Dr. Karen Foster-Schubert joins Tulalip Health Clinic

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

On December 18, Dr. Karen Foster-Schubert, a seasoned medical professional with a rich background, has assumed the crucial role of the new medical director for the Tulalip Health Clinic. With roots in Seattle and a long career with the University of Washington Veterans Affairs (V.A.), Dr. Foster-Schubert brings a wealth of experience to shape the future of healthcare delivery for the Tulalip community. Emphasizing the collaborative approach needed for success, she notes, “There is so much to learn and many decisions to make going forward.” 

Karen achieved her medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and did her internal residency in San Francisco. Then, she returned to the Pacific Northwest to finish her fellowship at the University of Washington before becoming a faculty member at the VA.

While immersed in roles at the V.A., Dr. Foster-Schubert found herself at the nexus of administrative leadership with an unwavering commitment to improving healthcare systems. Little did she anticipate that her extensive background, including spearheading the endocrinology department and serving as the Vice Chief of Medicine, would draw the attention of Jeremy Howell, the Health System Administrator for Tulalip. 

“I knew Jeremy from the V.A. and several specialty care work,” Karen said. “So when he reached out, I was like, this seems like a good opportunity to work with some amazing people, make a difference in how the healthcare system is organized, and bring in some specialty care. I am an endocrinologist, so I do a lot of work with diabetes and metabolic disease.”

Dr. Foster-Schubert’s decision to embark on this new chapter stemmed from a desire to make a tangible impact. Moving away from the expansive yet bureaucratic V.A. environment, she sought a more hands-on role where her insights could directly influence positive change. The pressing goal for Tulalip became clear – accreditation, which is a review process to determine if programs meet official regulatory requirements and standards of quality

“One of our biggest goals is accreditation,” Karen explained. “The accreditation process helps ensure a safety and healthcare excellence culture and improves access and equity. We have a consulting team to help look at every aspect that needs to be addressed to become accredited.”

Karen continued, “Another goal would be to focus on a culture of respect. That means that we all need to respect one another, respect everyone’s rules, and have a good understanding of everyone’s rules. This is not only for our staff and providers but also for our patients so that we are treating our patients with respect and, in return, creating a better sense of trust.”

As the tribe endeavors toward accreditation, Dr. Foster-Schubert lays out the multifaceted approach necessary for success. Addressing fundamental aspects such as the healthcare environment, safety protocols, and infection prevention systems, the tribe aims to overhaul its primary care system. 

While acknowledging the enormity of the accreditation process, Dr. Foster-Schubert views it as an opportunity for constructive change. She envisions a roadmap that aligns with Tulalip’s goals, emphasizing that accreditation isn’t a sign of past shortcomings but a collective journey toward more efficient and effective healthcare delivery. The tribe’s investment in training, particularly launching the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) process, underscores the commitment to coordinated care and continuous improvement.

“This is a little bit of a learning process for me,” Karen said. “I’m trying to understand how this system focuses on primary care delivery. I’m particularly concerned with ensuring efficient communication within our system and with external referrals. Since we can’t offer every specialty care in-house, it’s crucial to streamline the process for a seamless experience. We want to make it so that when we can’t provide the care in-house, and when they travel outside our health system to get the care they need, they know they have our support and understanding of navigating the health care system.”

Dr. Foster-Schubert concluded with a focus on change management and the importance of transparency and engaging tribal members in the process. “Change can be scary, and I want to do that in a way where everyone is engaged and excited. Be willing to be transparent; our tribal members must hear people’s voices around what perceived gaps we have and what needs aren’t being met.”

Focusing on you: Tulalip’s optometry office prioritizes community well-being

PR photo of Raven reading glasses by Trevor Angus, Gitxsan

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

Vision, a fundamental aspect of our daily lives, is undeniably crucial. And Tulalip Optometry is going beyond the importance of eyesight, to prioritizing patient care. The optometry office recently decided to part ways with its previous partner, opting instead for independence. This strategic move underscores their commitment to fostering community eye health through accessible and affordable optometry services.

“We hope to reopen in February,” said Tulalip Health Clinic Optometrist, Rachel Spillane. “The clinic used to operate on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, but now it will be open Monday through Friday. This change will provide our patients with better access to care, which was one of the primary goals when Tulalip took on running the eye clinic independently.”

