A nation underwater: Quinault’s village of Taholah continues fighting inundation issues

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News; photos by Jeff Eison and Shelley McCrory

The mouth of the Quinault River holds a special place in the heart of every single tribal member of the Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) – and that is no exaggeration. A photo of the river alone can evoke memories of adolescence, whether that is celebrating Chief Taholah Days during each fourth of July weekend, swimming with your cousins in the summertime, or harvesting delicious blueback sockeye salmon from its waters. Long before the days of colonialism, the ancestors of the Quinault people lived and harvested along the banks of the river. And to this day, nearly two hundred households, approximately seven hundred people total, still call the Indigenous village that leads to the ocean, home. 

Present day Taholah can be divided into two sections; the lower village and the upper village (more commonly known as Snob Hill). The upper village consists of a handful of homes, the Roger Saux Health Center and the Tribal administration office. These facilities are relatively new as many of the buildings were established in the 80’s and 90’s due to a need for expansion for the growing tribe. However, during QIN’s early days of self-governance, all tribal operations were located in the lower village and the tribal office itself had quite the view of the mouth of the Quinault River. 

In addition to the many families that occupy the lower village, several departments and businesses still operate near the river including the Quinault Cultural Museum, Quinault Enterprises (a.k.a. the fish house), the Taholah Mercantile, the post office, the community center, the police department, the Nugguam (QIN newspaper), as well as the senior center, shaker church, daycare, head start and the K-12 tribal school. Generation after generation, Quinaults spent their youth learning about their lifeways, traditions and culture, largely centered around the lower village and the Quinault River. 

The Quinault River feeds into the Pacific Ocean and during the 70’s, the Nation installed a seawall extending along the coastline for about a half a mile and roughly ten-feet tall, protecting the town of Taholah from the unpredictable, powerful, and often times dangerous waters of the sea. This proved to be an effective solution to the threat of flooding during high tide and stormy weather. That is until 2014 when the ocean breached the seawall and excessive water poured into the lower village, causing water damage to many homes and establishments. 

The Quinault River feeds into the Pacific Ocean and during the 70’s, the Nation installed a seawall extending along the coastline for about a half a mile and roughly ten-feet tall, protecting the town of Taholah from the unpredictable, powerful, and often times dangerous waters of the sea. This proved to be an effective solution to the threat of flooding during high tide and stormy weather. That is until 2014 when the ocean breached the seawall and excessive water poured into the lower village, causing water damage to many homes and establishments. 

The Nation made an emergency declaration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers answered the call, assisting the tribe with repairs to the ruptured seawall. That incident also forced the Tribe to consider relocating the entire lower village to higher ground and out of harm’s way, from both the inundation of the Quinault River and the possibility of a tsunami as Taholah is located on the Cascadia subduction zone.

Since then, QIN created a master plan to relocate the lower village and even began clearing land and constructing a select few buildings of the new village, the very early stages of a 25-year plan. Ideally, the Nation would like to get everybody uphill as soon as possible, but they have been met with a number of challenges such as funding. The original masterplan estimated the total cost of relocation right around $65 million. 

Although many QIN tribal members agreed that relocation is probably the best solution, several families expressed that they simply would not leave their homes when it came time to relocate, and perhaps deemed the threat of extreme flooding too far ahead in the future. 

The 2014 flood was attributed to climate change, a result of sea-level rise. Rising sea-level is a complex topic that will in time impact the entire planet. Like Taholah, many towns and major cities across the world will experience severe flooding, and in some extreme cases they could be underwater completely. Scientist and environmentalists predict that sea-level will continue to rise at about its current rate until around the year 2050, and then will start to accelerate at even a faster pace after that.

Since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800’s, the Earth has been rapidly heating up due to the excessive burning of fossil fuels and the production of greenhouse gases. As the planet traps those emissions in its atmosphere, the warmer Earth gets. And as a direct result of global warming, the amount of water in the ocean is increasing because as water heats, it expands. Another contributing factor to sea-level rise are the melting ice caps. 

“Sea-level has risen eight or nine inches in the last hundred years and it’s accelerating,” said Phillip North, Tulalip Natural Resources Conservation Scientist. “Since global warming is happening faster than we expected, the water is getting warmer faster and expanding. We’re getting more sea-level rise than expected. Plus, the warmer ocean is melting the ice faster. Greenland is melting faster, Antarctica is melting faster, all the continental glaciers; everything’s melting faster than we expected. We’ll see a pretty steady progression up until the middle of the century and then it will start to speed up.”

