Tulalip celebrates wellbriety

Tribal member Crystal Gobin-Wassillie shares a moment with Tonia Elfing. Crystals speech touched people in the Audience.

Article and Photo by Jeannie Briones

TULALIP, Washington- Saturday, November 17, the Orca Ballroom at the Tulalip Resort Casino was packed with friends and community members celebrating the 33rd Annual Wellbriety event. Many people joined in the special evening to share good food and conversation, giving  thanks to those celebrating their wellbriety from drugs and alcohol.

Newest Face of Gerber Is Native

Mary Jane Montoya’s grand prize winning photograph. (Photo courtesy Gerber)

By Indian Country Today Media Network Staff, www.indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com

The newest face of Gerber, 8-month-old Mary Jane Montoya from Fresno, California, is of mixed heritage. Her mother, Sara Montoya, has Mexican heritage and her father, Billy Montoya, is a descendant of the Yokut Mono Tribe.

They plan on raising Mary Jane with a mixture of those cultures too.

“We’re teaching her Spanish,” Billy said after explaining that his sister and mother are very involved with the tribe and will be getting Mary Jane involved as well. “We want her to know everything about her culture.”

Being the Gerber baby comes with a $50,000 prize that Sara and Billy have decided to put away and save for Mary Jane’s college fund.

“Higher education is so important and we see the value in that,” Billy told Indian Country Today Media Network.

“We want to make sure she doesn’t struggle with college…making sure she is able to focus on that,” Sara said. “We know how hard it is to work and go to school.”

Billy is doing that right now. He works full-time and attends Fresno State full-time. He plans to graduate next semester with a degree in graphic design.

“I know first-hand how hard it is,” he said. “I’m so glad I’m going to be able to give her a chance to focus full-time on school.”

Mary Jane was chosen from more than 308,000 entries because her picture demonstrated the visual appeal and expressiveness the judges at Gerber were looking for and was consistent with Gerber’s heritage, said a press release from Gerber.

When she was announced as the winner on October 6, Facebook was abuzz with negative comments from people saying she didn’t look like the original Gerber baby. Gerber has since removed the negative comments from the page.

The negativity didn’t bother the Montoyas though. They are just proud of their little girl and appreciative of the experience being chosen has brought. They got to go to New York City and be on the TODAY Show to meet the original Gerber baby, Ann Turner Cook, who is now 85, and be interviewed by Natalie Morales.

“She [Ann Turner Cook] has that same look and that same twinkle in her eye. She’s super sweet,” Sara said. “They were so nice and so open to talk to us and let us know what it was like for her to be the icon of the Gerber baby.”

The Montoya family had never been so far across the country and were amazed by the fast pace of the city and seeing how a television show is put together.


“Just the process of walking into the building, the hair and makeup, how many people it takes to make the show happen [is incredible],” Sara said. “And to be in New York and feel the city alive—it was a lot of fun, we really enjoyed it.”

“It was just a big whirlwind,” Billy said. “I couldn’t believe how small the sets are and how many people go into doing it—it was just amazing.”

That’s not all. Sara and Billy said Mary Jane actually learned to crawl while they were in New York City.

“We can’t wait till she grows up so we can tell her she was the Gerber baby,” Billy said.

The Power of Partnerships: Celebrate World AIDS Day in Everett, Nov. 30

Rapid HIV testing during the day; evening memorial walk & program

Press Release, Kristin Kinnamon, Communications Manager

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – The public is welcome to free events in downtown Everett to commemorate World AIDS Day 2012 on Friday, Nov. 30. A collaboration of local agencies is sponsoring a resource fair, HIV testing, a memorial walk, and an evening program that includes refreshments, artwork and music. All activities take place at the Snohomish Health District, 3020 Rucker Ave., Everett.

The World AIDS Day events will commemorate those lost to AIDS, support those living with the disease, reinforce the need to combat stigma, discrimination and intolerance, and underscore the need for routine HIV screening.

This year’s special emphasis is to raise awareness that people living with HIV are also at risk for tuberculosis. While 1/3 of the world’s population is infected with the tuberculosis bacterium, most people never get sick. However, TB is the leading killer among people living with HIV. In 2011, 1.4 million people in the world died from TB, and of those, 430,000 of them were HIV positive.

