Ballin’ with a Braid

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

November is Native American Heritage Month. A time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures and traditions, and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and presently, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to overcome these challenges.

Most people should know Native peoples aren’t a monolith. That is to say each of the 574 federally recognized tribes is unique, each with their own set of traditional teachings stemming from treaty rights, connection to regional lands and resources, and level of economic freedom to express tribal sovereignty. 

Encompassing each tribe is a beautiful diaspora of tribal citizens who live their lives expressing their own sense of personal identity according to a unique set of cultural values, whether that be traditional or contemporary or some combination of both. For young Tulalip phenom Charlie Contraro, the answer may be both or, better yet, simply something as unique as she is. 

For starters, Charlie isn’t just a girl who plays basketball. She’s a hooper. Meaning she has the offensive range to shoot a deep 3-ball just as easily as she could beat her defender off the dribble and score a lay-up. And defensively she’s even better. Willing to dive on the deck for a loose ball, defend her opponent’s best or biggest player, and really, like for real, really looks forward to someone attempting a shot within her vicinity so she can swat that thing outta there like Dikembe Mutombo. 

“I’d rather have a game saving block than a game winning shot,” said the defensive minded Charlie as she detailed her October basketball tournament in New York. “Because when my team is up or we’re already winning, then I can really get after it [defensively] and get lots of blocks. Yeah, I like blocks instead of shots for sure. I got lots of blocks in New York. So many that my mom started calling me Charlie Mutumbo.”

Measuring in at 4-foot-11-inches, Charlie is typically one of the tallest girls on the court when she’s playing within her own age group. That level of verticality, plus her swift movement, allows her to soar through the air in pursuit of her coveted blocked shots. However, the recently turned 10-year-old often plays multiple years up against competition older and more physically mature. It’s a welcomed challenge that gives Charlie plenty of opportunity to play her favorite position – point guard. 

“Charlie’s been a baller since the womb,” said her mom Annie Jo Parish proudly. She’s well known as Miss A.J. from her years of teaching at Tulalip Montessori. “I played ball until I was at least six months pregnant with her. Then as a toddler she would watch from the sidelines as I coached her older sisters at the boys and girls club. She was at all their practices and at a certain point she started participating in their drills and conditioning exercises.  So, really, Charlie has always been immersed in basketball culture, but she had to be patient and wait her time to play because, generally, competitive teams for girls don’t start until 4th grade.”

Now, after years of watching and learning from her sisters, the Jackson Elementary 4th grader has been unleashed to play to her heart’s desire on select level travelling teams. She’s also a regular on the Native tournament circuit, playing with older competition and against the boys. 

No matter the competitive setting, whether it be on concrete or hardwood, Charlie is impossible to miss on the basketball court because of a Native asset she’s been growing her entire life, her hair. 

Charlie’s near body length, beautiful black hair is a form of cultural expression naturally woven all the way back to her earliest ancestors. There are many teachings and practices that vary from tribe to tribe and generation to generation, but one that is near constant since time immemorial among all the tribes is the importance of hair to cultural identity. A Native American’s hair is considered sacred and significant to who they are as an individual, family, and community.

In many tribes, it is believed that a person’s long hair represents a strong cultural identity. For young people especially, a strong cultural identity promotes self-esteem, self-respect, a sense of belonging, and a healthy sense of pride. For Charlie, the constant chatter about her hair from teammates and competition is something she uses to elevate both her game and her culture. In fact, a few of the gyms she’s showcased her budding basketball talents at thus far, she’s been referenced as the baller with the braid.

“Some of the things I hear all the time on the court is ‘Wow, your hair is really long!’, ‘Can I have some of your hair?’, ‘Your braid is so big. I wish I had hair like that’ or even ‘You’re like Rapunzel except your hair is black’,” reflected Charlie with a huge smile. “It’s cool to get compliments about my hair from my teammates and people I’m playing against, too. My mom tells me all the time that my braid is my signature.”

How we as Native Americans relate to our hair is a constant reminder of our connection to our culture and a distinct worldview grounded in the sacredness of relationships. Braiding a child’s hair is the beginning of establishing an intimate and nurturing relationship. For Charlie, it’s her father Mike Contraro who braids her hair before basketball games and practices.

“It makes me so proud to watch her playing the game she loves, running up and down the court with her braid trailing behind her,” said Mike during an intermission between Charlie’s tournament games. “It’s funny, too, because if you watch her, Charlie has a habit of rubbing the end of her braid in between free throws or during timeouts. Almost like it’s a lucky charm.”

Sure enough, during Charlie’s next game she was spotted at the free throw line holding the end of her braid before she swished one in. Maybe its muscle memory from a lifelong relationship with her hair and her parents braiding it before sports, or maybe it’s a continuation of her family’s grounding practices they do during travel. 

“When we travel, my older daughters and I practice grounding or what’s sometimes called Earthing,” explained momma bear A.J. “This is something Charlie does, too. We’ll go barefoot in a safe space and take time to ground, reflect and reconnect with the Earth. The intention is to allow the Earth’s positive charges to enter through our feet and reconnect our bodies to our natural world.” 

