to both Camp Blood – site of a massacre fifty years ago – and, as of this summer, Terra Nova, a second-home celebrity Camelot being carved out of a national forest. That’s not the only thing that’s getting carved up, though – this, Jade knows, is the start of a slasher. But what kind? Who’s wearing the mask? ….. Go up the mountain to Proofrock. See if you’ve got what it takes – see if your heart, too, might be a chainsaw.”

The Moon Series by Waubgeshig Rice

This series is comprised of two novels: Moon of the Crusted Snow and Moon of the Turning Leaves. Many of you can easily buy into the premise of this series as lots of Indigenous families have experienced this at least once in their lives, albeit at a much smaller degree. This is especially true for those who call Tulalip home and have dealt with days-long power outages from windstorms, where we felt disconnected from the world. 

These books take place on a remote reservation, far away from the conveniences of city-living. When the entire rez loses power and communication from the outside world, tribal members have to hunker down and survive a long and cold winter. Days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months as they return to their traditions and are able to get by on the strength of community alone. However, things take a fast and dark turn when the people agree to take in non-Tribal refugees who are fleeing a post-apocalyptic society. 

“With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Cut off, people become passive and confused. Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow…. Blending action and allegory, Moon of the Crusted Snow upends our expectations. Out of catastrophe comes resilience. And as one society collapses, another is reborn.”

Summertime Gatherings

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The season of sunshine is here! Already, we have seen the temperatures rise to the mid-70s at Tulalip and many can’t wait for all the fun opportunities that summer has to offer. While this time of the month is dedicated to celebrating grads and dads, we wanted to give our loyal syəcəb readers a glimpse into the future, by sharing a list of all the local upcoming events that are planned on the rez over the next few months.

The Tribe has numerous events scheduled to help engage the community in summertime activities, which includes plenty of cultural gatherings, fundraisers, and celebratory get-togethers.

Not too long ago, we put together a list of tribal events happening at Tulalip, which many associate with the beginning of summer, such as the Salmon Ceremony, the Stick Games Tournament, and the War Canoe Races. However, there are so many great things taking place this year, we had to break the list down into two separate articles.

So, have Siri, Alexa, or Google open up that calendar app, and be sure to set reminders for each of the following events, because this will be a summer to remember for sure!

Boom City – Open Daily 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m. through July 4th

  The Northwest pyrotechnic capital is officially back for the Fourth of July! For generations, Boom City has been the go-to spot for those looking to celebrate Independence Day with a bang. Tulalip entrepreneurs get to show case their business acumen while flexing their tribal sovereignty to sell fireworks that are banned in nearby cities. Each summer, Tribal members set up their vibrant and creatively designed stands at the lot located behind the Tulalip Resort Casino.

  The stand owners have innumerable types of fireworks available for purchase including cakes, firecrackers, bottle rockets, sparklers, Roman candles, fountains, smoke bombs, pop-its, and many more. 

Boom City also offers a designated area for people to enjoy their fireworks in a safe and legal manner. Several food vendors are sure to be stationed at Boom City as well, serving up tasty delectables such as Hawaiian shaved ice, frybread and tacos.

Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention Program U-Pick Farm Day

June 20, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

  This summer’s U-Pick Farm Day will be hosted at Garden Treasures Nursery & Local Farm. Copy and paste this address into your preferred map app for directions to the farm: 3328 WA-530, Arlington, WA 98223. The event is organized by the Diabetes Care and Prevention program of the Tulalip Health Clinic and is a great way to learn about the produce you consume and how it is grown and harvested. 

In previous years, families gathered fresh vegetables and brought them home to incorporate into their meals.

The U-Pick and Farm Tour is open to all Tulalip tribal members, Tulalip employees, and patients of the Tulalip Health Clinic. Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy, the Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention program Coordinator, shared, “When it comes to being with the plants, it’s about that connection that we have to them because the plants give us the nutrients that we need in our bodies. But they also feed us emotionally, because of how you feel when you’re harvesting the plants. And then to be able to talk about the spiritual side of our plant relatives and how we feel about them is important. 

“When you start thinking of your food as a type of medicine, it helps in the sense of a spiritual connection. That has been one our teachings here; feeding our Indian. Feeding who we are and satisfying that. I think the satisfaction comes not just from eating it and keeping within us to nourish our bodies, but it also comes from learning how to plant it, how to care for it, how to harvest it, and then prepare it. It’s this whole process that we do and that’s what we try to show here. These foods are the gift of health. And to see the kids, to see the adults, and the elders enjoy that, is truly a gift.”

