Breaking the silence on sexual violence against men and boys

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Many people continue to find it frightening when they realize just how widespread sexual abuse and violence is in our society. What was long a taboo subject and could only be discussed in whispers is now spoken aloud at rallies and public gatherings, and is turned to the loudest possible volume on social media. 

According to Time Magazine, the groundbreaking anti-sexual assault and women’s empowerment movements #MeToo of 2017 and 2018’s Time’s Up upended the public conversation about women’s issues around the world, and elevated the global consciousness surrounding the obstacles women encounter in their daily lives, both personal and professional. The success of these two social movements continues to be the liberation of public discourse to include subjects and stories that were for far too long kept quiet.

Yet, as the terms sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual violence have permeated into national dialogue and every day conversations, there continues to be a veil of ignorance and denial to the fact that men and boys are victims as well. Often men are the neglected victims of all forms of sexual violence, including being abused as children.

Lenny Hayes, a tribal citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, is a therapy practitioner with extensive training in mental and chemical health issues that impact the Two-Spirit and Native community.

Organized by Tulalip Tribes Children’s Advocacy Center and Northwest Indian Health Board, the Tulalip community was invited to a January 13th training hosted by Lenny Hayes to offer insight while shedding light on such a dark topic. The training’s title: A silent epidemic – sexual violence against men and boys.

Lenny, a citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in northeastern South Dakota, is a therapy practitioner with extensive training in mental and chemical health issues that impact the Two-Spirit and Native community. He has travelled nationally and locally presenting on issues that include historical and intergenerational trauma, violence of all forms, child welfare issues, and the rarely discussed topic that is the impact of sexual violence on men and boys.  

“There is a general misconception that men are immune from sexual violence, owing to gender stereotypes of women as delicate and therefore victims, while men are either the powerful protector or perpetrators of violence,” explained Lenny during the one-of-a-kind training seminar. “Traditional masculinity is inconsistent with the position of victimhood, leading many to believe a man simply cannot be a victim of sexual abuse.

“A boy or man sexually abused by a woman is often greeted by disbelief, denial, or trivializing. Society tells us that if any part of his experience felt good, then he was not abused. Or if he did not enjoy it, then he must be gay. While a boy or man sexually abused by another male is even more reluctant to come forward because of the stigma and extreme shame faced, both internally and externally, by admitting to being victimized.” 

A new study funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and published in May 2016 looked at the extent and impact of sexual and intimate partner violence against Native American victims. The study clearly shows that Native American men and boys suffer violence at alarmingly high rates. 

According to the NIJ study, more than 1.4 million Native American men have experienced violence in their lifetime. This includes:  

  • More than 1 in 4 (27.5%) who have experienced sexual violence
  • Roughly 2 in 5 (43.2%) who have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner
  • About 1 in 5 (18.6%) who have experienced stalking, and
  • Nearly 3 in 4 (73%) who have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner

These are startling and heartbreaking statistics that were reviewed and discussed in great detail during the training. Illustrating the depth and scope of this rampant issue, especially in Native communities and on reservations, the PBS documentary Predator on the Reservation was shown. The film details a Frontline and Wall Street Journal investigation into the decades-long failure to stop an Indian Health Service (IHS) doctor accused of sexually abusing Native boys for years, and examines how he moved from reservation to reservation despite warnings. 

A National Institute of Justice funded study shows that Native American men suffer violence at alarmingly high rates.

Training participants, many of whom were professional advocates and social workers employed by community engagement entities throughout Snohomish County, were offered plenty of time to properly process and ask questions for further understanding about the heavy subject matter.

“You all took a huge first step just by being here today and being open to education about  sexual violence against men and boys, the many mental health issues that impact them thereafter, and how healing is possible by breaking the silence,” offered Lenny at the conclusion of the training. “I hope that when you all leave here you remember that failure to address the suffering of male victims has profound consequences for the survivor, his family and his community. By breaking the silence and creating safe spaces for these stories to be told, healing can begin.”

Following the training, Tulalip tribal member and Community Health employee Rocio Hatch offered her thoughts. “In this community we don’t really talk about sexual abuse at all, let alone abuse towards men and boys,” she shared. “I was very uneducated in this topic and am just thankful to have participated here today. I’m excited to bring this knowledge back to my coworkers and, hopefully, start to have these necessary conversations and expand our outreach.”

Megan Boyer, lead family advocate for Legacy of Healing, added, “There’s an absolute need of education around the victimization of men and boys. It’s very prevalent, and in my job I’ve become aware of just how big an issue this is, but nobody talks about it. We all have a responsibility to let our boys and men know we believe them, it’s not their fault, and we appreciate them for having the strength to tell their story.”

Sexual violence is just as much a men’s issue as it is women’s, but the current structure for speaking about violence in any form often comes at the exclusion of men as victims. This constrained dialogue limits the opportunity for survivors to tell their stories and be included as critical resources and advocates. Fully recognizing male victims will not only bring much needed support and assistance, but create safe spaces for men to address the lifelong impacts of sexual violence as a whole, which benefits everyone.

Offered resources for further understanding:

To view the PBS film Predator on the Reservation documenting how an IHS doctor preyed on Native boys for decades, please visit:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/predator-on-the-reservation/

To view the NIJ-funded study showing that Native American women and men suffer violence at alarmingly high rates, please visit:

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/249822.pdf

Tulalip community celebrates ‘wellbriety’

Natosha Gobin, Tulalip tribal member.

