Please use the following link to download the September 24, 2022 issue of the syəcəb
By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
“When building a bug out or a go bag, it’s important to get enough supplies and essentials to get you from point A to point B. Point A is the threat of danger and point B is the location that you choose for safety,” said Angel Cortez, Tulalip Emergency Management Director.
The Bolt Creek fire caused a lot of panic and distress for many families on the westside of Washington State. The air quality index at Tulalip reached an alarming 165 during the height of the fire, and people who lived in the nearby vicinity of the wildfire were urged to leave immediately. As many of our readers may know, Sky Valley Fire sent out an evacuation notice via a text message alert on the afternoon of September 10.
Meant for people in the Skykomish region, the alert was accidently sent out to everybody in Snohomish County. Residents of Tulalip, Everett, and Marysville took to social media to get the real scoop, asking their friends, families and local first responders if they needed to pack up and evacuate as the warning advised. And faced with a problem that us western Washingtonians hardly ever have to consider, a lot of people pondered what to grab in that emergency situation.
“It’s good to have a plan that meets the needs of you and the people you care about,” Angel said. “I tell people that preparing for something is basically how comfortable that you want to be in an uncomfortable situation. When people think about creating or building their bug out bag, they’re building them to provide safety, to provide comfort, and to provide the essentials for sustaining you to get to the next destination or a place of safety.”
Go bags, also known as bug out bags or 72-hour safety kits, are personalized backpacks that contain everything you need in the case of an emergency where you need to evacuate your home at a moment’s notice. Prior to COVID, the Tulalip Tribes Emergency Management team regularly held annual CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) classes for both youth and adults. Among all the fun and important teachings that the CERT trainings offer, including how to triage and help others during a natural disaster, part of the classes are dedicated to teaching people how to build their own go bags.
Said Angel, “We think of the big disasters as earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, and fires. But here at Tulalip, for the people who live on the cliffs or on the beaches, what about erosion? What happens if the cliff gives way? You might need to leave for that immediately. What if it’s in the middle of the night and you need to just get up, get your clothes on, your shoes on and leave. That’s where the bug out bag comes into play. It’s not being paranoid, it’s good to think of those things beforehand, rather than in the moment during an emergency situation.”
When creating your own bug out bag, Angel recommends personalizing it to your individual needs and stocking it with items you will actually use while in distress, such as tasty snacks that you enjoy as opposed to dry foods that may go to waste. He also advises that each member of your family creates their very own go bag, and to pack comfort items for the kids like stuffed animals, their favorite toys, and their choice of entertainment including tablets and books.
He said, “I have five kids. So, if something were to happen, each of my kids can grab their own bag, and my wife and I can grab our bags. In my bag, I might have different things than my wife does. But put together, we have everything we need. And then with the kids, it’s about comfort. Maybe it’s their favorite stuffed animal, maybe it’s a small bag of candy, just something to keep them occupied because they’ll be scared and worried about all the crazy stuff that’s happening around them. It kind of de-escalates the situation in their mind and allows them to have some kind of comfort. So, if something happens in the middle of the night, it’s easier for everybody to grab their bags, get in the car, and go.”
Angel offered a few tips that will guide you when assembling your own go bag. First and foremost, he urges everybody to update their bags regularly throughout the seasons, noting that an abundance of warm winter gear will occupy space and weigh you down during the spring and summer seasons. Next, he states that it would be extremely beneficial to learn all the proper techniques of the equipment that you pack. He believes this is especially true if you have young children because it presents the opportunity to learn as a family, and the kids are better prepared if disaster does strike.
If you are wondering where to begin, Angel said a good place to start is the hunting and camping section of your favorite retail store such as Walmart or Target. In those isles, you are sure to find a number of multi-use items that can be stored in your go bag like paracord, multi-tools, tarps, and flashlights. And as far as the essentials that every bug out bag should have, he encourages everybody to follow the five Cs of survival – cutting tools, combustion devices, cover and shelter, containers, and cordage.
“Dave Canterbury came up this concept and he’s kind of an outdoors guy,” he explained. “He’s famous in the prepper community. These five things are the basics to help you in any situation. Your cutting tool is your knife, or it could be a multi tool. Combustion is a way to create fire, you never know if you need to start fire. Combustion is big because maybe you need to clean your water, and heat it up, and that’s where your container comes in. Usually, it’s a metal container with a handle or something that you can cook out of, you can boil water, of you can drink out of it. You want all your equipment to be multi-use and your container has to do that as well.”