27th annual Lushootseed Language Camp

Week one July 8 – 12; Week two July 15 – 19

  Registration for Language Camp is now open! The camp tends to fill up quick and is limited to 50 kids per week. So, be sure to reach out to the Lushootseed Language Department for a sign-up form to get your kiddos enrolled in this cultural enriching day camp. 

This year’s Language Camp is open to Tribal youth between the ages of five and twelve. During each fun-filled week, the kiddos learn several teachings of the Coast Salish culture including weaving, smudging, beading necklaces, and harvesting local plants, like devil’s club, for medicine and ceremonial art. 

Throughout the five-day camp, the young Language Warriors will be fully immersed in their ancestral language, as well as in the Tribe’s traditional stories and songs, through a combination of interactive lessons, including outdoor play and a series of visual programs that are taught on tablets.

Leah’s Dream Foundation 10th annual Golf Tournament  – July 13

Leah’s Dream Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to empowering children and young adults who are on the spectrum. The foundation was established in 2015 by Tribal member Deanna Sheldon, whose daughter, Leah Stacy, is diagnosed with apraxia. 

By hosting events and get-togethers for the local youth living with autism and disabilities, the organization provides a safe space where the kids can simply be themselves and build friendships within the special needs community.

  This tourney is beloved by golfers all across the county, as it provides an opportunity for hundreds of players to hit the links of the Battle Creek course while advocating for inclusion, promoting awareness, and raising funds for the special needs community of Tulalip and Marysville. 

The golf tournament is an event that Leah looks forward to every year and she is always quick to lend a hand by posting sponsor signs all throughout the 18-hole golf course.

To sign up for the annual golf tournament, please visit for more details.

Camano Island State Park Day Camp Trip – July 15

  The Diabetes Care and Prevention program is on a mission to educate the community about the disease that affects our people by the masses. In addition to their U-Pick and Farm tour, they are hosting another informative outing that is focused on promoting healthy eating and living habits to either prevent or help manage diabetes.

This particular event promises some fun in the sun as those who attend will spend a day out in nature, enjoying the scenic views of the Camano Island State Park. The excursion will be ADA accessible, with ADA restrooms nearby, and will include easy beach walks as well. 

A number of speakers are scheduled to share their knowledge at the outing, including THC team members, and representatives from the American Diabetes Association and the Puget Sound Kidney Center. 

The day camp trip is in collaboration with the Tulalip Senior Center, which will be providing transportation for Tribal members, as well as the Tribe’s Natural Resources Department.  

To sign up or acquire more info, please give Roni a call at (360) 716-5642. 

spee-bi-dah – July 20, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

  Connecting multiple generations and families, the summertime potlatch celebrates the lifeways of the Tulalip people with a cookout on the beach.

Held on a yearly basis, on the water, sands, and pebbles of the spee-bi-dah beach, the gathering provides tribal members a chance to socialize with friends and family while also traditionally harvesting and preparing the foods of their ancestral diet, including salmon, clams, and crab.

  A main attraction of the day is when the community ‘pulls together’ by using the traditional method of seining to capture fresh shellfish for the traditional clambake. That, of course, is in addition to a horseshoe tournament, swimming in the Salish Sea, and enjoying some rezzy laughs with all the deadly aunties and uncles of Tulalip. 

Canoe Journey – Tulalip Landing – July 27

Earlier this year, the Ahousaht First Nations Band rescinded their all-tribal invite to their homelands for the 2024 Tribal Canoe Journey. This was due to a lack of space, resources, and time needed to host such a large gathering.

While many were disappointed by the news, it also inspired the very first Youth Paddle when Puyallup stepped up and announced that they would host a journey geared exclusively toward the future leaders of our respective tribal nations.

While enroute to this year’s final destination at Puyallup, the youth, traveling in traditional cedar dugouts, will make a quick visit to Tulalip on July 27. 

Celebrated during the summertime by multiple Coast Salish tribes and First Nation bands, the canoe journey affords tribal members the opportunity to connect to their ancestral way of life. 

By navigating the Salish Sea, the kids will be exposed to several traditions, songs, foods, and dances as they journey from one village to the next.  

  Tulalip is currently holding canoe practices so the youth can build up their endurance. You can catch the Canoe Family down at the Marina on Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., as the youth put in work in anticipation of this year’s paddle. Be sure to drop by if you’re interested in pulling during the 2024 youth paddle to Puyallup!

Tulalip Health Clinic annual Health Fair

August 2, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

  Promoting overall health and wellness, the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic is once again hosting their annual Health Fair gathering this August. 

