Following the Salmon Ceremony Part 1: Practice begins 

Part 1: Practice begins 

Salmon Ceremony, 2018

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

 “After the treaty signing and after the boarding school era, much of our teachings were taken away,” Then Tulalip Vice-Chairman Glen Gobin explained to a packed longhouse last summer. “We were not able to speak our languages. We were not able to live with our families. Much of what we had as a culture was disappearing quickly. Some of the elders remembered certain aspects and would share those memories of how things used to be. The elders in 1976, Harriette Shelton Dover in particular, said we need to revive Salmon Ceremony, we need to bring it back. She gathered up different elders and they pieced together what each of them knew about the Salmon Ceremony from either things they personally witnessed or things they heard their grandparents talk about.”

With less than two months away, the tribal community of Tulalip has begun preparations for a special and important event that takes place along the shore of the bay each summer. Known as the Salmon Ceremony, the tribe celebrates an integral piece of their Salishan culture in traditional fashion. Draped in shawls, cedar hats and headbands, and vests, tribal members gather at the local longhouse to honor the salmon for providing nourishment to the people since time immemorial. 

Salmon Ceremony, 2019

After it’s revival in the late ‘70’s, the Salmon Ceremony has become a strong tradition for Tulalip tribal members and surrounding tribes who signed the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott. Not only does the ceremony pay respect to the salmon population, it also provides space to thank all the tribal fishermen, blessing them with a traditional song for a plentiful and safe season out on the water. 

During the Salmon Ceremony, the tribe honors their guest, or the first catch of the season, with Tulalip songs, stories and dances that were passed down through the generations. The guest is escorted to the Tulalip Longhouse, via a cedar dugout canoe, where tribal members wait ashore with drums and rattles in-hand to welcome their guest of honor with songs performed in the traditional Lushootseed language. 

The salmon is then taken into the longhouse for a blessing before it is prepared for a meal and enjoyed by those in attendance. The guest’s remains are sent back to the water after the ceremony. As the legend goes, the salmon returns back to its underwater village to show its community how well the Tulalips honored the salmon people. And therefore, more salmon will travel to the nets and lines of tribal fisherman throughout the course of the season.

Salmon Ceremony, 2021

Every year, the Salmon Ceremony traditions are upheld and precisely executed by the tribal membership and it appears that every dance step is in perfect line with each drumbeat. Lessons are passed on from elders to the youth, thanks to practice sessions held weekly leading up to the Salmon Ceremony. This year, Salmon Ceremony practices will be held at 5:00 p.m. each Thursday at the Tulalip Gathering Hall, with the exception of the last practice, (June 9) which will be held at the longhouse. 

The Salmon Ceremony celebration is scheduled for Saturday June 11th at 10:30 a.m., which means there are eight total practice sessions before the event takes place. As the Tulalip community prepares for this year’s festivities, Tulalip News will feature a weekly mini-series focused on the traditions and hard work that goes into the Salmon Ceremony each year.  

Glen expressed, “Harriette always said that so much was taken from us and what we do today may not be exactly the same as it was done two hundred years ago. But as long as we do it with good intentions and with a pure heart, our elders will receive it in that manner. So, we hang on to those bits and pieces that we have and we’re thankful for them.”

A vote for the levies, is a vote for our kids

By Shaelyn Hood, Tulalip News

On February 23, the Marysville School District (MSD) introduced two levies to the community. These typically take place when a school district is needing more funds and property taxes are instilled as a way to subjugate them. The introduced levies from MSD are the Education, Programs & Operations levy, and the Technology & Capital Projects levy.

Though the relationship between Tulalip Tribal members and MSD has wavered for many years, the levies are a way to join forces and make a better environment for students. 

Executive Director of Education, Jessica Bustad spoke about the troublesome relationship, “for years, people within our community have not been satisfied with the District. There’s a lot of pain and trauma around experiences that have happened in public schools. There is a lot of healing that needs to be done, and we have to work through that and make sure that the school district is held accountable. But at the same time, we also have to be supporting our students, and the levies can help do that.”

The Education, Programs & Operations levy is designated to help support smaller class sizes, making it easier for children to get one-on-one attention. It also helps establish programs for students with disabilities. It provides student transportation with more bus stops and shorter bus rides. In addition, it supports the Early Learning Center for pre-k kids, and many of the arts, music, athletics, and various extra-curricular activities.

The Technology & Capital Projects levy is designated to help integrate better technology for students, provide system administrators to oversee the school systems, aid curriculum software and licensing, and provide 24/7 WIFI access across all buildings. 

With the district serving more than 1,200 Native American/Alaskan Native students, with the local Native population primarily consisting of Tulalip tribal citizens, the Tulalip Education Division is a driving force of support.

“This directly impacts our kids and tribal support is crucial. If we can get a high voter turnout from the Tulalip community, then we can impact and sway the vote, just by us exercising our right. We have to do what’s right on behalf of our students and the community,” Jessica said. 

At a community meeting held in the Administration Building, Interim Superintendent Chris Pearson also addressed the unsteady relationship and how MSD is trying to bridge a new path with staff. He discussed the evolution of four new board members, including Superintendent Zachary Robbins and Executive Director of Finance David Cram. Chris went on to say, “there’s been significant change in our upper level positions, and we want to rewrite our story and improve the work that we do.”

One common misperception of levies is how they affect the overall revenue that the schools receive, and why they are a necessity when public schools already receive state and federal funding. According to last year’s revenue chart produced by the District, the federal revenue only makes up for about 14% of the schools funding, state revenue makes up about 68%, Local Non-Tax makes up 1%, misc. other makes up 3%, and still 14% of the school’s revenue comes from must needed property taxes. 

Currently, there is still a healthy number of projects that need to be taken care of to maintain the different schools’ infrastructures. Knowing this, the District is trying to improvise and find ways to get funding elsewhere. Eventually, within the next five years, Chris said they do see themselves having to apply for a bond and completely rebuilding the older schools. Understanding this, they are willing to put some projects to the side in order to keep property taxes lower.

Unfortunately, as Chris also pointed out, enrollment in MSD has declined in recent years. This hurts the schools because they receive a certain amount of money per enrolled child, and as a result of this, some of the state funding has declined as well. This limits the District on how they allocate funds for the schools’ maintenance, building infrastructures, and overall budgeting. Making this a pivotal moment for the schools when establishing funds for the fall. 

Anyone who is registered to vote in the state of Washington and lives within Snohomish county is able to vote yes to pass the levies. Ballots were mailed out on April 7th, and all ballots must be administered into one of the drop box locations by April 26th. The closest drop box to tribal members is located in the Tulalip Youth Center parking lot.

If you or anyone else would like more information about the levies and how beneficial they could be to our tribal students, please reach out to the Tulalip Education Division at 360-716-4909. And don’t forget to vote!

Dean Vince Markishtum

April 22, 1965 – April 14, 2022

Born in Tacoma, WA April 22, 1965 to Yvonne Johnson and Turk Markishtum. He is an enrolled tribal member of The Makah Nation, grew up in Oahu, Hawaii and Seattle, WA where he graduated from Franklin High school. He then went on to pursue a career in Construction for over 30+ Years. He began his career with Tulalip Tribes in 2007 as maintenance and security officer, he’s always been a hard worker from home improvements to work, building and applying every skill to his everyday life. Dean was a huge golf, Seattle Seahawks and Mariners fan, he went to games, collected jerseys and rearranged his schedule to watch every game. He took pride in every vehicle he ever owned and invested in each one, loved to keep them clean and running well. 
He is survived by his wife of 22 years Jennifer Markishtum, his children Justine (Josh), Dean, and Steven (Rhonnalee) Markishtum, Marc (Tiffany) Robinson, Sheena (Martin) Robinson, Carissa Robinson, and Cyrus (AnaMaria) Williams, special niece/daughter Yvonne Markishtum. Siblings Debbie (Billy) Ancheta, Sean Esperas, Dwight Esperas, Terry Markishtum. Grandkids Grayson Gombosky, Tracen Aria and Bentley Markishtum, Hannah and Faith Apperson, Kaeson, Eliza, Keoni, Tehya, Mekiyen, Elysia, Marcis Robinson, Nayeli and Kaycee Moddejonge-Williams.
Dean is proceeded in death by his mother Yvonne (Tom) Johnson, Fathers Turk Markishtum and Ed Esperas and brother Stanley Markishtum.
A celebration of Dean’s life will be held Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at 10:00 AM at the Tulalip Gathering Hall with burial to follow at Mission Beach Cemetery. Arrangements entrusted to Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home

Patricia “Pat” Marie Cuellar

March 11, 1944 – April 12, 2022

Patricia “Pat” Marie Cuellar , 78 of Tulalip passed away April 12, 2022.
She was born March 11, 1944 in Monroe, Washington to Morris and Hilda Feller.
She was a traveler and raised her children through thick and thin. Pat loved her siblings and grandchildren very much. She loved her wiener dogs and took them everywhere. Pat was so happy when she would see her family and friends, she greeted everyone with a smile and a hug. Pat enjoyed shopping and buying gifts for her grandchildren, she was thoughtful and made sure she told her grandchildren she was always thinking of them. She is survived by her life mate of 30 years Cory Wentz; sons Troy Carlson and Leslie “Will” Martin; sisters Dorothy Frahm, Sharon Mark, Lorraine Hill, Dulcie Walters, Mary Watson; grandchildren, Leticia, Jesse, Amado, Malia, Cassius; great-grandchildren, Elenor, Aleysha, and Ramona. She is preceded in death by her parents, brothers Joseph Williams, Ken Feller, sister Lorretta “Candy” Martin, daughter Leilani DeLeon.
A celebration will be held Tuesday, April 19, 2022 at 10 AM at Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home with burial to follow at Mission Beach Cemetery. 

Dreamcatchers: A sacred weapon and spiritual shield

By Shaelyn Hood, Tulalip News

“Dreamcatchers hold power in who we are, the art we have, and the spiritual-ness in Native American culture” proclaimed Braxton Wagner, Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) assistant.

What was traditionally a sacred item to Native Americans has been commercialized and turned into common displays at décor shops, hanging on key chains, printed on t-shirts or even generic tattoos. Making some people question, do people truly understand the value of dreamcatchers or their origins?

Some Native Americans say that dreamcatchers have been appropriated and offensively exploited by people outside of our community. The best thing we can do to help against this perception is to continue educating ourselves and others outside of our community.

One of the many benefits taken away from participating in Hibulb’s monthly classes is being able to do just that. People within the Tulalip community and general public have the opportunity to learn, and understand our culture, while also utilizing their own crafting skills to generate a piece of Native American art. Such was the case on Wednesday April 6th, when HCC held a kids’ craft for dreamcatcher making.

A Marysville mother and daughter duo who attended said, “The classes are fun. We happened to be taking a tour the first time we came and saw there was a class going on and jumped in! Braxton told us about this dreamcatcher class, and we thought it’d be fun to learn about them, understand the history, and create one. We even brought [my daughter’s] aunt and grandmother this time.”

It is theorized that the dreamcatchers origin is traced back to the Ojibwe tribe. They believed that dreamcatchers were a gift from Asibaikaashi, better known as the Spider Woman. She was a caretaker who looked after the spiritual healing of the people in her tribe, and created dreamcatchers to help protect newborns and encourage good dreams. Dreamcatchers were often made by grandmothers or mothers to hang above cradle boards.

Traditionally, dreamcatchers are handmade of willow and shaped into a small round or tear-shaped frame. Natural fibers go into making the string that forms the “web” inside of it. On the string, people can put beads, seashells, pebbles, and other small, natural items. Attached at the bottom of the dream catcher are more strings or leather holding beads, and feathers. 

The small items in the web represent spiders that capture any bad dreams and protect the newborn against any negative energy and spirits. Then the good dreams travel down the attached leather and feathers, descending down onto the baby. Once daylight hit, the bad dreams would dissolve and disappear.

This cultural practice developed quickly across many Native American tribes and became more widely accepted. Over time, the meaning of dreamcatchers deviated from tribe to tribe. For some, it represents hope during a trying time. For others, it represents unity through culture, like the Medicine Wheel. Sometimes even, it represents how the different forces of the world may speak to you.

Braxton spoke of the value of non-Natives attending the HCC interactive classes. “The people that come here are wanting to learn. They want to understand our past and our struggles, and I appreciate the effort they make by coming here,” she said.

These learning opportunities can help mitigate cultural misunderstandings that people may have, while also providing a framework for better cultural appreciation in the next generation.

As American writer and social activist Robert Alan once said, “Intercultural dialogue is the best guarantee of a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.” The possibility for different communities to come together and be educated by Native Americans who are willing to share their ways of life can create better understanding for all.

Tulalip Family Wellness Court celebrates first program graduate

By Kalvin Valdillez

“I’m inspired by my own success,” were the words shared by proud mother of young Tulalip tribal members. “I just hit thirteen months of clean time on April 2nd!” Over a year ago, this parent, whose name will be kept anonymous due to legal reasons, thought an accomplishment of this proportion impossible. 

To completely escape the grasp of her addiction, after fighting hard for so many years to kick her habit. To be reunited with, and granted full-custody of, her child who was placed in the care of beda?chelh – that may have in fact been next to impossible over a year ago, or at least felt very close to it.

This determined mother, however, did not give up. While attempting to navigate the childcare system on her own, she suffered a relapse. Around this time, she also discovered she was with child. Now, she not only had to fight for her own wellness and for her kiddo in the system, but she also had to fight for her unborn child to remain in her custody after the birthing process. 

When all the odds seemed stacked against her, a new program debuted in the Tulalip community, and she was one of the first to sign-up and take-part in the now award-winning tribal-based program.

“I remember looking over their pamphlet and thinking I didn’t need the help,” she admitted. “But, at the same time I knew I couldn’t go through the court system by myself either. I remember reading that pamphlet over and over, and Amy [Lettig] (TOCLA Parent Advocate Attorney) telling me about this new program and that I qualified for it. I didn’t know what else to do. My goal was always to get my child back, and so I turned to her and said help me get there.”

Based on the success of the Tulalip Healing to Wellness Court, minus the criminal and time-serving element, the Family Wellness Court was established in March 2020. The first-of-its-kind court system is 100% volunteer-based and is aimed to support, encourage and assist tribal parents, or parents of tribal members, attain a sober and healthy lifestyle to ultimately reunite them with their children who have an open beda?chelh case. 

“We’re one of the first in the nation to do this as a tribe because we want our people to be healthy, happy and successful,” said Melissa Johnson, Family Wellness Court Coordinator. “We want people to understand it’s different than the standard dependency proceedings that parents involved with beda?chelh go through. With more frequent review hearings in the drug court model, they get a chance to show their progress in real-time. They tend to get their kids back faster in this type of program because of the intensive case management and the added support.”

Melissa continued, “They have to have an open dependency with beda?chelh. And if they want to work on getting their kids back, they can benefit from our team approach. I think there is an advantage to the team approach – recognizing the successes, strengths and any issues that may arise in real time, rather than waiting. Because with the current dependency proceedings, months can go by between hearings. I think with Family Wellness Court, the courtroom becomes a therapeutic environment. You see that relationship with the judge and the team, it’s not adversarial at all. It’s so much different from when you go to court, and everything seems scary. It’s an alternative to the current dependency proceedings.”

The team approach plays a major role in the Family Wellness Court and in each participant’s recovery journey. The team consists of multiple professionals including Tribal courthouse officials, attorneys, beda?chelh representatives, counselors and recovery specialists. The idea is that with everybody meeting on a regular basis and on the same page, the client will stay in-compliance and will make positive progress in maintaining their sobriety, if they know exactly what their team expects from them.

It has been one year since the Family Wellness Court held their first hearing and multiple parents are now electing to participate in the intensive, personalized program. And furthermore, many are seeing positive results and are well on their way to reunification with their children.  

“Once I found the Family Wellness Court, I felt like they actually cared,” expressed the anonymous mother. “I know that the biggest part was getting to treatment and with the help of Family Wellness Court, I was able to do that. The assignments kept me busy and focused on my recovery. It was an amazing journey with tribal court. I felt like they cared about me and the kids, and more importantly what was best for the kids. They were encouraging me the whole time. They enjoyed seeing my progress and I felt like I was doing a really good job. It really worked for me. If you do the work, and you follow through with everything, you will be successful.”

On the afternoon of March 30, the Tulalip Family Wellness Court celebrated their very first graduate of the program. The very same mother whose identity will not be released, held the honor of the first person to successfully complete their individualized and intensive plan to recovery and reunification. Through the program she regained custody of her child, she had a healthy pregnancy and delivery, and she is living a completely clean life. The mother obtained housing for herself and her babies, she gained employment and is currently attending college and learning the trade of her choosing. She is also active in her children’s traditions and now has a strong understanding of tribal lifeways, as she completed several ‘give back’ hours and participated in cultural events as a requirement to the Family Wellness Court. 

Her team and those presiding over her case were moved to tears during the graduation ceremony as they gathered in the tribal courtroom and met with the mother over Zoom. Due to both the specifics of her case and the worldwide pandemic, she was able to participate in the program remotely while at a treatment center. The courthouse sent her a cake, a number of gifts and an official certificate of completion, which she opened and enjoyed during the ceremony. Her mother, father and oldest child tuned-in to take part in the celebration. And through wavering voices and teary eyes, they shared their awe when reflecting how far she’s come in just a year. Members of her team also took a moment to express their joy in seeing her complete the program.  

Chori Folkman, the Children’s Attorney for TOCLA shared, “Seeing her success today reminds me that the Family Wellness Court process at Tulalip can reunify families – even when it seems hopeless at times. Or a parent, who might have a history with a significant addiction, they can overcome it and get their children back. Even if it’s been a long time since they had that child in their care. Even when it’s really late in the case and it feels like it might be too late. She was able to commit to becoming clean and sober and she was able to get placement of her child and close her case. It shows me that these supports really do work to bring families back together.”

Tribal member Josh Fryberg and two of his daughters offered medicine through traditional song to the mother, as well as some heartfelt and encouraging words. The judge, filled with excitement, showered the mother with applause, praise and compliments, and also a few inside jokes while she recalled all the memories they made together along the way. 

The first Family Wellness Court graduate stated, “The Family Wellness Court made me feel like even if I really failed, or if had a hiccup along the way, they were going to help me get back up and encourage me to keep moving forward. And ever since I came to that realization, I just made sure that I did everything I was supposed to do for the Family Wellness Court, so that I could graduate the program, keep my kids and get my child back.”

Continuing she shared a few words to other parents who are currently battling with an addiction, “The Family Wellness Court will help you get the help that you need. Even though you might not see that you need help right now. They will work with you to make sure you get that help, so that you can be better parents and so you can get your kids back and be good parents to them.”

If you or a loved one is ready for a new approach to sobriety and reunification, and willing to take on the intensive but evidence-based model to regain custody of your child, please contact Melissa at (360) 716-4764 for more details. 

Future leaders break ground for TELA expansion

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Laughter and excited voices of young children filled the air on an overcast Spring morning outside of the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA). The kids stood before a large dirt pile and with plastic shovels in hand. The future of Tulalip held the honor of officially breaking ground for a much-needed expansion on the Academy’s birth-to-three side of the campus. With joyous vigor, the kids took turns driving their shovels into the dirt. Some of the youngins simply uplifted the dirt from one area to the next, making sure to pat down any areas with clumps, while others flung dirt high into the air in celebration, hilariously causing uprooted earth to shower down on their teachers and classmates.

“We wanted this to be about the kids,” exclaimed Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy Director, Sheryl Fryberg. “We had them come out and do it because this is going to be for them, for the little people. It was so beautiful having them take part. It was so exciting for them to be out here and digging in the dirt.”

For the past seven years, since first opening, TELA has been an excellent program for the kids of the Tulalip community. More than just a daycare or your average pre-school, the reservation-based early learning academy implements the Tulalip culture into the young minds of the Tribe’s future leaders.

Sheryl stated, “Research says that when we bring the culture and language to our children, they do better in the school years, college years, career years and in life. That’s the foundation that we want to build here for as many of our children as we can. We have a lot of families out here who need great childcare and the work that we do here is more of a school, that’s why we call it an academy. We’re laying a really strong foundation for kids to be successful in elementary, middle school, high school – we want to wrap them in our culture and language here in their early years.” 

Throughout the first years of the students’ lives, the kiddos are fully-immersed in the Coast Salish culture at the academy where they learn Tulalip songs, stories, traditions and the Lushootseed language. Prior to COVID-19, the academy regularly held ‘culture day’ once a month, where the students would take part in an assembly and activity, learning of the Tulalip lifeways as well as other cultures from around the globe. 

“All our classrooms are incorporating the Tulalip culture, and other cultures, in the classrooms,” said TELA Birth-to-Three Grants Manager, Mekyla Fryberg. “We have the Lushootseed department that works with us, and they provide that language in the classrooms every single day. Our teachers are using the language with the kids, we have a curriculum that we built together with the language department, and that has been something that we have strived for and I believe we are making way. Today, we were able to see the kids bring their drums out from their classrooms and share songs in our groundbreaking ceremony. And that is something that we have aimed for, to provide our kids with the opportunity to embrace their culture.”

With the expansion, TELA will be adding an additional three classrooms for the birth-to-three program, which ultimately means more students will receive those cultural teachings once the new wing is completed. The new classrooms will be larger in size and thus will provide space for more kids in each class.

The expansion is something the academy has been working towards for years said Mekyla. Every year, once the program has reached full capacity, there has been a waitlist of approximately thirty kids who want to begin their academic career with TELA. Most of those families unfortunately had to turn to alternate childcare, and therefore have missed out on the cultural-based teachings. With the new classrooms, the hope is for the waitlist to be eliminated and that all the children of the Tulalip community will get the chance to attend the academy. 

“Prior to COVID, we always had a waiting list for like thirty children who wanted to come to the birth-to-three wing,” said Sheryl. “It seems like it keeps growing every year, so we took advantage of some grant dollars that we had available, and the Tribe kicked in some funding also to help us build this addition so we can hopefully meet the needs of our community.”

Added Mekyla, “I started here when we first opened in 2015 and I have witnessed first-hand the need for those additional enrollment slots in the birth-to-three program. There has been a waitlist of between fifteen to thirty kids every school year. As soon as we reach full enrollment, there’s a waitlist. To know that we are going to be able to open-up three new classrooms, that’s rewarding for me to know that we saw the need and acted on that need, and that we are going to be able to complete this project and serve our community the best that we can.”

After participating in the groundbreaking ceremony, TELA students will be involved with the expansion project until it’s completion. The new wing is slated to open in the Fall of 2023, but the kids will be able to visibly track its progression throughout the project, as the windows along the birth-to-three corridor will remain uncovered so the kids can see the construction process take place. 

“It was thrilling to witness the kids participate in moving dirt and complete that groundbreaking ceremony,” expressed Mekyla. “It’s been a long time coming to complete this project. It’s exciting because this will improve our services that we offer to families and increase our enrollment.”

New Washington State bills help protect tribal citizens, and honor tribal sovereignty

Governor Jay Inslee visits Tulalip for the bill signing. He also reminisced about his time at Tulalip and his invaluable relationship with tribal governments.

First statewide alert system is created to tackle the missing Indigenous people crisis

By Shaelyn Hood; photos by Kalvin Valdillez

A noteworthy step forward for Native Americans was taken on Wednesday, March 30th as Governor Jay Inslee traveled to the Tulalip Resort Casino to sign several tribal-related bills into law. These newly placed bills establish an overall better relationship between US government offices and sovereign nations.

One such bill is House Bill 1571, which ensures better protections and services for Indigenous persons who are missing, murdered, or survivors of human trafficking. 

Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman, Teri Gobin, spoke of the importance of this bill saying, “Seattle is the top city in the United States with a number of missing and murdered Indigenous, not just women, but people. And Washington along with Montana are the top two states that have missing and murdered Indigenous people. The most important thing is bringing them home, whether they’ve been trafficked, or they’ve been stolen, or they’ve been murdered, we need to bring them home to our people. The tribes are committed to the people, future generations, coming together to draft and pass good policies for the benefit of all Indian country.”

Also becoming a law is House Bill 1725. This will establish the first state-wide emergency alert for missing or endangered Indigenous people. This will be used on a variable message sign and text of the highway advisory radio message to assist in the recovery of a missing Indigenous person, similar to the Amber and Silver alerts currently used.

The event began with a meet-and-greet with Governor Inslee and various Washington tribal leaders, members of the Washington State Legislature, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and community members. Tulalip tribal members opened with a ceremonial song and drum. 

Governor Inslee spoke about his invaluable relationship with tribal governments. More specifically, he spoke about his upbringing and his time spent at Spee-Bi-Dah. He also spoke highly of a specific Tulalip elder he had met, Don ‘Penoke’ Hatch, who he personally invited to attend the day’s event and even honored as Washingtonian of the Day.         

 Inslee recognized Penoke’s work in helping to establish the first Boys and Girls Club to tribal lands and the example that set for other tribal governments.  “He was significantly responsible for my value system, particularly when it comes to salmon. When I was about 10 or 11 years old, he would allow me to help to pull in the nets down by Spee-Bi-Dah. It was so exciting to see this life form that was concentrated in these nets. And from that, I came away with a commitment to do all I can do to keep those salmon roads in the state of Washington and it’s made a difference,” he said.  

Following the signing of the bills, Tulalip leaders and community members gathered once again to sing and drum for Governor Inslee. Prayers were said for the Indigenous people that are still missing, and a blanketing ceremony took place. Leaders involved in the making of these bills were wrapped in blankets and community members were called to act as a witness to this day, to share with future generations of the works and the bills put into place.

The event showcased the unheard voices of our people, and the decades of battle between US governments and sovereign nations. Showing that with diligent effort and fortitude from strong tribal leadership and representatives, Native Americans can prevail against generations of silence and oppression. 

Ryan Miller, Director of Treaty Rights and Government Affairs spoke about what it means for the relationship between US Governments and sovereign nations, “The reality is, we live in an interconnected world, and neither us or the state of Washington is going anywhere. The best way to move forward is to partner and work together to deal with the things that affect our communities. We can find our mutual interests, align those values, and pass good laws that make sense for our state and for our communities.”  

House Bill excerpts:

  • House Bill 1571– This bill is intended for better protections and services for Indigenous persons who are missing, murdered, or survivors of human trafficking. These efforts include immediate police and county coroner referral to the affected tribes and tribal organization when identifying the body of a missing Indigenous person. This allows the opportunity for any relatives and/or community members to see their loved one, and perform any spiritual practices or ceremony without disturbance or being interfered by outside sources. All is permissible as long as it does not directly disrupt the ongoing investigation. 
  • House Bill 1725– Concerning the creation of an endangered missing person advisory designation for missing Indigenous persons. With this, the legislature identified how disproportionate rates of violence occurred for Indigenous people. Because of this, they intend to provide law enforcement with additional tools to disseminate timely, accurate information to engage the public more effectively in assisting with locating missing Indigenous people, and to compensate for the unique challenges that Indigenous communities face accessing media coverage and the ability to share information. 
  • House Bill 1717- This further allows tribal participation regarding the Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA). The GMA helps analyze Washington’s growth by identifying and protecting critical areas and natural resource lands, designating urban growth areas, preparing comprehensive plans and implementing them through capital. This amendment is on a voluntary basis, in which a federally recognized tribe can decide to or against participating. No subsection or provision or tribe’s decision to become a participating tribe for planning purposes, shall affect, alter, or limit in any way a tribe’s authority, jurisdiction, or any treaty or other rights it may have by virtue of its status as a sovereign Indian tribe.
  • House Bill 1753– Concerning tribal consultation regarding the use of certain funding authorized by the Climate Commitment Act (CCA). This new section establishes that agencies will allocate funding or administer grant programs appropriated from the climate investment account, the climate commitment account, and the natural climate solutions account must offer early, meaningful, and individual consultation with any affected federally recognized tribe on all funding decisions and funding programs that may impact tribal resources, including tribal cultural resources, archaeological sites, sacred sites, fisheries, or other rights and interests in tribal lands and lands within which a tribe or tribes possess rights reserved or protected by federal treaty, statute, or executive order. 
  • Senate Bill 5694– Recognizing Indian tribes as among the governmental entities with which the department of corrections may enter into agreements on matters to include the housing of inmates convicted in tribal court. The amendments made aimed to recognize tribe’s sovereign nations, equitable with any another state, state agency, county or federal jurisdiction in decisions regarding the department of corrections.
  • Senate Bill 5866– Concerning Medicaid long-term services and supports eligibility determinations completed by federally recognized Indian tribes. Issues around Medicaid long-term services must now allow the department to contract with a federally recognized Indian tribe to determine eligibility, including assessments and reassessments, authorize and reauthorize services, and perform case management functions within its regional authority.