Legends never die: Jeffrey Veregge’s legacy lives on in his formline superheroes

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

After three years of constant hospitalization due to acute renal and respiratory failure caused by undiagnosed lupus, acclaimed artist Jeffrey Veregge passed away on Friday, April 12, following a heart attack. He was 50 years old. He is survived by his wife Christina and their three children.

Following his passing, Christina posted on their shared Facebook account, “We’re heartbroken to share the devastating news that our beloved Jeffrey passed away, unexpectedly, this morning from a heart attack. Our family is in shock and trying to process this unimaginable pain. For 1,025 days he fought lupus like the superhero we knew him to be. The strength, determination and courage he showed while being in the hospital for a total of 925 days was an inspiration to us all. He will be missed more than words can express. This world was a better place because of him.”

A proud member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Jeffrey will be remembered for the remarkable imprint he made on lovers of comic books, action figures, and all things superhero related through his unmistakable, formline reimagining of iconic Marvel and DC characters.

As a Tulalip News reporter, I’m so grateful to have had two opportunities to interview and profile the self-described Salish Geek, first in 2015 at PechaKucha Seattle volume 63 and again in 2020 after his Native American heritage collaboration with Marvel Comics. Using the best parts of those previous interviews, I now share with our readers a profile on the man, the myth, the legend, Jeffery Veregge.


About Gods and Heroes.

Jeffrey Veregge is an award winning Native American comic book artist from the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, located in Kingston, Washington. His work uses Coastal Salish and contemporary graphic design techniques that created the look dubbed ‘Salish Geek’ by his creative peers. Along with his work for IDW Publishing, he has appeared in numerous websites and publications such as Fast Company Magazine, Cowboys and Indians, and Wired Magazine. His works and commissions are part of some prestigious collections located at Yale University, Washington State University, The Burke Museum and the Seattle Art Museum. He’s also the pop and nerd culture contributor for Indian Country Today Media, where he is known as NDN Geek.

“I was raised and spent a majority of my life on our Port Gamble reservation known locally as Little Boston. Although I am enrolled there, I am also both of Suquamish and Duwamish ancestry,” said Veregge of his Native American roots. “I am an honor graduate from the Art Institute of Seattle, and I have had the privilege to study with Tsimshian master carver David Boxley for a short time, learning the basics of Salish formline design.”

Veregge has been an artist since the moment he was able to hold his first action figure and created stories of his childhood superheroes on paper with whatever art utensils were available. That creative fire and passion for superheroes and comics never faded and eventually led him to the Seattle Art Institute where he studied industrial design technology. Later, he was fortunate to study with Boxley to learn Salish formline design, a traditional style that he would blend fluidly within the Marvel and DC universes

“My most popular works are a reflection of a lifetime love affair with comic books, toys, TV and film; taking my passions and blending them with my Native perspective,” he said.

After graduating from the Seattle Art Institute, Veregge had a great job at an advertising agency for eleven years. Working in advertising allowed him to tap into his creative side, but the Native artist within wasn’t satisfied, he needed something more. He went to art school to be an artist and to have fun, not to have his inner artist constrained by the everyday politics of advertising.

12th Man.

For him, being an artist wasn’t just to sell art and make money; it meant having fun, it meant viewing a blank piece of paper as a magical canvas to express the imagination of a cluttered mind of a Native American who loves comics, movies, Sci-Fi, and action figures. So, he left the advertising agency and embarked on an artist’s mission to create something truly unique. The search for a new, personal and bold direction in his work resulted in Veregge remixing iconic comic superheroes with his now highly tuned hand for formline.

“For me it wasn’t just trying to create art as a geek or nerd, but as a Native I felt like I had something unique to offer,” Veregge said. “That’s my appreciation for all art and design, my passion for heroes, robots, aliens and monsters, and my pride in where I came from.

“My origins are not supernatural, nor have they been enhanced by radioactive spiders. I am simply a Native American artist and writer whose creative mantra in best summed up with a word from my tribe’s own language: ταʔčαʔξʷéʔτəν, which means get into trouble.”

Following that mantra, constantly testing his creative boundaries, and, yeah, getting into trouble a time or two ultimately led Veregge to one solo exhibition opportunity after another to showcase the wonderful world inside the mind of a Salish Geek. Multiple exhibitions of his work were held from 2009 to 2020, the pinnacle of whish was the Smithsonian’s 2018-2020 show at the National Museum of the American Indian, Of Gods and Heroes, featuring two 50-foot murals of Marvel’s heroes battling the Celestials. 

