Quil Ceda Village presents ‘Lights & Ice’

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Millions of dazzling Christmas lights make Quil Ceda Village (QCV) impossible to miss for an endless number of passers-by driving along I-5 this holiday season. The beautiful illuminations, which span the entire color spectrum, provide a timely electric décor wrapping towering trees and ground level shrubbery at the Tulalip Resort Casino, Tulalip Bingo and Tulalip Amphitheatre properties.

“This is years is in the making,” explained QCV general manager Martin Napeahi. “We’ve been thinking of different events we could have at our Tulalip Amphitheatre for families. Last year, we partnered with Blue Line Entertainment to sponsor a skating rink at the Everett waterfront. After seeing the success of that rink, we decided to bring it here to Quil Ceda Village.

“The atmosphere is electric. It brings added excitement for our customers at the outlet mall and guests at the casino to have another way to experience the holiday season,” continued Martin. “This Ice & Lights event is really geared towards our families and is a fun, festive experience for all to enjoy. Between the food vendors and craft vendors, this is an opportunity for our tribal entrepreneurs to make some extra cash. It’s a really great feeling to be able to bring this to our community and help boost the local economy.” 

An additional boost of excitement invigorated the local community during the debut of an ice-skating rink at the amphitheater, located between the Resort Casino and Seattle Premium Outlets. Tulalip families and friends were afforded the privilege of first skate on the evening of November 21st after a proper opening ceremony held by Tulalip and QCV leadership.

While some ventured around outside in search of the perfect family Christmas photo, others sought their first ever experience at ice skating. The enthusiastic naivety of Elementary-aged children rushing to put their skates on and hit the man-made glacier provided smiles, candid photo moments, and a laugh or two by elders seeing the kids quickly plunk to their butts on the ice.

Present to witness the ceremonial switching on of the lights was Patrick Walker of Gig Harbor, owner and operator of P. Walker Inc. who was contracted to install QCV’s electric atmosphere.

“Tulalip’s entire Quil Ceda Village display entails 3.1 Million lights. There’s two million at the casino, eight-hundred thousand in the amphitheater and another two-hundred thousand at the bingo hall,” said Patrick. “Timeline-wise, we started on October 3rd and worked seven days a week up until November 22nd. I’d estimate it was about six-thousand man hours in total from an average crew of 15-18 hardworking guys. We had nothing but good experiences working with the Tribe, and I can attest to the fact that in the entire state of Washington there’s not another light display bigger.”

Open to the public now until January 8th, QCV’s ‘Lights & Ice’ is set to feature a variety of food vendors, craft vendors, weekend Dickens Carolers, and even cameos by Santa and Mrs. Clause. For more information and hours of specific festivities, please visit www.quilcedavillage.com

Quil Ceda Village tax case underway in federal court

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

According to the Washington Department of Revenue, Tulalip’s Quil Ceda Village generates approximately $40 million in tax revenues each year, but none of these taxes go to Tulalip or the Village. Instead, the State and County collect 100% of the taxes, with the vast majority going to Olympia. The State and County do not share any of these tax revenues with Tulalip.

The Tulalip Tribes’ lawsuit challenging Washington State and Snohomish County’s authority to collect sales tax generated by businesses in Quil Ceda Village (QCV) has finally commenced. The bench trial, presided over by Judge Barbara Rothstein, is scheduled for 10-days and began on Monday, May 14, at the U.S. District Courthouse located in Seattle.

Moments prior to court going into session, Chairwoman Marie Zackuse stated, “The Tulalip Tribes are here today to present our case. This is about taxes generated in our own tribal municipality – built with our own resources. We are confident we have a strong case and look forward to a positive outcome.”

The U.S. federal government is Tulalip’s co-plaintiff in the legal battle against Snohomish County and Washington State. The United States claims the State and County’s imposition of taxes on commerce in Quil Ceda Village undermines tribal and federal interests, infringes on tribal self-governance, and violates the Indian Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“The United States takes seriously the federal role in protecting tribal self-government, which has its foundation in federal statutes, treaties, and regulations,” said John C. Cruden, the Assistant U.S. Attorney General at the time the lawsuit was filed.