“The unfounded fears surrounding tuberculosis and people with TB mirrors the fears people have had about AIDS,” said Snohomish Health District HIV/AIDS program manager Brenda Newell. “Neither disease is caught by casual contact, and both are treatable once detected.”

An estimated one in five Americans infected with HIV is unaware of it. According to the Washington State Department of Health, 707 people in Snohomish County are currently known to be living with HIV. Screening for tuberculosis is recommended for HIV-positive people.

Nov. 30 Schedule of Events

·        9 am – 4 pm: Free or low-cost confidential Rapid HIV Testing

·        noon – 6 pm: Community health resource tables

·        5 – 6:30 pm: Light refreshments catered by Ross Day

·        5:30 pm: Walk to Everett’s AIDS Memorial at 3021 Wetmore Ave.

·        6:30 pm: World AIDS Day Program

The evening program includes remarks by Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Snohomish Health District director and health officer, Teresa Rugg, Snohomish County RESULTS group leader, Patricia Yepassis-Zembrou, Health District epidemiologist, and Dennis Worsham, regional health officer for Public Health Seattle-King County.

The evening program also features music by local musicians Terri Anson and Savannah Woods, and concludes with a candlelight vigil. The commemoration is free and open to the public.

Local sponsors include Snohomish Health District, Evergreen AIDS Foundation, Snohomish County Gay Men’s Task Force, AIDS Project Snohomish County, RESULTS Educational Fund, TB Photovoice, and the AIDS Outreach Project.

Evergreen AIDS Foundation is one of the oldest AIDS service organizations in the country – established in 1985. EAF provides community outreach, counseling and testing, emergency food and housing assistance, volunteer services and support for persons with HIV disease and their families. It serves over 600 clients across six counties, including Snohomish County.

RESULTS Educational Fund was founded in 1980. Their mission is to create the public and political will to end poverty through improved policies and funding for health, education, and economic opportunity.

Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. Call 425.339.5298 for information about Snohomish Health District’s HIV/AIDS education and outreach programs and services, or visit our Web site: www.snohd.org.


·        Washington State Department of Health

o   http://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/HIVAIDS

o   http://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Tuberculosis

·        National Prevention Information Network

·        United Nations HIV/AIDS Program

·        AIDS Project Snohomish County

·        Snohomish County Gay Men’s Task Force

·        TB Photovoice

·        AIDS Outreach Project

·        Evergreen AIDS Foundation


United Way Announces Three-Year Grant Opportunity

Press Release, Neil Parekh, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, United Way of Snohomish County

(Everett, Wash.) — United Way plans to invest in programs that support the optimal development of children and youth, improve access to basic needs and ensure that residents in Snohomish County are connected and engaged with their community.

Snohomish County nonprofits must meet certain minimum eligibility requirements and have or plan to establish programs that address the priorities identified by United Way’s volunteer-led Vision Councils.  Applicants must submit a letter of intent (submitted online) by December 20. Potential applicants are invited, but not required, to attend one of two Bidders’ Conferences: Tuesday, Nov. 27th from 10am – 12pm or Tuesday, Dec. 4th from 10am – 12pm. More information is on United way’s website at www.uwsc.org/programgrants.php.

“This is a volunteer-driven process,” said Dennis G. Smith, president and CEO of United Way of Snohomish County. “Every three years our volunteer committee members meet with experts to understand the needs of our community. Based on that work, they identify priority investment areas. Once proposals are submitted, our volunteers will review and make decisions on where our donors’ contributions will best be invested.

Award decisions will be made in May 2013.

The priority investment areas for the 2013-2016 funding cycle fall into three categories:

1.    To ensure the optimal development of children and youth in Snohomish County, United Way will support programs across the youth spectrum, from birth to age 18. We will do this by investing in programs that focus on early learning, after school programs, foster care, and family engagement and support.

2.    To increase the ability of all individuals and families to live self-sufficient lives, United Way will invest in programs that increase the ability of families to find secure, safe, suitable and affordable housing; offer emergency services (including rent/mortgage assistance, emergency shelter, food  and utility assistance); support access to health care for the uninsured and underinsured; offer career education and job skills training; and offer life skills programs that will help at-risk youth, people with disabilities and others to help them live independently.

