Tribal elders led a planting ceremony that included University of Washington students, faculty, and visitors on the afternoon of December 3. In the spirit of growing partnerships and sharing the importance of land cultivation, the memorable gathering occurred near the new Burke Museum’s entrance. Home to a future Camas meadow.
“This garden here will be a witness and teacher to something that is very important and sacred to all people, but especially to this land,” said Wanapum tribal elder Rex Buck. “The land has longed for these foods to come back and call it home. And so this is our way, the Burke’s way and the community’s way to recognize this planting as important. It represents a teaching for our children to maintain something sacred in a good way.”
After receiving proper instruction on how to plant budding Camas bulbs, all those in attendance were encouraged to plant multiple bulbs that will transform into stunning purple-blue flowers in a few short seasons. Once fully bloomed, visitors to the University of Washington and Burke Museum will find themselves walking by a Camas meadow, as were once in great abundance in the area prior to colonization.
A utilitarian plant, food source and medicine, the multi-purpose Camas was and continues to be one of the most important root foods of Indigenous peoples in western North American. Except for choice varieties of dried salmon, no other food item was more widely traded. People traveled great distances to harvest the bulbs and there is some suggestion that plants were dispersed beyond their range by transplanting.*
The part of the plant most revered is actually the bulb. Traditionally, Camas bulbs were pit-cooked for 24-36 hours, which was necessary for the inulin in Camas to convert to fructose. The sweetness of cooked Camas gave it utility as a sweetener and enhancer of other foods, making it highly valuable for trading purposes. The plants stalks and leaves were used for making mattresses. Additionally, Coast Salish tribes used Camas as a cough medicine by boiling it down, straining the juice, and then mixing with honey.
“Camas is medicine that our people have known and understood for thousands and thousands of years,” explained Cedar Moon Woman, Connie McCloud, cultural director of Puyallup Tribe. “The Creator put this plant here for us to nourish our bodies as food and to heal our bodies as medicine. The land knew this medicine would return here today so it would be an educator for our children. If our future generations do not understand their relationship to the Mother Earth, to the trees and to the plants, then they cannot be the protectors she desperately needs.”
The long-awaited planting ceremony and gardening activities have been years in the making, since design plans for the new Burke were first being drawn up. Ultimately, the museum’s surroundings will feature some 80,000 native plants of 60 different species representing different parts of Washington State, ones genetically tied to the region. The spring bloom of purple-blue flowers should be spectacular. This is yet another way to bring the region’s natural history to the public.
“In planning for the new Burke, many of us advocated for having the whole grounds of the museum be a garden to represent the plants that are native to the Pacific Northwest and of value to the Indigenous people who live here,” explained Dr. Richard Olmstead, UW professor and Burke curator. “When Meriwether Lewis came west with the Lewis & Clark Expedition, he was the first European to collect this plant and provide it to western science. In providing a name for it, the Latin name Camassia quamash brings together the two words he had learned in phonetic English that represented the Native American names for this plant species.”
In time, the Camas bulbs planted by environmentally-conscious citizens of all ages and professions will blossom into a sweeping meadow alongside the Burke Museum. The meadow will evoke thoughts of wild prairie lands that once covered much of Washington, during a time when Indigenous people were sole caretakers and Camas was widely known not simply as a flower or plant, but as life giving food and medicine.
By Kalvin Valdillez; Photos courtesy of Kelly Finley, Michael Lotan, Ross Fryberg, and Tawnya Baggerly
“You would think it’s just another camp but when you get up there, you realize it’s so much more. You experience living how our ancestors used to; no phones and no technology at all. It was nice to get away, I had a really fun time,” expressed Tulalip tribal youth, Ross Fryberg Jr.
With an abundance of breathtaking views of the natural world, the mountainous lands near the Skykomish Watershed area was once home to the Snohomish people who lived upon its plentiful resources since the beginning of time. As the original caretakers, the connection they shared with the land was strong. For generations, the Snohomish gathered cedar from the tall trees on the mountain side to weave a number of every day tools such as baskets and hats. They gathered a variety of plants for both medicinal purposes and nourishment, hunted elk, and fished in nearby rivers and streams, and most importantly, they cared for the land, honoring the living spirit of the mountains, waterways and trees.
