Tulalip students learn, discover and invent at STEM Week

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalipo News

Tulalip Summer School students spent the week of August 7-11, creating robots at Tulalip Homework Support, located behind the Boys and Girls Club. Students, kindergarten through twelfth grade, participated in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Week in which they used Legos and laptops to build and program robots.

The Summer School partnered with Matthew and Kathy Collier, founders of the Robotics.How.com website, to bring the hands-on STEM experience to the Tulalip community, teaching the youth about coding through the use of Lego Mindstorms Robots.

“We’ve been working with the Lego Mindstorms Robots for nineteen years,” Kathy explains. “We have a variety of Lego Robotics education products and software. The youngest students are using what is called WeDo Lego Robots and they are actually programming tiny little Lego critters to dance, sing, flap and do all kinds of things. We have a monkey that drums, we have a giant that lifts himself from sleeping, so through the week they do different projects. What’s wonderful about the program is they are actually coding.  The same coding a software engineer does on a big scale, on a much smaller scale. Each one of those children is building a little software program. The third through fifth graders are using what’s called the NXT Lego Mindstorms Robots and sixth grade and above are using the EV3 Lego Mindstorms.

“There are colleges such as MIT that use the Lego Mindstorm Robots to do different demonstrations. These are sophisticated robots,” she continues. “The kids are learning not only to design and build ideas, they’re learning to program. By the end of the week, all of these children will understand what many adults don’t, how to program a robot to dance, move and say things. The emphasis for STEM Week is discovery. Learn by discovery, learn by inventing, and learn engineering by doing, testing, trial and error; and we use a lot of Legos to do that.”

The kids were instantly intrigued and listened both excitedly and attentively to instructions before assembling their robots. Throughout the week, the fourth through twelfth grade students work in teams of two to fine-tune their bots. Students, sixth grade and older, are utilizing a new technology to control their machines with their minds. Without prior programing or the use of controllers, the students operate their Lego Robots by wearing a brainwave reader. The younger students spend their week creating new robots and projects each day.

“I think that robot camp is a fun place to think about robots,” states Summer School Student, Jordan Bontempo. “My favorite thing I did was playing with my robot, I like experimenting with it.”

Fellow classmate, Alo Williams added, “Its fun and I really like to learn here. I like that we get to build and program robots.”

Due to the program’s popularity and interest, the Tulalip Education Department intends to start a Lego Robotics team, comprised of teens from the community, to construct robots to perform in local competitions.

“To get these kids, especially the teenagers, to buy into this and not say ‘oh, this is boring’ is amazing. We haven’t had to push them once to participate, they want to do this,” says Homework Support Teacher Seiya Kitchens. “We’re trying to get a team together to represent Tulalip.  The kids will be able to win awards and get to travel. I think there are a lot of kids that will benefit from STEM Week. Nowadays kids use more technology, so I think a program like this will reach more kids because it’s a transition from pen and paperwork to this.”

STEM Week provides a fun foundation for the children who wish to pursue a career in any of the four fields.

“This is such a techy age, kids are exposed to so much more,” Kathy states. “If these young minds start to show a hint of potential, we can start steering them towards thoughts that inspire engineering ideas. We give them the tools and let them learn and experiment. This is not about following a set of building instructions, we are turning them loose to explore, invent and create.”

For additional details please contact the Tulalip Homework Support Program at (360) 716-4646.

UW Bothell empowers Native American students to plan for higher education


For the Native high school students, the hope is by getting a taste of the university experience they will be inspired and motivated to attend a higher education program after graduating high school. 


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The University of Washington Bothell campus held its 5th annual Reaching American Indian Nations (RAIN) diversity recruitment event Friday, April 21. RAIN is a day dedicated to preparing students of American Indian, Alaskan Native and Native American backgrounds with the tools necessary to access higher education.

Tribal high school students and faculty from Native American educational programs from all across Washington State were invited to attend RAIN 2017.

For the Native high school students, the hope is by getting a taste of the university experience they will be inspired and motivated to attend a higher education program after graduating high school.

Creating culturally relevant events where advocates, faculty, and college alumni can speak on all the reasons why potential high school graduates should attend college helps turns dreams into reality. Explaining why higher education is important as a Native American person, how the education can be used to connect to and better the community is all integral to changing the narrative. It doesn’t matter if it’s a community or technical college, online or big-time university, so long as Native students start thinking about and planning for life after high school.

Interestingly enough, the inspiration that led to UW Bothell creating RAIN five years ago happened right here on the Tulalip Reservation. It was during a routine admission workshop that Rachael Meares, former UW Native American Outreach Coordinator, was undertaking at Tulalip Heritage High School that inspiration struck. The junior and senior high school students at Tulalip Heritage were so eager to participate in her workshop and to learn of the opportunities available at UW Bothell that Meares thought it would be really beneficial for the students to spend a day at the UW Bothell campus. While on campus, students participated in various workshops, while exploring and learning about what university life at UW Bothell has to offer them. The Tulalip students received an alternative college perspective that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them here on the reservation.