3.    To ensure that Snohomish County residents are connected and engaged with their community, United Way will invest in programs that that create an aging-friendly community for seniors; overcome barriers caused by lack of transportation, disability or language; increase access to services through community based centers; and support programs for crime victims.

Eligible applicants must be a 501(c) 3 health and human service agency that can provide an audit or reviewed financial statements for the prior two years and meet other eligibility standards.

The Bidders’ Conferences will be held at the United Way of Snohomish County Board Room, 3120 McDougall Ave, Suite 200, Everett, WA 98201. Please RSVP to Toni Wishon at (425) 374-5523 or via email at toni.wishon@uwsc.org as space is limited. Additional details regarding eligibility, the application process and timeline are available at www.uwsc.org/programgrants.php.

United Way is a community impact organization serving Snohomish County for more than 70 years. In addition to funding 102 programs through 39 agencies with a special focus on local health and human services, United Way of Snohomish County supports a number of initiatives focusing on early learning and education, financial stability for families, a youth program, North Sound 211 and an emerging initiative in survival English.

To find out more about United Way of Snohomish County, including how you can find help, how to volunteer and how United Way serves our community, please visit our website at uwsc.org.

County commissioners call for mediation in Skagit Valley water fight

Press Release, Monday, November 12, 2012, Bellamy Pailthorp         

In Skagit County, a decades-old fight over water rights has come to a head.

County Commissioners are walking away from an agreement they say was originally intended to allocate water permits fairly, while protecting endangered salmon. But now they say that agreement has caused nothing but lawsuits, so they’re seeking mediation instead.

Will Honea is Skagit County’s Civil Attorney. He says the agreement, which has been in place for 16 years, was developed through collaborative talks between tribes, cities, utilities and rural landowners and farmers. It was meant to help all of those interests co-exist in the fertile landscapes of the Skagit River valley, while still guaranteeing enough water for salmon.

“Skagit County signed this agreement to participate in a cooperative water planning process that would reduce rural wells, but not eliminate landowners‘ access to water,” Honea says.

And he says as a result, water rights for people outside cities in Skagit County are strictly budgeted. They now have the toughest restrictions in the state on rural water.

But he says the Swinomish tribe has filed repeated lawsuits, seeking to eliminate the entire water allocation for farmers and rural landowners.

The Swinomish argue the agreement was good as originally written. But they say an illegal amendment in 2006 allows development that would hurt salmon, which is at the heart of the tribe’s culture and economy.

Brian Cladoosby is the tribal chairman.

“We’re salmon people. If our salmon go the way of the buffalo, it’s just a part of our culture that is going to die,” Cladoosby says. “And we’re not only doing it for us. It’s for the non-Indians too. They enjoy that beautiful resource as much as we do.”

Skagit County’s Honea says the three other tribes in the area have dropped out of the lawsuit. And he says the county is tired of fighting in court.

“So what we’re doing is, we’re not going to go to court again,” Honea says. “We’re just going to step away from the conflict and we’re asking the Governor to appoint a qualified mediator to help our community move forward on a more positive path. ”

He says the Swinomish tribe’s argument hinges on a technical error made by the Department of Ecology when they drafted the in-stream flow rule in 2001. And if the Swinomish win, about 6,000 rural landowners would be left without a legal source of water, including about 550 homes that have already been built.

The suit has made it all the way to the State Supreme Court, which hears oral arguments in the case on Wednesday.

Make a difference – become a mentor

Article and photo by Jeannie Briones

TULALIP, Washington- Mentoring another person is one of the greatest gifts you could give them; there’s almost no better feeling in the world than to help another person accomplish their dreams. And to a child, having another caring adult in his or her life, someone who believes in them and supports them, can be life changing.

In recognizing the importance of mentoring in a child’s life, staff at Tulalip Tribes Youth Services is working to implement the 7th Generations Mentor Program, a program specifically designed for Native American youth and open to Tulalip tribal members age 10-17. And equally as impressive, out of 565 federally-recognized tribes in the United States, the Tulalip Tribes was chosen by the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention to be one of ten recipients of the 7th Generation Mentoring Grant, which is instrumental in funding this project.