During the six-hour event, community members can visit a number of informational booths and learn the importance of prioritizing one’s health, and also pick up new tips on how to manage their medical diagnoses and concerns. 

In addition to helpful resources, the community can also receive free screenings and donate blood. And of course, the fan favorite fun run/walk will also be making its return to the annual health fair.

  This year’s event will take place at the Tulalip Gathering Hall.

3rd annual Pride Everyday Gathering

August 4, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

  Following two consecutive successful years, in which there were large turnouts, the Tulalip Pride Everyday gathering makes a comeback with the promise of even more fun, more dancing, and more delicious food. 

This Pride event is aimed to uplift and empower the voices of our relatives who identify as members of the LGBTQ+/Two-Spirit community.

DJ Monie will be spinning tunes during the event once again, so you can be sure to expect some fun dance competitions throughout the summertime celebration. Also returning this year will be MC Randy Vendiola, as well as Grand Marshal Sage Vendiola. Local Indigenous Author/Poet, Sasha LaPointe, will be the featured guest speaker during the gathering, and she will also be holding a signing of her book, Red Paint. 

The gathering also includes a Native earring contest, a ribbon shirt and skirt contest, and a number of games and activities as well. 

All ages are welcome to join the gathering to honor and support the local 2-Spirit and LGBTQ+ community. The Pride Everyday celebration is set to take place Gathering Hall.

Tulalip Foundation annual Salmon Bake Fundraiser in benefit of the Hibulb Cultural Center – August 17

  The Tulalip Foundation puts together an exquisite night that highlights Tulalip’s rich culture each August. While showcasing the songs, art, and history of the tribe, the Foundation hosts the Salmon Bake to help bring in funds to benefit the Hibulb Cultural Center’s exhibits, classes, and events.

  During the gathering, the museum opens up its exhibits to all those in attendance. And often times, several Tulalip artists are invited to hold live demonstrations in carving, looming, and weaving. 

Leading up to the Salmon Bake, the foundation acquires numerous donations from around the tribe to put up for bid during the silent auction. Those items include paintings, beadwork, sculptures, and cedar woven pieces, as well as gift baskets and gift certificates for the Tulalip Resort Casino. 

Also, be sure to keep an eye out for the announcements of the dates, times, and locations for the following events:

  • Tulalip Recovery Camp Out at Lopez Island
  • TPD’s National Night Out
  • Tulalip Elders Luncheon
  • Tulalip Education Division summer activities
  • Tulalip Boys and Girls Club summer activities
  • Cedar pulling harvest outings
  • Mountain Huckleberry harvest outings

Giving a Voice to the Voiceless 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Mary Ellen Johnson-Davis went missing on November 25, 2020. She was last seen walking east on Fire Trail, a well-travelled road designated as the north border of the Tulalip Reservation. Presumed a homicide victim by local authorities, including Tulalip Chief of Police Chris Sutter, Mary’s absence looms large in the hearts and minds of her loved ones who are still searching for answers, hoping against hope that she’ll come home.

Three-and-a-half years after her disappearance, Mary’s sisters Nona Blouin and Gerry Davis have worked tirelessly with Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) organizations, Tulalip Tribes leadership, social media groups, and other interested parties who are committed to giving a voice to the voiceless.

Two of those interested parties were French-American film maker Sabrina Van Tassel and former Tulalip Tribes vice-chairwoman Deborah Parker who share a passion for seeking social equity and political justice for often underserved, overlooked peoples. Their united effort to not let Mary’s story go silent and to place a cinematic-sized spotlight on the hundreds of Native American women who continue to go missing in the United States led to the creation of Missing from Fire Trail Road.

“Ten years ago, I was watching this incredible woman Deborah Parker as she was trying to include Native women in the reenactment of the Violence Against Women Act under the Obama Administration. That was the first time I heard about missing and murdered Indigenous women,” recalled the film’s director. As an investigative journalist and movie maker, Sabrina has directed over 40 documentaries. “Deb and I stayed in touch. As we grew and got older I always had the idea I would do a feature documentary on this great matter. 

“When I finally got the financing, I immediately called Deb and asked her to be my executive producer,” Sabrina continued. “We needed to do this together. This project is the really the culmination of two women, one Native, one non-Native having the urge to protect women.”

Deborah Parker

Carefully crafted in a culturally sensitive way, Missing from Fire Trail Road successfully shed light on the ongoing and continuously unsolved disappearances of Native women across the country. It elevates the story of Mary Ellen Johnson-Davis to open up a broader conversation about the violence and generational trauma suffered by Native communities, as well as the fallible laws and lack of credible investigation surrounding them.