A few months later, the entire Tulalip Heritage High School student body, with chaperoning from teachers, spent a day at the UW Bothell campus learning about the university and opportunities available only a short thirty minute drive south on I-5. That day marked the first culturally relevant outreach event for Native American students, which was given the name Reaching American Indian Nations, or more commonly referred to as RAIN. The next year Meares and her colleagues from the UW Bothell Division of Enrollment Management extended invites to Tulalip Heritage and other tribal schools across Washington.

Matt Remle, Marysville School District Native American Liaison.


At this year’s RAIN, the students were welcomed with breakfast, introductions of the coordinating event staff, and an opening prayer by Matt Remle (Lakota), Native American Liaison for Marysville School District. The students then heard a culturally oriented key-note speech from Abigail Echohawk (Pawnee/Athabascan).

Following their warm welcoming, the high school students chose two available on-site workshops to attend. Keeping the idea of cultural relevancy in play, each workshop was specifically tailored to the Native American students pursuing higher education. Each workshop was also led by a Native American staff member of UW Bothell.

For the participating students, they received a glimpse of the university life that pushes the boundaries for what opportunities are available to them after graduating high school. They were able to learn about higher education opportunities and campus programs, while participating in cultural and educational workshops. The college admissions process, touring UW Bothell, and networking with community partners were designed to give students a better understanding of college life, while relating the importance of education to the individual and their communities.

Honoring the past, Impacting the future: 21st Annual Lushootseed Day Camp




By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

During the pleasantly warm and sunny summer days of July 18-22, the old Tulalip Elementary gymnasium was home to the 21st Annual Lushootseed Day Camp. The camp was open to children age five to twelve who wanted to learn about their culture and Lushootseed language through art, songs, games, weaving and storytelling. Each year the Lushootseed Department teams up with the Cultural Resources Department, along with a select number of very vital community volunteers, to hold two one-week camps. Each camp has openings for up to 50 participants, but this year the demand was so high that 64 kids were signed up and participated in Language Camp week 1.

“We are dedicating the 21st Annual Lushootseed Language Camp to Morris Dan and Harriette Shelton-Dover, for their guidance and teachings bringing back the Salmon Ceremony, as well as honoring Stan Jones Sr. “Scho-Hallem” for his decades of leadership and determination to keep the ceremony going,” said Lushootseed language teacher and co-coordinator of the camp, Natosha Gobin. “This year we are recreating the Salmon Ceremony to pass on the teachings to our youth.  With the generosity of the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Table, we have received a grant to make regalia for each youth who is signed up for camp.  This is exciting, as we will be able to ensure that all the youth who sign up for camp will have the ability to stand up and sing at every opportunity. Vests and drums will be the regalia for the boys, while the girls’ regalia will be shawls and clappers.”

Using the 1979 Salmon Ceremony video to help pass on the earliest teaching of what is still practiced today, the young campers learned a selection of highlighted songs and dances.  The lessons learned each day during Language Camp were based on the teachings of the Salmon Ceremony by way of songs and dances, traditional teachings, language, art, weaving, and technology. The goal this year was to provide our youth with some basic regalia along with the knowledge and ability to sing and dance. Staffers hope the youth that have participated have the teachings and experience needed so they will stand up and sing at every opportunity.




With the emphasis of honoring the past and impacting the future with education and practice of Salmon Ceremony, there was a renewed sense of excitement and vigor to both the teachers and bright, young minds who participated. There was so much to do and prepare for that the parents of each camper were also called upon to participate in create long-lasting memories while working with their kids and fellow community members to help make regalia.

During the evening of Tuesday, July 19 the parents came through in a big way. The parents and guardians joined their kids in the gymnasium and were guided on how to make the drums and clappers. There were lots of laughs and stories shared as the evening went on and slowly, but surely every camper was assured of hand-made regalia.

“This is what we wanted to bring back; families coming together to spend some time working on the drums and clappers, lots of smiles, and most importantly lots of happy kids,” stated Natosha after the evening of regalia making concluded. “A huge thank you to the parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents, siblings and cousins who come out tonight to make sure every child would have a drum or clapper. I know our ancestors are watching over us all and proud the teachers are still being passed on.”




Throughout the duration of camp, the children participated in seven different daily activities. The following list is what each child accomplished throughout the week:

  • Art – Salmon bracelets, Salmon hands, paddle necklaces.
  • Weaving – Pony Bead loom beading, small raffia baskets.
  • Songs and Dances – Welcome Song, Eagle Owl BlueJay Song, Snohomish Warrior Song.
  • Traditional Teachings – Salmon Ceremony videos, traditional stories, realia experience in traditional story and science face of how Salmon migrate.
  • Games – Various games and playground time.
  • Language – letter sounds, Salmon Ceremony key words, Lushootseed workbook.
  • Technology – children learned and practiced Lushootseed materials related to Salmon Ceremony using the Nintendo DSi handheld games created by Dave Sienko.

The closing ceremony for week one’s camp was held on Friday, July 22 in the Kenny Moses Building. The joyous, young play-performers made their debut to a large community attendance, as family and friends came out in droves to show their support.

