Nourishing Culture: A peek inside Tulalip’s food sovereignty kitchen

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

In a transformative and visionary step towards reclaiming their ancestral culinary traditions, the Tulalip Northwest Indian College (NWIC) recently unveiled the groundbreaking Tulalip Food Sovereignty Presentation Kitchen. This innovative kitchen space, formerly a conventional classroom, symbolizes cultural revival and health empowerment. The soft opening event on Friday, November 3, was nothing short of a culinary journey, inviting the community to savor the flavors of Indigenous cuisine while unraveling the profound concept of food sovereignty. Step inside this unique kitchen and discover how it’s poised to revolutionize the relationship between tradition, health, and community.

The newly renovated space has undergone a remarkable metamorphosis, evolving from a mundane classroom into a welcoming haven of culinary exploration. With an expansive, open kitchen at its heart, it beckons onlookers and perhaps even a camera crew to witness the intricate process of preparing Indigenous foods. The kitchen’s primary mission is to serve as an educational hub where students can immerse themselves in traditional food preparation. It’s a place where the rich heritage of Indigenous cuisine is brought to life, instilling in the next generation the knowledge and skills necessary to honor and preserve their culinary traditions.

“I grew up in a fishing and hunting family, and I didn’t know that I was already practicing food sovereignty,” said NWIC teacher, Linzie Crofoot. “Our food kept us a healthy community. Food sovereignty is about community health; our traditional foods and medicines and their direct ties with resource management. Traditionally, we have been the gatherers, hunters, and fishermen responsible for tending the land and keeping it healthy and our people healthy.”

Linzie continued, “When I am teaching Native Environmental Science, and I am teaching about our native plants, I am incorporating tribal health into it. I am incorporating our traditional values into it. That’s how I plan on using this kitchen; as a gatherer and a Native Environmental Scientist, I want people out on the land to be restored to their natural role on the land, and then be able to come back here and make meaningful relationships with each other and the community through food. That is how we have always built community. There’s nothing more traditional than feeding each other and coming together to make food.”

After the meal, Linzie demonstrated how to make a sweetgrass lemonade and started by creating a simple syrup. A mixture of sweetgrass water and sugar boiled create a tasty syrup that can be stirred into the lemonade. The goal of the demonstration was to show that you can start small with your introduction to a more native plant diet by creating one ingredient and building off that. 

“When we tell people they need to eat traditional foods, they don’t know where to begin and get overwhelmed. They think they must be a gatherer or a hunter, or they need access to a bunch of land, and then they freeze and continue to eat all the same Western foods they have been eating their whole life. I want to incorporate easy things that you can do in your everyday lives. So, start with one cup of tea a month and sweeten it with a native plant, then work your way up. And don’t feel guilty about it,” said Linzie.

“This is the first tribal sovereignty kitchen in the nation,” said Colette Kieth, NWIC site manager. “The primary goal is that students understand what food sovereignty is and what tribal food sovereignty is and use our traditional foods. I also wanted a place where our students could have a camera-ready place for great presentations, like on Instagram and Facebook. I want our students to feel what it was like to work in a nice kitchen.”

The Tulalip Food Sovereignty Presentation Kitchen will have its grand opening in May, where students can create in the kitchen. Registration for winter classes opened on Monday, November 6th. To learn more about NWIC, visit

The Gift of Health: Diabetes Care and Prevention host final U-Pick gathering of the year

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“When you see the people come together, it’s emotional, it really is,” expressed Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy, Diabetes Care and Prevention Program Coordinator. “The people were all gathered around talking and the kids were running around. The elders were sharing with each other – the foods they picked, the foods they saw, and talking about recipes. We’re just warmed by each other’s friendship and love. And you can feel that you can feel that sense of community.”

The rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of dozens of Tulalip families who ventured off-rez on the afternoon of October 24, for the last Garden Tour and U-Pick harvesting event for the year. Held throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons, the event allows the community to see food in an entirely new light. The idea is that by seeing the process take place, from planting to harvesting, people can develop not only an understanding of cultivating produce, but also gain a deeper appreciation for fruits and veggies, and all of their benefits. 

“I wanted to get out with my friend Marvin today, come get some fresh produce, and see what Roni has going on,” said community member, Jessica Leslie. “Roni is filled with a lot of good information, and they always have healthy snacks. Everything here is fresh, local, and really nice to have. I think it’s a good way to get people out and about.”

Tulalip elder Marvin Jones, who was just happy to ride shotgun with Jessica for the day, exchanged stories with Roni as Jessica gathered an assortment for veggies. Over a cup of hot apple cider, he spoke of the importance of having access to fresh produce, something that was much more difficult for tribal members to attain during his years of adolescence. He also touched on his gardening skillset that he developed over the years, explaining that he can ‘grow my own anytime I want it,’ and identified several harvesting spots on the reservation for the likes of apples, berries, and a variety of plants. 

The award-winning Diabetes Care and Prevention program partnered with Garden Treasures Nursery and Local Farm well over a decade ago to host the U-Pick gatherings. Ever since, the six-acre organic farm has been the backdrop for Tulalip members and Tulalip Health Clinic patients to learn and share knowledge about diabetes care, as well as harvest in-season produce and explore new foods that they otherwise wouldn’t have come across on a trip to the supermarket. 

By opening their barn and greenhouse doors to the tribal nation, Garden Treasures is fulfilling their community-driven mission FUBU style – for us, by us. As a local Arlingtonite, owner Mark Lovejoy spoke on this mentality and his inspiration for growing crops solely to give back to his hometown, our region, and the community of farmers that sell their produce along the local farmer’s market circuit. Mark has opened a large retail space at the Garden Treasures property, and partnered with local farmers and meat markets to make their goods available for purchase six days out of the week, in addition to his products. 

Mark shared, “It feels good, that’s the purpose of the farm. We’re supported by the community, for the community, we’re growing food for people right here. That’s been the mission all along, and the more we do it, the more we get connected. We designed this vertically integrated produce farm in the image of the old truck farmers from the 30s,40s, and 50s that were on the east coast serving the metropolitan areas. We wanted to serve our area with an abundance of food that we can grow in our climate.

“We designed our store to sell our products that we grow here ourselves. At the same time there are very few local farmers in our community who have a retail presence like this or even own land these days. Our farm is set up to be like an everyday farmers market. Anybody can come here any day of the week and have an experience like you would at a farmers’ market. Even though it’s a privately owned family business, it’s using a lot of vendors from the farmer’s markets to fill the shelves. And other people outside of the region that have other products too, like avocados that are from the same type of farmers that we are, but are from Mexico or southern California. We always try to source our products from people who are like us, who are interested in community supported agriculture.”

With multiple greenhouses throughout the property, Garden Treasures Nursery and Local Farm cultivates an array of colorful and nutrient dense vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers throughout the year. Roni is sure to schedule a U-Pick event at least once per season so that the community can enjoy everything from strawberries to winter squash. Now that we are in the midst of autumn, Garden Treasures has orange gourds in every size placed along the entryway to the farm. Each tribal family or THC patient selected a pumpkin before concluding their Garden Treasures adventure. 

