Fatherhood Café helps establish local Dad’s Group

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

It was a large turnout for the first Fatherhood Café at Tulalip, presented by the Tulalip Family Haven program and the Washington Fatherhood Council. On the morning of May 22, approximately 30 tribal dads participated in the four-hour event at the TELA gymnasium. Showing up with intention and a desire to learn, they all shared the common goal of becoming the best fathers that they can for their children. 

One of the major aspects of the Fatherhood Café is to connect the local dads with available resources to help them out along their journey. For this reason, there were several representatives from tribal departments like TOCLA, TANF, and the Village of Hope in attendance to answer questions and discuss the services they offer. 

This particular Fatherhood Café event was tailored for tribal members. It was also designed to help the dad’s open up and vocalize their struggles, as well as discuss possible solutions to the obstacles that they face as Indigenous fathers in 2024. Additionally, it gave them an opportunity to talk about what they would like to see from the Tribe and the community in terms of support and recognition.

The dads broke into small groups and brainstormed together about various topics and areas where they would like to see more support for local fathers, such as guidance through the justice system, assistance for dads in recovery, reunification efforts, reintegration after incarceration, child support, housing, employment, community gatherings, and cultural activities. 

Halfway through the event, the dads took a break to enjoy some delicious Hawaiian food, catered by Taste of Aloha. Raffle items were also awarded during the break and attendees walked away with some cool prizes like beaded drumsticks, Trickster basketballs, car seats, books, toys, kites, and Native Northwest water bottles. 

After the dads got a few jumpers off during an impromptu shoot around, they regrouped to engage in open dialogue and go over their notes from their earlier brainstorming session. This resulted in a bonding moment, where the dads where able to relate to each other’s experiences and build off each other’s ideas. 

By the end of the discussion, the dads put together a detailed list of changes they would like to see in the community on behalf of all tribal fathers, and also a solid plan of how to accomplish said changes. 

Sasha Smith, Family Haven’s Youth and Family Support Coordinator, explained that a number of the fathers were actively involved during the planning phase of the Fatherhood Café and provided insight as tribal fathers.

Said Sasha, “We had a committee of like six or seven local dads who showed up each week and shared ideas of what they wanted the café to look like, and what Dad’s Group is going to look like. The whole point of the café was to brainstorm what is working, what isn’t working, and what they would like to see happen. I think it really speaks volumes to what the community is asking for and needing. They’re saying they want support just as much as anyone else – that dads matter too and that they’re just as important as the mother in our families.”

As a group, the first event that dads planned for is a breakfast cookout that will take place on a regular basis, the second Saturday of every month. Their first get-together is planned for July 13, from 9 am to 11 am. Though the location has yet to be determined, the Dad’s Group assures any interested parties that it will take place at a local space on the rez. With the monthly breakfast meetups established, the group is now in the planning phases for other gatherings and outings, that they can enjoy with their kiddos, such as tours of the Tribe’s hatchery, as well as harvesting trips to gather cedar, berries, and salmon.   

Local father and Dad’s Group member, Benjamin Deen shared, “This was my first time coming to something like this, and it was exactly what I needed. Today I’m leaving here knowing that I can be a part of something, that I’m not alone. And also, with the knowledge that we need to embrace our future and come together to make change happen. There are opportunities out there and we need to find them and grasp a hold of them, because we are a community and we need to work together to build up our young ones, so they have a bigger, brighter future. I’m excited to see what we can bring to the community and I’m looking forward to sharing my experience and what I’ve been through to help other Native males know they’re not alone.”

Dad’s Group is open to all tribal fathers. If you would like to learn more about Dad’s Group, please reach out to Sasha Smith at (360) 716-4404.  

“It’s important to have that group of people who you can have that commonality of, it’s okay to not be okay some days,” Sasha expressed. “We also want to honor the uncles who are helping raise their nieces and nephews, the grandpas raising their grandkids. Anyone who identifies as a dad and is raising children should be supported, whether you’re in a healthy relationship or not, if you’re with your partner or not, if you never had a dad, if you weren’t raised by your family. We want to make sure our fathers have the support they need. We want to help give them the tools to be more successful and to engage in services, culture, community, and help them be that dad that they want to be.” 