“The young ones continue to honor our ancestors by learning their songs and words. It fills my heart with so much joy to watch them speak our language and perform the dances of Salmon Ceremony,” marveled ceremonial witness Denise Sheldon.




After the youth performed their rendition of Salmon Ceremony and the ceremonial witnesses had shared a few words, there was a giveaway. The camp participants gave handmade crafts to the audience members, which preceded a salmon lunch that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

Reflecting on the conclusion of this year’s 21st Annual Language Camp week one, Natosha Gobin beamed with pride, “Week one has come to an end, but it is truly just the beginning of our youth rising up! The fire has been lit and they will be the ones to keep it burning. I can’t say it enough, how thankful we are for the parents that sign their youth up to participate. Shout out to the volunteers who mentored our young Language Warriors and to the staff who prepped and taught the lessons, and those who did all the behind the scenes work. Thank you to each and every person who made this week’s camp a success.”

For any questions, comments or to request Lushootseed language materials to use in the home, please contact the Lushootseed Department at 360-716-4499 or visit www.TulalipLushootseed.com





Understanding and legitimizing how indigenous children learn

Dr Stephanie Fryberg spoke about building on the strengths of Native students at her lecture held in Kane Hall, on the UW campus. Photo/Micheal Rios
Dr Stephanie Fryberg spoke about building on the strengths of Native students at her lecture held in Kane Hall, on the UW campus.
Photo/Micheal Rios


Article/photo by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The way we learn is shaped by our culture. For indigenous children, there is often a mismatch between their culture and the classroom. This has been a long held belief in the Native community. For Tulalip tribal member and associate professor Stephanie Fryberg, Ph.D., she had the unique access to resources and methodology necessary to examine how indigenous children’s approach to learning and how the teaching model of their educators can coalesce to create a more supportive academic environment. Dr. Fryberg shared her findings during a lecture held at the University of Washington on Wednesday, April 20.

Dr. Fryberg’s lecture was part of the Connecting the Dots Between Research and Community series, where a UW Psychology professor partners with a visiting colleague to tell the story of how their research is addressing some of society’s biggest challenges. Presented by the UW Department of Psychology and the UWAA, this event was free and open to the public. In attendance to support their fellow Tulalip tribal member were Senator John McCoy, General Manager Misty Napeahi, and Board of Director Glen Gobin.

Dr. Fryberg’s lecture was titled Using Cultural Models to Build on the Strengths of Native Students. The description is as follows: Individuals are a product of the culture they inhabit, and also play an important role in creating and adapting to that culture. For many indigenous students, the culture of educational institutions in the U.S. reflects a set of ideas and practices about what it means to be a “good” student, the purpose of education and the nature of the relationship between teachers and students. This results in a cultural mismatch between indigenous students’ model of self and the model prevalent in mainstream educational contexts.

A central theme to the lecture was an examination of the “struggling Native student” narrative. We’ve all heard about this narrative and probably seen the statistics that are often used to defend it. Taking it up another notch, we’ve also heard that even when Native students do manage to graduate high school, they are not adequately prepared to achieve success in higher education. Dr. Fryberg attributes this narrative to being one of a cultural context and to alleviate the narrative we must reframe the idea altogether.

“We are going to reframe this idea of the struggling Native student by looking at it through a bigger picture, which we in my field refer to as the cultural cycle,” stated Dr. Fryberg. “The culture cycle reminds us that to truly alleviate the achievement gap we have to start by looking at every piece of the culture cycle. So when we think about a child in a classroom, it isn’t just about the child and the teacher, it’s about so much more. It’s about the ideas that stand behind why children go to school, it’s the ideas that lead to the development of the school, or that set the stage for what we see as the ‘good’ or ‘right’ way to be a student.

“Within that we setup institutions. We have schools and we have the media, but we also have classrooms and we have micro-cultures within classrooms, in which teachers play a role. So we get to this level of the interaction that’s between the student and the teacher, but sometimes what our field has shown is that interaction is not just between us in relationship, it’s between us and representational space. It is the idea the teacher has about me, as a student, that allows that space between us to shape the interaction and ultimately, for young children, to shape their development and the outcomes that we see.”

Within the cultural cycle it is critical to be aware of two distinct cultural models of self, the independent model and the interdependent model, that play major roles in how the shaping of interactions between student and teacher effect student development and achievement outcomes.

The independent model of self is based on an understanding of self as independent from others and the social context. “Good” actions promote separation from others and individual self-expression. The independent model of self is best seen in the U.S. mainstream, where context is driven by a set of cultural norms, values and beliefs that center the individual as independent and separate from others. It is a unique cultural model that most of the world does not engage in.

In many parts of the world that notion to separate yourself from others is not only unheard of, but would be seen as unhealthy. A much more common model is the interdependent model of self that is based on an understanding of self as interdependent with others and the social context. “Good” actions promote connection to others and attention to others’ preferences. Most people and cultures in the world, specifically outside of the U.S., engage in this more interdependent model. It’s important to recognize that Native culture is inherently within the interdependent model, but because we are within the U.S. our actions, values, and norms are constantly scrutinized by the mainstream independent model.

Now, you may be wondering how all these concepts and social psychology terms tie-in with Native students, their teachers and academic success. It does all come together.

