Mindful Movements: Yoga for Elders

Tulalip elder, Marvin Jones is learning the many health benefits of yoga.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Originally introduced to the world centuries ago, the practice of yoga continues to uplift the spirit, sharpen minds and improve the overall health of millions to this day. Whether you’re a beginner practicing stretches such as the downward dog or a master yogi who can easily flow into a firefly pose, you are more than likely experiencing the endless benefits of yoga. Those who practice yoga often see a number of physical and spiritual improvements such as flexibility, anxiety relief, injury recovery, and muscle and bone strength as well as a strong sense of balance of the mind, body and soul.

One of the many great things about yoga is the fact that anybody can take it up, no matter where you’re at in terms of your own personal journey and fitness level.  Over recent decades, the ancient art of exercise, discipline and mediation has become a popular go-to workout as many yoga classes are held throughout various local gyms and available to stream online on platforms such as YouTube and Glo.com. The majority of avid yogis range in age between their early-twenties to mid-forties, however, new studies are encouraging individuals of the older generations to join in on the fun and incorporate a little yoga and meditation routine into their daily lives. 

“Yoga’s such a good experience. Most people are scared to try something new, but I can guarantee if you try this, you will probably like it – a lot,” expressed Tulalip elder, Marvin Jones. “I did yoga once and now I think everybody should try it out. When we get up there in age, we need to do something, some form of exercise. This could prolong your life because it gets you moving and it’s better than just sitting around watching TV. You can do it at home, you can do it anywhere.”

Marvin is the first student of a new program called Mindful Movements brought to Tulalip by the SNAP-Ed and the Diabetes Care and Prevention programs. On the morning of February 19, Marvin sat in a circle and carefully followed the instruction of Autumn Walker, Diabetes Care and Prevention volunteer, who guided the class through an hour long yoga session. Autumn encouraged Marvin to try new poses but also to know his own personal limits as they focused their attention on breathing techniques and gentle stretches. 

“The intention teaching this class is to provide a space where people can take care of themselves and have some thoughtful reflections on what works for them, both with their mind and with their body,” Autumn explained. “There’s a lot of benefits to yoga and meditation. A lot of our lives are filled and busy, so setting aside some time where we can be quiet and focus on our wellness is beneficial. We can really find some movement and warmth with the stretching of the muscles, which can ease any pain people have with their joints and really facilitate flexibility of joints over time. If these motions and activities are practiced regularly, they can promote good circulation as well as the healing and wellness of the joints and muscles of the body.”

The first of many gatherings, Mindful Movements is held every Tuesday and is catered to the local elders of the community. Throughout the majority of the class, the students are in a seated position as they delicately flow through each pose for a relaxing exercise. A visible smile that seemed to indicate relaxation and ease grew wider and spread across Marvin’s face the further the class progressed. 

“I liked sitting in the chair, I found it a lot easier,” he said. “It’s great for people that can’t stand too long. My left leg is weaker and sometimes I can stand long periods and other times I can’t. If I can sit down and do it, it makes it a whole lot easier because I know I won’t fall. Today I was able to work on my neck, back and shoulders – that’s my main concern because I have weak shoulders. I noticed I got a little sore but that’s a good thing. It goes away after a little bit and you’ll get used to it because exercise helps make you stronger.”

According to many experienced yogis, yoga is absolutely safe for the older generations. Not only does yoga help elders with balance, mobility, heart health and strengthen the respiratory system and blood circulation, it can also relieve stress, inflammation and pain as well as lower blood sugar levels for those living with diabetes. 

After experiencing the benefits of yoga at a few of the Diabetes Care and Prevention Garden Day events, the elders began requesting a class of their own at the Senior Center. SNAP-Ed and the Diabetes program recruited Autumn, who also led the Garden Day sessions, to teach the initial classes of Mindful Movements. After a few months, Autumn will pass the baton to SNAP-Ed Nutritionist AnneCherise Jensen who will take over instructing duties. Originally scheduled to start at the beginning of February, Mindful Movements grew a lot of anticipation from local elders but unfortunately due to the recent snow storms, the first two classes were canceled. AnneCherise extends a friendly reminder that the classes are still occurring and invites the community to participate. 