He continued, “And then you have your cover, maybe it’s a tarp to get you out of the rain, or maybe it’s a lightweight sleeping bag or blanket. It’s whatever to keep you covered from the elements. In the summer, maybe it’s just to provide shade to keep you from getting sunburned. The other one is cordage, having some kind of paracord, preferably 550 paracord. And 550 means how much weight that cord can handle. Parachute cord and is very thin, very strong, very durable, and it’s lightweight, so you can carry a lot of length in your cord where it doesn’t take up a lot of room in your bag. There’s a lot of uses for cordage, whether you’re tying down your tarp for shelter, or maybe you forgot to bring a belt and your pants are falling down, you know, it’s good for whatever your rope or cordage can do for you.”
Angel went on to explain that Canterbury also curated an extended list of essentials, going from the five Cs to ten Cs of survival. That list includes candling, or flashlights and headlamps, cotton for washing, keeping cool and filtering large sediment out of your water, cargo tape, a.k.a. duct tape or gorilla tape, a compass, and a canvas needle for repairing torn items and assisting with paracord.
In addition to the ten Cs of survival, Angel also advises people to pack a first aid kit, and any medication you may need such as an epi-pen, insulin, or an albuterol inhaler, as well as batteries and chargers. Another tip is shopping the sales of grocery stores during your normal shopping outings and purchasing extra food here and there to store away in case of an emergency. He also believes that keeping your gas tank at least half-full will be extremely helpful in the event you need to get in your car and get as far away from the disaster as possible. If you have pets, it’s imperative that they each have their own bug out bags as well, and be sure to pack it with food, water, snacks, blankets, medication, and toys specifically for them.
And finally, he encourages everyone to sit down and map out a plan with your loved ones in case a disaster were to occur. Within that plan you should also assign a third party contact in case cell service is unavailable or disrupted, establish a safe place to meet up in case your party is split up. You should also have additional bags at the ready, such as an Inch Bag for long-term emergencies or a Get Home Bag that is stored in your car and is filled with all the essentials to get you back home in the event of a catastrophic disaster.
“Our ancestors were preppers,” expressed Angel. “They were always prepping for winter. They went out and caught fish, gathered food, and hunted during summer harvest and put it away for the winter. They created medicines and winter clothing. Our ancestors knew this was important. They knew what it was going to take to take care of their people. They were always thinking ahead about the future, and how to provide for the babies and for their families. We have to think that way too. My goal for the community is I want people to start thinking about it, talking about it, researching it, and doing it now. Because if you wait until game day to do it, you’re already way too late.”
By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News
Following a community burning, on September 18, Tulalip held a community prayer gathering in attempts to help heal the tremendous amount of loss that our tribe has seen and felt over the years. The hearts and souls of our people have suffered for centuries, and unfortunately as time goes on, the amount of fatalities doesn’t seem to have an end in sight.
The community prayer was held within the Gathering Hall, where tribal members could share a meal, gather, see the works of our spiritual leaders, hear from community leaders, and share their personal feelings and experiences of grief. The afternoon consisted of a blessing, an interfaith service, and spiritual practices for tribal members to participate in. The hall was filled with emotion as tribal members expressed their feelings, the loss of their loved ones, and the future of the community.
Between the community burning and the community prayer, spiritual leaders from Tulalip traveled across the reservation to different buildings and areas that tribal members frequent. The purpose of this was to help bless and release some of the negative energy that seems to carry through these areas. Several spiritual leaders that were in attendance spoke of the tragedies that they felt. They spoke of the pain and losses that our community has endured and ultimately how exhaustive the blessings were because of it.
Tribal elder Ray Fryberg spoke on this issue saying, “These buildings needed to be taken care of. If we don’t seek spiritual guidance, a lot of this grief and residue from mourning falls onto the floor, and seeps into the walls. If we don’t clean it up, then that same grief and residue will cling to other people walking through it. When this event was started, our ancestors heard it, and they came. They are here in the spiritual bleachers around us, and they are thankful for the work being done.”
Tribal members in attendance spoke about the community prayer as something that has been long overdue. After witnessing the tremendous number of deaths in the community, Chairwoman Teri Gobin spearheaded the event to help address this issue. Currently within Tulalip Tribes, Community Health has calculated an average of 50 deaths per year. Unfortunately, the leading cause for deaths within tribal territories most often relate to drugs and alcohol. Looking at statistics such as this, some would consider it an epidemic.
Experiencing such levels of grief, you have to wonder the psychological and spiritual effects it can have on a community. For some tribal members, it’s as if it’s a never ending cycle, going from one death to another. For others, it’s a pain so intolerable, that they lost their way of life. And just like any disease, grief spreads.
Tribal member Antonia Ramos spoke about grief and how it’s important to acknowledge our emotions, “I remember going through a hard time in a my life and someone spoke to me and said ‘Why are you so afraid to cry? Who told you that you cannot cry?’ And I remember thinking I don’t think anyone has ever told me that, I just know that I couldn’t. And the woman looked at me and said ‘If mother earth never got rain, she’d never have trees, the flowers would never bloom, and the animals could never drink. So why are you denying your body the opportunity to cleanse?’ and it stuck with me. Now that I’m home and I see all of our beautiful people, I also see the pain that they carry and I wonder, who told us we couldn’t feel or that we couldn’t cry? And I pray for us.”
Grief can be such a paralyzing feeling and it often takes a long time for someone to finally feel any level of normalcy after a loss. But the path to normalcy begins with acknowledging those feelings. Generational trauma is carried on through grief. Trauma may initially act as a match, what keeps the fire going in the unresolved pain. As Indigenous people, we have learned through residential boarding schools, colonialism, addiction, etc., just how detrimental generational trauma can be. A loss is a loss no matter what era we live in. And if the pain we feel is not taken care of in this generation, then it certainly will be passed onto the next. So where does generational trauma finally stop?
Though there are numerous resources that people can utilize, many natives would argue that healing comes through connecting with your culture, listening to your elders and spiritual leaders, speaking about your grief, and simply showing up.
Tribal member Marlin Fryberg spoke openly about his frustrations within the community and the lack of presence at the event, “Where is our community today? Where are all the young people that are supposed to be taking over for our elders one day? There is a problem in our community that we have to talk about and there’s a whole tribe out there that isn’t here. Unfortunately we live such fast lives, and everyone has an opinion, but no one wants to listen. When I speak with our elders about how we can help our people spiritually, it starts with listening. And it takes all of us to understand how to do that.”
Many tribal members in attendance nodded in agreement, appreciating all the work that our elders and spiritual leaders have done for our community and the precedence that they set for our people. This standard of cultural and spiritual living was frequently discussed during the event, and a feeling of urgency overwhelmed the hall.
Council member Hazen Shopbell spoke candidly by saying, “The generations before us took on so many burdens and they held strong. They put in the work and fought for us. We are who we are and have what we have because of what they did. We are here because of them, and we have to put in that same work for the next generation. Keep sweating, keep singing, keep dancing. What our spiritual leaders are doing is not easy. They put in their time and effort, and we are so grateful them, but we have to keep moving and do our part too.”
Even though the process to bless such large areas and in such quantities can be an exhausting practice for our spiritual leaders, they agreed with some of our tribal leaders in that these events are something that should be held more often. Giving more opportunities for the community to cleanse, and so that our people aren’t holding onto this pain for as long as they have.
For future community burning and prayers, please watch out for any government announcements. If you or someone you know is overwhelmed with the grief you feel, please call the Community Health nurse team at 3607165662 and ask about the Support Circle.
By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
On the morning of September 20th, during the annual ATNI conference at the Tulalip Resort Casino, the Tulalip Tribes received the 2022 TERO Program of the Year award from the Council for Tribal Employment Rights. With big smiles, the TERO staff accepted the award for their outstanding leadership and commitment for their tribe and membership.
“Leadership comes from the training in your past leadership,” said TERO Director, Tory Chuckulnaskit. “I’ve had good teachers. I had Teri, and Teri had Conrad who was a founding father of TERO. I want to acknowledge my staff, Lisa who’s with our school, Jared who is also with the school, Loretta and Hannah are with compliance. And we have Robert Henderson our manager, and Kesha who are not here today.”
