Winning the fight against tobacco and drugs, one step at a time


Tulalip Tribal members, William McLean III, Tisha McLean, and Angela Davis show their support at the Walk Against Tobacco and Drugs.

Article and photos by Jeannie Briones

TULALIP, Washington –  Tulalip Tribal members and community members joined together on December 19th for a walk to honor loved ones lost to tobacco and drug-related illness and to support the many efforts taking place to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, and raise awareness of the health impacts of using drugs.

The first annual “Walk Against Tobacco and Drugs, ” organized by Tulalip Tribal member Tisha McLean and friends, began at the Tulalip Longhouse and spanned almost 2 miles, finishing at the Northwest Indian College Tulalip site. Despite the cold and rain, people showed their support, sending the message that they care about each other and share in the common goal of saying no to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

“I am walking, in part, for my son who is an addict. He has the same problem as a lot of tribal members. I am a spiritual person and our ancestors are walking with us and they’re thankful that somebody’s paying attention to the problem we have. It doesn’t have to be leaders; it has to be our community, our kids that are here today. Tobacco is the leading killer, it tops alcohol and drugs,” said Tulalip Tribal Board Member, Marlin Fryberg.

“It’s truly an epidemic. We all care so much for everybody in our community and want to help everyone,” echoed Tulalip Tribal Board Member, Mark Hatch.

Halfway through the walk, community members where greeted by the Tulalip Police Department, who rallied together to show their support, offering warm beverages.

Wrapping up the event at Northwest Indian College, participants took in a visual display, created by Tulalip police officers, outlining the dangers of addiction. Community members also enjoyed a light lunch, while sharing stories of family members and friends who are addicted to drugs, and the affects this has on their loved ones.

“I have dealt with it my entire life. My parents were addicts, my dad got better, but my mom is still an addict. And I have siblings that followed in their footsteps,” said Tisha, who went on to say that tribal members need to take the first step in wanting help and that people such as herself want to help them embrace a healthy lifestyle and say “no” to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use.


Jeannie Briones: 360-716-4188;

Program helps tribal members succeed in the workforce


Tulalip Tribal member Charlotte Jones is working, thanks to the tribe's Job Placement Program.
Tulalip Tribal member Charlotte Jones has steady work, thanks to the tribe’s Job Placement Program.


Article and photo by Jeannie Briones    

TULALIP, Washington – Many Native Americans who reside on the Tulalip reservation live below the poverty level. While homelessness and unemployment are still common on the reservation, help can be found at the Tulalip 477 Department, where staff is working to enhance the lives of tribal members, and increase employment opportunities.

477 is an employment, education, training and welfare program for federally recognized tribes to address economic and workforce needs in their communities. According to Tulalip’s 477 mission statement, they are seeking to empower unemployed and underemployed community tribal members; to provide a one-stop for support services; job coaching and like skill workshops that will uplift; and bring tribal members to a level of success.

Incorporating federal resources from the Department of the Interior, the Department of Labor and Health and Human Services into a comprehensive employment, education and training program, staff is working to increase tribal member’s success in the job market and gain independence, not only for them, but also for future generations. Other benefits to this support service may include financial assistance for work-related items like gas vouchers, car repair, tools and clothes.

The Tribal Job Placement Program, available through the 477 Department, offers assistance to help tribal members gain the skills for full-time employment and overcome the obstacles that may be holding them back. Some of these obstacles include the lack of a driver’s license, high school diploma or GED. In this program, case managers work closely with participants, offering positive reinforcement and creating plans for obtaining their goals and overcoming their barriers.

“We take them in and assess them to see what their barriers are. Let’s say their barriers include not having a GED. We create a plan with them and write up expectations in their plan, and they will be required to go to GED classes. If they can work, we will network with other tribal entities or departments,” explained Shirley “Dodie” Jones, Adult Service Grants Coordinator Supervisor.

Case managers offer additional support by attending their client’s interviews to help smooth the hiring process and ease their interview jitters.

Once participants are placed in a job, their wages are paid through the Job Placement Program, while they work to fulfill their goals and complete their obligations. Once these obligations are met, applicants may either remain in their current employment position or use their newly gained skills to apply elsewhere.

One success story comes from Charlotte Jones, who for the past three months has been working for Social Services through the Job Placement Program.

“When I came here [to the program], I felt like I had so many things I had to complete and I felt like I was never going to be done with my obstacles. I found someone here to listen and help, and not judge me. I have someone that stands behind me to make sure I am treated fairly,” said Charlotte. “If I didn’t get on the program, I don’t know where I would be. Everything I am doing is to get my life back on track.”

The Tulalip 477 Program is currently undergoing some changes. More training classes will offered, such as cash handling, computer training and work ethics, so participants can gain a better insight of what to expect in the workforce.

Depending on the applicant’s situation and qualifications, case managers may also outsource trainings that are offered at the Goodwill, Volunteers of America, Salvation Army and other outside services.

“We try to find job placement if we think they are ready. We will work to their schedule because we really want to get people placed in jobs,” said Shirley. “If they don’t get a livable wage job, they’re going back to poverty, and what do people do if they can’t pay their bills or buy food for their kids? Most of the time they start drinking or doing drugs.”

For more information, or to find out if you qualify for the 477 programs, email Shirley “Dodie” Jones at

Jeannie Briones: 360-716-4188;


Empowerment program for teen girls expected for 2013 school year

Tulalip Heritage High School students look forward to a new empowerment program, specifically designed for teen girls, being introduced in the 2013 school year.

Article and photo by Jeannie Briones

TULALIP, Washington – Tulalip Family Haven is working to empower adolescent Native American girls and to help prepare them spiritually, physically, socially, and emotionally for adulthood.

Alison Bowen, Family Haven Program Manager, June LaMarr, Health & Human Services Program Director and Co-Principal Director for Healthy Hearts, and Cherol Fryberg, Wraparound Coordinator, are in the developing stages for a new program for young Tulalip Tribal member girls, ages 14-17, aimed at fostering healthy living. Girls involved in the program will learn about positive life choices and building relationships with peers and adults, boosting their self-esteem and confidence and helping them through the tough transition to adulthood.

The program, which will accommodate approximately 20 girls, is designed to be an after-school venture, where three times a week girls can meet up and participate in a variety of educational and fun activities, while learning life skills.

“We are trying to focus on the positive parts of life and not necessarily talk about all the negative things that are out there, and experience ways to deal with stress, anger and things that are going to help them be successful,” said Alison.

Native American culture will be incorporated into the program, with girls learning native arts and crafts, like cedar basket making, and cooking healthy meals to share with the community.

Computer animation, photography, and writing and playing music will be taught to expand the girls’ minds and reveal hidden talents.  Girls will also learn self-protection skills, how to regulate their emotions, and reproductive healthcare.

“We are exposing them to every possible thing we can. We want them to do community work, like cleaning up the beach. We will teach them what a full life is all about, like giving back and not being afraid to experience new things,” said Cherol.

“We plan to have activities for the young women like trips to Seattle, to a play or an opera, to have them experience things that they normally don’t experience and to get off the reservation,” explained June.

Students and parents can look forward to this yet-unnamed program being available for the 2013-14 school year at HeritageHigh School.

In the meantime, Alison, June and Cherol will be working diligently on gaining information and feedback from the community to assess what types of information and topics will be best suited for this program.

Once the program is in effect, a registered nurse will be available at the high school one a day a week to address any issues or concerns the girls may have.

For more information about this upcoming program, please contact Alison Bowen at 360-716-4322 or email


Jeannie Briones: 360-716-4188;

Tulalip event encourages men to take better care of their health

Mel Sheldon, Chairman of Tulalip Tribes participated at the 4th Men’s Health Fair and gets his blood drawn to check  blood sugar levels with a Glucose Test
Tulalip Tribal Chairman Mel Sheldon gets his blood drawn, at the health fair,  to check blood sugar levels

Article and photos by Jeannie Briones

TULALIP, Washington – Men are much less likely than women to look after their health and see physicians. They’re 25 percent less likely to have visited a health-care provider in the past year, and almost 40 percent more likely to have skipped recommended cholesterol screenings, according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

In an effort to lower these statistics at Tulalip and encourage men to seek preventative care, staff at the Karen I. Fryberg Tulalip Health Clinic coordinates a yearly event for men in the community to educate and promote health awareness and importance of regular check-ups. The Annual Men’s Health Fair pulled in a large crowd of tribal members, community members, and tribal employees on December 14th.

“This is the fourth year for our men’s health fair. We really wanted to touch base with our men to get them to take care of their health; it is so hard to get them in here for their annual visits. We provide prostate screenings, cholesterol screenings, diabetes checks, blood pressure checks, and dental screens,” said Jennie Fryberg, Health Informatics Manager for the clinic.

This fair is an excellent place for men to ask providers questions or concerns they may have to ensure wellness and general good health. The Tulalip clinic is working to get the word out that early intervention can make a huge difference when it comes to health and to stress. Some, like Tulalip Tribal Chairman, Mel Sheldon, Jr. have found the fair to be beneficial for early detection of cancer.

“I am so grateful that we are having this wellness fair for men. I encourage all our tribal men to participate in this annual health fair. It was but a few years ago that I came to one myself.  I took a blood test and my PSA was high.  I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and if it hadn’t been for the health fair, and the fact that we were able to catch it early enough, who knows what would have happened. What I learned from that experience was to come to the health fairs and take the tests they offer, because if you catch anything early enough, it’s usually treatable,” said Mel.

A number of informative booths at the fair, providing resources on topics that impact men’s health, such as nutrition, mental wellness, fitness, and flu shots were well received by community members.

“I am visiting to get information about nutrition. I’m thinking about changing my eating habits and getting back in shape,” said Tulalip Tribal member, Joseph Williams.

“What is so special about this health fair is that the men are the role models; they are the examples for the family. The more they learn about health, the more they can teach their children and can encourage their wives. They show leadership by taking care of their health,” said Veronica Leahy, Diabetes Prevention Coordinator.

Included in this successful day of men taking charge of their own health, is the raffle. Attendees that visited a minimum of 17 informational booths were entered into the raffle. Prizes like ab weights and even a chainsaw were up for grabs.


Jeannie Briones: 360-716-4188;