From leaders like current Tulalip chairwoman Teri Gobin to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to Mary’s sisters and cousins, the 101-minute film threads an evocative but important narrative about these overlooked cases and the urgency for attention and action in these investigations. 

Sabrina Van Tassel, Deborah Parker and Teri Gobin.

After multiple years of production, Missing from Fire Trail Road had its much-anticipated world premier on June 8 at the Tribeca Festival. Held in New York’s East Village Theater, film production crew and allied organizations united their resources to ensure Mary’s sisters received the full red-carpet experience and were shrouded by the heart-felt support and endearing strength of their Tribe.  

“Our hearts and our prayers go out to the many advocates who do this important work each and every day, to the families who have missing loved ones, and to Mary Ellen Johnson’s family…this film is for you,” said executive producer Deborah Parker moments before the film’s silver screen debut. Her tireless work as an Indigenous leader and C.E.O. of the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition was absolutely critical to the movie’s making. “This film is for the missing and murdered Indigenous women. This film is for all those relatives across the land who want to see justice for our women. We deserve justice. That’s what this film is about, to tell this story of injustice and how we as a nation can come together because we deserve better.”

After the film’s debut, Director Sabina, executive producer Deborah, and Chairwoman Teri Gobin were asked a series of questions from media members and film critics. They did an admirable job of echoing the film’s poignant positioning of ongoing violence against Native women and the MMIW epidemic as a direct result of the Boarding School Era, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and the intergenerational trauma sustained by the forcible removal of Native children from their homes by the U.S. government.

Photo courtesy FilmRise
Photo courtesy FilmRise

  The Tulalip delegation were invited to a special post-film reception where they were traditionally welcomed by the members of the Shinnecock Nation, a federally recognized tribe in New York. Songs of strength and healing were shared for Mary’s sisters and cousins in attendance, as well as prayers offered for the return of Mary. Film director Sabrina was also blanketed for her commitment to spreading awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women via the cinematic lens. It’s her intention to see the film receive national, if not worldwide exposure.

Nona Blouin and Gerry Davis

“It made my heart smile to see the theater packed with so many people from all over to hear our sister’s story. All this exposure is going to bring our sister home,” shared Mary’s oldest sister, Nona Blouin. “Having our cousins Lynette and Veronica Jimicum here with us has been a huge support because they’ve been with every step of the way. And having so many other tribal members here too is really awesome because it proves how much of a family our Tribe can be. We’ve grown so close to some who have becomes pillars of strength for us to lean on when we’ve felt weak. We are so grateful for that.”

“This entire process has been an emotional rollercoaster because the feelings always rush back anytime we talk about Mary, but it’s just amazing that film is finally out,” added Mary’s youngest sister, Gerry Davis. “Because we grew up in foster homes we’ve always felt estranged from Tulalip. It was Mary who brought us back home. It was Mary who brought us all together. Through these tragic circumstances, from us being taken away so young and then losing our sister, we’ve gained a tribe.”

The Tribeca Festival brings diverse audiences together while championing unheard voices through exclusive premieres and thought-provoking conversations. Mary was given voice through cinematic storytelling that was heard by viewers from around the world. They and all future viewers will know her case is still an active investigation. Tulalip Tribal Police and the FBI in Seattle are offering a combined reward of up to $60,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for Mary Ellen Johnson-Davis’ disappearance.

After accompanying Mary’s sisters and returning from New York, Chairwoman Gobin reflected, “This film creates so much awareness to the general public about the challenges we have regarding MMIW and the inter-jurisdictional issues between federal agencies, state agencies, and our own tribal police. The more people watch, then hopefully the more people can understand the systems we’ve been advocating to change for so long. But perhaps even more important than that was our group being there to support the sisters. They felt just how much support they have, not only from their Tribal Council but their aunties, cousins, and other Native advocates who wanted to shower them with all the love and support they could.”

Tulalip leadership are actively planning to host a community viewing of Missing from Fire Trail Road on the reservation. Tulalip News will update community readers with the details after they’ve been finalized.

Milestones and Memories: Class of 2024 graduation ceremony

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News
The class of 2024 wore their traditional regalia during Tulalip Heritage High School’s graduation ceremony, held for the first time at the Gathering Hall on Wednesday, June 5. The momentous occasion brought together hundreds of friends, family members, and community supporters, united in a shared display of support for the 21graduates’ achievements.

As the event commenced, a group of students gathered at the entrance to sing an opening song for the graduates, followed by an uplifting performance of Tulalip culture bearers leading the students into the event. Holding the ceremony in Tulalip offered the students and attendees a meaningful opportunity to celebrate and display their diverse cultural heritage. They proudly displayed their traditions by wearing cedar hats, shawls embellished with co-Salish designs, and unique ribbons featuring money and treats.