“The State of Washington and Snohomish County did not contribute in any significant respect to the development of Quil Ceda Village,” according to the United States complaint filed in Seattle. “Moreover, they provide no significant governmental services at the Village and they play no role in the Village’s ongoing operations.” 

The State and County currently collect over $40 million in annual property, business and occupation and sales taxes on the on-reservation activities at Quil Ceda Village. Even though Tulalip has its own applicable tribal tax laws, State and County taxation, in effect, preclude Tulalip from imposing its own taxes and deprive the Tribe of the tax base needed to fund important governmental services.

During opening arguments, Tulalip’s legal team expressed that the evidence will show that Tulalip has done everything reasonable to build QCV into what it is today while working under the guidelines of the Tulalip Leasing Act and other federal statutes encouraging self-determination. Tulalip created an economic engine, only to have the tax-base they created be 100% appropriated by County and State governments. 


In 2001, the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved QCV’s status as a tribal municipality. Quil Ceda Village became the first tribal political subdivision in the nation established under the Indian Tribal Governmental Tax Status Act of 1982, and one of only two federal municipalities in the country, the other being Washington, D.C. As the first tribal city of its kind, Quil Ceda Village is an innovative model of tribal economic development.

The Tulalip Tribes, with support of the United States government, took what was once undeveloped land and engaged in master planning, invested in infrastructure, and created resources that benefit its tribal membership and the surrounding communities. 

Quil Ceda Village is widely regarded as an economic powerhouse, located entirely on federal land held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the Tulalip Tribes. The Village contains the Tulalip Resort Casino, Walmart, Home Depot, Cabela’s, the 130 designer store Seattle Premium Outlets, and provides jobs for over 5,000 employees. QCV has fulfilled the vision of past tribal leaders who sought to create a destination marketplace on the Tulalip Reservation.

Be a witness to history

Tulalip filed suit against the State and County in 2015, seeking the right to claim the tax revenue generated at QCV. Three years later, the lawsuit is finally being heard and is open to the public. Over the 10-day federal court proceedings, Tulalip Tribes, represented by the Office of Reservation Attorney and the Seattle-based law firm of Kanji & Katzen, will seek authorization to exercise its sovereignty over the economy and tax-base, while asking the Court to instruct the County and State to cease collecting sales tax on economic activities within the boundaries of QCV.

Tulalip Tribes, et al., vs. the State of Washington, et al. is ongoing at the U.S. District Courthouse located at 700 Stewart St, Seattle, WA 98101. Tribal members who wish to show their support are encouraged to do so. The case is being heard by Judge Rothstein in room 16106 from 9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. 

“We are witnessing history in the making as the two-week hearing for our federal city, Quil Ceda Village, is underway to preempt Washington State sales taxes within our sovereign lands,” said former Board of Director Theresa Sheldon. “It’s important to acknowledge that it has taken decades of work for us to get to this point. The efforts of so many past tribal leaders and QCV employees helped carry this vision forward.”

Quil Ceda Village Implements Retail Bag Ordinance

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Quil Ceda Village (QCV) is taking a huge step in protecting the environment by prohibiting the use of plastic carryout bags in all of the businesses located within the city. Effective January 1, 2018, grocery and retail stores as well as restaurants will convert from plastic to paper, in an effort to go green. QCV is home to several large companies including Walmart, Home Depot, Cabela’s and the Seattle Premium Outlets, not to mention the Tulalip Resort Casino, Tulalip Bingo, Quil Ceda Creek Casino and numerous eateries. With so many businesses that utilize plastic bags, you might think a huge change like banning them entirely would ruffle a few feathers. However, the ordinance has appeared to garner more praise than protest and is in the midst of smooth transition, thanks to long-term planning.

Learning of the terrible impact plastic bags have on the environment, the QCV team had a  brainstorming session with the Tulalip Board of Directors on ways the newly established city can be more environmentally friendly and conscious. As many know, plastic is a non-recyclable material that takes hundreds of years to break down into micro-plastics, which often travel to the ocean causing further pollution. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the average American household accrues over 1,500 plastic bags annually and recycle less than one percent of those bags. Currently the ocean is littered with plastic bags and plastic toxins that are killing over 100,000 marine animals every year.