Space Needle.

“For thousands of years, Native and non-Native storytellers have used art as a means to share the tales of their people. For me, I am carrying on a tradition that started with my ancestors by simply using the means of today and all its modern conveniences to share the tales that I love. Art evolves, tools get better, but the essence of what I do is the same as those who did it on the canvases nature provided for them to tell the stories of gods and heroes long, long ago” stated the Salish Geek on his website prior to Of Gods and Heroes grand opening. 

His explosion onto the highest levels of the art scene eventually meant his one-a-kind designs reached the game-changing creatives at Marvel Comics. It was perfect timing, too, as the comic book goliath was in the midst of developing an all-new collection titled Marvel’s Voices.

“Marvel’s Voices started and evolved from a popular Marvel podcast into a larger program within our comics,” explained Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief, C.B. Cebulski in a press release. “Our first anthology in this program was released this past February and the reception from fans was incredible. It was clear we needed to do more to lift up more voices and talent and increase representation in and behind our stories. This is the first step of our next expansion of the program to discover new writers and artists who can bring their voices to our characters, both old and new. And this is only the beginning.”

In a cosmic shift for Native American representation, Marvel celebrated Indigenous history in November 2020 with a landmark special, Indigenous Voices #1. Written and drawn by some of the industry’s most renowned Indigenous talent, including none other than the Salish Geek himself, Jeffrey Veregge. Now a celebrated artist, he is leading this super powered movement alongside a team of creators to explore the legacy and experiences of Marvel’s incredible cast of Indigenous characters.

Iron Man.

In addition to the Indigenous Voices comic series, Veregge illustrated Native American tribute variant covers for other popular comic titles featuring Dani Moonstar, Black Panther, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and others. All depicted in his signature Salish style.

“I am truly grateful for the platform that Marvel has not only provided for me and my work, but with this edition of Marvel Voices, all of Native America,” said Veregge. “This is an opportunity to share the cultural influences that we as Native artists and writers grew up with that will add more depth and dimension to the Native heroes in the Marvel Universe.”

From blockbuster movie goers, animated series streamers, and a very devout base of comic book enthusiasts, there are hundreds of millions of Marvel superhero fans globally. The exposure to the limited-edition Indigenous Voices series and the must-have Native Heritage tribute covers illustrated by Veregge offered immeasurable cross-cultural learning experiences to the traditional Native storytelling and the thriving art scene that is Salish formline. 

In a world severely lacking in authentic representation of Native American culture, Veregge reached the highest pinnacle of his craft while elevating Salish formline into the bold and vibrant worlds of comic book lore and museum quality art exhibitions.

Within the pop culture realm, there’s a saying that goes something like “There’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” The Salish Geek is a f*cking legend.

Culture Night is back!

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Over 60 community members helped usher in the spring season on the night of April 9, at the first Culture Night gathering of 2024. For many tribal families, this is a time of year that is dedicated to learning, practicing, engaging, and sharing in the ancestral teachings of the Tulalip people. 

With the promise of numerous fun cultural activities on the horizon, including the annual Salmon Ceremony, Canoe Journey, and Spee-Bi-Dah, the Tulalip events department is hosting the weekly Culture Night gatherings, every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., to help prepare tribal members for the upcoming summertime events. 

Summer is filled with an abundance of teachings that are important to the tribal nation, such as harvesting traditional foods, plants, and medicines like huckleberries, cedar, salmon, and shellfish. The act of exercising their inherent treaty rights and gathering these items is a significant aspect of the Tulalip culture, which is why it is important for younger generations to learn about the preparation and work that goes into these ceremonies and gatherings, so they can in turn pass it on to the future of the Tribe in the years to come. 

At Culture Night, the community gets the chance to learn a handful of Tulalip’s songs and dances that have been passed down throughout the generations. More importantly, they do so at a slower pace, and take the time to show the little ones each step, drumbeat, and chant, so when the time comes, they are able to perform this work at game speed. 

Additionally, Culture Night has become synonymous with traditional crafting, due to the fact that many community members utilize the three-hour event to stitch and weave together regalia items for themselves and their families, including shawls, vests, headbands and more. This year, the events department teamed up with the Rediscovery Program for Culture Night. Together, they are making a strong effort to ensure that Tulalip has matching regalia for this summer’s cultural gatherings by providing regalia kits, so families have everything they need to fashion their own traditional attire.