By Kalvin Valdillez

“My name is Natosha Gobin. I’m coming up on three-and-a-half years of my second round of sobriety,” shared the Tulalip tribal member to approximately one hundred community members. “When I was 21, I quit drinking right after my 21st birthday and I was sober for eight years. I’ve been teaching our language for almost twenty years now and it took a lot for me to realize, this second time around, the disservice I was doing to my job by drinking. The more we learn and reconnect with our ancestors and reconnect with our way of life, the more we realize that addiction is not our way. I have to apologize to my nieces and my children for normalizing my addiction. We have normalized addiction within our communities. It’s time for us to have more gatherings like this and say, this is not our way.” 

Many happy tears were shed on the night of January 9th as people from all over Snohomish County gathered at the Hibulb Cultural Center. The celebration of sobriety, or wellbriety, has occurred every so often amongst the local recovery community at Tulalip for years. The gatherings took place namely at the Tulalip Resort Casino ballrooms and the Tulalip Dining Hall, and were hosted by passionate recovering addict and Tulalip tribal member, Helen Gobin-Henson. However, the wellbriety celebration is looking to become a staple event in 2020 as the Tulalip Problem Gambling program has adopted the wellbriety concept and will be hosting a celebratory dinner once a month throughout the year. 

“In the spirit of unity to support health and wellness, we want to create a safe space for the community to gather and support each other in recovery. Whether you have one day or fifty years, we want to recognize your efforts in maintaining your sobriety,” said Robin Johnson, Substance Use Disorder Professional and Problem Gambling Counselor, who is approaching twenty years of sobriety herself.

Problem Gambling enlisted Native American Grammy Award Winner, Star Nayea, to host the event, who shared that she is celebrating her sobriety of seventeen years. The program also looked for guidance from Helen Gobin-Henson who was in attendance to share her story and celebrate with the community. 

“There’s a lot of heart break when you’re recovering,” Helen tearfully admitted. “Keep fighting. Recovery works if you work it. I’m thankful for everyone, we praise you for coming together to honor your recovery. Stay safe and continue to walk with pride on the red road to recovery.”

Last year, the Problem Gambling program hosted a thirty-two-hour class at Tulalip called Recovery Coach Training. This course taught local recovering addicts, who were looking to help others, the essential tools on how to be supportive and help fellow addicts stay the course of sobriety. Six of those students who became certified recovery coaches were at the wellbriety dinner, cheering on their comrades in recovery, including Denise, a compulsive gambler who was caught embezzling money from her company in order to fuel her addiction. 

“One of the things I learned about recovery coaching is you have to meet the person where they are,” Denise explained. “If you say you’re in recovery, you’re in recovery. It doesn’t matter how much time you have; a year, a day or a minute. Being a part of the recovery coach community and being a part of the solution for somebody else is something I embrace. If you are in recovery and made the decision that you want to pass on that message of hope, recovery coaching is the way. Let me walk with you and tell you what I’ve done, what worked for me and what didn’t. Let’s take a look at who you are today, and what you need to wake up in the morning and realize you’re going to be okay.” 

One by one, community members stepped up to the open-microphone to share their personal story of sobriety. Some celebrating decades, some celebrating days – all equally met with rounds of applause that echoed throughout the cultural center halls. 

“I graduated from Drug Wellness Court. I was the very first one,” said Verle Smith. “I did have a minor relapse of sorts after I graduated, but I got the opportunity to step up to the plate and figure out what my next addiction was, and it was gambling. I’m thankful for Robin, Problem Gambling and Family Services for leading me back to the red road of recovery because on the 20th I will have one year and I’m extremely proud of that.”

“The main reason I came tonight was to celebrate my recovery – nine months!” said Tulalip tribal member Winona Keeline. “This is the first time I’ve been in recovery and I just wanted to see the community come together and celebrate their journey. What stood out to me the most was how many of our youth were here and seeing that we are capable of coming together to celebrate life in a good way and show the youth a new way for our people to live.” 

The Tulalip Youth Council offered the group a song and president, Kaiser Moses, followed up with some strong words to encourage people along their path of recovery. 

“Thank you for showing each other that support for sobriety and taking back control of your lives and protecting your time,” Kaiser expressed. “One thing that I still carry with me that my mom always told me when I was little is that alcohol and other substances are like snakes. She told me a story Raven Moses used to tell. There was once a guy who was walking up the mountain and it was really cold. There was a snake that was walking alongside him. The snake kept asking, ‘can you pick me up for warmth, it’s cold,’ and the guy kept refusing. But the snake was persistent and the guy eventually picked up the snake – and it bit him. The guy asked ‘why did you bite me?’ and the snake replied, ‘you knew I was a snake when you picked me up’. So, the moral is don’t pick up the snake or you will get bitten.” 

A lot of knowledge, encouragement, pride and laughter was shared throughout the night. Wrapping up the two-hour event was a round of karaoke and a sobriety countdown. Starting at fifty, the community counted backwards to present day, celebrating the amount of time clean each person attainted. 

“Tonight filled my heart,” Robin said. “The participants in our program worked hard, coming to group sessions every day and giving their all to their recovery, and it’s not acknowledged or celebrated nearly enough. They don’t know a lot of those people on the same path to recovery. This was a great opportunity for them to meet and share with each other. I wanted to show the community how hard our people are working to stay sober and allow them the opportunity to bring that education and knowledge back to the community, to heal the people from within.”

The Problem Gambling program is gearing up for a big year, beginning by hosting two upcoming Recovery Coach Trainings; one on January 18 and 19, the other on January 25 and 26. Both classes are held between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at the Tulalip Administration building. For further details, please contact Problem Gambling at (360) 716-4302.

Careers in the construction industry are booming, TVTC can be your entry point to a better tomorrow

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Educators, parents and others often place strong emphasis on college preparation and earning an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree by traditional means. But that lengthy and expensive route often means accruing a ton of debt just to enter a highly competitive job market. College degrees may be the preferred goal for many, however there are a growing number of students who see a more hands-on future for themselves. For these individuals, unafraid of getting their hands dirty and learning the true meaning behind a hard day’s work, there is an abundance of opportunity within the construction industry.

Whether it be laborer, carpenter, ironworker, electrician or heavy equipment operator, there are countless positions available for work and advancement within the trades, especially for sought after minorities like Native Americans and women. A major access point for entry into these desirable career paths for tribal citizens and their families continues to be Tulalip’s own TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC).

“Not everybody wants to be a doctor or lawyer. Not everybody wants a desk job. I’m a lifetime fisherman that started a construction company when it became apparent we could no longer sustain ourselves simply by living off the land,” said Tulalip Vice-Chairman Glen Gobin. “Some want to be outside working with their hands. That’s what brings people to our training program, it gives them an opportunity to get exposure to all the different trades, learn how to function on a job site and how to get work. Graduates of TVTC enter a section of the workforce that is in high demand.”

In fact, a quick glance around the greater Seattle area and onlookers are sure to see more cranes than they can count. Along the I-5 corridor, from Tacoma to Everett, construction projects are booming and many on-site jobs continue to go unfilled. While other career pathways may be oversaturated and hard to come by, those within construction trades are thriving. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, open construction positions are expected to increase by more than 700,000 jobs nationally through 2028, a faster growth than any other occupation. In Washington State alone, there are nearly 3,000 unfilled construction jobs that pay much more than the average state wage. 

Brighter horizons and prospects galore were among the reasons so many gathered to celebrate the TVTC autumn cohort’s achievement on a December morning at the Tulalip Resort’s orca ballroom. Fifteen students (including eight Tulalip tribal members and three women) were honored with a graduation banquet for their commitment to building a better future. Nearly 200 guests attended, including trade union representatives, several construction employers, and many cheerful family members.

“Our TVTC program is 100% supported by grant funds,” explained TERO director Summer Hammons. “Our TVTC graduates earned various certifications and college credits, while learning many skills that will undoubtedly make an impact on their future. We thank the Tulalip Tribes, Washington State Department of Transportation, Sound Transit, and the Tulalip Cares charitable fund for always supporting us. These organizations and community partners are ensuring our future leaders have viable career paths.”

TVTC is the first and only state and nationally recognized Native American pre-apprenticeship program in the entire country. The program is accredited through South Seattle Community College and Renton Technical College, while all the in-class, hands-on curriculum has been formally approved by the Washington State Apprentice and Training Council.

The sixteen-week program provides 501-hours of hands-on instruction, strength building exercises, and construction skills that can last a lifetime. In addition, students are trained and awarded certifications in flagging, first aid/CPR, industrial fork lift and scissor lift, 40-hour HAZWOPER, and OSHA 10-hour safety. 

Homegrown Tulalip citizen Demitri Jones opted to retake the class after not being able to complete it his first time around.  To jumpstart an all-new career path as a carpenter, he had to grit and grind. He maintained his full-time position as a security officer working the dreaded graveyard shift, while sacrificing convenience and lots of sleep to take the TVTC class during the day.

“My biggest takeaway is learning the benefits of hard work and dedication,” reflected Demitri. “My advice to those who already have a job but are interested in taking the class, if you really want it then make it happen. Creating a routine was so important, but knowing in the end it’ll all be worth it kept me going.” 

His instructors noted he was the first in his class to gain employment. “I’m a carpenter’s apprentice right now and looking forward to journeying out, becoming a foreman or even superintendent,” added the ambitious 26-year-old.

Along with gaining a wide-range of new employment opportunities via the trades, seven diligent students took advantage of the educational aspect and earned their high school diploma.

Three hardworking ladies were among the graduates, Carla Yates (Haida), Cheyenne Frye (Arikara) and Shelbi Strom (Quinault). Each wanted to acquire a new skillset while creating a pathway to a better and brighter future.

“I really liked the class. I met some really cool people and learned so many new skills that I would have never been exposed to if I didn’t try it out,” said 20-year-old Cheyenne. Originally from North Dakota, her family relocated to the area so her mom could take the TVTC program. After graduating and seeing all the opportunity now available to her, she convinced her daughter to follow suit.

“I had zero experience with construction tools, like the nail gun and different saws. All of that was pretty intimidating at first, but after I learned to use them properly it became a lot of fun using them to complete projects,” admitted Cheyenne. “Both my parents have jobs as plumbers on the new casino project now. Hopefully I can join an electricians’ or sheet metal union and get work on that project, too.”

With hundreds of skilled-trade workers retiring every day across the state, the construction industry is in need of the next generation workforce to help build an ever-growing Snohomish County and surrounding Puget Sound communities. In the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area alone, construction employment increased by 6,400 jobs between March 2018 and March 2019, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. These are well-paying jobs that are available to people straight out of high school. It takes some grit for sure, but for those folks with a strong work ethic and can-do attitude, they can find themselves running a construction company of their own someday.

“When our student graduates go out into the world of construction, they can compete on equal footing with anybody,” declared TVTC instructor Mark Newland during the graduation ceremony. “We’re gaining traction with union companies and construction employers all over the region. 

“I just can’t say enough about this class,” he continued. “From day one, they were engaged, helping each other out, and understood what they had to gain by putting their nose to the grindstone. Really amazing stuff! They’ve given me so much as their instructor and I wish them all the best.”

Those interested in being among the next available TVTC cohort or would like more information about the program, please call (360) 716-4760 or email Ltelford@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov 

Tulalip weavers share their craft with the community

By Cullen Salinas-Zackuse, Tulalip News

On Sunday December 15th, at the Tulalip Resort Casino, fifteen of Tulalip’s cedar weavers came together to teach the community how to weave. They shared their expertise and enjoyed their time teaching traditional ways of making cedar baskets, headbands, dolls, jewelry and many other cedar creations. It was the first time this many Tulalip weavers came together to enrich the community with cultural activity of this nature.

“All the teachers have a lot of teachings and history,” said event coordinator,Virginia Jones, on how the weavers showed the importance of carrying on these skills for all the generations after us. 

Weaver Clarissa Johnny talked about how she learned from Anna Jefferson (Lummi) how to peel and process the cedar, and how to cure it. “She [Anna] was taught how to respect the forest and pray before taking anything from the cedar tree. Pray before you leave and thank the cedar tree for giving up part of its life for us”. 

One of the younger weavers, Shylee Burke, said that she “learned from her aunties and it is passed down from generation to generation”, because she was always around it as a child. It wasn’t until later in life that she said learned how to “put her hands to work,” learning how to weave. 

Overall, everyone who attended took away something from this event. Whether it was learning how to carry on the culture or different weaving styles, it was a fun way to come together and share culture with the community. 

Festival of Trees unites community for ‘Season of Miracles’

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Extravagantly festive Christmas trees and wreaths, each decorated with its own unique theme and style, brightened the Orca Ballroom at the Tulalip Resort Casino during the 34th annual Festival of Trees. The week-long celebration kicked off December 3rd with opening night festivities, continued with the excitement-filled Gala Dinner and Live Auction on December 6th, and concluded December 7th with the family friendly Teddy Bear Breakfast.

Each year, thousands of community members take part in the Festival of Trees – including volunteers, sponsors, and attendees – to raise funds for Children’s Services at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. For more than three decades, Providence Children’s Center has been providing comprehensive, family-oriented care and highly specialized therapies – such as physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy – for children with a wide variety of special needs.

“Knowing this is one of the largest charitable events for Snohomish County, it is appropriate for us to host and participate with goodwill and sharing the opportunity to help all children in need,” explained Marilyn Sheldon, manager of Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, on the importance of hosting the Festival and being the title sponsor. “We recognize that over 50% of Tulalip’s population is 0-24 years of age and Providence is our local hospital for care most tribal members use for emergency situations and other needs. Also, this event brings many people to our facilities for the week and encourages them to come back and host their own business/charity event at our venue.”

A highlight of the holiday season, the Festival of Trees provides entertainment for countless families and children. Whether it’s a black-tie evening with a three-course dinner or a free afternoon with cookies and Santa, the Festival’s variety of events offer holiday cheer for all kinds of crowds. The stunningly decorated Christmas trees won’t soon be forgotten as their specialized themes like ‘Merry Christmas from Mickey Mouse’ and ‘Christmas Under the Sea’ to ‘Arctic Winter Dreams’ and ‘A Celebration of Tulalip Culture’ capture the imagination.

During the elegant gala dinner and live auction, the dazzling Christmas trees and wreaths were sold to the highest bidders, with proceeds going to Providence Children’s Services. Several of the trees were reserved to be put on display throughout the Children’s Center as a special treat for hospitalized kids this holiday season.

“For more than three decades, this fun-filled, weeklong series of events has raised more than $12 million dollars to support the healthcare needs of children in our community,” stated Festival Chairs, Scott and Kippy Murphy. “Over the years, we have been in awe of the generosity shown at this event and it is that spirit of generosity and collective effort of our community that inspired us to choose this year’s theme – Season of Miracles.”

The generosity of countless donors and Festival attendees supports Providence in growing and expanding specialized therapies, equipment and educational classes that really does make miracles happen for children and families at Providence every day. Total monies raised this year topped $1.2 million, with all funds going directly to Providence programs and services such as Pediatrics, the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, the Children’s Center, the Autism Center, and Camp Prov, a summer camp for children with special needs. 

For nearly two decades, Tulalip Tribes has been an important partner to Providence in the Northwest Washington Region, by helping provide the funding and support needs to care for the health of our growing community. Contributions made by Tulalip to Providence General Foundation since 2002 have totaled more than $750,000. For their dedication to the Festival of Trees, the Tulalip Tribes were honored with the Spirit of Festival Award at last year’s Gala and live-auction.

“The lives of thousands of children, that includes Tulalip tribal children, will be helped thanks to the generosity received from the Festival of Trees fundraising efforts,” said Board of Director Mel Sheldon, fourteen-year member of the Providence General Foundation. “We are very fortunate to have a relationship with Providence Medical Center and to support such an amazing opportunity that really looks at the bigger picture. We all want to do our part to create a sustainable and healthy community.”

One of Snohomish County’s largest and most well attended holiday events, the Festival of Trees has been a beloved community tradition for 34 years. The annual outpouring of community spirit, combined with a magical setting, delivered a wonderful event that united many during the holiday season. 

Camas meadow a teacher for future generations

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tribal elders led a planting ceremony that included University of Washington students, faculty, and visitors on the afternoon of December 3. In the spirit of growing partnerships and sharing the importance of land cultivation, the memorable gathering occurred near the new Burke Museum’s entrance. Home to a future Camas meadow.

“This garden here will be a witness and teacher to something that is very important and sacred to all people, but especially to this land,” said Wanapum tribal elder Rex Buck. “The land has longed for these foods to come back and call it home. And so this is our way, the Burke’s way and the community’s way to recognize this planting as important. It represents a teaching for our children to maintain something sacred in a good way.”

After receiving proper instruction on how to plant budding Camas bulbs, all those in attendance were encouraged to plant multiple bulbs that will transform into stunning purple-blue flowers in a few short seasons. Once fully bloomed, visitors to the University of Washington and Burke Museum will find themselves walking by a Camas meadow, as were once in great abundance in the area prior to colonization. 

A utilitarian plant, food source and medicine, the multi-purpose Camas was and continues to be one of the most important root foods of Indigenous peoples in western North American. Except for choice varieties of dried salmon, no other food item was more widely traded. People traveled great distances to harvest the bulbs and there is some suggestion that plants were dispersed beyond their range by transplanting.*

The part of the plant most revered is actually the bulb. Traditionally, Camas bulbs were pit-cooked for 24-36 hours, which was necessary for the inulin in Camas to convert to fructose. The sweetness of cooked Camas gave it utility as a sweetener and enhancer of other foods, making it highly valuable for trading purposes. The plants stalks and leaves were used for making mattresses. Additionally, Coast Salish tribes used Camas as a cough medicine by boiling it down, straining the juice, and then mixing with honey.

“Camas is medicine that our people have known and understood for thousands and thousands of years,” explained Cedar Moon Woman, Connie McCloud, cultural director of Puyallup Tribe. “The Creator put this plant here for us to nourish our bodies as food and to heal our bodies as medicine. The land knew this medicine would return here today so it would be an educator for our children. If our future generations do not understand their relationship to the Mother Earth, to the trees and to the plants, then they cannot be the protectors she desperately needs.”

The long-awaited planting ceremony and gardening activities have been years in the making, since design plans for the new Burke were first being drawn up. Ultimately, the museum’s surroundings will feature some 80,000 native plants of 60 different species representing different parts of Washington State, ones genetically tied to the region. The spring bloom of purple-blue flowers should be spectacular. This is yet another way to bring the region’s natural history to the public.

“In planning for the new Burke, many of us advocated for having the whole grounds of the museum be a garden to represent the plants that are native to the Pacific Northwest and of value to the Indigenous people who live here,” explained Dr. Richard Olmstead, UW professor and Burke curator. “When Meriwether Lewis came west with the Lewis & Clark Expedition, he was the first European to collect this plant and provide it to western science. In providing a name for it, the Latin name Camassia quamash brings together the two words he had learned in phonetic English that represented the Native American names for this plant species.”

In time, the Camas bulbs planted by environmentally-conscious citizens of all ages and professions will blossom into a sweeping meadow alongside the Burke Museum. The meadow will evoke thoughts of wild prairie lands that once covered much of Washington, during a time when Indigenous people were sole caretakers and Camas was widely known not simply as a flower or plant, but as life giving food and medicine. 

*source: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_caquq.pdf

Seattle gets first Native American historical landmark

By Cullen Salinas-Zackuse, Tulalip News

In 2013, a historically Native American based school, Indian Heritage, was torn down in the northern Seattle area it devastated the urban Native community. Those who remember Indian Heritage and know the significance of Licton Springs wanted to make sure it was protected from development and possible desecration because Licton Springs is located directly across the street.  

For most of America’s history, the interactions with Native people have been about destroying our culture, removing our ties to land and forcing us to assimilate. That’s why the recognition of Licton Springs as a National Historic Landmark is so important. It protects one of the few sacred sites that still exists in an urban landscape. It protects and brings our history to life for both our people and the non-Native people of the area. It reminds modern America that we were here long before the modern government, and we are still here.

If you’ve never heard of Licton Springs you’re not alone. In a small park in Northgate overshadowed by condos and high rises, after walking through a network of trails, you’ll see a small hole in the ground. This hole is called Licton Spring. Licton is derived from the Lushootseed word “liq’təd” which means red mud. Licton Springs in particular is rich with iron oxide, magnesium sulfide. Coast Salish elder and historian Tom Speer said, “liq’təd, the red ochre, was used since time immemorial.” It was used before European colonization for religious ceremonies such as baby namings, weddings, and even buried with people during funerals”.

According to Tom, Licton Springs is, “the last sacred site in the ancestral homeland of Seattle. Due to development around Lake Washington other springs were capped off and destroyed”. Although this landmark has huge significance to the first people of the Puget Sound there is little recognition of its Indigenous value. 

This issue was addressed by local Seattle Native American youth program, Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA). The youth program teamed up with Seattle public libraries and coordinated an extensive amount of community workshops to make this project happen. The initiative to protect the spring was started by Oglala Sioux member Sarah Sense-Wilson, executive director of UNEA.

Local Activist Matt Remle first heard of Licton Springs’ historic significance from elders such as Chief Andy Delos Angeles of Snoqualmie and Ken Workman descendant, of Chief Seattle himself. Matt described being able to feel “the energy” when being at the site. Matt and his team then brought the importance of preserving the spring to Seattle’s Historic Landmark Committee.

One story in particular about the healing powers of Licton Springs not only involves Native history but also non-Native history. It follows two Coast Salish leaders,  Chief Lake John and Dr. James Zackuse, who met and befriended one of Seattle’s founders, David Denny. David’s daughter Emily had an incurable skin ailment that white doctors could not fix. She met the Chiefs, who gave her a drink from the spring, which eventually cured her. She ended up writing about this experience as an adult in 1909, about being helped by these first nation doctors. Many of Doctor Zackuse’s descendants have been spread across Indian reservations in the Pacific Northwest including Tulalip, Muckleshoot, and Snoqualmie.

This story was one of the key components in having Licton Springs made into a historic landmark. The historic landmark status passed, but still has to go to Seattle City Council before being approved. Getting this status means that what remains of Licton Springs will be untouched. 

A common rhetoric when developers want to destroy a sacred place to Native Americans is, “If it was sacred to you, then why are you just bringing it up now?” said Matt. He explained that Native Americans have an obligation to protect the lands and what is sacred. “If we don’t get there before developers come it will be too late,”

This sacred place is unique due to it being in a highly urban area, “You don’t really hear about sacred sites that are left in urban cities,” said Matt. Learning about sacred sites and Indigenous knowledge brings more awareness and closeness to our natural environment, and reawakens how important tribal people are to the history of lands here. Hopefully the Licton Springs project and landmark recognition brings more awareness to sacred Native American sites all over the U.S.

Stock up on holiday spirit at Tulalip’s own Native Bazaar

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

 Hundreds of visitors journeyed to the Tulalip Reservation on Sunday, November 17 to browse handmade gifts, purchase one-of-kind items made by local artists and stock up on holiday spirit at the annual Native Bazaar. The Tulalip Youth Center hosted the place to be for those in the market for truly unforgettable gifts and Native décor. 

The Bazaar was jam-packed with unique goodies galore including beaded jewelry, cedar creations of all varieties, custom artwork and much, much more. Filled to the brim with a variety of vendors, all of whom were Tulalip tribal members, customers had no shortage of buying options just in time for the holiday season.

Coordinated by Tammy Taylor, who has organized the event for ten years in row, the annual shopping experience combines traditional Tulalip culture with the best of the holiday season. There was something for everyone, even those who simply wanted to fill their bellies with frybread and smoked salmon. 

“This is such a great event,” said Tammy. “We have over 30 vendors setup. I try to find young artists who are willing to sell their art, and encourage them to participate. Teaching our people to be entrepreneurs at a young age has so many benefits.”

Eleven-year-old Jaylynn Parks is a prime example of what happens when an energetic youth is filled with the entrepreneurial spirt. With her grandmother’s help, she baked about 60 mountain huckleberry and pineapple cupcakes that were a major hit as they quickly sold out. Jaylynn also came prepared with her classic Roosevelt Popper and switched up her vending style from cupcakes to freshly popped popcorn.

“Everyone really liked my cupcakes. [So far] I’ve sold like 150 bags of popcorn,” beamed young Jaylynn while also sharing she has big plans with her Bazaar profits. “I’m going to redecorate my bedroom. If I can buy anything it would be a big pink bed!”

Another spirited youth who made the most of her passion for art and crafting was Catherine Velasquez. “I made hair barrettes with little flowers and bells and bows,” she said while sharing a station with her family. “I sold, like, quite a few. My first few I made took like 10 minutes or so to make, but once I got going I was able to make them really quick. I helped make cookies, muffins, and ferry ornaments. The best part of being here is hanging out with family.”

Several stations at the bazaar showcased tradition teachings that have been passed down from one generation to the next. One such example was Keeta Sheldon and her daughter Jamie who are well-known in cedar weaving circles. Their expertise with gift giving cedar is as boundless as their artistic imaginations, exemplified by their innovative creations. 

“Weaving is a good hobby because there are so many styles and so much that can be made that you won’t ever be bored,” said Keeta. She’s passed on her passion for weaving to all of her daughters and together they teach classes in the local area. “I’ve been teaching off and on now for 17 years at the college and museum. We like to teach what we know so that it stays in our culture.”

The 2019 Native Bazaar will return to the Youth Center on December 7 and 8, from 9:00am – 4:00pm, providing yet another two-day opportunity to enjoy delicious holiday treats while stocking up on holiday gifts. All visitors are welcome to support their local artists.

“I want to thank the community for coming out and supporting all of our tribal artists,” said coordinator Tammy Taylor. “It’s so beautiful to witness because we don’t have many places available to sell our stuff, but here we have a good mixture of Native and non-Native visitors who truly appreciate the skill and craftsmanship that goes into authentic Native art.”

Tulalip poles preserve and continue ancestral teachings

William Shelton pole in Everett, Wa. Photo courtesy of Hibulb Cultural Center.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

On display in public buildings throughout the Tulalip Reservation are beautiful works of traditional Tulalip art. Paintings, drums, paddles, masks and carvings created by Tribal artists cover the walls of government offices and local schools. Some of those establishments are also home to large wooden sculptures carved from cedar that depict insightful stories passed through the generations, many welcoming guests to their space of business, healing or learning. At certain places, such as the Tulalip longhouse, you may even spot a carving with a family crest or symbol in the design. 

Kelly Moses Story Pole at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary opens a conversation for Tulalip youth and provides an opportunity to learn about the culture while attending school.

“There are several different types of poles,” said Tulalip Carver, Tony Hatch. “Story poles, house posts, spirit poles, family crest poles. There’s clan poles; if you belong to a bear, wolf, seal, otter clan, they all have their own symbol and that’s what they put on their house posts. The house posts are the ones you see if you went into our longhouse, on the inside. Each one of those poles mean something different.”

Kaya, an Elder Salish woman holds a cedar basket filled with clams, welcomes guests to the Hibulb Cultural Center by James Madison.

The Tulalip people have a long, rich history with the cedar tree. For centuries, the Tribe’s ancestors utilized the tree’s resources by carving canoes, paddles, rattles and masks as well as weaving baskets, headbands and clothing from the sacred cedar. Although today Indigenous art is admired for its beauty from an outsider’s perspective, most pieces were intentionally created as tools for everyday necessity and for cultural and spiritual work. 

 Family and clan crests have been carved into house posts since time immemorial, specifying designated areas at the longhouses. An easy-to-spot indicator of a house post is the grooved indent at the top, intended to support the beams of the longhouse as house posts were initially apart of the building’s infrastructure. House posts are a common carving amongst Northwest tribes and can be viewed in person at a number of locations on the reservation such the Hibulb Cultural Center, the Don Hatch Youth Center and the Tulalip Longhouse. 

Also widely constructed by the tribes of this region are welcome poles. These sculptures are generally placed at the entrance of buildings, extending a friendly invite to visitors. They typically feature an Indigenous person in the design, highlighting a certain aspect to the tribal way of life. Welcome poles are prominent throughout Tulalip, with pieces at the entrance of the Tulalip Administration Building and the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy. 

The Storytelling Poles at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning  Academy was a collective project by the Tulalip Carvers and tells the story of the salmon people.

“Those are storytelling poles at Early Learning,” stated Tulalip Carver, Steve Madison. “We put those there for a purpose, for the little kids. The poles are carved in the shape of a salmon. On the salmon there’s a woman and a man and they are both storytellers. That’s why they were carved, so our kids will always know the stories about our people, the salmon. Because the salmon encompasses the spirit of our people.”

Perhaps the most recognizable welcome pole is the monumental post, created by Joe Gobin, which stands in the lobby of the Tulalip Resort Casino. With arms reaching out to the people, the pole welcomes newly arrived guests to the elegant hotel; a great photo opportunity for those receiving the Tulalip experience for the first time. Located directly at each side of the welcome pole are two story poles; a gambling pole representing the traditional game of slahal, also created by Joe Gobin, and a story pole that features an eagle and a seawolf designed by James Madison. 

The Tulalip Story Pole, by James Madison, located at the entrance of the Tulalip Resort Casino, features spiritual Northwest animal figures such as the bear, sea wolf, half-man half-wolf, and the eagle.

“There’s differences between house posts and story poles,” explains James. “A lot of people don’t know where a totem pole came from, or a story pole. They don’t know that we didn’t do that here, traditionally. But we continue it because William Shelton created it for our people, to keep our culture alive. They’re the stories of our families, about our people, and they hold the information of who we are and what our people went through; the history, knowledge and spiritual side of it. Joe Gobin and I decided to follow that William Shelton look but modernize it, refine the carvings and bring it up to date. You’ll see that high relief in our carvings. It’s a unique style and something that Shelton created, he was a pioneer in that way. It’s our way to pay respect to him as a carver.”

At a time when the Indigenous population was enduring assimilation efforts by the U.S. government, the last chief of Tulalip, William Shelton, made it his mission to preserve the traditional Salish way of life. By cunningly requesting approval to formally honor the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot, Shelton received permission to construct the Tulalip Longhouse on the shore of the bay. Due to his dedication, the people were able to gather once a year at the longhouse to take part in a night of culture as well as reflect and continue the teachings of those ancestors who came before them. 

Drawing inspiration from Alaskan Natives, as well as incorporating his own heritage, Shelton created the very first story pole in 1912 that was later erected at the Tulalip boarding school in 1913. The unique pole caught the attention of the masses and Shelton story poles began to pop up in local communities. The city of Everett, Seattle Yacht Club, Washington State Capitol, Woodland Park Zoo, and a number of parks throughout the nation commissioned his story poles and as time moved forward, colonizers eventually switched from condemning Native artwork to collecting it and his work was in high-demand.

William Shelton’s gas station and Totem Pole Camp. Photo courtesy of Hibulb Cultural Center.

 In 2013, a William Shelton story pole returned to the Pacific Northwest after standing at Krape Park in Freeport, Illinois for almost seventy years. The pole was taken down due to damage from weather over the years and the thirty-seven foot pole was sent to the Burke Museum. Today, the pole is in possession of the Burke and contained in storage off-site with plans of restoration in the near future.

“The William Shelton story pole is an important piece of Salish, and more specifically, Tulalip history,” explained Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, Burke Museum Curator of Northwest Native Art. “Shelton’s story poles brought oral histories and valued stories into monumental form, anchoring Tulalip history into these permanent markers. He did this during the years in which governmental and educational policies were aimed at erasing Indigenous languages, customs, and knowledge.”

William Shelton and family. Photo courtesy of Hibulb Cultural Center.

In his lifetime, Shelton constructed a total of sixteen story poles that were raised at various locations to help educate newcomers about Tulalip culture. His efforts helped bridge the gap between Natives and non-Natives. Shelton found ways to feed the non-Indigenous population knowledge about the heritage of his people in small doses, subtly squeezing in traditional stories, language and songs through his art. In addition to the story poles, Shelton gifted the world two publications and a better understanding of the Coast Salish lifeways. 

Tessa Campbell, Lead Curator of the Hibulb Cultural Center has been on the search for Shelton poles since the museum’s opening. Tessa and her team have recovered and restored, or are in the process of restoring, several poles after successfully tracking them down through Shelton’s correspondence letters. Unfortunately, due to decades passing by, a few poles were taken down, only to never be seen again. However, she intends to continue pursuing the poles until all sixteen are accounted for. 

“We credit William Shelton for coming up with the idea of the story pole,” Tessa expressed. “There weren’t story poles around before William Shelton, but there were welcome poles and house posts. He saw the story pole as a way to preserve our history. I compare it to a book; people preserve their family history by writing, he did it through carving. For his first pole, he went to the elders and got their stories, and he carved each story into the pole. So, each figure is like a chapter of a book.”

 Another set of carvings that held significant value to the people of Tulalip were the gateway poles. Over forty years ago, the entryways to the reservation were marked by two story poles and connected by a canoe carving overhead. Now fondly missed by the older generations of the community, the carvings were cut down by non-Natives of neighboring towns who were upset with the Boldt Decision in 1974.  

“I remember my grandpa (Frank Madison) used to talk about the poles that were out here, the two upright poles and a canoe over the top and everyone used to drive underneath it,” James reflects. “That was an identifiable icon for our tribe way back when. A long time ago, something happened between the people of Marysville and some people of Tulalip. The Marysville people came over and chopped it down with a chainsaw. It’s a harsh story but its history – it’s what happened. I always had that story in the back of my mind. My grandpa always wanted to recreate it. I’m on that same path, so hopefully some day they let me recreate that out of a different material, out of bronze or cement. That way our people can have that to be proud of because we were all raised knowing that arch was there back in the day, the two of them one at the beginning of the rez and the one at the end.”

William Shelton and every Tulalip artist since his time have excelled at preserving and continuing their ancestral teachings. By passing on the tradition and the knowledge that comes with it, they have carved quite the story for the future generations of Tulalip as well as the history of the generations who came prior. 

Tulalip Pole at Tulalip Heritage H.S., by Kelly Moses.

“Starting the little ones out while they’re young is important,” said James. “People like me; we don’t know any different. I was doing this before I can remember. Starting the youth early is important to keeping this part of our culture alive. Anybody can just pick it up and learn, but the knowledge of the work to go along with the skill is important. I was very fortunate to have my grandpa and my dad there to teach me that information. Honestly, you can teach anybody to carve or draw, but it’s the information that goes with it, putting your spirit and soul into it, making it come alive, making it Indian – that’s what I think is important.”

Nike N7 celebrates 10th anniversary release in Tulalip

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

We live in an age where a message, no matter how positive or significant, is only as good as the platforms that give it life. Platform then is everything. So it was of utmost importance when 10 years ago the world’s largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel chose to collaborate with Native America. Together Nike and Native artists and athletes developed an all-new platform to bring cultural representation into the mainstream. Enter N7.

N7 is inspired by Native American wisdom of the Seven Generations: in every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the seventh generation. It’s Nike’s commitment to bring sport and all of its benefits to Native American and Aboriginal communities in the United States and Canada.

Over the past decade, N7 athletic attire has become a highly sought after product due to its exclusive releases featuring distinct Native designs and imagery. From the devout sneaker heads to rez ball youths dreaming of making it to the pros, every N7 release is an opportunity to represent something authentic – a living, breathing and, most importantly, thriving culture. 

“Self-representation, for me, is being authentic to my people and who I am,” explained Nike graphic designer Tracie Jackson, who created this season’s Nike N7 x Pendleton pattern inspired by the weavings of her great-grandmother, Phoebe Nez (Navajo). “Being visible means that we’re acknowledged, our land is acknowledged, our community is acknowledged.”

That authenticity and acknowledgment was on full display when Nike and Tulalip came together to celebrate the release of N7’s 10th anniversary product line in early November. Over 150 special invitees packed the Nike Outlet located on the Tulalip Reservation two hours before the store officially opened. Among the gathering were several Nike brand ambassadors, urban Natives from the Seattle area, members of the Tulalip Youth Council, and several culture bearers with drum in hand.  

“My great-grandmother was still weaving right up until she passed at 92,” continued Tracie. “Without my great-grandmother, I wouldn’t have learned about my culture, and without my culture, I wouldn’t have been a designer. My family ties are what influence my Native identity.”

Tracie passed along her grandmother’s legacy in the 10th anniversary of the N7 collection, honoring heritage through special patterns with Pendleton. Native heritage was celebrated both through the specialty clothing line being released on Tulalip land and for the tribal citizenship who turned out to support the cause with their wallets and through powerful song and dance.

The Tulalip drummers, singers and dancers displayed their thriving culture on the Nike Outlet showroom. Several songs and important messages regarding missing and murdered Indigenous women, unity through community, and the positive impact of sport were shared.

Afterwards, the gathering turned its attention to the N7 x Pendleton attire as all invited guests got first dibs towards shopping the exclusive clothes designed by and for Natives.

“I thought this whole event was fantastic,” shared tribal member Marvin J. Velasquez as he was loading up with the latest N7 gear for his children. “What this collaboration represents for our Native people is huge. Just goes to show we are making a significant impression one step at a time.”

Proceeds from all N7 product line sales go directly to the N7 Fund, which is committed to getting youth in Native America moving so they can lead healthier, happier and more successful lives. The N7 Fund helps Native youth reach their greatest potential through play and sport while creating more equal playing fields for all. Since 2009, the N7 Fund has awarded more than $7.5 million in grants to 259 communities and organizations.

Co-coordinator of the Tulalip-based N7 event, Nate Olsen (Yakama Nation) reflected, “It was powerful to see our people really represented and celebrated in such a beautiful way. We really got to address some of the bigger social issues Native peoples face today thanks to the platform that Nike provided. Being able to present these issues to a wider audience and to have Tulalip drummer and singers sharing as well was just amazing.”