“It was a pretty good harvest,” exclaimed young Kayden Palmer while holding a box of produce, her day’s bounty, in-hand. “It was wet and cold but still a lot of fun.”

Upon picking out a pumpkin and heaving it up for a photo, Kayden continued, “My family and I enjoy carving these and sometimes we feed the excess of the pumpkins to our sheep. I don’t know what design I’ll carve yet, but I’ll figure it out. [U-Pick gatherings] mean a lot to me, and it’s always nice to come out and see everybody.”

Community member Justine Jones shared, “I’m glad I was able to come here, check it out, and just get out of the house. I really like Halloween now because we have two boys who were born on the same day of October 12. And my little guy loves pumpkins. He calls them pum-an-ah-nos. We’ll carve our pumpkin and possibly enter it in the pumpkin contest at the community Halloween party.”

In addition to knowledge sharing through the act of harvesting, the Diabetes Care and Prevention program brought on professionals from the Puget Sound Kidney Centers, Registered Dietician Grace Scarborough and Medical Social Worker Michelle Rowlett.

“We are really big into community health, so we’re partnering with the Tulalip Tribes to promote healthy living and healthy eating,” Grace explained.

Michelle added, “Diabetes is one of the main causes of kidney disease. We try to talk about ways to keep your kidneys healthy, keep your body healthy, just the whole gamut of everything involving healthy living. We do things like this because if you’re eating fresh foods, fruits and vegetables, cooking with herbs and spices instead of salt, you’re going to have healthy kidneys, a healthier body, a healthier heart – it’s all connected.”

After years of setting aside a small percentage of the Diabetes Care and Prevention program’s funding, Roni feels that the importance of these outings and the experience of harvesting one’s own foods has not been lost on the community. With each event growing in attendance, she believes it’s now time to expand these services and hold U-Pick gatherings more frequently, and at varying times, so that more people get the chance to take freshly grown produce home to their dinner tables. 

Said Roni, “When it comes to being with the plants, it’s about that connection that we have to them because the plants give us the nutrients that we need in our bodies. But they also feed us emotionally, because of how you feel when you’re harvesting the plants. And then to be able to talk about the spiritual side of our plant relatives and how we feel about them. 

“Those plants live just a short life only to give you health, to give you that medicine. They share that with you and they are grown here for that purpose. So, when you start thinking of your food as a type of medicine, it helps in the sense of a spiritual connection. That has been one our teachings here; feeding our Indian. Feeding who we are and satisfying that. I think the satisfaction comes not just from eating it and keeping within us to nourish our bodies, but it also comes from learning how to plant it, how to care for it, how to harvest it, and then prepare it. It’s this whole process that we do and that’s what we try to show here. These foods are the gift of health. And to see the kids, to see the adults, and the elders enjoy that, because it’s truly a gift.”

The Diabetes Care and Prevention program is gearing up for a series of classes developed by the American Diabetes Association and is tailored to Natives living with diabetes. The classes will begin at 2:00 p.m. every Wednesday in November, at the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic. The classes will focus on self-management of the disease and are targeted toward individuals who were diagnosed with diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic and have yet to attend a Diabetes Care and Prevention class. For additional details, please contact Roni at (360) 716-5642. 

Domestic Violence is not our tradition

Legacy of Healing hosts coastal jam in observance of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“For many of our families there are silent wars happening in their homes,” said Jade Carela, Director of the Tulalip Legacy of Healing. “Our homes are supposed to be a place of comfort, but for victims of domestic violence they are a battlefield on which the person they love and trust is doing the unthinkable to them.”

A sea of purple washed over the community of Tulalip on the evening of Friday October 6. Signs were posted throughout the teen center campus, displaying messages such as, ‘I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.’ And though the people were happy to gather together, there was a somber tone in the atmosphere, which indicated the seriousness of the event.

Taking part in a nationwide initiative, the Tulalip Legacy of Healing organized a night of culture to help spread awareness about a subject that may be uncomfortable to talk about, but must be addressed because of how often it occurs, especially within Native America.

The Legacy of Healing is a program that is designed to help support the local victims and survivors of domestic partnerships in several capacities, whether it’s just to supply inquiring minds with information and resources, or be in your corner throughout the court process, or even design a safety plan with you for when you’re ready to leave an abusive relationship.

Over the years, the program has increased its visibility in hopes to reach more local women and men who are experiencing domestic violence in their home lives. October has been a busy month each year for the Legacy of Healing as they’ve brought education, resources, and support to the community by participating in National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Through a number of events and cultural/group activities, the Legacy of Healing has shown up for many DV survivors and victims of the community and walked alongside them through difficult times, letting them know they are supported, loved, and not alone. 

While engaging their participants and clients in activities and open discussions, the Legacy of Healing has provided many opportunities for people to learn about DV each October. That alone is extremely important because many are not able to recognize domestic violence as it’s occurring. And this is due to the fact that the majority of folks have misconceptions about what DV is exactly, and they do not realize that there are numerous ways an abuser asserts control and power in a relationship, including isolation, gaslighting, and manipulation, among many others.  

This year, the Legacy of Healing organized a dinner and a coastal jam to bring awareness on a larger scale to the people. During previous DV Awareness Months, the Tulalip culture played a big role in the healing process, and the Legacy of Healing focused in on that aspect for this year’s gathering. 

The evening began with a dinner inside of the teen center at the Don Hatch gymnasium. During the dinner, attendees received t-shirts designed by Tulalip and Quileute artist, Marysa Joy Sylvester. The front of the shirt featured a purple ribbon inside of a medicine wheel, and across the bottom it read, ‘Domestic violence is not our tradition’. Purple is the official color of awareness for the month, and October 19th is ‘Wear Purple Day’, so should you choose to stand in solidarity with the local survivors of DV, make sure to don your favorite purple attire and send a selfie on over to the Legacy of Healing. 

While the people enjoyed their meal, Jade opened the gathering with a few words, and shared some examples of what DV looks like in our community. Following her opening statements, Jade introduced the guest speaker, Malory Simpson. As Malory bravely shared her story, people shed tears upon hearing the years of suffering she endured. An important takeaway from her speech was for the people to see how she has since overcome those past tragedies in her lifetime, especially for those who have recently experienced DV or are currently experiencing it and are struggling to see an end or a way out of their personal situations.

Said Malory, “I feel that it is important for people to hear so they know it’s okay to share their own story. We all heal differently, and this is something that has helped me grow as a person and has helped me to heal from my journey of domestic violence. I hope that after hearing me share my story, people know how healing it is to release that trauma they’re holding on to.”

Malory’s words hit home for a few of the community members who have also dealt with abusive relationships. One of those people was none other than Tulalip Chairwoman, Teri Gobin, who then stood up in front of everybody and opened up, for the first time ever, about her past experience with domestic violence. And although the Chairwoman’s confession was shocking and heartbreaking, it was also a powerful moment for onlookers who realized that DV can happen to anybody. And after hearing those two moving testimonies, the people moved forward with the nights work with good hearts and a great deal of solemnity. 