Free Narcan: Tulalip Pharmacy opens distribution box

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

In the midst of a nationwide fentanyl and opioid crisis, the Tulalip Clinical Pharmacy is taking action to help save lives and reduce the amount of drug overdose deaths in our area by making Narcan easily accessible to their patients and the public. 

The very first Narcan distribution box at Quil Ceda Village was installed outside the pharmacy earlier this month. Located between their front door and their prescription lock box, the pharmacy is encouraging the community to come and learn it’s whereabouts and pick up a couple doses, to have on-hand in case of an emergency. 

Also referred to by its generic name, Naloxone, the lifesaving drug is administered via a nasal spray and acts quickly to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. This project has been a long time in the making as the pharmacy put much research into finding a way to distribute Narcan to the community, that was both cost-effective and easily obtainable. 

“We talked to other tribes, and they have implemented similar solutions to the opioid epidemic on their reservations,” stated Pharmacy Director, Dr. Kelvin Lee. “Narcan is one of those drugs that’s really safe and effective, and you can’t say that for a lot of drugs because they can cause other side effects and can have effect on people who are not on narcotics. This is a really safe drug for both people who are using and are not using. That’s why we want it to be as accessible as possible.” 

Bright purple and reminiscent of newspaper boxes, the new distribution box is hard to miss. There are also large visual instructions on the front of the box, which could prove to be vital information during an overdose situation.

Dr. Lee explained that the pharmacy has always offered free Narcan, however, there were requirements that people would need to fulfill in order to receive the OD-reversing drug, such as providing a name or an address. Now, one can simply pay a visit to the distribution box, open its lid, and take however many they need, no questions asked. 

Said Dr. Lee, “Naloxone has been available for a long time at this pharmacy, but we felt that there are unnecessary obstacles, hurdles, and hoops that people had to jump through to get it and that’s not right. Again, this is a very safe and effective drug. We have always been looking for ways people can get it without being questioned and asked for information or qualifications – we don’t think that’s necessary at all. It’s really important that people can get it when they need it. And it’s important for people to carry on them, in case something does happen.”

Dr. Lee hopes that this is just the first of many distribution boxes on the reservation. In fact, he is inviting any tribal department that is interested in installing a box at their location to give him a call so he can help set it up. He also stated that the pharmacy can both provide the Narcan and replenish the inventory whenever necessary, for those departments that opt for a box.

“When an OD happens, each second really matters, you don’t want people to have to wait or have to drive across to the other side of the reservation for Narcan,” expressed Dr. Lee. “So, I think it’s very important that we have at least several distribution points where people can pick up the Narcan when they need it.” 

 The new distribution box is open to all and accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Hundreds participate at Annual Stick Games Tournament 

STICKS AND BONES

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Tribes Annual Stick Games Tournament was held during the weekend of May 31, and featured a total payout of $50,000. Over 130 teams competed for a chance to win the grand prize of $25,000 this year as Native families from all across the region journeyed to the Tulalip Amphitheater to try their luck in the tournament. 

The tournament is open to all ages and provides an opportunity for multi-generational families to learn, share, and enjoy the traditional game together.

According to stories passed down throughout the generations, stick games was originally introduced to the coastal tribes and First Nations Bands thousands of years ago. The traditional game is also known as bone games, slahal, hand games, and lahal. And while each tribe and band have different stories and legends pertaining to stick games, the origin story of the game is consistent throughout all Coast Salish nations.

Northwest tribes seemingly agree that the game was gifted and taught to the people by the Indigenous wildlife of our territory as a way to settle intertribal disputes like the rights to hunting and fishing grounds, and also as a means to prevent warfare between tribes.

During gameplay, two opposing teams, consisting of three to five players, face off against one another. The teams alternate turns, and sticks are used to keep score throughout the contest. A set of bones is discreetly distributed amongst the team that is in-play and the opposing squad must correctly guess where the bones are hidden and how many pieces the player has concealed in their hands. 

While the bones change hands between teammates, the team sings traditional family songs to distract their opponents from seeing who is in possession of the bones. The team with the most correct amount of guesses wins the game and advances to the next round. 