Almost seven years later, amid a worldwide pandemic, ocean waters encroached the lower village of Taholah once again on the morning of January 12. Following a stormy PNW night, that cut out the lights on the Tulalip reservation, the ocean surge met with high tide causing the Quinault river to swell, allowing even more ocean water to enter the village than the 2014 flood. QIN Interim Emergency Coordinator and volunteer firefighter, Desiree Markishtum, explained that they were prepared and prepped 200 sandbags the night prior in case the water threatened to flood the village. However, not many could predict the amount of flooding and water damage that would ensue that morning. 

“On January 12, high tide was expected around 11:00 (a.m.),” she stated. “I received an email from Bob Shale in Utilities Maintenance at 11:23 stating that his department would be needing a lot more sandbags and that the water was coming in fast. His office building is located on the end of First Ave. Immediately afterwards I received a call from [QIN COO] Andrea Halstead asking that I get an eye on that as soon as possible. I showed up on scene to see our ambulance’s, and other first responder vehicles, tires about 1/8 of the way underwater which is unusual. 

She continued, “next I see Lisa Hall, the Nation’s lead paramedic, about mid-shin in the water observing the scene. At 11:53, I was given the orders to evacuate the residents of First Ave by Chief of Police, Mark James, and began evacuating the most vulnerable, our elders and our children. At that time, public safety began the evacuation of Pine and Cedar Street, both impacted by the flood as well. Evacuees were placed at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino in Ocean Shores and at the Ocean Crest in Pacific Beach until conditions were safe, which was two days total.”

Once again, QIN declared a flooding emergency and released a statement claiming that the excessive water inundated the tribal police station, court house, multiple homes and essential infrastructure. The statement also warned the tribal membership of the possibility of landslides on the only safe and reliable road out of Taholah, SR-109, that could prevent or hinder evacuation efforts. 

“As a tribal member it was a very scary feeling seeing so many homes being impacted by the flooding,” expressed QIN Tribal member, Tootie James. “Desiree Markishtum, current acting emergency management coordinator, did an awesome job evacuating the elders and community members in need. I brought my mom, a tribal elder, for a ride around the village after the storm. She said she’s never seen anything like it before. The flooding has never been this bad.”

With lower village residents safely evacuated, QIN was not in the clear just yet. With much of the town still covered in about a half-a-foot of water, the Nation still needed to prepare for yet another challenging day as a king tide was set to make an appearance the following morning. 

Said Tootie, “the Tribe issued leave time for [employees] to utilize work-hours to fill sandbags so we would be ready. There was probably about fifty or more people filling empty sandbags working to beat the tide. By the time we were finished, it was almost noon and the tide had already pushed us back. For me it was really scary being around a large group of people due to COVID, but it felt like it was work that needed to be done.” 

Added Desiree, “coming from a close community like Taholah, a big thing to take away from this event is the importance of knowing your community, what their capabilities are, and also knowing their needs.”

After a great show of community, QIN President Fawn Sharp issued a statement to Quinault membership and expressed, “On behalf of the Quinault Business Committee, we want to publicly thank all those who stepped up to help in our moment of disbelief as we all witnessed the ocean breach into our village.  The line of volunteers who dropped everything to answer our call to action to fill sandbags was a testament to our strength, resiliency, and love for each other.  No matter how crazy the outside world becomes, there’s one thing for certain – in times of need and emergency, we are Quinault Strong, always have been and always will be.”

President Sharp also shared that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were on their way to the reservation to assess the damage of the village, while also calling on ‘federal and state partners to work with [QIN] to better prepare for inevitable future flooding’. 

QIN tribal member, Nancy Underwood, lives in the lower village and was evacuated the day of the flood. She stated that luckily there was no structural damage to her home, but it did cause damage to her plumbing and electrical systems. And if there was any skepticism about relocation before this event, she now sees the idea in a whole new light.

“It was an eye opener for sure,” Nancy exclaimed. “It gave us all a real fear of the elements. We are now in emergency preparedness mode and wondering what the next storm has in store for us. This most certainly gave us a greater respect for Mother Nature, our family and belongings. After that experience and how fast everything happened, I firmly would relocate my family. You can replace material things, but you can’t replace your family had something worse happened.”

For now, QIN is continuing with their relocation master plan that places their membership and residents of the lower village 120-feet above sea level, out of the tsunami flood hazard zone. With the recent declaration of disaster caused by the tribe’s largest flooding catastrophe to date, hopefully the Nation can now find additional funding to help speed-up the process of relocation to ensure the safety and well-being of the tribe’s membership and future generations. 