Tribal member Princess Jones expressed, “That was healing for me because I am a victim of domestic violence. It was hard for me not to cry in there because I’m not used to people supporting me. I was ashamed to say anything when I got abused. I hid from the cops; I wouldn’t let them take pictures. I hid from our community. But I understand now that the community cares, that our people care, and it’s okay for me to tell my story. Malory’s story was so powerful that Teri got up and shared too, and she let everyone know she never told anybody that before. Just that itself was healing. And so was the entire coastal jam, the songs bring me peace and helps me feel connected to everybody.”

Following the dinner, the coastal jam took place at the Greg Williams Court. It was over three hours of good medicine as singers, dancers, and drummers from Tulalip and other nearby tribes brought healing to the people through culture and practice of the Tribe’s ancestral teachings. Infants, elders, and everyone in between, conducted important healing work through various prayers, dances, and chants during the gathering. 

Among the many special moments from the coastal jam, event emcee, Josh Fryberg, called all the survivors and victims of DV to the floor. After taking a moment of silence to pay respect to all those going through a DV situation, the dancers formed a circle around the survivors and the drummers offered a prayer song, wrapping each and every one of them with love and support. 

Malory shared, “It was amazing to see the strength in all of those who came to the floor to stand together. I want you all to know that you are not alone and that we all stand with you, just as we did on the floor that night. You are not what has happened to you. We are all worthy of a healthy relationship and that it is still possible. I hope that you know that you are loved and that you are not what your abuser may say that you are. You are beautiful!”

During the coastal jam, a blanket was placed at the center of the floor where people placed cash donations that will go directly to supporting the local survivors and victims of DV. A total of $233 was raised, which can assist a survivor as they transition away from a domestic partnership and begin anew in a safe and good way. 

“From what we know, the reason we have these different crimes on our reservation is because it stems from the colonization that’s happened to us as a people,” Jade stated. “I think the healing piece for us is knowing this is not something that stems from us as a people. When you’re going through this process, that’s part of what you’re learning – that it’s not okay. It’s not who we are. It’s not something that comes from us. It’s something that was taught to us.

“Domestic violence is not just physical violence; it is a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. This can be in the form of threats, intimidation, emotional, verbal, sexual, technological, financial, and stalking are some examples.”

The Legacy of Healing is asking for your assistance in raising awareness throughout the month by participating in their raffle ($5 for 1 ticket/$20 for 5 tickets) in which all of the proceeds go towards supporting survivors of DV. Over 20 prizes will be raffled off at the end of the month including a number gift cards and gift baskets, Xbox games, a ribbon skirt donated by Morning Star Creations, a beaded necklace by Winona Shopbell, beaded earrings by Paige Pettibon and Odessa Flores, and a cedar and abalone headband by Malory Simpson.

To purchase a raffle ticket, you can catch the Legacy of Healing team and the Tulalip Foundation at the following locations/dates/times:

  • 10/16 at the Tulalip Tribal Court from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • 10/19 on the second floor of the Tulalip Administration building (Carmel apple social) from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • 10/21 at the Tulalip Resort Casino (Semi-General Council) from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • 10/31 at the Tulalip Gathering Hall (Employee Halloween Luncheon) from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

If you are looking for additional ways to show your support throughout DV Awareness Month, you can still order your purple dranks, the Unity Elixir or the Violet Hope Lotus, from the café at the Tulalip Administration building, Ti Kupihali. 

To help raise awareness within the Tribe’s governmental entity, the Legacy of Healing has been sending out informational e-mails each week of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This week, the Legacy of Healing’s Victims Advocate, Marisa Chavez, shared:

Here are just a few of the signs that a loved one may be in an abusive relationship:

  • A sudden change in clothing style (wearing clothes that cover more skin even when it’s hot out)
  • They start to cancel plans more often.
  • They have to check with partner before doing things (or anything)
  • They seem anxious, paranoid, or depressed.
  • They make excuses for their partner’s actions, or they take responsibility for their partner’s actions.
  • Their partner puts them down or uses harsh or harmful language with them.

Here are some ways that you can be a support:

  • Don’t blame or shame the person for staying in the relationship – Don’t make comments like “just leave him/her” or “I don’t know why you keep going back to him/her.”
  • Educate yourself – Did you know that most survivors of DV leave about 7 times before they are totally done with that relationship.  In Indian Country, it is closer to 15 times.
  • Support their decision – You may not agree with them going back but you can still support and help when they need it.
  • Give resources – Offering things such as websites or advocacy centers can be helpful.  Legacy of Healing can give you resources to pass on.
  • Understand the emotions – Know that they may be anxious, paranoid, have PTSD, or other emotional or mental health struggles because of the abuse.  Your patience will go a long way.
  • Check in on them – Calling or texting your friend or loved one lets them know that you are there for them and that you care.  Ask them to spend time with you, this will help maintain the relationship and trust.

If you or anybody you know is experiencing an abusive relationship, please do not hesitate to call the Legacy of Healing at (360) 716-4100 or assistance. And if you are in a crisis or an emergency situation, the Legacy of Healing provided a list of three additional hotline numbers that you can utilize during your time of need: 

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Strong Hearts Native Helpline: 1-844-762-8483
  • Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County 425-25-ABUSE (22873)

Pharmacy brings Adult Vaccine Program to the community

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

For those who are attempting to get a required vaccine to accept a job position, but are facing a pay-out-of pocket situation due to lack of health insurance, this news is for you. For those who have health insurance, but your provider does not cover certain vaccinations, this news is for you. For those who are looking to stay up to date on their routine vaccines, as well as take precautions against COVID and influenza, but are also dealing with health insurance complications, this news is also for you.

The Tulalip Clinical Pharmacy recently announced that they are an official provider of a program developed by the Washington State Department of Health. The Adult Vaccine Program ensures that all of the citizens of Washington State have access to vaccinations at no cost of their own.

Whether uninsured or underinsured, the Tulalip Clinical Pharmacy can administer a number of vaccines, depending on supply, to any adult over the age of 19. Those are the only requirements to be eligible for the Adult Vaccine Program – to reiterate, you have to be uninsured or underinsured and at least 19 years of age – that’s all. 

“Vaccines are very important. Everyone should be able to get vaccines if they want to,” expressed Tulalip Clinical Pharmacy Director, Kelvin Lee. “All the other drugs out there are for symptomatic treatment. Vaccines are the only category that prevents diseases and problems. It’s preemptive and that’s important because it works for many conditions. When it works, people don’t realize that it’s really protecting them from a lot of problems.”

Although there are many Adult Vaccine Program providers throughout the state, the Tulalip Clinical Pharmacy is one of few locations in the Tulalip-Marysville area, and the only location on the reservation. 

This is just the latest endeavor the pharmacy has embarked on that keeps their clients and community close to heart, as they continue to provide the people with excellent care and services. Throughout the pandemic, the pharmacy implemented a curbside pick-up system to safely deliver medication to their patients, to keep their worries at bay and prevent the spread of the virus.

 In similar fashion, they also set up a no-contact pick-up service at the height of the pandemic and were the first in the state to utilize an iLocalbox smart kiosk.

 Now, as participants in the Adult Vaccine Program, the pharmacy is providing a service that many require and previously did not have access to. 

Kelvin explained, “In the past, the problem was insurance providers only covered vaccines that they thought were important. They decided on what people could and couldn’t get. But now, the state is picking up the responsibility and is making sure that the people who aren’t covered, or who are under-covered, are able to get vaccines too. 

“The more people know that we now offer this, the better. So, for the people who don’t have insurance, we definitely encourage them to come see us to get their vaccinations. We just received some COVID vaccines and flu vaccines, but the program also provides other routine vaccines too, like hepatitis, Tdap, measles, shingles – I believe we have all the routine vaccines available.” 

Currently, the Pharmacy is offering vaccinations on weekdays between the hours of 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. To book an appointment and for more information, please visit 

And if you’re curious about the schedule for adult routine vaccinations, what they are for and how often you should receive them, check out the Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule put together by the CDC,

Purple October: Show your support for DV Awareness month at October 6 Coastal Jam

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Calling all drummers, singers, dancers, community members, and relatives of Tulalip, the Tribe’s Legacy of Healing program is in need of your good medicine on Friday October 6.  

In an effort to raise awareness, provide support and resources to survivors and victims, and also open up discussion about domestic violence, the Legacy of Healing is hosting a dinner and a costal jam. 

The idea behind the jam is that by uniting the people together in song and prayer, those who have endured an abusive relationship can feel the love and support from the community. And likewise, those who are silently going through it in their home life, can come to a safe space and identify their available resources, ask questions, and speak in confidence with a professional from the Legacy of Healing.  

Said Legacy of Healing’s Lead Family Advocate, Kaely Wickham, “It’s important to know when you’re in that situation you can feel isolated or like you’re going crazy, and that what’s happening to you is not real. It’s important to increase awareness that this is actually serious. You’re not alone. We do care. You’re not going crazy. If you feel that you’re not in a healthy relationship, we’re here to support you and give that knowledge of what domestic violence is – we’re here to help you learn about it. Our services are entirely confidential and there’s no pressure to report about what happened to you.” 

For the past several years, the department has taken part in DV Awareness Month, a nationwide initiative that dedicates the month of October to bring attention to the issue of domestic violence and to show support to the victims and survivors of DV. 

Through film screenings, self-defense classes, trauma workshops, beading lessons and a number of other community gatherings, the Legacy of Healing has helped bring about a clearer understanding to Tulalip of what DV is. Additionally, the event goers will often take the chance to open up and share laughter, exchange stories, and at times, shed tears together. No matter what emotions are brought out at each gathering, more often than not, the participants walk away with a smile, their heads up high, and newfound optimism, knowing that they have the support of the Legacy of Healing and the community behind them. 

While engaging their participants and clients in activities and open discussions, the Legacy of Healing has provided many opportunities for the people to learn about DV each October. That alone is extremely important because many are not able to recognize domestic violence as it’s occurring. And this is due to the fact that the majority of folk have misconceptions about what DV is exactly, and they do not realize that there are numerous ways an abuser asserts control and power in a relationship, including isolation, gaslighting, manipulation, among many others.  

“A lot of people can kind of sweep DV under the rug because it happens slowly,” explained Marisa Chavez, Legacy of Healing Victim Advocate. “It’s not like the first time you meet somebody, you’re put in the hospital. It’s a slow build and you don’t often realize what’s happening until you’re really deep in it. 

“Typically, people who are victims of domestic violence think that if they call law enforcement it’s because it’s something physical. But usually it starts emotional, then it goes to psychological – financial abuse, threats. And then it becomes physical. So, this month’s about educating and providing information for people to realize that it’s not okay that this is happening.”

Within Native America, DV has plagued our communities and statistics show that the Indigenous population is at a much higher risk of experiencing an abusive relationship compared to other ethnicities. According to the National Institute of Justice, 84% of Native women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime, as have 81% of Native men. 

However, it’s important to note that this study was conducted well before the coronavirus outbreak and those numbers are now projected to be on the rise. Not to mention that even with updated statistics, the amount of DV incidents may be higher, but do not necessarily reflect in research and studies due to underreporting.  

To help prevent further underreporting and so the community knows how to identify DV, the Legacy of Healing compiled a list that reads as follows:

What Abuse Can Look Like

  • Hitting, pinching
  • Burning
  • Pulling hair
  • Pushing
  • Strangulation
  • Physical intimidation
  • Use of weapons
  • Forcing the use of substances
  • Throwing items
  • Punching walls
  • Kicking in doors
  • Requesting your login info
  • Monitoring your social media- Stalking
  • IPV sexual abuse
  • Kicking
  • Rape
  • Forcing any sexual act
  • Uses children against you
  • Lies about your mental health
  • Financial control
  • Name calling
  • Jealousy
  • Shaming or humiliating you
  • Blaming you for their actions
  • Controlling where you go
  • Gaslighting
  • Love bombing

If you are experiencing any forms of abuse listed above, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Legacy of Healing. The program can speak in hypotheticals for those looking to discreetly acquire information. And if you are ready to take the next step, the department can also design a safety plan with you, for whenever you are ready to exit a DV relationship. 

Noting that each circumstance is different, the Legacy of Healing understands that leaving a DV situation is difficult and can sometimes involve the court systems. The department wants to inform the community that if you are in a situation where you do have to go through tribal or state court, they will be there to support you emotionally throughout the entire process. 

The Legacy of Healing is careful not to pass any judgements and allows their clients grace and understanding, because from a statistical standpoint, it could take a victim multiple attempts to leave an abusive partnership for good.

In previous years, the culture has been prevalent and at the forefront of many of DV awareness month gatherings at Tulalip. This year, the Legacy of Healing is returning to the ancestral ways with the coastal jam in hopes of not only giving a voice to all the local survivors and victims, but also amplifying that voice in-turn through the powerful songs of the sduhubš.

“From what we know, the reason we have these different crimes on our reservation is because it stems from the colonization that’s happened to us as a people,” stated Jade Carela, Director of the Legacy of Healing. “I think the healing piece for us is knowing this is not something that stems from us as a people. When you’re going through this process, that’s part of what you’re learning – that it’s not okay. It’s not who we are. It’s not something that comes from us. It’s something that was taught to us.” 

The Legacy of Healing is asking for your assistance in raising awareness throughout the month by participating in their raffle ($5 for 1 ticket/$20 for 5 tickets) in which all of the proceeds go towards supporting survivors of DV. Over 20 prizes will be raffled off at the end of the month including a number gift cards and gift baskets, Xbox games, a ribbon skirt donated by Morning Star Creations, a beaded necklace by Winona Shopbell, beaded earrings by Paige Pettibon and Odessa Flores, and a cedar and abalone headband by Malorie Simpson.