The inspiring 10-year-old hooper and her family have recently returned from a Nike Phenom camp in the sunshine state. Charlie’s mom shared that shortly after landing in California they went on a hike near the Golden Gate Bridge, where they were able to take in the iconic view while grounding themselves.

Her stellar play in California resulted scoring high in all her player evaluations and an exclusive invitation to Phenom National Camp in 2023. Her parents’ dedication to their youngest child, from the countless miles driven to her practices along the I-5 corridor and east side near Issaquah to the hours in the gym rebounding tirelessly as their daughter shoots jump shots, continues to bolster Charlie’s love for the game. She looks forward to filling out her skill set and working on her step back 3-pointers like she sees her favorite Seattle Storm players, Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart, routinely hit on the game’s biggest stage.

“Charlie is a scorer, a defender and an extra point guard. And she can play big. She can pretty much do everything on the court,” said 5th grade Nike coach Chris Nolen. Charlie plays a year up to play on Nike’s Tree of Hope team. “She’s been a huge addition for us. She’s a starter and gets a lot of minutes. 

“Any time you have a player playing with older competition that means they have a huge competitive spirit. I can always count on Charlie to compete on both ends of the floor,” her coach continued. “Tree of Hope is an AAU type program and under the Nike banner. We are part of the national recognition level which is really competitive. We want to prepare our players for the next level, and we want to win. Charlie definitely helps us win.”

Winning comes in many forms. There’s the score of the game and the game of life. For Charlie, when asked what some of her favorite basketball memories are, she responded with the most whimsical tales from shooting in the wrong basket once to seeing huge flocks of pigeons while in New York. 

However, ask her about being challenged in basketball by boys at her school and her tone changes dramatically. “Oh, they always want to challenge. Most of the time I’m the only girl they’ll pick to play with them, even though others will watch from the side. One time this boy who is a bully tried guarding me and I dribbled between my legs, crossed over and then between the legs again into a jab step…he went for the fake and fell to the ground. Then I made the basket. Everyone watching started cheering and saying things like ‘OHHH!’ That was a pretty cool.

“Some boys say girls can’t play basketball, but they’re wrong,” she added defiantly. “Just look at woman’s college basketball or the WNBA. Those are professional girls getting paid big bucks to play basketball. Hopefully, that’ll be me one day.”

Charlie dreams of playing for one of the biggest college programs after graduating high school in 2031 before moving onto the WNBA. Which WNBA team? The Seattle Storm of course. Her mom is also planting seeds through all the travel basketball that she could continue her ball is life dream in far off lands like Europe or even China where they have huge followings for professional women’s basketball.

Until that dream comes true, Charlie and her signature braid will continue to work on perfecting fundamentals, beating the boys whenever possible, and being a beacon of inspiration to her Native American peers.

Make Tulalip your shopping destination this holiday

Ronnie McClellan.

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News

David Fryberg.

The holiday and gift-giving season officially kicked off with the annual Native Bazaar, held November 11-13. The Tulalip community showed up in droves as various tribal vendors sold their handmade crafts, baked goods, and art pieces. 

This year’s event was tied for the largest Bazaar Tulalip has had thus far, with over 50 vendors committed. The event also needed a new place to settle into as the vendor list expanded and their collections grew. Ultimately, event coordinator Tammy Taylor, moved the bazaar from the gym to the Gathering Hall.

Tammy Taylor.

“This year was so successful. We had so many great vendors, and many of them sold out. Many of our membership, customers, and non-Natives were also in awe of how beautiful the Gathering Hall is. There really is no other building like this close to us, it is our sacred spiritual home, and it feels so good to have shared the bazaar there,” Tammy said. 

A highlight of Native bazaars is that you find highly sought-after cultural pieces like drums, rattles, dreamcatchers, beaded jewelry, ribbon skirts, cedar hats, etc. Items like these are sacred to our culture and community that you can’t find in a typical retail environment. Even though the event is open to all, it creates a safe place for Native artists to sell their handmade crafts and keep them within our community. 

Margaret Henry Hayes.

Specialty goods like salves, lemongrass soaps, and local berry baked goods represent our community’s desire to maintain our traditional ways while adapting to a modern world. Some vendors carried out this thinking style by turning dreamcatchers into crib mobiles, adding small cedar roses to store-bought home décor, transforming cedar dolls into Christmas tree toppers, or simply using acrylic and contemporary materials for their craft making.

Ultimately, curating these crafts, goods, and art stems from our traditional ways. As seen at many of the bazaar booths, these traditional art forms are usually multi-generational. They illustrate the ways of our people, passing down a skill and cultural practice from one generation to the next. Some of these pieces become less about the works themselves and more about the family teachings, cultural preservation, time spent together, and bonds built with our people. Elders and master artists hold a special place in our community because of their experience and expertise; learning from them, purchasing their work, and sharing this time with them helps build room for our culture in the future.  

Natosha Gobin.

Tribal member and master weaver Lance Taylor has over 30 years of weaving experience. His work can be found all over the community at weaving workshops, but more importantly, within his home. Lance has shared this art form with his family to preserve weaving and as a part of his legacy. 

“Weaving has been a part of my family for some time; my great-grandmother was a weaver and made baskets out of fern and cedar roots. I’m glad my family could pick it back up and pass it down to our grandchildren. That’s what it’s all about, passing it down to the next generation. There’s a sense of pride looking at our community wear our work,” Lance said. 

The Kane family.

Tribal member Ronnie McClellan was seen selling handcrafted star quilts at the bazaar but gave full credit to his aunt and her friends. Like many other tribal artists, they consider their work a family business. Ronnie’s aunt and friends spend their days making quilts, and Ronnie will sell them for them at bazaars and community events. 

“My family used to buy her quilts as gifts for people. But I wanted to help more. It’s such beautiful work, and there’s a lot of medicine in them. You can feel all the prayer, love, and passion that my aunt and her friends have for their work through the blankets. In our culture, it’s an honor to be blanketed and receive this medicine. It’s humbling, and I feel honored to represent her lifelong work. I love seeing people’s smiling faces when they buy a quilt, and I know they will cherish it.”

If you missed November’s Native Bazaar, don’t fret, you can support these Native artists and more at the next Native Bazaar, December 9-11, at the Gathering Hall. The event will also expand for more tribal vendors to join, so if you have any questions, please call Tammy Taylor at 425-501-4141. 

Native Veterans honored with National Monument

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“Even though it rained on our parade, it was awesome,” exclaimed Tulalip Veteran, Dan Bradley (Marine Corps ’72-’74). “As we were walking through the parade all the spectators were clapping, giving us the thumbs up, and saying thank you for your service. It felt good.”

For the first time in the United States’ history, Native American service men and women have a monument to call their own, which honors and pays tribute to thousands of veterans from tribes all across the nation. Located on the National Mall in Washington D.C., the circular monument stands in front of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and was designed by Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma).

According to the Smithsonian website the memorial is, “an elevated stainless-steel circle balanced on an intricately carved stone drum, the design of the National Native American Veterans Memorial is simple and powerful, timeless and inclusive. The design incorporates water for ceremonies, benches for gathering and reflection, and four lances where veterans, family members, tribal leaders, and others can tie cloths for prayers and healing. The memorial creates an interactive yet intimate space for gathering, remembrance, reflection, and healing. It welcomes and honors Native American veterans and their families and educates the public about their extraordinary contributions.”

Construction on the memorial began prior to the pandemic and due to social gathering limitations, the Smithsonian was unable hold a celebration when the memorial was complete. Once limitations lifted, plans for a dedication were quickly set in place and invitations were sent to tribal veterans across the country. 

The dedication of the National Native American Veterans Memorial took place this year on Veterans Day. Hundreds of brave and proud Indigenous veterans traveled to Washington D.C. to take part in a historic moment, not only for Native America, but for the entire country as well. 

The memorial was commemorated with a procession through the streets of D.C. and many veterans wore their traditional regalia and sang and danced to their ceremonial songs. Sage filled the air while the vets proudly carried their tribes’ respective flags, the U.S. flag, the POW flag, and a few eagle staffs were sighted too. 

After nearly a mile march, through wet streets and humid and rainy conditions, the veterans arrived at a stage that held this nation’s capital building in the background. A timelapse video of the erection of the monument played from start to finish, and various tribal leaders spoke about what the memorial means to those tribal members who bravely defended America’s freedom. 

Veterans from the Vietnam War, the Korean War, Desert Storm, and the Global War on Terrorism were in attendance, including 28 Tulalip veterans. The highlight for many of these brave warriors was meeting Navajo Code Talker Thomas H. Begay, who marched alongside his fellow Native veterans during the procession. And among all the family members and supporters cheering on the veterans during the procession were Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids (Ho Chunk) and Actor and Film Producer Wes Studi (Cherokee), who many people were excited to meet and take selfies with. 

The Tulalip veterans, along with many other veterans from around the nation, enjoyed an extended stay in D.C. following the Veterans Day ceremony. The vets had the weekend to explore the busy and scenic District of Columbia; some spent their time visiting sites like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and the Arlington Cemetery to pay their respects to their fallen brothers and sisters in arms, while others visited the Capital, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and several of the historic museums, such as the four-story National Museum of the American Indian.

 

“The most important thing I hope our veterans take away from this are the memories,” said Tulalip Veterans Coordinator, William McLean III (U.S. Marine Corps 03-07).  “It’s not often the entire nation comes together to honor tribal veterans; this is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m hoping they take good memories and that they enjoyed themselves.”

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Tulalip Vets visit Washington D.C.

Twenty-eight veterans traveled on a direct flight from Sea-Tac to the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to witness and participate in the dedication of the National Native American Veterans Memorial at the National Museum of the American Indian. After a moving ceremony which took place on Veterans Day, a handful of Tulalip Veterans took the time to reflect upon their visit to D.C. for the historic dedication. 

Cara McCoy Tohannie, US Army 

We flew from Tulalip and got here a couple days early so we could explore. My dad was actually stationed here, so we lived here for a while. We went to the Arlington Cemetery for a walking tour, we had the procession, and we went on a night tour of all the monuments. It was great to see all the Native American veterans from around the United States in the procession. I felt really proud to be here because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, to be able to represent Tulalip. My dad, my grandpa, and my uncle were also in the military but couldn’t be here. 

It’s great that they have a monument specifically for Native American veterans. I think having it on Veterans Day is significant because it’s important to honor veterans, and of course November is Native American Heritage Month, so just to have everything come together, it felt pretty amazing.

Dan Bradley, US Marine Corps.  

We came from Orange County near Disneyland. I really enjoyed it and it’s about time, because look at all these years that have gone by, and they finally have done something for the Native American Veterans to recognize them. We haven’t been recognized like this before, so I thought it was awesome that this happened. A lot of people came from different tribes. It took a while because of the pandemic, but here we are. 

Cyrus Hatch III, US Marine Corps.

I’ve been looking forward to this for months! I want to thank the Tulalip Tribes, the Board, the Vet department. I was stationed here for years, twice, and it’s great to be back. It’s a walk down memory lane to see everything again. I haven’t been here since ’89. Good thing it was rainy because I was getting misty eyed. I’m really happy we have a memorial and something to reflect on us to be proud. 

Hank Williams Sr., National Guard & US Army

It was wonderful. It’s probably something that happens once in a lifetime. We get to see and meet friends, people from different states and tribes – all friendly people, and get to know each other – where were from, what we did, what service we were in.It was exciting to shake hands with everybody. 

That parade we had, we got see a whole bunch of people, I haven’t seen so many Indians in my life. I carried the flag which was an honor for me. I’m 92 years old and I can still get around and I was proud to do it and help show off my tribe and people. Not all the veterans came, some couldn’t make it. A lot of our veterans are old age now, we are from Korea and Vietnam.

David Fryberg Jr., US Marine

It was a great experience. I never had such feelings and receive such blessings from seeing some of these Cherokee and Comanche warriors from other tribes that really went out and did what they did. We are asked to do a lot of things that other people wouldn’t do. 

I had a great time here in D.C., I was even able to sneak off and do an Okinawa reunion with my best friends in Philadelphia. The comradery you build in the service, its beyond brother and sister, it’s something I can’t even describe. Thanks Tulalip tribes for sending us here, for the procession and to commemorate the Native American war memorial. It’s here. It exists. It’s been a long time coming. It’s an honor to join the service and do what I did, and know that someone is grateful and appreciative of it. 

Richard Dean Ledford, US Air force

I’m so thankful to be a member of the Tulalip Tribes and I’m proud of that. This is my second visit here. There are so many things to see. The National Museum of the American Indian, you get to go on each floor and read about all the different stories of what took place over the years. We’re all proud members who were trained to be warriors. This is important because I know we lost a lot of tribal veterans over the years, I’m happy we got to be here together and that we get to pass this on to the members of Tulalip.

To see the people supporting you, clapping, it was great. I was wondering if I was going to make it with my walker, but I did all the way around. It was great to see all the different tribes and veterans.  

Raymond Fryberg, US Marine Corps 

        It was a really unique opportunity because I know for a fact, per capita wise, Native Americans volunteer more than any other ethnic group in the United States, and I was proud to be part of that. At Tulalip, one of the veterans in WWI Elson James, they wrote back to his mother that it was possible he was the first Native American causality.

In WWII and the Korean War, we had some really highly decorated veterans. One of my uncles had his leg shot off, he was a medic. And one of my dad’s first cousins was a paratrooper who was shot and wounded in an air drop. And of course, the late Teat-mus (Raymond Moses) was very decorated in the Korean war, he had a silver star, bronze medal, and a lot of purple hearts. Because he was Indian, he knew a lot about terrains and being out in the environment, he was very effective, they looked to him a lot to help them out.

I took a picture with one of the code talkers. They influenced the war; that gave us an advantage in WWII. And a lot of the others who were here, a lot of people from Vietnam and the Korean War. I’m proud to be a part of that because I appreciate my freedoms in this country – freedom of speech and the right to vote. They laid it all on the line for it. 

Morena Lopez, US Air Force 

I’m coming from San Antonio, Texas. It’s really awesome because I didn’t grow up on the reservation, so I don’t really know anybody here. Being able to meet everybody and connect and find out how we’re related has been awesome. To be here on Veterans’ Day at the Nation’s Capital was phenomenal. I didn’t know about the museum, so that was really cool too and I saw that our tribe was recognized in there and I felt like a fan girl.

When Bill asked if anyone wanted to hold (the flag) I stepped up immediately. That was such an honor.  I wanted to hold our flag because I’m not that involved with the reservation, the tribe and our ways, that felt like a way to connect. In some ways it felt like a big powwow, I really enjoyed that comradery and listening to the singers, the drumbeats and the burning of the sage. And to have people on the side cheering us on, I thought was really neat as well.

This has been the greatest thing that happened to me since I retired. Thank you for the Tulalip Veterans group to invite me and keep me involved, I’m so grateful and blessed.

Rocky Renecker, US Army 

It was surreal. I got to view veterans from all over, and they’re all Indigenous so it meant a lot to my spirit and heart to see. We’re still here. To see them all in their regalia and their uniforms and all the different colors, it was really surreal to be able to march with not only my fellow Tulalip veterans but my fellow Indigenous veterans from all over the country and be a part of this. It’s going to mean a lot to me for the rest of my life.

It’s nice to be here to represent Tulalip, our community, and the rest of the veterans at home. It’s an honor to be able to stand for them and march and be present for the ceremony. The memorial, I like the simplicity of it, it’s right to the point. Everything about us is full circle, so it hits home. 

William McLean III, US Marine Corps. 

The tribe donated a few years ago when the project was first getting started. When we found out about it, I thought it would be good to send as many Tulalip veterans as possible to represent the tribe. The memorial has been up for a few years, but they had to shut down the in-person dedication ceremony. And when they decided to host one, I got everything situated and got as much funding as possible.

Getting 20-40 people situated on a cross country trip is a task, but once we got passed all the speed bumps and ironed out all the wrinkles and got everybody here, I think it went well. I really hope everyone enjoyed themselves. My only goal was to represent for Tulalip and in doing so have Tulalip veterans enjoy themselves. 

The gathering was unique, it was powerful. There are not very many opportunities for so many tribal people to come together from all over the nation. It’s really good to see that people care and are willing to take time, effort, funding. And just in general, that feeling of having people’s admiration and respect for doing something a lot of people wouldn’t do is good to see.

Native American Heritage Reads

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

We’ve reached another November. As the temperature drops and the leaves continue to fall, now is the perfect time to grab your favorite hot beverage, whether that’s hot cocoa, peppermint or pumpkin spice lattes, herbal tea, or hot cider, and curl up with a good book. 

Now a national celebration, Native American Heritage Month happens to land every November. While most of the country is focused on shopping for the upcoming Christmas season, many are taking the time and space to honor, celebrate, and learn about the true history of the many tribes, bands and families who are Indigenous to North America. 

Below, we’ve compiled a book list for you to check out during Native American Heritage month. Although there are numerous Native storytellers who have had their works published over the years, we wanted to highlight a few books that have local ties, as well as a couple authors who are well-known in the community of Native writers. And if you are out and about shopping for the perfect gifts, a few of these recommendations are available through audiobook platforms such as Audible, and often times feature a Native narrator. And while you’re at it, pick up one of these great reads for the reader in your family.

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

We are starting off with a classic. Ceremony was first published in 1977 and has served as inspiration for Native Novelists ever since. Sherman Alexie stated that Ceremony is the greatest novel in Native American literature, making Leslie Marmon Silko your favorite Native author’s favorite Native author. We also chose this novel because of the main character’s experience in the U.S. military, and as you may know, Tulalip is home to countless proud and brave veterans who also defended this country’s freedom and returned home to the reservation with PTSD. 

Set in the Insular world of the Laguna Pablo Reservation but resonating far beyond, Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel tells the story of Tayo, and army veteran of mixed ancestry who returns to the reservation, scarred by his experience as a prisoner of the Japanese. Only by immersing himself in the Indian past and its traditions can he begin to regain the peace that was taken from him. Masterfully written, filled with the somber majesty of Pueblo myth, Ceremony is a work of enduring power.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones, a.k.a. the Indigenous Stephen King, has been on the Native writing scene since the early 2000’s. With over 20 books published, he has shared a number of twisted, haunted, and thrilling stories while weaving traditional tales, cultural concepts, Indigenous issues, and reservation life into each chapter. Once you read a Stephen Graham Jones novel, you are automatically going to want to check out his other works. And might we suggest the shapeshifting novel Mongrels, the fancy dance horror fiction Mapping the Interior, or two modern slashers with Native leads The Night of the Mannequins and My Heart is a Chainsaw. 

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on retribution, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula: Who We Are by the Olympic Peninsula Intertribal Cultural Advisory Committee

With a page count of 162, this short read can be enjoyed during a quiet afternoon or over the course of a weekend. However, Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula: Who We Are will most likely be found in the hands of college students as this particular book serves as the focus of study for many Intro to Native Studies courses, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Locally, this text is often utilized in classrooms at the University of Washington, Shoreline Community College, Everett Community College, Northwest Indian College, and the Evergreen State College. This read gives insight to the Tribes whose homelands are located on the coastline of the Olympic Peninsula and focuses on their traditions, stories, and way of life. Plus, the book is filled with remarkable illustrations, maps, and photography. (And on page 112, you’ll find a shot of yours truly, as cute as can be at the age of four, before my claim to fame with Tulalip News.)

The Native tribes of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula share complex histories of trade, religion, warfare, and kinship. Yet few books have depicted the Indigenous People of this region from a Native perspective. Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula: Who We Are introduces readers to nine tribes: the Elwha Klallam, Jamestown S’Klallam, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Skokomish, Squaxin Island, Quinault, Hoh, Quileute, and Makah. Written by members of the Olympic Peninsula Intertribal Cultural Advisory Committee, edited by anthropologist Jacilee Wray, and enhanced by photographs and maps, the book is divided into sections focusing on each of the tribes. Each section relates the tribe’s history, its current cultural and political issues, and its tribal heritage programs. Each section also includes information about places to visit and offers suggestions for further reading.

Reclaiming the Reservation: Histories of Indian Sovereignty Suppressed and Renewed by Alexandra Harmon

Reclaiming the Reservation is a deep dive into tribal sovereignty, specifically centered around the Quinault and Suquamish tribes in the 70’s, and their jurisdiction, or lack thereof, over non-Natives on their reservations. The book opens up with Quinault’s decision to bar non-tribal members from their scenic beach in 1969 due to pollution, stolen gill nets, and the defacing of seaside rock formations that are important to the tribe’s heritage. To this day, non-tribal members are still prohibited from stepping foot on the Point Grenville beach that is more commonly known as ‘the Indian beach’, ‘the big beach’, or simply ‘our beach’ by Quinault members.  Another large portion of the book focuses on Oliphant v. Suquamish where the Supreme Court ruled that tribal courts have no criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians in 1978. The book was written by Alexandra Harmon, emerita of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington and supported by a grant from the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund. 

In the 1970’s the Quinault and Suquamish, like dozens of Indigenous nations across the United States, asserted their sovereignty by applying their laws to everyone on their reservation. The Supreme Court’s 1978 decision in Oliphant vs. Suquamish struck a blow to tribal efforts by ruling that non-Indians were not subject to tribal prosecution for criminal offenses. The court cited two centuries of US legal history as justification but relied solely on the interpretations of non-Indians. In Reclaiming the Reservation, Alexandra Harmon delves into Quinault, Suquamish, and pan-tribal histories and activism to illuminate the roots of Indians’ claim of regulatory power. She considers the promises and perils of relying on the US legal system to address colonial dispossession and shows how tribes have sought new ways to assert their sovereignty since 1978.

Where the Salmon Run: The Life and Legacy of Billy Frank Jr. by Trova Heffernan

Billy Frank Jr. Fish Wars. The Boldt Decision. Do we need to say more? This detailed account of the Native activist and Nisqually leader, Billy Frank Jr. is a must-read. The book is filled with quotes, interviews, photos and wisdom from the man who put his life on the line for Native fishing rights. He took part in fish-ins to demonstrate his right to fish in usual and accustomed areas, verbiage that is clearly stated in most Northwest tribal treaties. During these fish-ins people were arrested and beaten, and Billy was at the forefront of this movement that ultimately led to the Boldt decision. And of course, the book brilliantly depicts the leadership Billy displayed during the Fish Wars, as well as for his tribe following the Boldt decision, and for Indian Country as a whole. 

Billy Frank Jr. was an early participant in the fight for tribal fishing rights during the 1960s. Roughed up, belittled, and arrested many times at Frank’s Landing on the Nisqually River, he emerged as one of the most influential Northwest Indians in modern history. His efforts helped lead to the U.S. v. Washington in 1974. In which U.S. District Judge George H. Boldt affirmed Northwest tribal fishing rights and allocated half the harvestable catch to the tribe. 

Tulalip, From My Heart: An Autobiographical Account of a Reservation Community by Harriette Shelton Dover

No bias here. We honestly think that this is the perfect read for Native American Heritage Month because it is informative about what many tribal nations went through following the signing of their treaties, but from a Tulalip perspective. This story includes a Lushootseed phonological key and introduces the traditional sduhubš language to any reader who picks the book up. Tulalip, From My Heart opens with the signing of the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott and follows one of the most influential leaders, and the first Tulalip Chairwoman, through her life and trials while growing up Tulalip. For those who recently gained knowledge about forced assimilation, the boarding school era, and the Every Child Matters movement, this book recounts Harriette Shelton Dover’s time spent at the Tulalip Boarding School and covers all the atrocities she and her fellow tribal members experienced in the name of Catholicism. The book also sheds light on the Tulalip way of life and the traditions of her people, while also highlighting the tribe’s growth over the years. Along with the captivating, heartbreaking, and inspiring story, Tulalip, From My Heart includes photos from the Tulalip Boarding School as well as its daily schedule that the kids had to endure, and also photos of tribal members exercising their treaty rights and proudly engaging in cultural activities.

In Tulalip, From My Heart, Dover describes her life on the Tulalip reservation and recounts the myriad problems tribes faced after resettlement. Born in 1904, Dover grew up hearing the elders of her tribe tell of the hardships involved in moving from their villages to the reservation on Tulalip Bay: inadequate supplies of food and water, harsh economic conditions, and religious persecution outlawing potlatch houses and other ceremonial practices. The first Indian woman to serve on the Tulalip Board of Directors, Dover describes her experiences in her own personal, often fierce style, revealing her tribe’s powerful ties and enduring loyalty to land now occupied by others. She died in 1991 at the age of eighty-six.