Spillane continued, “We will also offer walk-in care. If someone has pink eye or gets a foreign object in their eye, we will be able to treat them. Additionally, we provide specialty medical eye care, reducing the need for external referrals. I see it as an opportunity for us to build a state-of-the-art clinic, one of the best for our tribal members, and that’s pretty cool.

“One noticeable improvement for tribal members visiting the optometry office is the incorporation of the latest technology for eye care. All the equipment will be new, and we will have more technology to provide patients with the care they deserve.

“For glasses, we plan to expand the selection of styles and brands you can choose from. Our supply was limited in the past, so we want to ensure everyone has an option. Some of the brands we will have include Luxottica, Ray-Ban, Gucci, St. Laurent, and native eyewear from artists in Canada. Additionally, we have negotiated with several brands to provide better rates.

“All tribal members will be able to receive services here, regardless of their insurance status. With everything now done in-house, it makes things easier for the patients. Having everything in one spot is particularly helpful for our patients, especially the elders, who used to have to travel all the way to Everett, and the journey was difficult for some.”

The new optometry office will be opening soon. If you have any questions or need to contact the eye clinic, please call them at (360) 716-4511.

New Year’s resolution series: Austin Orr’s 100-pound weight loss journey

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

As the clock struck midnight and we entered 2024, millions of individuals around the world embraced the tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions. Among the countless goals people commit to, a considerable number revolve around health and wellness. Eating better, exercising more, and losing weight routinely top most common resolution lists. This reflects a global desire for improved well-being and a healthier lifestyle.

New Year’s resolutions act as a powerful launching point for those in need of an annual reminder to mentally check-in and increase awareness regarding desired self-improvement. The process begins with individuals reflecting on their current habits, acknowledging areas for improvement, and implementing changes necessary for a healthier lifestyle. 

A commitment to positive change and holding oneself accountable in order to achieve the desired results can be difficult, and, yeah, most people fail to fulfill their good-intentioned New Year’s resolutions. It’s because of these very reasons that we now introduce a Tulalip citizen who embodies the most popular resolutions – eat better, exercise more, and lose weight.

Two years ago, Austin Orr weighed a whopping 293 pounds. He and his wife Dawna were caught in a depressive cycle after multiple attempts to grow their family resulted in devastating miscarriages. Their ensuing trauma responses revolved around seeking comfort in eating unhealthy fast food meals and the convenience of staying in and ordering food from mobile apps, like Uber Eats and DoorDash.

Knowing his nearly 300-pound body was at extremely high risk of a litany of life-shortening health issues, Austin made a resounding resolution to change.

“I needed to become healthier, both mentally and physically, which is easier said than done, but after my wife’s last miscarriage, we found out she has a super rare condition that made it nearly impossible for us to have a child,” divulged Austin. “That dream we had to grow our family was over, and in that finality came the realization that we have to rebound and continue pursuing other dreams, other passions.

“When I think back to what my life was like at the time, the best way to describe it is dark. Then, it’s like a light bulb turned on and lit a new path. That was the path to being the best version of myself, which meant making some drastic changes.”

The first of those changes was embracing physical activity. Committing to exercise more is a resolution with far-reaching health benefits. Regular physical activity is associated with improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle strength, enhanced mood, and better overall fitness. Whether opting for brisk walks, gym workouts, or engaging in recreational sports, the positive impact of exercise extends beyond physical health, positively influencing mental well-being and stress management.

“I found a local gym in Marysville that had a variety of weight lifting and cardio equipment, and made it a priority to hit the gym every day after work for 30-45 minutes. A lot of people think the gym is only for super jacked athletes and bodybuilders, but really there are way more people of all different ages and body types in there, getting after it in whatever way works best for them. I’ve seen fit seniors who never lift a weight; they stretch, hop on a cardio machine, and might mix in some bodyweight exercises, but just seeing them in there every day was added motivation,” shared Austin.

The Tulalip tribal member said he frequently watched motivational videos on YouTube. He credited listening to Eric Thomas, Jordan Peterson, and Mel Robbins for effectively changing his mindset from negative to positive, from convenience seeking to challenge seeking, and becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable.

“Anyone who starts a new exercise routine or workout plan is going to hit a wall early on, but that wall is nothing more than our initial reaction to discomfort, doing something we’re not used to doing. Yeah, you’ll be sore, but that soreness means growth. It means what you are doing is working. I remember in the early days, there were mornings I’d wake up and be sore in places I’d never been sore before,” chuckled Austin. “In those moments, I told myself that soreness was the new me defeating the old me.”

An example of one week’s meal prep. 

Stress reduction plays a pivotal role in the quest for a healthier lifestyle. Exercise, a key component of many resolutions, triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood enhancers. This contributes to stress reduction by alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression. As individuals prioritize their mental health, the mind-body connection becomes increasingly obvious.

The popular New Year’s resolution of committing to eat better is all about mind-body connection. Having the mental strength or courage to reevaluate an individual’s dietary choices that have resulted in an undesired body. ‘Eating better’ often means including more nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, while minimizing the consumption of processed and sugary foods. The shift towards a nutritious diet not only improves daily nutrition, but also considerably contributes to weight management and a reduced risk of various health issues.

“In the first year of my weight loss journey, I lost 40 pounds by going to the gym 4-5x a week. I wasn’t too committed to the nutrition part yet. Instead, I was focused on turning working out and exercising into a lifestyle, something that I prioritized every day, every week, every month,” admitted Austin. “In year two, I paid for a coach who created a meal plan for me to follow. 

“It worked for me because I’d rather be told exactly what to eat and when versus just winging it and hoping for the best. Clearly, being close to 300 pounds at one point, I didn’t know what a true portion or serving size looked like. I ate whatever tasted good and ate until I was full. After the experience with the coach and meal prepping, I learned so much about what foods actually make me feel good and allow me to thrive not just in the gym, but day to day.”

Austin with his wife Dawna Orr and 7-year-old son Cypress.

For many, the resolution to lose weight is a primary focus, and for Austin, his journey began with that simple desire to shed pounds. In his pursuit to become slimmer, he became healthier. Beyond prioritizing his workout routine, which forced him not to be lazy and taught him better time management, and then finding a sustainable meal plan, which honed a mind-body connection with nutrient-dense foods, he crafted a positive self-image that reflected all the hard work and dedication he displayed on his weight loss journey. 

It was only a matter of weeks ago that Austin’s journey reached a remarkable milestone. He stepped on the scale and it showed 190. Two years filled with countless sweat droplets shed in the gym and more egg whites/chicken/ground turkey/veggies/sweet potatoes than he cares to remember culminated with the 29-year-old tribal member losing 100 pounds. A new body equipped with a new mindset. 

“Looking back at my journey, as cool as it is to say, ‘I’ve lost 100 pounds’, it’s even cooler to say, ‘I’ve gained a whole new outlook on life.’,” reflected Austin. “I used to be lazy, pessimistic and took little to no accountability. Now, I’m full of energy, optimistic for the future, and take full responsibility for all my actions. After learning to hold myself accountable in the gym and for what I eat, I’ve taken those skills and applied them to all areas of my life. 

“I’m accountable as a husband. I’m accountable as a father. I’m accountable as a friend. I’m accountable as an employee. Just being able to say that now is motivation for me to keep doing what I’m doing and continue to challenge myself.”

New Year’s resolutions, when approached with dedication and perseverance, have the potential to pave the way for long-term health benefits. Consistent efforts towards a healthier lifestyle, sustained by a commitment to eating better, losing weight, and exercising regularly, can significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases and enhance overall quality of life. The ripple effects extend beyond the individual, impacting families, and the greater community.

“After seeing the results from my consistent exercise and better eating habits, my mom (Kandy Ness), who works three jobs, has made the change, too, to prioritize her health. She’s working out and loving it,” beamed Austin. “I hope my story motivates others in Tulalip who want to get healthy. There are a lot of people who’d love to lose 10, 15, or 20 pounds but think it’s impossible, but I’m here as an example that it’s all about the mindset and positive attitude. If I can do it, they can definitely do it.” 

While the allure of a fresh start in the new year is undeniable, it’s crucial to approach resolutions with a realistic mindset. Change is a gradual process, and setbacks are a natural part of the journey. Seeking support from friends, family, or healthcare professionals can enhance accountability and motivation. 

After losing 100 pounds, Austin celebrates by eating a cupcake with his son. 

For any local community members who’ve made a resolution to eat better, exercise more, or lose weight, Austin wants you to know you’re not alone on this journey. He’s more than willing to share more detailed tips and strategies for success that were effective for him during his two-year journey to lose 100 pounds. Austin can be reached at 425-530-4397.

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 nwic.edu

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 www.TulalipClinicalPharmacy.com 

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, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/adult/adult-combined-schedule.pdf

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.