Several department managers at the Seattle Premium Outlets described the ordinance as ‘wonderful’ and ‘great’ while a Disney employee called it ‘inspiring’, stating that guests from nearby counties want their cities to follow in QCV’s footsteps. Over fifty percent of the one-hundred and thirty stores at the outlets already switched to reusable and recyclable bags before the ordinance was even announced, including Disney who sells reusable totes that feature their famous, loveable characters. Stores that were still offering plastic bags are phasing out their inventory during the holidays. A few stores such as Nike and Hot Topic are electing to switch to reusable, biodegradable bags that are in compliance with the ordinance, while other stores such as Pro Image Sports chose to stop offering bags completely.

There are a few exceptions to the plastic ban, including plastic bags used for produce and meat at grocery stores as well as to-go bags for restaurants, though Quil Ceda Administrative Director, Nina Reece, stated that the majority of the restaurants are switching to paper. Shoppers are encouraged to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) once the new year begins as some stores may charge a bag fee. The Tulalip Resort Casino moved away from the usage of plastic bags a few years ago and offers their T Spa, Salal Floral and gift shop guests paper bags. Similar to the outlets, Cabela’s and Walmart are using the remainder of their plastic bags until the ordinance goes into effect and have their paper and reusable bags set and ready to go. The ordinance originally had a tentative start date last spring and in preparation for that date, Home Depot was the first company in QCV to successfully switch entirely from plastic to paper.

Any businesses that violate the ordinance can be fined for each plastic bag handed out, up to a maximum of $250 per day. The ordinance aims to improve, sustain and protect the environment from plastic pollution and is an inspiring decision by the Tulalip Tribes and the city of Quil Ceda Village. For more information, please contact Quil Ceda Village at (360) 716-5000.


Tulalip offers Amazon sites in the first tribally chartered city in the United States
Tulalip is participating in this regional proposal with Snohomish and King County


TULALIP, WASHINGTON – Tulalip Tribes have partnered with regional leaders to persuade Amazon to build “HQ2” in Washington State. The Tulalip Tribes are offering large sites in Quil Ceda Village, the first tribally chartered city in the United States, as part of the joint bid announced on Thursday.

Tulalip Tribes leadership is confident Quil Ceda Village is a prime location for Amazon. It boasts buildable and appropriately zoned land, with a full suite of utilities and a location easily accessible to I-5. The Tulalip Tribe has also worked extensively with County and State officials to increase transportation capacity in the region.

“Amazon has proven themselves as forward thinking and the areas where they do business flourish,” said Marie Zackuse, Tribal Chairwoman. “We feel strongly that Amazon’s commitment to job growth, talent retention and their generous philanthropic culture aligns with Tulalip’s philosophy of looking forward, not only for our success, but for the success of our neighboring communities. “Amazon has been touted as ‘the world’s most customer centric company,’ and that generous focus on the long-term relationship with people, rather than short term profits, fits right in with our style of business, Zackuse continued.

“The Tulalip Tribes believe we all benefit when innovative companies make their home in our communities, Zackuse said. There are a wealth of positives for everyone involved that will occur from Amazon locating their second headquarters in our region, and this is why Tulalip is participating in this regional proposal with Snohomish and King County.

“Our teams are ready, the real estate is ready, and all that is left is a business that would best complement our ideals and our economy. We strongly believe, with Amazon, we’ve found that.”

For more information, visit www.tulaliptribes-nsn.gov.

Assuming the helm: Theresa Sheldon talks about the Quil Ceda Village Council

Theresa Sheldon.
Theresa Sheldon.


By Niki Cleary, Tulalip News 

Quil Ceda Village is far more than the economic arm of the Tulalip Tribes; it’s a municipality in its own right. In fact it’s only the second federally recognized city in the nation. Founded in 2001, the QCV, like any other city, is governed by a city council and city ordinances. On June 16th, the current council, including newly appointed president, Theresa Sheldon, was sworn in along with Marie Zackuse and Glen Gobin.