Tulalip Chairwoman Teri Gobin added, “I wanted to say a few words because TERO has always been my baby. I was in the TERO program for 19 years; I was the director. We’ve grown immensely and one of the big portions that’s been a success in our TERO has been the school. All of these TERO people are involved in recruiting for our school – our TERO Vocational Training Center, that’s construction. We offer it to any Native that wants to come here, free of charge, to take a four-month course and have open access and direct entry in many of the trades. It’s made a difference in so many people’s lives. And not only their lives, their families’ lives, their children’s lives. I’m really proud of where our TERO program is going. They’re always looking at new opportunities to bring forward, new trainings that they can bring to the people. We’ve had people come from all over the United States to take trainings here. I’m really proud of this team.”
By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
“When we decided to go down this path of sports betting, we knew it was going to be a long and grueling process in Olympia. Our lawyers worked hard finding the right legislation and gaming compact language so we could bring our goal to fruition,” explained Tulalip Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “With all the Washington tribes working together, we earned our legislative victory a year ago. It did take a while to make our vision a reality, but in the end we did it the Tulalip way. And as you can see, it’s a grand way.”
Moments later, Chairwoman Gobin beamed with excitement as she stood next to fellow board member Hazen Shopbell, Seattle Mariners legend Randy Johnson, and DraftKings representative Johnny Avello for a ceremonial ribbon cutting. While the red ribbon fluttered to the floor, a sweeping thrill of energy radiated through the largely Tulalip crowd, announcing Tulalip’s sportsbooks are officially open for business.
A large contingent of Tulalip culture bearers were on-hand to open the event in a traditional way. The voices and thumping drum beats of adults and children echoed through the casino gaming floor, reminding everyone they are guests on Indigenous land.
“I’ve opened a number of casinos and sportsbooks in my career and want to thank the tribal members for their songs and prayers because I’ve never encountered that before. That was fabulous,” said Johnny Avello, DraftKings director of race and sportsbook operations.
Tulalip Resort Casino and Quil Ceda Creek Casino both celebrated their grand openings simultaneously on Tuesday, September 20. The much-anticipated events featured celebrity guests – former Mariners pitcher, the towering 6’10” baseball hall of famer Randy Johnson at the Resort and Seattle Seahawks former wide receiver and hall of famer Steve Largent at the Q.
The retail sportsbooks feature live in-game sports betting and other engaging wagering options, with viewing of a multitude of sporting events at the same time possible via jumbotron-like LED screens. The Resort’s sportsbook is over 5,000 square feet and offers sporting enthusiasts the opportunity to watch up to 10 live sporting events while placing bets at 20 touch screen kiosks and 4 over-the-counter ticket windows. Another ten sports betting kiosks are located throughout the Resort’s gaming floor.
The state-of-the-art sports betting venue is managed by Tulalip citizen Brandon Jones. Impressively, the 35-year-old has 17 years of gaming experience. He started his gaming career in the cage at just 18-years-old and hasn’t looked back since.
“Gaming and the casino life are all I know, it’s all I’ve ever done,” shared Brandon, sportsbook manager. “It means so much to be a Tulalip tribal member and be able to build something all-new from scratch that adds so much value to the reservation, from both a business and community perspective.
“We’ve designed this sportsbook for the new generation. A lot of people my age and younger aren’t interested in bingo or keno, but are super engaged in all forms of sports entertainment, whether it be professional or college level,” he continued. “We’ll continue to evolve our sports betting and are already working towards facilitating e-gaming betting in the near future. To my fellow tribal members, this venue offers a new place to gather and enjoy the Seahawks, Mariners, or Huskies and Cougs games with all the high energy of a local crowd.”
Meanwhile, the Q’s new sportsbook features 20 sports betting kiosks and 3 over-the-counter ticket windows located on the gaming floor. The four video walls in The Stage, the Q’s entertainment venue and nightclub, span nearly 900 square feet, comprised of 13 million pixels that can also display up to ten different games simultaneously. Both of the sportsbooks are outfitted with a variety of betting resources, including odds boards, scrolling tickers with live-score updates, statistics, and player information.
In development with Tulalip’s newest partner, DraftKings, a digital app is in the works that will allow gamers of either casino sportsbooks to place bets from their mobile devices while on casino property. Future announcements are planned when the app is ready for launch.
After the grand opening ceremony ended, several tribal members eagerly waited for a picture opportunity with former Mariners, the Big Unit and Bucky Jacobsen. Others quickly took to one of the new sports-based kiosks to place their first-ever sports bet. Father/son duo Cyrus Fryberg Sr. and Jr. were spotted putting their combined sports knowledge together for a wager or two.
