Students celebrate Tulalip Day

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Prior to a four-day holiday weekend, the students of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT) and Tulalip Heritage High spent the morning of November 24 immersed in Tulalip culture. Engaging in song and dance, and even speaking traditional Lushootseed, the kids were excited to participate in the return of the school’s yearly Tulalip Day celebration.

An official holiday for the Tribe and surrounding communities, Tulalip Day is observed on the last Friday of every November and honors the sovereignty, resiliency, heritage, traditions and culture of the Tulalip Tribes. 

QCT Vice-Principal Chelsea Craig shared, “This is significant because the colonized education system attempted genocide on our people at the Tulalip boarding school. Every generation since then, our people have not been able to be proud of who they are and be their full-selves in public school systems. We’re changing the paradigm of that. We are providing a place where every person can be proud of who they are, no matter what culture they come from, and know that we are one community, one family. We are reclaiming Indigenous space in a public school system that aimed to erase that.”

Before joining the high schoolers, the elementary students gathered at the front of their school to pay tribute and learn a little bit about the Tulalip Tribes killer whale flag.

“We started today’s celebration with a flag ceremony because the Marysville School District has adopted raising the Tulalip Tribes flag at all campuses,” explained Chelsea. “From the leadership of JJ Jenson, our former vice-principal, he worked with our Tulalip veterans to raise the Tribe’s flag many years ago. We’ve been raising our tribal flag on our sovereign land for many years and we wanted to honor that work today.” 

Led by Tony Hatch, Tulalip Tribes Vice-Chairman Glen Gobin and several tribal leaders, the students offered a Tulalip Canoe Family song, about the importance of pulling together, which represented the partnership between the Tribe and the Marysville School District. 

All students were encouraged to wear their traditional regalia on Tulalip Day and a number of beautifully designed shawls, vests, blankets, ribbon skirts, beaded jewelry and cedar-woven hats and headbands were on full-display. 

When the flag ceremony concluded, the QCT students marched across campus to the Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium where Heritage students awaited their arrival, excited to get the festivities started. 

Glen Gobin opened the ceremony and shared a few words about the importance of Tulalip Day with the students.

He stated, “I am proud to witness this event and see all of the changes that have taken place. When I think back to when my grandmother went to school, she went to the boarding school here at Tulalip, and everything they did in that school was to strip them of their identity and deny them of being Native American. They tried to force them into assimilation into a non-Indian society. 

“We didn’t have the ability to go to school and exercise who we are and feel good about doing it, because we were still trying to fit in. To walk in here and see all the smiling faces, all of your pride, and to feel that is amazing. How far we’ve grown in that ability to be who we are and proud of who we are, that is important. That is what this day means. That’s what this month means, that recognition. Who you are, where you come from, to build that foundation so you can succeed in the future and pass on those teachings, those traditions, in a good way.”

Since November is also Native American Heritage month, Chelsea opened the floor up to all Indigenous nations, inviting everybody to share their culture with the students. MSD Native Liaisons, Terrance Sabbas and Matt Remle, sang a number of songs from their respective tribes throughout the hour-long ceremony, both on the round drum and their hand-drums, while powwow dancers took the floor, performing both traditional and fancy shawl.

To end the Tulalip Day celebration, Chelsea invited the drummers to the floor and encouraged all the students to take part in either signing and drumming or dancing. The bleachers were emptied as the drummers sang a potlatch song that is well-known through all Coast Salish territories and is played at various tempos. As the speed of the song gradually increased, so did the smiles and laughter throughout the entire gym. 

“A lot of our ceremonies have been canceled because of COVID, so today was important to me mainly because I got to see my culture and sing our songs at school,” expressed Tulalip Heritage High School student and Tribal member, Xavion Myles-Gilford. “Having the assembly today brought back that joy of being at our ceremonies. My favorite part of the day was right at the end, when everybody was dancing, and singing and cheering together, it almost made me cry.”

Marysville Middle School and Liberty Elementary celebrate Native American Heritage Month

By Shaelyn Hood, Tulalip News

On Monday, November 29th, Marysville Middle School and Liberty Elementary invited their students, families, and community members to join them in celebrating Native American Heritage Month. The event included crafts, books, and free resources about Native American culture. Visitors enjoyed Indian tacos and frybread from Tee Pee Creepers, all whilst listening to Native American songs and drumming. 

Tulalip Marina building named in honor of Charlie Cortez

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

One year after the Tulalip community and various law enforcement agencies scoured the open waters and surrounding shorelines, hoping to find any sign of Tulalip Fish and Wildlife Officer Charlie Cortez who was reported lost at sea while on duty, they convened once more at the Tulalip Bay Marina in his honor. 