“Historically the board members who did not hold an executive seat on council where assigned to represent the Quil Ceda Village Council,” Sheldon explained. “Since I have no businesses myself, it makes me extremely unbiased when considering the types of development policies and laws that we should enact in the village therefore making it easier for me to accomplish the role of President of the city.”

The Consolidated Borough of Quil Ceda Village has undergone a metamorphosis in the last two decades. Once a munitions dump, then leased to Boeing, this 2,000 acres is now home to over 150 businesses and sees over 60,000 visitors a day.

“Thankfully our past leaders put this city into motion over two decades ago to ensure we have the prospering economic development of today,” Sheldon continued. “I’m grateful for the confidence of the board to fulfill this duty. Quil Ceda Village President is a one-year appointment, I was appointed with unanimous support from our tribal council.

“The role of the council and the president is laid out really well in the charter. My duties are very straight forward, I preside over the monthly QCV council meetings, I’m the spokesperson of the village council, but I have no regular administrative duties or authority in the day to day operations. However, unlike the chairman of the Board, who only votes in case of a tie, I am a voting member of the Quil Ceda Village Council.”

At the June 16th meeting the discussion ranged over a variety of topics including roads and infrastructure, tribal enterprises, and police and court services.

“We received an update on the 116th overpass construction project which will be an 18 month project and will begin in July,” said Sheldon. “We will begin to replace the existing bridge with a wider bridge to provide an additional through lane in each direction and a double left turn to the I-5 ramps.

“This work includes additional pedestrian pathways across the interstate, will improve LED lighting, new signals and signage. Tulalip has been working on increasing capacity on 116th Interchange since 2001 and the Tribe has put in $23 million for this interchange. We have worked closely with WSDOT to ensure all safety measures will be covered as this project is considered massive with a lot of concrete, dirt, and gravel being brought in.”

The Tulalip Market, formerly a simple gas station located on 116th Street at the North end of the Village, will now become the Tribes’ drive-through smoke shop, deli, and gas station.

“It was interesting to hear about the product choices and details of the enterprise,” said Sheldon. “We take for granted things like point of sale systems. When you go to a store, they just work. There are a lot of logistics that go into placing the systems. We use Chevron’s system for gas sales and a different system for merchandise. All those systems have to speak to each other and seamlessly integrate for accounting purposes.

“I’m so thankful that we have staff in place looking at all the details as well as the big picture; I want to raise my hands to our Quil Ceda Village staff for working together to ensure we have a successful opening and a successful store, t’igwicid. The store will officially be open for business during the second week of July.”

Like many other municipalities, the City pays for police and court services rather than retaining a city police force or operating its own court system. In this instance the Tulalip Police Department and Tulalip Tribal Court provide the services. In May alone, the Tulalip Police Department responded to 532 calls for services and conducted 72 traffic stops within the Village.

“From the beginning of the year until now, a lot of the calls were for suspicious vehicles (242 calls), shoplifting (279 calls), traffic stops (411) and trespass (110),” said Sheldon. “We averaged 3.6 assaults per month and 1.8 hit and runs. Anytime someone is hurt, it’s a big deal, but for the amount of visitors we see (60,000 daily), these are relatively low numbers.

“One of the ongoing concerns for tribal police is the transient encampments. Transient camps are a concern because they often have unsanitary or unsafe living conditions, and property damage can occur when squatters move into vacant buildings and properties. There’s also a safety concern from visitors about aggressive panhandling.

“The Tulalip Tribes and Quil Ceda Village staff believes in offering respect to every person, regardless of their path in life,” declared Sheldon. “We also absolutely support Tulalip Police in making decisions to address safety concerns.”

Of the cases filed at Tulalip Tribal Court approximately 28% of criminal cases, 33% of drug cases and 44% of “miscellaneous” criminal cases (mostly theft and trespass) originate in Quil Ceda Village.

“Tribal Court and the Prosecutors Office will be using the funding they receive from Quil Ceda Village to hire additional staff this year. Thankfully our court system runs effectively and our court staff does a great job making sure that all cases are processed and heard in a timely manner.”