There are also several unofficial game pieces that slahal players can use to their advantage during the tournament. Such items include foldable lawn chairs, so that teams can quickly set-up against their opponents and move and play about the grounds, as well as pull-over hoodies, blankets, and bandanas that can be used to cover a player’s hands and prevent opponents from seeing where the bones are placed.

In addition to the main competition, several mini matches were also held during the tournament such as the three-man tournament and the kid’s tournament.

Professional Slahal Player and Ahousaht member, William Mack, travels from Nanaimo, B.C. to participate in the games each year, along with his family. Following the tournament, William shared, “We want to thank the Tulalip Tribes for hosting a great weekend of stick games. It was good to see our stick game family. We played six games in the main competition and won the three-man single elimination for $7,500!”.

ʔəsq̓ʷuʔ ʔə ti hikʷ siʔab yubəč Renewing the commitment of Salmon Ceremony

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

We interrupt this normally scheduled article introduction to offer you ancestral wisdom via the late, great Bernie “Kai-Kai” Gobin. The cultural luminary for whom the Tulalip Hatchery is named after was a devout fisherman, warrior for his people, and storyteller. In fact, it is within his story First Salmon Ceremony that the true meaning behind Tulalip’s now annual Salmon Ceremony gathering and celebration can be found.

The following 1,000 words are Kai-Kai’s as adapted by the Hibulb Cultural Center to read as a traditional story.

Long ago, the world was not like it is today. The stories show that animals could become people and people could become animals. A story will say that a person “put on his bobcat blanket” if Bobcat was the animal that this person could become. The stories also show that people and animals could talk to each other and understand each other. Long ago, then, when this is how things were, the salmon people and the ʔaciɬtalbixʷ had an agreement.

The salmon would come into the rivers each year and offer themselves as food for the people. The people would clean the rivers each year before the salmon arrived, and they would greet the salmon with a ceremony, and they would put the bones of all the salmon they had eaten back into the water. But as time went on, people became careless. There would be trash along the riverbanks and even in the water when the salmon came back. Often just some bones were returned; sometimes no bones were put back. Fewer and fewer salmon were arriving. People were thinking: “If this goes on much longer, we are going to starve.”

One day a young man was walking by the shore. He was asking himself, “Why is it that just a few salmon are coming anymore?” All of a sudden, the water rolled back, and up walked a person from beneath the sea.

“I have been sent to bring you back to the salmon village so you can get an answer to the question you have been asking,” he told the young man. “I will be your guide. There is another reason I was sent. Our leader is very ill. There is something he wants to say to you.”

The young man walked with the guide out to sea. The carpet of water rolled back over them until the young man looked up and could see fish swimming up above.

Then they arrived at the salmon village. It looked just like the young man’s village, with a longhouse, drying racks, canoes; the people looked just like the people in his village, except something was terribly wrong: everywhere he looked there would be someone with only one arm or no foot or half a leg.

“What misfortune has happened to the people of this village,” he wondered. His guide seemed to know what he was thinking. “You see what happens when your people do not put back all the bones,” he said. “When our people return to this home beneath the sea, parts of their bodies are missing.”

His guide took him to the longhouse where the leader of the salmon lived. This man had been very sick since his return from the river by the young man’s village. “We have brought you here to see if you can understand the nature of our leader’s illness. Perhaps it is an illness from your world.”

The young man was taken to a closed space at the back of the longhouse. An older man, very thin and wasted, was lying there with a fish hook stuck in the side of his head. The young man could see it clearly, but to the eyes of the salmon people it was invisible. “Young man, I hope you can help me,” said the leader of the salmon.

“I think I could help you,” said the young man. “But I am afraid that I would cause you a lot of pain.” The leader of the salmon asked for the help anyway. As soon as the young man had removed the fish hook, the salmon leader sat up, completely well again. “You have saved my life,” he said. “You have done a great thing for our people,” said the young man’s guide.

The young man stayed with the salmon people as an honored guest for some time. He heard about the agreement between his people and the salmon, how his people were to clean the rivers, welcome the salmon on their arrival, and take care of the bones. He had been unaware of these teachings.