By recognizing Native students’ engagement in the interdependent model of self, but that in large part their teachers and schools adhere to the independent model of self, we can then understand how the prevailing education system is not setup for Native student to succeed. However, there are courses of action to change this, which Dr. Fryberg and her team demonstrated at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary from 2011-2014.

Using the culture cycle to enhance academic performance by Native students alleviates the “struggling Native student” narrative by requiring culturally-grounded interventions that focus on all levels of the cultural cycle. This work is achieved by building schools that reflect and foster a diversity of viable ways of being; creating an immersion environment (e.g., morning welcome assembly, growth mindset, purposefully placing posters/images on walls); creating “matches” by helping Native students build identities that maximize potential while also providing them with a culturally-safe educational atmosphere; and by valuing old identities and scaffolding new identities.

In the study done at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary from 2011-2014 by Dr. Fryberg and her team, with the inclusion of the previously listed methods and intervention, the results were staggeringly in favor of increased Native student achievement. Kindergarten and 1st graders led the district in oral reading fluency; 95% of Kindergarten and 80% of 1st graders were proficient or above benchmark in reading.  Using measures of academic progress in literacy and math for grades 3-5, 60% made more than one year’s growth and at least half of these students made 1.5 to 2 years growth. Best of all, the school met state annual measurable objectives in every category.

It’s important to note that having teachers who are aware of their own biases towards the independent model of self and willing to retrain and reframe their teaching methods to suit their Native students is central to overall success as well. It’s a cycle of understanding and legitimizing the learning and cultural model of Native children that leads to them making greater strides in academic development and achievement. When this occurs not only do the expected outcomes of the students and their teacher benefit greatly, but the entire community as well.




Contact Micheal Rios, mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov




Celebrating our youngest learners

Alley-Oop and his sunshine band of toddlers. Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
Alley-Oop and his sunshine band of toddlers.
Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News


Article/photos by Micheal Rios

During the week of April 11-15, the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA) celebrated the Week of the Young Child. The week was devoted to shining a light on the importance of early childhood development.

“All young children need and deserve high-quality early learning experiences that will prepare them for life, and Tulalip has a great opportunity to do our part to help young children,” stated Melinda Contraro, Professional Development Manager at TELA. “Week of the Young Child is a time for Tulalip to recognize that early years are learning years for all young children.”

Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Intended to celebrate early learning, young children, their teachers and families, the weeklong event is the perfect opportunity for early childhood programs to hold activities that bring awareness to the needs of young children.




Young children and their families depend on high-quality education and care, which help children get a great start and bring lasting benefits to Tulalip. Week of the Young Child is a time to recognize the importance of early learning and early literacy, and to celebrate the teachers and policies that bring early childhood education to young children.

“We will share some activities with our families and provide take home ideas for them to do with their children,” continued Melinda. “TELA has nearly 100 early childhood professionals working together to improve professional practice and working conditions in early childhood education, and to build public support for high-quality early childhood education programs.”

The week of fun and family friendly activities kicked off on Monday, April 11, with Music Monday. The reception area was transformed into a musical platform for Alley-Oop and his sunshine band of toddlers.




Music Monday: sing, dance, celebrate and learn. Through music, children develop math, language, and literacy skills all while having fun and being active.

Taco Tuesday: healthy eating and fitness at school. This fun, food-themed day is about more than just cheese and salsa. Cooking together connects math with literacy skills, science, and more. With the rise of childhood obesity, you can encourage healthy nutrition and fitness habits in the classroom by creating your own healthy tacos.

Work Together Wednesday: work together, build together, and learn together. When children build together they explore math and science concepts and develop their social and early literacy skills. Children can use any building material – from a fort of branches on the playground to a block city in the classroom.

Artsy Thursday: think, problem solve, create. Children develop creativity, social skills and fine motor skills with open-ended art projects where they can make choices, use their imaginations, and create with their hands. On Artsy Thursday celebrate the joy and learning children experience when engaged in creative art making.

Family Friday: sharing family stories. Engaging and celebrating families is at the heart of supporting our youngest learners. We applaud family members’ role as young children’s first and most important teachers.


Partners in education, building community

 “I heard three different kids say, ‘man those guys were fun’ when talking about the police officers. They didn’t come here to be scary, they came here to be community members supporting our kids and our students took notice of that.”- Chrissy Dulik Dalos, Manager, Marysville School District Indian Education Department
“I heard three different kids say, ‘man those guys were fun’ when talking about the police officers. They didn’t come here to be scary, they came here to be community members supporting our kids and our students took notice of that.”
– Chrissy Dulik Dalos, Manager, Marysville School District Indian Education Department


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

There is a saying at Totem Middle School, PRIDE in our Learning and POWER in our Actions. Normally a saying applied to only the students and faculty, it took a much larger scale on Thursday, March 17, as it was applied to a sense of community.

During the normal scheduled 6th, 7th, and 8th grade lunch times, Totem Middle School welcomed all family and community members of Native students to enjoy a complimentary lunch while visiting with the middle-schoolers. It provided a perfect opportunity to stay connected with students, faculty, and friends while building something much larger – student success and identity safety.

