A New Tune: Snohomish County Music Project makes key changes to better reach community

Music Therapists of the Snohomish County Music Project help young adults heal through the medicine of music at a “yoU Rock” jam session pre-COVID19.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“I think music is important because I feel like it can have a message and it can help people through a hard time. I feel like music lifts people up,” expressed Tulalip tribal member, Tyler Fryberg.

Music is a universal language. Spoken through drum patterns and chord progressions, music helps communicate how you feel – happy, sad, angsty, dance-y, nostalgic or smitten. And whether you are the songwriter or a carpool karaoke master, music helps you emit that emotion that you might otherwise bottle-up or bury. Many people often tie emotions to music, so when they hear a song on the radio or on their shuffle, they are momentarily taken away to a certain era in their lifetime.

For Indigenous people, music played a significant role in our ancestor’s spirituality and culture. Offering songs to the Creator, the earth and the water is a common practice that is held prior to gatherings across Native America. Songs that tell stories and offer blessings are sung in traditional languages and passed on through the generations. Some songs are so sacred and powerful that they are only performed during ceremony. And that connection Natives feel when hearing those drums and singing those songs with your fellow tribal members is indescribable.

When speaking of emotional and mental health, music can help alleviate extreme feelings and give you the courage and confidence to get some serious healing work done. More and more people are coming to realize what Native people have known for generations; music is medicine.  

The Snohomish County Music Project (SCMP) is continuing to have a meaningful impact on the Tulalip community in the wake of a worldwide pandemic. With services offered at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA) and Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT), as well as several other schools throughout the Marysville School District (MSD), the music project assisted close to 500 tribal students either enrolled Tulalip or with another sovereign nation.

“We’re a music therapy organization and we’re here to support individual and collective well-being,” explained SCMP Music Therapist, Vee Fansler. “We have an anti-oppressive approach and a trauma informed approach, so everything we do is coming with an awareness of the bigger context that shape our internal health.”

Added Colby Cumine, Music Therapist, “We are a non-profit and we provide music therapy services to the greater Snohomish county area. We have a lot of different programs and people we work with ranging from infants to adults; adults with dementia, adults and kids with disabilities, kids with trauma, veterans and in-patient psych hospitals.”

Natives withstood years of violence as the U.S. Government attempted to erase our culture and identity. The forced assimilation era, and the unspeakable acts that happened at the boarding schools, were traumatic experiences that involuntarily trickled down through the generations. And without a complete understanding of how generational trauma affects one’s well-being, many people’s mental state went untreated for a number of years and certain cycles continued or in some situations, escalated. 

SCMP has taken an approach to help people heal and work through traumatic life events by using music therapy. For the past several years, Vee’s voice has become widely recognizable amongst the youth as they built a strong bond together through the common language of music. Colby is another positive influence on the Tulalip youth as he also hosts music therapy sessions, both individual and group, with TELA and MSD elementary students and the weekly ‘yoU ROCK’ rock band rehearsals, which have become quite the social happening amongst young adults living with special needs.

The music project was in perfect rhythm, reaching a large volume of people and providing them with the necessary tools, resources and outlets to heal after life altering events. But then the team reached a caesura, a short abrupt break in the music, when the coronavirus struck and the SCMP was forced to switch tempos.

“There are so many needs that are present in our communities, we needed to make ourselves available to support people’s mental health, in the context of the pandemic, and not put people at more risk,” expressed Vee. “We did a lot of outreach to children and families because we usually contact people through schools, especially at Tulalip, most of our work happens in the schools.”

Opting to continue providing services to their clients during the pandemic, the music project decided to go completely digital and since the beginning of the pandemic, their clients have grown their knowledge about music by working on arrangements that they are familiar with and that appeal to them. The music they work on, both individually and as a group, crosses barriers and multiple genres ranging from classic Disney sing-a-longs to old school hip hop and even country-western. 

“We created a series of YouTube videos. Some of the therapists recorded songs to send out to people in the community who are stuck at home for the first time and maybe in need of things to do or activities,” said Colby. “I started a weekly livestream on Facebook, we have a YouTube playlist that families can use at home to interact with their kids, and we will be having these weekly livestream jam sessions. And in addition to that, reaching out to everyone I typically see in a small group setting or in a one-on-one capacity, for me that was mostly kids in the behavioral program, and seeing if they would be able to do telehealth.”

Vee explained that initially the SCMP attempted to transfer all of their services to an online format, but quickly learned that Zoom and teleconference music sessions come with a whole new set of challenges, such as timing.

“We can’t do live music very well with another person over the computer,” Vee stated. “That [timing] lag has been a struggle, and doing music with very young children has been a struggle. Prior to the pandemic we had a lot of individuals we saw at early learning that involved a lot of moving through space together and playing instruments together, and that is so different on a computer screen. The programs that have really translated the best have been with older children, ages 10 and up, who have a lot of experience with technology and interest in planning out sessions and practices for themselves.”

One key emphasis the music therapists are focusing on during this time period is how to navigate through these COVID-19 times safely, and how to process those emotions in a healthy, productive manner. 

    “There were a lot of folks who were grateful and happy we were able to continue to meet over Zoom,” Colby said. “They were overjoyed to interact with their peers again. Initially there was confusion in terms of what things were going to look like, because we still didn’t know if school would be coming back anytime soon. So in those therapy sessions, the focus was working through those feelings of confusion and sudden change in routines and schedules. And also working through those anxieties and uncertainties of the school year ending, and people expressing sadness of not being able to say goodbye to their friends who were graduating or moving on to a new school.”

When MSD canceled in-person lectures for the safety of their students and faculty, they in-turn provided their students with Chromebooks in order for them to continue their education online, which included music therapy sessions.

“The Chromebooks gave us access to kids and families,” said Vee. “For us to know the families had the necessary tools and technology for telehealth sessions, we were able to do instrument loans during the pandemic.”

“I am learning the ukulele with Colby,” happily reported Tyler. “I am learning how to play ‘You Got a Friend in Me’, and I have learned how to play happy birthday songs. I may not practice every day but I do practice between thirty minutes to one hour when I do practice.”

The music project has also continued with the rock band project, holding weekly rehearsals in which bandmates can catch up, converse and create. 

“The rock band has grown in size since the pandemic,” Vee said. “That’s our group with young adults with developmental disabilities. The goal of that group has always been giving people the opportunity to connect with their peers. Especially since we know that disabled children tend to be separated from their peers a lot. And when they get out of the school system, all of those social supports that were built sort of just fall away. I think that’s a group where their top priority was just wanting to see each other, and they didn’t care as much if the musical product was perfect in terms of the timing. They mainly just wanted to chat, share their songs, listen to things together, and laugh. That has translated really well into telehealth.”