“The elders inspired us as well as the whole aspect of wellness,” AnneCherise stated. “So bring your aunties, grandparents, anybody who is looking for a spark of motivation to stay active and feel good. We welcome everybody. It’s suitable for all fitness levels and ages. If you have any injuries or disabilities, we’re able to work around it, we work with everybody’s needs.”

Autumn adds, “We really want the class to be accessible for everybody to come and participate in the parts that work for them and to leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated as well as with a new curiosity about how their bodies operate and what they’re able to do with them. They can take some of these stretching exercises home and incorporate them into their everyday lives. We want people to leave feeling empowered, like yes, I can participate in this program that’s good for my wellness and yes, I found some physical activities that work for me.”

Mindful Movements is held every Tuesday at the Dining Hall between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. For further details, please contact SNAP-Ed at (360) 716-5632 or the Diabetes program at (360) 716-5642.

Tulalip Health Fair and Career Expo

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic hosted their Annual Health Fair on July 28 in the Chinook Ballroom of the Tulalip Resort and Casino. Numerous departments from the Health Clinic and the Tulalip Tribes had interactive information booths stationed at the event including the Diabetes and Wellness programs, SNAP-Ed, Child Advocacy and the Everett Optometry Clinic. The Health Clinic also provided free screenings for diabetes and high blood pressure to the community at the Health Fair.

“We’ve been doing this for many years,” explains Jennie Fryberg, Health Fair Organizer. “Karen Fryberg started this and I’m just trying to keep her dream alive. We brought in several departments; all of the booths that are here today are services that the Tulalip Tribes offer. We wanted to let our people know that these are the services that can help with preventive health.”

Across the hall in the Orca Ballroom of the Resort, Tulalip TERO (Tribal Employment Rights Office) held a Career Expo where community members seeking employment opportunities met representatives from local colleges and businesses such as Cabela’s, DigiPen Institute, Evergreen State College and Everett Community College Aviation. Tulalip also had many representatives from various departments and entities available to the speak with the community, including the Tulalip Administration CSR team, Tulalip Tribes Planning, Quil Ceda Village and Tulalip Resort and Casino Employment.

Tulalip and Marysville community members were encouraged to attend both events and were treated to an outdoor lunch on a beautiful summer afternoon. Many community members who attended the Health Fair and the Career Expo received free swag, sang carpool karaoke and had the opportunity to win summertime-themed prizes such as a Seahawks cooler, a lawnmower, a freezer chest and an air conditioner.



Get Your Walk On

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The Tulalip Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, or SNAP-Ed for short, is making strong efforts to promote healthy lifestyle choices in the Tulalip community.  SNAP-Ed teaches about the importance of good nutrition and exercise, alternating between live cooking demonstrations and guided workout regimens each week for Wellness Wednesdays at the Tulalip Administration Building.

Wellness Wednesday is popular amongst Tribal employees as the program has many participants who attend on a regular basis. However, SNAP-Ed is looking to expand their services to Tulalip community members who may not work for the Tribe as well as for those who aren’t able to make it to the Administration Building on Wednesdays. In an effort to reach more community members, SNAP-Ed recently created the Tulalip Tribes Walking Club and held the first community walk on July 11.

“We are implementing the Waking Club to start at a low impact level to get tribal members and community members to be more fit, get outside and be more involved in physical activities,” explains SNAP-Ed Assistant, Traci Fox. “We want to start a community within the community, for physical fitness, so that people feel like they have support and have other people they can talk to about their journey through physical fitness.”

The Walking Club will host one to two sessions per week and the locations will vary between the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic and Tulalip Administration Building as well as other areas throughout the community. Walking Club members are awarded with incentives for their efforts and also have the chance to win prizes at the end of each fifteen to thirty minute walking sessions.

“We’re trying to reach a larger demographic and make sure that all tribal people and everyone in the tribal community can be involved in physical activity and can learn to eat better to have a healthy lifestyle,” Traci states.

For further details about joining the Tulalip Walking Club please contact the SNAP-Ed program at (360) 716-4899.