Said Tulalip Events Manager, Malory Simpson, “We’ll be doing kits again this year, so shawl kits and vest kits. And we want to prevent waste, so we’ll be requiring them to check out their kits each week, to make sure projects are completed before they move on. We’re trying to plan, coordinate, and be more uniformed as far as our regalia style. One thing that we will provide this year is a certain color scheme for the material of our regalia. 

“I’m excited to see that cohesiveness, coming together as a tribe and representing the Tribe as a whole, overall, in our matching regalia. I really want to see that this year. And if it’s not something that community members want to use, if they want to make their own or use their family colors, they will be responsible for bringing that their selves, but we’ll still have sewing machines and materials available for them to use.”

Although the first Culture Night of the year was somewhat lowkey, there was still plenty of buzz in the air in anticipation for the weeks to come, leading up to all those exciting and important cultural events taking place this summer. 

This gathering was a great way to get the ball rolling and a wonderful opportunity for the community to share in some fun and laughter together, as well as discuss a number of upcoming events, including the 5:30 p.m. Canoe Washing on Monday April 15, at the Hibulb Cultural Center, and also Salmon Ceremony practice which begins on April 18, at 5:30 p.m., and is set to occur every Thursday at the Gathering Hall until the Salmon Ceremony takes place on June 1. The annual MMIW/P Day on May 3 is another event the community looks forward to participating in each year, and it’s in a space where they are able to put all their teachings that they’ve acquired from attending Culture Night to use, to help spread their healing medicine through that good work. 

“I’m just excited to gather again and provide a safe place for people to come, enjoy time together, share songs, dance, and learn,” Malory expressed. “This is the time to come out and learn, before we get into the bigger ceremonies. Some people are starting out from ground zero and seeing that growth throughout the weeks is exciting – being able to see that excitement on their faces when they finish their regalia and seeing them at Salmon Ceremony or on Canoe Journey dancing in their regalia, it’s really cool to see all their hard work and their pride when they get to wear it.”

Culture Night is happening every Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. On April 16, Culture Night will take place at the Tulalip Dining Hall once again. The following weeks, the location will change to the Kenny Moses Building – same time, same day of the week though. Be sure to join in if you would like to craft regalia or practice a few songs and dances with the community.

Youth Services Easter Bash

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Hundreds hippity hopped to an early Easter Bash hosted at Tulalip’s Youth Center on Saturday, March 30. There were dyed eggs galore, coloring stations, plenty of Easter themed backdrops for pictures, and energy-inducing sugary treats. However, nothing topped the pure joy of children eager to meet their imaginary icon, the Easter bunny.

“The Easter Bash was a huge success,” said Sheena Oldham, one of the event coordinators. Serving as an activities specialist and proud mom of three kids, she was well versed in what a proper Easter party required. “I feel like our Bash brought a ton of people together. I’m proud of your Youth Services staff for all they did behind the scenes to make this happen, including wearing the bunny suit.

“The games, the food, the racing to get eggs, you could see how much everything meant to the kids who were running around endlessly from one activity to another,” she added. “Personally, my favorite aspect was seeing the competitive atmosphere from both parents and kids when it came time to the egg hunt. It was all smiles throughout and we saw so many people taking and sharing pictures of their happy kids. It’s events like this that really show how much our community appreciates getting together and having fun.” 

Easter Bunny and Sparky return for annual Easter Run

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The kids of Tulalip could not contain their excitement on the afternoon of Saturday, March 30. Many were literally jumping with joy when they spotted two life size characters strolling down their street. And though some of the kiddos were initially terrified, a few of them put on their brave faces and overcame their fear once they were gifted candy and toys from Sparky the Fire Dog and the Easter Bunny. 

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, a local nonprofit known as Together We’re Better organized the first Easter Run for the community of Tulalip in 2021. The event was an instant success and helped raise the spirits of the entire reservation. With gathering restrictions in place, With gathering restrictions in place, and while many folks were practicing social distancing, the Easter Run brought back a sense of normalcy to the community.

At the time, Together We’re Better Founder, Malory Simpson, shared, “It was important for us to do an event. Normally, we do a huge egg hunt and multiple communities come out to celebrate, but COVID has interfered with a lot of events this year. Together We’re Better is community-driven and 100% community funded, so seeing the kids cooped up and not having anything really planned for them, we wanted to do something for them and bring Easter to the community.”

