Nourishing Culture: A peek inside Tulalip’s food sovereignty kitchen

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

In a transformative and visionary step towards reclaiming their ancestral culinary traditions, the Tulalip Northwest Indian College (NWIC) recently unveiled the groundbreaking Tulalip Food Sovereignty Presentation Kitchen. This innovative kitchen space, formerly a conventional classroom, symbolizes cultural revival and health empowerment. The soft opening event on Friday, November 3, was nothing short of a culinary journey, inviting the community to savor the flavors of Indigenous cuisine while unraveling the profound concept of food sovereignty. Step inside this unique kitchen and discover how it’s poised to revolutionize the relationship between tradition, health, and community.

The newly renovated space has undergone a remarkable metamorphosis, evolving from a mundane classroom into a welcoming haven of culinary exploration. With an expansive, open kitchen at its heart, it beckons onlookers and perhaps even a camera crew to witness the intricate process of preparing Indigenous foods. The kitchen’s primary mission is to serve as an educational hub where students can immerse themselves in traditional food preparation. It’s a place where the rich heritage of Indigenous cuisine is brought to life, instilling in the next generation the knowledge and skills necessary to honor and preserve their culinary traditions.

“I grew up in a fishing and hunting family, and I didn’t know that I was already practicing food sovereignty,” said NWIC teacher, Linzie Crofoot. “Our food kept us a healthy community. Food sovereignty is about community health; our traditional foods and medicines and their direct ties with resource management. Traditionally, we have been the gatherers, hunters, and fishermen responsible for tending the land and keeping it healthy and our people healthy.”

Linzie continued, “When I am teaching Native Environmental Science, and I am teaching about our native plants, I am incorporating tribal health into it. I am incorporating our traditional values into it. That’s how I plan on using this kitchen; as a gatherer and a Native Environmental Scientist, I want people out on the land to be restored to their natural role on the land, and then be able to come back here and make meaningful relationships with each other and the community through food. That is how we have always built community. There’s nothing more traditional than feeding each other and coming together to make food.”

After the meal, Linzie demonstrated how to make a sweetgrass lemonade and started by creating a simple syrup. A mixture of sweetgrass water and sugar boiled create a tasty syrup that can be stirred into the lemonade. The goal of the demonstration was to show that you can start small with your introduction to a more native plant diet by creating one ingredient and building off that. 

“When we tell people they need to eat traditional foods, they don’t know where to begin and get overwhelmed. They think they must be a gatherer or a hunter, or they need access to a bunch of land, and then they freeze and continue to eat all the same Western foods they have been eating their whole life. I want to incorporate easy things that you can do in your everyday lives. So, start with one cup of tea a month and sweeten it with a native plant, then work your way up. And don’t feel guilty about it,” said Linzie.

“This is the first tribal sovereignty kitchen in the nation,” said Colette Kieth, NWIC site manager. “The primary goal is that students understand what food sovereignty is and what tribal food sovereignty is and use our traditional foods. I also wanted a place where our students could have a camera-ready place for great presentations, like on Instagram and Facebook. I want our students to feel what it was like to work in a nice kitchen.”

The Tulalip Food Sovereignty Presentation Kitchen will have its grand opening in May, where students can create in the kitchen. Registration for winter classes opened on Monday, November 6th. To learn more about NWIC, visit

She Got Game: Women Tribal Members Featured in College Hoops Matchup

Tulalip tribal members Adiya Jones (left) and Kanoa Enick (right) are matched up for the first time as collegiate adversaries.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

They’ve grown up together on the Tulalip Reservation playing more games of rez ball than can be remembered. Years and years of dribbling, rebounding, and hearing the net swish has created countless memories on the hardwood, but an all-new memory was created for Tulalip tribal members Adiya Jones and Kanoa Enick when they matched up for the first time as collegiate adversaries.

In her second year playing for Skagit Valley Community College, Adiya has stepped up and taken the reigns as the team’s unquestioned leader. She is the primary playmaker on offense while also anchoring the team’s defense.

“Adiya is our best player and there’s a reason why. She has a high basketball I.Q., she’s so smooth with the ball, has a great shooting touch, and she’s a willing passer; making her a tremendous asset to our team,” beams Steve Epperson, Skagit’s Athletic Director and Women’s Basketball Coach. “Over the last few games she’s rebounded the heck out of the basketball as well.

“I’m really proud of her as a student, too, because she’s doing really well in school and making great progress towards her degree.”

Meanwhile, Kanoa recently decided to test her medal at Northwest Indian College (NWIC) by enrolling in Winter quarter. Her appetite for getting buckets still strong, she walked onto the women’s basketball team and is quickly showing promise.