Local Apothecary Focuses on Traditional Healing

By Kim Kalliber, Tulalip News



 “We were created out of the earth. Well, we’re part of the earth, and that’s what we’ve got to go back to, the earth, to get something to keep this body a-ticking. Just like the tree, of course, and the herbs here, they’ve got sap in em, and we’ve got blood.”

–Tommie Bass (Appalachian Folk Herbalist)

With the current upsurge of gardening, homesteading and eating traditional and homegrown foods, visiting places like Moddejonge’s Herbals and Other Magical Things, with their extensive knowledge for treating ailments the natural way, is a must-do experience. The aromatic blend of spices, oils, and incense, surrounded by the many jars containing teas and powders along one wall, give the place an overall feel that sets you at ease upon entry.

Located on Hewitt Avenue in downtown Everett, owner Lynn Moddejonge and her knowledgeable staff are there to greet you and offer information, recommendations, remedies and even samples of the day’s tea blend.

“We’ve got over 350 herbs here that are mostly medicinal. We also have magical and cooking herbs, though all the herbs kind of travel between all three genres,” said Lynn. “We’ve got a lot of medicine that is local, like yarrow and St. John’s wort.”

While having heard of the popular St. John’s wort, many folks may not be as familiar with yarrow. Found in the wild throughout the northern hemisphere, yarrow is a member of the sunflower family. Many people use yarrow in teas and tinctures to shorten the duration of colds and flus, as well as relieving cramps, and rashes. Yarrow and mint tea can help ease allergy symptoms.

“I am a folk herbalist. I am not a doctor, I do not diagnose,” explained Lynn. Herbalism is the study of botany and uses plants and foods for healing and for building and maintaining good health.

“We’re a compounding apothecary. All of our herbs are organic or wild-crafted,” said Lynn. “If someone comes in and says, this is the trouble I’m having, we will put something together for you on an individual basis.” She went on to explain that if people keep coming in with the same problem or symptoms, she then mixes larger batches of the medicine to have on hand.

Lynn Moddejonge, owner of Moddejonge’s Herbals and Other Magical Things

Other highlights of Moddejonge’s are not only the evening workshops they offer, but also the socializing and collaboration between the staff and patrons. It’s a place to swap recipes and discuss tea blends, infusions and tinctures with other folks. “After coming in a couple times, a lot of our customers feel part ownership. And they are very willing to share and hold conversations about their outcomes.”

You can even bring your own ingredients in to be made into a tea or tincture or purchase only the necessary items to use at home. All bulk items are sold by the ounce and shoppers are encouraged bring their own bottles in, as Moddejonge’s is working towards a zero environmental footprint.

I inquired about bringing my own bee honey into the shop to get something made up and Lynn encouraged me to do so, noting the health benefits of honey. “It is a very good way to take medicine. If you infuse honey with something like elderberry, an immune builder, it builds on the immune building properties of the honey. And I can help you with that.”

Among the large selection of in-house crafted essential oils, soaps and other bath and body products, you can even find calming mists and flea medications for your pets, along with mosquito repellants and other summertime essentials.

Lynn makes all the ritual items in the shop herself, as she explains, “That way I know the intent is what it’s supposed to be, as opposed to buying items online. And the herbs we have for ritual include cedar, white sage and sweet grass.”

If you are looking to conduct a house cleansing, she says, “Right off the top, everybody should smudge when they move in because of the previous owner’s energy, and that kind of moves it all out. People smudge differently so we can talk about that and if they’ve never done it before I sit down and say, this is how I do it. We share; there is a lot of sharing here.”

Many folks turn to psychics for an analysis of overall health or lifestyle related questions or situations. Lynn can also help with finding a medium, to aid with grieving, relationship connections, healing and communicating with angels.

“This is an old area and there are a lot of spirits here. If you’ve got spirits visiting you, we can help with that. We offer energy work and readings here and we have contacts with mediums if you are in need. We offer health screenings. There’s a lot of medicine here; spiritual medicine as well as physical medicine.”