When it became time for him to return to his people, the salmon began to teach him songs for a salmon ceremony, how to welcome the arriving King Salmon, how to sing a farewell as the bones were returned to the sea. The salmon leader spoke to him: “This is a message for you to take to your people. Because it is hard for them to take care of the bones of all the salmon they eat, we will agree that as a tribe they will take care of the bones of just the first salmon. After that, each person will decide how they want to conduct themselves. Each year we will send a scout to your village, and he will report back to us. If the river is clean and the ceremony is held and the bones of this scout salmon are taken good care of, we will come back each year.” 

The young man was given many gifts and sent with honor back to his people.The young man instructed his people about the teachings that had been entrusted to him, and for a while everything went well. Then some people started to complain. “It is too much trouble to gather up all these bones. Salmon have too many bones. Even if it is only once a year, it is too much trouble.”

The young man took the people down to the stream where the salmon were spawning. Some salmon were making their way completely out of the water, bruising themselves on the rocks, gasping for breath. Some with serious cuts in their bodies were resting in the pools before going on. Some had come to places where they had to jump ten times higher than any ʔaciɬtalbixʷ could jump, just to get to the next waterfall, where they would have to jump again. “Look how hard they are working to keep their side of the agreement,” the young man said.

And so, even to this day, each year the salmon scout arrives to see whether the ʔaciɬtalbixʷ will continue to live up to their side of the agreement. Each year, the scout reports back to his people about whether the ceremony was held, how his bones were taken care of and whether the salmon habitat was well maintained.

Each year, so far. That is the end.

______

We are now several generations removed from 1976’s revival of the first Salmon Ceremony spearheaded by Tulalip cultural pillars Harriette Shelton Dover, Bernie Gobin, Stan and Joann Jones, Molly Hatch, and Mariah Moses. Their collective efforts to bring back Salmon Ceremony to their people began by a simple gathering of the minds at Bernie Gobin’s house in 1970. The rest, as they say, is history. 

In her autobiography, Harriette recalls piecing together what she and her peers heard from their parents and grandparents of the annual, springtime tradition.

“When our people used to do the ceremony, it took hours and hours, and days and days. We felt we couldn’t do it that way; we had to sort of telescope it together,” she wrote. “I wrote what I thought, and we made a good outline: the introduction or the first opening song, the blessing of the longhouse. Then we met again to beat the drums … we sang what we remembered.”

What they remembered were the teachings the previous generations passed on to the current generation. Five decades later, that same method of passing on teachings via the oral tradition from one generation to the next was implemented at 2024’s Salmon Ceremony.

This year’s Salmon Ceremony was dedicated to Billy Gobin. He has been a dedicated and supportive figure to the ceremony since 1981. Billy was honored in the Longhouse and shared after, “My uncle Bernie has always been my true inspiration. He was my teacher and taught me to respect and honor the fish, always.”

  An estimated 400 people convened above the shore of Tulalip Bay on the morning of Saturday, June 1. Only a few hours after sunrise, the dedicated Tulalips and their Coast Salish relatives took in the lush Pacific Northwest landscape, reconnecting with friends and family while snapping photos galore, before commencing with the recommitment of a shared responsibility that is foundational to Salmon Ceremony.

“Salmon Ceremony is about giving respect to those that come from nature,” explained ceremony coordinator and recently re-elected Board of Director, Glen Gobin. “But it also teaches about giving respect throughout life and honoring those gifts that we get, and respecting our way of life in a good way. Part of that is making sure how we sing the songs, how we conduct ourselves, it teaches how to carry yourself in life. All of the songs have meaning, everything is connected. The songs encourage the people to carry themselves in a good way.”

Reflecting on the day’s turnout and all the participants of Tulalip’s youngest generation, Glen added, “Today was great. The Longhouse was full. The floor was extremely full. It’s great to have that problem, to have all the young people circling that floor and still coming through the door. The kids did great. The songs were all together, everything sounded great and everybody looked great. I think the ancestors would be very proud, and are very proud, of the work we are doing.”