Reflecting on the meeting, Sheldon said she looks forward to creating a new strategic plan for the Village and encourages more Tulalip citizens to become involved if they would like to learn more about the cities operations.

“All Quil Ceda Village Council meetings are open to the public,” she said. “We hold monthly meetings, typically the 2nd Tuesday of each month. I want people to know we conduct these meetings in an open and transparent way and that we are constantly thinking of our future generation with every decision we make.”

Tulalip Tribes and Quil Ceda Village Defend Right to Tax Tribal Economic Development

Source: Tulalip Tribes Public Affairs


Tulalip, WA–June 12, 2015–The Tulalip Tribes and its political subdivision, the Consolidated Borough of Quil Ceda Village, filed suit today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington asking the Court to permanently enjoin the State of Washington and Snohomish County from imposing and enforcing sales and use, business and occupation, and personal property tax on economic activities within the boundaries of the Quil Ceda Village, to the extent of similar taxes imposed by Tulalip.

”With its own resources, the Tulalip Tribes transformed over 2,000 acres of vacant land into Quil Ceda Village, one of the premier shopping and entertainment destinations in Western Washington,” said Mel Sheldon, chairman of the Tulalip Tribes.  “Today, Quil Ceda Village has over 150 businesses, creating more than 6,000 jobs, attracting up to 60,000 visitors a day, and contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the North Snohomish County economy.”

Information from the Washington Department of Revenue reveals that Quil Ceda Village generates approximately $40 million in tax revenues each year, but none of these taxes go to Tulalip or the Village.  Instead, the state and county collect one hundred percent of the taxes, with the vast majority going to Olympia.  “This is a grave injustice,” continued Sheldon.  “Like any government, Tulalip must generate tax revenues to fund the infrastructure and local government services it provides, which benefit not just Village businesses and patrons, but everyone in Snohomish County.”

“As a matter of federal law,” said Sheldon “Tulalip is entitled to collect its own Tribal taxes on business activities in Quil Ceda Village and Tulalip will defend its right to function as a sovereign government.”  Tulalip cannot do this as long as the state and county continue to impose and enforce their taxes because businesses and customers in the Village would be subject to dual taxation.  The United States has long recognized that tribal taxing authority is an important aspect of tribal sovereignty and self-governance.

For well over a decade the Tulalip Tribes has requested to work together with both state and county officials to reach a fair resolution on this issue, but these requests have been ignored.  “It is critical for the continued growth of the Village that we take action now,” said Chairman Sheldon.


About the Tulalip Tribes and the Consolidated Borough of Quil Ceda Village

The Tulalip Tribes is a federally-recognized Indian tribal government, and the Consolidated Borough of Quil Ceda Village is a political subdivision of the Tulalip Tribes, located entirely on federal land held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the Tulalip Tribes.  Quil Ceda Village is located on the Tulalip Indian Reservation and consists of approximately 2100 acres.  It is adjacent to the western boundary of Interstate 5 and is approximately 40 minutes north of Seattle, Washington.



The most influential business executives of the past 35 years: No. 34 knows a thing or two about economic development



By Steven Goldsmith Managing Editor – Print- Puget Sound Business Journal


This is one in a series where the Puget Sound Business Journal counts down the top 35 most influential business leaders of the last 35. The countdown is part of the PSBJ’s 35th anniversary celebration.

As a leader of one of the nation’s most economically active tribes, Snohomish County’s Tulalips, John McCoy is a national as well as regional business figure.

McCoy, 71, recently retired as general manager of the tribes’ bustling Quil Ceda Village shopping, casino and hotel complex, but still serves in the state Legislature (10 years in the House, two in the Senate).

He was recognized as the Business Journal’s 2005 Executive of the Year for the dynamic business environment he helped foster.

It all started 20 years ago, when McCoy — a no-nonsense negotiator who sports a bolo tie and a crew-cut — returned to his tribe after serving 20 years in the Air Force and several years as a computer technician at Sperry Univac and the White House.