“As an avid sports bettor, I know this is going to be huge for Tulalip. The atmosphere around sports is different than our other revenue streams because the younger generation is so involved with sports,” said Bubba Fryberg. “We can definitely anticipate many new people coming to Tulalip on Saturday for college football, Sundays for NFL games, and throughout the weeks for marquee matchups and primetime games. Also, it’s cool for everybody to have a new spot where family and friends can come together to root for their favorite teams.”
Both of Tulalip’s sportsbook offerings are open 24/7. All sports bets are cash only, so there’s complete anonymity. Unless, you were one of those attending the grand opening and wanted to share your sports bet ticket, like councilwoman Marie Zackuse who placed a $10 wager on the Mariners money line.
Visit Tomahawk Axe in Smokey Point
By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
If you recently made a trip up north to Smokey Point, you may have noticed that the small district of Arlington is going through some major changes. A behemoth building was constructed at the lot adjacent to the Walmart Supercenter that will soon become the home of a new Amazon facility. And it seems that once the news broke that Amazon was coming to the area, several other companies gained interest in opening up shop in the vicinity.
“This area is really growing a lot,” said Tulalip tribal member and local business owner, Marvin Velazquez. “Amazon is about to open up with 10,000 employees. Microsoft, Google, Space X are all building up here. Smokey Point is about to really boom, and so we’re in a great location.”
Across the way from Safeway, and visible from the drive-thru line of McDonalds, is a 7,000 sq. ft. commercial space where bonds between colleagues will flourish, romantic relationships between lovers young and old are sure to strengthen, everlasting memories will be made amongst family members, and fun will be shared amongst friends while taking part in an exhilarating and competitive activity.
“We held our ribbon cutting ceremony on March 12th, and our grand opening was St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th,” said Marvin about his latest venture, Tomahawk Axe. “It’s been pretty amazing. We’ve been open five months and had over 5,000 people come in and throw axes. I’m really proud of what we built here. I think we have a lot of potential to grow.”
Upon entry to Tomahawk Axe, there are a number of throwback arcade games including Mortal Kombat, Batman, Ms. Pacman, Galaga, and Big Buck Hunter. A quick survey of the place will prove that the business is jampacked with fun as two pool tables, a foosball table, and dart machines are scattered throughout the outer perimeter of the space. All that fun entertainment, and we have yet to mention their main attraction.
Twelve impressive throwing stations line the back wall of the facility, all personally built by Marvin who also owns the well-known local business, Affordable General Contractor LLC.
“I built all these lanes,” he proudly exclaimed. “The lanes are 6×15 feet long and we have an anti-bounce curtain. If you throw the axe at the end grain target and miss, and hit the black curtain, the axe will fall to the ground. We spray all of our targets to help the axe stick, and it also maintains the target.”
The end grain targets are a big difference between Tomahawk Axe and other axe throwing businesses around the country. Most axe throwing targets are constructed of 2×12 planks. And after building those targets, the business owners will typically paint bullseye vectors for their patronage to take aim. Those targets are then utilized until they are completely destroyed, which doesn’t take very long, and owners find themselves going through many targets on a weekly basis. Marvin’s targets however last months on end.
And at Tomahawk Axe, there’s not a painted target in sight. Instead of taking aim at a fixed bullseye each turn, customers are treated to fun and challenging targets that change position every time a thrower approaches the lane. The targets are computer generated and casted onto the end grain wood via an overhead projector. You also have the opportunity to switch it up from the traditional vector bullseye and play several other games such as blackjack, tic tac toe, connect four, as well as zombie and duck hunt.
Marvin is quick to mention that he did not build the axe throwing business by himself. He credits his life and business partner, Dana Higgins, for a lot of the behind the scenes work and day-to-day operations.
“I always say that I do everything you can’t see, and he does everything you can see,” Dana said. “That’s what makes us a good team because we bring-in two different skillsets.”
Marvin added, “Her and I built this on our own. She runs a lot of the ins-and-outs as far as the software, booking, website, and advertisement.”
The duo decided that they wanted to create something interactive that would engage the people of their community. They were inspired to take on the endeavor when visiting other axe throwing locations, but their goal was to take the up-and-coming sport to the next level in a way that everybody could enjoy throughout the course of an evening.