During a time when many are self-isolating, the unknown that tomorrow may bring weighs heavy on a lot of minds. Many are experiencing loneliness and that’s why it’s important programs like the SCMP are available to those seeking assistance with their mental health.

“It feels great to have Colby and the music project because I still get to do music class on Zoom during this time,” Tyler expressed. “I still feel like it is the same no matter how we have to do the music. It is rewarding and you get to have fun and be around people and learn music. Rock band sessions really help with social skills and being confident with yourself. I had a hard time feeling confident but with Colby’s help, it made me feel better in myself.”

The Snohomish County Music Project is currently accepting new clients. If you or your children are interested in learning a new skill, while equipping yourself with the emotional tools to navigate the coronavirus and end trauma cycles, please reach out to the music project at (425) 258-1605 or visit their website, Facebook or YouTube pages for more information. 

“I enjoy working with these kids and their families,” said Colby. “I enjoy their personalities and who they are. I appreciate being able to work and interact with them. This is a very difficult, confusing and challenging time but we will be able to work through it together. I’m happy there is a strong community and that we’re able to be a part of it with the Tribe.” 

Vee added, “The main thing I hope the people know is we are here for anyone in the Tulalip community who has any difficulties that are coming up in terms of mental health, in feeling connected with their children or needing resources in continuing to care for children, in dealing with the trauma that comes with the pandemic and other traumas that have layered on top of that. I’m really thankful that we’ve been able to stay connected with this community and to keep having the relationships with the kids that we really care about.”

Distance learning at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The Marysville School District (MSD) recently announced their plans to begin the school year online. With the coronavirus pandemic still looming overhead, many businesses, institutions and organizations are finding themselves at a crossroads, having to decide whether or not to return to ‘business-as-usual’ and the way of life we grew accustomed to pre-COVID-19, or hang tight for a few more months to see if the nation’s current state improves. 

On the education side of the coin, a strong debate could be made on behalf of the students who thrive in group settings and benefit from in-person interactions between both their teachers and peers. Another point could be made for Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT) students specifically who also learn about Tulalip culture, in addition to their basic educational foundation, as many songs, stories and teachings are interweaved into the lesson plans and activities at the elementary school. 

“With the news that the Marysville School District is going to be doing a remote learning start, we want to prioritize student safety, community safety, staff safety, family safety above all else,” said QCT Principal, Sarah-Marie Boerner. “We recognize it’s a difficult decision and that it is going to create challenges for everyone. What we’re looking at, at this point, is identifying what are our priorities and what are the things we can learn from our spring experience and do better; refine, polish, adjust, change, so that we are better meeting the needs of our student population and our families. That isn’t to say we don’t have an incredibly dedicated staff that put in their all last spring, but a huge part of being an educator and being a part of a learning institution is recognizing that we also have to learn and grow.”

The virus outbreak occurred before the last quarter of the 2019-2020 school year began. When Washington State Governor Jay Inslee issued a stay-at-home order and people went into lockdown mode, MSD handed out over 1,000 Chromebooks to their student body in order to finish out their school year amidst a world-wide pandemic. The students held on to their Chromebooks during the summer months, and with school starting in a few short weeks, they are already prepared for what the district is dubbing ‘Continuous Learning 2.0’.

Continuous Learning 2.0, Principal Boerner mentioned, will be a more detailed approach to distance learning, or the online learning experience that occurred at the end of last school year, with a strong emphasis on garnering more engagement from the students and their family. 

“These times right now are very difficult for our families,” said QCT Assistant Principal Yolanda Gallegos-Winnier. “Businesses are closing; people are getting laid-off from work – people are figuring out what’s next for their family. Unintentionally school can be put to the wayside, so how do we think outside of the box and develop opportunities for learning?”

She continued, “A lot of our kids come from traditional fishing families. My husband is enrolled Yakama and we fish on the Columbia. As a teacher, my mind started thinking about how can we model this for staff; how do we learn more about Indigenous ways and teachings. I started taking photos of my daughter fishing, I was inspired by Natosha Gobin’s videos. I’m going to narrate as my daughter pulls fish up and uses the net, and while she is cleaning and cutting we’ll talk about math and how many fish she caught for the day. If we can get to a point where we can disseminate that information to the Tribal parents, maybe we can do something together similar to the online powwows where we incorporate those teachings into our lesson plans and involve the community. Perhaps we have a kid who is crabbing narrate the process– that is essentially writing an essay about what it means to crab for his people and bring food to the table. Kids out here are so smart, they know about the seasons and the specific crabs, they know about fish; blueback from a sturgeon to a steelhead. We have to connect those things quickly so we can have more engagement.” 

A lot of conversation, debate and intention went into planning for the upcoming school year, both at the individual school level and at the district level. Several sub-committees were created, as well as task forces who sent out numerous surveys via e-mail and phone calls, trying to get a better idea of how to best serve their students and community during such trying times. Continuous Learning 2.0 is actually just the first phase in a three-step plan that will ultimately help kids transition back into the classroom by the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. The first phase is strictly online, while phase two is a hybrid model that will require participation both in the classroom and online. In phase three, lessons will be ‘100% in-person instruction’.

Bearing all of that in mind, there are many checkpoints that must be made along the way back to the classroom to ensure both staff and student guardians are on the same page. Which brings us to the five key areas that QCT plans on prioritizing during the first quarter of the year and will likely extend into the long-term planning for the elementary.  

“Priority one is thinking about our model for distance learning,” Principal Sarah-Marie explained. “We’re thinking about how we can have clear consistent guidelines to make the schedule easily accessible and easier for families to navigate. We’re also thinking about the essential standards that we need to identify for student learning, so our kids are still getting those core foundational pieces that are going to serve them well all the way through, in both this distance model, the hybrid model and going back to a traditional schoolhouse at some point.

“Priority three is about the engagement of students and families. One of our biggest areas of growth and possibility is better engaging our students on the online format. Because honestly, many of us haven’t done this before. We have professional learning resources we’re engaging in with our staff.

“We’re also thinking about equitable access and our kids who are furthest from educational justice. Not only identifying who those students might be, but also thinking about tailoring some additional support for those families. And the final priority is recognizing we need to step up our communication. We aren’t going to have as many opportunities through person-to-person contact, so recognizing that we need to be planning how we’re going to communicate consistently, regularly and provide two-way communication with families.”

