Summertime cultural fun at Fish Camp

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

At the heart of the Salish Sea lies an island that shares a special connection to the Snohomish people. For centuries, Tulalip’s ancestors journeyed to the San Juan Islands every summer, setting up camp on what is known today as Lopez Island. Aside from exploring Lopez and it’s many surrounding islands, the Snohomish would fish and gather clams, crab, mussels, salmon and shrimp for their families in preparation for winter.

Fifteen local youth embarked on a camping excursion they may never forget during the week of July 15-20. Upon arriving to Lopez Island, by way of Washington State ferry, the youth experienced summer as their ancestors once had. By disconnecting from the modern world, the campers created new friendships with other young tribal members as well as a bond with the sacred waters. The kids set up camp at the south end of the island on a Tulalip owned private beach overlooking Watmough Bay. During their visit they learned about marine life, the history of their people and the many resources the island and waters have to offer.

“The kids don’t always have that opportunity to get out into nature,” explains Tulalip Natural Resources Outreach and Education Coordinator, Kelly Finley. “We want to provide a safe and fun way for them to get out there and see different parts of what is essentially tribal land. It’s important they take part in camps like these to experience the outdoors and the traditions of their people.” 

Now in its second year, Fish Camp is open to local youth and is hosted by the Tribe’s Natural Resources department. The idea was originally inspired by Tulalip’s annual Mountain Camp, where young adults of the community spend a week at the Skykomish watershed learning about the natural world and how their people have hunted, gathered and performed spiritual work in the mountains since time immemorial. Fish Camp teaches the pre-teens another aspect of Northwest tribal lifeways, and both camps provide a perfect opportunity for the youth to not only learn about, but to also exercise their treaty rights. 

“I think it’s important our youth experience Fish Camp on Lopez Island because that’s where our ancestors went,” expressed Michael Lotan, Tulalip tribal member and Fish Camp counselor. “They would dry clams out there and they would gather food for the upcoming winter season. We visited two sacred sites. One had really big middens, or shells and charcoal that proved our ancestors were once there. We also went to Watmough Bay and learned about all of the archeology sites that were there. We went to a couple beaches and looked for some agates and we jumped off the Tulalip dock, which was awesome. We were running and jumping as far as we could.”

The kids were kept busy throughout the entire week, getting a first-hand look at Coast Salish traditions. A number of new activities were added this year including a chance to pull the Tribe’s traditional cedar dugout canoe, Big Brother. Skippered by Tulalip Fish and Wildlife Director Jason Gobin, the young adults paddled through the Salish waters, further strengthening the connection between the future generations and those ancestors who pulled in the same waterways many generations ago.

“It made my heart lift up seeing all you guys out there,” said Jason. “It reminded me of when we were all kids, running around all wild, it was a good time. This camp is great, the kids love it and it’s something we could always continue to build on.”

Another highlight of Fish Camp is the traditional clambake. Prepared by Tulalip tribal member Tony Hatch, the campers were treated to a delicious meal of salmon and shellfish, which they caught locally with seine nets and prepared near the campsite. Tribal member Cary Williams also made the journey to Lopez to teach the youth how to carve fish sticks, which were traditionally used to cook salmon fireside. 

“We learned how to carve, we pulled canoe and we had a good time up there,” stated young Tribal member, Kane Hots. “We toured a few archeological sites. The rest of the time we were able to hang out with each other and go swimming. My favorite part was swimming because it’s summertime, and carving too. It was great to learn about our ancestors, about their teachings and how they were raised.”

At the end of a culture and fun-filled week, the youth packed up camp and journeyed back to Tulalip where a celebration with their families took place. The kids enjoyed lunch after reuniting with their relatives and also received a number of gifts from Natural Resources including a certification of achievement, Fish Camp t-shirts and a blanket.

“It was a really good experience,” said Fish Camper and Navajo/Sioux tribal member, Mahina Curley. “The best part I think was the fact we were on a real cedar canoe. In my culture, we don’t have big bodies of water so that was really new to me. The fish on the stick seemed a little weird to me at first because we usually just fry it and eat it. I never had it on a stick before, but it was delicious. The clams and shrimp were really tasty and I liked learning about all the sacred places as well. It was a lot of fun, learning about another tribe was really cool. I definitely recommend it.”