Thanks for reading our suggestions, and if you do happen to check out any of these great books, please feel free to share your review with us. We hope everyone is having a great and informative Native American Heritage Month!

Lushtooseed, songs and games at MSD Family Night

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News

On November 8, the Marysville School District (MSD) Indian Education Department and the Tulalip Education Division kicked off Native American Heritage Month by hosting the Tulalip/MSD Indian Ed Family Night. The Totem Middle School library was filled with laughter and joy as students, families, and staff participated in various cultural activities and gathered resources from informational booths.

MSD and the Migrant program, the Marysville Public Library, and UW students, Tessa Campbell, shared numerous free resources for students and families, including free laptop/hot-spot rentals, tutoring, funding opportunities, the Read-a-Rama program, and college resources. 

Matt Remle, Indian Education Department coordinator, talked about the value of these events, “The goal with cultural nights like this is to bring families together, have fun, and learn different aspects of our culture. This year we have a big emphasis on supporting the Lushootseed Department. One of their goals is to start bringing Lushootseed to schools that don’t have language classes. By partnering up with them, through these events, we can connect the department to families and kids who may not have access.”

Lushootseed teacher Nikki St. Onge shared a story about bear and rabbit learning how to play stick games. The story was as a fitting transition for the room to break out into groups for  activities like building sticks for stick games. 

Attendees learned the history of stick games and some basics of how to play. After sanding and putting tape lines on their sticks, they were ready for action. Singing and drumming accompanied the stick games competition. 

Matt spoke about how they hope cultural events like these will continue to bring in more families, staff, and resources for tribal members to use. “We had students from the Getchel Native club come tonight. We’d love to get to a point where we can pass down these events to Native student groups and have them lead it; having all of our students, staff, and families working together for our Native youth.”

For future cultural and family nights, stay tuned to the MSD newsletter or contact Native Student Advocate Marc Robinson at marc_robinson@msvl.k12.wa.us and Native American Program Liason Terrance Sabbas at terrance_sabbas@msvl.k12.wa.us.  

Tulalip goes dark following windstorm

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

A fall tradition, literally, occurred yet again as towering trees across the reservation were blown over by a November 4th wind storm that brought consistent wind speeds around 50 miles per hour. The mighty wind huffed and puffed and blew countless trees down, with the most impactful ripping through power lines and blocking roadways along Marine View Drive and Fire Trail Road.

There was all the natural splendor of our now traditional Tulalip wind storm: Leaves swirling, branches flying through the air, recycling bins being blown down the road and, of course, a days-lasting power outage. Close to four days this time.

Similar scenes played out across Western Washington as fierce winds from the season’s first major storm ripped through the region, cutting power to more than 300,000 customers from the Olympic Peninsula to the Cascade foothills, according to the Seattle Times.

While Tulalip went dark, its dedicated emergency management team and essential staff from various government departments went to work. The Youth Center was turned into a warming center offering hot showers and warm shelter to charge mobile electronics, the Senior Center offered hearty dinners, and critical needs elders received generators to power their medical devices. 

Teams from Tulalip and Snohomish County operations worked around the clock to clear roadways of downed trees and power lines, maintained generator operated facilities, and maintain a consistent communication structure with Tulalip citizens via government email and Facebook groups. 

Power returned to most of the reservation late Monday, November 7th, while the remaining households left in the dark were able to turn on their lights and heaters the following Tuesday. 

It’s impossible to be prepared for every possible emergent situation or Western Washington storm, whether it be due to excessive winds, rain or snow. However, vigilant minds may take this early November black out as a learning experience to get prepared for the next one. Because, rest assured, there will be more black outs to come this winter. 

As a reminder for all people living on the Tulalip Reservation, you can text “STORM” to (360) 745-1010 for weather, traffic, and closure updates.

Raising Hands celebrates $7.2 million in Tulalip Cares charitable giving 

Ken Kettler, Tulalip Resort Casino president, is blanketed by Marilyn Sheldon and 
Mytyl Hernandez

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

During the evening of Saturday, October 29th, the Tulalip Tribes recognized and gave thanks to more than 375 Washington-based nonprofits and community groups who contributed to a sustainable and healthy community for all. 

The typically annual Raising Hands celebration went on a temporary hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic before making its much anticipated 2022 return. Held in the Tulalip Resort Casino’s Orca Ballroom, the always stylish space hosted hundreds of representatives of these high-impacting organizations that came together to create an atmosphere of appreciation.

“In the Tulalip tradition, we raise our hands to show appreciation to the numerous organizations whose good works help to make our communities strong,” opened event emcee and board of director, Mel Sheldon. “This evening is an opportunity for Tulalip Tribes to honor and show respect to all the hard work each organization has contributed to the progress of all our communities.