“We were throwing axes at other places. And they all draw their targets on their boards,” Dana explained. “It’s something that we’d spend twenty-five minutes on, and we’d be done because it wasn’t something that kept us entertained and interactive with everybody else. Here, we provide something different and something more for our customers. So, when people come in and play, they stay longer because they have different choices of games to play. Right now, there are six different games, and we’ll release another one here in the next couple of weeks. It’s nice to have something different and to bring-in something new every four to five months, so when people come in it’s not always the same thing.”
Marvin agreed, “Our idea was to bring in something that ties in technology with physical activity. We wanted to get those kids to be interactive. We allow kids 8-years and older, and that makes it a great family activity. And we can show 8-year old’s how to throw axes all day.”
Not only does Marvin, Dana, and their staff teach kids how to throw, but they also offer their expertise to all ages. Each session that is booked at Tomahawk Axe comes with an axe throwing coach who will provide you with the proper technique and necessary training, with safety as priority, to begin throwing axes and hitting targets on your first visit. So, rest assured, you will learn all the basics if you are a newcomer to the sport.
“Our axe coaches will show you how to hold the axe, show you how to stand, how to throw the axe, and we’ll coach you until you stick that axe. We’ll be on standby and give you some pointers as you go on, if we see that you’re struggling. That’s crucial to having clientele because it’s not about throwing axes; it’s about sticking axes. If you can stick that axe and have a great time, you’re going to come back. If you’re throwing bricks all night, you’re not going to have any fun,” stated Marvin.
After taking time to demonstrate the proper way to throw an axe, Marvin smiled and said, “once you get a little bit better at throwing axes, you can do all kinds of stuff,” before showcasing a few trick shots including underhanded, two-handed, through the legs, and even a no-looker.
Coming from Tulalip, Marvin wanted to incorporate his heritage and culture into the new business. He called upon cultural leader Tony Hatch to bless the facility during the ribbon cutting ceremony. And as the business grows, Marvin has a strong desire to hire tribal members onto his team. He also asked Lower Elwha artist, Al Charles Jr., to design the logo for the company.
“Isn’t that badass?” exclaimed Marvin. “Al Charles did an amazing job on the logo, the Tomahawk bear. I graduated from Marysville Pilchuck, so I’ve always been a Tomahawk. Tomahawks are a traditional Native hunting type weapon and being a tribal member, we wanted to have a Native theme. We thought tomahawk would fit really well up here. This is a lumberjack community here in Arlington and there’s a lot of Native Americans who log or use the axe seasonally, cutting firewood and whatnot. This used to be our hunting ground here and we lost it over time. Tony made a very good point – he said this is the first tribal member owned business back on our land.”
Marvin and Dana have big plans on the horizon in addition to bringing on new target games for local axe throwers. Such plans include a sports bar, outdoor beer garden, darts and cornhole tournaments, an official axe throwing league, individual tomahawks for purchase, and a restaurant.
“We’ll open up the sports bar and the restaurant by the first of the year, that’s a nice goal,” said Marvin. “We named the restaurant Mel’s Kitchen – my dad died during COVID. He was retired state patrol and a chef. He had many restaurants in California, the Bay Area. So, we decided to keep it cooking for him up here by naming it Mel’s Kitchen. I’m stoked to get it up and running.”
Tomahawk Axe also hosts private events outside of normal business hours. And as their flyer states, axe throwing is perfect for all occasions including date night, birthday parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, engagement and wedding parties, employee appreciation parties, corporate events, and team building events.
Tomahawk Axe has already held private events for the Stillaguamish Youth Center and the Tulalip Education Division. And with the rainy season coming up, they will be extending their hours so that locals can enjoy some great indoor fun. For more information, including their pricing, hours of operation, or to book a lane online, please visit their website at www.TomahawkAxeThrow.com
Said Dana, “People think that they’re just coming in to throw an axe, but it’s great to see their reaction when they walk in and see our technology that goes with it. It’s more interactive and a fun family activity.”
“We consider ourselves to be the Top Golf of axe throwing,” Marvin stated. “With twelve lanes, we are the largest facility in the state. Most people don’t realize how fun axe throwing is and are intimidated, but it’s a really safe sport. Axe throwing is a stress reliver and we consider it to be axe counseling. We all have built-up frustration or rage and stuff, and we need to get out. You come here and throw out all your frustration and take it out on this target. It’s good to get it out physically, so you can release it mentally.”