After another successful year at Fish Camp, Natural Resources is currently gearing up to host the 5th annual Youth Mountain Camp on August 5-10. For more information, please contact the Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Department at (360) 716-4617.

Imagine Children’s Museum Offers Free Museum Memberships to Tulalip Tribal Members


Family Extravaganza Memberships allow for a year of unlimited visits for the whole family

Everett, WA – Imagine Children’s Museum announces a program to provide free Family Extravaganza Museum Memberships to enrolled Tulalip tribal members with a child age 12 or below. Funded by Tulalip Tribes Charitable Funds, the membership program’s goal is to provide enrichment opportunities to Tulalip families.


The membership includes unlimited visits for two adults, all children in the household and one extra adult per visit. It also includes five one-time admissions, free and reduced admissions at select museums throughout the U.S. and Canada, Museum store member discounts and discounts on Imagine’s classes, camps and birthday parties. Limited quantities of memberships are available on a first come, first served basis. At least one household member must present tribal I.D. when applying for this Museum membership.


“Imagine is honored to have the opportunity to provide these memberships to Tulalip families. It is really special that the memberships allow other adults to visit with the families so that aunties and grandmas can join in the fun,” said Jen Garcia, Imagine’s Visitor Services Manager. “The feedback has been great. Parents can’t believe they get to visit the Museum for free for an entire year!”


For information on the benefits of a Family Extravaganza Membership visit
https://www.imaginecm.org/membership-gift-certificates/extravaganza-membership/ . Tulalip tribal members who would like to sign up for a membership can contact Quinn Schell at (425) 258-1006, Ext. 1026 or QuinnS@ImagineCM.org


ABOUT IMAGINE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
Imagine Children’s Museum (Imagine) began in 1993 as the result of a grassroots effort to give children and families a place to play and learn in Snohomish County. Now we serve more than 251,000 people annually through the Museum and outreach programs. Imagine serves children ages 1-12 and their caregivers. The Museum is located on the corner of Wall and Hoyt Streets in downtown Everett. For hours and admission information, visit www.ImagineCM.org or call (425) 258-1006.

TELA students learn Tulalip traditions from local tribal youth

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Not so many generations ago, Tulalip youth were once punished for speaking their language and practicing their traditions at boarding schools that were established to erase Native culture by the United States government. Today, the young people of Tulalip are not only proudly drumming and dancing at school, but also passing that knowledge down to the next generation. 

The morning of July 12 marked the tenth Cultural Day celebration of the year at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA). The academy introduced the monthly half-an-hour gathering to their students in October 2018, and since then the students have been engaging in a number of activities, learning about the lifeways of the Tulalip people.

Upon joining forces with the Lushootseed language department, TELA also successfully implemented a language immersion component into their curriculum. Lushootseed teachers frequently visit the classrooms to share stories, sing songs and speak the language directly to the students. 

“I believe that our children need to know from the youngest ages who they are,” says Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy Director, Sheryl Fryberg. “Research says, if they are totally connected to who they are as birth to five children, they’re going to be more successful in their lifetime because they have that solid sense of self.”

Over the years the Tulalip Tribes has made strong efforts incorporating cultural teachings at each academic level, partnering with the Marysville School District to ensure Tribal students know about their art, food, history, language, sovereignty and traditions. So as the kids make their way through their educational journey, they will continue building upon the vision their ancestors set forth seven generations prior. And the work TELA is doing is helping strengthen that bond between each student and their culture, providing a strong foundation for the future leaders. 

Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT) is one of the schools teaching their students about Tulalip’s rich history and heritage. Under Cultural Specialist Chelsea Craig, the school has established a morning assembly where the students begin each school day singing and dancing to Tulalip songs, such as the welcome song and the paddle song. QCT also hosts a number of cultural events throughout the year including Billy Frank Jr. week and the 5th grade potlatch. 

Through the development of QCT’s morning assembly, Chelsea cultivated a strong group of young singers and dancers who proudly honor their ancestors by performing at every assembly. Those students, some of whom are now in middle school, continue drumming and dancing at local cultural gatherings and coastal jams, sharing their teachings with their pupils. 

Combining efforts to ensure the youth have a strong connection to their cultural way of life, TELA invited Chelsea and company to lead a culture jam for one of the last Cultural Days of the school year. 

The young TELA students were invited to participate in the jam and enthusiastically followed the lead of the older kids, some picking up a drum and singing while others took to the open dancefloor. For thirty exciting minutes, the kids enjoyed themselves to no end, getting lost in song and dance.