Ever since that stormy night of November 17, 2020, Charlie’s family, friends, Tribe and fellow officers have been grappling with his absence and missing his presence. Charlie’s infectious laughter and one-of-a-kind personality often left anyone who had the pleasure of interacting with him with a huge smile, much like his very own, a signature known by those who held him dearest throughout the reservation.

Officer Cortez’s signature smile will live on forever, not only in memory of his loved ones, but at the front of the Tulalip Marina Building on a plaque that officially identifies the recently constructed establishment as the Tulalip Tribes Charlie Joe Cortez Marina Building.

“November 17th is a day we’ll remember forever, having one of our officers lost in the line of duty,” said Tulalip Chairwoman, Teri Gobin. “It’s important to take time to heal as a community. Not only his children but his family, you are his legacy. You will be moving forward with his work, his words, bringing his memory through.”

 She continued, “My heart breaks for each and every one of you. To lose a son, a brother, grandson, a father, it’s something that can’t be replaced. But eventually every time you think about him, you’ll be thinking of the happy times, the laughs and good times you had together. We know he is okay now, he’s with our people, he’s with his grandparents and family on the other side. It’s an honor to be here today to support the family and naming this building after our fallen officer, Charlie Joe Cortez.”

Lushootseed Language Warrior, Natosha Gobin, said a prayer in the traditional sduhubs language before Tribal members Glen Gobin (Vice-Chair), Kelly Moses and Jason Gobin offered a song and a blessing of the new building. Tulalip Chief of Police Chris Sutter also shared a few heartfelt remarks as he fondly reminisced the fallen hero and extended his love and condolences to the family. Chief Sutter then called upon Charlie’s daughter, Peyton, to help unveil the plaque. On her count, they removed the blanket which covered the engraving together, much to the cheers, tears, claps and hand squeezes of the crowd of approximately one-hundred people. 

Following the ceremony, Charlie’s family held a luncheon at the Tulalip Gathering Hall, where they gifted the Tribe’s BOD and executive staff members with blankets for the special honoring, as well as bracelets, which read Charlie’s name and End of Watch date. They also offered t-shirts and candles to the community for their support over the past year.  

“It was very heartwarming to see the community gather together today, as well as the other law enforcement agencies that came in our support,” expressed Charlie’s mother, Paula Cortez. “Seeing the plaque for the first time, it was very beautiful. It warmed my heart to see the effort that went into dedicating the Marina building in Charlie Joe Cortez’s name. I am deeply grateful to the Board of Directors for making the decision to dedicate the building, it really means a lot to us and the family.

“It’s going to be a place where his kids can go to pay tribute to their dad on special days like his birthday or Father’s Day. We haven’t had a real place to go except for the memorial wall that we decorated down there. I think it’s important for the kids and the future generations to see that the Tribe honored Charlie in a good way as a fallen officer. The ceremony was just beautiful and it really touched all of our hearts.”

Invisible no more: Tulalip flag soars at every Marysville School District campus

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip news

For the first time ever, the red, white and black colors of the Tulalip flag are soaring over every Marysville School District campus. Tulalip’s iconic orca was raised up at each elementary, middle school, high school, and even District headquarters during the week of November 17th

In each instance, the 3 foot by 5 foot cloth signifying the Tulalip Tribes as a sovereign nation was raised by a proud student representative and young Tulalip culture bearer.

“About a decade ago, my coworker Ricky Belmont and I started asking the schools we work at to fly the Tulalip Tribes flag out of recognition for the tribe being a sovereign nation and to honor the treaty lands that schools are built upon,” explained Matt Remle, Indian Education Program Coordinator for Marysville School District. “Last spring, Marysville Pilchuck High School became the first school to agree and now flies the flag daily.

“Last month, in collaboration with the Tulalip Tribes and the MSD equity department, [we received authorization] to raise the Tulalip flag at the district office. By the end of November, every school in the district was raising the Tulalip flag. No more erasure, no more invisibility!”

It’s no secret that Marysville and Tulalip have a history rife with conflict and misunderstanding, especially when it comes to the subject of education. However, flying the Tulalip flag is a symbol of hope for the future. It’s an action that intends to create a better partnership between the two communities, while acknowledging the Tribe’s self-governed and federally recognized status.

“I grew up in a time when it wasn’t safe to be Indian in the Marysville School District,” shared Quil Ceda Vice Principal Chelsea Craig. “We had to check being Indian at the door. We didn’t see ourselves in the school. We didn’t see ourselves in the curriculum. So now, this simple act of raising our Tulalip flag on these school campuses becomes a huge act of healing for our Marysville/Tulalip community. This is the joining of two communities on the homeland of our people.

“This is the start of a must-needed change,” she continued. “My dream is seeing our own curriculum in the schools and for Since Time Immemorial to be taught in every classroom, not just in history. And for all the youth here at this history making moment, you are the ones who know how to do this world better. I see you doing that every day. Treating one another with love and respect. You are our future leaders, so I want you all to be witness of this work here today. When you’re older, you’ll remember why we did this. You’ll know what it really means to be one as a Marysville/Tulalip community and you’ll make sure this kind of good work continues.”

From the schools to the District headquarters, every time the orca was raised up it was treated as a moment to educate and celebrate. Tulalip representatives from our own Education division and cultural ambassadors spoke passionately about what this show of respect means for the many Native students within the school district. It allows a more diverse student body to feel accepted and be openly proud of their culture.

After tribal members and school administrators lent historical perspective and words of encouragement for a brighter future to the large gatherings at each school flag pole, a coalition of Native representatives with drum-in-hand offered traditional canoe family songs. The sentiment being in order for both communities to in face move forward together and in a good way, they’d have to pull in synch and in the same direction, like a canoe family. 

The final stop on the multi-day mission to raise the Tulalip flag across all Marysville School District campuses was Tulalip’s own Early Learning Academy. The expectation being that for these young ones, they grow up in a school district only knowing what it’s like to be accepted and embraced for their cultural traditions and teachings. A special moment occurred when the group prepared to sing their canoe songs. 

“A staff member brought her grandson to me and asked if he could drum with us,” said Matt Remle. “Made my heart feel good. That’s why we do what do for the next generation. So they can grow up in a better society, not invisible but instead empowered and uplifted. Knowing they’re sovereign, knowing that they can be themselves no matter where they are.”

By adding the Tulalip flag to the same pole that holds the United States and Washington State flags, Marysville School District recognizes Tulalip’s inherent sovereignty as an indigenous nation and acknowledges that the best way forward is in partnership, pulling together.

Christian Gabriel Foster

Christian Gabriel Foster was born July 5, 1996 to James Foster and Debra Barto in Everett, Washington. He went to be with the Lord and his Mom, on November 20, 2021. Christian was a member of the Tulalip Tribes and Klamath, Modoc, Paiute – Yahooksin Band of Snake Indians. He lived on the Tulalip Reservation his entire life.

Christian loved spending time with his family and friends and always seen the best in people. He always had a positive outlook on life. He influenced and inspired many others to keep trying and never give up. He had a loving, carefree and kind soul. Christian loved being an uncle and his nieces and nephews adored and looked up to him. He was always happy with a huge smile and had contagious vibes that made everyone around him bee better. Christian was adventurous at very a young age. He had no fear when it came to trying something new. He learned how to ride a bike without training wheels when he was only two years old. Christian became interested in skateboarding and it grew into a passion that continued into adulthood. He traveled to many skate parks up and down the West Coast. His skills in skateboarding and snowboarding were natural to him. Some of his favorite times were when he was outdoors traveling at the river and gaming “Fort Nite & Chill”.. Christian loved animals and his culture. He loved all music, especially bumpin’ Mac Dre and Christian “Triz” walking. He was so humorous, always ready for a good laugh. He found peace and comfort in chasing sunsets. Bee Strong, Bee Love, Bee Kind, Bee Compassionate – Christian Gabriel Foster, we will always bee missing you.

Christian is survived by his Dad, James Foster; Grandmothers, Nadene Foster and Linda Hill; Siblings Heather (Kris), Shane, Travis, Rayvin (Jessica), Clara (Juan); Nephews and nieces, Cory, Keegan, Jazmyn, Tahlia, Makenna, Kyleal and Immanuel; the Love of his life, Keryn Parks and also many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. He is preceded in death by his mother, Debra Barto; Grandfathers, Robert Barto and Patrick “Pat the Cat” Foster; Uncle Ambrose Foster; Cousin, Gia Foster.

A celebration of life will be held Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021 at 10:00 AM at the Tulalip Gym. Arrangements entrusted to Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home.

Thanksgiving’s origin, and the opportunities Native Americans have to reclaim our culture

By Shaelyn Hood, Tulalip News

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the “first” Thanksgiving. Traditionally, the American education system has taught this holiday as a time where Native Americans and pilgrims worked together, helped each other, and celebrated with a feast in 1621. However, with a better understanding, we know that there is more than meets the eye.