“Our tribe is currently working as fast as they can to move the village to higher ground,” explained Tootie. “There are plans for new homes; the senior center, daycare and head start are going to be opening soon so they will be safe from flooding and out of the tsunami zone. It’s a hard but necessary decision for people to leave their homes and move to higher ground.”

Medicine Wheel mural honors essential employees

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Medicine Wheel, sometimes referred to as the Sacred Hoop, has been used by generations of various Native American tribes for health and healing. It embodies the Four Directions – often interpreted as the four aspects of life: spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical – all of which come together to symbolize the cycle of life. For healers, the Medicine Wheel often represents an omnidirectional perspective on health care. A perspective known as holistic healing, which considers the whole person – mind, body and spirit – in the quest for optimal wellness. 

During the midst of a global pandemic, the Tulalip Tribes shut down all non-essential departments for several months, but the quest for wellness continued at the local health clinic where nearly one hundred health care workers and support staff were deemed essential. These employees carried out their daily responsibilities to the Tulalip community while COVID-19 steadily penetrated the reservation. Their commitment to uplifting health opportunities and bringing about wellness to their patients is now immortalized in a remixed Medicine Wheel mural. 

 “After COVID hit us here locally, I was inspired to cheer people up and boost our sense of team accomplishment here at the clinic. This mural is to honor all our essential staff who worked tirelessly during the tribal-wide shut down,” explained muralist Mark Dewitt, facility maintenance supervisor. “From administration to dental to medical, even some behavioral health specialists, and all my maintenance and custodial crew, together we made sure the Tulalip Health Clinic remained open and available for all its patients.”

The mural is a can’t miss feature along a back hallway of the health clinic. Eighty-two vibrant handprints represent unique signatures from the clinic’s essential employees. Dewitt said it was a process tracking down each employee and finding time for them to leave their proverbial mark on the mural, but the final product was well worth it.

“Everybody loved it. From the leadership staff down to maintenance, it was a great team building exercise that let everyone know it took each and every one of them to make this place function smoothly,” said Mark. He also noted the wheel’s center hub, a beaver, represents the maintenance team. Beavers build, they maintain, they’re always busy and they’re dam good.

As the number of confirmed cases in Tulalip peaked in late November and steadily decreased since, in addition to an enthusiastic embracing of the Moderna vaccine by Tulalip tribal members and employees, there is a renewed sense of optimism for the future. On the business side, the Tulalip enterprise is back to business as usual, albeit with social distancing and mask-wearing protocols now in place. 

One wall in the health clinic will always serve as a striking reminder of the essential hands that worked together to ensure the quest for wellness never came to a halt. Like the Medicine Wheel, the community’s dynamic self was prioritized and continues to be treated holistically.

While adding the finishing touches to his mural, Dewitt reflected back to March 2020 and an unprecedented tribal-wide shut down. “We stuck it out, we were here for the community, and together we fought this battle and survived,” he said. “And these are the hands that did it all.”

With “More to Love,” the bright new Quil Ceda Creek Casino set for February 3 grand opening

New property includes expanded main casino and entertainment venue, new Food Hall with enhanced dining experiences and multi-story parking garage.

TULALIP, WA (Jan. 20, 2021) –The all new Quil Ceda Creek Casino will hold its grand opening on Wednesday, February 3, introducing the public to the next major gaming, dining and entertainment destination in the Northwest.

The highly anticipated new casino spans 126,000 square feet – more than twice the size of the current property across the street. It will spotlight a beautifully designed and greatly expanded main casino, a new Food Hall and additional dining options, an innovative entertainment venue and a six-story parking garage. The new Quil Ceda Creek Casino is situated on 15 acres of Tulalip Tribal land located directly off I-5 at exit 199.

Following a Tulalip Tribes’ ceremony blessing the new “Q” the doors will open to patrons at 10 a.m. Initial capacity will be limited, and a text message system will inform guests when they can enter the casino.

The current Quil Ceda Creek Casino will remain fully operational until 2 a.m. February 3, when it will close permanently. 

The new Quil Ceda Creek Casino will feature:

  • 1,500 gaming machines (an increase of 500 machines) and 16 table games (with three new tables and new games added)
  • “The Kitchen” – an exciting new Food Hall experience with venues serving a variety of made-to-order dishes 24/7
  • “The Landing” – classic favorites on the menu for full-service, a la carte dining 
  • “The Stage” – expanded entertainment offerings including live music, sports viewing on massive state-of-the art video walls, and other events
  • A 1,000 stall, six-story parking structure (with 700 more spaces than the current casino), additional surface parking, and charging stations for electric vehicles.

