Can You Dig It? Tulalip Natural Resources helps community grow together with a garden workshop 

 By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

In the heart of the spring season, the Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources department put together a successful event dedicated to a popular springtime hobby, though many would argue that gardening is a way of life, in both the literal and figurative sense. 

Natural Resources opened the garden workshop to include all residents of Tulalip. On the morning of May 11, close to 60 community members showed up at the Tulalip Admin Building to really dig into the art of gardening and learn about the many benefits that plants have to offer, while cultivating new skills and knowledge along the way. 

“I have always loved gardening and working in the yard. To me, it’s relaxing. Even pulling weeds, I just really enjoy it,” shared community member and home gardener, Catherine Key. “I decided to come when I saw the flyer and all the subjects looked interesting. I just think it’s really cool that the Tribe did this.”

The garden workshop featured three presentations that focused on several aspects of gardening. Valerie Streeter, Tulalip Natural Resources Stormwater planner, opened the three-hour event with a presentation titled, Go with the Flow, that informed the people about watersheds, rainwater collection, and natural yard care. Local Horticultural Inspirer, Seth Smith, led an informational presentation dedicated to growing a garden for sustenance, which included a Q&A where people absorbed any and all insight that Seth had to share.  

Said Seth, “Today I talked about subtropical plants, citruses, fig trees, pomegranates, any unique plant that’s not apple trees or pear trees that we’re all familiar with. I wanted people to think outside the box, open their mind and inspiration to achieve things that people would rather you not succeed at. [Gardening] allows you to free your mind of negativity on the day to day. It allows you to have your own space, and I think that’ll allow you to clear your mind of work, family drama, vehicle issues, and allow you to just focus on yourself.”

The Tulalip Health Clinic Diabetes Program presented a detailed lesson on the medicinal usages of plants, while also touching on the native plants of this region, essential gardening tools, and the special connection to the natural world that we experience as Indigenous people

Tulalip Diabetes Educator, Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy explained, “Plants were here before people, we think of them as our first teachers. The more you’re around them, the more you feel connected. Think of them as friends that you get to see once a year. Enjoy your time with them, go and be out with nature. I brought two plants that are representing us today; Camus is a native plant and you’re on tribal lands. Sacred plant, sacred land. And iris, which we planted at the Tulalip Health Clinic, it represents the community, this group of people who were able to come out and learn today.”

Along with Roni was Herbalist, Leslie Lekos, who explained the step-by-step process of creating tinctures from plant extracts, that could be used as home remedies to help treat a variety of ailments such as nausea and muscle soreness. Leslie has numerous tinctures and sprays for sale in her Etsy store, Wild Root Botanicals. She also teaches hands-on classes throughout the year including Foundations of Herbalism and Wild Foods: Resiliency Through Connection, more details can be found on her website. Following the presentation, both Roni and Leslie held live demonstrations on transplanting and creating tinctures. 

The event ended with a raffle drawing and a plant giveaway, in which people received primroses, elderberries, planter boxes, and compost. 

“The turnout was great. It did turn out really cool today,” exclaimed Melissa Gobin, Tulalip Natural Resources Environmental and Education Coordinator. “At the Earth Day planning meetings, that started in January, a lot of people were talking about sustainability for food and growing our own foods, along with rain gardens. Val (Streeter) has a grant through the EPA, and she has money to put on workshops to talk about rain gardens. I met with Seth and he’s a garden guru, and also with Roni because she’s amazing with gardens and we’ve been learning so much from her, and Leslie too. So, we just wanted to get all these people together to inform the community and give them some inspiration to get out and garden.” 

She continued, “On May 22, we’re going to be at Quil Ceda Elementary and we’re going to have Farmer Frog there to help us put plants in the ground. It’s going to be a Plant 101 course on how to put them in, the dos and don’ts, and we’ll be going over a lot of the basics because it’s Family Day at the elementary. And hopefully in the future we’ll have more of these classes. I also want to start a gardening group, something where people can get together to plant, seed exchange. Earth Day is every day and we’re going to have a bunch of stuff going on now. I’m just so glad there were so many people that came out and enjoyed it and seemed so engaged.”

Equipped with invaluable gardening game, new plants, and tools, the people were eager to get back home to enjoy the sunny weather and get lost in their personal gardens. 

Following the garden workshop, community member, Tracy Owens, shared, “I got the flyer in the mail and I’m really into gardening. I wanted to see if I was going to learn something new and share different ideas. Ever since we bought our property here on Tulalip, we’ve expanded something new every year to our garden. We have herbs, we have vegetables, we have flowers. I just love it. Today I enjoyed learning about different plants and just listening to people talk about gardening and seeing their love that they have for plants too. You can see that plants make people happy.”

Happy Earth Day!

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

This Earth Day, the Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Department planned a full day of activities focused on community clean up and environmental restoration.

Multiple departments, students from both Heritage High and Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, tribal employees, and a few local businesses and non-profit organizations volunteered their time to the cause on the morning of April 22. 

The Tribe hopes that this Earth Day gathering will serve as the kick-off event that will get the community more involved in their upcoming projects and events that are aimed at taking care of Mother Earth. 

Said Melissa Gobin, Environmental and Education Outreach Coordinator, “I noticed there was a need for this and there are people wanting to do this work. We don’t want it to be just Earth Day, we want it to continue on. I think it’s important for all of us to network together, so we have some opportunities for the public to come in and give back, and so people know what’s out there and what the Tulalip Tribes is doing in natural resources because it’s important.”