The truth behind the “first” Thanksgiving makes some wonder whether to celebrate it. According to the National Parks Service, as early as 1565, Spanish settlers and members of the Seloy tribe broke bread in Florida. Then according to National Geographic, in 1619, the first thanksgiving-like gathering took place when settlers in Berkeley Hundred (now Virginia) celebrated their arrival in 1619. Others like to argue that the origin comes from 1637 when the Massachusetts Bay Colony governor, John Winthrop, declared a day to celebrate soldiers who had just slaughtered hundreds of Pequot men, women, and children.

Nonetheless, we know that the traditional story that is told of the “first” Thanksgiving is not completely true. A study published by Quarternary Science Reviews say that by 1620, about 90% of the Indigenous people were already lost to a disease brought over by European settlers. And not shortly after, any relationship that the Wampanoag people at Plymouth Rock had with European settlers, quickly dissipated. 

Today in America, many families don’t gather because of Thanksgiving’s history, but rather, they use the day as another opportunity to gather with loved ones. Thanksgiving has become less about the dynamics between pilgrims and Native Americans, and more about families being together. 

 For many Native Americans, that same idea applies, but also carrying on traditions through generations. Tulalip elder Dale Jones said, “We’ve got to get to the importance of it. If Covid taught us anything, it is really important to gather together as a family, before our elders are gone.” 

 In today’s world, Native Americans can gather, carry on and teach traditions that our ancestors fought so hard to keep. We have more capabilities now to be active in our culture and educate our community. Ultimately, we can change the narrative of what Thanksgiving once was and reclaim our language, ceremony, and foodways back to our heritage, and incorporate Native traditional foods into our holiday meals. Veronica “Roni” Leahy with the Diabetes Program listed some traditional and healthy food recipes that tribal members can include this Thursday. 

  • Veggie salad- Any kind of squash, tomato, dried shelling beans, and corn, sauteed together with chives
  • Pompion- Mash together pumpkin, or any type of squash, ginger, salt, and butter
  • Native American meatloaf- Elk or deer, wild onions, and camas or other native plants
  • Berry compote topping- any wild berries, boil, mash, and mix with honey

Roni went on to talk about the importance of prayer, “In Indian Country, it’s always best to receive every day as a gift. Our elders teach us that all good things begin with prayer and end with prayer.”

She also shared an East Coast Wampanoag prayer by Michael “Tender Heart” Markley,

“Let us give thanks to the creator for all that he gives. The harvest moon has shined its brilliance over our home and now as we store the harvest of our work the creator gives his sustenance. The Earth will now rest through the coming seasons storing the energy needed to once again feed our people.”

As David Weeden, Mashpee Wampanoag tribal historic preservation officer once said, “Acknowledging that wrongs have been done is the first part of healing.” As Native Americans, we have the opportunity to understand our history, but also to share our truth, and take actions to continue to reclaim our culture and move forward as a community. 

25th Anniversary (plus one) of the Evergreen State longhouse

Vickie Era-Pancretz (Alutiiq) AWIRNAQ – Alutiiq Hunting Hat.
Spruce root, sea otter fur, dentalium, antique Russian trade beads, imitation sea lion whiskers,
suet, cloth straps
“AWIRNAQ represents my hunt for my roots, which started as a student of Native American Studies in 1994. Through the Longhouse community, I connected with and studied under many Northwest Master Basket Weavers and participated in Pacific Art Northwest 1997 – 1999, winning two awards. 
As a member of the Northwest Native Basketweavers Association, I first connected with an Alutiiq grass basket weaver. In early 2010, I traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia with the director of the Alutiiq Museum, plus four other Alutiiq weavers and one Tlingit weaver. We studied collections of hundreds of Alutiiq weavings from the Koniag region, including many spruce root hunting hats. These were highly decorated and some brightly painted to express hunting prowess. 
After several years, I was able to collect and process enough spruce root to weave this hat—similar to one that is in the Smithsonian Museum. Fellow Alutiiq artist, Jerry Laktonen, honored me with his painted whale design. This has been a meaningful journey of connection for me and I would be honored to have AWIRNAQ on exhibit where my journey began. I am grateful to our Creator for guiding my hands and heart, and for bringing me to the Longhouse.”

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Native artists are luminaries of their shared cultures, lighting the pathway back into the far reaches of history, and leading the way into the future with their creative vision. In continuing our celebration of November as Native American Heritage Month, we offer our readers a stunning collection of artwork offered by such luminaries. These examples of fine Native craftsmanship were curated by the devoted longhouse team at Evergreen State College.