Considering the fact so many proud culture bearers wore their finest woven cedar hats and headbands atop their head, while dawning shawls and vests adorned with abalone shells, miniature paddles and vibrant Native prints as they encircled the Longhouse fires in ceremony, it’s easy to conclude the ancestors were indeed proud. Glen, as Kai-Kai’s son, knows better than most how his father would’ve felt hearing the songs radiate from within the Longhouse, out of the roof vents, and into the heart of Tulalip Bay. 

Then, there is the lasting sentiment expressed by Harriet Shelton Dover when she described the ceremonies she attended as a child as, “Indians used to do ceremonies every year with the first salmon runs. They had big gatherings. The songs are for everybody: small children, older people, the whole Tribe – everybody.”

One could imagine a beaming grin, ear to ear, like that of the proudest great-grandma ever as she witnessed present-day Tulalips of all ages, from newborn to grand elder, filling the Longhouse while singing and drumming to their Salish spirit’s delight. Small children, older people, the whole Tribe, embodying a thriving culture in numbers previously considered unfathomable.

Back in 1970, Harriet Shelton Dover and Bernie Gobin shared a dream to bring back a ceremony dedicated to the first salmon runs, to fill the Longhouse floor, and to renew our people’s commitment as environmental stewards. In that respect, all those who made 2024’s Salmon Ceremony a huge success became the literal manifestation of those ancestors’ wildest dreams.

Airbender at work: Kendra Miller coaches BYU Ultimate to Top 12 ranking 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Ultimate Frisbee, often simply called “ultimate”, is experiencing a surge in popularity across college campuses nationwide. With more than 18,000 student-athletes competing on 800-plus teams, the college division is ultimate’s largest demographic, according to the sport’s national governing body USA Ultimate.

The popularity of college sports in America is not limited to NCAA varsity programs. Ultimate has proven that club sports can establish a rich tradition and elicit the same excitement and emotion from players, fans and alumni alike. Tulalip tribal member Kendra Miller checks all those boxes – player, fan, alumni – and one more, coach.

The 29-year-old played for Brigham Young University’s ultimate team for four years as a featured player. After her head coach departed following her senior season, Kendra was approached by school officials and asked if she was interested in filling the vacated head coach position. She graciously accepted and has been leading BYU ultimate for the past six years.

In her most recent stint patrolling the sidelines, Kendra witnessed the BYU Cougars skyrocket up the national rankings and sustain their early season success well into the postseason. The 2024 regular season lasted from early January through mid-April and resulted in a set of national rankings. BYU climbed as high as #10 in the entire country during the season and entered the Northwest Regional round of the postseason as #11, out of 800 eligible teams.

In an opportune twist of fate, the Northwest Regionals were hosted at the Skagit River Sports Complex (45-minutes north of Tulalip) in early May. This playoff tournament brought together the best of the best ultimate programs from the Northwest Region, which included the University of Washington, Oregon, University of British Columbia, and BYU.

After routing Montana by the score of 13-5 and then coming up just short to Oregon 10-13, BYU had an hour-long break before taking to the field again to face-off with U.W. During rest period, two BYU upperclassmen and team captains shared how much Kenda means to them as players and to their collegiate program.

“It’s been such a great experience being coached by Kendra. Something I really admire about her coaching style is she is strict and disciplined but in a way that motivates us to push ourselves to achieve the greatest things,” reflected BYU senior captain Madison Robinson. “For example, at our team camp that occurred before the season, she asked each one of us what are goals we wanted to achieve this year. She didn’t tell us what goals we should have or what goals she wanted for us. Instead, she listened to all of us and then worked with each player individually over the course of the season to progress towards achieving those pre-season goals we set for ourselves. That’s the best part for me, I think, is because she is such an outstanding ultimate player herself that she’s capable and willing to demonstrate to us what it takes to excel on the club and pro level.

“Something else that’s so amazing about Kendra is you have to realize our coaches aren’t paid to understand how insane it is the hours she puts in to make sure we have every opportunity to be the best team possible,” continued Madison. “For example, between practices she’s watching game film and cutting us reels to show what we did well, what we could do better, and adapting game strategy for our next opponent. She puts in so many hours behind the scenes just because she cares about our team and is committed to seeing us do well.”

Added junior captain Autumn Porter, “I couldn’t agree more. Watching Kendra play and then being coached by her is such an inspiration. She’s always pushing us to strive for reaching our full potential, which means always being open to learning new skills and never settling for anything less than 100% effort. Everything she does as a coach comes from her experience as a former BYU player and current pro. She also has the experience of playing with and against some of the best ultimate teams out there, plus she’s won nationals. So, for me, as someone who dreams of playing in the pro level, it’s like she’s teaching us how to play, practice, and act as pros even though we’re still in college. It’s a really unique experience and a welcomed one for those us who feel like we’re being prepared to play at the next level.”

Following the two BYU captains’ interviews, they reconvened with the rest of their team and got in a proper warmup before taking to the field to face-off with the purple and gold wearing Dawgs. BYU put up a valiant effort, losing by a close score of 11-13. They rebounded superbly by absolutely destroying their day’s final opponent, Oregon State, by a whopping margin of 13-3. 

“I’m so proud of this team, not just for how much they achieved on the field but also for how much each player has grown and embraced their roles on our team,” said coach Kendra. “We made school history by making it to the Regional round. This is an amazing accomplishment! Especially when you consider we were without one of our top players for this Northwest Regional Tournament. Making it here, earning wins against Montana and Oregon State, and battling to the very end vs. Oregon and Washington… there’s so much for these ladies to be proud of.” 

Upon the completion of BYU’s season, Kendra now shifts her focus from coaching collegiately to airbending on the most prestigious platform ultimate has to offer, Team USA. After an extensive series of workouts and qualifications where she performed with the nation’s best ultimate players, she was named to the 24-woman roster who will competing at the upcoming World Ultimate Championships hosted in Australia this summer. 

BIA recognizes Tulalip road reconstruction 

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

Recently, Tulalip Tribes was awarded Best Road Reconstruction for the pavement rehabilitation on 28th Drive NW, 81st St NE, and Totem Beach Road. The recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) surprised the Tribes’ transportation department team, highlighting the significant strides made by the department since 2019. 

“It was sprung on us; we didn’t even know the award was being submitted,” said Christina Parker, Division Manager. 

Senior Project Manager Ross Bichel, echoing the sentiments of the BIA, remarked, “The BIA was impressed with our innovative approach. Our team’s ability to conceptualize and execute projects has been commendable.” 

The team, comprising Judith Colina, Project Management Coordinator; Nicole Smith, Senior Project Manager; and Doug Bender, Inspector/Observer, has effectively utilized BIA funding to enhance infrastructure and safeguard the environment. Their innovative projects, such as the stormwater filtration system on 81st Drive and the updated storm treatment on Totem Beach Road, have not only improved the quality of life for the community but also demonstrated their unwavering commitment to excellence and community well-being.

“Our journey began in 2019 when the previous transportation manager left,” Parker shared.  “Since then, our team has brought about significant changes in the department. Our accomplishments go beyond winning an award and gaining recognition from the BIA; it’s a testament to the collective effort of our team and a significant achievement for Tulalip.” 

Ross Bichel elaborates, “We took projects where the stormwater and road surfaces were not the best. We were able to, with the help of funding from the B.I.A. and Tulalip, get these projects to a point like 28th Drive, where the stormwater goes through a filtration system that can pull stuff out of the stormwater before it is released into the wetland buffers, and then it filters through vegetation in the wetlands, then off to the salmon streams. This was nice because they never had anything before; water ran up and over the curbs; it was a mess. A lot of what we put in you won’t see; it’s capturing the water before it enters the roadways.”

This award underscores the dedication and innovation of the Tulalip Tribes’ transportation team, whose efforts have improved local infrastructure and set a new standard for environmental stewardship and community safety. 

A Day to remember

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Tulalip is the proud home of countless courageous service men and women, from as far back as the first world war to this very day. Throughout the generations, hundreds of tribal members answered the call to duty, endured rigorous training, and bravely fought to defend our nation and our freedoms. 

Each Memorial Day, the families of those Tulalip soldiers and veterans who have passed on collectively join together to pay tribute to their loved ones. Keeping with the yearly tradition, the Tribe once again held two beautiful Memorial Day ceremonies on the morning of May 27, at the Priest Point and Mission Beach cemeteries.

Vietnam Veteran, Mel Sheldon, returned as this year’s Master of Ceremony and helped uplift the spirits of the community by providing some good-natured humor throughout the two services. He also took some time to reflect on the lives of his fellow brothers-in-arms who died in combat. 

Said Mel, “When we think about today, what it really means – we remember so we don’t forget, as te-at-mus (Raymond Moses) said. I think about my flight school classmate, John Sparks, he was from Idaho. We both had high hopes of becoming pilots when we got to Vietnam. We end up going our own way, I ended up flying scouts, he ended up flying Charlie model gunships. And in one battle, his ship was shot down and his body was never recovered. To this day, my brother is still over there. And I think about him, and I think about the other fellas in our unit that we lost when we were flying into Cambodia. It was a lot of action that we saw, and it had its causalities. Today, I am thankful for them for stepping up to the plate, going out on missions where they didn’t know if they would live past noon, but they went out and did their best. And it’s important we remember those men and women who have given their sacrifice.” 

As this Nation’s original caretakers, defending this land may have a more significant meaning to tribal members across the country. It may be the reason why there are approximately 31,000 active Native American men and women serving today, and why there’s over 140,000 living veterans who are of Indigenous descent, according to the Department of Defense.

At Tulalip, mini flags were placed along the gravesides of nearly 300 Tribal members, all of whom served and paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country, as well as for those veterans who made it back home but are no longer with us today. Each of their names were read aloud, and families listened intently and waited patiently to hear the names of their fallen heroes as Tulalip veterans Cy Hatch III and Sara Andres performed roll call. 

At the Mission Beach Service, Chairwoman, Teri Gobi, shared a little bit about her father, Stan Jones, who was a Marines Veteran, “I want to thank each and every one of you who are here today – a lot of people think this holiday is about taking a three-day weekend and going on vacation. We always knew of its importance when we were young because our dad used to bring us here. My dad was a very proud Marine who served in World War II. When we were young, the Marine Hymn was our family song in the car. He had so much pride in serving his people, serving his country. I’m proud of each of you who served and those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. And I thank each and every one of you for being here and honoring our vets.”

Two tribal veterans, Mara Hill and Dean Ledford, shared their personal experiences of time spent in the military, while also taking the time to honor their friends and family members who didn’t make it back to their homelands. Guest speaker and Vietnam veteran, Francisco Ivarra, shared the history of Memorial Day. He also spoke directly to the veterans in attendance about the importance of taking care of their mental health and dealing with PTSD. Each speaker was sure to give shoutout to the groundskeepers for their work in beautifying the cemeteries and placing the flags throughout the properties in preparation for the services.

Both ceremonies ended with a 21-gun salute in honor of those who enlisted and have since passed away. Once the ceremony at the Mission Beach cemetery concluded, the families visited the final resting places of their loved ones before they headed to the Gathering Hall to share some healing medicine together, in the form of a hot meal and good company. 

Kudos to our Heritage art interns

Submitted by Mytyl Hernandez and Ty Juvinel

“I wanted to share some information on the intern program that Ty has been coordinating at Tulalip Tribes design. He has had two tribal members, both interns from Heritage High School, for the majority of the year. They are finishing up their final week of internship and we thought it could make for a very good share. They have helped with all types of projects, including an order of 100 unsanded clapper kits for our events department and an additional 4 paddles that will all be gifted to students at their upcoming graduation.”

– Mytyl Hernandez, Hibulb Cultural Center manager

“These two young men have been doing some wonderful work, both of which are due to graduate. Adrian Jefferson and Taryn Fryberg have been really working their tails off through their own challenges, along with prepping for graduation. I’m just hoping we can inspire them to continue bettering themselves.

I’m proud of how driven this graduating class is. It takes a lot of strength and drive to talk about your passion and even more strength to follow your dreams. It always seems that once u speak on your goals people are quick to put you down, but these young men keep moving forward!”

– Ty Juvinel, creative arts & media specialist