“We are here to honor all 378 unique charities that Tulalip Cares has supported over the last year,” he continued. “During Covid, as we all hunkered down in our homes, many of you were out on the front lines working to help those in dire straits. Your work does not go unnoticed. Tulalip takes great pride in pulling together with all our community organizations, charities and members to support and provide guidance through this healing process.”

The exciting return of Raising Hands was bolstered by the significant community achievement stimulated by an astounding $7.2 million in tribal support to more than 375 nonprofits and community groups. Since 1992, the Tulalip Tribes charitable giving program has donated over $116 million in support to the community and, indirectly, to their own membership by supporting regional efforts to improve education, health and human services, cultural preservation, public services, and the environment.

But the Raising Hands event isn’t all about dollars and cents. It’s also a highly coordinated celebration where our community’s change makers are given a chance to share their plans for the future and learn how other like-minded charities are striving to make a difference. This is an invaluable benefit for organizations who can sometimes struggle to get their message broadcast to larger audiences. 

During the 2022 rendition of Raising Hands, six standout nonprofits received special recognition for their exceptional creativity and effectiveness. Raven Rock Ranch, Museum of Glass, Sherwood Community Services, NOAH Center, Salmon Defense, and Innovative Services Northwest were each highlighted for their innovative work serving local communities. 

“The NOAH Center is the northwest organization for animal help. We are a no kill, nonprofit animal shelter. The dogs and cats that come to us, we work really hard to find homes for them. They came here because they were facing euthanasia at other animal shelters, so we really try hard to give them a second chance to find that home and have an opportunity for a family.
We transfer in and adopt out about 4,000 to 4,500 animals every year. We just love to see those animals go from a scenario where they may have faced a completely difference outcome to end up living their best life with their new family. It’s so amazing to hear the squeals of excitement from kids who are getting a kitten or puppy. These animals bring so much joy to the lives of their adopters.”
– Stacie Ventura, NOAH Center executive director

“When you see people coming together to have these amazing, positive conversations, that is when we know we are helping make a difference,” asserted Marilyn Sheldon, manager of Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund. “We try to show respect and honor these charities that give so much of themselves for this community. We want them to feel like the red carpet got laid out just for them.

“Each year, as soon as the event is over, we ask ourselves how we can help make the next one even better,” she continued. “Giving people the opportunity to work together is priceless. We are so fortunate to be able to work with these amazing organizations throughout Washington State that do so much good in our communities.”

“Children come to us because they’ve experienced some kind of trauma in their lives. We don’t talk about past traumas. Instead, we ask them to rewrite neuro pathways by having experiences with horses that give them a healthy relationship that can transfer to human relationships. Horses are good at that because they are a prey animal, so they have very distinct needs. You must be a good leader because they are trusting you with their lives. 
In order to lead a horse around, you must be confident in where you are going. Horses really depend on their handlers stepping up and taking care of them, and our kids can really feel that connection. When kids come here they are responsible for taking care of their horse. Offering something to another living being is an important piece of feeling valuable and worthy.”
– Sandy Matts, executive director of Raven Rock Ranch

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 allows tribes to conduct certain types of gaming if they enter into a gaming compact with the state. Tulalip’s tribal-state gaming compact, like most, includes a provision to donate a percentage of gaming earnings to organizations impacted by gaming, as well as other charitable organizations. From this provision the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund was created.

The Charitable Fund, also known as Tulalip Cares, provides the opportunity for a sustainable and healthy community for all. The Tulalip Tribes strives to work together with the community to give benefits back to others to help build stronger connections to local neighborhoods. That’s why, in Tulalip, it is tradition to ‘raise our hands’ to applaud and give thanks to the numerous organizations in our region that strive to create a better world through positive action. 

“The museum of glass is a museum dedicated to glass and glass making. Our mission is to ignite creativity, fuel discovery and enrich lives. We’re doing that with youth. We’re doing that with emerging artists that come into the hot shop to work with our experienced team. We’re doing that with the great masters around the world that come in and want to experiment and start a new body of work. 
It’s a place where you can see first-hand art being made. You see the struggles. You see how an idea comes to life. Shaping the future of glass is our vision and I feel like we do it every day. And maybe even more important than that, I think we are helping to shape community and the future of the people who come here and experience the beauty of glass art.”
– Debbie Lenk, Museum of Glass executive director 

Nonprofits and community groups are encouraged to apply for quarterly awards through the Tulalip Cares program. For more information, visit the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Funds website at www.TulalipCares.org 

“As tribal people, we have a spiritual connection, cultural connection, and subsistence connection with salmon. They are such a vital part to the ecosystem. Unfortunately, every year our salmon are getting less and less. I don’t want to know or experience what happens when we have no salmon.
When the tribal governments are fighting for their treaty rights they are fighting for clean water, they are fighting for salmon, they are fighting for clean air, they are fighting for a healthy environment. Treaty rights don’t just protect our tribal people, they protect all our people. We want people to not fear the tribes and their treaty rights, but embrace them for the gems that they are because they protect and enhance our health and our quality of life.”
– Peggen Frank, executive director of Salmon Defense