 Aiming to keep the lifeways of the Tulalip people a central focal point of their teachings, QCT plans on sticking with some of the traditions put in place many years ago to continue highlighting the Tribe’s culture such as Lushootseed lessons, and continuing to start each day with a traditional Tulalip song, famously known by the students as ‘the morning song’. The school is also making an extra effort to ensure that at least one Indigenous staff member sits on the various committees, guaranteeing that the Native voice is heard, valued and considered during decision-making processes.  

“We’re moving forward with a thoughtful three to five-year plan,” said Assistant Principal Gallegos-Winnier. “Our vision and dream for the school is following the Tribe’s voice and the Tulalip people’s expectations for their children. Lushootseed is absolutely a part of that. We as Indigenous people have always had traditional ways of knowing, learning and teaching. School walls don’t define education for our people or our children. Our schooling and education have always been developed in our families, in our community and with the knowledge and teachings of our elders and ancestors.”

“Although school is online, we will continue to fish, hunt, sing, and support each other within our families and overall community as a people,” she continued. “There is writing in our hunting experiences. There are speech and math opportunities in our knowledge and skill set of our young fishermen and women who have been fishing and crabbing with their families.”

QCT is reaching out to you, the Tulalip parents, family, students and community, for any feedback on how to better engage the students at the start of the school year to ensure they are receiving the knowledge of the Tulalip people and implementing it when necessary into their daily teachings. 

“I miss the kids; the staff misses the kids,” Yolanda expressed. “There’s a lot of grief in not being able to have those one-on-one class relationships. Just walking through the hallways, it’s so quiet and empty, wondering when will we be safe to open up and have the kids back. Right now, my hope is that as a community we can come together and figure out how to be able to make a successful online educational program for our students here at Quil Ceda Tulalip. In closing, the question is, how do we tie all of that into online learning and make the connection between school and home for your student. We need your help in this process, we can’t do this without you. Please call or email us for ideas, suggestions and feedback.”   

For more information, please contact Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary at (360) 965-3100.

Teachers and kids join in teaching Lushootseed online

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News; photos by Natosha Gobin

“Doing this work has always meant a lot to me,” expressed Tulalip Lushootseed Language Warrior, Maria Martin. “I got to learn when I was at Montessori at a young age. Growing up, I committed myself to learning everything I could with the language; summer camp, anytime they had an event I could attend, I’d always check out the website. I took it on myself to be a part of it. And being able to share that now, it’s awesome because I have direct relatives that put in work to save the language. And it’s an honor to inherit that.”

The traditional language of the sduhubš is strong in modern day Tulalip and COVID-19 can’t do a thing about it. When Tribal government shut down daily operations to help flatten the curve and decrease the spread of the novel coronavirus, many people were glued to their smart phones, searching for updates about the disease, learning how to adequately protect themselves, and adapt to a more slow-paced, Zoom-led world.

During the very first week of the Tribal government closure, when the number of deaths by COVID-19 were spiking, good news was hard to come by. An evening scroll through the timeline was often accompanied by despair and a general fear for the health of you and yours. And then one day a slew of videos began to pop up and take over people’s newsfeeds.  

“With everybody being forced to stay home, we still wanted to connect with our community so we had to get creative,” said Natosha Gobin, Language Instructor. “I knew that a lot of people were on social media, so we decided to throw some language out there. At such a time of unknown, here’s something positive, let’s take the opportunity to learn a couple words or hear a story together, connect with your kids, connect as a family. Most of the videos were geared to be just a couple minutes long. If a parent is scrolling through Facebook and their child is right next to them, then it’s as easy as ‘boom, let’s listen to this or let’s look at this real quick’. We really viewed it as a not only a way for us to stay connected with the community, but to reinforce that relationship with a parent and child learning together.”

Over the course of the school year, the Lushootseed language warriors develop a strong connection with their students as they are in the classrooms weekly, some teachers daily. When schools began to close, naturally the instructors began to miss their students, as well as preparing lesson plans and growing the minds of future Tulalip. When Lushootseed Program Manager, Michele Balagot, instructed her team to produce online language videos, they wasted no time. Videos of language warriors singing traditional Tulalip songs, sharing popular Salish stories and providing lessons in counting, colors, animals and shapes flooded the social media timelines of Tulalip families and citizens.

“That was new to us, we started with one person doing a video and then we built off of that,” explained Michele. “A week later we decided we needed to do some interaction, so the kids could practice and identify a shape or a color in the language. And then we started doing traditional stories, so the kids could still hear Lushootseed while they’re at home and be able to speak it, be interactive with it.”

A majority of the Lushootseed speakers work with younger children, thanks to a partnership with the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA). The idea is that kids are more susceptible to pick up the language during the early childhood development stages. Out of a shared interest of providing Tulalip children with a strong cultural foundation and understanding, TELA developed the language immersion curriculum in which Lushootseed Warriors frequent the classrooms of the Early Head start and Montessori and pass on the language through fun activities, songs, and interactive stories.

“They [videos] were originally for TELA, but we posted the videos on Facebook and soon found out that the TELA kids weren’t the only ones watching,” Michele said. “We knew that kids of all ages were watching it because we kept getting all kinds of replies saying, ‘thank you my child sat down and watched it and was speaking the language along with the video.”

Maria, who mainly works with Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, has made a handful of videos for her students during the pandemic that inspired not only the parents who are at home learning with the kids, but also many of the QCT teachers. 

“We went over greetings, feelings and their letter pronunciations, I tried sticking to the basics that the kids would know,” she stated. “I’m not sure how many of my students were able to watch it but I did see that it was being posted to the [QCT] Facebook page. I’ve been able to catch some of the parents in passing, and even some of the staff members, who have watched the videos and they really appreciate them and greet me in Lushootseed, so having that feedback is heartwarming for sure.” 

Getting creative during the coronavirus outbreak,  Natosha put a little extra pizzazz into her videos by incorporating other Indigenous lifeways into her lessons. For example, when participating in cultural activities as a family, such as harvesting berries, cedar or seafood, Natosha reached for her phone, hit record and watched the magic unfold.

“It’s natural for me to take my kids out with me and pass that knowledge onto them,” said Natosha. “We’ve harvested berries and harvested cedar, we also went out and harvested fireweed. A big part of what I’m teaching about is harvesting and making medicines. Involving my own kids was an important part for me because kids respond well to other kids learning. My daughter, Lizzy, she’s the one that I put on the spot the most. That’s because she’s the closest in age to those kids at TELA. She’s six years old, so it’s easy for me to say, ‘hey Lizzy, let’s record this, or let’s go for a walk and I’m going to ask you these questions.”   

One visit to the Tulalip Lushootseed Facebook page and you’ll see a charismatic Tulalip youth effortlessly leading and narrating videos in the official language of her ancestors. Lizzy, her siblings, as well as the children of language warrior Michelle Myles, have unofficially become the new faces of the verb-based language and many tune-in weekly to catch their adventures with Lushootseed.

“She’s really taken on the role of teaching without fully understanding it. I’ve taken Lizzy out fishing and she did an entire fishing video. That video was probably the one that got the most attention, over 2,000 views. The viewers got to hear everything through her voice and it was repetitive so that you can easily learn from it. We want to take her out to dig clams and have her retell her great, great, great grandma Lizzy’s clam digging story, that’s one of the most popular stories that Lizzy Krise told. Lizzy Mae is actually named after Lizzy Krise. Grandma Lizzy is the one that we base a lot of our language after, we utilize everything that she passed on to us. She’s one of the people that we model a lot after, along with Martha Lamont. Lizzy will retell her grandma’s story through her own experience of clam digging for the first time. So, really just connecting it to what kids will respond to, what the kids will find interesting.”

In addition to the lessons for tribal youth and the students at TELA and QCT, the Language Warriors also teach a college-credit course for those looking to enhance their Lushootseed skills.

“We normally have community college classes this time of year, but with COVID we can’t do those,” expressed Michele. “So Natosha Gobin, Michelle Myles and I started an online Intro to Lushootseed class through Zoom. We had sixty-four participants and it was a seven-week course. We had Tribal members, other Natives, students from previous years, teachers, a good mix of everybody.” 

We are currently living in an era where the Lushootseed language revitalization revolution is in full effect. And just like in previous eras, such as forced assimilation, the Tulalips are taking it upon themselves to ensure the language and the culture prevails long past the present threat of the global COVID pandemic. 

“We hope that our community can look at these videos that we create and the online learning opportunity as a means for them to learn at their own pace during these difficult times,” said Natosha. “I think that’s probably the biggest thing, we want to reach our community by whatever means necessary. We’ll provide the tools, we just really want to encourage our community to utilize them.”

“At first, I thought nobody’s going to watch this, because people are at home and COVID is happening,” admits Michele. “But then everybody started sending in messages asking if we can do certain lessons or stories because a lot of parents are doing the homeschool thing. We have people telling us that when they go out, their child is naming the colors and shapes they see, and they are singing our songs. It’s important for the kids to learn their language. If you don’t keep hearing it and keep speaking it, then you forget it. By having these videos available, it keeps it fresh in the kid’s mind.”

For more information, please visit the Tulalip Lushootseed Facebook page or contact (360) 716-4499.

Quil Ceda teacher caravan brings positive energy to rez students

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

School is out for all Washington State students for the rest of the academic year because of Governor Inslee’s stay-at-home order aimed at minimizing the coronavirus contagion. It’s been nearly two months since the devoted teachers of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT) experienced the rambunctious youth they are normally responsible for educating on a daily basis. Over that span, both teacher and student have grown quite restless from their powerful bond being swiftly taken away thanks to an unforeseen global pandemic.

  That student-teacher connection was briefly reestablished on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 28, when QCT educators eagerly assembled for a positivity-filled parade through the Tulalip Reservation. Over 70+ vehicles, many of which were decorated with loving messages to their students like ‘We miss you!’, ‘You are amazing’ or ‘Stay safe!’, formed a caravan that was escorted by a bright yellow school bus to the reservation’s many residential neighborhoods.

“We’re Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary and we do everything together,” explained caravan coordinator Toni Otto. She also serves as a family support liaison at QCT. “As most people know, we are a crazy bunch of people who really love our students and there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for them.

“Our biggest message for our kids is that just because we aren’t in school together doesn’t mean we’re not here for you,” continued Toni. “We are very much here for you still and can’t wait to have you all back in school.”

As the caravan maneuvered through the reservation, going from neighborhood to neighborhood, it was greeted by eagerly awaiting students beaming with smiles and continuous waving once they caught glimpses of the familiar faces. Several students made their own signs to proudly display as the caravan rolled through.

“I miss school,” shared 6-year-old Keenan Sicade as he waited curbside for the chance to show his teachers his bright green sign. “I miss my friends, I miss school, and I miss getting my brain bigger.” 

A group of QCT students ranging from kindergarten to 3rd grade, Michael, Mackenzie, Aubrey and Andrea could barely contain their excitement while waiting in their parent’s van to see their teachers. “I miss math and homework!” yelled out one of the super enthusiastic foursome, while another admitted to “missing recess more than anything.”

The teacher-led caravan lasted over 2-hours and created countless memories for everyone involved. From hand written messages on vehicle windows ranging from classroom rosters, like that of Ms. Cawley and Miss Breezy, to Lushootseed inspiration, like Ms. Sablan’s hand crafted roof ornament, the QCT educators brought joy, positivity, and air hugs galore to their home-bound students.

“My heart is bursting!” exclaimed Tony after the caravan’s conclusion. “We have the most energetic, dedicated, and loving staff. Thank you to everyone for making this a great success.

“Seeing our students and their families is exactly the medicine we all needed. As professionals who work in the education field, we need our students. Would we rather have them in our classrooms and in our school?  Absolutely!  Does this minor substitution help to ease the heartache of not being able to have them with us?  Totally! I believe we made memories today that will last a lifetime in our hearts as well as our students’ hearts.”

Veteran homeschooler Angela Davis shares tips for parents during coronavirus closures

By Micheal Rios

Two quick stats. First, at least 124,000 public and private schools in the United States have closed due to coronavirus concerns. Second, approximately 55 million students are impacted by these widespread school closures. The stark reality for many families is they are left struggling to cope with an unprecedented global pandemic while being responsible for their now home-bound children’s education.

Tulalip tribal member Angela Davis understands the complexities involved with homeschooling children. Her three children 15-year-old Samara, 14-year-old Samuel and 12-year-old Abigail have been homeschooled their entire life. Together with her spouse, Angela and John Davis III have a system that is proven to be effective and successful. 

While residing on the Tulalip Reservation, their children attend school from the comforts of home. In fact, inside the Davis residence is a dedicated education room with three desks, a white board, projector, and a book shelf full of textbooks and miscellaneous reading material. 

Angela was gracious enough to do an interview with Tulalip News. What follows is a condensed transcription of that interview in which the veteran homeschooler offers a number of tips and insights for parents new to the homeschool scene. 

SYS: Your three children have only been homeschooled. What prompted you and your husband to opt for this?

Angela: Our number one priority is the safety of our children. The world has changed from when we were kids. We might have had our bullies at school, but for the most part we weren’t exposed to too much. Today, students are exposed to so many different situations that take away from enjoying life and learning. Unfortunately, when it comes to bullying at school (whether it is from another student or a teacher/staff) it seems like it is getting more and more difficult for the school to take action and rectify the situation. From many aspects, it is unfortunate our tribal kids have to deal with that.

SYS: From your experience, what are some of the best benefits to having your children learn from home?

Angela: A big benefit is allowing your children to learn more than what the public school curriculum provides. As we have seen, there is a lot of misinformation about history and so many other things being taught. By homeschooling we get to choose how information is given to our children, meaning there is just not one perspective given, but many. Our children take in multiple perspectives and then can make an educated decision on what they choose to believe.

SYS: Do you find this kind of learning flexible to more out of the classroom teaching? 

Angela: Yes, we do. Flexibility is another added benefit. For example, if we wanted to go on a field trip to learn about a particular subject we can go at any time. If we have appointments during the day, we can just catch up later or the following day. If we wanted to or needed to travel we could take homeschooling with us. Balancing life and learning for each family’s situation is doable once you find a comfortable structure.

SYS: Structure and adhering to a consistent schedule have to be critical to long-term success, right?  

Angela: Absolutely. Although the structure of a schedule is dependent on each family’s situation and what works best for them. We tend to believe getting up early and starting school at a regular time is most effective for consistency. Sticking to this kind of daily structure prepares children to become productive adults who enter the workforce or start their own business. 

SYS: For parents with multiple children, like yourself, there might be a tendency to feel like you have to divide up your time unequally. How do you deal with that?

Angela: We focus on the fact that our children at home receive more one-on-one attention than they would in a public school setting. If you have a class of 25 students versus a class of 3 students, the attention of the teacher is not divided nearly as much. Plus, we are able to spend more time with a child that is struggling, while the other two continue to do their work.

If a family has children that are more separated in age, they may need to get a little more creative on who gets the “teachers” attention and when. Also, the older children can help their siblings with subjects as needed, so it can become a family effort to educate each other. 

SYS: How do you decide which curriculum to teach? Is there a guide you follow day by day or week by week?

Angela: The good news is that it is up to the parents to choose. There are many options to choose from. I have learned that you have to consider two things: 1.) The parents’ teaching style and 2.) The child’s learning style. 

I suggest parents do some research to figure out what style works best for them and how they learn the best. Parents also need to go in with the understanding that what they first choose might not work the best for them or only certain parts of it might work and certain parts don’t. They can change to a different curriculum at any time. 

We’ve alternated between textbooks, online programs, using the school district’s K-12 program, and even mixing multiple sources. It really is up to the parent as long as they are teaching the core subjects.

SYS: When you get stuck or need assistance with a certain subject, either learning it yourself or teaching it, what do you do?

Angela: There are Support Groups and Co-Ops located in each county that homeschoolers can be a part of that help each other with certain subjects and events. I recommend: https://washhomeschool.org/homeschooling/support-groups-co-ops/  and Homeschool Support Group 6

SYS: Besides the book schooling, do you make learning other skills like art, craft making or instruments part of the typical routine?

Angela: Yes, we do. It is important to balance book work with hands-on skills and activities to help keep the kids engaged. This way they are exposed to new skills that may turn into their passion. Our family stresses the need to learn hands-on skills so that they will always have something to fall back on if they are having difficulties in the workforce. We also explain that with these skills, they may be able to start their own businesses and be self-sufficient. 

SYS: What activities or skills have you found your kids most engage in?

Angela: All types really. We’ve had them dabble in piano lessons, singing, computer programming, and making clothes with a sewing machine. All three have developed their own personal style when it comes to traditional arts and crafts. They’ve made beaded hoop earrings, traditional hand drums, and look forward to submitting their creations in various categories at the Tribe’s annual art festival. 

SYS: What resources do you look to or recommend for families who are struggling with homeschooling?

Angela: There are so many resources available, but my first go to is researching online at the Washington Homeschool Organization (WHO). They provide a lot of information in one place, such as the laws for the state, training for the parents, and many other resources. https://washhomeschool.org/homeschooling/the-law/

Some other websites to help with determining what system works best for your family would be curriculum reviews and teaching methods:


https://thebestschools.org/magazine/homeschool-style-right/  and


SYS: Last question. Has the current Coronavirus crisis affected your kids’ ability to be educated in any way? And have you added the global impacts of COVID-19 into their curriculum?

Angela: The Coronavirus crisis has not affected my kids’ ability to be educated in any way. Our curriculum is mostly textbook based so we have all the items we need at home, and if we were completely online, that would not have affected us either. 

Our normal teachings include real world and current events in which my children are very aware of what is going on in our Tulalip community, state, country and even globally. This information is incorporated as part of our curriculum on a daily basis. 

The biggest impact that this crisis has had on my children is not being able to go out freely as before, whether if it was to a field trip or a community event, or simply visiting their grandparents and family. Fortunately, we have technology that still allows for us to connect and continue to learn. 

Schools are closed, but education continues with Chromebooks

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

All schools are closed in Washington State for at least another month, as part of a state-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s been over three weeks since students in the Marysville School District (MSD) have been in their classrooms and received formal education from their teachers.

While schools will remain closed for the foreseeable future, education must continue. That is why the dedicated staff and educators of MSD are doing their part to bring learning opportunities into the home of every MSD student household.

“Our main purpose is to make sure our students receive a Chromebook to continue their education even though they aren’t attending school right now,” explained MSD Superintendent Jason Thompson. “We also have an assortment of school supplies, hygiene kits and grade-level activity packets for kids to work on. It’s so important to make sure our kids are still learning every day.”

During the fourth week of March, the District held two drive-up, K-5 Chromebook checkouts for its elementary students. Because sixth graders on up to high school seniors were already assigned Chromebooks earlier in the school year, these drive-up style distributions were only for households with Kindergarten through fifth grade students. 

“These two distribution events took a lot of work to put together, but knowing our students will benefit immensely makes it all worth it,” said assistant superintendent Scott Beebe. “With these Chromebooks our students will now be able to video chat with their teachers and fellow students. It’s a big undertaking, but the results will be amazing.” 

Each Chromebook was individually inspected by tech-savvy personnel to ensure they were updated with the right software and programs to meet students’ needs for the new normal: distance-learning. 

On Thursday, March 26 the second Chromebook checkout occurred at the MSD’s Service Center. Originally slated to begin at 2:00 p.m., vehicles started to line-up much earlier with concerned parents who worried about a limited supply and wanted to make sure their student received a coveted Chromebook. As cars continued to show, the line got longer and longer. At one point the line of vehicles spanned multiple city blocks, running down both State and Cedar Streets.

From young Kindergartners to veteran 5th graders, many students were ecstatic to see their teachers and school staff as their parents drove them through the checkout process. In their excitement, several kids were witnessed unbuckling themselves and nearly climbing out their backseat window to wave and say hello to their favorite teacher. 

The majority of Tulalip K-12 students attend schools within Maryville School District. Tribal member parents and kids were among those who waited upwards of 90-minutes to checkout a Chromebook. They could also take advantage of the additional school supplies and in-demand hygiene kits being offered.

“We waited in line for a strong hour-and-a-half to get our boys a Chromebook,” said Carlos Ancheta. “Stores are low on supplies right now, so getting these basic essentials for school and hygiene will come in handy.”

Not every household has a home computer, setup for video chatting, and access to the internet or WIFI. During checkout if a parent submitted paperwork for their student saying they did not have internet access at home, then they received a Chromebook with built in cellular data provided by Sprint. By dispersing these specific Chromebooks to MSD students the opportunity gap normally created by lack of internet access has been filled.

“We’re really blessed to have a school district that cares so much about our kids,” shared Sheena Robinson after her two sons got their Chromebook and supplies. “We don’t have a computer or the internet at home, so this makes a world of difference for them. They’ll be able to get online for classes through Zoom, conferences with their teachers, and websites they can practice their reading and math. I’m looking forward to them getting back to learning.”

After completion of both drive-up checkouts, Marysville School District staff distributed over 1,000 Chromebooks to their elementary-aged families. Students also received an assortment of school supplies and hygiene kits to reduce the financial burden their families may be going through during this unprecedented school closure. Getting back to a daily routine of these cheerful kids continuing their education can provide a critical sense of stability in these uncertain times.

Marysville School District food distribution

Below are Marysville School District food distribution routes and times, for the Quil Ceda Tulalip area, for delivering food (breakfast and lunch) to students. Matt Remle, Marysville Pilchuck High School Native Liaison, will be on the Quil-Ceda Tulalip route. Matt and fellow volunteers delivered over 3,500 meals on Monday, March 23.

Visit www.msd25.org for more information.

Grab and go meals from the bus locations will continue to be at no cost and for all youth ages 1-18 and those enrolled in the 18-21-year program.

Quil Ceda Tulalip Area

Route: 21

  • 10:18 AM 8208 MARINE DR NW
  • 10:19 AM MARINE DR NW @ 83RD PL NW
  • 10:28 AM MARINE DR NW @ 115TH ST NW
  • 10:33 AM 12015 MARINE DR NW – PORT SUSAN
  • 10:38 AM MARINE DR NW @ 126TH ST NW
  • 10:46 AM 135TH PL NW @ MARINE DR NW
  • 10:50 AM 135TH PL NW @ MARINE DR NW
  • 10:51 AM 12702 MARINE DR NW
  • 10:52 AM 12610 MARINE DR NW
  • 10:57 AM 12518 MARINE DR NW
  • 10:58 AM 11710 MARINE DR NW
  • 11:02 AM MARINE DR NW @ 115TH ST NW
  • 11:14 AM 8226 MARINE DR NW
  • 11:40 AM 77TH PL NW @ 42ND DR NW
  • 11:44 AM 42ND DR NW @ 78TH PL NW
  • 12:18 PM 7330 LARRY PRICE LP RD

Route: 56

  • 10:10 AM 140TH ST NW @ 76TH AVE NW
  • 10:15 AM 140TH ST NW @ 63RD DR NW
  • 10:15 AM 140TH ST NW @ 58TH AVE NW
  • 10:20 AM 140TH ST NW @ 52ND AVE NW
  • 10:21 AM 4500 140TH ST NW
  • 10:28 AM 138TH ST NW@ 36TH DR NW
  • 10:35 AM 3520 140TH ST NW
  • 10:39 AM 140TH ST NW @ 34TH AVE NW
  • 10:43 AM 3018 140TH ST NW
  • 10:51 AM 12TH AVE NW @ 134TH ST NW
  • 10:56 AM 13218 12TH AVE NW
  • 11:01 AM 13030 12TH AVE NW
  • 11:06 AM 12TH AVE NW @ 130TH ST NW
  • 11:15 AM 12TH AVE NW@128TH ST NW
  • 11:20 AM 12616 12TH AVE NW
  • 11:24 AM 12512 12TH AVE NW
  • 11:29 AM 908 124TH PL NW
  • 11:33 AM 8TH DR NW @ 125TH PL NW
  • 11:42 AM 129TH PL NW @ 8TH DR NW
  • 11:46 AM 8TH DR NW @ 131ST ST NW
  • 11:54 AM 131ST ST NW @ 10TH AVE NW

Route: 74

  • 10:24 AM 22ND DR NE@22ND DR NE
  • 10:29 AM 22ND DR NE @ 21ST DR NE
  • 10:36 AM 21ST DR NE @ 67TH PL NE
  • 10:40 AM 21ST DR NE @ STURGEON DR
  • 10:45 AM 65TH ST NE @ 20TH DR NE
  • 10:58 AM 20TH DR NE @ 66TH PL NE
  • 11:05 AM 19TH DR NE@20TH DR NE
  • 11:12 AM 19TH DR NE @ 70TH PL NE
  • 11:22 AM 72ND ST NE@19TH AVE NE
  • 11:31 AM 6832/6828 19TH AVE NE
  • 11:37 AM MARINE DR NE @ 14TH AVE NE
  • 11:38 AM 905 MARINE DR NE
  • 11:39 AM MARINE DR NE @ 7TH AVE NE
  • 11:45 AM MARINE DR NE @ 2ND AVE NE
  • 11:50 AM 715 MARINE DR NW
  • 11:51 AM 4431 PRIEST POINT DR NW
  • 12:19 PM 4425 MERIDIAN AVE N
  • 12:25 PM 928 MARINE DR NE
  • 12:26 PM 1118 MARINE DR NE
  • 12:26 PM 1718 MARINE DR NE
  • 12:27 PM MARINE DR NE @ 23RD AVE NE

Route: 92

  • 10:14 AM 5710 MERIDIAN AVE N
  • 10:19 AM 5802 MERIDIAN AVE N
  • 10:19 AM 5933 MERIDIAN AVE N
  • 10:24 AM 60TH ST NW@6TH AVE NW
  • 10:25 AM 6TH AVE NW @ 57TH PL NW
  • 10:25 AM 6TH AVE NW @ 56TH ST NW
  • 10:26 AM 5408 6TH AVE NW
  • 10:31 AM 5028 67TH AVE NW
  • 10:32 AM 905 MARINE DR NW
  • 10:37 AM MARINE DR NW @ 56TH ST NW
  • 10:37 AM MARINE DR NW @ 62ND ST NW
  • 11:30 AM 5916 MISSION BEACH RD
  • 11:34 AM 3213 MISSION BEACH DR
  • 11:35 AM 3409 MISSION BEACH DR
  • 12:08 PM MARINE DR NW @ 12TH AVE NW
  • 12:14 PM 905 MARINE DR
  • 12:14 PM 600 MARINE DR NW
  • 12:15 PM 320 MARINE DR NW
  • 12:16 PM 918 MARINE DR NE
  • 12:23 PM MARINE DR NE @ 23RD AVE NE

Route: 102

  • 10:00 AM 4TH ST @ QUINN AVE
  • 10:00 AM 1926 4TH ST
  • 10:04 AM 4724 64TH ST NE
  • 10:12 AM 1909 3RD ST
  • 10:18 AM 2ND ST @ ALDER AVE
  • 10:23 AM 2ND ST @ QUINN AVE
  • 10:29 AM 2ND ST @ UNION AVE
  • 10:40 AM 4922 61ST ST NE
  • 10:44 AM 61ST ST NE @ 51ST AVE NE
  • 10:50 AM 61ST ST NE @ 52ND AVE NE
  • 10:56 AM 61ST ST NE @ 54TH AVE NE
  • 11:04 AM 61ST ST NE @ 54TH DR NE
  • 11:09 AM 4919 61ST ST NE


  • 11:05 AM 27TH AVE NE @ 81ST ST NE
  • 11:19 AM 7911 WATER WORKS RD
  • 11:24 AM 3006 TURK DR
  • 11:26 AM TURK DR @ 26TH AVE NW
  • 11:30 AM 2228 TURK DR
  • 11:32 AM TURK DR @ 16TH AVE NW
  • 11:32 AM TURK DR@ 82ND ST NW
  • 11:32 AM 8325 TURK DR
  • 11:33 AM 8727 TURK DR
  • 11:39 AM TURK DR @ TURK RD
  • 11:40 AM TURK DR@ 82ND ST NW
  • 11:41 AM TURK DR@21ST AVE NW
  • 11:53 AM WATER WORKS RD @ 86TH ST NW
  • 11:58 AM 9131 WATER WORKS RD
  • 12:01 PM 9530 WATER WORKS RD
  • 12:01 PM 9430 WATER WORKS RD
  • 12:25 PM 27TH AVE NE @ 81ST ST NE
  • 12:25 PM 8326 27TH AVE NE
  • 12:25 PM 8502 27TH AVE NE
  • 12:26 PM 2909 QUILCEDA WY/ 88TH ST NE

Tulalip TVTC constructs 13 tiny homes for Low Income Housing Institute

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Beep. Beep. Beep. The high-pitched sound of a truck backing up echoed throughout the Tulalip TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC) property on the morning of Thursday, March 12. The current group of enrolled TVTC students watched, with bright smiles on their faces and coffees in hand, while the first of thirteen tiny houses were lifted effortlessly onto the back of a flat-bed truck, simply by the command of a few controls that were located on the side of the vehicle.

A longtime partnership between the Tulalip Tribes, TVTC and the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), a non-profit based out of Seattle, led to the distribution of the thirteen, 120-square foot homes, which will be set up in various tiny home communities throughout the greater Seattle area. Originally making local headlines two years ago, LIHI and Tribal representatives celebrated a momentous occasion when three TVTC tiny houses were established in the Georgetown Tiny House Village to provide shelter to people without a place to call home. 

But the partnership was intact years prior to the 2017 Georgetown celebration when LIHI originally commissioned tiny homes from the training center in 2015, which in turn supplied TVTC students with lumber, tools and resources to complete the 16-week hands-on construction course. TVTC is offered to tribal members from all nations and their spouses. In addition to building the tiny homes, the students earn a number of certifications by learning skills that can be applied in various well-paying fields of the construction trade including carpentry, cementing, plumbing, and electrical and mechanical work. 

“Three groups of students built these,” explained TVTC Instructor Mark Newland about the thirteen tiny homes. “Typically you build four a term. It’s really gratifying, especially after you go to meetings and talk to the people, many times it’s females with young children, who have gone from living in tents to moving into one of these tiny houses where you can lock the door, have privacy, get ready for job interviews, have some security, and be able to sleep at night out of the wind, out of the cold.”

Constructing a tiny home has easily become a main attraction of the TVTC course. Seeing the fruits of their hard, manual labor put to use in a good way shows the students the real life impact their two hands can create. 

Although this group of students did not construct this particular set of tiny houses, they showed a sense of pride as the first tiny home was expedited away to its new homeowners. The students exchanged sentiments along the lines of ‘that was pretty cool’, knowing that the work of previous TVTC craftsmen are aiding people in need of shelter and/or security, especially at a time when social distancing and seclusion is being stressed upon the citizens of Washington State, which includes over 20,000 people without a place of residence.

“The best thing, and the thing I am most excited about, is that these homes are going to be used right away,” Mark said. “All of the students are very proud of the tiny homes, it gives them a real sense of understanding in the importance of giving back. There’s a lot of ideas and speculation about people who are on the street, but it’s found that if they have homes first, then they can work on their other issues.”

Finishing their coffee and tightening their tool belts, the current TVTC students followed their teachers indoors for another full day of construction instruction with a refreshed and rejuvenated perspective on the effects of their new trade. Ultimately, the Tribe’s goal is to have a tiny home community at Tulalip to help Tribal individuals and families get back on their feet, with TVTC students constructing the homes for the entire project. 

“This group here is currently working on a bigger model of tiny houses that are going to Sand Point, by Lake Washington,” Mark explained. “These are much larger and sophisticated modules. The next group will be the first to work on nice-sized tiny homes right here for Tulalip – and that’s what we’re really looking forward to. It’s an awesome opportunity for me to work on this project because this is where I live too. I see a lot of people that need shelter, and Tulalip is putting homes first and we’re happy to be a part of it.”