Malory drew inspiration from the Tulalip Bay Fire Department’s yearly Santa Run, in which the Fire squad escorts Santa Claus throughout Tulalip neighborhoods while collecting donations for the Tulalip Church of God Food Bank. When Malory reached out to the fire station, a partnership was quickly forged between Together We’re Better and the Tulalip Bay Fire Department. Their firehouse dalmatian mascot, Sparky, also wanted in on the fun and volunteered to distribute candy alongside the Easter Bunny. 

“When you see the kid’s faces light up, and their smiles are so big, ear to ear, when they see Easter Bunny and Sparky from across the road, it’s just the best,” expressed TBFD Captain John Carlson. “The interactions are always great; they all mean a lot to us. To make their day makes my day, because we see people on some of their worst days. I view the fire services as a family and the Tulalip community is a huge part of our family too. It’s so great to work together and make each other’s day better, it means a lot to us. It’s why we’re here.”

In addition to Sparky and the fire crew, two other local groups volunteer their time to hand out candy each year and are essential to the Easter Run – Aunties in Action and the Redrum First Nations Motorcycle Club. Every Easter Run, there are about 20 volunteers who walk numerous miles throughout the day to deliver treats and smiles to the homes of Tulalip children and their families. 

The Easter Run was such a big hit within the community that Together We’re Better decided to make it an annual occasion. Now, it is something that many kids look forward to each spring. Kids are on the lookout, peering out their windows, and as soon as they catch a glimpse of the dynamic duo, they are outside waiting to greet them.The kids shower the bunny and fire dog with hugs and high fives, and graciously accept their gifts of sugar and plastic novelties. The parents are equally as excited as the youngins, and they are sure to have their camera apps open and ready to snap a shot of their babies with the two loveable characters. 

Said Malory, “Giving back to the community always feels really good. This is all community effort; it makes my heart happy to see the community coming together to take care of each other. I just love it. The smiles and laughter make you feel really good inside. Just seeing the kids get excited is one of the best things about the event. It’s pretty fun to see all of their reactions and see how happy the kids are to spend some time with the Easter Bunny and Sparky.”

This year, the Tulalip Bay Fire Department expanded its district to include homes located in the Quil Ceda Creek neighborhood developments. As the Easter Run mirrors the fire department’s service area, this meant that the Easter Bunny and Sparky would see some new faces this year. And that they did. With the addition of three neighborhoods, Sparky and the bunny made dozens of new friends of all ages, from newborns to elders, as they spent a generous portion of their day getting to know the kids and families on the Quil. 

In total, the Easter Bunny and Sparky visited 10 neighborhoods on the reservation, walked over 14,000 steps (≈ 7 miles), and brought smiles to over 100 kids during the 2024 Easter Run. 

Natosha Gobin, the 2024 Easter Run event planner, stated, “The Together We’re Better events are so much fun to participate in because it is community driven. For the Easter Run, a lot of community members look forward to stuffing eggs, buying snacks, and doing whatever they can to help. It’s nice to take time and visit with the families and go to all the different developments. This year, we were excited to add the Quil developments as well. It feels so good to be with the community for a positive reason. And to see how much this means to the family as a whole – it just feels really good to be a part of something that is putting smiles on their faces.”

If you are looking to get more involved with the community, Together We’re Better is always accepting donations, whether that is goods, funds, or your personal volunteered time. For more information, please contact Natosha Gobin at (425) 319-4416 or Malory Simpson at (425) 905-9137.

Quil Ceda students embrace Hibulb scavenger hunt

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Devoted educators of Marysville School District’s Indian Ed. Department, Quil Ceda Elementary and Hibulb Cultural Center are determined to make education great again. MEGA, if you will.

The united effort is intended to raise cultural awareness, fulfilling a key aspect of the late John McCoy’s since time immemorial legislation, while creating an inspirational atmosphere at the intersection of learning and fun.

Quil Ceda 4th graders were ushered into Hibulb’s makeshift longhouse where they were welcomed by members of the Indian Ed. Department, which included Matt Remle, Terrance Sabbas, Zee Jimicum, Doug Salinas, Tony Hatch and Ian LaFontaine on this particular Monday. After they each gave a brief introduction of their family background and tenure within education, they stood poised with handmade drums and sang several songs. They were followed by a 15-minute video that gave a board leader view of the Tulalip Tribes history.