While cold and allergy relief are big sellers at Moddejonges, Lynn points out, “Our top product is information. And that’s for free.”

Moddejonge’s Herbals is located at 1905 Hewitt Ave, Everett, WA 98201. You can also follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/magickandmore/



Promoting overall wellness for our youth

Article by Micheal Rios; photos by Micheal Rios and courtesy of Sarah Sense-Wilson

Promoting the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of today’s youth, especially teenagers, is largely a labor of love. It’s difficult enough getting them to give their social media accounts a break, put their cellphones away, and actually focus on educational activities, let alone holding their attention long enough to get them to interact in a group setting. Yet, it is in the commitment to our youth, to their well-being and personal growth that brings about positive changes in lifestyle, relationships, and overall wellness.

Enter the Tulalip Tribes 5th Annual Wellness Conference and its dedicated day, May 16, to promoting overall wellness to our community’s youth.

“Our youth flourish when provided guidance, tools, resources, and encouragement. They thrive when we set good examples of self-care, and live by example. Our individual and collective actions are always far more meaningful and impactful when we are embracing challenges, and having an open mind for learning and taking the time to nurture healthy relationships,” eloquently states Sarah Sense-Wilson, Wellness Conference Coordinator. “I believe our conference really embodies these values and the presenters and workshop leaders exemplify traditional and cultural values we want our children and youth to follow.”

Approximately 90 students from Heritage High School, Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Totem Middle School, and Marysville Middle School were shuttled to the event hosted within the Tulalip Resort Casino’s Orca ballroom. The adolescent youth were treated to a large and healthy buffet-style breakfast after filling out their registration cards and putting on a name tag. As they settled in keynote speaker Layha Spoonhunter (Eastern Shoshone, Northern Arapaho, Oglala Lakota) took center stage.

Layha is a youth consultant, motivational speaker, Two Spirit Native citizen, and vocal advocate for Two Spirit people. He provided honest, open and engaging discussion on LGBTQI (a common abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersexed community), Two Spirit, and Allyship advocacy.

Layha describes Two Spirit as a “person who has both masculine and feminine identities.” He says it is a spiritual term that encompasses Native culture, language and history. His expertise and experience as a youth spokesperson and advocate for Native youth empowerment bridges differences and strengthens relationships among groups of community members. Layha offered his story as an example for other young LGBTQI and Two Spirit individuals to express themselves and embrace their identities.

“Build an environment of fairness and openness within your community. Stand up against stereotypes and racism. Stand up against bigotry and discrimination,” resounded Layha to his largely youth audience. “Take pride in your identity and use it to make positive change.”

Following the keynote address, the youth were given the choice of three interactive and experiential based workshops to attend. The three diverse workshop presenters were specifically chosen for their ability to reach our Native youth in a variety of ways.

Credentialed Native American mental health specialist and award-winning artist LisaNa Red Bear offered her workshop attendees the opportunity to create a mural art project. Participants engaged in three experiential learning art exercises that support a better understanding of complications associated with smoking. The hands-on creative art project was a hit, as the Native youth’s artistic abilities shined.

“We see an amazing level of creativity expressed by youth who engage in artistic activities. When they allow themselves to imagine and sit still long enough to allow that creativity to flow through them, the results can be awe-inspiring,” reflects LisaNa on the impact of her art mural workshop. “Young people have creativity inside them, innately, and it just depends on whether or not it’s nurtured or repressed.”

Grammy award-winning artist Star Nayea led a Project R.I.S.E Up workshop. She empowered the youth to create video vision statements that involved creating handheld signage decorated with personalized cultural artwork. Participants then took turns filming their own P.S.A. style videos. Star’s unique ability to reach youth and engage them in expressing their ideas, thoughts and feelings led to some amazing video production both individually and collectively. The youth offered messages of hope, vision and inspiration for believing in yourself and living a drug free life.

“Kids just want to know that we, as adults and teachers, are legit. They want to know that we are there for all the right reasons, that we care about them, and that they can thrive from the knowledge and experience we offer,” says Star. “It’s so important for their voices to be heard and for their faces to be seen as they speak the words. It’s one thing to have thoughts and a whole other thing to rise up and share those thoughts, to inspire. In making the P.S.A. videos they help to inspire one another and their community.”

The third workshop option was called In the Spirit of the Story. The tradition of storytelling is a way of passing down, teaching vital lessons, and of course entertainment with a purpose. Gene Tagaban (Tlingit) is an incredibly skillful, knowledgeable and talented storyteller who led this workshop. Using story as a medium for empowerment and self-expression, Gene connected with participants in a deep and meaningful way which transcends all generational differences. The power of storytelling was illuminated through his interactive workshop as a tool for teaching, healing and growing.

“Offering our youth a range of different interactive workshops was intentional and purposeful. We are always wanting to reach our youth for supporting their interests and appeal to their generational issues,” explains Sarah on the importance of workshop variety when working with youth. “Community wellness requires positive action, not passive existence. Some have to work harder because we are up against more barriers, walls, and obstacles. Nonetheless, we have a responsibility to ourselves, our youth, and our community to strive to do better and be better.”

Concluding the youth wellness day was a very special Native Hoop Dance

performance by Tulalip tribal member Terry Goedell. Several youth were brave enough to join Terry on stage and receive a tutorial on hoop dancing basics.

There’s a popular saying in Native communities, “be careful in the decisions we make today as they will impact the 7th generation – our grandchildren’s grandchildren, grandchildren.” Respect for this wisdom continues to guide events like the annual Wellness Conference, where a commitment to preparing Native youth for a brighter future is on full display.

Family Voices: Building Support to Achieve Goals

Family Voices facilitators Ashley Tiedeman and Sasha Smith.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Family Haven recently introduced a new program to the Tulalip community known as Family Voices. The program implements the WrapAround process while catering to Tulalip youth and families. Initially introduced nationwide in the 1980’s, WrapAround is a four-phase process that helps struggling individuals and families set, define and achieve personal goals by setting up proper support systems, or teams. These teams consist of two types of support, natural support (friends and family) and professional support (counselors and/or therapists), who work together to ensure clients remain steadfast on achieving their goals and also that the entire team is on the same page, much like a multidisciplinary team.

Family Voices is open to all tribal members from the Tulalip community and works primarily with youth facing adversity, around the age of thirteen and older, who are in the system or are frequently truant from school; as well as families who are looking to reconnect, heal and rebuild together.

The program empowers their clients by allowing them to create their own team, comprised of the various trusted members who will assist them throughout the process, such as beda?chelh caseworkers, school counselors, coaches, friends, parents and siblings. By creating a team, the client is held accountable and has the ability to consolidate multiple meetings, which would normally be held on various days throughout each week, into a few meetings per month. The meetings allow the support team an opportunity to find ways each member can assist the client achieve their goals and meet deadlines as well as continue to promote positive vibes and encouragement.

Family Voices facilitators, Sasha Smith and Ashley Tiedeman, explain that the program focuses on the client’s interests and strengths while setting goals. For example, if a client is interested in art or music, the facilitators encourage them to use their creativity as a tool or outlet to reach their ambitions.

“That’s what our position is – to bring everyone together but also make sure the client is getting listened to and that their voice is the one leading the WrapAround process,” said Ashley. “The really cool thing is, especially for clients who are working with multiple programs, they often have people telling them what they need to do. Family Voices is the exact opposite of that. We ask, ‘what does the client want in their life?’  Then we bring in all these people that are saying what they can and cannot do. And often for the first time, they get to listen to the client’s needs, allowing us to meet half way and get things done, but still make sure it’s done with the client’s say-so and make sure it is getting done their way. Because it can be tough having people tell you what to do all the time.”

The program’s length varies as the WrapAround process is client-driven and based on the individual’s goals and needs. Clients typically utilize the program until their personal goal is met. Currently Family Voices has clients on WrapAround plans from nine months up to three years. The team meets on a regular basis, wherever the client is most comfortable such as schools, homes and even Starbucks – initially around twice a week, switching to monthly meetings around six months into the process.

Sasha states, “We are here to guide rather than tell [the client] what to do and make sure they are being heard and supported.”

For additional information about the program please contact the Family Voices Facilitators Sasha Smith (360) 716-4404 or Ashley Tiedeman (360) 716-5719.

Empowering Native youth for health careers


By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Native doctors, nurses and dentists are greatly needed throughout Indian Country. The Association of American Medical College released a study showing that since the early 2000’s, the number of Native American students entering the medical field has decreased significantly. Currently, about 150 Native students begin pursuing a healthcare profession annually. Ten short years ago that average was 470. Meanwhile, tribal members nationwide continue to struggle with health issues, namely diabetes and heart disease.

In participation with the University of Washington School of Dentistry, the Tulalip Tribes hosted ‘Empowering the Youth for Health Careers’ Potlatch. The January 14 event provided the youth of the Tulalip community information, hands-on experience and advice for college preparation for those interested in pursuing a career in healthcare.

“We want to ensure that when anybody, youth to elders, walks into a clinic and they are in need of help, we can provide them with an alternative to what comes in a pill bottle,” stated Mohawk tribal member, Dr. Terry Maresca. During a live demonstration, Dr. Maresca used mixed berries, honey and various plants such as sassafras to make a traditional home remedy for the average cold. She spoke of the importance of using traditional teachings in the modern medical industry.



Dr. Jason Deen of the Blackfeet Tribe is a UW alumnus and Pediatric Cardiologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Dr. Deen spoke about his personal experience, from college to his current position, in the professional healthcare world. Dr. Deen then advised the youth on the steps needed to take in order to be well-prepared for college.

The event included hands-on learning where participants, using bananas, learned the suturing technique dentists use when their patients need stitches. Representatives from local colleges including Everett Community, Shoreline Community, and Bellingham Technical were in attendance and provided information about the programs their schools offer, respectively.


The UW School of Dentistry hosts a free summer program that provides resources and information for Native American, African American and Latino American students interested in the medical field. For more information on their summer and upcoming programs, visit www.shpep.org

Promoting Men’s Health


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Early detection is key for the treatment of heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, and many other diseases that disproportionately affect men. However, men are less likely to seek preventative care than women. Despite growing awareness, men usually take a back seat approach to maintaining their health. We will shy away from seeking advice, delaying possible treatment and/or waiting until symptoms become so bad we have no other option but to seek medical attention. To make matters worse, we refuse to participate in the simple and harmless pursuit of undergoing annual screenings.

Enter the Annual Men’s Health Fair held at the Karen I. Fryberg Tulalip Health Clinic on Friday, December 16. This year’s health fair provided us men the opportunity to become more aware of our own health. With various health screenings being offered for the low, low price of FREE, we were able to get in the driver’s seat and take charge of our own health. Blood sugar, cholesterol, and prostate screenings were among the options for men to participate in. Along with all the preventative health benefits of participating in these screenings, as if that was not reason enough, they gave out numerous goodies and a complimentary “Indian taco” lunch to every man who showed up to take charge of his health.

At 16.1 percent, Native Americans have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among all U.S. racial and ethnic groups. Also, Native Americans are 2.2 times more likely to have diabetes compared with non-Hispanic whites (per Diabetes.org). Clearly we are at a greater risk when it comes to diabetes, making it all more crucial to have glucose testing and diabetes screenings performed on an annual basis. For those men who attended the health fair, they were able to quickly have their glucose (blood sugar) tested with just a prick of the finger.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the first and stroke the sixth leading cause of death among Native Americans. High blood pressure is a precursor to possible heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure is also very easily detected by having routine checks of your blood pressure taken periodically.



Representatives from Health First Chiropractic, the Marysville branch, were on hand as well to offer a free posture analysis. Using a spinal analysis machine, the patient advocate conducted postural exams on a number of men and reviewed the results with each participant. Good posture can help you exercise more safely and achieve better general health. When you sit or stand correctly, your organs will be better aligned, which reduces indigestion and helps your lungs to function at full capacity. Your core muscles will be strengthened and your back and shoulders will feel more comfortable.

Along with the various health screenings being offered there were information booths available that ranged from alternative health care options in the local area, ways to have cleaner air in your home, and methods to change eating habits to live a heathier lifestyle. There was a booth where we could have our grip tested, a method used for assessing joint and muscle fatigue. Another booth offered us the opportunity to have our BMI (body mass index) and body fat percentage measured. Wondered if you need to cut back on those weekend treats? Or if you need to start leading a more active lifestyle? Well if that BMI was too high and you didn’t like what your body fat percentage was, now you know the answer.



Face it, as we get older, we all need to become more aware of the inevitable health concerns that may one day affect us. The possibility of having to deal with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or the possibility of prostate cancer looms over us all. The only way to avoid such health concerns to heighten our awareness of these preventable conditions. Health educators empower us to be more proactive about our health by getting annual screenings, detecting issues early, as well as seeking medical treatment before a simple, treatable issue becomes life altering.

At the conclusion of the Men’s Health Fair, Jennie Fryberg, Health Information Manager, said the following, “I’d like to personally thank all the men that came out and participated in the men’s health fair today! Way to come and take care of your health, men.”


New year brings new spin on justice to Tulalip

Wellness Court aims to give people the support they need to be successful 


Tulalip’s Chief Judge, Ron Whitener, speaks with community members at the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center on the benefits of the Wellness Court versus traditional court.
Tulalip’s Chief Judge, Ron Whitener, speaks with community members at the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center on the benefits of the Wellness Court versus traditional court.


By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 


On the first day of 2017, the Tulalip Tribes will begin to heal the community using a new approach to addiction and the court system, the Wellness Court. The philosophy behind the new court system is that by treating addiction as a disease and not a crime, the victim will have an opportunity to take advantages of resources such as counseling and treatment. Therefore, providing addicts the opportunity to slowly and comfortably transition from a habit-led life to a new life where they can begin take control back.

“This has been a long time coming and we’re very grateful for everyone coming together. It shows courage when you come together as a community and you want change. You want to help people instead of throwing them in jail. We know as Indian People that there’s a better way to help our people, a better way to help them find their journey,” stated Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon.

It has been said by numerous officials that the nation is seeing the worst drug epidemic since crack cocaine  ruled the drug scene in the 1980’s. Specifically in the state of Washington, heroin and opioids are tearing families apart and are the cause of about 30% of the state’s deaths. In Native America, those numbers are a lot worse. The Tulalip Tribes alone sees 13 times more losses due to the drug epidemic.

Tulalip Board member Les Parks serves on the committee for the Wellness Court and has been very active in getting the system up and running.

He says, “The Wellness Court concept is not new to this country. It’s been around for a long time, back then it was known as drug court. But this program is a completely different animal than the drug courts of the old days. We are adopting this new philosophy of love by wrapping our arms around our people who need us.”

Les explained that the current court system is failing when it comes to helping the people from the Tulalip area who are addicts.

“The addiction in our community is rampant and [the majority] of the people that are coming through the courts are because of crimes that are related to their addiction. We’re just recycling people. You can’t just put them in jail and expect them to get better. They do their crime, go to court, then to jail. They get out and repeat their crimes and it keeps going over and over until it’s too late. What we’re doing is not working,” Les urged.

In most cases an individual can spend anywhere from two days to six months in jail. Tulalip’s Chief Judge, Ron Whitener, stated that the jail time is not a factor in the recovery process for most addicts, and holding a person who is battling addiction in jail for six months is not cost efficient. The end result for a user fresh out of jail remains the same, they will relapse and sadly, this is when many people overdose.

For this reason, the Wellness Court’s average jail time will be two days. After the individual is released, the Wellness Program is immediately put into effect. Judge Whitener explained the difference between the traditional court system and the Wellness Court.

In traditional court, the judge remains neutral and enforces jail time. At the Wellness Court, the judge is extremely interactive and rewards positive behavior and takes the time to talk to an addict who is struggling, helping them stay on their path to sobriety.

The Wellness Court is a two-year program that will assist users by providing resources and encouragement. Resources include access to counselors in behavioral health, mental health and chemical dependency, as well as overall health care. Another service Wellness Court offers is advisement for education, job placement, and housing.