“She adds another dimension to our team. Kanoa is a good hustle player, she’s very long and is able to contest shots on the perimeter,” states Matthew Santa Cruz, NWIC’s Women’s Basketball Coach. “She’s also able to take it to the hole, get fouled, and make her free-throws. That’s a real asset in this game.”

And so the stage was set for the two home-grown college athletes to face-off for the first-time ever.

The historical moment took place at the Lummi High School gym, the home court for NWIC, on Friday, December 5. Adiya shined while leading her team with 24-points, but it was Kanoa’s NWIC team taking the W in a 64-61 nail biter.

The following day, the two team’s played once again, this time in Mt. Vernon, giving Adiya’s Skagit squad the opportunity for payback. There were several Tulalip fans in the crowd who journeyed to watch the matchup. Skagit came away with a convincing 66-35 W the second time around, giving both Tulalip women a victory over the other.

Following their second matchup in as many days, Adiya and Kanoa reflected on this new experience.

“I was nervous and excited when I realized we were about to play against each other,” said Kanoa. “It doesn’t come off like we know each other on the court because we’re both so focused on the game. It was really cool to see Tulalips in the stands rooting for us.”

“It was definitely fun. It hit me when I was warming up for our first game; I was thinking ‘this is so weird I’m about to play Kanoa’,” smiled Adiya. “For the younger generation at home in Tulalip, I hope they see this and realize they can attend college and play ball, too. Get outside your comfort zone because, honestly, once you try it you’ll realize how exciting new opportunities are.”

NWIC Poetry students showcase work at Hibulb Cultural Center poetry series

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

NWIC student Ed Hill recites his poetry during the Hibulb Cultural Center's December poetry series. Students penned poems during a NWIC poetry class and recited for the first time to the public for the first time. Photo/ Bob Mitchell
NWIC student Ed Hill recites his poetry during the Hibulb Cultural Center’s December poetry series. Students penned poems during a NWIC poetry class and recited for the first time to the public for the first time.
Photo/ Bob Mitchell

Students in a Northwest Indian College poetry class had a chance to showcase their creative prowess during December’s Hibulb Cultural Center’s poetry series. The class, composed of novice and beginner poets, presented a collection of work created during the course to the public for the first time.

Professor Lynda Jensen, who teaches the class, is an avid writer and poet herself, encouraging students to create poetry with depth and emotional response.

“One of the exercises that we did in class was to make a list of 35 words we like. We would pass the list to someone else, and that person’s job was to turn the list into a poem,” said Jensen.  A poem by student Talon Arbuckle using the list of 35 words technique was performed during the event.

“I asked the students to give me a list of 35 words that they associate with themselves, with their personal identity. From these lists, I made a poem for each student. I read these poems to them at the event. That was one of my favorite parts of the evening, extolling and featuring them within poetry,” Jensen.

Students Ed Hill and Crystal Meachem, both newcomers to poetry, found inspiration in the structure of poetry. Hill’s poems focus on his connection to nature, and discovered poetry to be an inviting and inspiring form of communication. Meachem, who did not enjoy poetry at the start of the class, explored different forms of poetry to learn the deeper meanings embedded in style and word choice.

“As an enthusiastic optimist, Crystal enjoys the word search when creating something sublime. She said that when she writes poems, she lets the words flow out. Then she re-reads to see if it is sublime yet. If it isn’t she sits there, frustrated and confused, until she finds the right words to make the poem work perfectly,” said Jensen.

Novice writers Bobbi Jones and Marci Fryberg use poetry regularly as a way of self-expression. Jensen describes Frberg’s use of poetry as, “strong, inviting and eschew the exclusivity that poetry so often inflicts on readers. Her meanings are clear and her metaphors recognizable. A quiet and private person, Bobbi was uncertain about performing her poetry in public. She gave me permission to read two of her poems. After I finished reading her poem “Howling,” an appreciative hush fell over the room. Bobbi writes powerful personal poetry,” explained Jensen.

Other students use poetry as a mean of healing. Student Katie Longstreet used the skills she learned in class to write poetry as a way to process difficult emotions, drawing inspiration from strength and courage. She shared several poems that focus on the isolation individuals who endure trauma experience.

While poetry for many of the students became a way to communicate emotions and thoughts that could not be described otherwise, student Talon Arbuckle found a comedic undertone while developing his poetry.

“Talon discovered his interest in poetry on the first day of class. He shared several poems that he wrote, including one that was a response to an assignment that students write a poem as if they were someone else. Talon decided to write a poem as if he were Mike Tyson. He used only published quotes from Tyson. The poem was powerful and very well received,” said Jensen.