Then, the real fun began. Longhouse doors were opened and students were each given a Raven’s Scavenger Hunt to complete while exploring the cultural center’s history-filled exhibits. 

“I think it’s so important that we provide opportunities to educate all children here at Hibulb. By sharing our culture and history openly and authentically, we help bridge gaps in cultural understanding that Tulalips and non-Tulalips may have,” explained 23-year-old group tour specialist Courtnie Reyes.

“I went to Quil Ceda as a child and, back then, our cultural education was more based on the broader sense of what it means to be a Native American. We learned of historical figures from other tribes, but I don’t really remember any being Tulalip specific,” she continued. “I’ve always wanted to be an educator, so today I’m proud to be a part of sharing the stories of so many important Tulalip figures who laid the foundation we’ve built so much upon.”  

Each aspect of the Raven’s Scavenger Hunt is meticulously designed to captivate students’ imagination while they are immersed in various aspects of Tulalip history; from fishing and hunting and gathering practices to the importance of harvesting cedar and its many practical applications to central tenants of being canoe people and children of the salmon.

Present to assist chaperone the children as they navigated their scavenger hunt was members of the Marysville Pilchuck high school’s United Native Club. Tenth grader Monet Clemons serves as vice president and says collaborative education efforts at Hibulb is something she wished were possible when she were in elementary, but is so excited to see now widely available for local students.

“When I was younger, I didn’t really have this kind of hands-on experience with culture. I was told I was Native, but never got to learn what it meant to be Tulalip,” Monet shared after helping a group of students answer the question ‘What is the most innermost layer of the cedar tree called?’. “Now, to be here and help the next generation learn what it means to be Tulalip and all the ways we embrace culture is pretty cool.

“Bringing elementary-aged kids here is a good age because they are so curious to learn and we can see just how excited they are to see key parts of our culture, like the canoes and fishing village. Being here and experiencing everything the museum has to offer opens their world more and lets them view our culture in a real meaningful way versus just reading about it in a textbook,” she added. 

The meaningfulness went even deeper for several young Tulalip students who, while viewing the veterans wall, suddenly found themselves overcome with excitement staring at a much younger version of their grandpa Ray Fryberg. They were quick to tell anyone within ear shot, “That’s my grandpa!” while pointing to the portrait of the Vietnam veteran. 

Following completion of the scavenger hunt, the children gathered one more time in the longhouse. This time, they were divided up into dancers, singers and drummers. They quickly learned the Spokane Happy Dance and eagerly performed it to perfection to the joy of their onlooking educators. The moment served as a living embodiment of what it truly means to make education great again.

The Easter Bunny is hopping to a neighborhood near you on March 30

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Recently, an inside source reached out to Tulalip News in hopes to pass a message to the all the kids living on the reservation. According to this source, who is definitely not a dalmatian named Sparky the Fire Dog, the one and only Easter Bunny will be returning to Tulalip on Saturday March 30, to deliver toys and sweets to the children of the tribal community!

Now the translation is a little ruff ruff, but the same source also revealed that Tulalip happens to be one of the Easter Bunny’s favorite places to visit, and he cannot wait to greet the kiddos with a big hug or an awesome high-five this year.  The source, who has been spot-on with this information, also shared that the Easter Bunny is excited to reunite and join forces with his bestest pal in the whole wide world, Sparky the Fire Dog, once again. 

This is the fourth year in a row that the bunny and dalmatian duo have teamed up to bring smiles to the kiddos on the reservation, in what has become known locally as the annual Easter Run. The event was originally started to help bring back a sense of normalcy during the height pandemic, in a way that was both fun and safe, to limit the spread of COVID. 

The Easter Run was such a big hit amongst both the youth and elders of the tribe that the local non-profit group, Together We’re Better, that organized the event, decided to bring it back year after year, even after gathering restrictions were lifted. 

Together We’re Better partnered with the Tulalip Bay Fire Department and the local group Aunties in Action for the event. The large collective spends an entire day walking through each neighborhood located within the fire district’s area of service to deliver goodies to the kids alongside Sparky and the Easter Bunny. This year, in addition to the Mission Highlands, Silver Village, Larry Price Loop/ Ezra Hatch, Battle Creek, and Y-site neighborhoods, the group will also be visiting three new sites including Levi Lamont (Quil #1), 81st (Quil #2), and 77th (Quil Meadows). 