All told, dozens of volunteers helped collect trash on Mission Beach and along 27th Ave, while several others opted to tend to the garden beds of the Senior Center, the Tulalip Health Clinic, and Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary.

If you are interested in volunteer work to help combat pollution and preserve our natural world, keep an eye out for future events planned by the Tribes Natural Resources team as they plan on hosting many more get togethers throughout the year. 

Salmon habitat restoration underway at Quil Ceda Creek

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

With shovels in hands and the desire for a brighter future, not just for our community but also for the precious wildlife like the salmon, the Tulalip Tribes, in coordination with Adopt a Stream, hosted a tree planting event on Saturday, April 20, along Quil Ceda Creek. A celebration of Earth Day, nearly 100 people united for the finishing touches on this vital project to preserve salmon runs and combat global warming, locally. 

By creating shade along the creek, Tulalip hopes to counteract rising temperatures caused by global warming. With thousands of trees now planted, the goal is that 85% will thrive, helping maintain cooler water temperatures in the stream. This is crucial for the salmon habitat, as the trees will cover a little over a quarter mile of stream after their growth. This will ensure a lower temperature in the stream, a critical factor in keeping the fish healthy and thriving for years to come, thus preserving the salmon population. 

Quil Ceda Creek was in such poor condition that it was listed as impaired or threatened waters under the 303(d) list, a water quality assessment conducted by the Department of Ecology every two years. This provided an opportunity for the tribe to obtain a 319 grant from the Department of Ecology. The 319 grants, a crucial part of the Clean Water Act, provide funding to state and tribal agencies to improve various waterways. In this case, the grant allowed the tribe to receive substantial financial support to restore the creek. The funds were used to remove all invasive species and plant trees on both sides of the creek, up to a distance of 100 feet, a significant step towards restoring the creek’s ecosystem.

“We received the grant about three years ago,” said Walter Rung, Adopt a Stream fish and wildlife habitat program manager. “Since then, we have had to do a lot of work to get it to where it is today. The main focus has been on providing shade to keep the water cool. Our summers seem to have been getting drier and hotter, so the shade these plants create will help combat that. If the water temperature goes above 68 degrees, it becomes lethal for the salmon, and it’s getting close to that temperature. When you look at the site, you’ll see that there are no native plants or shade, so this will be a great thing for the stream.”

Volunteers of all ages, including members of the Tulalip Tribes and local residents, gathered along the banks of Quil Ceda Creek, eager to contribute to the restoration efforts. With each tree planted, a sense of hope and determination filled the air as community members worked hand in hand to protect the ecosystem they hold dear. Their dedication reflects a shared commitment to preserving the creek’s natural beauty and safeguarding its inhabitants for future generations.

“I came to help plant trees for Earth Day,” Tulalip tribal youth JoyAnn Rose Higginbotham said. “This will help shade the stream for the salmon and provide the three c’s: cold, clean, and clear. This will help ensure me and my people can enjoy salmon for the future.”

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

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.”

Tulalip youth explore the great outdoors

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

As the year progresses and we sprint towards the end of the first month in 2024, exploring new activities becomes a focus, especially in the cold weather. If you enjoy outdoor activities and revel in playing in the snow, snowshoeing might be worth a try.

Crafted with a broad footprint that disperses the user’s weight, snowshoes offer a unique ability to glide atop snow-covered landscapes. Historical records, including those on Wikipedia, trace the invention of snowshoes back 4000 to 6000 years in Central Asia. Their evolutionary peak, particularly before the 20th century, manifested in the hands of North America’s Indigenous peoples. These communities, with distinct styles tailored to varied regional conditions, ingeniously utilized snowshoes not only for practical purposes such as hunting and travel, but also as integral elements in their cultural expressions, including traditional dances.

On January 20, Melissa Gobin, Tulalip Tribes Environmental and Education Outreach Coordinator, along with colleagues from the education department, and a few members of the YMCA Bold and Gold, an outdoor adventure tour group, invited tribal youth for a snowshoeing trip at Gold Creek Pond near Snoqualmie Pass. The hike would be about 2.8 miles roundtrip and relatively easy on the difficulty level. 

During the hike, Melissa expressed her need for the youth to become more involved and learn how they could be the ones to help shape the future. As the youth trekked through the snow-covered landscapes, the journey wasn’t merely a physical exploration but also a venture into potential career paths. With unwavering passion, Melissa Gobin seized this opportunity to share insights on how connecting with nature could translate into meaningful professions within the tribe. Amidst the captivating beauty of the frozen scenery, Melissa underscored the significance of environmental stewardship and the vital role the younger generation plays in the future of the Tulalip community.

“That was my first snowshoeing trip, and it was pretty easy,” said Melissa. “I think getting the kids out and seeing a different area and that much snow while doing something out of the norm and watching them play and roll around in the snow was my favorite part. I like seeing the kids get excited, especially when they don’t want to go, but end up having fun. That makes me happy.

“I wanted the kids to know and appreciate that this is a beautiful surrounding. Protecting these types of areas is important to keep them safe for our future and our seven generations down the line. Getting the kids to appreciate the outdoors is something that my program is trying to establish. We are looking for kids who want to do these things and to be out in nature as stewards of the land. I want to educate the kids, but I want them to want to be there. I am trying to mold kids into becoming biologists, getting into forestry, and learning our treaty rights. That’s why we are doing this program to educate and get the kids involved so that we have a future in natural resources with our people. We have a lot of people that will be retiring, and we will need people to step up and take the mantle.”

“I have never been snowshoeing before,” said Santana Shopbell of the Tulalip Education department. “I was nervous because the snowshoes didn’t look very durable, but man, are they good. I might need to invest in some because I might not be able to snowboard, but I can snowshoe. It was fun being out there with my mate and all the youth. This is my first week back with the education division, and it’s good to collaborate with Melissa and the YMCA. Hopefully, the trip sparked something in one of the kids to want to pursue a job in natural resources.”

“Never been snowshoeing before, it was nice,” said Tulalip tribal member Luciano Flores. “It was fun and nice walking around the trail. My favorite part was walking across the frozen lake. If you were going, be prepared and have all the right gear.”

For information on future trips or the program, contact Melissa Gobin at

13 moons

“The months our Snohomish ancestors knew are vastly different than the ones we know now. Our seasons were moons. These moons were named after the environment or ecosystem and what was able to be harvested during that time. This was the Snohomish people’s way of staying connected to the earth. The earth would provide for them if they took proper care of it. This meant not overharvesting fish or vegetation but leaving enough for the wildlife living beside them as well as future generations.”

 – Sarah Miller, Lushootseed Language Warrior

By Kalvin Valdillez

On a rainy and dark afternoon, close to thirty people gathered in the longhouse of the Hibulb Cultural Center. With the lights dim low, the group of locals took their seats on either side of the room constructed entirely of cedar. At the front and center of the longhouse, sat Lushootseed Warrior Sarah Miller, fittingly positioned in between four cedar carved story poles. Aided by the relaxing sound of rain hitting the rooftop, Sarah’s natural storytelling ability transported each individual to a time well before the colonization of America, a time where the lifeways of the sduhubš revolved around 13 moon cycles.

After we recently welcomed a new year in the Gregorian calendar, many were excited to learn about how Tulalip’s ancestors observed the concept of time pre-contact. Like most Salish tribes and other Indigenous nations, the sduhubš marked the time of year not only based on weather changes but also by their connection to the natural world. 

Through the traditional story, Star Child and Diaper Child, Sarah introduced the crowd to two important figures to the sduhubš people, the sun and moon. In the Tribe’s ancestral language, the two were known as dukʷibəɬ. 

She explains, “Together, the sun and moon became dukʷibəɬ; the Changer, the Transformer, or the Creator. The Changer was responsible for making the world what it is today. dukʷibəɬ changed animals from what they were to what they are. Before the change, animals talked, walked, and worked similar to humans. dukʷibəɬ also changed humans from what they were to what they are now. Before the change, humans had the ability to morph into different animals, usually their spirit power animals. dukʷibəɬ walked this land, from the east to the west and changed everything. Changer was also responsible for giving all the tribes their different languages. Changer was responsible for naming everything. The Changer was our Creator.”

During Sarah’s hour-long lecture she captivated her audience by sharing the traditions of her ancestors, many of which are still celebrated and practiced today, such as the Salmon Ceremony and the harvest of salal berries. 

With the amount of time and research Sarah put into this presentation, we urge you to attend her lecture in full, as well as any of the Lushootseed workshops that are often held at Hibulb Cultural Center throughout the year. For this publication, we are going to share the thirteen months with you, led by excerpts from Sarah’s lecture.

ƛ̕iq̓s – The time when your stomach sticks to your backbone (January)

The January moon, one of our winter moons, was called ƛ̕iq̓s. In Lushootseed, this meant as period of time when your stomach sticks to your backbone. This is because in the wintertime, food is scarce. 

During this cold time, the people relied on whatever food they had gathered and stored in prior months. 

səxʷpupuhigʷəd – The time of the blowing winds (February)

Once the winds picked up through the area, it was səxʷpupuhigʷəd, which means the time of the blowing winds. During this moon, the area would experience a lot of wind. Food was still kind of scarce, but the wind blew the biting cold around. 

Since these winter moons were scarce of food, a lot of people would fast and quest for their spirit powers. Some people would go out into the forest, away from their villages to find their power. They would bathe in icy cold rivers and lakes.

The Snohomish people would participate in ceremonies of the smokehouse faith; drumming, singing, and dancing to bring out their power. A long time ago, it was said that during the winter months, the physical world was closer to the spiritual world, which is why singing, dancing, and drumming took place.

waq̓waq̓us – The time of the singing frogs (March)

Once the frogs started singing en masse, it signified a new moon or month was starting. Smokehouse ceremonies stopped and it was time to go out into the woods and check on what was starting to bloom. By this point, the winds would start to die down and the earth was warming up a bit. 

As springtime continued to arrive, there would be many things for the Snohomish people to do, such as prepare to move from their winter villages to their summer ones.

Back in those days, the longhouses were put up in a way that they could be disassembled and reassembled as needed. The winter locations were near bodies of water, but also close to forests for hunting purposes. The summer locations were located near clam beds or accustomed fishing grounds. In the summer, longhouses were erected that also could house many people, however, a lot of times the Snohomish people utilized smaller mat houses, especially when fishing at the river or near the bay. 

