Tulalip hosts First Annual MOA Training with Washington State’s Children’s Administration

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Dr. Stephanie Fryberg, keynote speaker for the first annual tribal training under the MOA.
Dr. Stephanie Fryberg, keynote speaker for the first annual tribal training under the MOA.

In January 2016, the Tulalip Tribes and the State of Washington signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that would allow the two entities to collaborate on government-to-government issues regarding child welfare and Tulalip youth. Tulalip wants to ensure that the youth of the community remain connected to their culture and their people.

Previously, in the event that a Tulalip child was taken out their home, the child would enter the system and often would be placed in the home of non-natives. This practice caused a disconnect between the youth and their families and culture. Tulalip has long worked on a resolution, and at the beginning of 2016 the resolution was presented in the form of the MOA. The agreement involves the Tulalip Tribal Court, beda?chelh, and Child Protective Service caseworkers uniting together to ensure that when a Tulalip youth is removed from the their parent’s guardianship, that child will relocate but remain with family. If family is unable to take the child in, alternate families throughout the community are considered and are the next option for placement. Once the child is relocated, beda?chelh team members remain involved, often assisting the families with guidance and informing them when cultural and community events are occurring.

Recently, in the month of November, caseworkers and team members of Washington State Children’s Administration traveled to the Tulalip Administration Building for the first annual Tribal Training Under the MOA. Tulalip’s goal for the first training was to make sure the trainees had a clear understanding of how a tribal community operates.

The trainees had the opportunity to meet the teams they will be working with including, Judge Whitener and the Tulalip tribal attorneys, the beda?chelh team, as well as Tulalip Tribes General Manager Misty Napeahi and Kinship Coordinator Verna Hill.

Dr. Stephanie Fryberg, keynote speaker, shared her experience growing up on the Tulalip Reservation. She explained that the modern society praises an independence lifestyle, which is introduced at a young age. Independence is based on the decisions an individual makes, meaning a person’s successes and failures are placed entirely on that individual.

She then explained to the group the opposite of independence, interdependence. Dr. Fryberg explained that the majority of the world adapts the interdependence lifestyle. Interdependence is the reason why many cultures including, Native American, have strong, deeply connected communities. With interdependence, each individual has a role to play within their community. If a person fails they are supported by their community, allowing the individual the opportunity to learn why they failed. Not only does this present the opportunity for the individual to learn from the mistake but also the chance for more experienced members to pass down advice and knowledge to the individual, therefore making a stronger connection amongst community members.

Dr. Fryberg spoke of the importance of growing up in an interdependence based community. She informed the group that she has taken in two Tulalip tribal children, the youngest an infant boy who was born prematurely.

She states, “He’s really had a big impact on the way I think about what we are doing in our community. The idea of focusing on promoting our people is really helping others see the strength in our people. This is something that has been really important and it will help move us away from the systems that have continued to hold people down. In particular the systems that have kept some families of our communities in foster care. And what we’re trying to do is interrupt that cycle. In our community there’s a real desire for well-being, there’s a real desire to help us move forward. What we’re doing is trying to be very purposeful in this work we are doing, as we continually think about how do we get better.”

She continued, “In that process we realized that change is hard, but it is hard because we are fighting against all of the mindsets people have.  We’re trying to be purposeful in understanding that it’s not just about individuals. They exist in a system. We can try to change the system to make it easier for our people. To help scaffold what it means to take those steps, to help improve them. And by improving them, we improve the next generation in our community.”

Dr. Fryberg stated that the young boy in her custody was born drug exposed. She researched different methods that would give the child in her care the greatest future possible. She stated, “I don’t know what the drugs did to his brain while he was in his mother’s body. I can’t know. But what I do know is that I will do everything for this little boy every day of his life to give him the best chance possible. And he is so loved! There are many families like mine in our community. There are many people who’ve taken in these babies and children, and said they are going to commit to these little souls with every ounce of energy they have.”

Wrapping up her speech, Dr. Fryberg addressed the trainees, “What we want you to walk away with today are three things. Number one, we want to approach our families, especially our most vulnerable families, from a place of promotion. They’re already in a terrible place. Most of them didn’t get there because they were awful people, but because they had awful experiences. So, we want to start from a place of promotion, and we want to put families back together. We have to find a way to empower people when they are most vulnerable because a lack of empowerment will never lead to change. Number two, we have to understand that there is more than one good legitimate way to be. There are different ways of existing in the world, there’s different ways of expressing, of thinking, and being motivated. And third and lastly, we have to know what our bias is and be willing to confront it in every interaction in the community and at home. Our objective is to make sure we do our best by our families and by our children.”



Contact Kalvin Valdillez, kvaldillez@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov 

Father of Washington School Shooter Arrested on Gun Charge

By Gene Johnson, The Associated Press

The father of a Washington state high school student who killed four classmates and himself last fall was arrested Tuesday on a federal charge that he was barred from possessing the gun his son used in the shooting.

Raymond Lee Fryberg Jr., 42, faces one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. An FBI agent alleged in a criminal complaint that even though Fryberg was subject to a domestic violence protection order, he purchased five guns from a Cabela’s outdoor recreation store, including the Beretta pistol his son used in the shooting, by lying on a federal form.

Jaylen Fryberg, 15, a well-liked freshman who had recently been a Homecoming prince, inexplicably shot and killed four friends and wounded another last October after inviting them to lunch in the cafeteria at Marysville-Pilchuck High School north of Seattle.

“Our office has a long history of working with our federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners across Western Washington to prosecute those who illegally possess firearms,” Annette Hayes, the acting U.S. attorney in Seattle, said in a news release. “This case is part of that effort and a reminder that we are united in our commitment to get firearms out of the hands of those who pose the greatest risk to our communities.”

Fryberg was due to appear in U.S. District Court on Tuesday afternoon. Federal court records did not indicate whether he had a lawyer.

According to the complaint, Fryberg’s then-girlfriend, the mother of one of his children, obtained a protection order against him in Tulalip Tribal Court in 2002, alleging that he had threatened her, slapped her and pulled her hair.

The order became permanent, and in September 2012, Fryberg entered a no-contest plea to a charge that he violated it. He was given a suspended sentence of six months and ordered again to comply with the terms of the order.

Just four months later, Fryberg went to a Cabela’s store on the Tulalip reservation and purchased the Beretta, the complaint said. He answered “no” on a federal form asking if he was subject to a court order restraining him from harassing, stalking or threatening a child or intimate partner, and he answered the same when he filled out forms for the purchase of four other weapons at the store between January 2013 and July 2014, the complaint said.

State Sen. John McCoy, a member of the Tulalip Tribe, said he didn’t know Fryberg had been subject to a restraining order.

“That’s exceptionally troublesome to me,” McCoy said. “It points me to the issue we’ve been arguing about in the state, that people are not going to tell the truth when they fill out the forms to buy a gun, so maybe we should have a registry of people who are subject to these orders. That’ll be more fodder for discussion.”

Elder’s Panel honored by Tulalip Tribal Court

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Elder’s Panel volunteer Hank Williams with Tulalip Tribes Tribal Court Judge Gary Bass, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, at the Tulalip Tribes Tribal Court. Williams along with other panel volunteers were honored during a special recognition ceremony hosted by the court. (Tulalip News Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil)
Elder’s Panel volunteer Hank Williams with Tulalip Tribes Tribal Court Judge Gary Bass, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, at the Tulalip Tribes Tribal Court. Williams along with other panel volunteers were honored during a special recognition ceremony hosted by the court. (Tulalip News Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil)

TULALIP – Tulalip elders over the past six years have worked diligently to make a positive change in their community through volunteer work via the Tulalip Elder’s Panel, an alternative diversion sentencing program at the Tulalip Tribes Tribal Court for first- time offenders.

On October 17, the panel of volunteers were celebrated by the Tulalip Tribes Tribal Court for their efforts in the community. The special recognition ceremony included Tulalip Tribes council members Deborah Parker, Maria Zackuse and Theresa Sheldon, along with over 30 attendees.

Tulalip elders, Don Hatch Jr., Eleanor M. Nielson, Hank Williams, John Bagley, Lee Topash and Maureen Alexander donate their time on a biweekly schedule, to teach offenders accountability through a unique approach that uses traditional Tulalip culture, the wisdom and experiences of Tulalip elders and tribal court staff to stop re-offending in those, ages 18-42, charged with non-violent crimes.

