Native American Heritage Reads

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

We’ve reached another November. As the temperature drops and the leaves continue to fall, now is the perfect time to grab your favorite hot beverage, whether that’s hot cocoa, peppermint or pumpkin spice lattes, herbal tea, or hot cider, and curl up with a good book. 

Now a national celebration, Native American Heritage Month happens to land every November. While most of the country is focused on shopping for the upcoming Christmas season, many are taking the time and space to honor, celebrate, and learn about the true history of the many tribes, bands and families who are Indigenous to North America. 

Below, we’ve compiled a book list for you to check out during Native American Heritage month. Although there are numerous Native storytellers who have had their works published over the years, we wanted to highlight a few books that have local ties, as well as a couple authors who are well-known in the community of Native writers. And if you are out and about shopping for the perfect gifts, a few of these recommendations are available through audiobook platforms such as Audible, and often times feature a Native narrator. And while you’re at it, pick up one of these great reads for the reader in your family.

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

We are starting off with a classic. Ceremony was first published in 1977 and has served as inspiration for Native Novelists ever since. Sherman Alexie stated that Ceremony is the greatest novel in Native American literature, making Leslie Marmon Silko your favorite Native author’s favorite Native author. We also chose this novel because of the main character’s experience in the U.S. military, and as you may know, Tulalip is home to countless proud and brave veterans who also defended this country’s freedom and returned home to the reservation with PTSD. 

Set in the Insular world of the Laguna Pablo Reservation but resonating far beyond, Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel tells the story of Tayo, and army veteran of mixed ancestry who returns to the reservation, scarred by his experience as a prisoner of the Japanese. Only by immersing himself in the Indian past and its traditions can he begin to regain the peace that was taken from him. Masterfully written, filled with the somber majesty of Pueblo myth, Ceremony is a work of enduring power.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones, a.k.a. the Indigenous Stephen King, has been on the Native writing scene since the early 2000’s. With over 20 books published, he has shared a number of twisted, haunted, and thrilling stories while weaving traditional tales, cultural concepts, Indigenous issues, and reservation life into each chapter. Once you read a Stephen Graham Jones novel, you are automatically going to want to check out his other works. And might we suggest the shapeshifting novel Mongrels, the fancy dance horror fiction Mapping the Interior, or two modern slashers with Native leads The Night of the Mannequins and My Heart is a Chainsaw. 

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on retribution, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula: Who We Are by the Olympic Peninsula Intertribal Cultural Advisory Committee

With a page count of 162, this short read can be enjoyed during a quiet afternoon or over the course of a weekend. However, Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula: Who We Are will most likely be found in the hands of college students as this particular book serves as the focus of study for many Intro to Native Studies courses, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Locally, this text is often utilized in classrooms at the University of Washington, Shoreline Community College, Everett Community College, Northwest Indian College, and the Evergreen State College. This read gives insight to the Tribes whose homelands are located on the coastline of the Olympic Peninsula and focuses on their traditions, stories, and way of life. Plus, the book is filled with remarkable illustrations, maps, and photography. (And on page 112, you’ll find a shot of yours truly, as cute as can be at the age of four, before my claim to fame with Tulalip News.)

The Native tribes of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula share complex histories of trade, religion, warfare, and kinship. Yet few books have depicted the Indigenous People of this region from a Native perspective. Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula: Who We Are introduces readers to nine tribes: the Elwha Klallam, Jamestown S’Klallam, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Skokomish, Squaxin Island, Quinault, Hoh, Quileute, and Makah. Written by members of the Olympic Peninsula Intertribal Cultural Advisory Committee, edited by anthropologist Jacilee Wray, and enhanced by photographs and maps, the book is divided into sections focusing on each of the tribes. Each section relates the tribe’s history, its current cultural and political issues, and its tribal heritage programs. Each section also includes information about places to visit and offers suggestions for further reading.

Reclaiming the Reservation: Histories of Indian Sovereignty Suppressed and Renewed by Alexandra Harmon

Reclaiming the Reservation is a deep dive into tribal sovereignty, specifically centered around the Quinault and Suquamish tribes in the 70’s, and their jurisdiction, or lack thereof, over non-Natives on their reservations. The book opens up with Quinault’s decision to bar non-tribal members from their scenic beach in 1969 due to pollution, stolen gill nets, and the defacing of seaside rock formations that are important to the tribe’s heritage. To this day, non-tribal members are still prohibited from stepping foot on the Point Grenville beach that is more commonly known as ‘the Indian beach’, ‘the big beach’, or simply ‘our beach’ by Quinault members.  Another large portion of the book focuses on Oliphant v. Suquamish where the Supreme Court ruled that tribal courts have no criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians in 1978. The book was written by Alexandra Harmon, emerita of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington and supported by a grant from the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund. 

In the 1970’s the Quinault and Suquamish, like dozens of Indigenous nations across the United States, asserted their sovereignty by applying their laws to everyone on their reservation. The Supreme Court’s 1978 decision in Oliphant vs. Suquamish struck a blow to tribal efforts by ruling that non-Indians were not subject to tribal prosecution for criminal offenses. The court cited two centuries of US legal history as justification but relied solely on the interpretations of non-Indians. In Reclaiming the Reservation, Alexandra Harmon delves into Quinault, Suquamish, and pan-tribal histories and activism to illuminate the roots of Indians’ claim of regulatory power. She considers the promises and perils of relying on the US legal system to address colonial dispossession and shows how tribes have sought new ways to assert their sovereignty since 1978.