Slihibus −The time of the cranes (April)

During this time, you’d hear the songs of cranes and swans as they started their migration. At this time, the earth is getting warmer, and more foods are coming into season. Game might be a little more available. The Snohomish people would journey to the Holmes Harbor area to fish for smelt and herring. 

Throughout these seasons potlatches would be held. A potlatch could be held for any reason such as a wedding, a funeral, births, or even winning a dispute against a warring tribe was a call for celebration.

pədx̌ʷiw̓aac – The time of the whistling robins (13th Moon)

This month is considered the missing month, or the thirteenth month, because it does not appear in the Lushootseed calendar that we know and use today. In order to fit with the Gregorian calendar, this moon was omitted. 

pədx̌ʷiw̓aac means the time of the whistling robins. After the cranes and swans had migrated, the robins would start in with their singing. 

While Harriette Shelton said this moon was the time of the whistling robins, her father, William Shelton called it sɬukʷaləb, which means, “little moon.” This isn’t too far off from the word commonly used for moon, which is sɬukʷalb. Perhaps Harriette and William were talking about two different moons, but maybe that they were talking about the same moon. Whatever the reason, this is technically not even the thirteenth moon; it’s the fifth of the Snohomish people. There is no information on why this month specifically was chosen to be taken out of the calendar. 

pədč̓aʔəb − The time for digging up roots (May)

During this month we start digging up roots. Camas was a popular root amongst the Snohomish. Camas root has beautiful purple blooms but is more akin to being a small onion, though sweet. At this point, most people might have packed up and started heading towards their summer homes.

Nettles were also harvested and used in soups and for various other medicinal needs. Cattail was harvested as well. Snohomish people mostly used them to make mats with. The natives would split some of the shoots and peel layers of them out to weave with. The cattail mat was said to be comfortable to lay on, especially if you piled several of them up. When I talk about mat houses, this is what they were made of. There was a frame or structure made of planks taken from the bigger longhouses and they were covered with many cattail mats to make a little house.

Horsetail was also harvested during this month, it was a good herb to remedy ulcers, wounds, and even kidney problems. Ferns were also harvested. Bracken fern, licorice fern, maidenhair fern, and sword fern were good medicinal ferns. Bracken could be used as a tonic, licorice helped with colds and sore throats, maidenhair helped the respiratory system and sword fern could be used to treat skin sores.

pədstəgʷad – The time of the salmonberries (June)

The next few months are known as the berry months, because of the different berries that grow during the summer. June is known as pədstəgʷad, or the time of the salmonberries. This month typically lasts from May to late June. By now, the Snohomish people were living at their summer village sites, either in summer longhouses or mat houses. 

This month also began the run of King Salmon, or hikʷ siʔab yubəč. The first king would be caught and celebrated in ceremony. There would be songs and dances to welcome the hikʷ siʔab yubəč and its return to the waters.

During these moons, the days were getting longer. There was more time to gather roots, gather chutes, gather berries, gather shellfish, and troll for fish. In the evening, people joined together in the longhouses to share stories and songs. Sometimes there was a potlatch, a wedding, a funeral, or a birth. Sometimes, there was no special occasion. It was just enjoying the full moon with your village. 

pədgʷədbixʷ − The time of the blackberries (July)

The blackberries would bloom during part of July. Once the stəgʷad stopped bearing fruit, it was time for the blackberry bushes to bear fruit. Blackberries would start blooming in July, but they wouldn’t officially be ready to gather until about August. 

Blackberries were good for flavoring soups but could also be used to dye wool or cedar darker colors. Tea could be made from the leaves of the blackberry vine. Blackberry leaf tea could help with illnesses and was also said to be good for the skin.

In addition to harvesting berries, clams were also harvested. After a morning of harvesting clams, someone would start a fire and the clams would be cooked amongst the hot rocks, right on the beach. 

pədt̕aqa − The time of the salal berries (August)

These delicious purple berries ripen during this moon and not only are they good to eat, but they are also medicinal. These berries are a deep purple color, which is where we get the Lushootseed word for purple: t̕aqahalus.

In addition to being a good source of food, these were also a good medicine for the Snohomish people. They helped with colic and diarrhea but also cuts, burns and respiratory illnesses such as colds and tuberculosis.

Our ancestors had a unique way of storing not only t̕aqa but other berries as well to make them last well beyond their harvesting season. Our ancestors used to eat the berries in soups and with salmon or other meals.

pədkʷəxʷic  − The time of silver salmon’s return (September)

September in Lushootseed is pədkʷəxʷic, or the time of the return of the silver salmon. Now, this doesn’t refer to the entire month of September but rather, just the length of time that the silver salmon run. Our ancestors would get into their canoes and along with their tools, go trolling for fish. Each fisherman knew how much strain their line could take. If they were to catch large fish, they knew how to carefully bring them up to the side of the canoe, where they would then spear the fish with a harpoon and put them in the canoe. The harpoon was usually made of ironwood.

Fish wasn’t the only thing on the menu for our Snohomish ancestors, for they also hunted deer and elk. Many Salish hunters were experts at mimicking the sounds of deer and their fawn. They’d set snares and then make a call like that of a fawn or a doe and wait until a deer ran into the snare.

pədxʷit̕xʷit̕il −The time of falling leaves (October)

During this time, of course, the leaves were being shaken from the trees and falling to the ground. The silver salmon runs had ended, and it would be a while before the next salmon would start to run. During this time, vegetation was dying and a different game was sought out to hunt.

The Snohomish people were very proficient duck hunters. Ducks were a very sacred animal in that their spirit power was one of wealth but also, their feathers were collected for regalia, and they were hunted in between salmon runs. 

pədƛ̕xʷayʔ − The time of the dog salmon (November)

Dog salmon, or chum, would start its run in November. This salmon was highly prized amongst the Snohomish people. The way this type of salmon was harvested was different than how the silver salmon was harvested. Silver salmon were biting fish, which meant they would bite at a bait line. Dog salmon were not biting fish, so another method was used. Long ago, the dog salmon runs used to be quite plentiful. Instead of using a bait line, our ancestors used a harpoon or a long spear. Dog salmon was dried and stored in baskets, similar to the ones that stored berries. The Snohomish people were very good at making sure they had enough dog salmon for the entire family or village so that no one went hungry. 

Other game harvested during this month were bears. At this point in the season, bears were fattening up for hibernation and it wasn’t uncommon for our ancestors to encounter them. 

Bears weren’t typically sought out for food. During the winter, it was said that bear meat didn’t taste very good because of all the salmon they’d been eating. However, in the summer bear meat was preferred because the bears had been eating berries and that sweetened their meat. 

pədšic̓əlwaʔs– The time to sheath the paddles (December)

During this time, the Snohomish people were settled in their winter villages, and they weren’t traveling so the paddles were put away and sheathed until the weather warmed up. Hunting and fishing were still being done, but mostly the Snohomish people relied on their food stores to get them through the colder seasons. 

Typically, the Snohomish people didn’t like being clothed but, in the winter, it was a necessity. They made moccasins, shirts and pants out of buckskin. Some of these items were painted on or beaded. Back then, the beads were either made of shells, pearls, or bones. Men and women alike would wear fur caps made of bearskin to keep their heads warm. Bearskin was also used to make coats or capes.

During the winter, the Snohomish people would paint their faces bright red or a dark red, depending on the material they used. This paint would be put on every morning and taken off every night. The Snohomish liked using this not only because of the vivid color it gave off but because it kept their skin smooth and free from chapping from the cold. 

Let’s go cedar harvesting

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

Under the radiance of a resplendent Monday morning, Jamie Sheldon, a proud Tulalip native and skilled basket weaver, took off to the mountains. She was accompanied by her dear friend, fellow tribal weaver, Wilma Gloria, along with her beloved granddaughter Maddie. This would be the first of two journeys to the mountains for Jamie.  With the car packed, they headed east of Tulalip to the Cascade Mountains to search for some red cedar to harvest for their many pieces of traditional styled baskets, jewelry, and headwear. 

“The best time for harvesting red cedar is from the middle of May to the end of June,” Jamie said. “And the best time to harvest yellow cedar is right after red from the beginning of July to the beginning or middle of August depending on the rise in temperature.” 

 Red cedar has an earlier harvest time as most grow lower in elevation and warm up faster. This causes the sap to separate the inner bark from the outer bark, making it easier to pull strips of bark from the trees. When you cut a piece of bark loose from the tree, then grab it and separate it from the tree, this is called pulling. 

“When harvesting cedar, [we] pray and thank the cedar for providing a chance at keeping the native culture alive. It gives us a source for revenue and is very valuable to the Native people,” said Jamie, “You never want to pull all the cedar as it could kill the tree. Pulling one to three strips of cedar, depending on the size and health of the tree is all you need; while also leaving enough protection for the tree to heal itself.”

You also want to remember that each strip you pull should only be the width of your palm. After pulling a strip of bark from the tree you need to separate the outer bark from the inner. This can be done with a knife by pushing it through the side of the bark, splitting it, then pulling the two pieces away from each other. Using your knees for leverage can help. When done separating the excess pieces of bark you don’t use, put them under the roots of the tree or buried next to the tree so the micro-organisms from the bark breaking down can go back into the soil to nourish the tree. 

Often times, driving down long gravel roads is how many scour the forests for trees to harvest. The forest rangers would like the people who are harvesting cedar to pull from the opposite side that isn’t facing the road. This is to help keep the forests looking well, while also not letting people know that this is a harvesting area so it can recover and isn’t over harvested. You only want to harvest one to two trees in any area so as to keep the forest healthy. 

On her second expedition, Jamie was accompanied by Kaiser Moses, another Tulalip native and cedar weaver. Also joining them again was Jamie’s friend Wilma. The pursuit of yellow cedar proved to be an adventurous undertaking. One that demanded greater patience and a touch more agility, making it a lengthier endeavor than the previous trip. 

“Looking for yellow cedars can take a whole day’s journey, if you’re lucky,” Jamie said with a smile. “A place where yellow cedars grow can be very sacred to a basket weaver, as it is more difficult to find and attain.”  Yellow cedars require a bit more patience, and knowing where to go and what to look for are big factors in locating the right trees. 

When looking for yellow cedar, it’s best to start higher in elevation, as yellow cedars grow from around 2,000 to 5,000 feet. They are often located on very steep inclines making pulling, stripping, and gathering quite the task. Yellow cedars can also be tricky as they resemble red cedars. Here are a couple tell-tale signs to look for when locating yellow cedar. 