Enrollment is voluntary and upon successful completion of the program, charges are dismissed. However, the program does not come without its stipulations. Participants are required to complete a host of requirements to successfully complete the program. Requirements include active engagement in their culture and community, regular appearances before the panel, letters of apology, community service and substance abuse treatment, curfews, UA’s, anger management and mental health evaluations and no new violations.

Due to the success of the program, the Tulalip Elder’s Panel received the Hero’s Award in 2009 from the Washington State Bar Association for their volunteer service. This prestigious award typically goes to lawyers but in special circumstances, has been awarded to non-lawyers for their service in the field of law. The program has also inspired state courts to consider implementing a diversion program using the Elder’s Panel as a model. In 2011, the National Center for State Courts visited from New York to learn more about the panel.

“There is serious interest in the panel and the work the elders do,” said Wendy Church, Tulalip Tribes Tribal Court Director, during the recognition ceremony. “Not only do they save the Tribes a lot of funds in diverting young tribal members our of the criminal justice system, but the Elder’s Panel also has a high success rate of clients not returning to the system.”

The panel, in 2013, saved the court $20,000 in judicial and probation time, including jail cost, which can run the Tribe more than $100 a day for incarcerated tribal members. The panel sees an 87 percent success rate in participants.

Along with current panel members, former tribal court clerk Alicia Horne was honored for her work, along with Tulalip Tribal Court Judge Gary Bass and Don Hatch Jr., in establishing the panel. Horne is credited for creating the court forms the panel still uses. Former panel members Virginia Carpenter and the late Bill Shelton were also honored for their time and devotion to the Tulalip community.


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

A passion for law

Tulalip tribal member working towards Juris Doctorate

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP – For Michelle Sheldon, law has always been visibly present in her life. As a member of a tribe that borders the I-5 corridor in Snohomish County issues regarding jurisdiction, treaty fishing rights, and Indian gaming helped shape the environment she lives in. When it came time to choose an area of study, law was a natural choice.

Encouraged by her parents and with funding help from her Tribe’s higher education department, Sheldon enrolled in Seattle University School of Law’s evening program as a part-time student to earn her Juris Doctorate, which she will receive in December 2016. She plans to use her education in law to aid in the continued development of her Tribe.

“I have always wanted to learn more about the laws that govern the Tulalip Tribes. Because both my undergraduate and graduate studies were in criminal justice, it seemed like a natural fit to pursue a law education and to see how I can help benefit the Tribe one day,” said Sheldon, who currently works in the her Tribe’s legal department and previously was a court clerk at the Tulalip Tribes Tribal Court.

As a legal manager with the Tulalip Tribes, Sheldon sees first-hand how law is used to make contracts, enforce treaty rights, enact justice in criminal proceedings, and resolve housing issues. “I am exposed to a variety of different areas of legal work on a regular basis,” says Sheldon. “As I begin to advance in my legal studies, I am starting to understand how the law factors into each of these practice areas, which in turn, provides me with exposure and opportunities that I would not otherwise have if I worked elsewhere. I am very fortunate to be able to work in this department and apply what I learn from school to my everyday profession. It is truly a rewarding experience and opportunity that I am grateful to have.”

Discovering a passion for law while in her graduate studies, Sheldon says it is important for tribal members to know the laws that govern their tribe. “By having our tribal laws available online, for example, this provides a great resource and opportunity for the membership to read these laws and to perhaps to see what type of legal remedies are available to them.”

A law issue she is enthusiastic about is the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was recently spotlighted in the Supreme Court in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl in 2013, commonly known as the ‘Baby Veronica Case.’

“I have always been interested in the area of Indian child welfare as well as issues pertaining to tribal sovereignty, because of what they entail and what they promote, which are our rights to tribal children and the rights to maintaining and protecting our tribal sovereignty,” explained Sheldon.

Tulalip tribal member Michelle SheldonPhoto/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Tulalip tribal member Michelle Sheldon
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Sheldon explains that because lands on reservations, or Indian country, fall under tribal jurisdiction, these laws can differ from laws outside of Indian country.

“I think what is most interesting about laws that govern Indian Country is that they are created based on their community and enforced to meet the traditions and needs of the community,” said Sheldon. “A good example is our Tulalip Court Elder’s Panel, who offer first-time, non-violent offenders the opportunity to have their charges dismissed in court once they have successfully completed the one-year requirement of this panel. This panel is a healing panel of sorts, by often requiring many of its participants to write letters of apology to those they have wronged and to sometimes engage in substance abuse treatment for example. Most importantly, these individuals are required to be accountable to our tribal elders, who have taken the time to voluntarily participate on this panel. I think this is an excellent example of how Indian country can differ from our non-Indian country counterparts.”

Despite juggling full-time employment in a busy legal department and her part-time studies, Sheldon says she is determined to finish school and credits her biggest motivators, her parents, in helping her continue.

“They provided me with the inspiration to pursue my goals by always encouraging me that I could do it, no matter how hard or challenging it was. Once I decided to pursue a degree in law, they offered me endless amounts of encouragement and support, which in turn gave me the confidence to pursue my goals. I will always be thankful to them for this,” said Sheldon, who also credits the educational opportunities provided by her Tribe as a factor in her ability to obtain her Juris.

“I will always be thankful to the Tribe and to the Higher Education department for always looking out for me and for making sure that I have everything that I need to have the most beneficial educational experience as a student, so that I can continue to pursue my educational goals,” Sheldon said.

Sheldon advises anyone embarking on their own higher education goals to talk with the admission office at the school they are interested in, as they can help you prepare for critical documents you will need while applying.

“Another opportunity that I think would be beneficial for any tribal members who are thinking about attending law school is to ask your school of choice to visit an actual class session. It is also a great way to interact with the law professors and other law school students who are always willing to share their experiences with you and to share great tips on what to expect once you are admitted to the school.”


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

Leaving a legacy

Honorable Judge Gary BassPhoto/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Honorable Judge Gary Bass
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Judge Gary Bass discusses his career at Tulalip Tribal Court

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP – Honorable Judge Gary Bass, a Colville tribal citizen, has been a staple at the Tulalip Tribal Court for over a decade. He has witnessed the growth in staff, programs, and the selection of the court as one of three chosen as a pilot project to exercise special criminal jurisdiction as authorized by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 over non-Indians regarding domestic violence.

Recently Judge Bass received a lifetime achievement award from the Northwest Indian Bar Association in recognition for his long-term work in Indian country. The award recognizes his 49 years of law practice and work with Native communities.  Tulalip News /See-Yaht-Sub was able to sit down with Judge Bass and discuss his work in Indian country and his retirement from Tulalip Tribal Court at the end of this year.


The decision to practice law

“I was a young officer in the Army, and when you are a young officer, people that are up for special courts marshals can request that they have an officer, even though they are not a lawyer, represent them. I did that a few times and I really enjoyed it. I had never thought about being a lawyer until that time. I had an old lieutenant colonel that was my regimental commander, I went to him and said, ‘you know, I am thinking about staying in the Army or I am going to law school.’ He said, go to law school. I never knew if that was a result of him thinking I was a lousy solider or he thought law school would be a better fit for me.”


The change from lawyer to judge

“I was in King County and I had a large practice. One of the court commissioners there asked if I would like to come and sit, as what they call a pro tem judge, in King County Superior Court on ex parte, and I said yes. I did that for 20 years, two to four days a month, and that was really the start of me being a judge. The reason I came here to Tulalip is because Mike Taylor called me, and said, ‘gee you know anybody that would like to come up here and sit as the criminal court judge three days a week?’ At that time I was thinking about going semi-retired, but I said, well sure. It was three days a week but immediately it became full time, and of course I have been here ever since. It has been a great ride. I have really enjoyed it. I had never thought about becoming a tribal court judge until Mike brought the issue up. It was a better fit than being in the Superior Court because I probably would have been appointed to the Superior Court as a minority candidate, but I didn’t really want to do that. So this was the best thing that could have happened to me.”