Where the Salmon Run: The Life and Legacy of Billy Frank Jr. by Trova Heffernan

Billy Frank Jr. Fish Wars. The Boldt Decision. Do we need to say more? This detailed account of the Native activist and Nisqually leader, Billy Frank Jr. is a must-read. The book is filled with quotes, interviews, photos and wisdom from the man who put his life on the line for Native fishing rights. He took part in fish-ins to demonstrate his right to fish in usual and accustomed areas, verbiage that is clearly stated in most Northwest tribal treaties. During these fish-ins people were arrested and beaten, and Billy was at the forefront of this movement that ultimately led to the Boldt decision. And of course, the book brilliantly depicts the leadership Billy displayed during the Fish Wars, as well as for his tribe following the Boldt decision, and for Indian Country as a whole. 

Billy Frank Jr. was an early participant in the fight for tribal fishing rights during the 1960s. Roughed up, belittled, and arrested many times at Frank’s Landing on the Nisqually River, he emerged as one of the most influential Northwest Indians in modern history. His efforts helped lead to the U.S. v. Washington in 1974. In which U.S. District Judge George H. Boldt affirmed Northwest tribal fishing rights and allocated half the harvestable catch to the tribe. 

Tulalip, From My Heart: An Autobiographical Account of a Reservation Community by Harriette Shelton Dover

No bias here. We honestly think that this is the perfect read for Native American Heritage Month because it is informative about what many tribal nations went through following the signing of their treaties, but from a Tulalip perspective. This story includes a Lushootseed phonological key and introduces the traditional sduhubš language to any reader who picks the book up. Tulalip, From My Heart opens with the signing of the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott and follows one of the most influential leaders, and the first Tulalip Chairwoman, through her life and trials while growing up Tulalip. For those who recently gained knowledge about forced assimilation, the boarding school era, and the Every Child Matters movement, this book recounts Harriette Shelton Dover’s time spent at the Tulalip Boarding School and covers all the atrocities she and her fellow tribal members experienced in the name of Catholicism. The book also sheds light on the Tulalip way of life and the traditions of her people, while also highlighting the tribe’s growth over the years. Along with the captivating, heartbreaking, and inspiring story, Tulalip, From My Heart includes photos from the Tulalip Boarding School as well as its daily schedule that the kids had to endure, and also photos of tribal members exercising their treaty rights and proudly engaging in cultural activities.

In Tulalip, From My Heart, Dover describes her life on the Tulalip reservation and recounts the myriad problems tribes faced after resettlement. Born in 1904, Dover grew up hearing the elders of her tribe tell of the hardships involved in moving from their villages to the reservation on Tulalip Bay: inadequate supplies of food and water, harsh economic conditions, and religious persecution outlawing potlatch houses and other ceremonial practices. The first Indian woman to serve on the Tulalip Board of Directors, Dover describes her experiences in her own personal, often fierce style, revealing her tribe’s powerful ties and enduring loyalty to land now occupied by others. She died in 1991 at the age of eighty-six.

Thanks for reading our suggestions, and if you do happen to check out any of these great books, please feel free to share your review with us. We hope everyone is having a great and informative Native American Heritage Month!

Lushtooseed, songs and games at MSD Family Night

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News

On November 8, the Marysville School District (MSD) Indian Education Department and the Tulalip Education Division kicked off Native American Heritage Month by hosting the Tulalip/MSD Indian Ed Family Night. The Totem Middle School library was filled with laughter and joy as students, families, and staff participated in various cultural activities and gathered resources from informational booths.

MSD and the Migrant program, the Marysville Public Library, and UW students, Tessa Campbell, shared numerous free resources for students and families, including free laptop/hot-spot rentals, tutoring, funding opportunities, the Read-a-Rama program, and college resources. 

Matt Remle, Indian Education Department coordinator, talked about the value of these events, “The goal with cultural nights like this is to bring families together, have fun, and learn different aspects of our culture. This year we have a big emphasis on supporting the Lushootseed Department. One of their goals is to start bringing Lushootseed to schools that don’t have language classes. By partnering up with them, through these events, we can connect the department to families and kids who may not have access.”

Lushootseed teacher Nikki St. Onge shared a story about bear and rabbit learning how to play stick games. The story was as a fitting transition for the room to break out into groups for  activities like building sticks for stick games. 

Attendees learned the history of stick games and some basics of how to play. After sanding and putting tape lines on their sticks, they were ready for action. Singing and drumming accompanied the stick games competition. 

Matt spoke about how they hope cultural events like these will continue to bring in more families, staff, and resources for tribal members to use. “We had students from the Getchel Native club come tonight. We’d love to get to a point where we can pass down these events to Native student groups and have them lead it; having all of our students, staff, and families working together for our Native youth.”

For future cultural and family nights, stay tuned to the MSD newsletter or contact Native Student Advocate Marc Robinson at and Native American Program Liason Terrance Sabbas at  

QCT holds moving tribute in recognition of Orange Shirt Day

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The color orange was the prominent hue on the morning of September 30th at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT). The color was visible everywhere you looked around the school’s gym during their morning assembly, as students and teachers alike proudly showcased their orange t-shirts, hoodies, and traditional regalia. The majority of the orange clothing displayed Salish formline designs accompanied with the message, ‘Every Child Matters’, the official slogan of Residential Boarding School Awareness Day, also known as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

“How many of you are learning a little bit about orange shirt day?” asked Tulalip Youth Advocate, Deyamonta Diaz once the kids were situated, and he had their full attention. Dozens of hands raised in the air in reply to his question. “Wow! Okay, that’s a lot of you,” he replied with a grin of astonishment.