The first thing to note is that the branches are a lot droopier and aren’t parallel to each other. Many of the branches are bendy and the leaves hang down toward the ground. The bark is also very different as you can grab the outside bark and peel it off fairly easily. When you pull yellow cedar, as it dries and becomes more yellow, it can take a little longer than red cedar to dry.
After gathering your cedar there are a few important steps to ensure it stays clean and free from mold and other elements that may damage your cedar, like moisture or sunlight. 

“Right when you get home from harvesting, it is of the upmost importance that you hang your cedar,”  said tribal weaver, Anita Sheldon. “You want your cedar to be completely dry before storing it. When storing it, you must make sure it is in a dry area, using a container with a lid and putting a jar or cup of open baking soda to help trap any moisture that may get into your area or container.” 

When you feel like you want to use your cedar, you must soak it until it becomes flexible. This could take a couple of days so prepare beforehand if you have a need or want to create something. Depending on the size and item you are creating, each piece of cedar can be separated multiple times to create the desired width you want your creation to be. 

Anita shared, “Knowing what our ancestors did, and the many uses cedar had, for everything from cooking to diapers for the baby. For their bedding and enclosures for their rooms in the longhouse, shawls, skirts, men used them for pants and hats. Cedar was a way of living for all our ancestors, and it’s a beautiful material to work with.”

Traditionally, cedar has been used for a wide variety of items, such as water tight baskets, baskets for berry picking, or even catching fish, clothing, and dolls for children to play with. Cedar is sacred to the Coast Salish people and continues be used in many ways, keeping the sacred traditions alive and going strong. 

“It’s very important to harvest cedar, because it is a cultural activity,” expressed Kaiser. “Anytime something is cultural, it helps me heal from the stresses of life. It also helps me stay grounded to the earth and stay happy. I keep the cedar in a sacred place. When it’s ready, I am going to use the cedar for traditional regalia pieces to gift to my family.”

If you want to learn more about cedar harvesting, creating cedar baskets, and jewelry, Jamie teaches classes on Wednesdays, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Hibulb Cultural Center. For more info, visit

Decolonizing the Reservation one plant at a time 

By Niki Cleary, Tulalip News

Colonization is named the root of numerous ills in Native America. We often forget that while our people and culture suffered the effects of colonization by other humans, our lands were also colonized by non-native plants. Some are easily managed, and others have been wildly out of control since nearly the day they were introduced.

  On the Tulalip Reservation, Poison Hemlock, Scotch Broom, and Japanese Knotweed are some of the most pervasive. The problem isn’t that non-native species are inherently bad. In fact, many beneficial food crops are non-native. The most obvious problem is that invasive species outcompete native species that provide food and shelter for native animals.

  Austin Richard, a Stewardship Ecologist with Tulalip’s Natural and Cultural Resources Division, is part of the team working to decolonize habitats on the Reservation.

  “Part of my job entails invasive plant management and treatment both on Reservation and throughout our usual and accustomed areas,” he explained. “We define invasive species as plants or animals that do not naturally occur in an ecosystem and whose introduction can cause environmental harm, economic harm, or harm to human health.”

The on-Reservation efforts focus on areas where people work or play regularly. The Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy, the Gathering Hall, and the Health Clinic waterfront. Austin described the three primary species his team is targeting.

  Poison Hemlock, as its name implies, is toxic to people and animals. “We want to make sure it’s not accidentally ingested or harming people,” said Austin.

According to the USDA*:

Poison Hemlock can poison animals who eat the plant, either fresh or dried.

It looks very similar to wild parsnip, which is edible.

Children have been poisoned and died from using the hollow stems as homemade whistles.

Signs of Poison Hemlock exposure include trembling, ataxia (poor muscle control) that affects the lower or hind limbs, salivation, lack of coordination, dilation of the pupils, rapid, weak pulse, respiratory paralysis, coma, death, convulsions and occasionally bloody feces and gastrointestinal irritation.

  Scotch Broom is next on the list. Whether they know it or not, most people have seen Scotch Broom growing alongside the freeway. According to the National Parks Service** it is a member of the pea family. This ornamental was introduced to North America from Africa and parts of Europe. It was also used as erosion control along highways. Its bright yellow flowers are in full brilliant display currently. When the plant is pollinated, it produces pods that dry and twist until they burst, flinging thousands of seeds into the surrounding area.

  “The major problem with Scotch Broom is how rapidly it spreads,” said Austin. “It out shades and outcompetes native plants so that nothing else can get established. It’s really difficult to control because those seed pods explode and release tens of thousands of seeds. Those seeds can last upwards of 60 years in the soil. So even if you kill the plant initially, if you’re not reintroducing native plants in the soil, the seeds can propagate, and you have more Scotch Broom plants.”

  Japanese Knotweed is the third target species. Another escaped ornamental, Japanese Knotweed can grow up to 8 feet tall, spread by seed, tiny plant fragments, and its extensive root system. Sometimes incorrectly referred to as bamboo, *** Japanese Knotweed has reddish brown hollow stems, large leaves, and whitish flowers that grow in clusters. Although it seems like a pretty landscape plant, it can cause some real damage to infrastructure and the environment.

  “Salmon need really specific habitat and conditions,” described Austin. “They need cooler water temperatures and specific gravel types, not too small like sand and silts because that will suffocate their eggs, but not so large that the salmon can’t move them to create the redds (nests) where they lay their eggs. The problem with Knotweed is that it doesn’t allow those conifers to grow and provide shade to the streams.

  Lack of large conifers also impacts the way streams flow, said Austin, “Those large conifers grow and then fall into the water, providing larger woody debris and creating pooling, and more habitat complexity that salmon and smaller fish rely on. Knotweed also grows extensive root systems that spread out – but don’t stabilize the soils. That allows the banks to become eroded and provide more silt and sand that covers up spawning gravel and suffocates salmon eggs.”

  Knowing the damage they do, it still begs the question, why pesticides? Can’t we rip them out and call it good? It’s not that easy, said Austin. Each plant requires a specific chemical treatment administered within a particular time frame to be effective. The team always weighs the benefits and risks before resorting to chemical interventions.

  “We use manual and mechanical means whenever possible unfortunately, some of those natural vinegar-type treatments just don’t work,” said Austin. When used according to the regulatory guidelines and labels, the products we use are very safe for humans and animals. Once they’re sprayed, and the product dries, there is minimal risk to humans and animals.”

  Signage is posted indicating the day and time the area was treated to protect and educate people.  

  “We recommend people avoid the area for 24-48 hours to allow the herbicides to dry on the plants and reduce any impacts. The chemicals we use are all approved for aquatic use by the EPA and Washington State Department of Agriculture.”

  If you want to know more or have noxious weeds from your property, contact Austin at 360-716-4603, or email

  • *Source:
  •  ** Source:,along%20highway%20cuts%20and%20fills.
  •  *** Source:

Tree planting preserves tribal wetlands

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News

On March 21, Heritage High School students were recruited by the Wetland Program to help plant over 100 trees in Quil Ceda Village (QCV) wetlands to sustain the Coho Creek restoration site. The sunny spring day made perfect weather for the students to take on the cool wetlands. With about ten students and some Heritage staff dressed in boots and carrying their shovels, they were well prepared to get the job done.

Kyliah Elliott and Lacinda Moses were just a few of the students in attendance. The girls explained how they were taking this opportunity to observe what an internship would include with the Wetland Program.

“I came today because I like being outside and wanted to be a part of the tree planting because it’s a part of who we are. I want to intern here and maybe learn more. People are ruining the environment every day, and I hope I can make a difference one day to help fix it,” Lacinda said. 

Wetland Program Coordinator Allison Warner’s goal is also to attract more tribal members and Native youth towards environmental work and join different areas of the Natural Resources department. In doing so, she has offered up internship positions to several tribal members already interested in the field and continues to involve Native students in events like tree planting. 

“I would love to help educate and support more Native biologists. I think the Indigenous perspective has more layers to it than non-Natives’. We [non-Natives] can do our best to educate ourselves on Native culture and way of life. Still, a Native biologist would have their unique perspective and cultural connection to represent Tribal resources better.”

The Tulalip Wetland Program has conducted efforts to rehabilitate the area since 2016. With over 4000 acres of wetlands making up approximately 1/4 of the reservation, understanding wetlands is critical to how Tulalip lives and thrives. Wetland analysis, preservation, and potential development projects play a significant role in determining what wetlands can succeed with some assistance and provide tribal resources like salmon, deer, berries, cedar, etc., and what wetlands are best to develop for future tribal projects and endeavors. 

Allison said significant efforts focused around the QVC wetlands have been primarily due to the destruction caused by the US military during World War II. During that time, the US military occupied the land with hiding military equipment and resources. The heavily forested area made for the perfect escape to blend into and hide from any aerial spy surveillance. Along with that, with its quick access to the freeway, the military could quickly import/export and leave at a moment’s notice. 

However, because the area is a wetland, the US military needed to make the land more viable for their efforts to start any building or have access to it. One major course of action was making large ditches that forced all the water from the wetland into one central area. Along with depriving that area of its primary resources, many trees, bushes, and other agricultural species were removed, demolished, and consumed to make the land easier to maneuver around on. Even a railroad was created solely to transport military equipment in and out of the area. Today, a piece of that railroad still exists. 

Soon after the war was over and the military departed, the Tribe and the State determined how damaged the land was. Along with destroying the land’s natural resources, items like bunkers and equipment were left behind, and chemical spills and chemically-affected septic tanks were brought to attention. At this point, the US Environmental Protection Agency was brought in to survey the land and create a plan to clean up the ground.

Since then, much progress has been made, and the area is no longer considered a danger. Significant steps like tree planting have been implemented to rehabilitate the wetland. Overall, wetlands play a substantial role in how the environmental pyramid thrives. 

Allison explained, “With the area’s connection to Coho Creek and Sturgeon Creek, protecting the stream’s water quality and helping the salmon thrive in this area is essential. The area we are planting trees in is the property’s wettest part and is most suitable to feed the stream. As we’ve seen with our efforts, certain species like beaver, deer, and birds have migrated back to the wetland and are helping sustain the wetland.”

Some trees were reintroduced to the wetland, such as Sitka spruce, paper birch, cedar, red osier dogwood, and alder. Other items like pollinating plants, hooker willow, bitter cherry, shrubs, honeysuckle, black twin berry, and wapato are also being planted. All of these are meant to replicate the environment before US military inhabitance. 

So how do trees benefit a stream? Allison described trees as the structure that keeps the bank from eroding. They also provide the organic matter that insects eat, which in turn, other species will eat, and so on. Therefore, trees and shrubs act as the foundation of food webs. Additionally, they provide shade to keep the stream and salmon cool. Ultimately, salmon cannot live in water more than 65 degrees Fahrenheit. So if the water were too high or hotter than necessary, it would affect the oxygen levels of the creek, and salmon won’t exist in this area.