The student-selected speaker, Tia Pinzon, a respected trauma-informed counselor for Heritage, delivered a heartfelt speech. Her words were a testament to the students, staff, and parents’ immense efforts and recognition of the collective support that guided them through their journey.

“Being uplifted and uplifting others is a crucial part of our growth and success, and it affirms our existence,” Pinzon shared. “If someone says you can’t make it, remember they don’t know your truth. They don’t see your resilience and power. Your ancestors know who you really are and what you are capable of.”

Pinzon concluded her address by encouraging the students to embrace this moment of growth and new experiences. She emphasized the importance of putting in their best efforts and stated, “If college is the next step you want to take, then you definitely belong there.” 

Damon Pablo, a member of the 2024 graduating class, played a pivotal role in bringing the graduation ceremony to the Gathering Hall. Reflecting on their efforts, Damon remarked, “I was a part of the crew that went to the board room and made it so the future generations could come to the Gathering Hall and have their ceremony here and graduate in their homeland. It’s awesome and a great privilege.”

Damon continued, “It’s a crazy feeling to be graduating. I couldn’t feel it until I arrived at the building and walked under the cedar arch. Now that school is over, I plan to take a year off and consider attending college somewhere.” 

After reflecting on their journey and the significance of graduating at the Gathering Hall, several students shared their thoughts on the milestone and their plans for the future.

“It feels great to be a graduate,” said Hazen Shopbell Jr. “Having our graduation at the Gathering Hall has been excellent. We fought hard to get the ceremony there; seeing it come to reality is fantastic. My plans for the future are to go to EvCC and study electrical engineering.”

Chano Guzman remarked, “It feels free being done and out of high school. Now, I can move on to bigger and better things. I plan on going to Wyoming to attend WyoTech and learn to be a mechanic.”  

As the evening ended, there was a feeling of accomplishment and excitement for the future. The Class of 2024 celebrated their academic achievements, honored their cultural identity, and set the stage for future generations to carry on this tradition. As they move on to the next chapter of their lives, the memories of this historic graduation ceremony will remind them of their strength and unity as members of the Tulalip community.

Transform your money mindset with  Master Your Money Workshop

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

In today’s society, effective money management is crucial. With prices at an all-time high and inflation affecting every aspect of our daily lives, saving and investing in our future has never been more critical. Romica Devi, a Tulalips Behavioral Health representative, offers a unique six-step course on managing your money with the Master Your Money Workshop. These classes focus on changing spending habits and the mindset surrounding money, offering a comprehensive approach to financial management.

Money can evoke a wide range of emotions, and how you deal with these emotions will determine what your relationship with money might bring. The Master Your Money Workshop will equip you with the knowledge and skills to transform your relationship with money by delving into crucial topics like credit, savings, scams, and money harmony.
“When managing money, your emotions will play a major role, and this workshop is designed to help you navigate these emotions with confidence and control,” Romica said. “I grew up with a lot of stress around money. Whenever I had money, I had impulses to get rid of it as fast as possible. My emotions were skewed. What you focus on is what you will notice. I used to put things on credit cards, so I would automatically put myself in debt. I would feel happy when I spent my money and not when I kept it. I had fear, anger, and resentfulness about how I felt and dealt with money.”

In her most recent class, Romica talked about money harmony. This dealt with getting to the root of why you feel the way you do about money and some ways to help change. She also talked about your reticular activating system. This system is a part of your brain that regulates behavioral arousal, consciousness, and motivation. What you focus on with this system, will bring more of that into your life.
One of Romica’s solutions is, she put a little bit of money into an account and treats it like a game, having fun watching her balance grow. This brought her positive feelings and helped her see the potential of her money. You might not notice it immediately, but you’ll start feeling better as you save more.
Managing money can be very difficult, and knowing how to deal with these issues is vital in becoming a more conscious buyer and spender. Romica explained, “There are things that happen in all areas of our lives that we don’t ask for; they just happen. The thing is, now we are adults, and we have the choice to change how we feel about money.”

This workshop is open to everyone, and you are welcome to attend any class as long as you register before attending each one. Classes are held on the 4th Thursday of every month at the Tulalip Recovery Resource Center. If you or someone you know is interested in attending Romica’s class on managing finances or wants to gather additional information on how to handle money matters, we encourage you to reach out to Romica via email at or or call (425) 530 6341. Don’t miss this opportunity to master your money and transform your financial future.