Judge Whitener states the epidemic is requiring nationwide change and that the process has to adapt to the needs of today’s society. “The courts are now moving away from the old way of business. It was this idea that when people choose to commit crimes, the way you deter them from committing more crimes is by throwing them behind bars. What we are now finding is the reason they are committing crimes is because of an addiction. They’re either trying to get money to be able to pay for the drug or they’re doing something like driving a motor vehicle while impaired by the drug,” he explains.


“By breaking the cycle we can save one of our young people that’s an addict. We can’t keep sending them to jail and giving up on them. They need us.  We can’t give up on them.”

– Marie Zackuse, Tulalip Tribes Board of Director


Chief Carlos Echevarria also serves on the council for the Wellness Court and has been working tirelessly to find a resolution for his people. He explained the heartbreaking reality that his team sees every day, addicted members of his community that have burned all their bridges with friends and family, now have nowhere to turn.

The Chief stated, “One of the most horrific things my officers have to deal with on a regular basis is when they come into contact with one of our members who has an outstanding warrant and is addicted. The jail refuses them because they are full. We attempt to reach out to their family members for additional resources for them and, because of strained relationships caused by the drugs, there aren’t any. We have to watch them walk out of our police department. It’s the absolute worst thing. We don’t know what’s going to happen to them as they leave our custody and head back to the streets. This program allows us to use a number of new resources to help those individuals and get them on the right path. We need to starve the addiction and through this program we can. Recovery is contagious.”

Katie Lancaster-Jones shared her experience with the Snohomish County Drug Court located in Everett. Katie became addicted at age 12. Her drug of choice was Meth. After being in and out of the court system, she realized that the system was not working for her. She desperately wanted to become clean so she attended the 21-month long drug court program and has been clean ever since.

“Drug court saved my life. It taught me structure. Now I am a Northwest Indian College Graduate. I am clean! And most importantly my two kids are happy and healthy,” expressed Katie.

During the month of October, the Tulalip Tribes is hosting a series of community meetings explaining in further detail, and answering all of your questions throughout the Tulalip Community. The remaining meetings will be held on Wednesday October 19 at the Tulalip Gym at 5:00 p.m. and on Wednesday October 26 at the Kenny Moses Building at 5:00 p.m. For additional information be sure to attend one of the upcoming community meetings.

Tulalip Board of Directors member Marie Zackuse urged her community to take action stating, “By breaking the cycle we can save one of our young people that’s an addict. We can’t keep sending them to jail and giving up on them, they need us. We can’t give up on them.”



Contact Kalvin Valdillez, kvaldillez@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Merging programs to benefit the community

By Kalvin Valdillez

The Tulalip Caregiver Program has recently moved from the Health Clinic to the Senior Center. The move is part of a merge between the Tulalip Elder/Vulnerable Adult Protection Department and the Tulalip Caregiver Program. The joining of the two will provide more efficient and convenient care for their clients.

“The move just seemed like a good fit,” explained Tulalip Elder Protection Manger, Cara McCoy. “Having the two departments housed together will better service the community.”

Aside from location convenience, the merge offers numerous advantages for those in need of assistance. The department is working closely with two caregiving agencies to ensure that cultural needs are met and respected by their team members. The department also recruits and encourages tribal members to become paid certified caregivers, giving them an opportunity to help their fellow community members who are in need of assistance.

“We want to be culturally sensitive and listen to the concerns that everybody has, and address those concerns because we want our people to be able to stay home and get the care they need so they can be with their families,” stated Cara.

The new unified department services close to 90 patients, ages 18 and over, within Snohomish County. With the two programs successfully merging, the next step for the department is managing the supplemental supply for their patients.

Cara states, “Currently, we are in the process of taking over the medicinal supplies. We are learning how to properly store and distribute as well as creating a policy so everybody has an opportunity to get the supplies they need.”

She believes her new crew shares the same goal of taking care of the Tulalip community, “We are all tribal members in the department. I think that we have a unique perspective, we’re thinking of how we can best support our people long-term.”

For more information about the Tulalip Elder Protection Department contact (360) 716-4689.