Sarah Hart takes matters into her own hands

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

As many will recall, when the elusive coronavirus first struck the U.S., panic ran rampant throughout the nation. Perhaps in anticipation of self-quarantine or lockdown, people rushed to the supermarket to stock up on their essentials needs. Although this particular moment will go down in history as the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, TP wasn’t the only shelf left empty by panicked consumers. In fact, most home cleaning supplies were also completely sold out including disinfectant wipes and spray, paper towels, multi-purpose sprays and hand sanitizer.

“There were a lot of call outs on Facebook from people in the community, especially elders, saying they had no sanitizer, no masks or gloves,” explains Tulalip tribal member Sarah Hart. “I immediately went to the store thinking, I’ll just go pick up a bunch of hand sanitizers, I don’t mind paying for it. And then I got there, there was literally nothing. That’s when I knew I had to make something happen.” 

Solely out of concern for her fellow Tulalip community members, Sarah began to brainstorm ways to keep her loved ones as safe as possible during the pandemic, ultimately deciding to dedicate her stay-at-home hours to producing hand sanitizer. 

“For two days straight I YouTubed videos on how to make your own sanitizer and went on the CDC website to make sure it was strong enough. I felt the need to do something for the community because a lot of people didn’t have any hand sanitizer. I figured I could make a few bottles for when people go out to the store and they touch something like the carts, at least they could have one of my bottles on-hand and it could potentially save their life.” 

While organizations such as the CDC (Centers of Disease Control), FDA (Food and Drug Administration, and WHO (World Health Organization) maintain that washing your hands with warm soapy water for at least twenty seconds is key in limiting the spread of COVID, they also state that an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be effective in a pinch or on-the-go until you are able to properly cleanse your palms and digits.

Sarah wasn’t the only person manufacturing hand sanitizer out of the comfort of her own home, in fact several DIY hand sanitizer step-by-step guides were released during the early months of COVID. Around the world people were making sanitizer with the intention of personal use or financial gain. Unfortunately for many, due to cutting corners for profit or not using the proper ingredients, their homemade hand sanitizers were either rendered ineffective or caused unpleasant side effects such as burns and rashes. 

This was something Sarah intentionally avoided from the start, claiming that cheaper products would not come at the expense of her people’s health. So when the CDC recommended an alcohol base of at least 60%, Sarah went out and purchased 190-proof Everclear, 30% stronger than the CDC recommendation, essentially telling COVID that she is not messing around.

“It took me a good two weeks to get the consistency that I felt was safe enough. When I make a batch of one-hundred bottles I use Everclear, aloe vera, hydrogen peroxide, witch hazel for the skin so it doesn’t dry out and tea tree oil. If you go on Etsy or anywhere online 90% of the people that make it cut it with distilled water or rose water, something to make it cheaper.”

Once she had her recipe down, she recruited her youngins to lend a hand and assist with creating the concoction as well as bottling and distributing the product. Eventually over time, their passion for the family hand sanitizer project grew perhaps even larger than Sarah’s. 

“My kids have been amazing,” she expressed. “It makes me happy that my little ones are into helping. For the first two months we were making it every day and every morning they would wake up and were like, ‘let’s make hand sanitizer!’ They’ve helped tremendously.

“It has turned into something bigger than I thought it would be. For two months, I delivered hundreds and hundreds of bottles. And now, a few days out of the week I’ll make a batch of a hundred bottles and put them at the end of my driveway on a table and tell people to be safe and come and grab how many ever they need. And when I put them out, I spray them down all down, just in case because what if I’ve been in contact and unknowningly pass it to an elder or someone in the community.”

In addition to delivering the hand sanitizer, on two separate occasions Sarah and her kids assembled care packages for the elders of Tulalip by pairing two masks, two pairs of gloves and two hand sanitizers in Ziploc bags, on which they included a personal drawing or message for the recipients. Those care packages in turn inspired Sarah to help out a fellow Indigenous nation who have been hit hard by the pandemic, sending 200 care packages filled with masks and sanitizer to the Navajo Nation. You can also spot the employees of the Marysville Safeway, Albertsons, and local coffee stands utilizing Sarah’s sanitizer as she drops off dozens of bottles to local businesses during her weekly delivery rounds. 