Although times have changed and we now live in a fast-paced, technology based society, the Tulalips, as descendants of the Snohomish, maintain that relationship to their pre-colonial homelands. They perform spiritual work like harvesting huckleberries and cedar, as well as hunting and fishing just as their people had generations prior.
Five years ago, the Tulalip Natural Resources Department, in partnership with the YMCA, debuted Mountain Camp for the youth of the community, offering a chance to get away from the busy world, unplug and enjoy the great outdoors. Since its inception, Mountain Camp has provided an opportunity for Tulalip youth to get in touch with the Tribes’ origins and gain a new perspective about Mother Earth, learning of the many ways she provides for Northwest tribal people. Mountain Camp was such a success, it inspired Fish Camp, a similar summertime experience that takes place on Lopez Island and teaches youth about marine life and the Salish Sea.
Nine kids, ages 11-13, set out for a five-day adventure to the mountains on the morning of August 5. Meeting at the Tulalip Administration building, they received a weaving lesson from Anita (Keeta) and Jamie Sheldon. The kids assembled a number of baskets, and also bracelets and anklets, before the trip, while Lushootseed Teacher Maria Martin shared traditional stories.
This year, the Natural Resources department added Tulalip youth and Mountain Camp Alum, Seth Montero, to the crew. After showing an incredible amount of interest in natural resources, Seth returned to camp to continue learning from the natural environment and pass his teachings down to his younger peers.
“We’ve been trying to work on a program for kids who have aged out and still want to participate in the program,” said Tulalip Natural Resources Outreach & Education Coordinator, Kelly Finley. “Seth went to YMCA camp earlier this summer and learned how they do things at their camps. He picked up a lot of leadership skills so that he could come to our camp this year and be a leader-in-training, and hopefully one day a future counselor.”
The campers loaded onto the YMCA bus and officially set course to Skykomish, Washington, a two-hour road trip along Highway 2. After reaching their destination, the campers strapped on their backpacks and made a mile-and-a-half hike to Barclay Lake where they set up camp for the first few days. During this time, the kids enjoyed the sunny weather by swimming and fishing at the lake as well as identifying a variety of plants and bugs. To get a little shade from the heat, the campers went out into the woods and played Prometheus, a fun version of the capture the flag game, where the players objective is to steal their opponents’ flag without being seen.
After three nights at the lake, the campers hiked back to the YMCA bus and traveled up the mountain to about 5,000 feet above sea level. The kids set up camp here, at the sacred swədaʔx̌ali grounds, where tribal members gather huckleberries during the late summer months. The campers were joined by Natural Resources Senior Environmental Policy Analyst, Libby Nelson as well as Lushootseed Language Teacher, Michelle Myles. Libby provided a fun interactive lesson about the plants of the swədaʔx̌ali area, while Michelle shared stories in Lushootseed and worked on traditional introductions with the kids. Libby explained that during past camps the weather was clear at night and you could stargaze and see meteor showers. This year, however, the fog rolled in as Michelle shared traditional stories, providing a cool, yet somewhat eerie, setting.
Before calling it a night, the youth gathered enough huckleberries for pancakes the next morning as they were expecting a number of guests from the Tribe, Natural Resources, the Rediscovery Program and the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Forest department bright and early.
Upon awakening, the kids enjoyed food and company with their many guests before heading to the huckleberry fields to help out with the restoration of the swədaʔx̌ali area.
“The first work was kicked off five years ago by the first Mountain Camp youth,” said Libby. “And we also have Forestry do a lot of work here in September as well. Ross [Fenton] came up from Forestry and led the kids in clearing out some of the area. That’s been our goal, to keep the berries from being shaded out by conifer trees. That keeps the berry patches open, encourages new growth and makes it nicer for Tulalip berry pickers. Since last year, we put up new signs that talk about the elder’s teachings about huckleberries. We had each kid read one of the teachings of the elders and we talked about it a little bit.”
The crew headed back to the campsite where they wove cedar headbands with Tulalip tribal member, Chelsea Craig, and listened to their guests speak about the importance of preserving the resources of the land for future generations.
“The goal is to go up there and talk to the kids about natural resources, talk about why it’s important for Tulalip tribal members specifically to work in the natural resources field, what it means to us spiritually and culturally,” explained Ryan Miller, Tulalip Natural Resources Environmental Liaison. “We try to get them excited about that and get them to have some ownership of it. We tend to bring them up there and teach them as much as we can about the huckleberry restoration and let them know that we pass this on to you, it’s your job to continue to pass this on to the next generation and make sure these resources are here for them as well.
“I forget every year how amazing it is up there,” he continued. “I’m surprised every time I go back, just by the utter beauty of the site. There’s nothing but mountains and clouds around you, you only hear the sounds of nature. These kids have the opportunity to go out there and experience something that is much closer to what our ancestors experienced for thousands of years. It’s almost like you can feel the connection to the earth a lot stronger there.”
The campers spent the remainder of their time playing games and picking berries at the swədaʔx̌ali site. Many of the campers had yet to enjoy the tasty berries grown at high altitude, but according to lead camp counselor Michael Lotan, once their taste buds got a hold of the delicious ancestral snack, they couldn’t get enough.
“A lot of people told the kids they needed to eat the berries to feed their inner Indian,” Michael stated. “So, that’s all they did after that, was roam around looking for ripe berries and eating them. All of them want to go back up and pick more when the berries are ready in a couple of weeks. That’s another good thing this camp does, is show them we have this area that needs to be used otherwise we’ll lose our rights to use it.”
On their last day in the mountains, the youth packed up camp and headed to the river. Ending Mountain Camp with an extreme splash, the kids rafted down the Skykomish River before heading back to Tulalip for a welcome home celebration with their family and new friends.
“I really connected with the land because my ancestors were once there,” expressed first time Mountain Camper, Matthew Hunter. “We picked huckleberries and I even got to bring some home for my mom. The restoration was fun; we cleared some trees out and made a big pile so they can burn them later. It’s important that we grow more berries. This was my first time camping up there and I learned how to weave cedar, harvest huckleberries and connect with the land, campers and counselors. It was totally new experience for me and really fun.”
For more information, please contact the Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Department at (360) 716-4617.
By Valerie Streeter, Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Dept.
Bacteria levels at Mission Beach are very low this year! Harvey Eastman, Tulalip Water Quality Lab Manager, analyzes the weekly water samples collected by the Beach Watchers volunteers. The highest average so far was 7 mpn. Although previous years had levels lower than the 103 mpn limit threshold limit for swimming, there were spikes of higher bacterial levels at certain times.The first graph below shows the average results from the three beach sampling stations for this year. The red line shows the bacteria threshold limit (103 mpn/100mL) and the blue line is the average amount of bacteria in the water at Mission Beach for 2019. The second graph shows the results from the last three years. If bacterial levels are above the threshold limit, there are more chances for skin infections or stomach illness from too much pollution.
As we approach the halfway mark of summer 2019, now is a good time to revisit a lesson that many of our parents and grandparents recited to us on a regular basis during this time of year: go out, get some fresh air and enjoy the sunshine.
With the Fourth of July excitement well behind us, we may be quick to find excuses to stay inside and relax in the cool A/C comfort of our homes. And of course there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s important for our bodies to decompress and recharge, but in the same breath, it is also equally important to make sure the body is getting the exercise it needs and deserves after staring at technology screens for days on end.
From the high mountain ranges to the cool coastlines of the Salish Sea, the Pacific Northwest is a nature wonderland, filled with breathtaking views and landscapes. The summer season is the perfect time to take a social media break and experience the great outdoors, to disconnect from the world and reconnect with Mother Earth, if you will.
Tulalip community member and SNAP-Ed Nutritionist, AnneCherise Jensen, set aside some time to share a few ideas on how local citizens can take advantage of the long summer days, get outdoors and have a little fun in the sun.
Okay, first things first. Why is exercise important for our bodies?
Exercise is the best form of preventive medicine. Our bodies are like a machine, if you don’t use it, you lose it. We need to be moving our bodies and pushing them to their fullest potential in order to keep our bodies healthy. The reason why exercise is important is because it helps take care of our organs – our heart, our lungs, our kidneys. Physical activity is medicine for the body, it helps repair itself. The more sedentary we get, the weaker our organs get. The more exercise we get, the more we’re strengthening our body, and the more resilient we’re making it to outward things that are coming inside. It helps relieve a lot of the toxins that we’re exposed to in today’s environment. The biggest reason exercise is so important is because it reduces the risk of diabetes, certain types of cancers, obesity and heart disease.
It’s summertime! The warm weather presents a great opportunity for outdoor recreation, what are some fun activity ideas the community can do before the summer ends?
One thing that I love to do is go on small little hikes throughout the summer. We live in a really nice area where we have local access to trails. There’s lots of really good ones out in Mountain Loop Highway like Coal Lake, Lake 22, Heather Lake, Mt. Pilchuck. Those are really good trails, moderate to beginner ones.
Riding bikes is awesome if you have access to fun and safe roads, same with going to the skate park. Also, going to the beach for a swim. Swimming is a really great way to exercise, burn calories, keep your cardio up and it’s real forgiving on your joints. That’s a pretty good start. If you’re feeling like you’re not very flexible or have a lot of pain, I recommend yoga or chair yoga.
For those who are interested in hiking but have never been, what type of gear is needed before retreating to the mountains?
A good pair of hiking shoes. You’re going to want something that is water resistant and has a good sole. I recommend Salomon/Arc’Teryx at the outlet mall, they have really good prices on shoes. Also Columbia, and REI is a really good place to go if you’re in the Lynnwood area. Always make sure you have your ten essentials and those include matches, water, a compass, map, food, an emergency blanket (see image for complete list). You always want to make sure you have a rain jacket when you’re up in the mountains. You never know what the weather is going to be, so you want to make sure you have a waterproof jacket that provides warmth. Always know where you’re going, read a trip report. A good source to get information like that is the Washington Trails Association at www.WTA.org
Hiking and camping often go hand-in-hand and camping is a great summertime group activity, any advice for first time campers?
There are two ways to camp; you can park and have all your gear out and camp close to your car, or you can go overnight backpacking where you pack all your overnight gear. That’s a really great experience, probably my number one favorite thing to do in the summertime is to go camping in the mountains. You want to have dehydrated food, lots of water and a water purifier so you have a clean water source. The experience is a good way to disconnect and get in tune with yourself, especially if you’re a spiritual person.
You always want to make sure you know where you’re camping and do a little research beforehand. Make sure that you set up in a designated camping spot and that you have enough food to secure you at least one day extra than you planned.
Canoe Journey is happening now and is extremely popular amongst tribal nations, what are a few tips for the canoe pullers?
When you’re out on the water, make sure you bring lots of water that have electrolytes, because a lot of time you’re in the blazing sun and sweating a lot and in order to retain the water you drink, you want to have enough sodium, potassium, magnesium, so that way you don’t get fatigued.
More important than anything, wherever you’re going, the mountains or the water, make sure you’re with a group of safe people, people you can trust and rely on. And also, follow the LNT principals, Leave No Trace, respect the outdoors and make sure you leave it better than you found it.
What are some fun ideas for folks who want to enjoy the sun in the comfort of our community?
One of my favorite things to do in the area, if you can get a fun group together, is to go on a trash cleanup. Even if you just work in your local area, community, block, or beach, grab some gloves and a couple other people and fill your bags up with trash. It’s super rewarding and fun.
If you have a dog, or even a cat, definitely walking and playing with your pet. I just got a dog this year, his name is Copper, we take him hiking in the mountains or we’ll take him to the beach. We have lots of local beach access points out here. Strawberry Fields, out in Arlington, is also a really great place to take your dog. It has a nice mile-and-a-half long trail so you’re getting some exercise yourself along with the dog.
Last but not least, I highly recommend going to the YMCA, especially if you have kids and a free membership. You can play basketball with your kids or take them swimming.
This time of year, many people can be found tending to their personal gardens and cultivating nutritious crops. Can you talk about the benefits, both physical and nutritional, there are when growing a garden?
Gardening is a great activity, even if you just have one bed. Being out with the plants helps you develop a really good relationship with the plants and food. You’re able to get some vitamin D from the sunshine and also mild physical activity, it gets you moving. Kale, potatoes and carrots are all really easy to grow and you can add those to any meal and do oven-baked vegetables.
You can also go harvesting for native plants. Harvesting is another wonderful thing to do this time of year, especially out here on the reservation. You can go out and find an area to harvest berries and you can use those to bring home and make salads or other interesting things. Everything is in season right now. I’ve noticed there’s a lot of fruit trees out here, so if you have access to a fruit tree you can gather enough to make pies, jams, desserts and fruit salads.
As you know, it’s BBQ season. Do you have any tasty recipes that people can chef up for their next cookout?
I have two recipes for BBQs! I have a strawberry mango salsa that’s yummy, you can add jalapenos, strawberries, mangos, tomatoes. You get a lot of servings of fruits and vegetables and it’s high in vitamin C too. Vitamin C is great to eat a lot of throughout the summertime, especially before the cold weather hits. You can do pico de gallo if you don’t like it with the fruit.
And fruit kabobs. We’re going to have fruit kabobs at the Tulalip Health Clinic’s annual Health Fair on July 26th. It’s a good way for kids to try new fruits that they haven’t been exposed to. Try to have ten different fruits available and you can put it on a kabob and take it with you.
Are there any upcoming events you would like to share with our readers?
If you’re looking for more things to do at Tulalip, we have our Garden Days. Our next one is going to be August 3rd at 10:00 a.m. We always start each Garden Day with a mile-and-a-half walk. And we also have our walking club every Wednesday at noon at the Health Clinic, it’s always fun to get out there and go for a walk by the bay.
For further details, please contact SNAP-Ed at (360) 716-5632.
By Micheal Rios; Photos courtesy of Denise Sheldon & Ross Fenton, Tulalip Forestry
Coast Salish tribes believe the Creator gave them cedar as a gift. Traditionally, a prayer was offered to honor the spirit of the tree before harvesting its bark, branches and roots. Their ancestors taught them the importance of respecting cedar and understanding how it is to be used, so it will be protected for future generations.
Cedar was the perfect resource, providing tools, baskets, bowls and carvings in addition to having medicinal and spiritual purposes. The highly sought after inner bark was separated into strips or shredded for weaving. The processed bark is then used like wool and crafted into clothing, baskets and hats.
Those same traditional teachings are practiced today and continue to thrive by being passed down from one generation to the next. Over multiple weekends in June, the Tulalip Tribes membership was given the opportunity to participate in the cultural upbringings of their ancestors by journeying into their ancestral woodlands and gathering cedar. “I enjoy cedar harvesting and get excited as the time to pull gets closer,” shared Tulalip tribal member Denise Sheldon. “I find myself checking out the cedars wherever I go, thinking hmm it must be season. I love taking my grandkids out to teach them how to pull and separate the outer bark. It’s an important tradition for our family.”
Led by Forestry staff from Tulalip’s Natural Resources Department, participating tribal members like Denise and her family ventured just north of Sultan to a cedar-filled bounty located on the outskirts of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
The yearly cedar harvest showcases a partnership between several agencies working as a team to coordinate this culturally significant opportunity. The Tulalip Natural Resource’s Timber, Fish, and Wildlife Program generally arranges a cedar harvesting site for the upcoming season by utilizing existing relationships with off-reservation landowners and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“The annual cedar pulling event is a collaborative effort between multiple parties and agencies, both internally within Tulalip Natural Resources and the WA State DNR,” explained Ross Fenton of Tulalip Tribes Forestry Program. “Typically we try to arrange a bark pulling site up to a year in advance, to ensure a continued opportunity for the Tulalip membership. Our Timber, Fish and Wildlife program staff has been integral to maintaining a partnership with DNR over the years to allow for continuing gathering opportunities. There are many logistics involved, and the results of our work is tangible.
“I’ve been attending the annual cedar harvest for nearly ten seasons now. For me personally, it is an honor to witness an event that has been ongoing for millennia. I really enjoy watching younger generations grow and then teach the skills to their own children as they grow. There are many generations participating, and that’s really neat to observe,” added Fenton.
The relationship Coast Salish peoples have with cedar cannot be understated. Their ancestors relied on the magnificent tree as an integral part of life on the Northwest Coast. From birth to death, the powerful cedar provided generously for the needs of the people – materially, ceremonially and medicinally. Those teachings have not been lost.
“We pray before we start harvesting, so it is done in a good way, and ask for protection from animals or spirits that might harm us,” reflected Denise of her days spent walking in the shadows of her ancestors. “I haven’t been pulling as long as my mom, Keeta, or sisters, Marilyn and Jamie. It has taken me some time to get the hang of it, but I really love being out in the woods with my family. I tell my grandkids they need to learn as much as they can because they will be pulling for me when I get too old to do it anymore. One day they will be the elder teaching their kids and grandkids.”
Master weavers, elders, and youth alike all echo the very same cedar harvesting technique employed by their ancestors. With a small ax and carving knife, they skillfully remove strips of bark from designated cedar trees. They then shave off a small section of the rough bark, revealing a smooth tan inner layer. After harvest, the cedar strips are typically laid out to dry for a year before being made into baskets and hats or used in regalia.
Many Tulalip youth participated in the multi-day cedar harvesting occasion, gathering strips for elders and learning techniques of separating the smooth inner bark from the rough outer bark. For some tribal members it was another step in their continual journey to connect with the spirits of past and present, while for others it was their very first cedar harvest experience.
“The cedar was kind of hard to separate at first, but the more I pulled the better I got,” beamed first time cedar harvester, 10-year-old Sophia Quimby. “It was a lot of fun pulling the cedar and seeing how far we could get it to go. Me and my mom are going to make roses and baskets from our cedar.”
Safe to say the essential teachings from cedar gathering have successfully been passed on to yet another generation of Tulalip culture bearers. The ancestors would be pleased.
The beautiful and peaceful Wellness Garden Trail, located behind the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic, officially opened on the morning of April 27, as the community of Tulalip gathered to celebrate the first Garden Day of 2019. After a long, cold winter, the plant beds were ready for a new beginning and approximately seventy-five volunteers arrived bright and early to prune and replenish the garden boxes with fresh soil and new plants.
Garden Day is hosted by the Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention program and is held periodically throughout the year. Participants of all ages learn how to grow and maintain a garden by cultivating a variety of produce, fruit trees and traditional medicinal plants. The crew, equipped with gardening tools, gloves and trash bags, as well as piles of fresh soil, worked hard while enjoying good company and a view of Tulalip Bay on a gorgeous spring day.
“We’ve been doing Garden Day since February 2011,” explained Diabetes Program Coordinator, Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy. “It started at the Hibulb Cultural Center and then it moved to the health clinic in 2014. Diabetes prevention is really what it’s all about. To prevent diabetes, we’re looking to promote exercise and healthy foods. If we can achieve 5-7% weight loss by exercise or nutrition, we reduce our risk of developing diabetes by 57%, by just making little tiny changes. The prevalence of diabetes within Native American communities is higher than non-Native communities. For us, the foods we would’ve traditionally eaten are not readily available to us.”
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Indigenous Peoples are at a substantially higher risk to develop diabetes than any other race nationwide. Previous records show that for decades, Native diabetics experienced kidney failure due to complications from diabetes. But because of programs like Diabetes Care and Prevention, individuals are now learning how to properly manage their blood glucose and sugar levels, and therefore the amount of kidney failures amongst Native diabetics dropped by a whopping 54% since 2013.
During the event, the health clinic provides free screenings for both blood pressure and blood sugar levels as hypertension and diabetes are widespread amongst tribal members. Based on the results, the clinic can offer advice and refer them to the appropriate specialist. Throughout the day, about thirty volunteers took the time to participate in the screening to get an update on their health.
In addition to learning about diabetes and growing plentiful green gardens, participants are also treated to a delicious and nutritious breakfast, snack and lunch prepared by the Tulalip SNAP-Ed program. Traditional foods were incorporated into the meal, including nettles in tasty brownie deserts, as well as fruit-infused water. The event also included a giveaway where prizes were raffled off such as gardening tools, watering cans, children’s gardening kits and seedlings of strawberries, cabbage, peas, broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, and cucumber plants.
“I came out today because Roni inspired me to start my own garden,” expressed Tulalip tribal member, Tempest Dawson. “This is my third year working on my own garden, and I like to come to Garden Day and follow her around because she knows a lot about gardening and I pick up whatever she has to teach me. It’s important to continue to teach our people about the land and that there are natural foods that we can live off of, instead of relying on the grocery store or processed foods.”
Roni explained that five years ago, tribal member Walt Campbell purchased a shovel, painted the tool gold and brought it to Garden Day to gift to the hardest working green thumb of the day. Since then, gifting golden shovels became quite the tradition, adding a bit more fun at the end of each Garden Day. This time around, two golden shovels were gifted; one to Tulalip youth, Cohen Ramsey, the other to Marisol Raza and her children.
“We won the golden shovel award,” Marisol exclaimed. “It’s for being a hard working person, taking part in Garden Day. We’ve been coming for about three years or so and we absolutely love it. Today we cleaned up the plant beds, removed old plants and pulled weeds, as well as added new soil and compost. We planted cabbage and broccoli. Enjoying that final product is going to be awesome.”
Because the gardeners meet up four to five times annually, they’ve developed close friendships over the years. Young Tulalip tribal member, Kaiser Moses, has attended every Garden Day with his mother since its inception and looks forward to helping out at each event as well as visiting with his fellow gardeners.
“I’ve been participating in Garden Day since I was about four,” Kaiser said. “It feels like old friends reuniting every year. It’s really fun and great for rebooting for your mental stability. As a group, we all work together to make the garden better and plant some new plants in the garden beds. There’s a bunch of friendly, kind-hearted happy souls who come out every time we have a Garden Day.”
The Diabetes Care and Prevention Program will continue its busy year, promoting overall health and wellness with a number of classes, programs and Garden Days including the new 26-week Diabetes Prevention class, for those who’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. More details will come before the start of the program in June. For more information, please contact the Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention Program at (360) 716-5642.
Submitted by Ryan Miller, Environmental Liaison, Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources
ON THE TREATY FRONT: A series on the history and meaning of tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, environmental stewardship and issues that threaten these important rights. This is the second in a recurring series of articles produced by the Tulalip Tribes Treaty Rights Office to help educate and inform the membership. Our Mission is to “Protect, enhance, restore and ensure access to the natural resources necessary for Tulalip Tribal Members’ long-term exercise of our treaty-reserved rights.”
Indian Law: Understanding Treaty Fishing Rights
In treaties signed with the U.S. Government, our ancestors made great sacrifices by ceding millions of acres of land to the federal government in exchange for certain protections for our traditional and cultural values and ways of life. Article Five of the Treaty of Point Elliott guarantees the signatory tribes the right of taking fish at their usual and accustomed grounds and stations in common with all citizens as well as hunting and gathering roots and berries on open and unclaimed lands. Despite the federal government’s guarantees to tribes that they would be able to take fish as they always have, throughout the first half of the 20th century Indian fishermen faced fierce opposition to exercising this right from the State of Washington and non-Indian fisherman. These tensions led to battles in court, all of which contributed to the decision made by Judge George Boldt in US v Washington also known as “The Boldt Decision”, the foundational Indian treaty fishing rights case.
In 1905, the United States Supreme Court handed down the first decision addressing treaty fishing rights in U.S. v. Winans.In that case, the United States brought suit on behalf of the Yakima Nation against the Winans Brothers who, by attaining a permit for a fish wheel from the State of Washington had not only depleted the Yakimas’ fish supply but had also prevented them from accessing their traditional fishing grounds. The Supreme Court’s decision laid the foundation for the interpretation of treaties in the future and produced what was later called the “cannons of treaty interpretation”.
We have said we will construe a treaty with the Indians as “that unlettered people” understood it, and “as justice and reason demand, in all cases where the power is exerted by the strong over those to whom they owe care and protection”, and counterpoise the inequality “by the superior justice which looks only to the substance of the right, without regard to technical rules.”
The Supreme Court in US v Winans held that treaties are “not a grant of rights to the Indians, but a grant of rights from them and a reservation of those not granted”. The Supreme Court’s ruling states that issues of treaty interpretations must favor Indians as they were at a severe disadvantage during the negotiations which took place in a foreign language and often with the threat of violence. The court also notes that treaties must be interpreted the way the Indians of the time would have understood them. This idea is critical because our ancestors were deeply concerned about having access to all the places that they had always gathered and their concerns were heard by Governor Stevens who reassured them that they would always have access to their traditional places and resources.
I wish to speak my mind as to selling the land. Great chief!What shall we eat if we do so? Our only food is berries, deer, and salmon. Where then shall we find these? I don’t want to sign away my right to the land…..I am afraid that I shall become destitute and perish for want of food.
Hool-hol-tan, Skokomish leader speaking to Gov. Isaac Stevens at treaty negotiations 1855 (from article in Pacific Northwest Quarterly)
Governor Stevens responded to questions like these at all of the treaty negotiations,
You understand well my purpose, now you want to know what we desire to do for you. We want to give you houses and having homes you will have the means and the opportunity to cultivate the soil to get your potatoes and to go over these waters in your canoes to get your fish. We want more, if you desire to go back to the mountains and get your roots and your berries you can do so and you shall have homes and shall have these rights.
The courts determined that though the Winans Brothers acted lawfully by the standards of the State of Washington; they had violated the Yakima Nation’s treaty rights by restricting their access to traditional fishing grounds.
In 1942 Sampson Tulee, a member of the Yakima Nation, was convicted in the Superior Court of Klickitat County for catching salmon with a net without obtaining a license from the State of Washington. Tulee appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the Washington State statute violated his treaty right. The court, in Tulee v. Washington, held that while the State of Washington had the right to regulate Treaty fishing outside the reservation for the conservation of species, it could not charge a fee to Indians for the license required.
We believe that such exaction of fees as a prerequisite to the enjoyment of fishing in the ‘usual and accustomed places’ cannot be reconciled with a fair construction of the treaty. We therefore hold the state statute invalid as applied in this case…It is our responsibility to see that the terms of the treaty are carried out, so far as possible, in accordance with the meaning they were understood to have by the tribal representatives at the council and in a [315 U.S. 681, 685] spirit which generously recognizes the full obligation of this nation to protect the interests of a dependent people.
While these cases represent “wins” for treaty tribes and their members they are also directly reflected in the decision of Judge Boldt in US v Washington. Over 100 years after the signing of the treaty and years of conflicts over treaty fishing, the U.S. sued the state of Washington in 1970 on behalf of Washington’s treaty tribes.
Stay tuned for our next article which will focus on the landmark Indian Law case US v Washington and other treaty fishing decisions all the way through to the culvert case.