The “House of Welcome” longhouse education and cultural center is a public service center on the college’s Olympia campus. Built in collaboration with Northwest Tribes, it is the first building of its kind on a public campus in the United States. It was a dream of Native students, tribal artists and faculty member Mary Ellen Hillaire (Lummi Nation), who founded Evergreen’s Native American Studies program in 1972. 

Kelly Church (Grand Traverse Bay of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians) Fiberge Egg #9
Black ash, black ash seed, Rit Dye, sweet grass, copper, velvet, sinew
“The Emerald Ash Borer was discovered in 2002 in Michigan in the eastern side of the state. At that time thousands of ash trees had died. It is called the Emerald Ash Borer because it is a beautiful emerald green color with a copper colored belly. This basket represents the Emerald Ash Borer, with its green and copper colors, and opens to a vial containing the Emerald Ash Borer and a black ash seed;
The End and the Beginning. 
The black ash tree is the last to get its leaves in the summer, and the first to lose the leaves usually.
The seeds take 2 years to germinate. They drop to the ground in the fall time, go through a winter, spring, summer, and the next summer it begins to grow. It grows in the swamps and wetlands and provides food
for our white tail deer. 
The tree provides the community with splints for baskets that provide utilitarian baskets such as baby baskets, fishing creels, ceremonial baskets and more, as well as the finances for food, shelter, and future harvests to do it all again. It provides communities with teachings that bring together families, weavers, and future generations to carry these teachings on into the next generation.  While it seems like the end is inevitable, I also see this as a new beginning. A new resurgence, an urgency, a recognition, the awakening of blood memory. Our people are strong and with good hearts, they are learning, they are weaving, they are hearing the voices of their ancestors, and they are listening.”

In 1995 their dream came true thanks to the perseverance of Evergreen graduate Colleen Jollie and since that time, the mission of Evergreen’s “House of Welcome,” has been to promote Indigenous arts and cultures from not only the Pacific Northwest, but nationally.  

Since opening, the Longhouse has awarded over $800,000 in individual artist grants; it has hosted over 200 artists residencies and workshops; it has premiered 15 art exhibitions; sent six Northwest Native American artists to New Zealand for artist residencies; and hosted two international artists gatherings featuring Indigenous artists from around the Pacific Rim.  

Chholing Taha (Cree First Nations) We Are One Bond
Acrylic on plywood
“This collaborative piece was designed as one of twelve puzzle pieces adorned with traditional stories by both North and South American Indigenous artists. This work discusses many aspects of the interconnectedness of all life. The home fire (society), the stars (sweat lodge elements), tipi poles (each has teachings on how to behave as a thinking human being), rock around the tipi bottom (a woman’s skirt, modesty), the rope binding the tipi poles (We Hold Our Life Together), and the lovely plants that provide medicine and food for all.”

This past summer, Kara Briggs (Sauk-Suiattle) was appointed as Vice President for Tribal Relations, Arts and Cultures. Briggs is determined to continue Evergreen’s 50 years of success as an institution that serves Native students, helping them to which has pave the way to successful careers in their own Tribes, as well as in government, arts and sciences.  

Alex Swiftwater McCarty (Makah)
Friendship Mask. Red cedar, red cedar bark
“Along with the print Pacific Connection, this piece is influenced by my collaborative work with master carver Lyonel Grant during the summer of 2015. We had the opportunity to make monumental carvings for the new Evergreen Fiber Arts Studio that truly blends Northwest Native and Māori design
elements and motifs. 
`As an artist, I work with both contemporary and traditional mediums, and I am always fascinated with translating three-dimensional carved elements into two-dimensional printed images. I first carved the Friendship Mask out of old-growth red cedar and adorned it with cedar bark for hair. This mask represents the new connections made between Pacific Indigenous nations and peoples.”

“The Evergreen Longhouse is a nationally important center for Northwest Native arts and model for other state and private colleges in how to work with Tribes and Native artists to advance Native cultural and artistic expression,” Briggs said. “As The Evergreen State College looks to the next 50 years, and the Longhouse to the next 25 years, we must continue to grow our relationships with Tribes and Native artists, so that we are always creating pathways for Northwest Native peoples to advance.”  

2021 marks the 25th Anniversary (plus one) of Evergreen’s longhouse. The faculty and support staff who embody the heart of the longhouse enjoy convening groups of artists, providing a venue, forum and tools that are needed for artists to express their creativity.

A retrospective art exhibition opening on November 20th, featuring Indigenous artists from throughout the Pacific Rim who have contributed and participated in the work of the longhouse for the past 25 years. The exhibit is free to the general public and can be seen in Evergreen’s gallery located in the Daniel J. Evans building on the college’s Olympia campus. It runs through January 29, 2022.