During this interaction, the students learned some important and valuable lessons from their older peers such as to only drum when offering a song, and also how each dance correlates to the message of the songs. By hearing the songs early in life, the kids are more likely to remember the words, the drum patterns and dances, so when the time comes for them to share their knowledge, they too can lead with confidence, respect, gratitude and purpose just like Chelsea’s young group of traditional singers and dancers. 

“It’s such a blessing to be invited today because these students are our future drummers and singers,” Chelsea expresses. “To start making those connections with their next transition in school is something that we’re purposefully doing to start instilling these songs at a very young age. And to see their peers as leaders, that’s important. Our drummers are our leaders and they’re someone to look up to and inspire to be. It warms my heart because some of the little ones here may have never danced before this morning, but they feel it in their heart and feel safe enough in this school to get up and express it a very young age.”

Kids soak up knowledge at a young age and with TELA’s monthly Cultural Days and the Lushootseed language immersion-based curriculum, the newest Tribal members will have a lifelong connection to their heritage and a deeper understanding of their ancestral teachings.

“They all loved it,” Sheryl stated. “I’m just so grateful that our teachers, our children and our visitors are so in love with the culture and the language; we just keep doing the work and it keeps growing.”

The Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy will officially wrap up the school year with the Paddling to Preschool event on August 13, as well as an end of the year celebration on August 16. For more information, please contact TELA at (360) 716-4250. 

Why Study Dentistry?

 

Submitted by Jeanne Steffener, Tulalip Tribes Higher ED

Dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions on earth. “The earliest evidence of dentistry in ancient times dates back to 7000 BC, teeth were found in a Neolithic graveyard located in Pakistan. The teeth have evidence of holes made from primitive dental drills. (1)

“Dentistry is a branch of medicine that is concerned with the study, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral cavity, the maxillofacial area and the adjacent and associated structures. Essentially, dentistry is directed at oral care and dental health maintenance.” (2)

Dental Medicine is a very important component of the primary healthcare professions. This frontline profession is fundamental in disease prevention and intervention while promoting overall wellness in people. Oral health is critical in maintaining our general health, well-being and quality of life. A major portion of dentistry involves the prevention and treatment of tooth decay and gum disease

Dentists  provide services that improve their patients appearance and self-confidence with a wide range of dental procedures. These services promote self-confidence in patients pertaining to their smile. Patients learn about good oral habits through their dentist, promoting good oral health and disease prevention. Dentists interact with people of all ages, cultures and personalities. A dentist’s typical day is both diverse and very interesting.

Dentists in essence are artists. Whether brightening teeth or realigning an entire jaw, the dentist has to have the ability to visualize an aesthetic end result making their patients look their best.

Dentistry offers career opportunities in both the private and public sectors, i.e. private practice, public clinics, teaching, research, public health and administration. A career in dentistry will provide a lifetime of learning on the cutting edge of technology. Careers for women in dentistry are on the forefront as we enter a more inclusive age.

The average income of dentists is in the top 8 percent of U.S. family incomes and the demand for dental care is increasing. With all the marketing, more people are becoming aware of the importance of regular dental care. Geriatric dental care is extremely important for older adults trying to keep their teeth longer. Implant cosmetic surgery is contributes greatly to the growth of this profession.

Dentists usually receive a bachelor’s degree. Then they attend four years of dental school. In addition, dentists have to complete additional qualifications plus continuing education to accommodate a constantly changing field. Dentists also prescribe medications related to patient management. They encourage and promote prevention of oral diseases with regular patient check-ups, cleanings, evaluation and monitoring. 

Other mid-level occupations in the dental field supporting the dentist include registered dental assistants, dental hygienists and dental technicians. Other types of dental positions include dental laboratory technicians and administrative staff. Additional employment opportunities may be available in dental schools, hospitals and companies that manufacture dental prosthetic materials. 

If you have a calling to become a dentist or are interested in other areas of the field, please call the Higher ED staff at 360-716-4888 or email us at highered@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov for assistance with this exciting career opportunity.

Toothworks, https://toothworkscalgary.com/the-history-of-dentistry/

https://carrington.edu/blog/dental/working-in-dentistry-list-of-careers-jobs-in-dental-field/

Native Art Festival highlights range of imagination from emerging Tulalip artists

Taylee Warbus, 1st place – Painting. Sophomore at Lake Stevens High School. “I wanted to put something together that represented a lot of things I really care about and love. I love looking at the stars, which is represented with the night sky. I just love succulents and learning about them, so I added a lot of plants. The clock read 5:17 that represents my birthday. It’s definitely a patchwork painting with lots of colors that shows a variety of my passions.”

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Jacynta Miles, 1st place – Culture. Freshman at Heritage High School. “My paddle represents the layers of life. At the top is the sun, then Earth represented by a beach and the ocean, followed by a mermaid, and then finally the salmon. The colors are bright at the top and get darker the further down you go just like in nature.”

Hundreds of artistically inclined students strolled through the makeshift art gala that was the Don Hatch Youth Center on Thursday, April 18th, for the annual Native American Student Art Festival. Accompanied by their families, friends and teachers, the student-artists ranging from 1st to 12th grade wowed festival attendees and judges with their imaginative creations.

“The Art Festival is an opportunity for each student to express themselves in a positive way. It is the largest community event we have where we get to showcase our Native students,” explained Jessica Bustad, Positive Youth Development Manager. “It’s the pride each of the students have in their artwork, their parents and community members coming together to support our children that make this event so great.”

For more than two decades now, Marysville School District has partnered with the Tulalip Tribes to dedicate an evening to the art scene created by emerging Tulalip artists and other Native students within the district. The Festival gives these young people an opportunity to show off their creative talents to the community, while getting a chance to take home a coveted 1st place ribbon.

Artists were able to win 1st, 2nd or 3rd place, plus honorable mention, in a variety of artistic mediums. Categories included culture, drawing, painting, writing, mixed media, sculpture, digital art, and pure heart. The top four from each grade and category not only received a ceremonial ribbon as recognition for their talents, but a monetary prize as well.

Peyton Gobin, 2nd place – Sculpture. Third
grader. “My inspiration was Chihuly’s art, like his glass blowing. First, I had to cut all around these plastic water bottles to make the swirly parts. Then I painted every single one a different color because if they were all the same color it wouldn’t be artistic.”

“Everyone that attends is a winner by the end of the event because they’ve helped to create unity and teamwork,” said Josh Fryberg, Youth Services Manager. “The Festival turned out amazing. From all of the families sharing a meal together to seeing the looks on each person’s face when they win a raffle to seeing all the art being showcased for all to see.”

This year’s Native Art Festival received a whopping 700+ submissions, with the most popular category being painting. There were many young artists who showed off their diverse talents by submitting artwork in as many categories as they could. Taylee Warbus and Samara Davis were two such overachievers who claimed top honors in multiple categories.

Irista Reeves, 1st place – Sculpture. Ninth grader at Heritage High School. “My sculpture depicts sadness, which is the black layers, and its peeling away to show an underlying happiness, which in my case is my family. When your sad it’s important to remember who are the ones that love you and are truly there for you.”

“It was amazing to see just how talented our Native students are; the new ideas and concepts they come up with every year continue to surprise us judges,” marveled Native Advocate Doug Salinas. “Every kid has the capability to be an artist because their imagination has no limits.”

Native culture and art are often thought of us intrinsically tied together or, in the case of Savannah Black Tomahawk and Lilly Jefferson, they are sewn together. According to their mothers, neither Savannah nor Lilly had ever sewn before prior to creating traditional ribbon skirts to enter in the Festival. By putting a modern twist on a traditional concept, Savannah’s Disney princess skirt and Lilly’s metallic blue with shimmery pink ribbons both received high praise and earned an additional ribbon – 2nd place and 1st place, respectively. 

“As coordinating staff, we look at every single piece of artwork and recognize how much work each student puts in. Some art pieces show real vulnerability in the students, they are showing themselves and expressing their thoughts, feelings and dreams,” added Jessica. “It is also very gratifying when students are already coming to us with their creative ideas for next year’s Art Festival.”

If you missed out on this year’s Student Art Festival, each and every piece of authentic Native American art that received a winning ribbon will be on display at the Hibulb Cultural Center from now – May 5th.

April’s Students of the Month

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

In partnership with Tulalip’s own Education department, the Indigenous Education division of Marysville School District (MSD) recognized four praiseworthy youngsters for continued success in the classroom. Hosted during the MSD school board meeting on April 15, Ily Enick, Tessalyn Napeahi, Sebastian Gomez, and Imajine Moses were honored as students of the month in front of their proud families and dedicated educators.

One student was selected from elementary, one from middle school, and one from high school to represent the varying levels of education. An additional student was selected to represent the recently added Pure Heart category.

  “The Pure Heart category is for our students who have exhibited kindness, caring and respect for others and who have worked to overcome various obstacles,” explained Deborah Parker, MSD’s Director of Indigenous Education. “Our Pure Heart students have provided us with inspiration and deserve recognition for their perseverance and willingness to grow as a student.” 

Indigenous Special Education Liaison Amy Sheldon introduced 2nd grader Ily Enick as this month’s Pure Heart student of the month. “I have been blessed to know Ily since he was only 3-years-old,” she said. “We are really proud of how much he has accomplished this year. Ily loves science and is really good at technology. In fact, he regularly helps out his teacher when she is flustered with some new piece of classroom tech.”

His Kellogg Marsh Elementary teacher also shared, “He’s a joy to have in class and everyone is always excited to come work with him. Plus, he makes us smile all the time.”

Elementary student of the month honors went to Tessalyn. The 5th grader was described as a quiet leader who always stays on task. She was also described as being kind and courteous to all her friends and school staff.

Next up, 8th grader Sebastian’s sustained excellence in the classroom was heralded by tribal advocate Courtney Jefferson. “He’s honest, open-minded, and really good at staying focused. He’s just a real pleasure to work with,” she said. “What I really like about him is he’s a respectful self-starter who sets a positive role to all our students.”

The final recognition of the evening went to the 9th grader Imajine Moses. She was introduced by tribal advocate Doug Salinas. “I’ve watched her grow as student from being a kindergartener at Quil Ceda to now being a freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck,” he reflected. “I’m so proud of her and what she has accomplished. As a high school freshman, Imajine has a 3.5 grade point average and balanced school work with playing varsity basketball. She’s a wonderful person who also does volunteer work through her church.”

Going forward, a selection committee will review all student nominations based on their academics and community engagement. Each month the awardees will be recognized as students of the month during the MSD regular board meeting. 

Quil Ceda 3rd graders experience living history at Hibulb

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

School groups visit Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) frequently to receive an educational tour of the 23,000 square foot facility dedicated to collecting and enhancing the traditional cultural values and history of the Tulalip Tribes. These school group tours always start in the HCC longhouse with a brief video presentation that introduces the legacy of the Tulalip people to students with minimal knowledge of Native peoples in general, let alone specific knowledge about the successors in interest to Snohomish, Snoqualmie and other tribes signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliot.

However, once a year when then the 3rd graders from Quil Ceda Tulalip (QCT) Elementary have their school tour the script is a bit different. These particular 3rd graders do have knowledge, an inherent history, and personal experiences galore with what it means to be a Native American citizen and Tulalip culture bearers. For Quil Ceda 3rd graders, their museum tour is less new information acquisition and more reinforcement of a history they breathe life into every day. 

“We have a partnership with Marysville School District and the Indigenous Education Department to bring in every single 3rd grade class within the district and give them a museum a tour,” explains Mary Jane Topash, HCC Group Tour Specialist. “The Quil Ceda tours are unique because for a lot of the students it’s their own family history being exhibited, which means my tours with them are different. I can play off their background knowledge and personal histories they have as tribal members and growing up Tulalip.

“During the Quil Ceda tours we really reinforce key values and history points that make us Tulalip,” continued Mary Jane. “There were several students that went to the family tree section and entered their own tribal IDs to find their family connections within the Hibulb exhibits. That is something unique only they are able to connect with.”

From teachings of the cedar tree to lifeways of salmon, HCC exhibits echo traditional values many of the QCT students have heard and experienced many times over during their young lives. Of course that doesn’t mean they no longer get super excited to showcase their natural skills with a cedar weave, yarn pattern, or fish net…because they certainly do. 

Young tribal members were seen routinely schooling their non-Native counterparts on what certain exhibits were really about. In some exhibits there is an option to hear narration in either English or traditional Lushootseed. Many of the kids didn’t hesitate to choose Lushootseed, making their teachers very proud. 