High quality product requires a big budget and typically generates enough revenue for additional production costs as well as labor. Sarah’s main objective, however, is ensuring her people have the necessary supplies to protect themselves against corona and she has no intention of charging for her sanitizer. After emptying her entire savings account, she began to look at different possibilities and ways to obtain funds in order to continue her project. 

After organizing a 50/50 raffle and receiving friendly donations here and there, she was able to purchase more supplies. But with COVID not going anywhere anytime soon, she found the demand to be surprisingly higher than she originally expected. For this reason, she took the advice of fellow Tribal member, Natosha Gobin.

“She’s doing amazing work,” says Natosha. “Making hand sanitizer can be really pricey, so I set up an Amazon wish list for her and have been encouraging the community to go on there and purchase and send her materials. To see somebody take the initiative and say, I’m going to learn how to make this, I’m going to put my money into it and I’m not going to burden people with the cost, that shows a lot of heart. She didn’t want anything in return. The recognition wasn’t even something she was searching for, it’s just that desire to serve our community. It’s just in our DNA to take care of each other. It’s a perfect example of what our community is.”

“My main focus with everything is our people,” Sarah states. “Especially at the beginning of the pandemic, making sure they had something because there was so much going on. The smiles on their face makes it all worth it for me. I’ve definitely had my emotional moments; I love my people and community. This is more than sanitizer, this could help save a life and it’s made with so much love in it. I also started making alcohol wipes to hand out, for people to use and keep in their cars. With the numbers growing I feel it’s only necessary to do anything I can to help protect our people.”

To make a donation to Sarah’s hand sanitizer project, please contact her directly via Facebook or visit her Amazon wish list to help purchase supplies at https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1GIIUU6SBIAV5?type=wishlist

Annual Cedar harvest proves tradition perseveres despite challenging times

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Since time immemorial, Native peoples have lived in an interdependent relationship with the green forests and blue waterways of the Pacific Northwest. Treating the natural environment as a shared resource revolving around the needs of community make it impossible not to have a deep respect for cultural traditions and Mother Nature’s many gifts. 

These teachings have survived genocide, colonialism, forced assimilation and untold traumatic experiences. Even now, amongst a global pandemic, many tribal members look to their cultural foundations for hope and strength. Armed with ancestral knowledge, they know regardless of the adversary, tradition will always persevere.

“I love being in the forest because it’s my second home,” said Tulalip tribal member and virtuoso weaver, Jamie Sheldon. “As Tulalip, nature is our number one priority. Being in the forest gives me calmness and all the sights and sounds bring a peace of mind like no other.” 

After 20 years of perfecting her basket weaving craft, Jamie still speaks about learning the intricate basket making process from her mom and aunties like it was only yesterday. Similar to a beloved holiday, she and her family look forward to Tulalip’s yearly Cedar harvest coordinated by the tribe’s Forestry Division and Washington’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 

“Tulalip Forestry has initiated and continued to nurture an ongoing relationship with Washington’s DNR, the U.S. Forest Service, and private industrial timberland owners for over ten years now,” explained Ross Fenton, Tulalip Forestry. “We collaborate with State, Federal, and private landowners in order to ensure treaty rights as they pertain to gathering.

“Different ownership and property boundaries are also of great importance; we don’t want people accidentally pulling on adjacent properties that could affect successful working partnerships,” he continued. “These particulars are where meticulous communication and collaboration with outside agencies take place, often months in advance before the annual Cedar events are announced to Tulalip membership.”

Although the circumstances may be different in summer 2020, the expectations are the same – those whose lifeblood is woven with Cedar must have their time in the forest to harvest.

After extensive time and resources invested into finding the ideal setting, Ross and his colleagues notified the tribe of this year’s harvesting details weeks ago. The location was a woodland oasis located in Startup, between Kellogg Lake and Wallace Falls. 

A 45-minute drive southeast of the Tulalip Reservation, a caravan of tribal members eagerly made the most of their harvest opportunity on the weekend of June 27th. Amongst the spirits of the trees, the culture-bearers found refuge from fearmongering news cycles and the pervasive clutches of social media.

“It’s beautiful getting out of the house, getting out into the woods, and listening to the forest. Hearing the rain fall, the gentle breeze rustle the tree leaves, and the birds chirping just calms my spirit and makes me be able to continue on,” described Sara Andres. She plans to use her harvested materials for future naming ceremonies and as donations to Hibulb Cultural Center’s weaving Wednesdays. 

The relationship Coast Salish peoples have with Cedar cannot be understated. Their ancestors relied on the magnificent tree as an integral part of life on the Northwest Coast. From birth to death, the powerful cedar provided generously for the needs of the people – materially, ceremonially and medicinally. Those teachings have not been lost.

Master weavers, elders, and youth alike all echo the very same Cedar harvesting technique employed by their ancestors. With a small axe and carving knife, they skillfully remove strips of bark from designated trees. They then shave off a small section of the rough bark, revealing a smooth tan inner layer. After harvest, the Cedar strips are typically laid out to dry for a year before being made into baskets, hats, or ceremonial regalia accessories like capes, skirts, and headbands.

“To witness tribal members performing an ongoing cultural activity that has taken place over millennia is like stepping back in time,” reflected dedicated Natural Resources employee, Ross Fenton. “There is much singing, drumming, teaching, and praying all throughout the woods. This is immensely important, and I feel blessed to be a part of it.” 

Those who replenished their sprits in the luscious green forest and grounded themselves among the 120-160 foot tall, towering Cedar trees were sure to offer many thanks for the gifts they provided. 

“It’s eco-therapy. Being connected to the Earth is so good for our mental and spiritual health,” shared 24-year-old Kali Joseph. She harvested while bonding with her siblings Jay Anderson and Tisha McLean. “As Native people, it’s necessary for us to accept the gifts of the land and say thank you to the trees. Harvesting is an activity that is both culturally responsive and healing, especially during these challenging times.”

The weekend-long reprieve from contemporary life proves cultural teachings and tradition still triumph over all.

Elders Eats: Preparing and delivering well-balanced meals

Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“The food is good,” exclaimed Tulalip Elder David Fryberg. “I’m not a very good cook myself so this is convenient. It makes things so much easier when they do this, especially because of the times. One of the things the Tribe does is take care of the elders and I think everybody appreciates it, we’re very thankful that they do this for us.”

Every morning Tribal member and Tulalip Senior Center Community Resource Manager, Lorina Jones wakes up bright and early and journeys to the Senior Center to clock in for her shift at 5:00 a.m. In the remodeled Senior Center kitchen, she is joined by her crew, Nina Fryberg, Troy Williams, Jessica Leslie and Laverne Jones and they begin their daily grind of chopping, cooking and portioning out hot meals for the elders who call Tulalip home.

“I’ve grown up that way,” Lorina stated. “To respect my elders and do whatever I can to help them. We want to do the best we can to serve our people and we take pride in our work, we cook with a good heart.”

Accepting the call to duty, the five-person crew has been in a rhythm since the coronavirus first entered the scene, preparing two meals daily for the local elders. According to Lorina, the amount of meals prepared and delivered has increased by nearly fifty people since the Senior Center expanded their services to include all senior citizens, as well as elders enrolled with a different tribe. 

“Our numbers have almost doubled and there’s less of us in the kitchen because others had to be furloughed, so we’re doing the best we can. We do about 125 breakfasts and 141 lunches each day,” Lorina said. “Before corona, we were doing about 70 breakfasts and around 90 lunches. We serve all types of foods. We try to do things like roast, stew, chowder, NDN tacos once in a while, fish and rice. And for breakfast we do a meat, potato, egg, mixed fruit, yogurt and milk.” 

Tulalip Elder Protection and Vulnerable Adult Program Manager, Elishia Stewart, explained that the program had to undergo a few major adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s such a historical time, trying to figure out methodically what are the next steps,” she expressed. “Right now, we’re basically just focused on the meal program, since everybody is technically homebound. That’s one of the positive ways we can continue to impact our community, by providing them with the best nutrition possible. As a Tribal member, our elders are one of our most valued resources so we need to make sure they are being cared for, that’s been our main function here since COVID.”

Once the meals are portioned and plated, they are placed in large warmer bags to ensure the food remains fresh and retains its heat during the delivery process. Breakfast is served between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. while lunch is served at 10:00 a.m. The crew split up delivering duties to ensure the elders are receiving their meals in a timely fashion. The crew makes deliveries throughout the entire reservation, distributing tasty trays of food to residents of Hermosa, Silver Village, Battle Creek, Mission Highlands, Totem Beach Road, as well as to the elders living closer to the Marysville-Tulalip boundary line.  