By Shaelyn Smead; photos courtesy of Natosha Gobin, John Carlson, and Lindsay Ross
All over Washington state, people have heard about the devastating Bolt Creek Fire that started on September 10 at 5:00 a.m. in Skykomish. As of September 13 at 5:15 a.m., a devastating 9,440 acres have been burned, with only a 5% containment on the fire. The fire stretches from Skykomish to Halford, and is leaving people in surrounding cities to evacuate their homes. With wildfires being so scarce in Western Washington, it is leaving plenty of Washington residents alarmed, and scared about the outcome of such a large fire.
Within the same area as the fire, there are two properties that Tulalip owns. These properties are typically called the Grotto Lake parcel and the Eagle Creek parcel. The properties were originally bought by Tulalip back in October 2019 in efforts to allow a safe and sacred area for tribal members to harvest berries, pull cedar, camp, hike, hunt, collect resources for cultural arts, and hold cultural practices. It was an enticing piece of land because of its proximity to Tulalip and its relation to our Coast Salish ancestors. Along with that, because of the drastic levels of elevations, the parcels’ vegetation grew many different variations of natural resources that tribal members could collect and utilize.
Director of Treaty Rights and Government Affairs, Ryan Miller, described the properties stretching to about 1000 acres. He said approximately 50% of each property has already succumbed to the devastation of the fire.
When news broke out about the fire, and the threat it does to our cultural practices, it left some tribal members is disarray. The thought of this land not being accessible for any sacred works anymore is heartbreaking for Tulalip and many are left wondering what will become of it.
The night before the start of the fire, Tulalip Tribal member Natosha Gobin and her family just happened to be on one of the Tulalip properties harvesting berries. “We went about four or five times this year. This time around, we left the peak at 7:30 p.m. Our hopes were to get up early and head back the next morning because the berries were plentiful. We were so excited to finally be introduced to the space, it felt so healing to be up there. This fire is so heartbreaking,” Natosha said. Luckily her family had a change of plans, and did not go back up the mountain the next morning and none of her family risked any danger of the fire.
One major change that some tribal members have noticed and attested to is the abundance of trees that have grown over the years. Along with that, the road is really rough making the properties difficult to get to. Something that is later found to be a difficult realization for the firefighters involved.
The Tulalip Fire Department has been one of the many resources that has been supporting efforts towards battling wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. Currently the department has two task forces stationed out. One of which consists of three members that are located in Oregon taking on the Cedar Creek Fire, just a mere three days before the start of the Bolt Creek Fire. One of the members is John Carlson, who has been with the department for six years. Cedar Creek Fire makes for his first experience with a wildfire.
John spoke about the wildfires and how they are so different in perspective to structure fires in the Tulalip area, “With structure fires, we’re usually well-trained and know the area very well, versus on a landscape, we’re fighting the larger grassland, sagebrush, larger timber, and heavy terrain. We also mainly work off brush trucks when dealing with wildfires, and a problem we face is water supply. We do have a water tender in our strike team, but if it runs out, we have to get resourceful with our water supply. Being up in the terrain we can’t directly connect to a fire hydrant, so sometimes we find ourselves syphoning from pools, streams, lakes, etc. Anything with 100 gallons of water can make a huge difference,” he said.
When news broke out about the Bolt Creek Fire, the three-man crew had already gotten settled in with the team in Oregon. “This is the first time I’ve been deployed and there was a fire of this magnitude near our home,” John said. “A lot of us we wondering if we would get redirected back. But with the resources that we have sent up to Bolt Creek, we felt confident in the team’s ability. Much like a lot of fire departments, every summer during peak season our department gets stretched in different directions. But as much we appreciate and are glad to be helping take care of members down here, it is hard when we know our home isn’t safe.”
Of course with the Bolt Creek Fire being a prominent fire in our area, and the risk it brings to the Tulalip owned properties, an additional two Tulalip firefighters have been sent to Skykomish, Paramedic Lindsay Ross and firefighter Austin Panek left early this week to help Sky Valley Fire Department. Amongst them are the other 20+ fire departments and private fire companies that include North Ridge Fire, American Fire, Zigzag Hotshots, and Patrick Environmental, making up for more than 317 personnel that have opted in for fighting this fire.
Lindsay has been with the fire department for six years, but has an extensive 10-year career working as a wildland firefighter. This is her first time working as a line medic, and her role is to help work with the crews onsite to ensure their safety, help with any medical care, and help with the falling rocks in the area.