He continued, “The intent of orange shirt day, for us as Tulalip people, is to give remembrance and honor to boarding school survivors and also the children who were lost in the boarding schools throughout history. We have the Tulalip boarding school historical site, that is now the Tulalip dining hall. Today, we give remembrance to our ancestors, the people who went through the boarding school. That’s why today we wear our orange shirts, to give truth and to shine a light on those things that have happened in history. I’m happy that you are all learning about boarding schools, and specifically what happened here at Tulalip.”

In 2021, the Marysville School District released a proclamation officially declaring September 30th as Orange Shirt Day, bringing attention to the lives lost and trauma gained from the early 1900’s Indian boarding schools. Children between the ages 5 and 18 were forcibly removed from their families and traditions to attend these horrific boarding schools during the assimilation era. 

After last year’s proclamation, schools across the entire district participated in the awareness day by teaching their students about residential boarding schools and encouraging everybody to wear orange. Located on the Tulalip Reservation, QCT is mindful about the traditions of the sduhubš people and incorporated the culture into both the curriculum and everyday activities, such as the morning assembly. Students at QCT acquire first-hand knowledge about the tribe’s lifeways through collaboration with Tulalip’s membership, and they learn phrases and words from the Lushootseed language as well as several Tulalip songs, dances, and stories each year.

“It’s an honor to serve the Tulalip people every day,” said QCT Assistant Principal, Yolanda Gallegos. “One thing we [QCT principals] think about as a leader is how do we create spaces to make sure we’re not making decisions about Tulalip people and the education of Tulalip people, and how can we do it right, as a family and staff at QCT, to listen, support, and serve our community. That’s one way of reconciliation, instead of just saying sorry – it’s what are the actions and what are we doing to make sure we’re creating spaces to get out of the way and repair the harm that has happened to our people through boarding schools. This is a part of that, and a good example of our healing.”

The children were asked to remain seated and quiet while the Tulalip Youth Advocates, a select few QCT student drummers, and Heritage High School student drummers, offered a song in remembrance and recognition of all the kids who experienced the trauma of the Indian boarding school era, and those children who never made it home. 

Though a large portion of the song is in the Lummi ancestorial language, a few of the lyrics are sung in English during the bridge of the song:

When they came, they took you from us. No remorse. Stripped away, never see you again.

Tulalip Youth Advocate and cultural bearer, Tony Hatch, shared the origin and meaning behind the song, “That song was composed by our relative Antone George, from Lummi and the West Shore Canoe Family, to recognize Orange Shirt Day and the survivors of the boarding schools, and also the ones who passed away when attending those schools. It’s important to remember all of those children and all those things that happened. A lot of people like to think that’s ancient history, but it’s not that far back. We have a teacher at Heritage and her mother was in one of those boarding schools. That’s one generation for her. We always want to remember those things, especially since we had a boarding school right here in Tulalip. Look at all the spirit we have in this room, it’s a lot of orange shirts. Today is a very important day for us, and we thank you for wearing your orange shirts.”

  The special tribute came to end with the Happy Song, and the kids were invited to the floor to dance and sing along to the song that is well-known throughout all the coastal territories.

Tulalip moms are stronger together

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News

Every Tuesday for the past 10 years, Tulalip moms have been gathering within the Tulalip Mom’s Group; a group created by Family Haven as a safe place where mothers can have their kids play, and the moms can learn new skills, and utilize a variety of resources. For centuries, Native women have been known for their strength in adversity, their perseverance, and for being the heart of their community. However, even the most powerful women, need support too. 

As many know to be true, mothers hold a sacred part of most family dynamics. We often call the land we live on and the world that surrounds us ‘Mother Earth’ and/or “Mother Nature”, Philosopher Mircea Eliade proposed a reflection of this name to be not so coincidental. Just like a mother, it is the first thing that we encounter when we enter this universe. Earth holds us just our mother does, nurtures us, and provides the very things that we need to survive. It’s a personification of the women that are life-giving and nurturing in the same ways that nature embodies.  

The commonly used phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” has become a bit of an understatement over the years. With Native communities consistently facing issues like the cycles of addiction, generational abuse and trauma, disrupted families, lack of proper medical care, etc., raising a family has quite literally become one of the most difficult jobs. Native mothers are highly aware of the realities that Indigenous children face everyday. Outside of the community, the constant threat of colonial influence in public schooling systems, and the social influences that pressures assimilation in the lives of their children, Native mothers take on a plethora of responsibility in understanding what they must teach and protect their children from in order to preserve their sense of community and culture. Raising a child can be hard enough on its own, but raising a child in an environment that is consistently being disrupted can quickly become scary and extremely strenuous. 

Youth and Family Support Coordinator Sasha Smith has been leading the Mom’s Group and spoke of the specific struggles that inherently effect Native communities, “With generational trauma, we have to look at how that also impacts parenting. With addiction, or lack of hygiene, or cases of abuse, it all plays a huge factor on how moms today are parenting and what they could still learn. If you were parented a certain way, you’re more than likely to parent your children the same way. With the group, moms learn that its okay to acknowledge the past, but also to know that there are things that they can change to give themselves and their children a bright future.”

The group provides many opportunities for mothers to learn organizational skills and parenting habits. The purpose is to teach skills that not only will help their families, but also make the mother a more well-rounded individual. 