While learning from the wool exhibit, the kids were hyped when they saw the puppet theater setup. Many took the opportunity to use their imagination and do creative storytelling all on their own with the puppets available. Also in the wool exhibit is a digital touch-screen game that teaches weaving basics in a comfortable setting today’s children are most used to. The interactive nature of such exhibits made learning all the more easier, while still holding the rambunctious groups attention. 

“With many of the Quil Ceda third graders being Tulalip tribal members, we stressed the important and significance of our lifeways while exploring our canoes, cedar collection and life cycle of salmon exhibits,” shared museum assistant Cary Michael Williams. “We got into our 1855 treaty and explaining its importance to our everyday life today, and how our treaty rights allows us to live our culture. 

“It was a very good opportunity to share more insight on what that means to them and their responsibility as tribal members to uphold those rights for future generations. It was an honor to see our young people interact with Hibulb and make connections they can take with them going forward while bringing cultural values into their own lives.”

The foundation of their Quil Ceda education allowed the four 3rd grade classes to use Hibulb educational spaces in an engaged and interactive way. Drawing from their own experiences and family history, students demonstrated traditional skills like fish net tying and cedar weaving, while practicing Lushootseed words to connect with various exhibits. Witnessing them interact with exhibits and cultural items with an innate understanding that required zero explanation is proof the next generation of culture bearers will have much to add to Tulalip’s history of resiliency and self-determination. 

Nutrition and safety emphasized at TELA mini health fair

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

As parents picked up their kids from the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA) on the afternoon of Friday March 22, they were welcomed by the TELA administration staff as well as local programs and businesses who were stationed throughout the lobby and the conference room of the early learning academy. Twenty-six informational booths provided useful tips, ranging from nutrition to safety, in an effort to promote better overall health and wellness within the community. Parents hurried to retrieve their kids from their classrooms so they could return and participate in TELA’s seventh annual Mini Health Fair.

A popular event that has continued to grow over the years, the mini health fair is a fun experience for TELA students. Each booth offers hands-on interaction from the likes of the Tulalip Police and Tulalip Bay Fire departments, as well as plenty of prizes like books, toys and even animal washcloths that promote the practice of healthy habits such as reading and good hygiene.

Perhaps the biggest highlight for the kids is sampling all the snacks. AnneCherise Jensen and the SNAP-Ed team created fruit kabobs with orange slices, pineapple, grapes, kiwi and strawberries, showing the families a new, fast and easy snack that is both delicious and nutritious. The fruit kabobs were such a smash that the SNAP-Ed booth had a line nearly the entire duration of the health fair. The TELA kitchen crew also handed out healthy snacks to the students including fruit and veggie cups as well as smoothies. 

Upon checking into the mini health fair, the families received a passport. As they visited each booth, the vendors signed their passports, indicating that the families learned either a new health tip or were provided with new resources from programs such as WIC, Healthy Homes and the Snohomish County Music Project. Once their passports were filled out, the families turned them in for a chance to win a variety of prizes including gift baskets, blankets and an inflatable swimming pool – just in time for the upcoming summer season.

“We like to partner with Children’s Hospital, Red Cross, WIC, the Child Strive program and the police and fire departments as well as Disaster [Tulalip Office of Emergency Management] for those families that are in need of extra services,” explains Katrina Lane, TELA Family and Community Engagement Coordinator. “It’s been a good event to provide for the families over the years. It’s really heartwarming to see the families here with their kids, and for the kids to actually be excited about healthy things; the smoothies, the veggies, the fruit kabobs – they are just excited. It’s a good feeling to know that we’re starting them out young and that they’re getting a good idea of what health is.”

By creating a fun learning experience catered to our future leaders, the academy puts an exciting and entertaining twist on educating the community about the many benefits and the importance of good physical, mental and spiritual health.

Tulalip and Stanford partnership strives to cure opioid-based addiction

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Native Americans are hit hardest by opioid addiction. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that Native Americans have the highest drug overdose death rates and the largest percentage increase in the number of deaths over time from 1999-2015, compared to all other racial and ethnic groups. Indian Country is all too familiar with the opioid epidemic.

Opioid epidemic, seems like a trendy phrase that’s received national recognition recently. But on reservations across the country, Native families have been dealing with the pain, trauma, and loss associated with opioid use, from drugs like heroin and OxyContin, for a couple generations now.