Lindsay explained that even though wildfires of this magnitude are rare in Western Washington, it is something that should be expected for the future. “When fires do take off over here, there’s usually a lot of old debris and old trees that are likely dried up and when it builds up over time, a fire is able to take off easier. There is definitely some prescribe burns that the state will do to try and thin out the forest a little so it doesn’t happen as often. But with the summers getting hotter every year and with having lower humidity, I think a fire like this in our area has been overdue for a while.”
Hearing from wildfire experts like Lindsay, we learned that even though wet and rainy springs and early summers seem like they would help decrease the risk of wildfires, that isn’t always the case.
“Rain during that time of the year does make fire danger go lower, but it also will make more sagebrush and longer grasses, that eventually will dry up in the summer and turn into fuel for the fires,” said John. “The more that grows in the spring and early summer, the heavier potential fire fuel load it creates, and the bigger the fire can get. Something we noticed this year was that we had a lot more fire fuels from Spring than I think in years’ past.”
What is most difficult about Bolt Creek Fire is the heavy terrain that exists in the area. “With the heavy forestry and it being hillside, we have a more difficult time accessing the spots that are burning hot,” said Lindsay. “And with no accessible roads in most spots, heavy equipment cannot be easily moved around.”
Between hot summers, lower humidity, and lots of drier vegetation and debris, another factor for this fire is the amount of wind that picked up in the area. Local fire departments refer to the ‘Witching Hour’ that falls between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. During this time, wind begins to pick up and is at its heaviest, making this the most dangerous part of any day. Knowing that wind can be so unpredictable with how fast it goes and in which direction, can lead to a lot of variations of disaster. The Bolt Creek Fire had around 30-40 mph winds, which ultimately made for its drastic escalation.
“The reality of this fire is that its burning really close to our backyard”, said Tulalip Fire Chief Ryan Shaughnessy. “There’s people that have family and friends in the area and that we’re concerned about. But we’re working hard and wish for the best outcome by everyone.”
The Bolt Creek Fire did receive some water and fire retardant dropping from planes flying above. A typical resource used for fires in heavy terrain. Along with that, many firefighters have been working to diminish the terrain and have been putting a dirt dozer line bordering the fire in hopes to create a stopping point. Any houses around the area have also received some treatment and precautionary actions in case the fire continues to spread.
Ryan spoke about the awareness of the risk of wildfires and the new potential for them in our area, “This is our first time dealing with a westside fire, but with that being said, we did understand that there was a risk of one in our future. We preemptively have been working with other tribes, and collected burn plan ideas to help mitigate future fires. That’s why, if you went up to the properties, you’d see some of the trees had already been cut. We also applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant of 1.3 million dollars earlier this year. This funding will help us work with partners in the Snohomish Basin and understand more of the interaction between climate change and water and it’s impacts on forestry and likeliness of fire in the basin,” he stated.
With the powerfulness of the fire, it’s easy to see that these thoughts and actions taken by Tulalip were in the right direction in understanding the risks of westside fires. “Now that the fire has happened, it’s even more of a reason for us to understand and gain a better grasp on our forestry, and the FEMA grant will help inform us for the future,” Ryan said.
Understanding fires in our area and the reality of potential for them, there are definitely steps that can be taken by citizens to help mitigate it.
“First is knowing that fires have the potential to happen anywhere,” said Lindsay. “People have to be cautious about having fires outside, lighting off fireworks, making sure you have water and mostly listening and respecting burn bans when they are in effect. People never think it’s going to happen to them until it does.”
As terrifying and devastating as wildfires can be, they do have the opportunity to act as a natural rebirthing for wildlife and vegetation. So far, Ryan has stated that there are plans for replantation in the affected area, and that they plan to work with the Forest Service and Department of Natural Resources in order to create a better plan of action, and get as much fuel load off the forest.
Along with that, he said that tribal members should expect some berry regrowth by next spring, and even though trees take a much longer time to grow to their mature state, Ryan said that we should expect tree shoots by next year. He also spoke about the hunting opportunities that the area will bring. “Deer love to eat young shoots and with the area being more open, hunters will be able to spot deer a little easier,” he said.
At the moment, the fire is still unpredictable, but firefighters are hoping to button everything up soon. The good news is that the fire doesn’t contain large flames at the moment, making the likeliness for it to spread, lower.
Thank you to the Tulalip Fire Department and all participating fire departments for your efforts.