“I love it when they give us fresh fruits and vegetables,” Tulalip Elder Pauline Williams expressed. “It saves us trips to the grocery store and all I really have to fix is an evening meal. It works for us. Lorina knows I don’t like to cook; I’d rather eat her cooking. It forces me to stay home. When I do go out, I try to be safe, I wear my mask and I go early in the morning when there’s not a lot of people out. It’s a real safety issue for us right now and I’m thankful for these deliveries. The cooks are risking their lives right now cooking for us and delivering it, and we appreciate them.”

To limit contact, Lorina and crew attempt to safely leave the meals at their front door. However, due to loneliness from isolation, many elders will meet the team at the door for a chance to quickly chat, catch up, and simply thank them for the meal. 

“It makes my heart happy knowing we’re able to provide them with at least two meals a day,” said Lorina. “It saves them from having to go out and look for food, or that extra meal, on their own and put their lives at risk. We always wear our masks and gloves when delivering. We change our gloves after every delivery. We want to protect ourselves and our elders. I love you all and hope you stay safe.”

For further details, please feel free to contact Elishia Stewart at (360) 913-1726.

More than fireworks, Boom City represents Tulalip culture

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

“Boom City is much more than a business or money making venture. It’s part of my culture, my history, and really represents what it means to be Tulalip,” declared Rocky Harrison while peering out from his stand as potential customers walk into Snohomish County’s firework epicenter. “Most advocate for hunting, fishing, or gathering Cedar and berries as what it means to be Tulalip, but to me Boom City is just as strong and just as much a part of our culture.”

For nearly 40 years now, the Tulalip Tribes have turned a vacant lot on their reservation into an excitement-filled marketplace for those looking to satisfy the celebration demands of Independence Day. 

Thousands of customers from all over the Pacific Northwest journey to Boom City every year seeking the perfect purchase consisting of child friendly sparklers and snap poppers and, of course, the thrilling sights and sounds of more advanced explosives, such as artillery shells and 500 gram, multi-shot cakes.

Largely illegal in the State of Washington, the sale of fireworks is permitted on Tulalip lands as a direct result of tribal sovereignty. Embracing that sovereignty is some 80 or so stand owners, each a Tulalip entrepreneur looking to cash-in on 4th of July festivities. Together they form a powerful voice in the community that personifies self-determination and tradition.

“Seeing old friends from school, church, and every job I’ve ever had is the best part to me,” shared Terry Parker, Jr. He’s been selling at Boom City for 39 years now. “We all have our repeat customers and through those relationships we’ve seen kids become adults and eventually parents themselves bringing their kids out here. I’ve witnessed three generations of families grow up via their annual trips to buy fireworks. That’s three generations worth of laughter and priceless stories.”

For Dan Pablo, Jr. and wife Kelsea, they’ve factored prominently in the firework marketplace for years, too. So much so they created custom branded products to go with their towering stand, JR Cadillac, that always captivates the attention of first time patrons.

“We got lucky with a distributor we’ve known for a long time, and he made us some custom rapid-fire cakes with our name on them,” explained Dan. “It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of hours and long days go into being successful, but it’s worth it in order to pay off bills and afford things for our family that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.” 

The financial incentives for those willing to embrace the Boom City life are tried and true. In recent years there’s been a trend by Negative Nancy’s to try and diminish the hard work and sacrifice made by those willing to put their marketability and people skills to the annual test.

From nearby cities instituting zero-tolerance policies on fireworks, to recent dry spells causing worry about fire hazards, to even COVID-19 creating concern for some, yet Boom City persists and prevails. Like culture and tribal sovereignty, it remains stronger than anything attempting to tear it down. 

“For me and multiple stand owners, this was the best opening weekend of Boom City we’ve ever had…and we almost didn’t have it,” reflected Rocky. For the past 13 years he’s co-managed a stand with his brother, Josh Fryberg.

Tensions ran high as Tulalip leadership and the Boom City committee negotiated this year’s regulations. There were strong indications it would be cancelled altogether before finally getting the green light just two weeks ago. 

“All this revenue and income was nearly taken away from us and the many families who depend on Boom City to supply the atmosphere for their 4th of July celebrations,” added Rocky. “The community we have here every single year brings people together in a way few things can. I’m just thankful to be a part of it and look forward to teaching my kids how to continue on this tradition in the future.”

Liven up your meals with fruits and vegetables

By Tulalip Tribes SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator, AnneCherise Jensen 

Sadly, fruits and vegetables often get a bad rap. For some, they aren’t the most popular foods on the menu. However they contain extremely high amounts of vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health and immunity. They are low in fat and calories, and contain lots of fiber and other key nutrients. Most Americans should eat more than 3 cups — and for some, up to 6 cups — of vegetables and fruits each day. Vegetables and fruits don’t just add nutrition to meals, they also add color, flavor, and texture, bringing the meal to life. When cooked and paired together properly, fruits and veggies create unique and exquisite flavor combinations.  Here are some fun and creative ways to bring healthy foods to your table. 

Fire up the Grill. Summertime is finally here! Now is the perfect time to fire up the grill to cook vegetables and fruits. Try grilling mushrooms, carrots, peppers, or onions on a kabob skewer. Brush with oil to keep them from drying out. Grilled fruits like peaches, pineapple, or mangoes add great flavor to a cookout. 

Expand Flavor of Casseroles. Mix vegetables such as sautéed onions, peas, garlic, broccoli, spinach, or tomatoes into your favorite dish for that extra flavor. If you dice them up small enough, you can even get away with sneaking them into the dish without anyone knowing. 

Planning something Italian? Add extra vegetables to your pasta dish. Slip some peppers, spinach, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic or cherry tomatoes into your traditional tomato sauce. Vegetables provide texture and low-calorie bulk that satisfies.

Get Creative with Salad. Toss in shredded carrots, strawberries, spinach, watercress, orange segments, or sweet peas for a flavorful, fun salad. With the summer heat upon us, a crisp and refreshing salad is both healthy and satisfying! One of my favorite summer salads is an ‘Apple Walnut Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette’. Check out the recipe provided below!

Substitute Fruit for Dessert. Try a fruit based dessert instead of processed or overly sweetened dessert. Fruit based dessert will provide you with more nutrients while also preventing you from consuming excess calories throughout the day. Options could include a fruit smoothie, berry parfait, fresh whole fruit, or fruit based popsicles. These are great options to satisfy the sweet tooth in the summer heat! 

Get in on the Stir-Frying Fun. Try something new! Stir-fry your veggies — like broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, bok choy, peppers, mushrooms, onions or green beans — for a quick-and-easy addition to any meal. Add a lean source of protein and some whole grain rice to make the meal complete! 

Add to Sandwiches. Whether it is a sandwich or wrap, vegetables make great additions to both. Try sliced tomatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, or avocado on your everyday sandwich or wrap for extra flavor. These are great to bring to lunches for work, hiking, or any other outdoor activity. 

Be Creative with Baked Goods. Add apples, bananas, blueberries, or pears to your favorite muffin recipe for a treat. Doing so gives some extra flavor and nutrients, all while being creative in the kitchen! 

Veggie and Fruit Trays: I’ve learned the best way to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables, is to prepare it in a fun and eye appealing manner. Make some fruit and veggie trays that have a wide variety of options. This is a great way to get individuals to try new foods they may not have originally tried on their own. Some of my favorite summer choices include watermelon, honeydew, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cherries, grapes, celery and cherry tomatoes. Add a few healthy dipping options like low fat ranch, hummus or Greek yogurt to compliment the assortment. 

Liven up Breakfast. Boost the color and flavor of your morning omelet or egg scramble with a variety of vegetables. Simply chop, sauté, and add them to the egg as it cooks. Try combining different vegetables, such as mushrooms, spinach, onions, or bell peppers. This is the perfect way to fuel for the day! 

Want local, organic fresh produce delivered to your front door? Check out Klesick farms online produce department at www.klesick.com. They have a wide variety of produce you and your family would love. 

With Covid-19 on the rise, it is comforting knowing healthy produce can be delivered to your door without having to leave the house. You can create your own assortment of goods, or you can sign up for specific box packages/sizes that include, “Family on the Go” “Harvest Box” “Fruits” or “Veg /Salad” options. If interested, you may also purchase local meats, eggs and grain products. Check out the following steps to get your family signed up for your own Klesick Box of fresh produce! 

**This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP.  This institution is an equal opportunity provider.