With an aim to successfully combat a crisis that’s run rampant through the community for years, the Tulalip Tribes partnered with the brightest minds at Stanford University’s School of Medicine to create a one-of-kind medical cannabis research project. The goal: curing opioid-based addiction. 

An eagerly awaited community meeting took place on March 11 led by tribal leadership and Stanford scientists to share the leading edge study’s early indicators.

“Through Stanford’s expertise and reputation, our partnership will scientifically prove cannabis can cure addiction”, said Les Parks, Tulalip Tribes Board of Director.

“This meeting has been a long time coming,” stated Board of Director Les Parks. “We’ve been working on this medical cannabis research project since 2014, and this is the first time membership will be briefed with its details and results to date. Stanford is one of the most renowned universities in the country, if not the world, and happens to have a one-of-a-kind laboratory dedicated to the neurosciences. Through Stanford’s expertise and reputation, our partnership will scientifically prove cannabis can cure addiction.

“Nobody in this country has yet to scientifically prove that cannabis is an actual healer,” continued Les. “In partnering with Stanford University, our goal is to be the first to produce those scientific results. We think the cannabis plant has miraculous properties about it, such as healing the body and potentially curing type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and specific forms of cancer. First and foremost, we think cannabis can cure heroin addiction and all forms of opioid-based addiction.”

A painful, yet illuminating, moment was shared by all eighty community members who attended when Les asked the crowd, “Raise your hand if you have not been personally affected by the opioid crisis? If you have not had it affect your family or loved ones?” Not a single hand went up.

“Here in Tulalip, we’re losing 7 to 8 people a year to overdose,” shared Tulalip Tribes Vice-Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “This study and the implications for creating addiction therapies and remedies would be not only a game changer, but a life saver for our community.”

Tulalip Tribes Vice-Chairwoman, Teri Gobin, speaks on the benefits of using cannabis for healing opioid addictions.

People have used marijuana, also called cannabis, for a variety of health conditions for at least 3,000 years. More recently, individual components of marijuana or similar synthetic substances have also been used for health purposes. These substances are called cannabinoids.

Balancing traditional values with the realities of the 21st century means embracing a changing culture that views marijuana and cannabinoids as natural medicines, especially when compared to prescription pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals with countless side-effects and man-made chemicals that receive FDA approval, only to come out later those same chemicals cause a litany of damaging health concerns with sometimes fatal consequences.

The changing tide in not only popular opinion, but science-based evidence as well with regards to medicinal properties of cannabis is rapidly gaining momentum. Since 2014, when retail marijuana became legal in Washington State, consumers have spent $2.95 billion on various forms of cannabis, according to the state Liquor and Cannabis Control Board.

Remedy, the Tulalip-owned retail cannabis store and one of the first legalized marijuana dispensaries in Indian Country, opened its doors in August 2018. Tulalip was originally seen as embracing cannabis for business purposes only, but now with the Stanford partnership and the study’s implications for saving lives that narrative is changing. 

  “The intellectual property, any and all results found in this study, whether it be related to diabetes, Alzheimer’s or whatever it may be, will be owned by Tulalip,” added Vice-Chairwoman Gobin. “The medical applications of cannabis are really exciting because not too long ago we declared a state of emergency for opioid addiction and if this research project can save just one life then it’s worth it.”

Dr. Annelise Barron, Stanford Associate Professor and bioengineer, was on hand to share early results of the study and to answer any questions concerned community members may have had.  

“It’s important for people to know this research we’re doing with whole cannabis oil, meaning it came from the whole plant, the leaves and the flowers, and its effect on addiction has never been studied before,” explained Dr. Barron. “This is the first time a study of this kind has been done, and it’s only possible because Tulalip invested in our ability to do the research.

“We’ve undertaken a research project to study the ability of cannabis oil extract to treat heroin addiction. In order to scientifically address this question we are conducting controlled studies at Stanford Behavioral and Functional Neuroscience Laboratory. We’ve essentially done large-scale experiments that demonstrate cannabis oil suppresses the craving and desire to continue using heroin. This means, I think with high certainty, we would see the same effect on people if we treated them with cannabis oil after they stopped using heroin.”

Striving to cure opioid-based addiction, the Tulalip and Stanford partnership has a lot of work ahead of them including the peer review process and submission to medical journals. Yet, only ten months into a thirty month study, the early indications are most promising. Reiterating an earlier sentiment, if lives can be saved then it’s all worth it.