“The goal of this program is to reach out to Native American youths and guide them towards healthy lifestyle choices and to build lasting relationships between tribal youth and caring adult mentors, through group and cultural activities and on-on-one mentoring,” said Saundra Wagner, Tribal Mentoring Specialist.

Youth Service’s staff is asking for volunteers, age 18 and above, from the community to serve as mentors. These mentors are required to have a current driver’s license and a background check will be done on each individual. Mentors will also participate in a two-hour training, designed for learning about relationship building. Mentors will learn how to build confidence in Native youth through affirmation of their skills and values and to help youth understand the tribal history, culture, and value systems that have guided their people for generations.

A good mentor–mentee relationship takes time to develop, and volunteers are asked to spend at least one hour a day, twice a month, with the youth. Mentors and kids will take part in fun activities like going to the movies, shooting hoops or just hanging out and talking, and to promote Native culture, workshops such as drum making will be available. Monthly meetings with staff, mentors and mentees will be held to discuss progress, future development and weekly activity suggestions, to help sustain and strengthen mutual mentoring relationships

“Research and evidence shows that developing a strong sense of cultural identity and pride for their heritage can motivate tribal youth to make positive life choices. Our goal is to enhance the cultural identities of our tribal youth in hopes for reducing risky behaviors,” said Saundra.

Still in the early stages of the mentor program, staff is working to fill their calendars with fun, educational and cultural workshops and outings for the youth, and is open to suggestions from parents and the community.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor or if you know of a young person that might benefit from this program, contact Saundra at Saundra.wagner@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov.

“I am really excited to have the opportunity to get this program going; to see a child’s confidence and behavior change because they have a bigger sense of belonging. These youths are our future as tribal leaders, mentors, and positive members of our community,” said Saundra.


Jeannie Briones: 360-716-4188; jbriones@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Students helping students and community


Ben Lubbers faculty instructor for Northwest Indian College and Faculty advisor for the Student Wellness and Cultural Awareness Club presents the “River of Renewal” at the Hibulb Cultural Center.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle and academic achievement with the Student Wellness and Cultural Awareness Club

 Article and photo Jeannie Briones

 TULALIP, Washington-  Students and staff at Northwest Indian College (NWIC) Tulalip site are working to raise awareness about healthy living and cultural significance. A goal that led to the formation of the Student Wellness and Cultural Awareness Club (SWCA), which is essentially a support group open to all enrolled students of NWIC.

 Members of SWCA believe that by educating fellow students and community members about the benefits of a nutritious diet, paired with keeping in tune with the Native American culture and current issues that Native Americans are facing, will benefit not only their physical and spiritual well-being, but will help in decision making about the impacts they have on the environment.

 Though newly formed, the club has already shown steady progress in their endeavor. Students have planted and cultivated a garden at the NWIC Tulalip site, and plan to share the harvest of carrots, onions, sage, corn, tomatoes, peppers, and peas with the community. Encouraging attendance at the Tulalip Health Fair so students can learn the importance of maintaining routine health care check-ups is also on the agenda, as well as participating in cultural events around Tulalip. Drum making and other culturally relevant workshops are in the planning. 

 Club members are also reaching out to high school students, teaching the importance of a good education and attending college, while working to ensure that their own fellow students are getting the educational support they need.

“The main objective of SWCA is to provide students a safe environment and opportunity to learn and be able to practice their culture and instill in them it’s okay. We want to make sure that if they need help with homework that there’s a group of people they can go to make sure they get it done,” said Stephanie Spiering, student at the NIC Tulalip site. 

 Club members are asked to research films that focus on Native American political or environmental issues and share them with the community. On November 13th, members of SWCA presented a documentary film, “River of Renewal” at theTulalip Hibulb Cultural Center.

This film examines the water and wildlife crisis in the Klamath Basin, how the communities that harvest food from the basin suffered due to a lack of water to serve the needs of irrigation and fisheries alike, and how local tribes and community members came to a common ground, recognizing that economic revival could occur only if ecological vitality were restored. How leaders from different communities can work together to seek to seek a way beyond economic stagnation, and environmental disaster is the lesson that SWCA members wanted to share with the public.