The collective will begin at Mission Highlands at 12:00 p.m. and work their way through the reservation throughout the course of the day. Their official schedule, which is subject to change depending on time spent in each neighborhood, reads as follows:

  • Mission Highlands: 12:00
  • Silver Village: 12:30
  • Larry Price Loop/Ezra Hatch: 1:00
  • Battlecreek: 1:30
  • Y-Site: 2:00
  • Village of Hope 2:30
  • Quil #1: Levi Lamont: 3:00
  • Quil #2: 81st: 3:30
  • Quil Meadows: 77th: 4:00

The Easter Run is quickly becoming one of the more popular events at Tulalip, and after each visit, the children are sure to leave with a good amount of treats and happy memories. 

So, to all the local children, when you hear the sirens of the Tulalip Bay fire engine, be sure to grab your Easter baskets and head outside for your opportunity to meet the Easter Bunny and Sparky the Fire Dog in-person. And parents, bring your cameras and/or cell phones to capture a photo with your kiddos and the beloved characters.

Following last year’s Easter Run, Together We’re Better Founder, Malory Simpson, expressed, “Giving back to the community always feels really good. This is all community effort; it makes my heart happy to see the community coming together to take care of each other. I just love it. The smiles and laughter make you feel really good inside. Just seeing the kids get excited is one of the best things about the event. It’s pretty fun to see all of their reactions and see how happy the kids are to spend some time with the Easter Bunny and Sparky.”

If you are looking to get more involved with the community, Together We’re Better is always accepting donations, whether that is goods, funds, or your personal volunteered time. For more information about this year’s Easter Run, please contact Natosha Gobin at (425) 319-4416. 

Donation request! TELA is in need of cedar bark for preschool graduation and weaving activities

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Weaving cedar is a tradition long passed down amongst the sduhubš people. A tribe always attuned with the natural world, Tulalip’s ancestors practiced this art to tailor skirts, shirts, headbands, and baskets pre-contact. The teaching has been passed down through numerous generations and the art of weaving, and the work that goes into it, is still prominent in present day Tulalip. In fact, if one were to attend a cultural gathering, there would be dozens of examples of handmade cedar-woven items, which tribal members proudly adorn to showcase their heritage, teachings, and cultural pride.

During graduation season, it is common to see Tulalip graduates rocking a cedar woven cap as they accept their diplomas. And it’s a longstanding tradition that the preschoolers of the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy weave their very own cedar headbands, with the help of their families, to wear at their moving up ceremony in August. 

Ever since its establishment, it has been TELA’s M.O. to introduce cultural practices to the future of Tulalip at a very young age. The idea is that the children will develop a strong foundation to continue to learn, share, and progress the Tribe’s ancestral way of life by the time they are ready to make the transition to the big kids school. 

TELA is reaching out to the community and seeking assistance in keeping their cedar headband weaving tradition alive. With approximately 80 preschool students graduating this coming summer, TELA is in need of at least two bundles of cedar bark, that has been drying for one year. However, TELA welcomes all donations and hopes that they can actually acquire more than the two rolls needed to complete the project. 

Knowing how integral weaving is to Tulalip culture, TELA is looking to expand this teaching to all of their students and families by hosting weaving classes during their family engagement nights. Additionally, TELA has recently incorporated weaving into their family therapy sessions, in which a handful of families participate in monthly gatherings led by the academy’s mental health specialists. 

After Tulalip News shared TELA’s donation request flyer to our Facebook page, many community members helped spread the word by sharing the post and tagging people who may be of assistance to TELA’s cause. One Facebooker suggested that TELA should reach out to the Rediscovery Program. Absyde Dacoscos, TELA Family Engagement Coordinator, shared that she was thankful for the suggestion and hopes that Virginia Jones would be open to instruct a class if TELA is able to obtain enough cedar bark donations from the community. 

That same Facebook post also led to an opportunity for their students and families to learn about stripping cedar bark, as a Facebook scroller invited the academy to harvest cedar bark from trees on their property for any future projects, as cedar bark needs time, at least one year, to dry before it can be utilized in weavings. 

Said Absyde, “It’s important to keep the Tulalip culture alive and to make sure the traditions are passed on to the kids. We need bark that has been dried properly for at least a year. Mostly for our preschool graduates. That is our number one concern right now, to make sure they get headbands for the graduation ceremony in August. One to two rolls at least for headbands, but we’re willing to accept any amount, so we can hopefully do the weaving nights as well.”

Donations can be made in-person at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy. For additional information, please contact Absyde at (360) 716-4250.

Community celebrates culture through round dance

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

Totem Middle School’s gym reverberated with unity in a crescendo of joyous energy as the Marysville School District and Tulalip Indian Education came together to host a vibrant round dance for students and families. With over 200 attendees on Thursday, March 7, the event echoed with feelings of love and celebration. 

MC Randy Vendiola, the evening’s announcer, conveyed the essence of the gathering, stating, “The round dance is a celebration of our way of life, fostering strength within our community. These songs are for all the good people and all those who need healing. We are all equal.”

The round dance moves in the same direction as the earth in a clockwise circle. The drummers play in the middle, and the dancers form a circle around them, hopping one foot and sliding the other in rhythm to the drum beat. Everyone from the community was encouraged to join in the dance, and several families from different backgrounds joined the round dance for the first time.

“I enjoyed the evening,” said Ervanna LittleEagle of Warm Springs, Oregon. “It’s beautiful to see all the drummers and all the young ones being mentored by the older ones. I think it’s important to share our culture with people that aren’t Native. There is a lot of representation happening in different arenas right now, and I think that having this space for different cultures to come together and experience our customs helps us sustain our way of life.”

“This was my first-round dance,” student and tribal member Ellashawnee Gorham-Dumont said. “Having powwows like this is special to me. Seeing how other people dance and make friends is cool. I think it’s difficult to share our culture with people. You must teach them and get them to understand why we do what we do and respect our ways of doing things. They must be willing to learn.”

The sense of community and cultural celebration blended seamlessly in the rhythmic circle of the round dance. With participants from various backgrounds, the dance became a powerful expression of unity and highlighted the importance of cultural exchange and understanding. 

Facing The Storm showcased in Hibulb longhouse

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

A unique documentary series featuring the voices of Indigenous climate justice leaders was previewed by ecstatic Hibulb patrons as they sat intently in the cultural center’s makeshift longhouse turned film screening room on a winter afternoon. The one-of-a-kind digital storytelling series is titled Facing The Storm; an ode to the mighty buffalo who don’t cower from a storm, but instead charge into it head on.

 “It is my honor to introduce Mikayla Gingrey, a flourishing film maker, and her talented assistant, her mother Marya Gingrey. Both are descendants of the Apache nation,” stated Last Real Indians contributor, Rae Rose. “I have been invited to introduce the upcoming docuseries, Facing The Storm: The Indigenous Response to Climate Change, an Aminata Multimedia Group docuseries. 

“Mikayla is using her talent to highlight and document the important stories that often get overlooked, the struggles, the heartbreaking losses, along with the love, and sometimes overlooked triumphs of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

“These films will highlight Indigenous leaders, activists, and community members who are working towards our collective future,” she continued. “This series is our chance to spotlight the achievements, not usually acknowledged in mainstream media. It is also an important chance to give voice to and shine a light on those who are working to combat climate crisis, and to those providing spaces for healing and growth in our indigenous communities. All with the hope of creating real and lasting change.”

An estimated 70 people filled the longhouse sits, while others willingly stood near the entrance way just to glimpse two parts of the five-part docuseries. 

The first episode covered the divestment movement of large financial institutions (think Bank of America and Wells Fargo) who are the primary backers of oil pipelines. Illuminating the people and organizers that became Mazaska Talks, the filmmaker focused on the Indigenous-led Seattle campaign to get the city of Seattle to divest from Wells Fargo.

“When we took on the city of Seattle, so many people reached out from all around the globe who were interested in running similar campaigns on their homelands. This showed us how valuable our work was to the cause and the importance of sharing it online and through social media in order to get the word out through whatever means necessary. We knew the mainstream media wouldn’t tell the story from our perspective,” explained Lakota activist and local Marysville School District Indian Education coordinator, Matt Remle. His tireless activism was instrumental to Seattle officially divesting from Wells Fargo in 2020. 