To purchase a raffle ticket, you can catch the Legacy of Healing team and the Tulalip Foundation at the following locations/date/times:

  • 10/2 on the second floor of the Tulalip Administration building from 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • 10/6 at the Greg Williams Court (Coastal Jam) from 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • 10/16 at the Tulalip Tribal Court from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • 10/19 on the second floor of the Tulalip Administration building (Carmel apple social) from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.
  • 10/21 at the Tulalip Resort Casino (Semi-General Council) from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • 10/31 at the Tulalip Gathering Hall (Employee Halloween Luncheon) from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

If you are looking for more ways to show your support throughout DV Awareness Month, you can order the Unity Elixir or the Violet Hope Lotus drinks from the café at the Tulalip Administration building, Ti Kupihali. The drinks are purple, which is the official color of the awareness month. In fact, October 19 is ‘Wear Purple Day’. Government employees and the Tulalip citizenry are encouraged to participate, so don’t forget to send photos of your team and your families decked out in purple gear to the Legacy of Healing. 

As a reminder, the Domestic Violence Awareness Month Coastal Jam is scheduled to take place on October 6 at the Teen Center. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the first 200 people to arrive will receive a free t-shirt. Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. at the Don Hatch Court. And the costal jam will follow and is set to begin at the Greg Williams Court at 6:30 p.m.

If you or anybody you know is experiencing an abusive relationship, please do not hesitate to call the Legacy of Healing  at (360) 716-4100 for assistance. And if you are in a crisis or an emergency situation, the Legacy of Healing provided a list of three additional hotline numbers that you can utilize during your time of need: 

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Strong Hearts Native Helpline: 1-844-762-8483
  • Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County 425-25-ABUSE (22873)

Tulalip observes National Overdose Awareness Day in a good way

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Laughter has an infinite amount of healing properties. This is especially true in Native America. Nothing lifts your spirits more than a teary-eyed elder who is cracking up, or a 100+ decibel cackle by a rezzy auntie. 

There was plenty of laughter to go around at the Tulalip Dining Hall on August 31, as the people enjoyed each other’s company and painted vibrant colors on small canvases throughout the afternoon. Because of the dining hall’s acoustics, the laughter bounced off the walls and amplified the good vibes on what otherwise would be a solemn gathering.

Purple streamers hung from the ceiling and tables were placed throughout the hall. There were a handful of tribal departments in attendance including the Recovery Resource Center, Behavioral Health, Quil Ceda Creek Counseling Company, Tulalip Community Health, and the Healing to Wellness Court. They setup shop with resources at the ready for those looking to attain or maintain their sobriety. 

Although the tables were occupied by artists, staff and community members who grubbed down on the Panera catered dinner, one table stood alone at the far end of the room. And though we established that laughing can help those who are on a healing journey, the attendees still approached this table with a great deal of respect, as if it were a sacred space, and offered silent prayers. 

After viewing the large poster at the center of the table, the event goers painted the palm side of their hands with the color of their choice and placed it on the margins of the banner, in remembrance of their loved ones who lost their battle with addiction.

“My uncle Blake passed away in June from an overdose. He was my favorite uncle,” said Tianna Moses with a heavy heart. “Today, I painted my hand and put my handprint, along with my uncle’s name, on the poster.”

Communities across  the country observed National Overdose Awareness Day as the opioid epidemic continues to spiral out of control. At Tulalip, the day is dedicated to honoring those friends and family members who are no longer with us due to overdose, as well as educating the community by providing resources, tools, and open arms. 

“It is important to remember and recognize all of our loved ones who lost their lives to overdose, or in relation to substance use disorder,” said Tulalip Recovery Resource Center Program Coordinator, Kali Joseph. “It’s such a heavy topic, and it’s one of those things that we sometimes stay silent about. It involves lots of grief, and disenfranchised grief, but it is important to talk about and remember our loved ones.”

National Overdose Awareness Day also provides the chance for the local recovery community to strengthen their bonds together and continue to build a strong support system with one another. Over the past few years, the Tulalip recovery scene has grown in numbers, so much so that this year’s Recovery Campout tripled its participants from last year’s inaugural excursion to Lopez Island.  

Said Tashena Hill, Recovery Resource Center Outreach Specialist, “We did the camping trip which was a huge turnout, we had over 70 clients there and they all had a whole lot of fun. Being somebody who’s in recovery, you have to find what fulfills that dopamine and gives you that umph again, so you’re able to have fun. Because if you can’t have fun in life, you’re not happy. And if you’re not happy, you’re more susceptible to going back out and using. That’s why we’re doing fun events. We’re also starting classes up at our building that are focused on things like creating job resumes.”

Kali added, “One of the biggest things that prevents relapse or recidivism is having a good social support system. When you’re surrounded by other people who understand what it’s like to be in recovery, it teaches you how to have sober fun together. And it lets you know that you’re not in this alone because there’s a lot of stigma and shame associated with addiction.”

Upon entering the dining hall, each person received a Narcan kit. The overdose reversal spray is relatively easy to administer and has saved countless lives. Narcan is readily available at the Tulalip Health Clinic and the Tulalip Behavioral Health center. The Recovery Resource Center also frequently holds Narcan distributions throughout the reservation. And just recently, the program unveiled a new vending machine at the Pallet Shelter that is stocked with Narcan, as well as fentanyl test strips and hygiene products. 

“I overdosed two times when I was using, so I’m thankful for Narcan,” shared Tianna. “I think everybody should have it and be prepared, because Narcan really does save lives.”

“We’ve heard from numerous clients that Narcan has saved their lives – that if they didn’t have it on hand, they wouldn’t have made it,” Tashena stated. “It’s important that people know that it’s out there now and it’s easily accessible. A life can be saved. Some people didn’t have it on them, and that’s what that handprint poster represents. It’s for the people who we lost, and if they had Narcan that day, they’d still be here with us. We hear it over and over again, ‘I wish I had Narcan that day’.”

Kali explained, “Narcan is important because it can reverse an overdose. It is like a downstream approach to prevention but it’s important because it will save the person’s life right then and there. It opens up more windows of opportunity for that person to get sober and live a better life. And it gives them more hope and time to decide that they are ready to change their lives.”

According to the Snohomish County Opioid Overdose and Prevention Data and Dashboard, there were 215 overdose deaths in the county last year, an increase of 115 people when compared to 2017’s statistic of 100 deaths by overdose. And the most recent data shows that this year, at least 66 people have died due to an opioid overdose in the first quarter of 2023.

There have been numerous studies throughout the years, from the likes of the CDC and Washington Post, that show Native communities have been hit the hardest by the opioid crisis. The Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center’s (AASTEC) research indicates that in 2021, the opioid overdose death rate for Natives was 38.7 deaths per 100,000 nationwide. 

With this current trend, the epidemic shows no signs of slowing down. Even so, Tulalip is taking proactive measures by offering multiple programs and resources that are dedicated to helping their membership gain their sobriety and live a clean and healthy lifestyle. 

The event concluded with a raffle, in which people won items such as Coast Salish laced t-shirts, mugs, and blankets. The National Overdose Awareness Day event was a lighthearted gathering where the community reminisced about their late loved ones and honored all those lives lost due to an overdose. 

Tianna expressed, “I wish there were events like this happening when I was using, so I could’ve seen that there are people who care and are really out there to help. I was in active addiction for almost eight years, I’m 25 so that’s a long time. I never thought I would be sober again. I thought death was going to be my only way out. And that’s why this event is important, because it spreads awareness, and it shows people that we can recover.”

For additional information, please contact the Tulalip Recovery Resource Center at (360) 716-4773.

Facing the opioid crisis

 First ever National Tribal Opioid Summit held at Tulalip

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News 

Leaders from the Tulalip Tribes, coordinating with the Portland Area Indian Health Board, hosted the first-ever National Tribal Opioid Summit at the Tulalip Resort and Casino, August 22-24. With assistance from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director, Dr. Rahul Gupta, the group is working to create pathways for more resources and to better understand what is happening in communities all over the United States. 

“This is a problem that has two sides to it, there’s a public health and public safety side,” Dr. Gupta explained. “Any given day in this country, we have about 2,000,000 people incarcerated and 95% will get out. 60-80% are in there because of drug-related use. It’s a huge issue. We figured if we just remand people who are addicts, the problem would go away; it just hasn’t. In fact, they are 120% more likely to die from overdose when released. If someone has a problem with mental health or addiction, they should be getting the help instead of being incarcerated.”

“I came from a much larger city, and I have to say without a doubt, the disproportional impact on tribal communities is significant,” said Chris Sutter, Tulalip Police Chief. “We have learned that we cannot do this in silence. We are never going to arrest our way out of this problem. We are looking into Tulalip’s long-term vision: how can we reinvent the rehabilitative incarceration system that focuses on the well-being of the person, not just locking them up but helping them become long-term citizens when they come home.”

Throughout the 3-day event, several discussions were held on how to help and heal people with addiction. The public health crisis has leaders from several tribal nations coming together in search of answers when dealing with the opioid epidemic. Some problems addressed were fentanyl, overdose rates, prevention, and mental health. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says, “Many individuals who develop substance use disorders (SUD) are also diagnosed with mental disorders, and vice versa.” 

This has led to a whole new approach when dealing with someone who is currently in addiction. New methods have been developed and implemented to help address mental health as well as the body. People trapped by drug addiction are finally being listened to. New facilities are being built to handle the needs of people in addiction and help them find a better solution to how they live while giving them a way to manage their lives. 

One of the many facilities battling the opioid epidemic is the Quil Ceda Creek Counseling Center (Q4C). On a tour of the facilities with Dr. Gupta, Tanya Burns, Q4C Administrator, stated, “For our intensive outpatients, we use a whole person approach for helping people who are in addiction get medication-assisted treatment with primary care, group therapy, counseling, resource referrals and childcare services.”

“The intention was to offer as many things under one roof as possible,” Tanya said. “When you refer people in addiction out for different services such as counseling or to see a primary care doctor, you have no way to confirm they will go or can go. So, if we can take care of that here, we have that confirmation and can diagnose them or help assist them with finding treatment. We also offer Narcan to new patients, and anybody can walk through our doors and get Narcan for free.”

If you or someone you know are facing issues dealing with addiction, you can contact the Quil Ceda Creek Counseling Company at (360)716-2211. 

Building up the local recovery community: Family Wellness Court introduces Parent’s Talking Circle

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

On a scorching summer afternoon, four Tribal mothers found comfort inside the courtroom of the Tulalip Justice Center. In a relaxing environment, much different than the typical court setting, the ladies decompressed in the comfort of air conditioning as they joined together at the center of the courtroom and circled up along with the Tulalip Family Wellness Court team. 

Established in 2020, the Family Wellness Court has proven to be an effective method in assisting their clients attain and maintain their sobriety. The program accelerates the reunification process between parents and Tulalip children by way of a detailed plan that incorporates their traditional way of life and culture. 

This alternative path to the road of recovery has been a major success within the Tulalip community and has reunited numerous families over the past three years. The Family Wellness Court design was based on the success of Tulalip’s Healing to Wellness Court. However, the courthouse made many modifications when developing the Family Wellness Court model. 

Although the Family Wellness Court’s game plan mirrors the Healing to Wellness Court model in many aspects, the court wants to stress that the two programs are completely separate from one another. Family Wellness is volunteer-based and works with individuals on their own accord, through either a referral or self-referrals, and is not mandated by the courts. Whereas the Healing to Wellness Court works on criminal cases, where their clients could potentially face jail time if they fall out of compliance. And since the Family Wellness Court is voluntary and does not work on criminal cases, there is no punitive element to the program and the clients do not face jail time if they fall off track.  

Overall, the program is built to support, encourage, and assist tribal parents and/or parents of tribal members as they work toward achieving a clean and healthy lifestyle. By following a personalized plan, put together by the individual and the Family Wellness Court team, the parents are actively fighting to regain visitation and custody rights of their kids and bring a close to their open beda?chelh cases. 

The Family Wellness Court utilizes the wrap-around approach and brings together several different tribal departments to ensure each of their clients has access to the necessary resources throughout their duration in the program. The team approach plays a large role in the Family Wellness Court and in each participant’s recovery journey. 

The team consists of multiple professionals including tribal courthouse judges, officials, attorneys, beda?chelh representatives, counselors and recovery specialists. The idea is that with everybody on the same page and meeting on a regular basis, the client is apt to stay in-compliance and make positive progress in maintaining their sobriety when they know exactly what their team expects from them.

The Tulalip Tribal Court believes that this collaboration between multiple departments, all with the same intent of helping people attain sobriety, is the key to success with Family Wellness Court clients. This helps them establish relationships with the judges and task force members and includes them in the entire process from the moment they accept help from the Family Wellness Court to the moment they are reunified with their children. 

Many people are seeing great results with the Family Wellness Court model thanks to required ‘give back hours’. Not only does this afford tribal parents the opportunity to get reacclimated into the community, but also provides them with the chance to return to their ancestral teachings and traditional way of life through cultural engagement at local tribal events and ceremonies. Over the summer, the Family Wellness Court took this notion a step further by implementing the Parent Talking Circle into the program.

“We really wanted to incorporate the culture, especially in the Talking Circle,” explained Family Wellness Court Coordinator, Erika Moore. “We have a lot of parents who are non-tribal, and this is a good way to get our tribal members teaching the non-tribal members, so they in turn can teach their children more about their culture. It gives [tribal members] more confidence in getting back into their culture. And when we see them get back into their culture, they grow exponentially.”

Said Chemical Dependency Professional Arla Ditz, “The Talking Circle is more second nature to tribal members because it’s along the lines of the cultural teachings they were raised with. And it’s not just the culture, it’s that spirituality in general. One of the key things in successful recovery is the spiritual piece, no matter what you believe in or where you come from, it’s a really important part of recovery. And so, when we come into our circle, that really helps support that, and it brings the netting together to be more supportive for the people participating in the program. I think the Talking Circle helps people figure out their goals and achieve them much quicker, and maybe even better.”

Held at the beginning of each month, the Parent Talking Circle allows the clients to connect with each other and share their story, struggles, successes, and goals with the group. In this traditional and no pressure setting, the parents are more open to share and relate to one another’s journey, as well as express any hardships they might be encountering. 

During the most recent Parent Talking Circle, the tears were rolling as the participants recounted their lifestyle prior to enrolling in the Family Wellness Court. To see how far each of them has come since the height of their addiction is heartwarming and inspiring. And hearing the moms talk about their daily interactions with their children was quite moving, considering all the adversities they had to overcome to share time and space with their kids once again. 

“The Talking Circle has helped me stay accountable and encouraged me to keep going,” shared Tribal member Corrina Gobin. “It’s much more than just a circle. Today, I learned about the four sacred medicines, and it gave me the opportunity to learn something new with the whole group. Each person in the circle, you end up having a close and personal relationship with. We’re all available to help each other, whether it be rides to your kids, or back and forth to treatment, UAs, whatever it may be, they play a significant role in getting us through all the things we need to get through in order to get our kids back. They give me recognition when I’m doing things that are good, and they also call me out for not doing things that are good. I actually look forward to coming to court now because they give me that motivation.”

Tribal member Kerri Deen added, “I feel like it’s been helping me spiritually. Like the discussion today, it was about how to properly use sage and sweetgrass. The Talking Circle helps when we’re at a standstill and we’re struggling to meet our goals. No matter the situation, the team helps us get through those obstacles to get our lives back. It’s amazing and I love it because you don’t feel attacked. It’s more focused on helping each other get everything done so we can get our kids back.”

Though still in its infancy, the Parent’s Talking Circle shows nothing but promise in helping build up the local recovery community and reunify tribal children with their parents in a timely and responsible manner.

If you or a loved one are ready for a new approach to sobriety and reunification with your child, please contact the Family Wellness Court at (360) 716-4771.

Healing at Lopez Island

Over 70 community members celebrate their sobriety at the 2nd Annual Recovery Campout

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The journey across the Salish Sea is breathtaking, especially in the summertime, with shimmering waterways, coastlines of evergreen, and the occasional orca sighting. Many can attest to the thrill of standing out on the deck of a Washington State Ferry as the wind blows through your hair and you are left captivated by the scenic views. And whether traveling by canoe or ferry, this is a special experience for the Indigenous Peoples of the Northwest who share a connectedness to the natural world and the sacred waters that dates back to the beginning of time. Tribal members throughout the region are known to describe the waters as medicine and that being on the water is healing. 

The Coast Salish Natives have ancestral ties to the San Juan Islands. Long before colonization, the sduhubš people frequented Lopez Island during the summer months to harvest from both the land and sea, as well as cultivate camas. Today, the island falls under the Tribe’s usual and accustomed areas and many Tulalip families visit to exercise their treaty rights and campout, like their ancestors before them. 

Over 70 members of the local recovery community did this exact thing, traveled through the healing Salish Sea to their ancestral territory of Lopez Island for a six-day camping trip to celebrate their sobriety. During their island excursion, the participants set up camp on the Tulalip owned property surrounding Watmough Bay and got a healthy dose of sunshine, culture, and outdoor recreation while creating friendships and memories to last a lifetime. 

“It’s really healing because we’re constantly by the water and we’re immersed in ecotherapy,” said Kali Joseph, Recovery Resource Center (ODMAP) Project Coordinator. “We have traditional roots here, ancestral roots here. The idea of the campout came to us by a community member who suggested that we take people who are in recovery to camp at Lopez Island. So, when that was brought to us last year, we made it happen. We probably had only 25, maybe 30 participants. This year we had 71. One night it was so loud, it was awesome to hear all the laughs, we all just felt that medicine.”

A lot of times, when speaking about addiction and recovery, the focus tends to lean toward the statistics as opioid deaths and overdoses continue to rise across the nation. However, it is equally important, if not more so, to highlight those who have attained a clean and sober lifestyle, those who are putting in work and are determined to not become another one of those statistics, those who are proving that it’s possible to overcome their battle with addiction. 

Locally, more and more individuals are finding their sobriety through an effective tribal wellness court program, which has a large cultural aspect to it. Additionally, the Recovery Resource Center continues to be a safe space for those struggling with addiction by hosting events such as Narcan distributions, as well as weekly NA meetings. It is heartwarming to see the recovery community grow and to witness them engage in community gatherings, traditional activities, and cultural events together while on the road to recovery. 

The campout is another example of how Tulalips in recovery can join together and tap into their ancestral teachings to help aid along their recovery journey. 

Said Kali, “It was really awesome and a great way to bring a different form of prevention forward. Recovery camp helped support, establish, and nurture their peer support network. Sharing space together and laughter in such a beautiful place, during such a beautiful time of year, the folks who attended will share these memories forever with one another.”

The campers were kept busy throughout their stay on the island. In addition to reconnecting with their ancestral way of life, the recovery community had plenty of activities to take part in such as hiking, kayaking, biking, swimming, paddleboarding, as well as competing in volleyball and badminton matches. The nightly NA meetings and campfire talking circles brought the community even closer by allowing the attendees the opportunity to share their story and relate with others who went through and overcame similar struggles. 

Upon returning to Tulalip, three tribal members reflected on their getaway to Lopez Island and shared their experience with the syəcəb.

“The 2nd Annual Recovery Campout was a blast,” exclaimed William Thomas. “I’m happy with how many people showed up this year, and also how many of us from 2022 are still clean and participated once again. And all the new ones who were there to bond, have fun, and make memories that we will all remember. All the photos and videos we made during the hikes, games, canoeing, paddle boards, biking, swimming, the meetings we did every night; I’m so glad I got to be a part of it again this year. I can’t wait for next year. Happy and loving life today with 468 days clean and sober. Love and respect to the squad, and all the new friends we made along the way. And thanks to ODMAP staff and all who made this happen.”

Ezra Hatch shared, “It was really awesome to hang out with others who are in recovery! From swimming to volleyball to kayaking to the campfire meetings – and just all the laughter, it really was such an amazing experience. I’m grateful I was a part of it. Thank you for putting it on for us.”

And Kerri Deen expressed, “When I first got to the camp, I got the best vibe from everyone. They had the best energy coming from them, the workers included, you can tell they actually wanted to be there – and not like they had to be there. I was only there for two days, but in those two days we went bike riding, kayaking, hiking, we got to listen to people drum and sing, and watched a beautiful sunset with an amazing view. It was spiritual healing I didn’t know I needed. I felt so whole by the time I left the island. I will 100% do it next year!”

After doubling the number of participants from the first campout, the Recovery Resource Center is already excited to see what next summer will bring as the word about the campout continues to spread through the recovery community. More fun, healing, laughter, bonding, and culture are sure to be on the agenda for the 3rd Annual Tulalip Recovery Campout. In the meantime, be sure to follow the Tulalip Recovery Community page on Facebook to stay current on any news or events planned by the Recovery Resource Center. You can also reach out to (360) 716-4773 for more information.  

“I just hope they all left with good memories,” said Kali. “And I hope they can see how healing and impactful coming together to celebrate recovery can be. Because when you’re in addiction, I feel that it’s a lot of unresolved grief, or disenfranchised grief, associated with substance use disorder – for the person and for their loved ones. And I think that having the campout can help the folks who are using heal. It can bring happiness from something that was so heavy and traumatic for both the person who was using and their families.”

Catching up with Charlie Buckets

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News, photos courtesy A.J. Parish

Were you aware that July 24 is International Self-Care Day? It’s true. Look it up if you don’t believe us. 

A quick history lesson: in 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a “Self-Care Month” starting on June 24 and ending on July 24 to coincide with International Self-Care Day. This month-long stretch was deemed ample opportunity to allow for regional and national level initiatives by the WHO and its health-conscious partners to be highlighted.

Self-Care Day stresses the importance of self-care as the cornerstone of wellness. On this day, individuals worldwide are encouraged to make self-care a part of their everyday routines and turn it into a priority. It is a milestone and an opportunity to raise further awareness of the benefits of effective self-management of health. The concept of self-care has been around for a while, but it has recently received much attention because of its emphasis on wellness. This can include anything from following a healthy diet and exercising proper cleanliness to developing disease-prevention strategies in one’s daily routine.

Self-care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, exercise), and environmental factors (living conditions, social habits).

In celebration of the upcoming day dedicated to self-care, we caught up with Tulalip’s own Charlie Contraro to discuss her recent accomplishments and the role self-care plays in her life.

As a proud Native American and Tulalip citizen, Charlie was born into a world full of studies, statistics, and reports that attempt to decree that because of her heritage and close residency to her home reservation, she is at high risk for a litany of life debilitating diseases. The most pervasive being diabetes, cardiovascular disease (heart failure), substance abuse disorder, various forms of cancer, and liver disease.

To her fortune, Charlie’s parents Mike Contraro and Annie Jo Parish firmly believe in the notion that prevention is the best medicine. In their decade of parenting their youngest daughter to not just know of but actually embody self-care as medicine, young Charlie has become a delightful oddity compared to her peers. She devours blueberries by the handfuls, enjoys chicken breast as a primary protein source, routinely declines processed foods, and her beverages of choice are not sugar-filled sports drinks and pop. Instead, she prefers the standard taste of life-giving water and reaps the rehydration benefits of Pedialyte after her games.  

This seemingly simple yet difficult to live by mantra to forego processed foods and refined sugars for more nutrient-dense, vitamin-filled food comes with a whole host of performance benefits for the recent 4th-grade graduate. Measuring five-foot two-inches tall and weighing 97 pounds, Charlie’s physical stature is one of a lean and agile athlete capable of extended peak performance. Typifying that point, her recent performance on the basketball courts of Arizona while competing in the 2023 Native American Jr. Nationals brought her much adoration from teammates, opponents, and top-tier youth basketball scouts. 

During a GC3 Hoops live special about the state of tribal athletics, one scout said after watching Charlie’s team Seven Feathers play, “Their star point guard, Charlie, is already my #1 prospect for the class of 2031. You can put her in your database right now.” 

George Courtney, Senior Editor for GC3, added, “She played up in the middle school division with the Young Warriors, as well. I’m watching her and taking notes. Then when I talked to her after the game and learned she’s only a 4th grader, I was like, ‘WOW! She’s special and going to be really, really good.’ She has a great I.Q., she handles the ball well, has great feel and anticipation for the game, and has everything you’d want in the foundation for a young athlete. I was very impressed with her. In fact, I had one of the college coaches who was in attendance come over and ask for her information because they want to keep a tab on her.”

In Arizona, Charlie continued her recent play with a self-described All-Star team with her co-ed team Seven Feathers. Featuring four of her Yakama and Colville cousins, this team has a much more instinctive and free-flowing feel to it than her more structured Tree of Hope team operating under Nike’s AAU umbrella. Charlie and her Seven Feathers all-Native team dominated in Lummi back in April, winning every game by close to 40 points per game. Then they traveled to Mesa, Arizona’s Legacy Sports Complex, for Jr. Nationals last month. Her team again dominated, going undefeated in pool play, bracket play, and ran away with the W in the championship game. 

“It’s a lot of fun playing with a team that every player can dribble, pass, and shoot. And defend!” declared 10-year-old Charlie after returning from Arizona with bragging rights for being selected to the All-Tournament team and winning a legit championship belt. “I feel like Rocky Balboa after he became champion.”

After winning it all at Jr. Nationals, Charlie’s parents permitted her to get her first taste of a genuine media day. She was subsequently interviewed by regional coaches and scouts, like those of GC3, and got photographed for Tribal Athletics promotional materials. Of course, the bucket getter had to pose with her Wilson Evolution basketball and championship belt. 

As her on-court potential continues to soar with each passing Native tournament and AAU season, Charlie’s consistent discipline with how she fuels her body with water, fruits, veggies, and lean meats remains steadfast. She’s seen the results and knows what works for her self-care routine. However, she also knows there’s always room for improvement. 

To avoid burnout with high-level, year-round basketball, Charlie and her family agreed to make the most of short-term pauses between seasons so that she could develop other passions. Knowing that her mom and dad first met when they were frequent competitors on the Native softball circuit, Charlie opted to try her skills on the softball field. Her point guard mentality transitioned seamlessly to the pitching mound, where she most recently competed in Everett Little League for the Orcas. 

In softball, she worked towards finding a new routine. One that consisted of warming up pre-game by pitching to her dad after he braided her hair, enjoying her always scrumptious blueberries, and then implementing a series of visualizations. She would visualize her pitches and their ideal locations to each hitter to maximize her opportunities for getting strikeouts.   

Charlie didn’t experience the same level of team success on the softball field that she routinely secures on the basketball court, but she admitted it was still a lot of fun to be challenged in new ways. “When I’m pitching and things aren’t going my way, I take time to reflect and replay my pitches in my head between innings. If I can see what I did wrong, then I can make adjustments and get it right the next inning. Plus, there are always more games and more chances to get better,” she said. 

At just 10-years-old, Charlie is a true breath of fresh air as it relates to Tulalip’s next generation and their acceptance of prioritizing self-care for a strong mind and body that are capable of not just persevering through physical challenges, but making sound mental adjustments when faced with an obstacle to increase their chances for success. So on this International Self-Care Day, we encourage our readers to be like young Charlie for just one day by drinking only water, eating a handful or two of blueberries, and making time to sit in the peace and quiet in order to visualize what your goals are and what adjustments you can make to accomplish them.