“The film represents collaboration between stake holders to solve environmental conflicts and that gives us hope for the future with limited resources to work together and make sure that salmon, water, and other natural resources are shared and that tribal fishing rights are recognized, so we have enough resources for not only for tribes, but also to commercial fisherman, and farmers” said Ben Lubber, faculty instructor for Northwest Indian College and Faculty advisor for the Student Wellness and Cultural Awareness Club.

The HibulbCultureCenterwill be showing the film choices of SWCA quarterly. Please visit http://www.hibulbculturalcenter.org/ for a schedule of events. Visit www.riverofrenewal.org for more information on the “River ofRenewal” documentary.

SWCA also hosts an open mic night, held at the Tulalip Administration Building every second Friday of the month, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Community members are invited to share in an evening of poetry, singing and comedy.

SWCA is non-profit organization accepting donations for plants, supplies for cultural projects, film events, and school supplies and all enrolled students at NWIC are encouraged to join in on the club’s bi-monthly meetings held at the Tulalip site at 1:00 p.m.  For information on the Student Wellness and Cultural Awareness Club or to make a donation, contact Ben Lubbers at 425-870-0379 or visit www.nwic.edu/tulalip. The Northwest Indian College Tulalip site is located at7707 36th Ave NW,Tulalip,WA98271 .


Jeannie Briones: 360-716-4188; jbriones@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Salish Bounty exihibt opens at Tulalip

Salish Bounty: Traditional Native American Foods of Puget Sound at the Hibulb Cultural Center.

Article and photo by Jeannie Briones

TULALIP, Washington- Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center has partnered with Seattle’s Burke Museum. Salish Bounty: Traditional Native American Foods of Puget Sound exhibit is available until January 2013.

The Salish Bounty exhibit connects archaeological and historical research about thousands of years of food traditions in the Puget Sound area to current efforts to revitalize these food traditions in the region. On display at the exhibit are ancient fishing, hunting and cooking devices, historic photos and maps, actual food ingredients and videos of Coast Salish people talking about food.

Employee Assistance Program offers free counseling

Article and photo by Jeannie Briones

TULALIP, Washington- We live in a fast paced world that is growing by the minute. Our environment is hectic and stressful at times, which can make it overwhelming to manage a harmonious life. The increased pressure of balancing a career, family and other factors are burdensome and when life throws unexpected events, like a death in a family, it builds more pressure, making it harder to properly deal with grief and loss.

There are counselors available through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at the Tulalip Administration Building to all Tulalip Tribal Government employees that are having issues and need guidance.

“The primary goal and objective for EAP is to help employees resolve personal or work related problems. The goal of the EAP is to help employees with a wide range of issues that could be anything from depression, stress, anxiety, addictions, anger, marital or relationship issues, parenting issues, grief or loss, or coping with change during different life transitions,” said Lisa Kibbee-Hacker, EAP Manager.

EAP is a customized help based on the employees’ individual needs. Employees can take advantage of workshop classes that cover subjects such as effective communication skills, addressing workplace bullying, and group-managing grief and loss in the workplace. Another component to this program is that staff provides support to managers and supervisros, and facilitates mediation meetings between the employee and manager.

“If employees are having work issues, we provide referrals if there is nothing we can do,” said Jessica Talevich, EAP Counselor. “I am an art therapist. Art therapy oriented EAP is a pretty unique thing. EAP professionals who use art-making as a component in their counseling are pretty rare.”

Overall EAP is beneficial for mental health and well-being. EAP professionals provide individual assessment to work on short term problem-solving goals.

“We give them the tools to have self-empowerment and to make change,” said Lisa.

Lisa believes EAP is effective in helping people and enjoys seeing employees have a much more positive outlook.

“You see the transition from the beginning and to the final sessions; this is why we do this work,” said Lisa.

This service is at no cost to employees. Contact EAP counselor Jessica Talevich at 360-716-4488 or email jtalevich@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov, if you are interested in setting up an appointment. If you are interested in up-coming workshops, contact EAP Manager, Lisa Kibbee-Hacker at 360-716-4150 or email lisak@tulalipresort.com.


Jeannie Briones: 360-716-4188; jbriones@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov