Donation request! TELA is in need of cedar bark for preschool graduation and weaving activities

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Weaving cedar is a tradition long passed down amongst the sduhubš people. A tribe always attuned with the natural world, Tulalip’s ancestors practiced this art to tailor skirts, shirts, headbands, and baskets pre-contact. The teaching has been passed down through numerous generations and the art of weaving, and the work that goes into it, is still prominent in present day Tulalip. In fact, if one were to attend a cultural gathering, there would be dozens of examples of handmade cedar-woven items, which tribal members proudly adorn to showcase their heritage, teachings, and cultural pride.

During graduation season, it is common to see Tulalip graduates rocking a cedar woven cap as they accept their diplomas. And it’s a longstanding tradition that the preschoolers of the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy weave their very own cedar headbands, with the help of their families, to wear at their moving up ceremony in August. 

Ever since its establishment, it has been TELA’s M.O. to introduce cultural practices to the future of Tulalip at a very young age. The idea is that the children will develop a strong foundation to continue to learn, share, and progress the Tribe’s ancestral way of life by the time they are ready to make the transition to the big kids school. 

TELA is reaching out to the community and seeking assistance in keeping their cedar headband weaving tradition alive. With approximately 80 preschool students graduating this coming summer, TELA is in need of at least two bundles of cedar bark, that has been drying for one year. However, TELA welcomes all donations and hopes that they can actually acquire more than the two rolls needed to complete the project. 

Knowing how integral weaving is to Tulalip culture, TELA is looking to expand this teaching to all of their students and families by hosting weaving classes during their family engagement nights. Additionally, TELA has recently incorporated weaving into their family therapy sessions, in which a handful of families participate in monthly gatherings led by the academy’s mental health specialists. 

After Tulalip News shared TELA’s donation request flyer to our Facebook page, many community members helped spread the word by sharing the post and tagging people who may be of assistance to TELA’s cause. One Facebooker suggested that TELA should reach out to the Rediscovery Program. Absyde Dacoscos, TELA Family Engagement Coordinator, shared that she was thankful for the suggestion and hopes that Virginia Jones would be open to instruct a class if TELA is able to obtain enough cedar bark donations from the community. 

That same Facebook post also led to an opportunity for their students and families to learn about stripping cedar bark, as a Facebook scroller invited the academy to harvest cedar bark from trees on their property for any future projects, as cedar bark needs time, at least one year, to dry before it can be utilized in weavings. 

Said Absyde, “It’s important to keep the Tulalip culture alive and to make sure the traditions are passed on to the kids. We need bark that has been dried properly for at least a year. Mostly for our preschool graduates. That is our number one concern right now, to make sure they get headbands for the graduation ceremony in August. One to two rolls at least for headbands, but we’re willing to accept any amount, so we can hopefully do the weaving nights as well.”

Donations can be made in-person at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy. For additional information, please contact Absyde at (360) 716-4250.

Community celebrates culture through round dance

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

Totem Middle School’s gym reverberated with unity in a crescendo of joyous energy as the Marysville School District and Tulalip Indian Education came together to host a vibrant round dance for students and families. With over 200 attendees on Thursday, March 7, the event echoed with feelings of love and celebration. 

MC Randy Vendiola, the evening’s announcer, conveyed the essence of the gathering, stating, “The round dance is a celebration of our way of life, fostering strength within our community. These songs are for all the good people and all those who need healing. We are all equal.”

The round dance moves in the same direction as the earth in a clockwise circle. The drummers play in the middle, and the dancers form a circle around them, hopping one foot and sliding the other in rhythm to the drum beat. Everyone from the community was encouraged to join in the dance, and several families from different backgrounds joined the round dance for the first time.

“I enjoyed the evening,” said Ervanna LittleEagle of Warm Springs, Oregon. “It’s beautiful to see all the drummers and all the young ones being mentored by the older ones. I think it’s important to share our culture with people that aren’t Native. There is a lot of representation happening in different arenas right now, and I think that having this space for different cultures to come together and experience our customs helps us sustain our way of life.”

“This was my first-round dance,” student and tribal member Ellashawnee Gorham-Dumont said. “Having powwows like this is special to me. Seeing how other people dance and make friends is cool. I think it’s difficult to share our culture with people. You must teach them and get them to understand why we do what we do and respect our ways of doing things. They must be willing to learn.”

The sense of community and cultural celebration blended seamlessly in the rhythmic circle of the round dance. With participants from various backgrounds, the dance became a powerful expression of unity and highlighted the importance of cultural exchange and understanding. 

Facing The Storm showcased in Hibulb longhouse

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

A unique documentary series featuring the voices of Indigenous climate justice leaders was previewed by ecstatic Hibulb patrons as they sat intently in the cultural center’s makeshift longhouse turned film screening room on a winter afternoon. The one-of-a-kind digital storytelling series is titled Facing The Storm; an ode to the mighty buffalo who don’t cower from a storm, but instead charge into it head on.

 “It is my honor to introduce Mikayla Gingrey, a flourishing film maker, and her talented assistant, her mother Marya Gingrey. Both are descendants of the Apache nation,” stated Last Real Indians contributor, Rae Rose. “I have been invited to introduce the upcoming docuseries, Facing The Storm: The Indigenous Response to Climate Change, an Aminata Multimedia Group docuseries. 

“Mikayla is using her talent to highlight and document the important stories that often get overlooked, the struggles, the heartbreaking losses, along with the love, and sometimes overlooked triumphs of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

“These films will highlight Indigenous leaders, activists, and community members who are working towards our collective future,” she continued. “This series is our chance to spotlight the achievements, not usually acknowledged in mainstream media. It is also an important chance to give voice to and shine a light on those who are working to combat climate crisis, and to those providing spaces for healing and growth in our indigenous communities. All with the hope of creating real and lasting change.”

An estimated 70 people filled the longhouse sits, while others willingly stood near the entrance way just to glimpse two parts of the five-part docuseries. 

The first episode covered the divestment movement of large financial institutions (think Bank of America and Wells Fargo) who are the primary backers of oil pipelines. Illuminating the people and organizers that became Mazaska Talks, the filmmaker focused on the Indigenous-led Seattle campaign to get the city of Seattle to divest from Wells Fargo.

“When we took on the city of Seattle, so many people reached out from all around the globe who were interested in running similar campaigns on their homelands. This showed us how valuable our work was to the cause and the importance of sharing it online and through social media in order to get the word out through whatever means necessary. We knew the mainstream media wouldn’t tell the story from our perspective,” explained Lakota activist and local Marysville School District Indian Education coordinator, Matt Remle. His tireless activism was instrumental to Seattle officially divesting from Wells Fargo in 2020. 

Divestment has proven an historically successful means of resistance for disenfranchised people around the world. South Africa, Sudan, and Burma are just a few places where it has seen success. Divestment is not a magic bullet, but it is a powerful tool to challenge the status quo of placing profits over people. These same banks are backing the new expansion of the DAPL system into the Bayou Bridge pipeline, as well as four proposed tar sands pipelines that together would add over three million barrels of the dirtiest oil in the world to flow across turtle island every single day:

  • Keystone XL (TransCanada) – 830,000 barrels per day
  • TransMountain (Kinder Morgan) – expansion from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day
  • Line 3 (Enbridge) – expansion from 390,000 to 915,000 barrels per day
  • Energy East (TransCanada) – 1.1 million barrels per day

“While first peoples own, occupy or use 25% of the world’s surface area, we safeguard 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity. Our identity is in the landscape–the mountains, the rivers, the plants, and the animals. For this reason, we are in a unique position to advocate for the ecosystem our shared human existence,” further explained Matt to the longhouse audience. “But if we are to preserve the Earth as a home for all future generations, we need everyone to help us restore Indigenous and environmental rights. That is where divestment comes in. That is where you come in.”

To learn more about the grass roots movement and how you can support them by divesting from specific financial institutions, please visit

The second episode of Facing The Storm focused on food sovereignty and how it sustains culture, identity, and positive health outcomes. It tied together the Water Is Life movement with the simple fact salmon is a first and foremost food source for Coast Salish peoples. The episode beautifully wove together teachings from Coast Salish ceremonies and other cultural events that are dedicated to salmon to depict the ancestrally deep roots the tribes have with their land and local waterways.

Although not shown at Hibulb, the filmmaker shared with the still captivated for more attendees that episode three covers the relocation of Quinault’s main village and that episode four is about Tulalip citizen Kayah George and her ongoing resistance movement towards the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Vancouver, B.C. 

Following a raucous applause for the contemporary storyteller as the Hibulb film session ended, Mikayla Gingrey took a moment to reflect on the importance of sharing her works on Native land, such as Tulalip.

“It means so much to me to be able to debut the second episode of my series here in Tulalip,” said the thought provoking 25-year-old Mikayla. “My goal for this project is to inspire the next generation of climate justice warriors. In that spirit, to show the series here, I feel honors and pays tribute to the past and present generation of warriors from this region.

“Also, Matt Remle is such a huge mentor to me. He’s built such a strong connection to the Tulalip people through his work in education, and together we share the same mission to educate and inspire the younger people,” she continued. “It’s so important they be empowered and inspired to carry on this legacy of defending Mother Earth, defending the sacred, and defending a basic human right to have clean air and clean water. There’s a space for everyone in the climate justice fight and I want everyone to walk away from the series knowing you can do something, whether its big or small, it all makes an impact.”

Crafting dreamcatchers with Dinesha Kane

By Wade Sheldon 

Embracing the healing power of creativity, Tulalip tribal member Dinesha Kane transformed a gloomy, overcast Saturday into a vibrant day of crafting at the Hibulb Cultural Center. On February 24, Dinesha led a class, sharing the artistry of crafting dreamcatchers, a skill she developed on her healing journey.

According to the Indigenous Foundation, dreamcatchers trace their origins to the Ojibwes in North America. Typically handmade, these intricate creations involve sticks or hoops and woven nets made from sinew, leather, feathers, and beads. The 1960s and 70s saw dreamcatchers gaining popularity and spread within Native American communities, thanks to the Pan-Indian movement.

Intricately entwined with profound symbolism, dreamcatchers convey a story through their elements. The hoop, a representation of life, joins forces with a spider’s web-like weave intricately designed to snare the tendrils of nightmares. Feathers, akin to soft ladders, guide the path of good dreams toward the dreamer’s realm. At the same time, beads serve as storytellers—a solitary bead embodying a spider and an array of beads narrating the ensnarement of bad dreams.

Dinesha decided to make her first dreamcatcher five years ago for her son. The problem was she needed to learn how to start or who she could talk to about learning. 

“I found a dreamcatcher at a secondhand store and deconstructed it to figure out how it went together,” Dinesha said. “I taught myself how to make them. I was in a place that needed healing. After that, I found people to assist me with learning new styles and techniques. I find growth in being able to ask for help.”

Dinesha continued, “As for teaching, it was not something I expected, but it has been a wonderful surprise, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Once I got into Hibulb and started meeting more people, I found that I love teaching. There’s nothing like being able to teach at our museum. It’s a blessing and an honor. I hope to get more youth out there learning and showcasing their work.” 

As Dinesha continues to inspire with her creative workshops, the dreamcatchers crafted in her class not only capture dreams but also symbolize a journey of healing and artistic expression. 

To register for upcoming classes or to learn about future courses, contact Dinesha at (425)876-8788 or visit her website at

Acknowledgement, spoken into existence

By Micheal Rios

We acknowledge the original inhabitants of this place, the sduhubš, and their successors, the Tulalip Tribes. Since time immemorial, they have hunted, fished, gathered on, and taken care of these lands and waters. We respect their sovereignty, their right to self-determination and honor their sacred spiritual connection with these lands and waters. We will strive to be honest about our past mistakes and bring forth a future that includes their people, stories, and voices to form a more just and equitable society.

Those words are read aloud to begin Everett City Council meetings. Those words are the city’s official land acknowledgement. Those words were approved in 2021 after being developed by the Everett Diversity Advisory Board in partnership with the Tulalip Tribes. 

Now, those words have spoken into existence the permanent installation of Coast Salish imagery to adorn the outside of the Everett Municipal Building. Serving as a constant fixture to all those who pass by or enter the city’s primary office building that you are on Native land. 

“Our city lies on the historic land of the sduhubš people and their successors, the Tulalip Tribes, and as such, I believe it’s essential for us to pay respect to the original inhabitants of these lands,” said Cassie Franklin, Mayor of the City of Everett. “I’m proud to have James Madison create such a beautiful and impactful piece of art to honor Indigenous peoples and our ongoing commitment to acknowledge their connection to these lands.

“Previously, this building had no color nor any beauty to it, but now it has gorgeous reds and yellows that really bring the building to life, and is sure to catch the eye of our city’s residents and tourists when in the area,” she added.

Tulalip’s neighboring city to the south, Everett, is the seventh-largest city in all of Washington State by population, and it’s by far the largest city in Snohomish County. Established in 1890, the city of Everett is situated on a peninsula. Its city boundaries are designated by the Snohomish River to the east and the Salish Sea to the west.

In precolonial times, long before imaginary map borders, the land Everett was built upon was home to our Tulalip ancestors. As a sustenance-based people who thrived with the many offerings of the natural environment, they flourished in the ideal fishing and hunting location.

Tulalip culture bearer Tony Hatch offered further historical insight when speaking at the installations unveiling on February 22 to those in attendance. “Not too far from this very spot was a traditional village of our ancestors that we named our cultural center after, Hibulb. It’s precise location is what’s now known as Legion park. Hibulb was a central hub and primary village of the Snohomish people who we do our best to honor today.”

Following Tony’s words, a group of Tulalip citizens offered a traditional song to those Everett residents and city officials who gathered on the picturesque winter day. Those gathered were also treated to a taste of Tulalip fine dining in the form of Ryan’s REZ-ipes.

The enormous, metal fabricated art installation consists of bold red, striking yellow, and stout black colors is impossible to miss for pedestrians and commuters alike. But forged into the durable aluminum and medicine wheel colored pallet is a traditional teaching that has been passed down for generations.

“With this project, I wanted to pay respect to our culture as this region’s first people,” explained Tulalip’s own James Madison. “I tried to showcase our culture and who our people are, while paying respect to the Salish Sea through the blackfish, salmon, and our stories that have been passed on for generations.

“The salmon run that wraps around the building represents Sockeye,” he continued. “They used to be so abundant in our local waters, but now their runs are really short and even desolate in some places. It’s important that we continue to raise awareness of the dwindling salmon runs because their well-being is interconnected with the well-being of both blackfish and human populations. My grandpa, Frank Madison, always told me that it’s up to us to keep the blackfish and salmon alive because if they go away, then humans will go away as well.”

At the heart of this latest collaboration between a Washington State municipality and one of our talented artists is a respect for a cultural heritage that pre-dates the urban landscapes that have taken over Coast Salish territory. As the physical manifestation of a land acknowledgement and traditional teaching, James Madison’s latest creation serves as a reminder to respect the environment, engage in sustainable practices, and respect the Indigenous peoples who have called this land home since time immemorial.

Valentine’s Day Social unites community for joyful celebration

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News 

On February 14, the Greg Williams Memorial Gym became a hub of delight and celebration as 477-TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) hosted a lively Valentine’s Day Social in collaboration with Child Support Enforcement. As a heartfelt way to express gratitude to their clients, the memorable occasion brought together supporting staff, clients, and their families in an informal and lighthearted setting.

 The atmosphere was brimming with excitement as parents and kids alike reveled in various activities, games and face painting, to pizza, cookie decorating, and a cakewalk. Tulalip tribal member Aiden Leora, who was having a blast running around and playing games with his mom, said, “my favorite part was the skatepark and painting cookies.” 

“It was a wonderful event,” tribal member Rosemarie Runningwater said. “I have five grandkids and live in a one-bedroom apartment, which means a lot. The kids get to be themselves, and grandma gets a little break. It’s wonderful.”

 “The highlights of this event are collaborating with the other departments and seeing all the kids run around and enjoy themselves,” 477-TANF manager Laura Wiggins said. “That’s what we live for. We are here for the children and keeping families together. As the saying goes, it takes a village, and following that, it takes all our departments and community members to enable a great path forward for our tribe.”

Laura continued,  “With staff turnover and new clients coming in, this event gives the clients and the staff a chance to meet one another in a not-so-formal event. It’s a great way to show our appreciation for our clients. We wouldn’t have a job if we didn’t have them.” 

As the Valentine’s Day Social ended, the lively atmosphere lingered, echoing the successful efforts of 477-TANF, Child Services, and our community. Laughter smiles, and meaningful connections defined the day, reinforcing the essence of our tribe. A special thanks to all who contributed, and as a parting gesture, each attendee left with a gift bag—a token of appreciation. Stay tuned for upcoming events and initiatives.

If you have any questions or want to know more about 477-TANF, call (360) 716-4719 or email 

Mix Master Monie: Beauty in the beats and in the breakdown

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“One of the primary joys I get from DJing comes from knowing that I can bring people out of what they’re going through,” expressed Tulalip Disc Jockey, Monie Ordonia. “If they’re worried or stressed, they can come and get lost in the music. They can release and be in the now moment, and not think about the later, because when you’re dancing, you’re not thinking about any of that.”

Like many Native American musicians, Monie has a special relationship to the rhythm, bassline, and drum beats. Traditionally, Natives are brought up with a deep respect and love for music as certain songs and chants are held in high regard and are only brought out for special occasions. This practice is embedded in the DNA of countless tribal members. Over the years, music has served as good medicine that has helped many through heartbreak, grief, and battles with addiction. On the flipside, music has also amplified the joyous times, and people often tie happy memories to songs of that specific moment in time.

DJ Monie developed a strong connection, a thorough understanding, and an undying passion for music at a young age. Growing up off-reservation, in the central district of Seattle, Monie’s appreciation and respect for music has always been on par with her ancestral ways. 

Even though she had yet to be introduced to the traditional songs of the sduhubš, the sheer knowledge that music is sacred medicine was something that she cued in on early in her journey. And coming from a line of healers and medicine men, Monie found a way to use this particular medium of beats and breaks in such fashion when she found her home behind the turntables in the early 90’s. 

“It’s all about beats,” she exclaimed. “Beats are the biggest thing for DJs. I am self-taught, for the most part, because I can hear beat patterns when I listen to music. Because I know what other song would flow with it, I could be like ‘oh, that part would work really good with that song.”

She continued, “Growing up in the hood, I grew up with a lot of black folk, so I listened to a lot of R&B and Motown in the 70s. And of course, my older sisters, Esther and Muffy, were a huge influence. They loved music. When we would go buy gifts for each other, the majority of the time we ended up at the record store. In the late 70s, I was into Earth, Wind & Fire, The Commodores, Cameo – all those big musician groups where they all played real instruments, that was a huge influence on me.”

While attending Garfield High School, Monie chased her passion and joined the school’s band program. She set out to master the piano, and with natural talent and a great ear, she was content with learning just enough to get by in class. The temptation of a thrilling adolescence was too strong, and she put off learning how to read music in favor of a fun teenage social life. But her escapade with music was far from over. 

During this time and through her early college years, Monie perfected the technique of curating playlists, a skill that would come in handy when she found herself in the DJ booth a few years down the line. Now keep in mind, this is the 80s, a time before mixtapes were popularized and cut together on the regular by the masses. After relocating to downtown Los Angeles in 1984 and running with a crowd of USC students, Monie started receiving numerous requests for her tapes. She dedicated time to creating the perfect mixes for her group of friends and the parties they would host. That was until 1989, when she decided to take the next step in her journey with music and invested in some professional equipment. 

“One day, one of my buddies said we should have a party. And I was like, ‘I’ll go get a mixer and some turntables and play the music for the party,” recalled Monie. “I bought this Gemini mixer for like $70, it had all these little sound effects and everything on it. Next, I bought turntables for around $60, you could change the speed on it, but they were still belt driven. And last, I bought some headphones, and I started practicing.

 “I had a couple of friends that already had some DJ experience. One of my friends from Compton taught me a trick on how to rig my turntables, so I wouldn’t burn my motor out while trying to rotate the vinyl backwards or scratch, so it would slip really easy. Once I learned how to do that, I started spinning it back and holding the vinyl to where I could find the beat, to drop it right into the other song. I practiced that a lot and started getting really good at mixing and blending.”

Monie shared that her decision to purchase equipment and DJ her friend’s party ultimately led to more opportunities. The same friend that suggested they should host that party put Monie on game when a resident DJ at a local club announced she would be leaving her post for other endeavors. 

Now, this wasn’t just an average run-of-the-mill club. No, this was the historic Jewel’s Catch One Disco Club, one of the first black discos in the US, and officially the longest running black gay bar in LA. In its heyday, Catch One hosted live performances from the likes of Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Janet Jackson, Rick James, Madonna, and Tulalip’s own DJ Monie.

With some encouragement from her friend, Monie earned a residency at Catch One following a killer audition that left the club owner stunned. She started DJing regularly during the club’s weekly Ladies Night event on Thursdays, as well as during Friday’s Happy Hour spot at their downstairs bar.   

At a time where music genres hardly ever clashed, when house was house, grunge was grunge, hip-hop was hip-hop, and R&B was R&B, Monie dared to blend, which brought people to the dancefloor in droves. 

“That feeling – there’s nothing like it,” she exclaimed. “When a dancefloor is going crazy, that’s my high. I was different from all the other DJs because I would move in between genres. I’d play the popular R&B and hip-hop at the time, but then I’d mix in stuff from the 70s and 80s that I had in vinyl collection. Whenever my sister would get rid of her music, she gave me her vinyl records, so I had built a huge collection over the years. When I mixed in the old school – Prince, Cameo, Teena Marie, – the response I would get was crazy. The crowd would put their arms in the air, they’d be screaming and dancing crazy. That to me is the biggest compliment.”

Monie quickly built a name for herself, and the dancefloor would be packed each time she was on the ones and twos. She found herself in popular demand and was so well-known that she added additional sets throughout the weekends to appease frequent club-goers, while still maintaining a full-time printing job during the day. She became more comfortable and confident during her sets and perfected her craft by means of real-time experience.  

DJ Monie put in four-years at Jewel’s Catch One before the gig began to lose a bit of its luster, before the dream began to feel more like a job where she was getting underpaid for her work. When this happened, Monie was also doing some personal healing following a breakup. For these reasons, she decided to take a step away from the booth and focus on her wellbeing. During this time period, which turned out to be a one-year hiatus, Monie’s presence was missed by many. Whenever she was recognized in public or caught unwinding at a nearby club, she would leave many disappointed once they found out she would not be performing a set that night. 

This made her return to the game even sweeter for the 90’s LA club scene. Although, this time around she decided not work the clubs at all. It was by her roommate’s request that Monie found herself once again comfortable inside her sacred space – behind a mixer and a set of turntables. Upon agreeing to DJ her roommate’s backyard birthday party, the word spread like wildfire. On the night of the party, over 400 people were in attendance and the line to get into the party stretched around the block. Amongst all these attendees were some big-name celebrities such as MC Lyte, Meshell Ndegeocello, Teena Marie, as well as women’s basketball legend and Monie’s personal friend, Cheryl Miller. 

“I didn’t even get to see Meshell Ndegeocello because the place was so full,” shared Monie. “I was DJing from the back bedroom, looking through the windows out to everybody in the backyard. And that’s how I started my revitalization with DJing. That party lasted ‘til five in the morning. After that, I made everybody breakfast and my friends were still hyped up about it. So, I decided to start throwing parties. I spaced them out two or three months apart, so people would anticipate it and get excited. I averaged 300 people per party. After about a year-and-a-half, people started hiring me to DJ at their gigs. I was even throwing yacht parties at the marina. It was awesome. Those were some good times.”

DJ Monie’s sets were so epic that she once received one of the funniest requests of all time. She shared, “There was a party for one of my buddies. I was there spinning away, and everybody packed the dancefloor and was having a good time. I had someone come over and she was dancing right by me on the floor, because there wasn’t a booth set up there, we just had tables.  She came over was like ‘honey can you play a messed-up song?’ And I asked, why do you want me to do that? And she said, ‘I’ve been on the dancefloor for the last six songs, and I can’t get off the dancefloor because you’re jamming too much. Play something whack!’”

Cracking up at the memory, Monie continued, “I never heard a request like that in my life. It blew my mind when she said that. I told her I couldn’t play something whack, but I’d slow it down a bit so she could make her way off the floor.” 

Monie would go on to have a long and fruitful career as a LA DJ, one of few women DJs in the area. Throughout the 80s and 90s, Monie’s mother, Janice Wyakes, also lived in the greater Los Angeles area. However, Janice would return to Tulalip in the late 90s following a family reunification when they got in touch with Monie’s sister, who was adopted at a young age.  When the time came for Monie to return to LA, it was decided that it would be in Janice’s best interest, health wise, to stay in Washington under the care of Monie’s sisters. 

A few months after celebrating her 75th birthday, Janice made her transition to her next journey in March of 2012. It was at this point when Monie began to contemplate moving home to Tulalip. 

Said Monie, “I loved LA. I had been there for like 28 years. But when my mom passed away, the energy shifted so strong. I knew that I would be moving back here. And around the time when my mom passed away, my sister Muffy just started doing chemo for cancer. So, it was time for me to come back.”

Monie mentioned that she felt an energy shift. Now many of you who know Monie, also know that she is intuitive as heck. The universe did in fact begin to work its magic, preparing Monie for a return to her ancestral homelands. In phase one, Monie was laid off from her printing job, and since she was eligible for unemployment, she was able to save up for a possible move. On her sister’s advice, Monie put her name on the list for tribal housing. Phase two kicked off with a phone call, which informed Monie that a house became available on the reservation and was move-in ready. 

She would soon discover that her new home was on a hill overlooking her sister’s neighborhood, which was the icing on the cake. In the summer of 2014, Monie’s permanent address officially included a 98271 zip code. But by her standards, Monie initially kept a low profile in her first few years back at Tulalip, as her sole focus was spending time and caring for her sister throughout her battle with cancer. When Muffy made her journey to the afterlife, Monie found comfort and support in her community. 

“The first couple years, I had to get acclimated to the change in weather, and because LA is a big city, I had to get used to it being so quiet except for when they have coastal jams or longhouse stuff,” she stated. “I remember the first time I ever experienced the longhouse, but it was not literally down at the longhouse. I was here at home; it was summertime in the evening. I thought who the hell is doing construction work at this time? I called my sister Muffy like, ‘who’s doing all that banging outside?’. So, she went outside, and I could see her in her driveway listening. Then she looked at me while still on the phone, and she said, ‘oh that’s the longhouse!’. I never heard that in my life. So, it took me awhile to adapt from city life to rez life.”

In her past 10 years of residency on the rez, Monie made strong efforts to be there for her people, especially when it matters most. Whether you were introduced to her at a cultural gathering, community event, on the frontlines at local rallies tackling social injustice issues, or perhaps at one of her art classes for community members in recovery, Monie has become a source of good energy, and many find themselves gravitating toward her for stimulating conversation and a hearty laugh. 

Somewhere along the lines, word got out that Monie was nice on a set of turntables. Over the past few years, the local dances and community-wide celebrations have been slappin’ thanks to her music expertise. Event goers already know that it’s going to be a smash if they’re able to spot Monie and her signature setup of her MacBook Pro and her Numark digital DJ controller at the function. Her personality bleeds into her performances and her good vibes are contagious whenever she’s in her DJ element. 

“Honestly, when I first started DJing events here I started questioning if Tulalip people actually dance. Because I noticed that people would bob their heads and say they loved the music, but nobody was dancing. And being a club DJ, packing the dancefloor, and having people requesting a whack song so they can get off the dancefloor, that’s what I was normally accustomed to. But one of the most fun parties I worked is when I DJed the Valentines Day party last year. People were dancing at that one. And you know anytime people are dancing, that’s what make me happy. It lets me know that I’m doing my job.”  

You can catch DJ Monie spinning at the upcoming 477/TANF and Child Support program’s Valentine’s Day Social from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Greg Williams Court. 

Monie has also expressed a desire to share her knowledge with any youth interested in learning about the art of DJing. When asked if she had any words of advice for young aspiring DJs, she shared that it’s important to take pride in your work and invest in yourself. 

She expressed, “I take pride in my reputation as a DJ, because I know that’s one of my professions. I take it very seriously. I started with vinyl. Now, with digital controllers it’s a lot easier, everything’s at your fingertips. Pay attention to your crowd and play the music they want to hear, not the music you want to play. And start training your ear and listen to other DJs because there are different techniques going on from one song to the other. Listen to mixes – how people blend, the different beat drops, the backspin to transition to a new song. I also think it’s important to use your money to invest in yourself. And for me, my DJ equipment was investing in my joy that feeds not only my soul, but also sustains my livelihood.”

Be sure to check out DJ Monie’s playlist that she curated to highlight her career as a renowned Indigenous DJ. Add the tracks to a playlist on your Spotify, YouTube, or Apple Music accounts and be sure to hit play whenever you need a good dance session or a pick-me-up. 


Monie’s Grooves

Curated by DJ Monie, this playlist is packed with feel good beats that are sure to get the party started! Each track also follows Monie’s journey as a DJ, from her early years collecting vinyl to her favorite jams of today!

Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
Good Times – Chic
Bounce, Skate, Rock, Roll – Vaughn Mason & Crew

Candy – Cameo
Another One Bites The Dust – Queen

The Power – Snap
Poison – Bell, Biv, DeVoe

It Takes Two – Rob Base

Present Day
About Damn Time – Lizzo
Break My Soul – Beyoncé

The artistry of knitting maven, Anita Sheldon

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

In the gentle rhythm of needles and the soft embrace of yarn, Tulalip tribal member Anita “Keeta” Sheldon’s craft unfolds like a rich tapestry of tradition and enduring artistry. Born and raised in Tulalip, Anita, turning 84 this year, has been wielding knitting needles and crochet hooks for nearly six decades, crafting not just hats and sweaters but a legacy of warmth that spans generations. From the tender beginnings of making tiny garments for her babies, Anita’s hands have spun tales of love and comfort through her creations’ intricate loops and stitches. In her words, knitting and crocheting are not merely crafts; they are therapeutic, good for the soul, and a timeless art passed down through familial threads.

Recently, on January 27, Tulalip News sat down with Keeta and talked about knitting/crocheting and what that means to her. 

When did you first start learning to knit and crochet?

I started knitting and crocheting about 58 years ago. I started making hats and sweaters for my babies. Then, I began making Afghans by crocheting. When I’m not knitting, I am crocheting them.

Who was a significant influence in learning how to knit/crochet?

I would watch the renowned Sarah Sheldon knit. When one of my relatives was in the hospital with a broken back for six months, Grandma Sarah was there with a knitting needle and yarn and showed me how to knit. I watched her knit; she didn’t even have to look at her work while talking to you. She could knit nine pairs of socks a day and would sell them in Seattle. She would also raise her own sheep to create her own wool. She had her own spinning wheel and would make her own yarn. She was good. 

What is the difference between knitting and crocheting?

The difference between crocheting and knitting is one has a straight needle, and the other has a hook at the end. You go one knot at a time when crocheting and use the whole needle when knitting. It’s faster to crochet, and the stitches are slightly looser. I like knitting, and it is more relaxing than crocheting. 

Recently, you had a bad fall. How has it been getting back into knitting/crocheting?

It keeps my hands busy, it’s good therapy, and it’s also good for your mental health. Recently I fell and broke my wrist and couldn’t do anything for a few months. Now, I am doing therapy to help heal my hand. My doctor agreed to keep knitting; when I get tired, I put it down and rest, and I can do more each day. 

How long have you been selling your hats?

I just recently started selling my hats when I learned about the bazaar that happens around the year’s end. Before that, I made them as gifts for Christmas, birthdays, and when it gets cold out. They are well made, comfortable, and will last. My husky hat is over 40 years old and still keeps me warm. 

What are some fond memories you have from making hats?

I made the husky hat because I am a Washington husky fan, and I made my husband a cougar one because he likes Washington State. But his was stolen from the boat dock the first time he wore it out. Then I made another, and it was stolen, so I never made him another one and instead made a blanket that he used to keep on his work chair. And when he passed, it was sent with him onto the other side. 

Where did you get the canoe design from on your recent hats?

The design I used on some of my most recent hats was from the canoe that used to be at the old entrance to the reservation. I liked that design and feel like it represents our people.  It can take two days to make a hat like that if you have the right tools and some suitable yarn. 

If you are interested in purchasing or learning more about Anita’s hats or other products she creates, you can give her a call at (360) 653-8163. 

$1.32 Million raised at Tulalip-hosted Festival of Trees

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

          Extravagantly festive Christmas trees and wreaths adorned the Orca Ballroom at the Tulalip Resort Casino during the 38th annual Festival of Trees. The multi-day holiday fundraiser kicked off November 29 with a free community day and teddy bear celebration. Opportunities to give generously via an online auction accompanied the much anticipated, excitement-filled Holiday Gala and Live Auction held in person on December 1. 

Each year, thousands of community members take part in the Festival of Trees – including volunteers, sponsors, and attendees – to raise funds for Children’s Services at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. For more than three decades, Providence Children’s Center has been providing comprehensive, family-oriented care and highly specialized therapies; such as physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy for children with a wide variety of special needs.

    When asked to explain the importance of Tulalip hosting high-impact, community-changing events at our flagship Resort Casino, Marilyn Sheldon said, “Tulalip Tribes has so much to offer our community all times of the year, but Christmas time it becomes magical. Showcasing our Resort Casino in this manner brings to light what Tulalip has: shopping, gaming, restaurants, recreation, and an amazing holiday light display for families to enjoy. It gives Tulalip a different perspective in the eyes of our community. We need that to encourage others to want to visit each and every year. We want to be that traditional Christmas event every year!”

    Beyond hosting the always astounding Festival featuring towering Christmas trees and festive fervor, the Tribe was this year’s presenting sponsor as well. 

    “An event of this scale brings all the movers and shakers of Snohomish County to our house where we can showcase how much we care and want to be a part of the solution; helping youth in their most trying times. But also, being vested in such a worthy organization, like Providence Hospital Medical Center, provides immeasurable goodwill back to Tulalip. We can always use this kind of support for our future endeavors,” added Marilyn, Charitable Contributions Director. 

A highlight of the holiday season, the Festival of Trees provides opportunities for local families and organizations to make a significant contribution to benefit their community neighbors. Not to mention the festive, memory-making opportunities for those seeking a post-Covid experience in a heart-warming atmosphere. Whether it’s a decadent black-tie gala or an afternoon with cookies and Santa, the Festival’s variety of events offer holiday cheer for all.

The tremendously decorated Christmas trees won’t soon be forgotten as their specialized themes like ‘A Night at the Nutcracker’ and ‘All Aboard the Polar Express’ to ‘Candy Land Delight’ and ‘Wintery Dreamscape’ capture the imagination.

During an elegant gala, the dazzling Christmas trees and wreaths were sold to the highest bidders during a frenetic live auction that saw auctioneer Mark Schenfeld’s contagious energy get table after table to lift bidding paddles. Of course, all proceeds raised at Festival of Trees goes directly to Providence to aid, invest in, and expand programs and infrastructure related to Children’s Services. 

The Children’s Services Fund is designed to provide a full spectrum of support for services that benefit children at Providence. Funding supports programs and services such as Pediatrics, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Children’s Center, Boyden Family Autism Center, and Camp Prov, a summer camp for children with special needs. Several of the trees lining the Orca Ballroom were reserved to be put on display throughout the Children’s Center as a special treat for hospitalized kids this holiday season.

Because of the great generosity of various donors, table sponsors, and an astounding 525 gala guests, this year’s Festival of Trees raised a whopping $1.32 Million. This enormous amount of financial support allows Providence to continue growing and expanding specialized therapies, equipment, and educational classes that make miracles happen for children and families every day.

Worth mentioning, during the live auction there were two trees bid on and won with the intention of keeping them right here on the reservation. Both trees have been installed and are on display for the local community to enjoy through the holiday season; one is at the Senior Center, while the other is at the Health Clinic.

For over two decades now, the Tulalip Tribes has been an important partner to Providence in the Northwest Washington Region by helping provide critical funding and support needed to care for the health of our growing community. Contributions made by Tulalip to Providence General Foundation since 2002 have totaled over one million dollars. For their dedication to the Festival of Trees, the Tulalip Tribes were honored with the Spirit of Festival Award during 2018’s Festival.

“The lives of thousands of children, including Tulalip tribal children, will be helped thanks to the generosity received from the Festival of Trees fundraising efforts,” said Board of Director Mel Sheldon, an eighteen-year member of the Providence General Foundation. “We are very fortunate to have a relationship with Providence Medical Center and to support such an amazing opportunity that really looks at the bigger picture. We all want to do our part to create a sustainable and healthy community.”

One of Snohomish County’s largest and most well-attended holiday events, the Festival of Trees has been a beloved community tradition for 38 years. The annual outpouring of community spirit, combined with such a magical setting, delivered a wonderful event that united so many during the holiday season.

Jingle all the way

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Christmas came early for numerous Indigenous families as hundreds gathered at the Francy J. Sheldon Gymnasium for the annual holiday powwow at Tulalip. Holiday cheer was spread through the deep and rhythmic beats from the round drum this year, and also through the captivating and intricate steps of a number of Native dancers. Whether the dance was traditional, fancy shawl, or jingle dress, the gym was rocking throughout the entire three-hour event.

2023 marked the tenth year of the annual powwow which is a community favorite looked forward to each holiday season. The powwow is a collaboration between the Marysville School District Indian Education department and the Tulalip Education Division and features dance competitions for cash prizes. You often hear that this is the season of giving, and this was on full display as several young dancers forewent their cash prizes during the evening and instead gifted the money to elders in the crowd. 

In addition to the drumming, singing, and display of astonishing regalia, the people were also treated to a meal and had an opportunity to peruse and purchase last minute gifts at the mini bazaar located across campus at the Marysville Mountain View Arts and Technology High School. Dozens of vendors set up shop and sold items such as beadwork, clothing, blankets, and cedar weavings.

Down the corridor of Marysville Arts and Tech, Santa Claus worked his magic and turned a common area of the school into his workshop for the night. Each kid in attendance received a toy of their choosing. There were Nerf guns galore, board games in abundance, puzzles o’ plenty, and countless plastic characters up for grabs. And that’s not to mention the large selection of books that included everything from picture books to graphic novels. 

Once it was confirmed that each child had picked out a toy, there was still a plethora of gifts left over from Santa’s visit. The kids were once again invited to the workshop to add more items to their powwow haul. The event closed with the ever-popular cake walk in which all of the cakes were decorated with Christmas themes such as Santa’s suit, Christmas trees, and Frosty the Snowman. 

Following the wonderful clash of culture and Christmas, MSD Indian Education Dept. Coordinator, Matt Remle, shared in a Facebook post, “Lila wopila tanka to all the families, drummers, singers, dancers, volunteers, cooks, staff, and janitors that came out and together for our annual holiday powwow wachipi. Can’t believe we just held our 10th annual! As always, our only goal is to bring some smiles and joy to the community. Waste po.”