The casino’s kitchens will be the first in the region to fully incorporate energy-saving windspeed and induction cooking technologies. Menu items will spotlight fresh, local ingredients from Northwest suppliers prepared with the latest “green cooking” techniques.

The new Quil Ceda Creek Casino will be open 24/7. It will be a no smoking and vaping property, providing designated smoking areas for guests’ convenience. 

“We can’t wait to show guests what we mean when we say there will be ‘More to Love’ in their gaming, dining and entertainment experience,” said Belinda Hegnes, Interim Executive VP of Quil Ceda Creek Casino. “We’ll continue to provide the friendly, casual guest experience we’re known for, but now in a larger facility with more room to enjoy all that we offer.”

The new casino will continue to safeguard the health and safety of guests and team members with multiple programs: limited capacity, guests and team members are required to wear properly fitting masks, no-touch temperature checks performed upon entry, social distancing, aggressive deep cleaning procedures, and entertainment areas closed based on COVID-19 guidelines. For more information on sanitation, health and safety measures visit the casino’s website. 

Tulalip Tribes have completed new street improvements to enhance ease of access to the new facility.

More information on the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino visit quilcedacreekcasino.com/NewQCCCasino.

Gerald Duane FRYBERG Sr.

MAY 12, 1943 – JANUARY 16, 2021

Sunrise May 12, 1943 Sunset January 16, 2021 Gerald D Fryberg, Sr. 77, of Tulalip WA left our world on January 16, 2021. He was born, raised and lived his life on the Tulalip Reservation. Born to Martin Fryberg and Josephine Hatch Fryberg on May 12, 1943.

He was the first Tulalip Tribal member to complete the Federal Indian police academy in New Mexico and the first Tulalip Police Officer. He is known for being the Security Director at the Tulalip Bingo and then for the Tulalip Casino Resort until he retired.

He is survived by his wife Sammy Kaye Fryberg of Nez Perce; Eleven children. Brothers Billy (Sharlene) Dean Fryberg, Sr., Marlin Fryberg Sr., Cyrus (Karen) Fryberg and Sister Jeanette Fryberg. Special Niece and Nephew Marci Fryberg and Marlin Fryberg Jr. Hunting nephew Dennis Allman and children 50+ Grandchildren, 61+ Great Grandkids. Numerous Great great Grandkids, nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his Parents Martin Fryberg and Josephine Hatch Fryberg; Byron Fryberg, Sr., Myron Fryberg Sr. LeRoy Fryberg Sr., LeRoy Fryberg Jr., Clarence Hatch; Gerald Fryberg III (Handsome), Clinton Fryberg, Amelia Spencer; Anita Maurice; Baby Boy Spencer, Melvin Boehme, Christopher Boehme.

Graveside Service at Mission Beach Cemetery on 1/21/2021 at 9:00 AM

Meet Dr. Kay Moua, advanced diabetes management specialist for Tulalip’s health clinic

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Native communities and diabetes. The two have been linked since colonization forcibly removed tribes from their ancestral lands and traditional food sources. Ever since it’s been a never ending struggle to battle one of the most challenging health problems of the 21st century. According to the World Health Organization, each year an estimated 1.8 million deaths are directly caused by diabetes, while another 2.2 million deaths are attributed to high blood glucose.

It’s no question that diabetes is a nationwide health problem, but for Native people its life altering effects are felt at a much higher rate. Native communities have the highest diabetes prevalence of all ethnic groups in the United States. Nearly 1 out of 6 Native citizens has diabetes presently, and the Centers for Disease Control predicts that 1 in 2 Native children born since 2000 will have type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. 

Fortunately, Tulalip is excited to announce a vital new resource in its fight against the shared enemy. Dr. Kay Moua has joined the health clinic’s Diabetes Care and Prevention Program. An advanced diabetes management specialist, she brings a treasure trove of experience and cutting edge knowledge. She is well regarded for her expertise in the latest techniques and most effective practices for managing and preventing diabetes.

Dr. Kay was gracious enough to be interviewed by syeceb staff in order to introduce herself, her medical background, and what she hopes to accomplish in Tulalip. 

SYS: You have a unique cultural background. Can you tell us about it?

I was born in Laos, and my ethnicity is Hmong. My family migrated to a refugee camp in Thailand after the Vietnam War and came to the Unites when I was 11-years-old. I started learning English (e.g. the alphabet, colors, numbers) in 7th grade.