Life at Tulalip Tribal Court

“At Tulalip Tribal Court we hear all kinds of cases. Everything you can think of, from child custody to youth-in-need-of-care cases to criminal and so forth. Our days are really pretty busy. We have ex parte that we have two times a week, where we sign orders for people that need to get orders signed for default divorces, guardianships, probates, restraining orders for domestic violence cases, and minor settlement, and once a week I have the domestic violence staff-in meeting. It gets busy.”

Law in Indian Country, what makes it so different

Tulalip Chief Judge Theresa Pouley and I are Native Americans, and we look upon the folks that come before us in the courts differently than we would in state courts. In state courts you probably are never going to see the individual in front of you again. Here, we get so that we know all the people that come before us. We know their family and we know all the things about them. Of course we look upon them as judges, but you kind of look at it more as of an elder guide. Their welfare and everyone that comes before us is extremely important to us. It is a different relationship and you get to be a part of the community here.”

“The law is frequently the same, but the things that are different of course are elders are treated with respect. We like to let folks have their say in court, which a lot of times in state courts the things that we allow people to talk about would never ever happen. Native Americans were treated so badly by the courts and justice systems that it is important to us to let them have their say. Some things that are said are not necessarily relevant to the case, but they should be entitled to have their say. As a result, we have a different attitude towards them. We regard everybody here as our brothers and sisters, and we are responsible for trying to solve their problems.”

Tulalip Tribal Court  Honorable Judge Gary Bass (seated) explains Miranda rights to students during Heritage Law Day in 2013.Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Tulalip Tribal Court Honorable Judge Gary Bass (seated) explains Miranda rights to students during Heritage Law Day in 2013.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News


What Tulalip gave in return

“It has made me more aware of all the problems through the years that Native Americans have had, from generational trauma from sending them to the boarding schools and all the problems that have occurred because of that. It has made me aware of that and given me much more understanding of it, and the way we do things.”

“I was never a pow wow guy. My family lived on the [Colville] reservation and we did all the things that we normally do on the reservation, but we weren’t intimately involved in the cultural aspects of the tribe. So being here has made me more aware and respectful of all the traditions and culture of Native Americans. I have learned a lot that I never knew before. It has really been instructive to me as a Native American. As a judge, it has made me more understanding, and more willing to try to help people.  One of the things I have always said is, when we get done, nobody is going to have statues of us like people in Washington D.C. and we are not going to have books written about us; our main legacy is that we have made lives better for our Native American brothers and sisters. That is our legacy and that is what drives me to want to do this.”


The awards

“I received a lifetime achievement award from the Northwest Indian Bar Association. It is recognition for someone’s long-term work they’ve done in Indian Country. At this point I have been working in Indian country, either urban or with tribes, for 48 years, so it is in recognition of that. When I was in Seattle I was very active in the urban Indian community.”

“I also have a plaque from the Martin Dale Hubbell organization, which is a world wide organization that sends out surveys to judges and attorneys to anonymously rate people. This award says I am AV, which means I have the highest ranking in legal and ethical ability that they can give. For me that was a great honor because it is from your peers. “


Accomplishing the task

“I am very satisfied with my career. I don’t think if I had to go back and do it again I would do anything any different. I have been very fortunate in a lot of ways, like coming here, I think that was the best thing that could have happened to me. I never had aspirations for being a Supreme Court judge, I always wanted to be a very good trial lawyer and I think I was. The crowning pinnacle of my career has been here at the Tribal Court, because hopefully I have helped make things better for Tulalip tribal members. The whole Court has contributed to the justice system here and the Tulalip Tribal Court is recognized through the nation as either one of the best or the best tribal courts in the nation. That is a result of the teamwork from the Board of Directors to all the departments, court staff and reservation attorneys. This Tribe should be proud of its court because it truly is one of the best.”


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

First-time offenders learn accountability through diversion program run by tribal elders

Tulalip tribal elder and Elders Panel member William Shelton, now deceased, explains how the diversion program works to the Indian Law & Order Commission in their visit to Tulalip Tribal Court in September 2011. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Tulalip tribal elder and Elders Panel member William Shelton, now deceased, explains how the diversion program works to the Indian Law & Order Commission in their visit to Tulalip Tribal Court in September 2011.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP, WA – The 2012 Annual Tulalip Tribal Court Report states 415 criminal cases were heard in court. Included in that 415, are 24 newly filed criminal alcohol charges and 69 disposed, meaning judicial proceeding have ended or a case that has been resolved. Also counted in that 415, are 76 newly filed criminal drug cases and 126 disposed. Helping to tackle these numbers is a group of volunteer Tulalip elders, who are teaching offenders accountability in a traditional way, and saving the court thousands of dollars.