One major tool that the mothers utilize is the Baby Bucks Incentive Program. The program is designed for mothers to take personal responsibility for being a healthy mom and building a healthy family, and in doing so they earn ‘baby bucks.’ Every week during their meeting, each mom is given a paper with a list of motherly activities, such as taking their children to any needed appointments, exercising for 30 minutes, brushing their teeth day and night, reading with their children, eating together at the table, attending a community gathering, etc. Each activity accounts for a certain amount of ‘baby bucks’ that they earn, turn in, and is signed off by the group’s coordinator. And as they continue to earn and save more ‘baby bucks’ each week, they get to spend them on essential items at their Mom’s Group ‘store.’ The ‘store’ opens every few months and contains items such as kids’ toys, books, clothing, and bigger items like strollers, highchairs, etc., that is provided from funding through the charity table. So, in turn, the incentive program helps both the mother and her children with carrying out family skills, and provides items to help raise children. 

Every week, the moms have the opportunity to connect with other moms to ask questions and seek guidance. The group can request for certain lessons to be taught, adapting each week to the needs of the mothers. Some of the lessons are also gone over when the group partners up with other departments like beda?chelh, the Dental Clinic, the Health Clinic, and the Lushootseed department. These partnerships help bring awareness about the different resources that Tulalip offers to tribal parents and make the weekly lessons more specific and pertain to particular categories of Indigenous parenting. 

The group also tries to integrate events outside of the group to give the moms and kids a different change in pace, and activities that are fun for families. 

Outside of learning new skills, and access to more essential items, mothers are finding their community. Sometimes being a mom can feel so singular, it consumes you and you can easily feel overwhelmed. Being able to sit down and share a meal and having the support of other Native mothers that know exactly what you’re going through or just simply lending an ear can make all the difference. A place where they can share their grievances about their child’s behavioral problems, or family-related issues or anything else stressful in their life. Sometimes moms don’t need solutions or answers, they just need someone that will listen to them and sympathize with their struggles. 

“The group fits the needs for women that are taking care of kids and need that extra support. It can be such a struggle being a parent, and we attract moms from all walks of life. We provide consistency and positive support that some might not be getting outside the group. We’re like a family of our own,” Sasha said. 

Most of the women in the group have been attending since the creation of the group, and others since before they even gave birth to their children. It has become a space where women can just be themselves for a moment while their kids can run around and safely play with one another. Having a place that you can go every week and know that you have that sanctuary to just be.

Alayna Helland, Rosebud Sioux and Tulalip tribal member parent, has been attending Mom’s Group since March 2019. When she was finished with her 30-day treatment, she was 4 months pregnant, and in need of a positive environment and a new support system to help with her sobriety and all the challenges that comes with motherhood. Alayna said, “this group has made the biggest difference. I used to feel so isolated. Now I have friends that I can count on, that I know will check in on me, hold me accountable and keep me on the right path.” 

With a few other moms in the group that are also tackling sobriety, she found a new sense of belonging in an atmosphere where she can be honest about her journey without judgement. Alayna also talked about how she looks forward to group every week, and the wealth of knowledge she has taken away, “I learned that by becoming a well-rounded person, I can become a more well-rounded parent” she said.

The Tulalip Mom’s Group is reigniting traditional support systems by connecting Tulalip moms with other Tulalip moms, aunties, cousins, sisters and grandmothers. The group isn’t designed to have a formal structure, but rather bring forth the love, teachings, skills, and care that come with child-rearing within tribal communities. It teaches every day tasks that a mother should know to take care of the basic needs of their children, with an additional influence of the culture of our people. The group is designed not to teach you how to be just an effective mother, but how to be an affective Indigenous mother. Knowing the difference is what makes the Mom’s Group so special. Teaching the mothers skills like beading, weaving, and language is just a handful of the Native artistry that can be learned and taught to their children.

In a recent article written by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Indigenous Maya leader and activist, Dr. Anita F. Tzec spoke about Indigenous mothers and said, “we are the sacred promise and covenant with our future generations as we pass knowledge and techniques between grandmothers, mothers, and daughters.”

The Tulalip Mom’s Group is continuing to uplift each other and future generations. All mothers, aunties, cousins, sisters, and grandmothers that are raising Tulalip children are invited attend and join this free group at any time. Sasha is transitioning out as the group’s leadership, and integrating Kylee Sohappy into the role. If you would like to join, or have any questions about the group, please contact Kylee at 360-716-4402.

Back 2 School Party sends students off to school in a good way

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The Don Hatch Youth Center parking lot was shut down on the afternoon of August 24. At the center of the campus, surrounded by a dozen of smiling faces, a creature with white fur and a blue face happily danced to a feel-good set curated by local Mixmaster, DJ Monie. 

You may ask why in the world the mythical legend known as the Yeti, a.k.a. the Abominable Snowman, was getting its grove on in near 80-degree weather. And the answer, of course, is to celebrate the Tulalip Education Division’s annual Back 2 School Party. 

“I think today was awesome,” exclaimed young tribal member, Peyton Gobin. “I came down because I wanted to see my friends and my family. I’m going into the 7th grade. I’m excited and think the new school year will be really fun.”

The Yeti tagged along to the shindig with the Grove Street Church, whose membership volunteered to supervise the rides and attractions. In addition to the many volunteers, the church also donated two bouncy houses so the youth could get their jump on during the back-to-school bash. 

To provide endless amounts of fun throughout the day, the Tulalip Education Division also enlisted the Reptile Girl, the Tulalip Police Department, the Tulalip Bay Fire Department, Paws With A Cause, Skate Like A Girl, Hatter Mike Balloon Twister, and QuakeHOLD! 

Youth of all ages had a blast during the five-hour event while they visited all of the activity booths, rides, and petting zoo animals including alpacas, turtles, and alligators. 

“I liked the lady with the whistles,” said Sophia Quimby. “Everyone’s been getting whistles from her, so I went up to her and she’s really nice. I got a whistle and also got a picture, and pencils from the fire department that I can take home. But my favorite part of the day was probably the pirate ship.”

Gia Joseph agreed, “Yes! The pirate ship was probably my favorite too. And I’m taking home a picture, a highlighter, and a coloring book.

“It’s a very exciting event,” Sophia added.

“It’s pretty much the best.” Gia concurred. 

With painted faces and snow cones in hand, the kids of Tulalip met with their friends and relatives as they explored the youth campus, taking plenty of time to ride the Pirate’s Revenge carnival ride and joust against each other in a padded ring, American Gladiators style.

“Seeing all the interactions with the children, it’s the big start for the new school year,” said Tulalip BOD, Hazen Shopbell. “I like seeing them all having fun together. I think this is a wonderful event where everyone comes together to help support the kids. It’s a good way to prepare them for school, I try to make it every year with my children.”

Inside the gymnasium were rows upon rows of information and resource booths. The idea of bringing-in departments such as Tulalip Higher Education, the Homework Support Club, and Family Resources, as well as Marysville School District (MSD) representatives including faculty from Heritage High, Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary and the MSD Native American Liaisons, was for students and families to get acquainted with their teachers, counselors, and all those who they will be working with throughout the academic year. 

“It’s important to celebrate back to school because our children need to see our excitement for learning,” expressed Tulalip Education Division Director, Jessica Bustad. “We want to thank all the volunteers, staff, vendors, MSD employees, and the Positive Youth Development team for providing the excitement of going back to school. It was great seeing the kids visit with their teachers, youth workers, and other organizations that serve them. It’s important for us to set that example for the kids. We want our kids to know that education is a priority to us, and we support them 100%. It’s been a long summer, so seeing all the smiling faces in one place is a good feeling. It’s nice to see the staff engaging and reuniting with their students.” 

The Back 2 School Party was the perfect way to close out summer and celebrate new beginnings as the 2022-2023 school year quickly approaches. 

“This event sends our kids back to school in a good way,” explained Tulalip Youth Advocate, Deyamonta Diaz. “It’s fun for the families to hang out, no stress, and meet with staff from their schools without the pressure of the school setting. We provide food so the families get to eat some good food and just enjoy the end of the summer before gearing up to get ready for school.”

Good luck to all the young scholars as they begin their new academic year! 

Tribes connected through culture and art

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News

On September 27-28, weaving artist Leanne Campbell, traveled to Tulalip and held a weekend long Columbia Plateau Basketry workshop at the Hibulb Cultural Center. Leanne is Coeur d’Alene, Colville, Nez Perce, and travels frequently to connect and teach twining throughout different tribes in the area. 

Twining is a form of weaving that can be used for various baskets, bags, hats, etc. It’s a style of basketry that is very specific to Natives in the Columbia Plateau. When speaking with Tulalip tribal member Rae Anne Gobin, Leanne learned that there are some Colville and Nez Perce descendants within Tulalip, and thought that they might find the class interesting. But no matter who showed for the class, Leanne was excited and found this opportunity of teaching at Hibulb an act of preservation for traditional arts. 

Leanne first picked up weaving in the late 90s and didn’t start teaching until the mid 2000s, when she was asked to demonstrate at a weaving conference. From there, she branched out and began traveling more, offering her Columbia Plateau Basketry workshops, teaching at the Hazel Pete Institute, and participating in weaving conferences. When teaching workshops, Leanne provides basketry kits that are available for purchase, that way everyone can have the supplies that they’ll need to learn.

The class was filled with people from all walks of life. Some of those in attendance were Tulalip tribal members, Tulalip community members, Natives traveling from other tribes, and people from the general public. Traveling the furthest were Siletz tribal members, Charlene Holycross and Nadia Mosqueda, from Oregon. This mother and daughter duo have been following Leanne for quite some time and even traveled to see her in Idaho. They originally had connected with her through Facebook, and had won a hat that Leanne was raffling off. Since then, they’ve been dedicated students, absorbing as much knowledge as they can. 

“After I get the basics down, I want to start learning our Siletz baskets,” Nadia said. “Our tribe traditionally weaves with materials like fern, bear grass, and hazel root, so eventually I’ll be able to work my way towards that. But Leanne is such a great teacher and I love the designs she teaches, and hopefully I can incorporate them into our hats.” Nadia also spoke of her weaving journey and how none of it would’ve existed without inspiration from her mom, Charlene.

 “I’m not going to be here forever,” said Charlene. “You try to teach your kids and it can only go so far sometimes, but with the help of teachers like Leanne, her guidance has really helped. I love the time that I’ve been able to share with my daughter and even though it’s not our traditional style of weaving, I’m excited to use it with everything we have back home. I hope that this art can continue in my family.”

With the creation of organizations like Northwest Native American Basket Weavers Association, the Okanagan Basket Weavers, and many others, artist are able to travel to other tribes to learn from them and also share their craft. 

“This style of basketry is one that we were starting to see a decline in the number of people still doing it,” Leanne expressed. “For me, being able to teach this will help revitalize this traditional art and help keep it going. That’s what’s great about conferences, we all get to learn from each other. No matter what tribe we’re from, or what we’re sharing with each other, every tribe brings so much value and purpose, and it’s important that we keep traditional art alive.” 

Leanne also spoke about how our cultural learnings can go beyond just what is in our tribe. But as Native Americans, we can learn so much from each other, and work together to keep our cultural practices strong. 

Traditionally, Native Americans have taught each other different teachings from one generation passing down to another. With the advancement of technology, learning new skills like weaving have become so accessible. People are connecting with other artists on social media, watching tutorial videos online, and promoting conferences and/or events to increase awareness. Since then, new forms and styles of teaching have also expanded. Even new and modern-day materials are being introduced to these traditional skillsets. Some use contemporary materials like hemp twine, acrylic yarns, and wool that are typically more accessible are being used as an adaption to our modern world. 

No matter the material, it’s important to remember the cultural significance behind weaving. Leanne said, “Anyone could look at the baskets we make and say ‘oh that’s just a basket.’ But basket making is such a time perfected technique that has been passed down countless generations and for that traditional art to survive, it really speaks to the resiliency of that art to transform to modern time and modern materials,” 

The room was filled with concentrated intentions, collaborative storytelling, and amusement in their shared mistakes. One thing Leanne kept mentioning, is the importance of patience, and kindness to yourself whenever you’re taking on a new skillset.

She also spoke on the cultural importance behind the baskets. How even though it is an art form to be able to make a basket, to remember that these baskets have purpose. “Baskets are a part of food gathering practices, landscape, and seasons. When teaching, it’s also important to remind everyone of the cultural importance, and the celebration of our first foods,” she said. “Being able to work with other tribes and bond over these practices is very special.”

Leanne expressed extraordinary gratitude towards the Tulalip community, the hospitality they provided and the opportunity to teach at such a beautiful cultural center, and hopes one day she’ll be able to teach there again soon. 

The Hibulb Cultural Center continually brings in talented Native artists, be sure to stay updated and on the lookout for future events at /

Next Stop: Kindergarten

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

On the warm summer evening of August 18, over seventy young students made their final journey to the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA) campus after successfully completing the preschool program. 

Instilled with all the necessary knowledge to make the transition from TELA to the elementary school of their choosing, as well as equipped with many traditional and cultural teachings, the little scholars of Tulalip took part in a parade-style graduation ceremony to celebrate their latest achievement. 

“This is our third year of doing the parade because of COVID,” said TELA Montessori Manager, Tami Burdett. “We could’ve had a regular graduation this year, but our staff and families really enjoy this, so I think we’re going to continue doing the parade.”

The students entered the TELA parking lot inside vehicles decorated in their honor and were gifted large magnetic paddle cut-outs to display on their cars. Each paddle had the student’s name written alongside the cut-out as well as the young leader’s respective classroom. 

TELA also scheduled professional graduation photos for each student prior to the moving up ceremony. Leading up to the graduation, the students had the opportunity to create their first headbands with their families, so they can wear their traditional cedar weavings for their grad photo and the ceremony as well. 

Said Tami, “Katrina [Lane], our Family Events Coordinator, made headbands with each of the families. They use that headband for their preschool poster and then they also wore their headbands tonight. On their t-shirts we also incorporated the canoe. For instance, the paddling to preschool shirt has three paddles and the paddling to kindergarten has five paddles, representing the years that they spent with us. Katrina designed the t-shirts, and this is our second year of t-shirts.”

  As they rode through the pick-up/drop-off zone of the academy one last time, the students were cheered on by all their friends, families, and teachers. The teachers showed an outpouring of love to their students and presented them with gifts to commemorate their time spent at TELA. 

“It warms my heart,” Tami tearfully reflected. “This is important to celebrate because this is one of their first academic milestones. It’s a milestone for the families, and it’s a great way for the kids to see their families excited about their achievements at school, so that they know school is important. All of their teachers have done a fantastic job of preparing them for kindergarten, and it was great to see everyone cheer on each of our students today.”

Congrats to all the young graduates.

TELA students celebrate summer with stuffed animals and music

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News

On July 16, the Tulalip Early Learning Academy (TELA) held their second annual teddy bear picnic for ages 6 weeks to 3 years old. 

With TELA’s year-round program, children have a list of summer activities to attend like the teddy bear picnic. The children were told that they could bring their favorite stuffed animals and enjoy a sing-a-long and puppet performance from ‘Alleyloop music’. Alleyloop has been connected with the Montessori for around 20 years, and continues to entertain Tulalip youth. 

The show consisted of guitar-based songs, different puppets with their own personal melodies, and games. Shortly following, the TELA kitchen provided sack lunches for the children to enjoy in either their classrooms or outside with their friends.

Montessori manager Tami Burdett said, “We love to bring in different entertainers like the dinosaur group with ‘live’ dinosaurs, and the reptile man, during the summer. We’ve worked with Alleyloop music for a while now, he has been awesome every time, and really gets the kids engaged. It’s great to just mix it up and have some fun activities to get the kids involved and outside.”

With the bright summer sun shining, and guitar hymns flowing through the air, the children had the time of their lives laughing, singing, and dancing with their friends and stuffed animals. 

The performance made for a great addition to their final school week of the year, and some of the teachers were left feeling bittersweet about their last moments with their graduating preschoolers. 

Enrollment for TELA is ongoing year-round and they welcome all Tulalip children. If you or someone has a child that you would like to join, please contact the academy at (360) 716 – 4250, and ask about the enrollment requirements and documents. 

Learning the fundamentals of S.T.E.M.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

According to the U.S. Department of Education, if we want a nation where our future leaders, neighbors, and workers have the ability to understand and solve some of the complex challenges of today and tomorrow, and to meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving workforce, then building our students’ skills, content knowledge, and fluency in STEM fields is essential. We must also make sure that no matter where children live, they have access to quality learning environments. A child’s zip code should not determine their STEM fluency. 

For those unfamiliar with the acronym STEM, its stands for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. On the Tulalip Reservation this concept can be thought of as career pathways to critical departments within our government, such as Natural Resources, Tulalip Data Services (TDS), construction and infrastructure building, and financial literacy necessary for various fields of Finance. 

In today’s fast-paced, constantly changing, techno-driven climate, it’s imperative our Tulalip youth be prepared with fundamentals of STEM teaching, such as problem-solving, making sense of important information, and being able to gather and examine evidence to make sound decisions. These were the skills being learned in truly stunning ways at this year’s 5th annual STEM week, made possible by some brilliant minds journeying all the way from Colorado and our local homework support program.  

“Our youth today are digital girls and boys in a world that is digitally based,” said Shana Simpson, lead student support specialist. “It is important for our kids to make these connections between science, technology and mathematics in order to draw out the relation to engineering. For this to be possible, they must first gain the knowledge to understand those connections and how they are applied to everyday life.”

Shana and her fellow coworkers were able to witness first-hand the amazing journey several Tulalip youngsters were able to have in the STEM realm. Nearly twenty kids, ranging in grade level from kindergarten to 6th grade, learned the fundamentals of STEM in the kind of fashion previous generations only experienced while watching Bill Nye the Science Guy. 

“It is highly enjoyable to watch our kids get nerdy as they are captivated by STEM activities,” added Shana. “After participating in STEM week, the kids continue to make their own observations and connections once they leave here. They are more likely to repeat what they have learned and pass their knowledge along. Hopefully, some continue to hold on to their interest and develop it into a true passion as they get older. Their participation in STEM week gives them an advantage at school and, we like to think, more opportunities in the future.”

Not only does STEM provide a new way of thinking and learning to students, the earning potential of a STEM versus a non-STEM career is staggering. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average wage for all STEM occupations is $87,570. This is nearly double the average wage for non-STEM occupations averaging just $45,700. 

The four-day STEM week hosted from August 1-4 was anticipated for some time by Matthew and Kathy Collier, who taught the course to Tulalip’s youth for four straight years before the pandemic forced a two-year hiatus. The 2022 rendition a host of fund, hands-on activities that the kids embraced and thrived in.

“The robotic gripper teaching is all about studying different designs and analyzing how to make them more efficient. It also is an engineering model used in used in prosthetic limbs and shows how they can extend the use of programming and engineering to help humans. It’s used in Robotics and manufacturing,” explained Matthew Collier, STEM education training specialist. “The experiment with the brain scanner allowed children to tangibly see the force of their brain waves, invisible yet tangible forces we all have in our brains. 

“We taught them about Theta and Beta brain wave,” he continued. “Through the activity, they could see that Theta waves grow stronger with rest and Beta waves grow stronger through intentional focus. This science is used in education, medical science, behavior research and more. Additionally, the push car derby with LEGOs taught them to explore the forces of push and pull, as well as the effects of friction between objects. It provides great examples of cause and effect.”

From brain waves and robotics to a LEGO derby and computer coding, some of Tulalip’s youngest minds were able to successfully grasp STEM fundamentals and apply them in a variety of activities that have real world applications. The best part about their experience was the instructors’ enthusiasm and passion for STEM education was infectious. To the point the young participants were genuinely learning while having fun.

“The importance of providing children with STEM opportunities when they are young is the way in which it empowers them to better navigate their 21st century world around them,” said Kathy Collier, STEM education program development. “They can become participants rather than spectators in regards to the technologies that will influence every sphere of society. Through STEM camps like this one, as children take part in these activities, they begin to connect the dots in their understanding and discover that they may carry ideas for the next invention…or perhaps realize they hold the answer to a problem the world needs solved.”

Reclaiming a narrative: 39 Tulalips honored for higher education success

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Every time a Native American graduates from a university, community college or vocational school, they become the living embodiment of what it means to reclaim a narrative. For so long Native students were shut out of academic environments where they could tell their own stories and advocate for their teachings, traditions and thriving cultures. 

When it comes to Native Americans and education, the dominant narrative is we can’t succeed in a westernized education system. United States census data supports this notion by showing that while more than 65% of American high school students go to college, just 19% of Native students continue their education after high school. In an age where education is an important cornerstone for self-sufficiency and quality of life, only 13% of tribal citizens age 25 and older hold a college degree. 

That narrative is being reclaimed and rewritten by present day Indigenous scholars who are actively working to decolonize education pathways, not just for themselves but for future generations as well. On the evening of July 12, thirty-nine such proud Tulalip scholars were celebrated for their commitment to higher education and, in the process, breaking the erroneous, often-cited stereotype that Natives don’t succeed on the collegiate level. 

“You’ve all put in so much hard work and countless hours of studying to earn your degrees. We are so proud of you for choosing to better yourself, your family and your future through education,” said Chairwoman Teri Gobin during the Higher Ed graduation banquet. “As a Tribe, we know we need to be better at utilizing your brilliant minds and supports our college graduates. As we continue to grow our business operations and evolve as a tribal government, we want you to feel welcomed to build a career with us.”