My husband and I have been married for 30 years. We have 4 children, 3 boys and 1 girl. We are family-oriented people and love to host. My husband is the oldest of seven siblings, so we’re always surrounded with family and friends. My in-laws live on the same property, which is common for us to have multigenerational living in the same house. My mother-in-law is a Shaman, so we still perform traditional rituals and practices.  

SYS: Please describe your educational journey to become Doctor Kay. 

I’ve worked in the medical field since graduating High School. My first job was in a family practice where I started as a receptionist, then later trained in back office work, which included billing and rooming patients. I attended a community college while working full-time. After completing my AA degree in Medical Office, I continued school in the pursuit of a nursing degree.

Once I graduated with my Associate Degree in Nursing and earned my license, I went to work as a Registered Nurse (RN) at Providence hospital in Everett. Seeing so many people come into the hospital with poor diabetes control motivated me to pursue my Nurse Practitioner license to help people living with diabetes. After attending graduate school, where I received my Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN) and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) license, I joined the Endocrinology team at the Everett Clinic to care for patients with diabetes. 

Even though I enjoyed my work very much, I knew that I need to get back to school to achieve my personal goal of having a doctoral degree. With hard work and dedication, I graduated with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in 2015. I continued to take extra classes and trainings and was able to pass the National Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM) certification the following year.

SYS: What motivated you to join the Tulalip Health Clinic and practice medicine for the Tulalip people?

Native Americans are one of the highest risk groups for the development of diabetes. I was surprised to find out that in the history of the Tulalip Health Clinic an Endocrinologist or someone like myself has not been available for the people of Tulalip without a referral to an outside facility. I am pleased to be one of the first contracted providers to manage patients utilizing devices like CGM and insulin pumps. These technologies have evolved over time and under my care and direction we will be offering these devices in 2021 to patients who have this interest in advanced diabetes management.

The Tulalip Health Clinic already has a successful Diabetes Care and Prevention Program. I love the fact that the program is able to provide so many activities to teach people about diabetes and keep the community engaged with the clinic. In fact, I’ve never came across another diabetes program that is so unique and able to provide so much for their patients. I want to work with the team to help expanding the diabetes program by offering advanced diabetes care to Tribal members, to ensure that their treatment is up-to-date with most current medications and have the option to use technologies to enhance diabetes management. Tribal members should not have to seek care outside the Reservation for diabetes treatments. 

SYS: You specialize in advanced diabetes management. Can you explain what this means?

As I mentioned earlier, diabetes care has been my main focus from training during Nurse Practitioner school and my doctoral degree school. I’ve worked with patients with diabetes for over ten years. I continue to immerse myself with conferences and continuation education that’s specialized on diabetes to stay up-to-date with current medications and technologies and guidelines. 

I’m an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) by trait, with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree and national Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM) specialist. Patients are referred if they need to improve blood sugar control or have interest in insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor. Diabetes treatment is complicated and has to be individualized. I make sure that patients are offered the best and most appropriate treatment options available to the individual. 

I also have extensive experience incorporating technologies such as continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps to help patient improve diabetes control. Insurance requires additional documentations and special forms for approval. These technologies requires extra training and longer appointment time with patients that may not be feasible for general providers. This is why my service is required. I work with these devices every day and familiar with insurance requirements for quick approval.  

SYS: With your extensive professional experience, what do you consider the biggest challenges to minimizing the diabetes epidemic?

Unfortunately, diabetes prevalence continues to increase every year. There are many contributing factors to this epidemic. I think our current financial economy posts many obstacles in diabetes prevention and treatment. Budget is tight in most households, especially with more and more people losing their job during COVID, leading to even more unhealthy diet and lack of exercise.

We all know the importance of a healthy diet. However, it may not always be feasible when you have a tight budget. Fresh food costs 2-3 times more than process food. People are working longer hours and don’t have time to cook, so they are eating more fast food. Combining processed and high fat foods with eating late at night contribute to weight gain, leading to increased insulin resistance or worsening diabetes control.

Healthy diet and routine exercise are the cornerstone of diabetes prevention and treatment. As people are working longer hours to make ends meet, they don’t have time to do anything else. Exercise is unlikely to be a high priority after a long work day. Lack of exercise increases fatty tissue, which causes insulin resistance and high blood sugar. 

SYS: In your ideal scenario, how will your work positively impact the Tulalip community?

Diabetes management is complex and requires collaboration between the patient, their family members and the healthcare team to achieve best outcomes. As a new provider of the community, it’s important for me to learn the culture and incorporate the Tribal ways of living when making treatment plans. I believe getting to know the people, developing good rapport with patients, and building trust with the community are the key steps to improving diabetes control within the Tulalip community.