In it’s sixth year, Tulalip Tribal Court’s Elders Panel is a diversion program that uses traditional Tulalip culture and the wisdom and experiences of Tulalip elders to reach first-time offenders and eliminate re-offending.

The panel meets every two weeks with non-violent first-time offenders, ages 18-42, who have been charged with minor criminal offenses such as possession of alcohol or marijuana, or criminal mischief. Currently the panel consists of Donald Hatch Jr., Lee Topash , Dale Jones, Arthur Hank Williams  Sr., Eleanor M. Nielson, and Katherine M. Monger.

Enrollment in the program is voluntary but comes with a large incentive to complete it. Defendants receive deferred prosecutions on their criminal charges for the length of their enrollment in the program, usually a year. Upon successful completion of the program, charges are dismissed. This is the one of the largest incentives a diversion program can offer a first-time offender; it is a chance to rebuild a life.

“If many of these offenders went through the regular process they would be in jail,” said Topash about the opportunity the program provides for participants. “We don’t cut them any slack. The one thing we encounter is attitude, especially with the young folks, they try and get things by us, but they quickly realize what it’s all about.”

The panel requires defendants to actively engage in their community and culture to learn the impact their actions create, not just in their life, but the lives of their family members and community members. Requirements include regular appearances before the panel, writing letters of apology, community service, substance abuse treatment, curfews, UA’s, anger management classes, mental health evaluations, and no new violations. Cultural participation can include family research and traditional spiritual activities.

“Coming here, has been the best thing for me,” said a current client. “If I hadn’t come here I would have lost my kids. I struggled at the beginning and I slacked off. I didn’t take it seriously and didn’t finish all my community service hours and I had to go to jail for a few days. Listening to the girls in jail it made me think about the opportunity I have in this program. I didn’t want to be in there. This program has changed me a lot and I am grateful, because this is the longest that I have been clean and sober in a long time.”

According to court estimates, the panel typically handles 10 cases a year, saving the court an average of $20,000 a year in judicial and probation time, including jail cost, which can run the Tribe $67.92 a day for each incarcerated tribal members, sentenced through Tulalip Tribal Court, and a $97 booking fee.

“There are costs that we cannot measure in terms of costs to society when young offenders are before Elders Panel and follow the sanctions sentenced by Elders Panel, and are not committing any new crimes,” said Tulalip Tribal Court Director, Wendy Church.

“We like to play the role of the grandfather and grandmother because we want to give advice that a grandfather or grandmother would give,” said Hatch about the cultural approach portion of the program.

Many of the positive changes in a defendant’s behavior early on in the process can be attributed to regular meetings. In small communities such as tribal communities, it is not unusual for participants to be familiar with elders on the panel. This eliminates the clinical judicial feel experienced in typical judicial diversion programs. This can be considered the program’s greatest keys to success.

“Indian people traditionally do not have good feelings about court systems,” explained Tulalip chairman, Mel Sheldon Jr.  “This program shows the young people that we all make mistakes but here are ways to recover from them.”

Although some offenders will re-offend, Elders Panel sees an 87 percent success rate in participants.

“The loss of this program would be huge in this community,” said Hatch. “We have saved the Tribe close to a million dollars over the past six years.  If we were not here a lot of our children would be in the court system and it would increase the cost to the court and to the Tribe. We would also lose all the good work through community service that helps our community, but more importantly we would lose helping our people.”

In 2009, the Tulalip Tribal Court’s Elders Panel was recognized by the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) for the Local Hero’s Award. The WSBA Board of Governors searches statewide for noteworthy programs that have made substantial contributions to their communities, this recognition is bestowed upon non-lawyers.

 For more information about the Elders Panel or to volunteer to be on the panel, please contact Tulalip Tribal Court at 360-716-4773.


Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov