By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
After returning from three months of intensive training at the U.S. Indian Police Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, four cadets were officially sworn-in as Tulalip police officers on the afternoon of October 7, taking the oath to support and defend the Tulalip Tribes constitution.
The new TPD officers were surrounded by their friends, family and fellow officers while they were welcomed by tribal singers and Tulalip tribal leadership who spoke of commitment, bravery and compassion while congratulating them on their new journey.
The celebration, of course, was taken with the appropriate safety measures, ensuring everybody in attendance was practicing social distancing and wearing a mask. Angela Davis, TPD Professional Standards Manager and tribal member, organized the event and stated that normally the night would end with a feast, but with the recent uptick in coronavirus cases at Tulalip, the police department opted to forgo the meal. However, Angela explained that enjoying cake together is a longstanding nationwide tradition after newly appointed officers take the oath, so she ordered cake and had to-go boxes ready so the officers could bring their cake home and take part in the tradition safely.
Four lateral officers who transferred from different police departments were also sworn-in on the 7th. Officer Jason Lee, who has taken the oath for a number of Washington State police departments, said the ceremony was, “amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it before. When I was previously sworn-in at other departments, it was always a quick process where we took the oath and signed the paper. But here, we actually had a ceremony in both the judicial way and the Tulalip way, council members spoke and they are very passionate about the city, the reservation and law enforcement. I thought that was pretty moving.”
Angela Davis stated, “My prior military service allowed me to be a part of ceremonies like this. We wanted to make sure that we had the ceremony that we’re used to having at these academies that are off-the-reservation, but also incorporate our culture. We made sure that we had a prayer song or protection song. I thought it was important to have the ceremony available for our new recruits, and our new officers, and even welcoming our new lateral officers, to bring everyone together.”
Now officially members of the Tulalip police force, officers Cheyanne Bear, Jordan Jira, Jonathan Blumm and Brandon Bennett, recently sat down with Tulalip News, in-between defensive tactic training (DT), to reflect on the past several months while on the path to becoming a tribal law official during the COVID-19 era.
Cheyanne Bear (Assiniboine Sioux/Tulalip Mother)
Tulalip News: How does it feel, now that you’ve completed training at the academy and have taken the oath to protect and serve?
It doesn’t seem real yet. I started here January 6th. We were supposed to leave for the academy around April or May and because of COVID, it kept getting canceled and postponed. Finally we got to go in July and we spent three months there. The best feeling that I’ve had so far is seeing how proud my family is, especially my daughter. She’s Tulalip and I just want to give back because the Tribe has been amazing to us. And like everyone else, I want to make a difference and make it safer. Myself, the other officers, we all have good hearts and I want to show being a female Native American, that I can help make that little bit of a difference.
What inspired you to become a police officer?
I was going to school for criminal justice and I had a couple instructors whose stories were amazing, and I knew immediately I wanted to do something like that. Personally, I had some bad experiences with police growing up, they weren’t the best. You see what’s going on in the world, on the news, I don’t want it to stay like that. I want my daughter to see that police officers aren’t bad. How many female police officers are there? Like 4%. And being a Native American, a minority, there’s like, none. At the academy, I was the last female that graduated in our squad. Over 90-something-percent were males. I want to show my daughter and other young women that you can do anything you put your mind to.
What did you learn at the police academy?
We learned Indian laws. We are a sovereign nation, so we learned Tulalip policies, federal polices and Washington state polices. We did stress-test scenarios where they hired actors to come in and they were screaming in our face; there were big guys, small girls, and people you didn’t expect, like in real life. We did mock night calls and pulled people over. There’s a lot of steps to approaching a vehicle, before you get out of the vehicle there are like 12 steps you need to take. We had the gun range; shotguns, A-Ks, handguns – and this was all in the New Mexico heat. We had about 45 physical exams and you had to pass them or you would get sent home.
Why do you believe it is important to have Native American representation on the tribal police force?
I understand where the people are coming from, being Native American as well, I understand the culture. Being out here, there’s a lot of people that are related, so you just have to have an open-mind for that. I feel like that alone could help teach other officers who aren’t Native American tremendously. Like at academy, the cadets who weren’t Native American, we had to get them to understand that there are going to be family members showing up on scene, at the police station. Compared to the outside world, it’s different here.
We are literally a family working out here. Imagine working in Marysville or Everett, when they first get to work they are 20 calls behind. It’s not like that out here, you get to stop, take a moment and talk to people. One time we were handing out food to the elders, that was an amazing experience you’re not going to get that anywhere else.
Now that you are officially sworn-in and a TPD Officer, what’s next?
I don’t plan on ever leaving Tulalip. I don’t plan on working anywhere else. I’ve grown so much being out here, getting to know people. My daughter knows more Lushootseed than I do, so I want to have her to continue to come here and grow as well.
Honestly, I want to be a detective. That would be my dream.
Any words of advice for those interested in joining the Tulalip police force?
If you have the heart, you can do it. You can push yourself to do it and you have all the support of the Tulalip community.
Jordan Jira (Tulalip)
You are officially a Tulalip police officer; how does it feel?
It’s definitely a good feeling. I feel like being a police officer is more of a calling, it’s a career. Tulalip is where I wanted to work because it’s where I grew up, it’s where my friends and family are. I want to raise my family on the reservation. It’s definitely an honorable position to have and I look forward to making the community safer and doing anything I can to put my part in.
What inspired you to follow this career path?
My grandpa was Stan Jones, Scho-Hallem; he made a big impact. If I could do a partial bit of what he did, that would be an amazing accomplishment. He always wanted what’s best for Tulalip and I feel like I have similar beliefs.
Also, my dad (Sgt. Jeff Jira) has been here at the department for 20 years. Every night he’d be going out in his uniform and I just thought that was the coolest thing. Growing up with a father who is in law enforcement makes you respect officers more, what they go through. Another thing is I’ve always wanted was to help make Tulalip safer. Tulalip is the community I love.
What was your experience like at the Indian Police Academy?
It was definitely a good experience. We had it a little bit harder, we were kind of the trial run. It’s a 13-week program. Usually on the weekends you get liberty, meaning you get to go out, go on hikes, get try all the food in New Mexico. It was pretty hard for us because we didn’t get to leave at all, we were stuck on base because of COVID. Five days a week you’re working hard and that goes by quick, and then there’s those two days where you’re just sitting in your room wanting to be at home.
Why is it important to have tribal members serve on the Tulalip police force?
I feel like being a tribal member, especially growing up on the reservation, knowing people is an advantage. It’s not a strange face coming up to you with a badge, it’s someone you know, someone you’ve seen on the reservation. It feels good being a tribal member and working for the police department. Our sovereignty is such a big thing and it’s a big thing to have our own police department.
What’s next for you and do you have any words of advice to share for aspiring police officers?
One thing I always wanted to be when I was younger is a K-9 officer. You have to start out on patrol for the first couple years, but I always thought it would be really interesting to be a K-9 officer. And not going to lie, it’s a hard job. Especially nowadays, you have to have love for the job, love for the people and the community. If you feel like it’s a career and not just a job, go for it.
Jonathon Blumm (Enrolled Alaskan Native)
You were sworn-in on Wednesday, congrats! How does it feel to reach this milestone?
It feels very good, I am pretty proud of myself and all of the other officers. It’s a lot of work, the three months in Artresia were rough, but awesome. I started here in February in pre-academy. At the beginning we were going over laws and lots of DT, shooting, getting ready for the academy. Going to Artesia was an eye-opener but also, looking back, you make a lot of good memories and good friends.
Why did you want to become a police officer?
I always wanted to be a cop, I just never thought I would actually do it. Before this, I was a fleet mechanic for the Tulalip Resort for 12 years. I’ve always seen the position posted online, and one day my fiancé and I decided to just apply and go for it.
I’m Fish and Wildlife – still a police officer but basically patrol the woods and water. I commercial fished on the state side for 5 years, I built two boats and fished under a permit so I was already familiar with boating and commercial fishing. That’s the real reason I went for Fish and Wildlife because I get to be on the water.
Why do you believe it is important to have Native American officers on the tribal police force?
If you’re in uniform they can come up to you, and feel more comfortable doing so because they know you. I know a lot of people out here from working here for so long, and they know you, so you get that support from them.
What’s next in your career path with the Tulalip Police Department and do you have any words of encouragement for those who wish to become a member of the tribal force?
My goal is just to stay here and work my way up if I can and just grow. And even if you don’t think you can, try.
Brandon Bennett (Tulalip community member/parent)
You were recently sworn-in as a member of the TPD police force, let’s talk about your journey up until this point.
I applied back in 2019, did a written interview with the chief and commanders and then did a polygraph, psych evaluation and medical exam. I got hired-on and started working as a cadet. We did a lot of pre-academy work until July 5th, when we left for the academy in New Mexico. We got back a week ago today and it feels so good to be back with the family, my kids and my wife. My wife is other native, my son is other native and my daughter is Tulalip. It felt amazing to be sworn-in, it was a long process. The academy was not easy. I’m talking 10, 12, 16-hour days, so getting sworn-in is a huge accomplishment.
What inspired you to become a police officer?
To show the community that I care. I want to help protect and grow the community and try to keep all the drugs off the reservation.
Why is it important to have members of the community on the tribal police force?
It’s important that kids don’t see police officers as bad people, so they don’t get afraid or think we’re there just to arrest somebody. Sometimes, that is our job, but most of the time we’re there to help the community out with whatever is needed at the time.
What’s next in your career as an official TPD officer?
Field training. Once I pass that, hopefully I get my own vehicle. I’m excited to get out there and start patrolling, I want to connect with more people, talk to more citizens, play basketball with the kids if they’re playing. Just to show that we are all the same, just because I wear a badge doesn’t mean I’m anything more.
The new Tulalip Police Officers will be out and about the rez while training with their senior officers, be sure to give them a warm welcome! And for more information about becoming a Tulalip Police Officer, please contact the department at (360) 716-4608 or visit their new website at www.TulalipTribalPolice.org
Chris Sutter, Tulalip Chief of Police, expressed, “It’s a real positive step in the right direction for the Tulalip Tribal Police to bring on and hire new officers to help grow the department. We’re all about community and service to our community, being guardians and protectors. We’re making significant investments in time and training to help our officers be successful in their new role here in Tulalip. I’m really pleased to see this happening.”
Submitted by Sydney Gilbert, Forensic Interview Coordinator, Tulalip Children’s Advocacy Center
October is National Domestic Violence (DV) Awareness Month. This year with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important now than ever that we learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of DV as it often thrives in the secrecy and silence of the home. Many people are staying home to stay safe from the pandemic. But for the 84% of Native people who have experience violence in their lives, home is not always a safe place to be (Rosay, 2016).
According to the Rosay study, more than 56 % of Native women had experienced sexual violence and more than 55% had experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. 27% of Native men had experienced sexual violence and over 43% had experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “Intimate Partner Violence describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy”.
It important that we understand the high rates of violence against Native Americans. Strong Hearts Native Helpline reminds us that “the parallels that can be drawn between colonialism and domestic violence can be seen through their definitions and through a review of Native American history. Having lived through genocide and horrific suffering, the aftermath of European contact and colonization continues to not only haunt Native Americans, it wreaks havoc in their everyday lives” (Strong Hearts Native Helpline, 2017). This is likely why 84% of Native women and 81% of Native men have experienced sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, and/or psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (Rosay, 2016).
One thing we can do as a community to combat DV is to be open to talking about and learning about it. If we want to end intimate partner violence we need to be willing to stop thinking of it as a “family issue” that is to be kept quiet. Common signs of abusive behavior in a partner include:
- Telling you that you never do anything right.
- Showing extreme jealousy and controlling behavior.
- Preventing or discouraging you from spending time with your friends or family.
- Insulting, demeaning, or shaming you. Especially in front of other people.
- Controlling finances, household decisions, or who you spend your time with.
- Intimidating you with threatening looks or the threat of violence.
- Destroying your belongings or your home or harming your pets.
- Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol.
- Pressuring you to have sex or perform acts you’re not comfortable with.
- Intimidating you with weapons like guns, knives, bats, or mace.
- Any type of physical assault.
Tulalip Tribes Legacy of Healing is here to listen and help in any way we can. If you’re experiencing DV or know someone who is and want resources on how to help, Legacy of Healing is here for you. Our mission is to promote a safe, healthy, and non-violent community for non-offending tribal members and their families by providing education, survivor advocacy, and accountability through a coordinated community response. Our services include civil and legal advocacy for adult victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, outreach, and education.
Legacy of Healing is located at 7720 Waterworks Road in Tulalip. We are open Monday-Friday 8:00-4:30. Call us at 360-716-4100 or email at email@example.com. Please scan our QR code and “like” our Facebook page for additional trainings and resources.
If you are in crisis you can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Strong Hearts Native Helpline can be reached at 1-844-762-8483.
Center for Disease Control. (2018, October 23). Intimate Partner Violence. Retrieved October 7, 2020 from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/index.html
Rosay, André B., “Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men,” NIJ Journal 277 (2016): 38-45, available at http://nij.gov/journals/277/Pages/violence-againstamerican-indians-alaska-natives.aspx.
Strong Hearts Native Helpline. (2017). Domestic Violence in Indian Country and Alaska. Retrieved October 7, 2020 from https://www.strongheartshelpline.org/domestic-violence-in-indian-country-and-alaska/
Submitted by AnneCherise Jensen
This past year has been challenging for everyone, from adults, to teens, and even children, people of all ages are experiencing high levels of stress. Being in a chronic state of stress can cause both long and short term health problems, so it’s important to try and manage stress as much as possible. In addition to feeling anxious, many may become depressed, struggle to get a good night’s sleep or experience digestive issues. The good news is, there are many healthy outlets available to help individuals manage their specific stress factors. But first, let’s go over what stress really is, and how it can also be a good thing too.
What is Stress? Our Bodies Flight or Fight Response
Stress can either stem from something positive (preparing for a vacation) or negative (dealing with virtual learning at home). Stress is the natural, human reaction to a situation where a person feels threatened or anxious, and it’s something everyone copes with. In these intense moments, our central nervous system releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones trigger the fight or flight response, which gets your body ready for action. Having a healthy portion of stress, can motivate you to accomplish tasks on your To Do List, or accomplish a series of goals. We need these stress hormones to feel ambitious and willing to take on the day! However, having too much unmanaged stress can lead to lethargy, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and other serious health conditions if not dealt with.
Common reactions to stressful / traumatic events can include:
After a stressful event, or series of stressful events, individuals may have strong and lingering reactions. These events may include personal or environmental disasters, threats with an assault, excessive stress, loss of loved one, financial disparities, safety concerns, or simply being overworked and over exhausted. The symptoms may be physical, emotional, spiritual or all of the above. Common symptoms of having excessive amounts of stress include;
- Disbelief, shock, and numbness.
- Feeling sad, frustrated, and helpless.
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
- Headaches, back pains, and stomach problems.
- Smoking or excessive use of drugs and alcohol.
- Tired, lethargic and lack of energy.
- Rapid heartbeat, rise in blood pressure, increased heavy breathing
- Sugar & salt cravings
How Do I Deal with Stress? Stress-Busters!
Learning healthy ways to cope is crucial for the health and well being of our emotional and physical self. Our health not only affects us, but those around us and in our household as well. Getting the right care and support is crucial when trying to reduce those stressful feelings and symptoms. But this big question is, how can we manage and control stress? Well, we can’t always control what’s happening around us, but we can control how we react to those stressful environmental situations. When life gets hard and those negative emotions start to kick in, give these following stress busters a try! Chances are, one or more of these tips will help relieve some of the stress you are currently carrying on your shoulders.
Slow Down, Stop what you’re doing, Take a deep breath! In today day and age, our day to day life is often filled with excessive responsibilities that keep us running from one place to the next, from task to task. When you start to feel overwhelmed, take a moment, stop what you’re doing, and focus on getting some deep fresh breaths into your brain and lungs. Taking a moment to get some fresh oxygen to your organs can help lower stressful symptoms, while also helping you think more clearly. Do this for 3-5 minutes and examine how you feel afterwards.
Healthy Food, Healthy Moods: When it comes to food and stress, one of the best things you can do for your body is to choose a well balanced, healthful eating style. Focus on eating whole foods and eliminating processed foods. Processed foods often contain harmful chemicals and ingredients that can add to more stress to your physical body.
Physical Activity & Active Relaxation: Engaging in physical activities and active relaxation is one of the best things you can do to help manage stress! When we physically engage in movement, such as walking, running, or stretching, our body releases happy chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that help us feel happy and at ease. The more physically active you are, the more happy brain chemicals are released. However, as little as five minutes of exercise a day can be beneficial. If you would like to visit the gym, check out the Marysville YMCA hours for business, they are open!
Massage or Acupuncture Therapy: Both of these alternative healing treatments can be very beneficial to managing both physical and emotional stress. Treat yourself to a spa day, or visit the Tulalip Health Clinic for a deep tissue massage.
Hobbies: Hobbies are a terrific way to destress! They allow our left brain, or the artistic side of our brain, to thrive and engage, which can be great for our mental health. Hobbies can include anything from painting, foraging, weaving, sports, playing an instrument, reading, drawing and so much more. Tune into your creative side and turn your stress into something positive!
Socializing with friends and family Being around a supportive and loving group of individuals is crucial for our mental health. A supportive community allows us to reach out for help and encourage others when needed. Be sure to check in on your Elders and family members at this time! And please don’t be afraid to reach out to trusted loved ones if you need someone to talk to.
Control Cravings: If stress has you craving crunchy foods, reach for lower calorie, healthful foods such as veggie chips, carrots, celery or plain popcorn. If you have a sweet tooth, try replacing ice cream and pastries with fruit parfaits, fruit smoothies, or fruit pies. Or, try modifying your favorite baked goods by adding pumpkin, banana, zucchini and almonds in your favorite homemade bread!
Reduce Caffeine & Excessive Sugar Intake: Excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar can often amplify the stress symptoms you are currently dealing with. Try reducing caffeine by drinking herbal plant teas instead. They usually have much lower levels of caffeine and consist of many other great health benefits as well. Instead of loading up on sugar when the sugar cravings kick in, eat a well balanced meal that includes lean protein, and fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains or beans. Examine and see how you feel afterwards.
Hiking & Nature Walks: Getting outside for a breath of fresh air will help rejuvenate the heart, mind and soul. Being surrounded by trees, lakes, oceans and plants is healing beyond measure. Whether you go for a quick 10 minute walk in the woods, or a 10 mile hike to the mountains, both have so much to offer!
Avoid drugs and alcohol. Yes, these may seem to help ease the pain at first, but they can create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling. Though it can be hard or you may be struggling with addiction, I highly recommend seeking relationships with friends and family who will support and encourage sobriety. We are capable of so much more when we allow ourselves to be our best, sober, self!
**This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
“How did I let this happen?” cried a mourning Indigenous mother.
“Did you know?” she asks, turning her attention away from a photograph to a young Native man standing in her doorway.
“I had no idea, I didn’t think it mattered,” he responded, fighting back tears of his own.
“He’s my son, he matters.”
This emotional dialogue may seem familiar to you if you grew up in Native America. However, it is directly quoted from an upcoming project titled In Spirit, a short film based on a story by Tulalip tribal member, Nathan Williams, also referred to as his moniker, DEAMA. For years, Nate has been expressing himself creatively, giving people a glimpse into his world, whether through music, street art, fashion or most recently, film.
“If I were to put it in my words, short and sweet, the film is about a troubled kid named Jared,” Nate explains. “He’s about 17 or 18 years old and he’s trying to come to grips with his own emotions, with the passing of his long-time best friend turned addict. I tried to make it like a saturated version of my story, as much of my reality as possible without making it the same exact scenario. I tried to paint a typical scenario for everybody else’s situation when confronting those emotions. So, I would say it’s based on a true story, but the film was not the actual timeline.”
There is a meme, or a statement rather, that occasionally will make an appearance on the social media platforms, stating “our generation has been to more of their friend’s funerals than to their weddings,” and unfortunately that is a reality that many Indigenous youth live with in modern society. At tribal gatherings that aim to bring attention to today’s drug epidemic, Tulalip Board Member Mel Sheldon often opens the events by asking attendees to raise their hand if they have ever lost anybody due to a drug overdose. Each time nearly everybody’s hand goes up.
According to current research conducted by the Washington Post, over the course of 8 years, 2006-2014, Native Americans were approximately 50% more likely to die from an opioid overdose than any other race. Furthermore, a new study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) showed that the suicide rate amongst Native teens is continuing to rise and is up 139% for Native women and 71% for Native men since 1999.
If you are a non-Native reading those statistics, you may find yourself shocked to learn of this news. This is felt on an even greater level for tribal communities because those ‘statistics’ are often our siblings, cousins, uncles, aunties, parents or friends. And while those articles may provide a lot of eye-opening info, more times than not, they fail to encapsulate the hardship Indigenous Nations are feeling – what they go through with each young tribal member that is buried far too soon.
In Spirit places you directly into that storm of emotions that we are left to deal with after our loved ones make the transition to the afterlife; the hurt, the anger, the guilt, all of those raw emotions are on display and they are portrayed so evocatively you almost feel like you’re reliving moments of your personal life. Nate explained that when casting the roles for the film, he called upon the people in his life that best fit the personalities of his characters, and that all of the cast members were first time actors.