My understanding is that some tribal members have been going elsewhere for advanced diabetes care or have not been active in seeking diabetes care. My goal is to provide the most current diabetes treatment options for members living with diabetes right on the reservation. I will need to prove my knowledge and earn the trust of the community in order to draw members back to the Tulalip Health Clinic for diabetes management. 

SYS: A principle of Native culture has always been holistic care (mind, body and spirit). Considering this, what advice or best practices would you suggest to combat diabetes and pre-diabetes?

I’ve always believe in holistic care approach. It is crucial to access and address the individual’s mental and physical health that may impact their ability to maintain diabetes management. Successful diabetes care also requires taking the time to access and get to know the patient, their family, their environment, and cultural practices and incorporating this information into individual treatment plans. We all have different cultural practices and traditional food that should be respected. 

I’m so excited that the Diabetes Care and Prevention team has a garden to showcase and incorporate the Pacific Northwest native plants for natural medicines and herbal remedies. The Diabetes Program garden provides diabetes education and promotes traditional food, healthy eating, and activity. Healthy diet and staying active are important for everyone, but even more crucial for those who have diabetes or prediabetes.

My goal is to be a resource and provide guidance for patients who have diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes through obstacles like diet, exercise, blood sugar checking, or medication management. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause many unforgiving long-term complications. Diabetes can start to cause damage to internal organs in prediabetes state. Therefore, it is important to do everything you can to maintain good blood sugar control if you are considered high risk or as soon as you found out that you have diabetes.

My vision for the Tulalip Diabetes Program is to expand diabetes care to Tribal members with prediabetes. Historical records show that at least 20% of these patients convert to full blown type 2 diabetes yearly. We need to focus our attention on preventing diabetes in order to decrease the diabetes epidemic. I hope that we will be able to offer routine educational group classes on diabetes disease and have activities to promote healthy eating and active living once it’s safe to have group classes again. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to find safe activities to stay active and practice meal portion control.        

SYS: Anything else you’d like to share to our readers?

Special thanks to Roni Leahy (Tulalip Diabetes Program Coordinator) for having the vision to expand the Diabetes Care and Prevention Program and entrusting me with this opportunity. I am grateful for the support from Dale Jones (Diabetes Program Advocate) and Brooke Morrison (Diabetes Program Assistant). I also like to thank the Tulalip Healthcare providers, Dr. Chad Cleven, Dr. Natasha LeVee, Dr. Howard Johnson, Dr. Rhonda Nelson, and Dr. John Okemah for welcoming me to the clinical team. 

It is an honor and privilege to have the opportunity working with the Tulalip Health System. I look forward to learning the Tulalip culture, earning the trust of each patients and the community, and collaborating care with the clinical team to improve the health and quality of life of tribal members suffering from diabetes.

Harold Lewis “Uncle Mickey” Walker

November 7, 1916 – January 11, 2021

Uncle Mickey passed away peacefully on January 11th at the age of 104 surrounded by family. Mickey was born in Cleveland Ohio on November 7th 1916 and spent many years sailing the Great Lakes as a merchant marine. Anyone who knew Uncle Mickey heard stories of the massive waters of the great lakes and the adventures that filled him for a lifetime. 
In 1941 Uncle Mickey began his service in the United States Navy where he served until 1945. He was a proud WWII veteran, and his whole family is proud of him. 


Mickey married his love Ruth Coy a Tulalip Tribal member in 1946, they spent many years in Renton while he made a career with the Boeing Company. Uncle made friends everywhere he went and that included many from Boeing. 


Mickey and Ruth made their way back to Tulalip where he retired from the Everett branch of Boeing. During this time Mickey and Ruth enjoyed being home in the Tulalip community; active at St. Anne’s Church, community ceremonies and partaking in traditional ways of being. Mickey was bestowed the title Honorary Tribal Member for his dedication and love for the Tulalip people. 


Uncle Mickey moved to a remote area in Arizona and began to lead a simple life, taking walks and enjoying the outdoors and traveling the Southwest with Ruth. He was very independent all the way until the end of his life. Uncle Mickey was a proud man, honorable and had a wonderful sense of humor. 


Uncle moved back to Tulalip 7 years ago and lived the rest of his life living with his nephew Lenny and spending time with family. Uncle Mickey is survived has numerous nieces and nephews who brightened up his life. He is preceded in death by his wife Ruth Walker, his parents, two brothers and a sister. 


We would like to thank all the caregivers who helped make Uncles life full, happy and healthy over the last couple of years. We will remember Uncle Mickey’s smile for the rest of our lives, he blessed us until his last breath and will continue on for the rest of ours. 