McCoy helped move the reservation from a communications system that he described as “one step above smoke signals” to a state-of-the-art. That program evolved into Tulalip Data Services, which installed networking infrastructure on the reservation and provides technical support to tribal departments.

The shopping complex near Marysville became a triumph of planning, vision and commitment on the part of the Tulalip Tribes — one of many still working to parlay gambling revenue into a more diverse and sustainable prosperity.

In addition to the popular hotel-casino, Quil Ceda includes a business park, the 125-tenant Seattle Premium Outlets, and stores such as Cabela’s and Home Depot.

For the Tulalips, much of this traces to McCoy.

“As you course your way through history, you see common people doing uncommon things,” Bob Drewel, head of the Puget Sound Regional Council and a former Snohomish County Executive, told the PSBJ in 2005. “John believes himself to be a common person, and he does some very uncommon things.”


See Also

Panera Bread to open new restaurant in Quil Ceda Village

Members of Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors and Quil Ceda Village planning staff joined Panera Bread's Seattle region representative Jayson Levich, for a groundbreaking ceremony on August 14, for the new Panera Bread restaurant opening in December 14. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Tulalip tribal council members and Quil Ceda Village planning staff joined Panera Bread’s Seattle region representative Jayson Levich, for a groundbreaking ceremony on August 14, for the new Panera Bread restaurant opening in December 14.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP – Tulalip tribal council members and  Quil Ceda Village planning staff joined Jayson Levich, equity partner with Panera Bread for the Seattle region, to break ground for a new Panera restaurant on Thursday, August 14.

According to Quil Ceda Marketing Manager, Teresa Meece, the Tulalip Tribes and Panera Bread have signed a lease agreement to build a 4,300-square-foot restaurant. The new restaurant will be located on a vacant lot near the Home Depot in Quil Ceda Village on the Tulalip Indian Reservation and will feature the Panera menu of sandwiches, salads and baked goods, as well as a drive-through window.

“Panera Bread is a perfect addition to Quil Ceda Village,” said Meece. “In addition to their amazing food they share our values of giving back to our community. We are really excited and can’t wait for their doors to open.”

Quil Ceda Village’s Panera Bread Groundbreaking from Brandi Montreuil on Vimeo.

Wilcox Construction is currently completing prep work at the site. The restaurant is slated to open December of this year.

“It is very critical and important decision in who we partner with,” said Tulalip Tribal councilwoman Deb Parker shortly before the groundbreaking. “When we make these decisions we do it all together with one heart and one mind.”

Interim Quil Ceda Village General Manager, Martin Napeahi, explained that the Tribe carefully selects businesses for the Quil Ceda Village business park to continue building the local econcommunity. The lot that Panera will fill has sat vacant, waiting for the right business to present itself.

“How blessed we are to have been accepted as a partner after 15 years of searching for the right partner for this lot,” said Levich at the groundbreaking. “I feel humbly confident that our team will bring in the things that you want to see out of this partnership. We pride ourselves in taking great care of our customers and providing exceptional service, and quality food. On behalf of Panera Bread I am honored to become partners here and thank you for welcoming us. This is our going to be our 24th location in the Northwest and I am proud to say that it will be our very best.”


Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulalipnews.com



Steve Gobin: Retiring after a lifetime of service

Tulalip Quil Ceda Village General Manager Steve Gobin speaks at his last Quil Ceda Village Council Meeting. Steve is retiring July 1st, to enjoy life with his family and especially his grandchildren. Steve Gobin
Tulalip Quil Ceda Village General Manager Steve Gobin speaks at his last Quil Ceda Village Council Meeting. Steve is retiring July 1st, to enjoy life with his family and especially his grandchildren. Photo by Niki Cleary

Niki Cleary, TulalipNews

At 62, short, grey and balding, Steve Gobin is not an imposing figure. He is humble, quiet, enjoys fly fishing and is devoted to his family. But ask him to talk about his tribe, economic development, sustainability, health care or any number of subjects connected to the wellbeing and longevity of his tribe, spark his passion, and Steve goes from mild mannered grandpa to razor sharp advocate in an instant.