It was a powerful moment as the words washed over the graduates as they sat with their support system of family and friends in the Tulalip Resort’s orca ballroom. Hopefully many of the graduates will consider finding their place within Tulalip’s vast enterprise that continues to grow larger every year. 

For some of the graduates, they are already working diligently to carve out a meaningful role on their traditional homelands. Two such examples are homegrown products Joseph Boon and Angela Davis. Both managed to balance a busy home life with multiple kid and a fulltime job with their tribe (Joseph with Youth Services and Angela with Tulalip Police), with a steady diet of college course work. For their immense efforts, Joseph received an associate’s degree from Northwest Indian College, while Angela earned a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University. 

Another shining example is 22-year-old Ruth Pablo. She has overcome so many obstacles and barriers, while remaining steadfast in her commitment to better self and community. In fact, her passion for instilling positive change amongst today’s youth can be traced back to 2015 when she was elected secretary of Tulalip’s very first Youth Council. Now, she’s a graduate of Northwest Indian College and intends to find her role in empowering the next generation of young leaders.

“I’d like to have a long and fulfilling career working with tribal youth,” said Ruth. “It’s so important to elevate their voices because they have so much to say, but unfortunately they aren’t given much of a platform. They tribe has done a lot for our youth, but still lack in some areas. One such area is providing a space for our kids to be comfortable speaking their truth about the most difficult aspects of being a tribal member in our community. I’d love to be given an opportunity to use my education to help create that space and give our kids the opportunity to speak in a way they truly deserve.”

While the vast majority of the higher ed graduates wore stunning cedar caps, made by Carmen Burke and gifted to them by the Tribe, Ruth pivoted in another direction. She made her own cap for this special occasion. Adorned with evergreen fern, an assortment of roses, and a prominent butterfly in its center, Ruth explained that her cap was meant to express one of her favorite quotes: “Bloom where you are planted.”

The higher education class of 2022 included 6 Associate’s degrees, 11 Bachelor’s degrees, 5 Master’s degrees and one very impressive PhD courtesy of newly minted doctor of philosophy, Dana Krsnada. Seven vocational diplomas and 9 high school diplomas rounded out the 39 Tulalip honorees. 

“There is such a sense of pride and accomplishment with this group because many of our graduates are the first in their family to graduate college,” explained Jeanne Steffener, higher education specialist. “We love to see so many choosing to continue their education in pursuit of a master’s degree or PhD. Their continued success motivates us as a department to do more outreach because we’re seeing more and more excel at the next level. Our graduates’ accomplishments are so superb and worth celebrating.” 

The importance of recapturing the story about Natives and education requires telling it anew with bold new characters and captivating subplots. Unquestionably, it will take a new generation of Native storytellers who have the ancestral knowledge and progressive savviness to unapologetically express our shared cultural values in all new ways. They must become trailblazers for those who came before them and those yet to come. 

Armed with a master’s of science degree in art therapy, Tulalip citizen Antonia Ramos is such a trailblazer. For her incredible courage to leave the friendly confines of Salish territory and tend to her undergraduate studies in Utah at Brigham Young University before moving on to Florida State, Antonia was chosen as a student speaker.

“My educational journey took me from Washington to Utah then to Florida. It’s difficult to express what it’s like being an Indigenous scholar in such a non-Indigenous environment. But at the end of the day, I love my education, I love the field I went into, and I love that now I’m home putting my education to good use,” beamed Antonia, who works as mental wellness therapist for her Tulalip community. 

“Art is so strong, so powerful. It’s so much more than even the word medicine can describe,” she added. “For Indigenous people art is so innate. We are drawn to art when we are celebrating, praying, gathering and healing. And it only made sense for me to heal generational trauma, to heal the mind and spirit in the same ways we’ve always done. In my striving to make therapy Indigenous and welcoming to our people, it only made sense to bring art into that.”

Native graduate stories are as complex and diverse as the students themselves. It’s often a longer, tougher road for Tulalip adults pursuing their education, which is all the more reason to celebrate their accomplishments. Such is the case with 54-year-old Tracie Stevens who managed to balance her mother role, path of sobriety and discovering her career pathway in management consulting with her ambition to become as educated as possible. Her fellow tribal members listened intently as she detailed her long and arduous journey to receiving an Executive Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Washington.

“What an extraordinary experience to share this space with all my fellow graduates as we are celebrated for our collective and individual academic achievements,” shared Tracie as one of the two keynote, student speakers. “Our people’s history is filled with the U.S. government’s perverse interpretation of the education provision in our treaties. Concepts like boarding schools, the doctrine of discovery and manifest destiny were used to justify the governments by all means necessary approach to eradicate or assimilate our ancestors. 

“Yet, here we are today in defiance of the U.S. government’s effort to diminish us, to assimilate us, and to eradicate us,” she continued. “Not only have we survived, but more importantly, we are thriving. In our own communities, we are supported by education while actively preserving our culture, our traditions and our ways of life.”

After honoring the latest cohort of college graduates, Tulalip Higher Education staff are eager to help new and returning students find their path to academic success. They can assist with FAFSA applications and finding scholarship opportunities, as well as simply reviewing the Tribe’s current policies regarding paying for college and other educational programs. For those Tulalip citizens feeling empowered to help reclaim our education narrative, please contact Higher Education at (360) 716-4888 or email