“We tried to go across everything that could possibly happen emotionally in these scenarios,” said Nate. “I’m super impressed with how everyone killed their roles. For the most part, we kind of just gave people a template of what to say. We told them to say it naturally, how they would speak if we were having a normal conversation; the way you say it, your cadence, your emotion that comes out. I think that helped a lot of people with their performance because they didn’t feel like they had to remember their bars. Every shot was under ten takes.”
The 8-minute film was originally intended to be just a scene in a full-length feature that Nate was writing at the time he met the film’s director, Jonathan ‘Jon’ Salmon. The two creatives crossed-paths when Jon hired filmmaker Luis Perez, a close friend of Nate’s, for a 3-part series dubbed Residents. That project was shot in three neighborhoods in the Pacific Northwest; South Seattle, Tacoma and Tulalip. From that project, Nate and Jon built a collaborative relationship and the first project they worked on together, a music video for Seattle artist Ben Zaidi, won Best Music Video at the Tacoma Film Festival.
“From there, we started talking,” Jon stated. “A lot of people don’t know what happens on tribal lands, and they’re not too familiar with the genocide of Indigenous people and how the genocidal trauma can continue to affect and spread through the lineage of the people. We opened up and talked about our experience with death, how fast I thought I was losing people from the young age of 15 all the way up until today. And he talked about how it happens on the reservation and how it happens at Tulalip. We need to talk about that because that’s something that’s always put in the headlines, the opioid epidemic tearing apart suburban white neighborhoods, but you never hear that same focus and energy put in the tribal lands that need resources more than suburban families who have the means to deal with it, in a sense.”
After a ten-month writing session, the two created a script that they felt could honestly address the issue of generational trauma and how it affects the Native youth specifically. Once the roles were cast and locations were successfully scouted, filming began at the beginning of 2020 before COVID struck. And thanks to what Nate credits as Jon’s deep connections, multiple crews – filming, editing, makeup, colorists, were in place and the entire filming process took place over the course of only 48 hours. Post-production was relatively quick as well, taking approximately 5-6 months to wrap the film up.
Nate expressed, “I got to give it up to Jon for being such a good director, because he’s down to get real personal with you. There were times he would pull me to the side and remind me what I was there for. Coming from the situation we are in, you grow accustomed to suppressing your emotions to a degree. You don’t want to relive those emotions, because you don’t genuinely want to hurt yourself again, but you got to put yourself in that ballpark for the film and that is what Jon is good at getting you to.”
And while Nate praised Jon for his work ethic and his execution of bringing his vision to the screen, Jon was quick to reciprocate, claiming that it was a collaborative process the entire way through, stating, “The film was organically developed. It wasn’t me saying, let me tell a story that I didn’t know anything about or relate to any of their experiences. It was me and Nate walking through everything together because he’s also the main actor in the film and the producer as well.”
Jon is non-Native but has close ties to families within the Puyallup tribe, which allowed him to have a better understanding of the reservation lifestyle than many filmmakers throughout the region. Coupled with his conversations with Nate, he took on the project with intentions of not only raising awareness to the drug epidemic and dealing with the loss of a loved one at a young age, but also to find a way to support a program or organization that helps Natives work on their mental health as it relates to generational trauma.
“We understand that there is trauma,” he said. “We were trying to do something informative and insightful, we do believe we achieved that, but the film was also highlighting a very traumatic event and it kind of encouraged the cycle of trauma that I try to break in all of my work. We can’t open up a wound and not want to help people deal with it. We want to partner with an organization; whether it’s from the Tulalip Tribes, or any tribe in the State of Washington that offers services for the mental health and mental improvement for young adults between the ages of 13-30, to help them cope with experiences like this.”
The duo plan on officially releasing In Spirit on Indigenous Peoples Day, October 12th. The film is a must-watch; a modern day observation of how generational trauma is impacting the future of Native communities nationwide, as well as an important piece of work that helps open up a much-needed conversation about issues that are often overlooked or deemed too uncomfortable to talk about growing up on the rez.
“I feel like us, as Native Americans, are way too accustomed and jaded to these situations, and for the most part people aren’t seeking the therapy needed for certain things,” Nate expressed. “I don’t know if it’s because they don’t feel supported or if they just don’t have the resources. But as fortunate as the Tribe can be, I still feel like mental health is one of those things that’s not taken as serious as it should. We wanted this film to be the mirror; this is us – we are like this. As a community, we need to take it upon ourselves to help the people around us. That’s what I’m on.”
View In Spirit here:
By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
For the seventh consecutive year, the greater-Seattle area and its thousands of Native citizens will proudly celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Replacing the former misbegotten holiday dedicated to a slave trader and lost Italian navigator, the commemorative day to honor the past, present and future of Indigenous cultures takes place annually on the second Monday in October.
“People ask, ‘Why Indigenous Peoples’ Day and why not American Indian Day or Native American Day?’ It’s only appropriate that we honor the legacy of work that’s been done,” explained Matt Remle, Lakota activist and local educator. His efforts, along with many other dedicated Native advocates, were instrumental in getting a proclamation voted on by the Seattle City Council and signed into law by then-mayor Ed Murray in 2013.
“It’s not only honoring legacy, but when we say ‘Indigenous peoples,’ it’s referring to more than just the tribes of the colonized United States,” Remle continued. “We’re talking about all Indigenous peoples who’ve been impacted by settler colonialism around the world.”
Since its inception into the Puget Sound region, the Indigenous Peoples’ Day movement has spread to over 120 cities and been embraced by at least 10 state governments. Even some universities and a handful of public school districts have indoctrinated the holiday to celebrate global Indigenous cultures.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day reimagines Columbus Day and changes a celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historical truths about the genocide and oppression of America’s original inhabitants, to organize against current injustices, and to celebrate Indigenous resistance.
Like so many things in 2020, this year’s celebration is forced to adapt to a social environment that doesn’t risk anyone’s health or wellbeing. It’ll be all virtual, all the time with prerecorded performances and heartfelt messages shared on Monday, October 12. To view the itinerary, receive updates and view the live videos come Indigenous Peoples’ Day, click on the following link – https://www.facebook.com/events/417245289650927/
We now reflect on more glorious days, when Native people and their allies from around the Pacific Northwest gathered on Coast Salish land to be seen and heard in celebration of reclaiming the narrative and repurposing a national holiday in our own image, all the while showcasing the beauty of Indigenous resistance.
Six years’ worth of Indigenous Peoples’ Days have brought about countless memories made. There’s been marches through the streets of Seattle, tears of joy shed between strangers, untold friendships made, and so much traditional knowledge shared at Daybreak Star cultural center. Most of all, this year’s seventh anniversary marks seven years of our younger generation not being forced to celebrate Columbus.
“It’s been beautiful to see so many Indigenous people come together and be filled with so much joy,” shared 21-year-old Ayanna Fuentes, a member of Indigenous Sisters Resistance. “Our younger generation is growing up not knowing what Columbus Day is, and that’s an amazing thing.”
During the very first anniversary of Seattle’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day proclamation, renowned activist and two-time Green Party vice-presidential candidate Winona LaDuke (Ojibwe) delivered a passionate keynote address.
“It is so liberating for me to be here and celebrate with you all in just how awesome it is be Indigenous,” beamed LaDuke in front of her Native brothers and sisters. “You know, it’s always perplexed me how someone can name something as large as a mountain or sea or an entire day after something as small as a human.
“It changes how people view things when everything is named after all these white guys,” she continued. “We are just beginning. There is a lot of work ahead in the renaming and recovering and restoration of our homelands. In doing so we remember our ancestors. In doing this we honor all those before us, all those here, and all those yet to come. And we reaffirm our place here as a people who remember, as a people who do not suffer from historic amnesia.”
The Tulalip Youth Council attended last year’s celebrations at Daybreak Star where they joined an energetic lineup of Native performers. The young culture bearers shared their Tulalip culture with hundreds who packed the traditional space. Tulalip voices rang out, as did their bellowing drums, during their two song performance.
“We are here to celebrate the amazing resiliency of Indigenous peoples,” said Matt Remle three years ago while serving as evening co-emcee. “Despite the Euro colonizers greatest efforts at mass genocide, disposition, slavery, and assimilation, we as Native peoples are still here. Native communities continue to fight to protect the land, air, and waters. We continue to live traditional roles and responsibilities, which have been passed down from our origins as a peoples since the beginning of creation. We continue to sing our songs, relearn our languages and express ourselves through our dances and cultures. If this isn’t worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.”
A plethora of states, cities, counties, community groups, schools, and other institutions will observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 12. They do so with activities, storytelling and lesson plans that raise awareness for the rich history, culture, and traditions of America’s Indigenous peoples. Because we are still here. And we are thriving.