“The evening was full of emotion, support, beauty and laughter. It was the perfect capstone for our course,” Jensen said. “We are grateful to the Hibulb Cultural Center for hosting the event. We plan to create a chapbook with the poems we performed that night. We will make these available to the community when they are complete.”

The Hibulb Cultural Center hosts a monthly poetry series featuring local artists. For more information on the poetry series, please visit the Hibulb’s website at

For more information on Northwest Indian College’s poetry classes, please visit their website at


Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402;

Students’ work featured at Longhouse Gallery

Northwest Indian College Tulalip campus student Monica McAlister discusses her glass mosaic piece featuring a fused glass hummingbird to Northwest Indian College Art Classes exhibit guests. The exhibit is available until August at the Peninsula College's Lonhouse Art Gallery.Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Northwest Indian College Tulalip campus student Monica McAlister discusses her glass mosaic piece featuring a fused glass hummingbird to Northwest Indian College Art Classes exhibit guests. The exhibit is available until August at the Peninsula College’s Lonhouse Art Gallery.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

PORT ANGELES – Student artwork from the Northwest Indian College Tulalip Campus traveled 96 miles to the Longhouse Art Gallery at Peninsula College for a first-time exhibit. Northwest Indian College Art Classes is a compilation of the work of a dozen students and art instructor Bob Mitchell, which features art produced during NWIC’s winter quarter.

Pieces included glass mosaics, basketry, beading, and handmade jewelry using various art mediums. The exhibit’s centerpiece is a large story pole made with fused glass, featuring students’ Native American culture using animal designs.

On June 5, the Peninsula College held a VIP opening, welcoming local guests and students.

“The class has really expanded,” said Bob Mitchell, who began teaching art at the Tulalip campus five years ago. “We are doing glass fusing and jewelry. I can look over in class and see basket weaving and

Northwest Indian College Art Classes exhibit shown at Peninsula College's Longhouse Art Gallery features a large fused glass story pole. Each panel was designed by NWIC student and reflects the Native American culture of each student. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Northwest Indian College Art Classes exhibit shown at Peninsula College’s Longhouse Art Gallery features a large fused glass story pole. Each panel was designed by NWIC student and reflects the Native American culture of each student.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

people passing on those skills to other people. The class is pretty student directed and the story pole is a good example of that. I came in with the idea and the frame, and we started thinking about how we could incorporate it into class. We gave everybody a panel and decided to do a theme and let everybody interpret it based on their culture. The student directive was they wanted to use traditional colors red, black, yellow, and white. We fused it and we finished with mosaic triangles that are a representation of bear claws from Tulalip.”

The story pole’s success means that future classes will be designing their own story poles. “The students bring a lot to the class with their skills. I feel very honored a lot of the time being in the class working alongside them. We need to show off what they are doing, so this is pretty impressive,” explained Mitchell.

Current NWIC Tulalip campus student Monica McAlister, whose work in the exhibit includes basketry and glass mosaics, said working on the exhibit and class project helped to keep her connected to her Yurok culture.

“Being at NWIC is like a home away from home. It connects you to culture and with people that support you. It is really uplifting to be able to get that sense of community, which for me was lacking for a long time because I am not from here. I took Bob’s class in 2012 and I fell in love with glass art. Art is such a big part of my life now and it makes me happy, and this all started because of NWIC.”

The Peninsula College Longhouse Art Gallery will be showing the original artwork of Bob Mitchell and students from NWIC now through August. The exhibit features NWIC Tulalip campus students Monica McAlister, Louis Michell, Denise Michell, Ed Hill, Shirley Jack, Alicia Horne, Sarah Andres, Teesha Osias, Annette Napeahi, Raven Hunter, Tatiana Crawford, Mark Hansen, and John Martin.

For more information on the exhibit please visit


Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402;


NWIC’s big athletics fundraiser tees off soon

Golfers will have a chance to win Seattle Seahawks tickets with sideline passes

Last year’s Northwest Indian College Big Drive for Education Golf Scramble garnered $19,000 and this year’s goal is to raise $25,000. Photo courtesy of NWIC
Last year’s Northwest Indian College Big Drive for Education Golf Scramble garnered $19,000 and this year’s goal is to raise $25,000. Photo courtesy of NWIC

Source: NWIC

On Friday September 6, Northwest Indian College (NWIC) Foundation will host the 11th Annual Big Drive for Education Golf Scramble, the college’s biggest annual athletics fundraiser that supports student athletes and athletic programs.