Divestment has proven an historically successful means of resistance for disenfranchised people around the world. South Africa, Sudan, and Burma are just a few places where it has seen success. Divestment is not a magic bullet, but it is a powerful tool to challenge the status quo of placing profits over people. These same banks are backing the new expansion of the DAPL system into the Bayou Bridge pipeline, as well as four proposed tar sands pipelines that together would add over three million barrels of the dirtiest oil in the world to flow across turtle island every single day:

  • Keystone XL (TransCanada) – 830,000 barrels per day
  • TransMountain (Kinder Morgan) – expansion from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day
  • Line 3 (Enbridge) – expansion from 390,000 to 915,000 barrels per day
  • Energy East (TransCanada) – 1.1 million barrels per day

“While first peoples own, occupy or use 25% of the world’s surface area, we safeguard 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity. Our identity is in the landscape–the mountains, the rivers, the plants, and the animals. For this reason, we are in a unique position to advocate for the ecosystem our shared human existence,” further explained Matt to the longhouse audience. “But if we are to preserve the Earth as a home for all future generations, we need everyone to help us restore Indigenous and environmental rights. That is where divestment comes in. That is where you come in.”

To learn more about the grass roots movement and how you can support them by divesting from specific financial institutions, please visit MazaskaTalks.org

The second episode of Facing The Storm focused on food sovereignty and how it sustains culture, identity, and positive health outcomes. It tied together the Water Is Life movement with the simple fact salmon is a first and foremost food source for Coast Salish peoples. The episode beautifully wove together teachings from Coast Salish ceremonies and other cultural events that are dedicated to salmon to depict the ancestrally deep roots the tribes have with their land and local waterways.

Although not shown at Hibulb, the filmmaker shared with the still captivated for more attendees that episode three covers the relocation of Quinault’s main village and that episode four is about Tulalip citizen Kayah George and her ongoing resistance movement towards the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Vancouver, B.C. 

Following a raucous applause for the contemporary storyteller as the Hibulb film session ended, Mikayla Gingrey took a moment to reflect on the importance of sharing her works on Native land, such as Tulalip.

“It means so much to me to be able to debut the second episode of my series here in Tulalip,” said the thought provoking 25-year-old Mikayla. “My goal for this project is to inspire the next generation of climate justice warriors. In that spirit, to show the series here, I feel honors and pays tribute to the past and present generation of warriors from this region.

“Also, Matt Remle is such a huge mentor to me. He’s built such a strong connection to the Tulalip people through his work in education, and together we share the same mission to educate and inspire the younger people,” she continued. “It’s so important they be empowered and inspired to carry on this legacy of defending Mother Earth, defending the sacred, and defending a basic human right to have clean air and clean water. There’s a space for everyone in the climate justice fight and I want everyone to walk away from the series knowing you can do something, whether its big or small, it all makes an impact.”

Crafting dreamcatchers with Dinesha Kane

By Wade Sheldon 

Embracing the healing power of creativity, Tulalip tribal member Dinesha Kane transformed a gloomy, overcast Saturday into a vibrant day of crafting at the Hibulb Cultural Center. On February 24, Dinesha led a class, sharing the artistry of crafting dreamcatchers, a skill she developed on her healing journey.

According to the Indigenous Foundation, dreamcatchers trace their origins to the Ojibwes in North America. Typically handmade, these intricate creations involve sticks or hoops and woven nets made from sinew, leather, feathers, and beads. The 1960s and 70s saw dreamcatchers gaining popularity and spread within Native American communities, thanks to the Pan-Indian movement.

Intricately entwined with profound symbolism, dreamcatchers convey a story through their elements. The hoop, a representation of life, joins forces with a spider’s web-like weave intricately designed to snare the tendrils of nightmares. Feathers, akin to soft ladders, guide the path of good dreams toward the dreamer’s realm. At the same time, beads serve as storytellers—a solitary bead embodying a spider and an array of beads narrating the ensnarement of bad dreams.

Dinesha decided to make her first dreamcatcher five years ago for her son. The problem was she needed to learn how to start or who she could talk to about learning. 

“I found a dreamcatcher at a secondhand store and deconstructed it to figure out how it went together,” Dinesha said. “I taught myself how to make them. I was in a place that needed healing. After that, I found people to assist me with learning new styles and techniques. I find growth in being able to ask for help.”

Dinesha continued, “As for teaching, it was not something I expected, but it has been a wonderful surprise, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Once I got into Hibulb and started meeting more people, I found that I love teaching. There’s nothing like being able to teach at our museum. It’s a blessing and an honor. I hope to get more youth out there learning and showcasing their work.” 

As Dinesha continues to inspire with her creative workshops, the dreamcatchers crafted in her class not only capture dreams but also symbolize a journey of healing and artistic expression. 

To register for upcoming classes or to learn about future courses, contact Dinesha at (425)876-8788 or visit her website at www.coastsalishconcepts.com.