A graveside service will be held Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 12 Noon at Mission Beach Cemetery. Arrangements entrusted to Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home

New Mukilteo ferry terminal features Tulalip artwork and shares rich history

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“One of my goals is to keep my culture alive. With this project I wanted to give respect to our elders that have passed down all this information to us through the generations. I want to give respect to our elders that gave us life, that taught us who we are and the importance of our culture, the importance of our territory, the importance of understanding that our people are still alive and that we still practice our culture. We never stopped,” expressed Tulalip Master Carver and Artist, James Madison. 

Mukilteo-Clinton commuters who boarded the infamous white and green, double-decker ferry boat, at approximately 6:00 p.m. on December 29, were the first to experience a shared vision between Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Washington State Ferries (WSF) and a handful of local tribes; Tulalip, Lummi, Muckleshoot, Nooksack, Samish, Stillaguamish, Snoqualmie, Swinomish, Suquamish and Sauk-Suiattle. After twenty years in the making, the project officially broke ground in 2019 and days before the start of 2021, the Mukilteo Multimodal Ferry Terminal opened their tollbooths to people traveling across the waterways to Whidbey Island. 

Said Phillip Narte, WSF Tribal Liaison, “This new facility sits on Indigenous lands where the Snohomish and other Indigenous peoples fished, hunted, and gathered for generations. Without the partnership of eleven federally recognized tribes, we would have not been able to build this facility.”

The debut of the new ferry terminal was a hot topic over the past several years. Highly anticipated and discussed amongst Washington State residents, government officials and tribal nations due to its location and the necessity of a new terminal to help address a plethora of issues the city of Mukilteo faced including traffic congestion and the safety of their townspeople and ferry riders. The previous docking station was in use for over sixty years as the state’s second busiest terminal, carrying 4 million travelers annually, and WSF anticipates over the next twenty years, the amount of foot passengers will increase by 100%. 

“This project represents everything that matters to Washingtonians,” stated Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee. “The largest ferry system in the country has a new facility we can all be proud of – it is a symbol for the bright future we’re building here in Washington state.”

Previously, on any given day you could expect ferry-boarding traffic for miles, stretching from the sidewalk of Ivar’s Seafood Bar to Paine Field, but the new terminal aims to address that problem, now located a third-of-a-mile from the old station and off the main road. The terminal also includes closer drop-off and pick-up zones for bus passengers as well as a transit center for Sound Transit. Loading lanes have also been extended in both length and number of lanes, holding up to nearly 250 vehicles at a time. 

In addition to many new and exciting features, the terminal is located at a historic site, a location special to the tribes who frequented the Salish Sea long before the invention of ferries. People who called present day Mukilteo home since the beginning of time, harvested salmon and shellfish from its shores generation upon generation, and gathered at that location 165 years ago to sign the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott.  

That Treaty is a formal agreement between the federal government and the people who make up the central and north Puget Sound tribes, including the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish and other allied bands. As direct descendants of the Snohomish, the Tulalips ceded millions of acres of land, agreeing to move their people to the present-day Tulalip reservation. In return, the Tribe retained their rights to fish in their usual and accustomed grounds as well as hunt and gather on open and unclaimed lands in order to continue practicing their traditional cultural lifeways.

“This project is a pretty big deal for me because I’ve fished all along here all my life,” said Joe Gobin, Tulalip Artist and Master Carver. “We used to go there with Stan [Jones Sr.] and my dad, Bernie Gobin. I was also on the Fish Commission for like 30 years, and we actually had to negotiate for that ferry terminal to even go in because we had to give up certain fishing rights. It was a long time ago. It didn’t happen overnight, we knew that going into the project. It took a lot of years. It took a lot of negotiation. And this is kind of what came out of it, they recognize that this is our land, Tulalip’s, not anybody else’s.” 

Signage is posted along a walkway leading up the 5,865 sq. foot building that details the history and traditions of the Tulalip people, including information about canoes, treaties and longhouses. Drivers, foot passengers, and even locals out for a jog or walking their pets can learn about the Coast Salish lifestyle and journey, beginning with pre-colonial traditions, throughout the years of forced assimilation, and up until the current cultural resurgence that shows local tribes reclaiming their traditional language, songs, stories and practices, as evidenced by the many Lushootseed words and phrases displayed throughout the new terminal. 

“I’m from Eastern Washington, that’s where I grew up, and it’s nice to see the history for people who may not have the biggest voice around here, so that folks that come through here can actually see what was here before white people,” said Everett resident, Paul Shelton. “I like that it’s true to the tribes that were here before everybody else and that they’re properly represented, that makes me feel good.”