The scramble will begin with a 1 p.m. shotgun start, in which all golfers tee off at different holes at the same time. The event will take place at the Sudden Valley Golf & Country Club on Lake Whatcom in Bellingham.

Last year’s event garnered more than $19,000 and this year’s goal is to raise $25,000. The Golf Scramble provides financial resources, such as athletic scholarships, for NWIC student athletes, and supports the development of the college’s health and fitness programs.

NWIC sports include: women’s volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, co-ed softball, cross country, canoeing, tennis, and golf.

Registration rates are $800 for teams of four golfers or $200 for individual registrants who would like to be placed on teams. Costs include registration, carts, green fees, range balls, dinner and raffle tickets.

This year’s Golf Scramble will include a silent auction and a raffle with prizes that include Seattle Seahawks tickets with sideline passes. Players will also have an opportunity to win the “hole-in-one” car.

Winning teams will receive the President’s cup trophy and NWIC Golf Scramble jackets. There will be a jackets awarded to the top women’s team as well as medals to the winners of the side games.


Sponsorship opportunities for this year’s Golf Scramble are:

Premiere: $10,000

  • Reserved table and seating for eight at golf awards banquet
  • Name listing and logo in promotional literature
  • Golf registration for two teams of four (eight golfers)
  • Signage with logo at the event
  • Honorable mention throughout the event

Soaring Eagle: $5,000

  • Reserved table and seating for eight at golf awards banquet
  • Name listing and logo in promotional literature
  • Golf registration for two teams of four (eight golfers)
  • Signage with logo at the event
  • Honorable mention throughout the event

Hawk: $2,500

  •  Reserved table and seating for four at golf awards banquet
  • Name listing in promotional literature
  • Golf registration for one team (four golfers)
  • Signage at the event
  • Honorable mention throughout the event

Birdie: $1,250

  • Reserved table and seating for eight at golf awards banquet
  • Name listing and in promotional literature
  • Golf registration for on team (four golfers)
  • Signage at the event
  • Honorable mention throughout the event

Tee Sponsors

  • $500:  Name listed in promotional materials, signage at tee and green
  • $250: Signage at tee and green
  • $150: Signage at tee OR green

For sponsorship and registration information or for questions, email or call (360)392-4217.

Golf Scramble-2013 Invitation-V2

Want to help revitalize Native food traditions?

Join tribal leaders to learn about policy changes and other strategies that support the People and Land

Participants from the 2012 Our Food is Our Medicine Conference hold up vegetables cooked in a traditional pit oven. Photo courtesy of NWIC
Participants from the 2012 Our Food is Our Medicine Conference hold up vegetables cooked in a traditional pit oven. Photo courtesy of NWIC

Source: Ryan Key-Wynne, NWIC

Studies show that returning to a more traditional diet can help Native Americans improve health and reduce problems such as diabetes. People from throughout Indian Country have put those findings to work and are contributing to policy changes and strategies that promote access to traditional foods.

Many of these champions for traditional diets will gather at the second annual Our Food is Our Medicine conference, hosted by Northwest Indian College’s Institute of Indigenous Foods & Traditions. The conference brings together tribal leaders and allies, giving them opportunities to teach and learn from each other while initiating ongoing relationships that will benefit all.

“We are very excited to host this gathering, which brings people together to discuss successful models for activating policy change in tribal communities,” said Meghan McCormick, coordinator of the Institute of Indigenous Foods & Traditions, which is a program of NWIC’s Cooperative Extension Department. “While many tribal agencies throughout the United States engage in work related to wellness through traditional plants and foods, there is often little collaboration between these organizations. Most are burdened by incredibly heavy workloads.  This gathering will be a platform for people to connect, share ideas, and inspire one another.”

One speaker who is sure to inspire at the conference is Micah McCarty (Makah), the former chairman of the Makah Nation and current chair of the First Stewards Board (among many other leadership roles). McCarty is one of the keynote speakers lined up for the conference. His work in Neah Bay, Washington led to significant headway in strengthening the response to oil spills in coastal waters, helped to protect tribal whaling rights, and fostered strong connections between tribal and non-tribal governments.

In addition to invigorating keynote speakers, the conference will include interactive workshops, plant walks, traditional food sharing, storytelling and cooking demonstrations.

“This year we are focusing on policy in support of the People and the Land,” McCormick. “We will be discussing strategies that will bring traditional foods in tribal programming and how to build partnerships with land holders to sustainably harvest and protect resources”

Some workshops will include:

  • Tribal Food Sovereignty Projects
  • Policy in Government Programs
  • Tribal Food Policy Council
  • Policy to Improve Access & Protection of Gathering Sites
  • GMOs
  • Seed Saving
  • Composting
  • Climate Change & Policy
  • Seaweed Demonstration
  • Activating your Story

The conference will take place Sept. 11-13 and will be held at Bastyr University, an innovative university focused on natural health education near Seattle, Wash. The registration cost for the conference is $200, day passes are $100.

For more information, contact Meghan McCormick, Institute of Indigenous Foods & Traditions coordinator, at (360) 594-4099 or To register, visit

Lummi Food Sovereignty gets a big boost

The Northwest Indian College project was awarded a $65,000 grant by The ConAgra Foods Foundation

– Northwest Indian College

Food sovereignty is a topic that is discussed more and more in Indian Country these days. Tribal leaders and members are realizing that they can’t be completely sovereign if they rely on outside sources for their food. That idea has prompted Northwest Indian College’s (NWIC) Cooperative Extension Department to implement food sovereignty programs at two of its reservation sites: Muckleshoot and Lummi.

The Muckleshoot project was the first of the two to launch about four years ago. From the get go, the program was popular in the Muckleshoot community and received national attention from other tribes, donor organizations and the media.

Last year, motivated by the success of the Muckleshoot project and requests from the Lummi community, NWIC launched the Lummi Food Sovereignty Project. Now this younger project is beginning to see its share of support.

Most recently, that support came in the form of a generous $65,000 grant from The ConAgra Foods Foundation.

NWIC is one of 12 nonprofit organizations in eight states across the nation selected to receive a 2013 Community Impact Grant from The ConAgra Foods Foundation. Grantees are selected from areas with the greatest number of children at risk of experiencing hunger as determined by Feeding America’s study “Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity Estimates,” and/or where 100 or more ConAgra Foods employees reside.


“A grant of this size allows us to move forward with this project,” said Susan Given-Seymour, director of NWIC’s Cooperative Extension Department. “With The ConAgra Foods Foundation’s support, we will expand the project to meet the Lummi community demand for a project that serves the entire community, including youth, elders, schools, healthcare programs, and more.”

The ConAgra Foods Foundation funds allow NWIC to pool resources of people, facilities, and curricula with the resources of the Lummi Commodity Foods Program and the Lummi Nation Service Organization to form a Lummi Food Sovereignty working team.

“We can use all of these resources to support the desire of the Lummi people to get back the health and healthy lifestyle they enjoyed before European contact,” Given-Seymour said.

The Lummi Food Sovereignty Project evolved out of a four-year research project, the Lummi Traditional Food Project, which tested a culturally-based approach to wellness that emphasized lifestyle changes based on increased consumption of traditional and healthy foods and related educational programming. Vanessa Cooper, Traditional Plants program coordinator at NWIC, has headed the project since it kicked off. She said the program’s success, just like its roots, is community driven.

“I love to watch the ripple effect of the work that we do,” Cooper said. “When one person is impacted, they tell others, their friends and family members. Word of mouth is powerful and our program has grown based on the experiences that families are sharing with others. It paints a very clear picture of the need for this kind of programming and the hunger that people have for it.”

The ConAgra Foods Foundation grant will support activities that promote healthy, traditionally-based food behaviors that produce the following outcomes and activities:

  • Teaching and supporting cooks in commercial kitchens (schools, elder centers, etc.) to prepare healthier meals
  • More community educators will work in a variety of venues
  • Giving the entire community increased information about the availability and use of traditional foods in healthy meal preparation
  • Commercial kitchens will implement policies promoting healthier foods
  • The community will ultimately experience improved health and wellness

“We are very grateful to The ConAgra Foods Foundation for giving us this support and we look forward to getting to know some of the ConAgra Foods employees through their on-site volunteerism,” Given-Seymour said.

Now in its fourth year, The ConAgra Foods Foundation has invested more than $2 million in Community Impact Grants programming – including enrollment in government-assistance programs, nutrition education, advocacy and direct access to food. The program aims to provide more than seven million meals to children across the country.

“Without access to healthy food – even temporarily – children can face life-long wellness consequences,” said Kori Reed, vice president, ConAgra Foods Foundation and Cause. “That’s why programs like Northwest Indian College’s are so important. Being on the frontlines every day, Northwest Indian College is nourishing these children so they can unlock their highest potential, and we want to empower that success.”


Northwest Indian College is an accredited, tribally chartered institution headquartered on the Lummi Reservation at 2522 Kwina Road in Bellingham Wash., 98226, and can be reached by phone at (866) 676-2772 or by email at