Currently, a small run of salmon occupies the stream, but they hope it can become a more stable place for salmon to spawn and thrive. Planting trees is only the beginning. Tending to the area, monitoring the new trees and plants, and ensuring its survival against invasive species is the focus for the next ten years. 

If you would like to volunteer your time and efforts to the wetland projects, please get in touch with Allison Warner at 

“You can move mountains with just a pebble a day”: Tulalip’s newest force in environmental work

By Shaelyn Smead; photos courtesy of Teesha Osias

Protecting Mother Earth is a priority for Native Americans and many environmental justice groups. Tulalip tribal member Teesha Osias is enhancing the Native presence in environmental work by reinventing herself and investing in her future. 

From 1999 to 2022, Teesha overcame many obstacles and worked diligently to receive an education. She earned an Associate of Arts, Associate of Applied Science, and Bachelor of Science in Native Environmental Science from Northwest Indian College (NWIC). Her education has taught her to uphold treaties and inherent rights by protecting the natural world. She took on holistic training in Native Environmental Science through Indigenous research and content knowledge. After 23 years of sacrificing her time, efforts, and mental state, she achieved something great; an education, a future for her family, and paving a path for future Native biologists. 

However, Teesha didn’t always have the confidence to reach her goals. She shared about her difficult childhood and its lack of stability. Her family moved so often that adjusting to each new school’s curriculum became difficult for her. Eventually in her teens, between falling behind in school and running with the wrong crowd, Teesha withdrew and enrolled with Job Corps. 

“School was never easy for me. I felt like I was always struggling. But I finally felt comfortable with Job Corps and like I could achieve more. It started a little fire in me. They gave me the tools and things necessary to believe in myself again.”

At 20 years old, Teesha decided to return to school and earn her GED. Teesha remembered speaking with a teacher about becoming a Biologist and the unwavering look she received from them. Even though it was clear her teacher didn’t believe in her, she believed in herself. Venturing into the science world always seemed like a forbidden concept, but she knew she would eventually get there by accomplishing small goals at a time.

Unfortunately, Teesha’s struggles didn’t stop there. While in college, she dealt with troublesome relationships, homelessness, and raising three kids. She felt like she was in survival mode. At many points, she wanted to quit and even spoke about ripping up her papers and textbooks out of defeat. Finally, what felt like a light at the end of the tunnel, a friend offered her a job working on their fishing boat.

“I fell in love with the work. It was empowering, and it saved me. I remember hearing other tribal members speak about why our voice is important regarding our land and fish and how we needed more Natives in the Natural Resources department. The experience reignited my passion for biology and reminded me of what I was doing this for. I didn’t want to let my community down. I wanted to continue my education to help my people and not have that ‘what if’ feeling looming over my head. Plus, I had six little eyeballs [her kids] watching me. What would that be teaching them?”

Being a single mom and working full-time, Teesha had a heavy load. Additionally, the NWIC Tulalip satellite location could only partially provide certain science lab technology and tools required for her classwork and had to rely on other sources. With these obstacles, she sometimes took as little as one course per school quarter to keep inching toward her degree.

“Many people would poke fun at me, calling me a ‘professional student’ and would give me grief for taking so long to finish school. But you have to fight for what you want, and that’s exactly what I did. You can move mountains with just a pebble a day.”

Teesha expressed how NWIC helped her find her Indigenous voice. They educated her on food sovereignty, treaty and fishing rights, basket weaving, and other cultural knowledge. She was exposed to new books by Native authors that impacted how she saw the world and the importance of Indigenous mentalities. Concepts that combined modern-day environmental solutions with the Native traditional ways of life.

While Teesha earned her degree, she spent much time interning in different areas within Tulalip Natural Resources. She helped work on lumber management in forestry, collecting milt and acting as a fish technician in the hatchery, measuring and evaluating geoducks by the bay, assisting on the Elwha Dam removal project, spearheading many environmental surveys and projects, and helping Wetland Program Coordinator Allison Warner and Environmental Wetland Biologist Michelle Bahnick on wetland preservation and land development.  

“This work feels a part of me like it’s in my DNA. I know this work’s importance and think this connection manifested through my ancestors. It makes such a difference when you touch your land. We belong out here doing what Indians do.”

Working closely with nature, preserving the environment, and identifying climate indicators have played a significant factor in Native American culture. Even though Teesha grew up in the city, being involved in this field has given her new life. She knows there is still plenty of room to grow and learn and expressed her gratitude to Allison and Michelle for allowing her to take her ‘training wheels’ off. 

Allison spoke of her time with Teesha and her hopes for more tribal members to get involved with environmental departments, “It has been a pleasure working with Teesha. Her story is inspirational. I’m excited to think that in the future, more tribal scientists will be filling these roles in our natural resources departments .”

Amid everything, Teesha has also taken opportunities to work with Native youth to teach them about the wetlands and will be helping plant trees with Native students later this month. She is impacting Native students by exposing the many paths of environmental work. She’s a living example that scientific careers are attainable for Native youth and inspires them to get involved. She speaks of her dreams where her people come together and play a dominant role in every department to take care of our home again.

Teesha is a great example of how powerful perseverance and patience can be. Despite the many reasons life gave her to quit, Teesha had the tenacity to continue being the force she was and continues to be.