The biggest attraction at the new ferry terminal, garnering a lot of buzz online, is the artwork commissioned by a number of artists who originate from the tribes that signed the Point Elliot Treaty of 1855, including several designs created by Joe and James. Over a dozen traditional and contemporary pieces are showcased at the terminal, which was constructed to replicate a traditional cedar longhouse.

“The longhouse idea, that might have been Hank,” explained Joe thoughtfully. “My cousin Hank Gobin was involved with all of that in the beginning before he passed. He did a lot of the groundwork, making sure that it was representative of our people in the right way. That’s how I approached this project, how I tried to do my artwork, representative of us; the killer whales, the salmon, our canoes.”  

In total, Joe can be credited for six contributions; two metal spindle whorl designs located at each end of the building (one killer whale, the other salmon), one cedar spindle whorl on the inside of the building that depicts the traditional Tulalip Seal Hunting Brothers story, two welcome posts (one man and one woman) located near the restrooms, and a full-sized cedar dug-out canoe, which hangs overhead inside the terminal and faces a gorgeous ceiling-to-floor view of Possession Sound.

Many other magnificent Indigenous works are on display throughout the 400,000 sq. foot property such as carvings and weavings by tribal artists who represent other sovereign nations, like the welcome figures located at the tollbooth created by Suquamish artist Kate Ahvakana. 

James also made two artistic contributions for the project that are unique in design, traditional in story, and personal in heritage. In each elevator shaft, extending both levels, are dual-sided glass displays that place you in an underwater world, a Tulalip story that James grew up with and heard his entire life. 

James said, “For me, it was important to speak from teachings that I learned from my grandfather. Teachings that he learned from his grandmother and from his uncle, who taught him in our old traditions and with our old stories. Those teachings have been passed down all the way to me. My art, the giant glass pieces, are kind of historical and are the very meaning of our existence in that area. My story is about the water people. It’s a story my grandpa, Frank Madison, told me many times about this village that was under the water; there used to be a longhouse under the water and we, the human beings and animals, all spoke the same language. I have a portrait of my grandfather in the water amongst the whales and the salmon, two important creatures to our people. And the other glass mural is of my grandfather’s mother, my great-grandmother Delia Jimicum. They’re all amongst the water people. There’s a longhouse in the background and that’s the water people’s longhouse.”

As the original caretakers of this land, Tulalip kept the sacred Salish waters and all of its inhabitants in mind during the early phases of planning for the new terminal. Going green and minimizing the carbon foot print was a shared interest, as well as a special request, from the city of Mukilteo. This resulted in several design features that will be ‘light on the earth’ like minimal overwater coverage so marine plants can thrive in their native waters, and a shed roof covered with solar panels for energy efficiency as well as to collect rainwater. The Terminal also focuses on the proper treatment of storm water runoff with rain gardens and ‘pervious concrete’ in the holding lanes. And soon, Washington State Ferries will be going electric, which is great news for the environment. 

“Putting the whale and the salmon in my art was important,” James stated. “Not just because of stories that we passed on in our culture, but also to show the significance and importance of what the orca whale, we call it Blackfish, and the salmon mean to Native people in the Puget Sound. We need to take care of them, it’s been my mission to put that message out there. It’s so important for us to protect them because when they’re gone, we’re gone.”

Although the project required lots of dedicated hours from several parties and took multiple years to complete, everybody’s hard work could not be celebrated in-person together, unfortunately, due to COVID-19. Instead, WSF and WSDOT held a virtual ribbon cutting ceremony that featured commentary from many of the individuals who had hand in the project, and also numerous Washington State lawmakers like Governor Inslee and Senators Cantwell and Murray who are excited about the new terminal and its location’s rich Salish history.

“I hope to see that all of this starts a trend when they start remodeling other ferry terminals and incorporate artwork by our people at all of them just like they do in Canada,” Joe expressed. “It kind of opens up the door for other artists, so hopefully the younger artists are watching and start getting involved in more projects like this. I’m kind of the old guy now, the eldest artist out there.”

James added, “It’s been a long, long time coming for this project. And being a part of such an important project on our very land that our people lived on and harvested from, is important to our people. A building like this is significant, not just because it’s our territory and it’s on our land, but because people get to intermingle with all the art and read it, and read about us and about the area and the territory. I think that this needs to be done everywhere in the Puget Sound region. My hands go up to the Tribe and our leaders. I hope I was able to represent our people in the best way that I could.”