“Part of identity safety is looking around the school and seeing people who look like you, knowing those around you, and feeling comfortable in a familiar setting,” says Chrissy Dulik Dalos, manager of the Indian Education Department for Marysville School District. “Our Native students go from being 80 percent of the population at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary to 20 percent here at Totem Middle School. We have to be vigilant that our Native students feel they are in an identity safe environment and one way of doing that is to ensure they recognize how important they are to our school’s community.”




Fostering a sense of community while also helping to bolster identity safety was particularly achieved by way of a simple open invite to have lunch. In order to get community members who Native students are comfortable with at their school and responsive to the invite, school officials went with the lunch hour. Understanding that a lot of folks are preoccupied in the late afternoon and evening hours, and not to pry into hours that may already be reserved, the time slot of 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. was chosen.

“We chose the lunch strategy to see if we could get more people involved,” continued Chrissy. “I think it paid off. We ended up with about 65 people that joined our students for lunch. That’s pretty phenomenal.”

That’s 65 Tulalip community members made up of family, friends, staff, Board of Directors, and law enforcements officers who took time out of their busy day to connect with the students. Spanning the lunch time, community members could be seen sharing a meal with the students, playing pool and foosball with them, simply chit-chatting, and even sharing in the craze that is March Madness. Students are allowed to use their Chomebooks for entertainment during their lunch. A few of the students managed to stream March Madness games and found themselves sharing their computer screens with several very attentive adults.

“For me, as an administrator, I have a strong belief that school is the center of the community, and this school has a unique location serving unique populations from Marysville and Tulalip,” explains Tarra Patrick, Principal of Totem. “So how do we create a situation where it is reconnected to the community? There is a power in breaking bread together. If you are a student here and you see your family come in and you see the principal and teachers deferring to your family, then you realize your family can come and advocate for you. This is an opportunity for the kids to also see the bridge between the school faculty, the students and their families, that’s what makes us a community.”

It really does all add up. Whether openly acknowledged or not, the Native students of Totem saw how many of their family and community members took the opportunity to spend time with them. And isn’t that what kids need the most? To feel valued by the adults around them, to know that they are important and that they matter. It’s not the sound of our words, but the POWER in our Actions that determines this.

We are all partners in education. From the teachers, secretaries, food preparers, maintenance workers, to family and friends we all have one common goal and that’s to see our students succeed. When we work together, every child can succeed in school.

Principal Tarra upholds that we all play a vital role in the success of our children and students as she stated, “It’s going to take the entire community together to support all of our students in order to help them be successful. That’s what today was about. It was just community, in this building, and it was absolutely beautiful.”



Contact Micheal Rios: trios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Girls Group gains leadership experience in D.C.

Tulalip Girls Group members Elizabeth Edelman and Priscilla Bumgarner, along with chaperone Sasha Smith, Family Haven Project Coordinator. The girls were chosen to participate in the trip based on overall participation and attendance in the Girls Group.
Tulalip Girls Group members Elizabeth Edelman and Priscilla Bumgarner, along with chaperone Sasha Smith, Family Haven Project Coordinator. The girls were chosen to participate in the trip based on overall participation and attendance in the Girls Group.


By Micheal Rios,Tulalip News;  photos courtesy of Sasha Smith, Tulalip Family Haven Project Coordinator


The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) held its 26th annual National Leadership Forum and Prevention Days at the Maryland Convention Center during February 1 – 4. CADCA is the national membership organization representing over 5,000 coalitions and affiliates working to make America’s community safe, healthy and drug-free.

Count Tulalip among those communities represented by CADCA, as Tulalip tribal members Elizabeth Edelman and Priscilla Bumgarner attended this year’s leadership forum. Elizabeth and Priscilla, both 15 years old, were afforded the opportunity to attend thanks to their frequent participation in Girls Group.

Girls Group, comprised of young Native women ages 14-17, is designed through Tulalip Family Haven and is located next to the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club. Girls Group aims to provide Native girls the support they need to become the most successful person they can be.

“In selecting the two young ladies to take to the prevention conference and tour Washington, D.C., we based the decision off of overall participation and best attendance at Girls Group,” says Sasha Smith, Project Coordinator at Family Haven, who chaperoned Elizabeth and Priscilla on their trip. “These girls were so excited to get the chance to travel. Elizabeth had never been on an airplane before and neither had ever been so far from home without their parents”


WA D.C 3


The young ladies spent four days in Maryland and Washington, D.C. learning about reducing drug and alcohol use in their community, how to be a positive and supporting leader, and gaining life experiences on the other side of the country. They received helpful information about different groups and communities who have been successful in reducing substance abuse.

“Better environment, better future,” recalls Elizabeth is the line that really stood out from the seminars she attended. “It’s so true. If nobody cared about their surroundings and the environment then things can’t get better, they’ll only get worse. If you care about your future then you’ll care about your environment, who and what you have around you.”

A project they got to participate in, and may even do here at home, was a sticker project. The youth, armed with message carrying stickers, went around to local liquor stores and convenient stores placing stickers on alcohol products, as a way to remind buyers that underage drinking and purchasing for minor is illegal.