After more than two decades of service for his tribe, Steve, General Manager of Tulalip’s Quil Ceda Village, is retiring. His career included labor in fisheries and forestry, 20 years of healthcare experience, work lobbying for expanded CHS (Contract Health Services) programs and funds, a stint in Governmental Affairs and finally his last two jobs, Deputy General Manager and General Manager of Quil Ceda Village. During his lifetime, he’s seen vast changes on the reservation, and he’s been a catalyst for some of them.

“I was born and raised here,” said Steve. “I think the tribe has gone through a lot of different personalities, but the leadership vision for the tribe has stayed consistent through those years. There’s still that consistency in the board today and I think that’s what kept us moving forward step after step after step.”

The tribe’s current prosperity is relatively new. Steve reminisced about his childhood.

“When I was a boy, we cut shakes for $3.00 a day, and we were happy to have the $3.00,” he explained. “We lived on a few thousand dollars a year. We lived on commodities, hunting and fishing. The priorities were making the family whole and feeding everybody.

“A lot of times I didn’t start school in the fall, I had to work and take care of my family,” Steve recalled. “My dad used to fish in Alaska, he used to start in June and go to November, so I got out of school early and started late. But I didn’t know I was poor.”

In his youth, Steve said, unemployment was about 80%. Then in the 1990s Tulalip built a bingo hall.

“The tribe didn’t even have an office until around 1965, and I think we had two or three employees, my mom was one of the employees they hired,” he said. “People didn’t fit in on the outside. There was no place for them to make money, the whole reservation economy was non-existent.”

Although there is always room for growth, Steve is grateful and astonished at what has been accomplished during his lifetime.

“It may seem to a lot of people that we don’t get paid enough, but look at what the tribe has given us, just in the last 20 years. It amazes me,” Steve described a few of the programs now provided. “We’ve funded healthcare, pharmaceuticals, mental health and drug and alcohol programs to help us overcome 200 years of poverty. We have money to pay per-capita payments to our people.

“No one needs to be starving or without a job. This is not the world that I knew growing up. It’s hard for me to look at my kids, even though I wanted them to have what I didn’t, and know they didn’t have the opportunity to experience living on the beach for food and to stay alive. Some of the bonding we did as a family and as a reservation, that really made us strong and we need to find a way to bring that back to our community.”

While some see addiction and social disorder as the pitfalls of prosperity, Steve says those dangers always existed. But now we have a chance to shape our future.

“The killer drug in 1970 was Rainier Beer,” he said. “Today it’s meth and heroin. But the things that stem from addiction are the same; child abuse, not feeling safe in the home, they’re the same now as then, but now there are more of us and it costs more to deal with it.

“But, with economic development,” Steve continued, “I think we have an opportunity to change the past and create a new vision for the future. Where kids don’t have to be hurt and people don’t have to go through those things. We can bring back some of that community pride to the tribe.

“A lot of what we’ve put into the ground, past Board of Directors, John McCoy, I can see it’s a future here, a future for my kids and grandkids and their kids. We’re building a sustainable economy so that our children don’t have to deal with the economic issues that we had. We’re the second largest employer in Snohomish County now. It’s been rewarding to be here.”

Right now, Steve can’t quite envision what the tribe will look like in a hundred years or more. But, family and culture, he described, have to be part of the future.

“I grew up and raised my family with the assumption that the reservation would always be a cultural center for our people,” he said. “But the sheer growth and population over the next 50 to 100 years is going to take that natural resource away from us. We’re going to have to find another way to be culturally connected to our past without fishing, hunting and the things that are the core of who we are. It’s going to be a challenge for our future leaders to take what’s best of the past and bring it forward to make a place for our people.”

Asked what teaching he’d like to leave for future generations, Steve said, “Take pride in yourself, work for your tribe’s future and the rewards that you will get will be enriching and last forever.”

Steve’s last day is July 1st. Like all of our leaders, I have no doubts that for the rest of his days, Steve will be looking out for the tribe and teaching future leaders what it means to be Tulalip. Happy retirement, Steve.