For further details regarding the TVTC program, please contact TERO at (360) 716-4747.

Teaching Lushootseed to future Tulalip

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“This is my third year with Lushootseed and I’m now realizing how much healing that the kids are getting from learning the language,” said Tulalip Lushootseed Language Instructor, Oceana Alday. “It’s beautiful to watch because I don’t think they realize that they are ones who are revitalizing the language that our ancestors once spoke.”

For nearly three generations, the Lushootseed Language department has been on a mission to reintroduce the ancestral Coast Salish language back into lifeways of modern day Tulalip. Recently the program made local headlines by helping bring back Lushootseed classes to Marysville-Pilchuck High School (MP) and also instructing those classes. This news is especially important for Tulalip students who wish to continue studying the vernacular of their people. Most present day Tulalip youth began their educational journey with Lushootseed many years ago, around the ages of 3 and 4-years-old at the Tulalip Montessori. 

During the early 1990’s, a seed was planted in the name of cultural revitalization when the development of the Lushootseed Language department came to fruition. With only two staff members initially, Toby Langen and Hank Gobin, the department set out to build a foundation by teaching their community the words, phrases and pronunciation of the language that Snohomish people spoke since the beginning of time. After colonization, forced assimilation and the years of generational trauma that followed, the cultural resurgence appeared to be much needed within the Tulalip community and ever since, the language has served as a great source of medicine for the people.

“To me, the language means that we are speaking what our ancestors used to speak. We are bringing it back,” said Tulalip Lushootseed Program Manager, Michele Balagot. “The program was developed in 1993 and we’ve taught it in schools since. It was one class when they first started teaching. We’ve grown from four teachers and six classes to fourteen language teachers and well over thirty classes; two at MP, two at Heritage, two college level classes. There are four or five classes at Quil Ceda Tulalip [Elementary], and  we teach fourteen, birth-to-three classrooms and ten preschool classrooms at the academy.”

When the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA) first opened in 2015, the Lushootseed Language classes resumed for most of the Montessori and ECEAP students. However, over time, as both programs continued to grow, the demand for more language within the classroom rose quickly and resulted in the hiring of new Lushootseed instructors, who are also commonly referred to as Language Warriors.

“We thought we should be teaching them young because this is when they are developing their brains,” Michele explained. “If they start hearing Lushootseed from the beginning of their education, they’ll learn the sounds and know some of the words. On the preschool side, we are focused on teaching them sentences so when they get to elementary school, they can work more on phrases. And in junior high and high school, they’ll be able to have full conversations.”

Perhaps due to the success of the preschool age classes, or simply a desire to ensure the language is embedded into the young minds of future Tulalip leaders, TELA joined forces with the language department in 2017 to implement a new component into their curriculum known as language immersion. Today, every TELA student receives daily language lessons each morning, Monday through Thursday, and for the first time that includes the birth-to-three age group. 

“It’s pretty exciting working with the birth-to-three level,” said Language Warrior, Thomas Williams. “It’s amazing seeing them express what they’ve learned. I’ll hold up a flash card and they’ll quickly respond with the word in Lushootseed. The last couple of weeks we’ve been doing traditional stories. Usually, I go in and sing a handful of songs with them. But we tried something a little more progressive for their age group where we get them to listen to a story. We did a felt board story and for that age, it took two weeks introducing them to the characters with flash cards and mini games. They’ve already memorized the characters. And going through the stories, they are starting to express what the characters are doing and what’s going to happen to them by the end of the story, all in the language.”

While the youngest tribal members get more acquainted with the basics of the verb-based language, the big kids on the preschool side of the academy fine-tune what they’ve learned.  By participating in a language warm-up exercise at the start of each class, they use flashcards to identify a number of animals and marine life before starting their daily lesson complete with songs, stories and games conducted entirely in Lushootseed. 

“We did Lushootseed today,” exclaimed TELA Student, Anastasia Clower. “We learned the words for octopuses, crabs, clams, sea lions. My favorite Lushootseed word is bəsqʷ, which means crab. I don’t like to eat bəsqʷ, but they are still really cool. I’m going to the beach on my birthday and I’m going to look for some bəsqʷ and I’m going to try to catch a sʔuladxʷ (salmon) too. I can’t wait!”

“I know sup̓qs and bəsqʷ, those mean seal and crab!” enthusiastically added fellow TELA student, Elaina Luquin. “I also know Lushootseed songs, not all of them but a lot of them. I sing them at my home too. My mom has the story about the bəsqʷ and we sing it together. I really like it a lot.”

Although still early in the process of the language immersion project, hearing Lushootseed from tribal youth at such young age is incredible. Paired with the Academy’s monthly culture day, which the language department frequently assists with, tribal students are building up a strong sense of pride in their Coast Salish identity and heritage. 

“I’m just so grateful that our teachers and our children are so in love with the culture and the language; we just keep doing the work and it keeps growing,” said TELA Director Sheryl Fryberg at a recent culture day event.

By offering classes to the Academy, the language department is setting the stage for their next generation of Tribal leaders. By partnering with TELA and participating in the language immersion curriculum this is the first time, since perhaps the pre-colonial era, that Lushootseed will be present during multiple stages of a young sduhubš life’s journey, beginning at birth and ideally extending to their college years and beyond.

“We are building a foundation for future speakers,” expressed Lushootseed Language Warrior, Lois Landgrebe. “It makes me feel hopeful when we get them to reply first in Lushootseed instead of in English. It can be a slow process, but it’s bringing our Native language forward in their comprehension, when that happens its promising.”

  The ultimate goal for the department is to have a future generation of language warriors who can speak Lushootseed fluently, and will do their part to ensure the language never dies. Therefore, the Lushootseed department would like to send out a friendly challenge for all Tulalip community members to speak Lushootseed to the youth as often as possible.  

“It’s a very hard language to learn but it’s rewarding to hear the students speaking it,” Michele stated. “It’s very important not only for us adults, but for the kids to carry it on so we don’t lose it. We encourage everybody, when you see the kids, to speak to them in Lushootseed, so they know they can practice the language whenever they wish and that it’s not only meant to be used for school. Greet them in the language of our people and I know you’ll be surprised to hear their response.”

For more information, please contact the Tulalip Lushootseed Language department at (360) 716-4499 or visit their website www.TulalipLushootseed.com