Another idea they participated in was being part of a high school student panel dubbed the Myth Busters. They held a Q & A session for middle school students who are in transition to high school. The middle schoolers were able to ask any and all questions they had about the high school experience, most of which were debunked as myths by the current high schoolers.

Of all their experiences during the four days away from home, the most lasting was getting a guided tour of the capital, which included taking a three hour night tour of all the historical monuments.


While touring the capital, the girls also visited the Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.
While touring the capital, the girls also visited the Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.


“The entire experience was pretty cool. Being out of here and off the rez everything was new, it felt like a vacation,” said Elizabeth. “Touring the capital and seeing the Lincoln Memorial was most memorable for me. And learning about Billy Frank, Jr. He has his own exhibit in the Museum [of the American Indian].”

Girls Group meets every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3:30p.m. – 6:30p.m. and is free to join. For more information on the Family Haven Girls Group or how to sign up, please contact project coordinator Sasha Smith at 360-716-4404.


Girls group-front

Tulalip students are in need of Natural Leaders

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

“When the schools and families have a mutual respect for one another and depend on one another as partners in education, the result is increased achievement.” That is a key line from Dr. Steve Constantino’s 101 Ways to Create Real Family Engagement.  For Tulalip, getting parents and families engaged in their students’ academic well-being remains a lofty goal. Local schools and many tribal service departments have proclaimed their strategies for family engagement and getting families vested in our students’ academic success, but most fall short of their proclamations.

In order to change this, we must help to build a new cultural foundation and create relationships that motivate family involvement and ultimately create family engagement. Research has constantly shown students’ success to be highly correlated with the level of their parent engagement. When parents are involved, students achieve more, regardless of socio-economic status, ethnic/racial background, or the parents’ education level.

Hoping to spark the must needed change for the sake of our students, Tulalip tribal member Eliza Davis, who works as a Native Liaison for the Marysville School District, is creating a parent engagement project that piggybacks off the Natural Leaders initiative. It is Eliza’s mission to help all our children succeed in school by providing skill building opportunities and in-class volunteer hours for parents to help their kids succeed.

“It is my dream that we will see a group of families and community members emerge and begin taking on leadership roles within the school.  We want to help build the families capacity to be partners in their student’s education. That is the piece we are missing here at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, the family and community representation in our work,” explains Eliza. “We are striving to integrate families in all levels of the work we are doing through the Natural Leaders initiative. We need to get input on our school improvement plan. We want to get parent involvement in building our leadership team. Really, we are just seeking parents to be in the building as volunteers, to help us bring more community events throughout the year, and eventually to bring some fundraising to events for our school.”

The Tulalip Natural Leader project challenges parents to take on a leadership role. They will build relationships with families in the community, identify what helps these families be successful with education and then implement these ideas. A driving focus is collaborative community organizing where parents are equal partners sharing a common goal of children achieving success in education.

“We are starting this work at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, but really I am thinking how we could be building this type of work up with our families in all our schools; the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy, Totem Middle School, and the three high schools our kids are attending (Heritage, Marysville Pilchuck and Marysville Getchell),” continues Eliza. “We believe that family and community engagement work will bring great success for our Tulalip students. The research proves that these strategies are effective in bridging the opportunity gap in schools. We hope to be working side by side with more families and community members through this initiative very soon.”

According to the Washington Alliance for Better Schools, Natural Leaders are warm, caring social persons who serve as multicultural bridges between students, teachers, communities and schools. In our community we hear so much about education, the need for a cultural presence in our school, and advocating for our youth, especially around General Council season. Here is the perfect opportunity to show your support for our youth, our educators and our community by becoming a part of the Natural Leaders initiative.

Lack of parental supervision or a plain absence of parental engagement in their children’s day to day life is the most harmful demographic trend of this Native generation. It is the leading cause of declining child well-being in our society. It is also the engine driving our most urgent social problems, from crime to adolescent pregnancy to substance abuse to perpetuating the impoverish mindset that clutches so many like a mental vice grip.

It is very powerful when adults engage in education themselves because actions speak louder than words. Children view adults as role models and aspire to be like them. Parents and Tulalip community members who answer the call to become Natural Leaders will experience personal growth that comes with giving of oneself for the better of our younger generation. Personal growth and transformation is an important outcome that leads to stronger communities and academic success for children.

“Parent and community engagement is an integral part of a successful school. In order to achieve academic success, parents and staff members need a strong partnership,” states Cory Taylor, Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary Principal. “Thankfully the Natural Leaders program is designed to accomplish this objective. One particular way the Natural Leaders program has benefited our school is through the volunteer program. Parents have assisted in the following areas: after school events, classroom projects, perfect attendance awards, maintaining the school calendar, and individual academic student support.

“We are looking forward to building on the Natural Leaders program in the upcoming months and years. As we strengthen staff and parent relationships through this program we will be creating a brighter future for our students and children.”

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, or concerned community member, please consider becoming a part of Tulalip’s Natural Leader initiative. The next Natural Leaders group meeting will be Wednesday, March 23, at noon in room 162 of the Tulalip Administration building.

Share what the mission of the Natural Leaders group is and help our community to recruit able and willing employees, community members, parents and guardians. Become a part of the movement, be the ripple effect and support our youth.





A dream come true for ‘Children of the Salmon’

Tulalip Tribal Chairman Mel Sheldon, surrounded by ‘Children of the Salmon’, cuts the ribbon, officially marking the opening of the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy.Photo/MIcheal Rios
Tulalip Tribal Chairman Mel Sheldon, surrounded by ‘Children of the Salmon’, cuts the ribbon, officially marking the opening of the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy.
Photo/MIcheal Rios


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On Friday, August 7, the much anticipated grand opening was held for the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy. The event marked the culmination of over a decade’s worth of planning, devotion, and perseverance by countless individuals committed to helping local community families make a lasting, positive difference in their children’s education. In partnership with parents and community, the caring and experienced Tulalip Tribes teaching staff created a loving and safe environment where children and families can grow in academically. The Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (ELA) provides no cost educational schooling from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday for children ages birth to 5 years-old.

“In 1999, Les Parks and I took a very transformative trip to Philadelphia to look at a learning academy,” recalls Mel Sheldon, Tulalip Chairman. “We think about education and what it means to our kids, what it means to our community, and how we create safe environments for learning. I look at this building and I see nothing but good vibrations and endless possibilities for our young ones. What a great site for the school here. Our youth are going to have memories that will go long into their life with their teachers, their parents, and all the learning that they’ll be doing.”

A large community attendance, along with representatives of Marysville School District and Washington, D.C. dignitaries, turned out to witness the debut of the gorgeous 52,000 square-foot Early Learning Academy. The facility, oriented towards views over Tulalip Bay and the surrounding woodlands, sits on nine acres of land and is designed to symbolize the tribe’s commitment to a healthy community and a strong foundation for our children’s education. Tribal artists worked with the project team to incorporate artwork on the site and within public spaces of the building to reflect the cultural context being infused into our idea of early learning. Tulalip artwork is clearly visible in the stunning, etched-glass panels provided by James Madison, the blue glass wave directly above the reception area, and the river designed walkway throughout the academy.


Spirited youngsters performed songs during the Early Learning Academy grand opening ceremony. Photo/Micheal Rios
Spirited youngsters performed songs during the Early Learning Academy grand opening ceremony.
Photo/Micheal Rios


“To me, this day has been 17 years in the making. It’s been a dream that we’ve all had,” details Les Park, Tulalip Board of Director, to the hundreds of attendees. “Research tells us that 90% of a child’s brain development happens before age five. Ever so true that is, our kids are capable and eager to learn at a very early age. We’ve known this and in response have created several different programs that touch on early learning, but this is the building where we are going to take it to a new and higher level, which I think is going to change our membership in the future. A generation from now, when these kids have grown up and are leading our tribe, they would have learned so much more than they would have, had they just waited to enter the public school system. It’s so exciting for me to witness this, a 17 year vision come to fruition today as we bring an early learning academy to Tulalip.”

Far too many children enter public school kindergarten unprepared for the drastic changes in routine and academic expectations. When children begin school unprepared it’s only a matter of time before they fall behind, and they tend to fall further behind as the school year progresses. All children need to enter school ready and able to succeed, which is why early education is so important. Cognitively, early education improves school performance, raises math and language abilities, and sharpens thinking and attention skills. Early learning also has plenty of social and emotional benefits as well. Children will improve and strengthen their interactions with peers, decrease problem behaviors, and helps adjustment to the demands of formal education.

With the opening of the Early Learning Academy, we fully expect all the added benefits and rewards of early learning to materialize for our children. However, those aren’t the only benefits of the ELA, as many new and exciting changes will be instituted to the way Tulalip will approach educating our young children. One such change is the moniker of the students who will attend the ELA, who will be affectionately known as the ‘Children of the Salmon’.  The foremost game changer is the consolidation of all birth to five-year-old programs into one program, under one roof.


Photo/Micheal Rios
Photo/Micheal Rios


“We have brought all our birth to five programs out of their silos and brought them together into one, singular program with the same focus,” explains Sheryl Fryberg, ELA Manager. “We’ve redone all of our policies, procedures, and intake forms to reflect this. We are now the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy. We’re not Montessori, we’re not ECEAP, and we’re not Early Head-Start; we are one.

“This academy is open to all of our tribal kids. In addition to our tribal kids, our service area is Marysville School District, so if your family is within the Marysville School District then your eligible to apply here.”

ELA will be using the Creative Curriculum, but utilizing different strategies. Teaching staff will utilize the Teaching Strategies assessment tools to show the progress that all of our children are making. This curriculum assures that the academy remains aligned with the school readiness early learning content standards, while doubling as a means to provide constant feedback on students’ progress.

“We will be utilizing a new child evaluation system, so that we can keep track of where our kids are with their learning,” explains Sheryl Fryberg. “Assessments that all our teachers will be using from birth to five will measure our students’ growth in different areas and stages. This process will make it possible for us to create custom and, if need be, individualized lesson plans from the assessment results to ensure we don’t allow any children to lag behind or fall into the gaps. Our top priority is to provide the best educational foundation as possible for each and every ELA student.”

Another big change, that undoubtedly will take some time for parents and students to adjust to, is the switch to a year-around school system. There will be no 2.5 month long summer break for students of the Early Learning Academy, instead there will be four school closures throughout the year. A one-week break will occur in December, April and June, while a two-week break is expected in August.



Interior views of ELA’s classrooms set-up for learning and imaginative play.Photo/Micheal Rios
Interior views of ELA’s classrooms set-up for learning and imaginative play.
Photo/Micheal Rios


“Research shows that when you do year-around schooling the children do much better academically, and what better time to have them transition to year-around school then while they are getting adjusted to the Early Learning Academy,” continues Fryberg. “I feel like we are laying such a strong foundation for our kids and the families to be involved in their kids’ education. The research has shown that when kids are off school for 2.5 months that they lose so much of what they’ve learned. You’re almost starting all over when they come back to school in the fall, so this move to year-around education will be such a huge benefit to the future academic success of our children.”

The academic success of our children is at the forefront of every idea and strategy that will be implemented in the ELA’s curriculum. The cultural tie-ins will remain and even be pushed to new limits, especially when it comes to teaching and learning the Tulalip language, Lushootseed.

“We’re working with the Lushootseed department to develop an immersion classroom,” says Fryberg. “We haven’t worked out all the details just yet, but for 18-months to 3 years-old we want one classroom for three hours a day, all the children do is speak and hear our Lushootseed language. Then we want to follow that group up, continuing to offer them Lushootseed immersion, and see what the end results are. If it’s successful, then we can find grants to really grow a Lushootseed immersion program.”


The ELA playground was built with safety in mind, featuring specialty mats to prevent injury and no public access.  Photo/Micheal Rios
The ELA playground was built with safety in mind, featuring specialty mats to prevent injury and no public access.
Photo/Micheal Rios


One vision leads to another. As the ELA opens its doors to the children of our community and promises long-term positive results, one can’t help wonder what the future holds for the cohorts of birth to 5 year-olds whose education and future academic prospects just got a whole lot brighter. Time will determine just how big an impact the ELA’s foundation will have on the tribe’s future, but for now let us just appreciate all the people and effort that made the ELA possible.

“There were so many people involved, who came together as a team to make this vision a reality,” proclaims Misty Napeahi, General Manager of the Tulalip Tribes. “It’s not easy when we’ve had separate programs run as individual programs with different teaching models for all these years. We know the commitment to the children will supersede all obstacles and that our teaching staff will all be working together to serve our children. It couldn’t be done in a better facility. This building is absolutely gorgeous. This dream came true because of all the hard work of our maintenance and construction teams, our teaching staff, and all those who were involved behind the scenes. Because of you all, our children will be here for years to come.”



Photo/Micheal Rios
Photo/Micheal Rios


























Tulalip Basketball Camp, more than just hoops



by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

During the week of July 27-31, the sports-centric youth of Tulalip took part in a week long basketball camp to learn, practice, and perfect their basketball skills at the Don Hatch Youth Center. With the on-court assistance of Deyamonta Diaz and Shawn Sanchey, who are both Youth Services Activity Specialists, basketball camp participants were split into two groups; one earlier session for elementary and middle school aged boys and one later session for high school aged boys.

Fred Brown, Jr. who played college basketball at the University of Iowa and presently works for Seattle Basketball Services, Washington State’s premier NCAA compliant scouting service led the early session of youngsters. According to his work profile, Brown specializes in events coordinating, recruiting, scouting, tutoring and player development work for youth, high school, college and professional athletes. He is dedicated to helping student athletes learn the importance of having an exceptional work ethic, good grades and a positive attitude to be successful in today’s society.




Brown believes, “Opportunities do not go away, they go to someone else.” Following with this mantra, Brown emphasized hard work and the highest quality of competition during each day of camp. Tulalip youth responded in kind by giving their fullest effort during each and every basketball drill. The few instances when the kids would not respect the rules of his sessions, Brown was sure to get their attention by blowing his whistle and having them run lines. This means of discipline not only got the kids attention, but also helped to condition them and build up their stamina.

The later session, made up of high school participants, was led by Sanjey Noriega and Tisen Fryberg. Noriega was a college basketball player at University of Alaska-Fairbanks and went on to play professional basketball in Europe and Latin America. Fryberg, a Tulalip tribal member, currently plays college basketball.




During both sessions, the young ballers with hoop dreams were able to win prizes, such as shooting sleeves or Strideline basketball socks, in various skill building drills. There was a fair share of solo drills, but for the most part the sessions were composed of team exercises that showcased the fact that basketball is indeed a team sport.

Everyone who participated in the basketball camp came away a better basketball player and a better teammate to their brothers of the hardwood. They grew and learned about more than just basketball, as each session instructor would share their personal stories overcoming obstacles to make it to the next level. While they practiced ball handling, dribbling, and shooting, they also learned about self-esteem, teamwork, and the value of hard work.


Contact Micheal Rios: mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov