Problem Gambling program celebrates sobriety

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News

With the popular rise of sports betting and modern technology expanding the accessibility of gambling, experts are becoming concerned and are raising awareness about the progression of gambling addiction.

According to the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling, problem gambling is a serious health issue affecting between 80,000 and 160,000 Washington State residents, or 2 to 4 percent of adults and 8 to 9 percent of adolescents and young adults. In 2020, Washington’s net gambling receipts exceeded $3 billion.

Tulalip’s Problem Gambling program helps mitigate this problem within the tribe by providing numerous resources for tribal members. The program offers services such as counseling, referrals, treatment, consultation for interventions, and community-wide events and activities such as Positive Day of Action, training for Wellness Court, a youth summit, the Problem Gambling Dinner, and a Holiday Kick-Off event to bring the community together and raise awareness of gambling addiction.

On March 27th, the Tulalip Tribes Problem Gambling Program and dozens of community members joined together at the Tulalip Resort Casino to celebrate and support the continued progress and sobriety of gambling addicts and their families. Traditional prayers and drumming filled the room to bless and open the event. The evening featured a comedic act from Tonia Jo Hall, a performance by the 206 singers, and gambling recovery speakers. 

Tribal member Theodore (Theo) Sam, of Gambler’s Anonymous, shared his story of the slow progression of his gambling addiction. He discussed how it can start with a few small bets and quickly spin out of control. His addiction grew to the point where he took out loans, borrowed money from people around him, sold things in his home, and missed many family events and holidays. Eventually, gambling consumed his life. He lost everything, including his four daughters, and became suicidal. 

Theo is now over two years sober, with custody of his children, and in a stable home environment. He has goals to open his own espresso stand and make a name for himself. Throughout his story, his daughters remained at his side in support of him and his recovery. He looked at them and apologized for all the pain he had caused.  

  “We have to make a choice every day. I used to think gambling would make my dreams come true. But now, I can’t believe the progress I’ve made by admitting I have a problem. My life is finally back on track. Giving up gambling was one of the best things I could’ve done for myself and my family,” Theo said. 

One of the community members who had previously heard Theo’s story, was so moved by his perseverance that he gifted Theo with a bear tooth.  

As the evening concluded, participants rejoiced in the strength of our people, the ability to overcome, and hopes for the future.

The Tulalip Problem Gambling Program continues to assist individuals and family members through recovery, allowing them to resume their life with a renewed sense of balance, health, responsibility, and purpose. For more information, please get in touch with Sarah at 360-716-4400. 

Kwani Sanchey’s Sacred Skin Kare

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

It might be a bold statement to say that prior to colonization, the Indigenous peoples of North America had naturally healthy skin. But before you dismiss that statement, let’s compare it to our skin in modern times. Back in the day, sticking to a nutritious and traditional diet, Natives benefited from an abundance of healthy oils, fats, and vitamins through the food they consumed, such as salmon, shellfish, elk, deer, buffalo, and a variety of fruits and vegetation. 

And though most Natives have a connection to those traditional foods to this day, there are a plethora of foods out there that we’ve tried to acclimate to. In many cases, it’s clear to see that we are not meant to eat or drink the manufactured, sugary, high-sodium foods that we’ve become addicted to, thanks to the fact that a lot of reservations are based on a food desert. The majority of us have grown accustomed to what is convenient and readily available like fast food, commodities, and the junk food aisles at the nearest mom-and-pop shop. And this has led to numerous health concerns like obesity and diabetes, as well as skin issues such as acne, rosacea, and eczema. 

Now, being that it’s next to impossible to maintain a true traditional diet in today’s society, a lot of Indigenous people are left to their own devices in managing their skincare routine, and many of them do not know where to begin in the process of clearing up their skin. 

Tulalip tribal member, Kwani Sanchey, has dedicated her life to her passion for beauty cosmetics. In her adolescent years, Kwani frequently visited the T Spa at the Tulalip Resort Casino, alongside her grandmother Rita Gobin, where they would spend the day receiving self-care services and perusing the retail floor for makeup and skin care products. Acquiring the knowledge of the many benefits that those products offer, Kwani developed a deep understanding of why skin care is essential in the world of today. 

Since then, Kwani found the love of her life and subsequently started a family. And through the years, she maintained a close relationship with the beauty industry, thereby strengthening her relationship with her grandma even further, as the art of beautification happens to be an interest and a bond that they share together. 

In 2020, Kwani enrolled at the Euro Institute of Skin Care and put in 750 hours of coursework and hands-on training to earn her esthetician license during the global pandemic. And now, after starting her own practice, Sacred Skin Kare, Kwani is available five days a week and offers facials to the people of the greater Snohomish County area. And most importantly, she shows a strong desire to impart skincare knowledge to the Indigenous population, especially to those from her homelands, the community of Tulalip.

Bringing everything full circle, Kwani offers facials at the T Spa every Monday. She also operates out of her own space at the Blume Salon Studios in Smokey Point. Currently, she offers three facials, the Stoodis, the Deadly Glow, and the Sacred Signature, all aptly named to reflect her Indigenous roots. And keeping her heritage and culture at the forefront of her business, Kwani enlisted Tulalip and Quileute artist, Marysa Joy Sylvester, to design the logo for Sacred Skin Kare. 

Recently, Kwani took the time to demonstrate a Stoodis Facial for Tulalip News, both the syəcəb and Tulalip TV. And the model for the facial was none other than her grandmother Rita, who encouraged Kwani throughout her journey in esthetics. Below, we have a fun Q&A with Kwani to spread the word about her Tulalip member-owned business, and also the many benefits of skin care… *ahem*… or should we say, skin ‘kare’.

Let’s begin with your journey in skin care, what led you to this career path?

Honestly, I’ve always been interested in cosmetology. I remember seeing a post on social media that sparked my interest even more. I looked into the school, I went and visited the school, and it was something that I instantly knew that I wanted to pursue. I resigned from my job and started going to school full-time. Beauty is something that I’ve always been into, and it started with makeup. And also, my grandma is one of my main inspirations, she’s always helped me, and she taught me how to take care of my skin properly.

You mentioned that you attended school full-time upon finding your passion. Can you elaborate on your schooling experience?

School was 750 hours, and I went to the Euro Institute in Renton. I traveled two hours each way, with traffic, every day for four days a week, and every other Saturday. It was a lot of textbook work rather than hands-on training, but I gained a lot of in-depth knowledge about the skin – skin conditions, skin types, [etc…]. 

You incorporate a lot of your culture into your business, why is that important for you to exhibit?

When I was in school, I never thought of going into my own business until about halfway through the program. When I was making my Instagram business profile, I wanted it to be in tune with my Indigenous background, because I want my culture to be a part of it. I’m very proud of being Native American, so I wanted my business to be authentic to my heritage. I thought of the name, Sacred Skin Kare, with a ‘K’, because my name starts with a K.  And I also wanted the names of my facials to connect with my community. I wanted it to hit them in a certain way, to where they would be like ‘oh my gosh, that’s so funny.’ So, for instance, I created the Stoodis (let’s do this) Facial because it’s a quick facial, and I wanted it to resonate with my Indigenous community. 

Do you have a lot of Tulalip tribal members come in to receive services?

I do! I have a lot of people from the Tulalip community come to see me. And when people see me in public, they always ask questions and tell me that they’ve never had a facial before, and that they want to book a service with me. I definitely make a lot of connections at Tulalip, and it’s always nice to see them when they come in. 

How many Tribal members have never had a facial before coming to see you?

I have been all of my clients first facial! I feel like it’s not a service that a lot of people think of getting, people tend to get massages rather than facials. So, I really like to reach out to my Indigenous community.

How does it feel to provide those skin care services to those who have never received a facial before?

It always feels so good. I feel like I am meant for this. I’ve been told that I have a very gentle touch, so doing facials is something that I really enjoy. And afterwards, I always feel so rejuvenated – I love what I do. I feel so good after I’m done with my day – if it’s one facial or if it’s four facials, it makes me happy knowing that I am helping people. And I always try and educate people on the products that I use during their facials, or the products that I recommend for them to use that would best benefit them for their skin needs.

I personally love providing that service to people and educating them. Not a lot of people take care of their skin or know how to properly take care of their skin. And for them to take on my advice and my recommendations makes me feel really accomplished as an esthetician. 

What services do you offer at Sacred Skin Kare and what is your process during a facial?

I offer a couple different facials. One is a quick 30-to-45-minute facial, it’s for somebody who wants a quick refresher. That’s also a great facial for a teen. It’s really cleansing. I’ll do an enzyme, which is an exfoliation that renews the skin cells, takes the dead skin cells off, and brightens the skin. And it really targets whatever your skin needs.

I’ll pick out the products, I have different products that are for different skin types – dry, normal, combination, and oily. And then I also do dermaplane, which is mechanical exfoliation, that takes off the dead skin cells and the fuzzies.

How often can you receive a facial and what is the importance of keeping up with your skincare? 

Facials are good every four to six weeks. Once a month is what they recommend. And it’s so relaxing and it’s a form of self-care. It makes you feel good after, and it helps your skin – it helps with anti-aging and it’s hydrating, which I feel like everyone can benefit from.

What is your personal highlight when providing someone with one of your services?

My favorite right now is dermaplaning, I love to dermaplane. I feel like it really makes a difference for people’s skin.

As far as home care, do you recommend a certain regimen for those looking to take better care of their skin?

I recommend for everyone to use a cleanser, a serum, and a moisturizer. That’s the minimum of what is beneficial for your skin, and that targets what your skin needs. So, when people come in, I’ll recommend different products specifically for their skin type.

Are there any products that people should avoid?

St. Ives, that’s the one product that I definitely do not recommend. 

What are your future plans for Sacred Skin Kare?

I want to incorporate more beneficial facial machines, so I can have more facial options for my clients. 

Can you touch on your schedule, and also let the people know how they can learn more about the services you offer?

I’m at the T spa on Mondays, and I have my schedule open here at [Blume Salon Studios] from Tuesday to Friday. I have a lot of clients reach out to me on Facebook, and I have a website where they can book their services. That way they can book their own appointments to best fit their schedule and can take a look at what services they would like to get.

Kwani’s Sacred Skin Kare is on the rise, and she is just getting started. Be sure to follow her Instagram page @SacredSkinKare to see a number of before and after photos, catch her latest deals and seasonal services, and book a facial with her through the link on her profile. 

The link will bring you to her site where you can find a detailed description of each of her services, as well as pricing info. 

And we feel it’s important to note, with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming up, that she offers e-gift cards that can be sent to your loved ones via e-mail, for the amounts of $5, $10, $20, $50, or for a custom dollar amount. 

Family Haven introduces new program to assist with IDD

Tulalip youth participate in the 2021 Autism awareness walk. 

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“I heard a story recently from a family who received a diagnosis of autism for their grandson,” recounted Nicole Couevas, Family Haven Case Manager. “The grandma told me she didn’t know what to do or where to turn. So, she pulled off to the side of the road and walked up to Jared’s [Parks] house, and knocked. And she said, ‘I need help’.” 

Autism is a common, yet very complex, intellectual developmental disability (IDD) that has significantly been on the rise over the past two decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in forty-four children in the United States are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – a statistic that was revealed in a 2018 study. It’s important to note that those reports show that the number of autism diagnoses has nearly tripled since the year 2000. Many are now speculating that since the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has increased even more, as parents were with their children 24/7, and therefore were able to recognize some of those IDD characteristics, and in turn receive an official diagnosis. 

Nicole explained, “IDD covers neurological and developmental; anything that affects cognitive memory skills falls under intellectual. And then developmental can be anything physical. So, under that umbrella comes Down Syndrome, Autism, Fragile X, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, traumatic brain injury, genetic disorders – so it’s not specific to just autism, though we know that assistance is much-needed in that area right now.”

Those living with an IDD diagnosis often begin showing signs in the early childhood development years and usually receive a diagnosis after the age of three, however, a child can receive a diagnosis as early as eighteen months. Early indicators of autism specifically, include language delay, repetitive behavior, obsessive interests, as well as social and communication challenges. The CDC states that children with IDD have different ways of learning, moving, paying attention, and interacting with the world around them.

Now considering these statistics, and the fact that you’re reading a tribal news article, one might begin to wonder what IDD looks like within the Native community. Historically, statistics in Native America are often underreported due to a lack of resources for reservation-based families in regards to issues such as mental and physical health, substance abuse and addiction, homelessness, and violence against women, children and two-spirit tribal members. And the same could be said about Native children living with ASD and IDD. A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that Native youth are 13% less likely to be identified with autism, while non-Native kids are 1.5 times as likely to receive an ASD diagnosis at a young age. And those low statistics and the lack of available knowledge surrounding IDD tends to lead to negative misconceptions, denial, and a feeling of despair once an Indigenous child is diagnosed with any form of IDD. 

Let’s backtrack to the story of the local grandmother who didn’t know where to go after receiving her grandson’s diagnosis. She immediately went to the Parks family for assistance. This is important because it shows that a handful of tribal members are already putting in the effort to erase any stigmas surrounding IDD, and that they are out in the community raising awareness about autism by sharing their personal experiences. And thanks to the time and care that organizations like Jared’s CORNer, Leah’s Dream Foundation, and the Aktion Club of Marysville and Tulalip have dedicated to the Special Needs community, people know that they are not alone, and that they can get through it with a level head and a full heart. 

Leah’s Dream Foundation

If we take a moment to place ourselves in the shoes of that grandmother during her family’s hour of need, most of us wouldn’t know where to turn either. 

Said Family Haven Director, Alison Bowen, “There are people within the community who are doing this work, and we want to hold them up for all the good that they’ve done. But at the same time, they can’t be the go-to for everybody, that becomes hard – being that one person who everybody goes to after a diagnosis. Amy [Sheldon] is amazing, Deanna [Sheldon] is amazing, Jared is amazing, but they need to be able to achieve the goal they are trying to reach too.” 

In that moment, the grandmother made the best call by reaching out to somebody who’s gone through a similar experience. But let’s ponder a what-if scenario. What if, after receiving that diagnosis, the family knew exactly where to go? What if there was a system already set in place that laid out all the resources and possible avenues that the family could take? What if there was someone who they could speak to who was familiar with the Tulalip community and culture, and the advantages that ceremony and ancestral teachings can offer people with IDD? And conversely, what if someone was there to help them navigate all the obstacles that Native families face after an IDD diagnosis, such as the lack of readily available resources due to their location?

Enter the new Family Haven program, the Intellectual Developmental Disability Support for Families. Still in its infancy, the program is being fine-tuned to meet the needs of Tulalip families who are supporting a loved one with IDD. So far, the program has hosted two meet-and-greet gatherings, and they will soon be releasing a survey to get as much feedback from the community as they can in order to tailor the program to best fit Tulalip. 

“Part of our mission is that we want people to know that disabled or not, you are Tulalip. You have the rights that everyone else has the rights to; you have a right to your culture, you have a right to your lifeways,” said Nicole. “We want to dispel these myths about autism. It doesn’t mean that something’s wrong with our families. It doesn’t mean that something’s wrong with the parents. It doesn’t mean that somebody did something, or that someone took drugs or anything to cause this. It’s just what happened. And we know this because there’s no race that isn’t affected by IDD. Autism isn’t something that happens to one ethnic group or religious group, it goes beyond all borders. It doesn’t distinguish between anybody. And what’s most important for the community to realize is that they’re still our kids. And they still deserve as much love, respect, and opportunity as any other kid.”

The IDD Support for Families program was developed to help the community in numerous ways, but its main objective is for families to utilize it to help bridge the gap between the reservation and the resources. The program accepts referrals, and Family Haven is anticipating that most referrals will come from evaluations conducted at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy and the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic, although they will also accept referrals from a family’s primary care physician as well as self-referrals. Any Tulalip family that is ready to receive that additional help, can contact the program at any time for their guidance. And to make the transition as smooth as possible, Family Haven has entered a collaborative partnership with TELA and the Clinic, so if a referral is placed, then the program can offer their assistance early in the family’s journey. Medical diagnoses are not necessary, as the program can help the family navigate that process as well.

Nicole shared, “One of our biggest goals is to support people where they live. We acknowledge and understand that not knowing where to go for help can be overwhelming. We’re willing to be there that first time you meet with anybody [doctors, foundations, organizations, etc..] because it can be so overwhelming. It can make a  difference having somebody there who has that connection with the community and understands not just what a family is feeling, having their child’s new diagnosis brought to their attention, but also understands the culture. That can help make an easy transition for that parent and that child to access those outside services.”

Down the line, the program will expand its services to assist any tribal member with IDD between the ages of 0 to 24. But for now, while the program is building its name and making headway, its focus will solely be the children with IDD who are in the age range of birth to five and are currently in those critical early development years.

Alison elaborated, “Early intervention can dramatically shift how a child does when they go to school, and also their future development. If they have that one-on-one care, or that specialized service that isn’t normally provided within the community, a lot of catching-up can occur, and a lot of gains can be made for that child. And that impacts their future in a good way. 

“Receiving these early interventions for your child before the age of three is easy, and there does not need to be any formal diagnosis. If you are having those concerns, talk with your child’s doctor or just give us a call. We can have somebody come in and share exercises that you can do with your child to help get them caught up. At times, it really may be as simple as that.”

Aside from the important work of providing resources to Tulalip families, the new program has plenty of fun events and activities planned through the summer months as well. Such plans include monthly play groups, where the IDD Support for Families program arranges park outings for the children to help build their social and interactive skills through playtime with other youth from the community. 

Nicole Couevas, Family Haven Case Manager

The program is partnering with the Arc of Snohomish County to bring new devices and inclusive equipment made specifically to assist children with IDD, such as ADA swing seats and wheelchair swings. And the program is also looking to purchase portable and sensory-friendly equipment of their own, so that families can try and enjoy some of those fun items and activities with their child. 

Another future event that is currently in the works is what is soon-to-be-known as Café Days. At these gatherings, families will be able to join together to share resources, information, and stories with each other. Which is a great way to help each other out while also continuing to build that sense of community as IDD becomes more common and accepted within the society of Tulalip. 

Expressed Nicole, “[Stigma surrounding IDD] is a real thing. Our message about this new program isn’t that we perceive kids with disabilities as disabled, because they’re not. I think a lot of us have this old image in our heads of that special-ed classroom from the 80s and 90s, where you had the kids who were basically hushed and pushed away, and it was us vs. them. But that’s not the world we live in anymore; we’re all one.”

She continued, “We’re not here to say they need to be fixed. That’s not the point of this program. This is to show all the different ways we can help your family to better maneuver in the world with IDD. And also, to make sure we are giving families all the options that are available, and providing them with as many modifications, if needed, as possible, so they have as much as an opportunity as everyone else.”

Be sure to look out for the IDD Support for Families survey, and seriously consider taking the time to complete the survey to ensure that those children and individuals living with an IDD diagnosis receive the best care possible through the new program. 

“We want to hear from the community,” Alison expressed. “What do you think would be helpful for this population we’re talking about? What areas are really lacking? What could we do as a community to better help and assist these families and individuals? The goal is to have people achieve their highest potential, whatever that is for them, and not have as many struggles. Our hope is to assist families who have a diagnosis, and also those families who might not have a diagnosis but have concerns. This whole concept has increased in every community in the last three years. It’s time for us to acknowledge that as a community and wrap around those families and youth who need our help and support.”

For more information, please contact Nicole at (360) 716-4935.

Gambling Addiction

Submitted by Sarah Sense-Wilson

Gambling addiction is an illness, not a financial problem.

It starts out as a recreational activity and progresses to a compulsive behavior, which becomes the main focus of a gambler’s life.

Compulsive gambling has mental, physical, emotional and spiritual manifestations and consequences.

The main symptom of this addiction is denial and the major characteristics are loss of control, preoccupation, chasing the losses and continuing despite negative consequences.

Anxiety and depression, low self-esteem and immaturity often underlie this addiction. However, the person has to stop gambling first before they can be helped with any other issues.

Gambling addiction has a devastating effect on family life and relationships.


Compulsive gambling is a progressive illness, which starts out as a recreational activity and ends up being destructive to both the gambler and his/her families. Compulsive gambling has mental, physical,emotional and spiritual consequences. The main symptom of this addiction is denial and the major characteristic is loss of control. There is also a tendency to take bigger and bigger risks as time goes by.

Like alcoholism, it is an illness, which cannot be cured, but which can definitely be arrested. One of the main symptoms of gambling addiction is that it becomes an overriding passion that permeates all aspects of the gambler’s life. Inability to stop gambling and continuing to gamble despite negative consequences are also characteristics of gambling addiction.

Winning, losing and desperation are the three phases of compulsive gambling. There are both social and economic costs involved when someone is addicted to gambling. These include poverty, starvation, family disintegration and criminal behavior. People who gamble to excess often suffer from feelings of depression and anxiety, as well as muscular tension, fatigue, headaches and high blood pressure.

Employees who have a gambling addiction also do not perform well at work as they are preoccupied with the next bet, money problems, where to get money, etc. Engaging in criminal activities in order to fund the gambling habit becomes a reality for many gambling addicts.

Gambling addiction is something that can happen to anybody.

Test yourself

Below are 10 questions from the US National Council on Problem Gambling on gambling behavior.

  • Have you often gambled longer than you had planned?
  • Have you often gambled until your last cent was gone?
  • Have thoughts of gambling caused you to lose sleep?
  • Have you used your income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid?
  • Have you made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling?
  • Have you broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance your gambling?
  • Have you borrowed money to finance your gambling?
  • Have you felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses?
  • Have you been remorseful after gambling?
  • Have you gambled to get money to meet your financial obligations?

If you or someone you know answers “Yes” to any of these questions, consider seeking assistance from a professional regarding this gambling behavior. For a variety of treatment services contact Tulalip Tribes Family Services Problem Gambling Program at (360)716-4304 or Washington State Helpline 1-800-547-6133

Strengthening the mind and body at Tulalip Bay CrossFit

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

A bold collaboration between Youth Enrichment and Tulalip Bay CrossFit is seeking to make a significant, perhaps even lifelong, impact in the overall health and wellness of Tulalip youth. That is, those youth who are willing to commit just one hour a day, twice a week to burpee, box jump, assault bike, row machine and push themselves into a strength transformation.

“Our goal is to get our youth into strength and conditioning along with gaining knowledge on nutrition. We hope that by them developing these skills, they then gain access to lifelong health,” said Josh Fryberg. “This is also a cool opportunity to support a local, tribal member owned business. Tulalip Bay CrossFit classes are free for youth grades 6th – 12th thanks to financial support provided by Youth & Family Enrichment.”

It’s no secret that many of our people who live past the age of Tulalip’s 58-year average life span are at high-risk for developing high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Also, not a secret that many in the under 40 age group have a propensity to engage in a lifestyle that’s resulted in diseases of despair (drug overdose, suicide, and alcoholic liver disease) among the Tribe’s leading causes of death.

What is a secret, one often whispered in safe spaces filled with like-minded fitness enthusiasts, is the previously mentioned afflictions are largely preventable. All it takes, wait for it, is self-confidence and a purposeful focus to accomplish long-term goals. That’s it, really? Yes, really. Confidence to decline the social pressures of unhealthy activities in order to sustain a mind and body capable of thriving from functional fitness long into the elder years.

This is where Tulalip Bay CrossFit and this newly created youth-centered class comes in. Because for our 712 teenage Tulalip tribal members, they have so much untapped physical potential and teachable mental elasticity that often they just need a safe environment led by a passionate coach who believes in them to break through their imagined limitations. 

“Knowing these moments of accomplishment experienced by the kids eventually turn into memories that fuel them to accomplish more and more is just amazing to me,” said Ananda Pablo, certified CrossFit trainer and coach. “The kids of our community are so adaptable and eager to be active that after the initial shock of actually working out, they make progress so quick as they get adjusted to the CrossFit routines.   

“We’re able to offer a convenient spot that’s on the reservation for them to exercise and engage in healthy behaviors,” she added. Ananda and her husband Roy have been co-owners of Tulalip Bay CrossFit since September 2019. “Honestly, the kids motivate me because I get to witness their growth. I watch them do things they previously told me they couldn’t do, and to see their attitude and self-belief soar after they do those things is just phenomenal.”

Participation in CrossFit has become increasingly popular in recent years, and many young people are reaping the benefits of this high-intensity exercise program. Within the familial confines of Tulalip Bay’s box, how those in the CrossFit world refer to their gyms, is a daily changing workout that combines cardiovascular exercise, weightlifting, and gymnastics. 

CrossFit focuses on functional movements performed at high intensity that offer the following benefits:

  • Improved Physical Fitness: CrossFit is an intense workout that can help young people to improve their physical fitness. The program is designed to improve cardiovascular endurance, strength, flexibility, and overall body composition. Young people who participate in CrossFit can expect to see improvements in their cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and body fat percentage.
  • Increased Confidence: CrossFit workouts can be challenging, but they can also be empowering. Young people who participate in CrossFit can gain a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence when they complete a tough workout or achieve a new personal best. This can be particularly important for young people who may be struggling with self-esteem or body image issues.
  • Social Support: CrossFit provides a sense of community and social support that can be beneficial for young people. The workouts are often done in a group setting, which can provide a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. This can be especially important for young people who may be struggling to find a sense of belonging or social support in other areas of their lives.
  • Improved Mental Health: Exercise has been shown to have positive effects on mental health, and CrossFit is no exception. The high-intensity workouts can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and can provide a natural outlet for negative emotions. Young people who participate in CrossFit may also experience improved self-esteem and self-confidence, which can be beneficial for overall mental health and well-being.
  • Healthy Habits: CrossFit can help young people to establish healthy habits and practices that can last a lifetime. The program emphasizes proper nutrition and rest, which are essential for overall health and well-being. By establishing healthy habits early on, young people can set themselves up for a lifetime of health and wellness.

An additional benefit of the Tulalip Bay CrossFit and Youth Enrichment collaboration is the competitive spirit that is summoned during workouts that showcase the girls versus the boys. When functional fitness is the name of the game, the girls can and do win in convincing fashion.

“It’s so important for women to know it’s okay to be strong. Especially during the teenage years, when there are so many social pressures to be skinny and entire marketing campaigns aimed at making them feel inadequate,” explained Ananda. “When it comes to fitness and exercise, skinny is not a strength; strength is strength. 

“We want our women and girls to feel empowered, so what better way than to actually develop a power they can feel and use on a daily basis. During these youth classes I’ve witnessed two teenaged girls, Lillyannah and Kyla, become so proud to be strong. I’ve seen them out rope climb the boys and out row the boys. Each time they are motivating and pushing each other to be a little bit better than that time before, and that just so inspiring to me because that’s the beauty of progress,” she continued. 

Youth fitness and self-care through exercise are essential for overall health and well-being. Particularly for Tulalip youth, regular physical activity can help to prevent chronic diseases, improve mental health and promote healthy habits and practices. It can be lifechanging for our young people to establish healthy habits early on and to incorporate exercise into their weekly routines. 

These Youth Enrichment sponsored Tulalip Bay CrossFit sessions are held on Mondays and Thursdays from 4:00pm – 5:00pm. Sign up today at the Tulalip Youth Campus located at 6700 Totem Beach Road. Get fit. Be strong. Live healthy. 

Quil Ceda Creek Counseling opens its doors

By Shaelyn Smead

On February 3rd, Quil Ceda Creek Counseling (QCCC) held its ribbon-cutting ceremony, welcoming everyone to tour the facility and view all the resources available to patients seeking recovery from opioid addiction. 

At the opening, Tulalip Vice Chair Misty Napeahi said, “This project has taken about five years to complete. I want to thank former board members Les Parks and Jared Parks for bringing this to the table when the tribe was against methadone. With greater understanding and more learning about harm reduction, we are here today and get to save lives… Many of our tribal members and young people are falling into addiction, and because of this [QCCC], they have a way to get their life back. Our family, community and tribal members are suffering, and their lives matter.”

Tulalip tribal member and QCCC Clinic Administrator Tanya Burns said, “This will be a drop in the bucket, but it is also necessary for this community and others. It takes a village, and we are blessed to have such wonderful staff members who are passionate and committed to helping save lives.”

The QCCC is set to serve 150 patients at any given moment and provides various services, including substance use disorder (SUD) consultations, SUD assessments, individual SUD appointments, individual treatment planning, SUD outpatient groups, medical and mental health assessments, and referrals to other community resources. The program’s three phases are induction, stabilization, and maintenance, a system designed to mitigate a patient’s chemical dependency and help them regain control of their life. While using these resources, patients must maintain confidentiality, follow their treatment plan’s urinalysis and breathalyzer guidelines, and obey the treatment team contract. 

The purpose of group treatment and mental health assessments is to help pinpoint any possible traumas that may have influenced their life and snowballed into their addiction. Group treatment also provides information to patients new in recovery, allowing them to build a community within the program and facilitate personal growth. 

In a media release Tanya stated “A lot of the folks that will come in here will have co-occurring disorders. They may have a substance use disorder which can be fairly obvious on the outside. However, they may also have a mental health disorder or something else. We want to treat the whole person.”

QCCC did receive their DEA approval and will also provide medication for SUD, such as methadone, Suboxone, and Vivitrol starting February 27th, 2023. However, clinic staff advises that any prospective patients begin their intake sooner rather than later to avoid pushing out their treatment plan. SUD professional Elissa Jules stated that intake can take around three weeks to process and approve a patient. She added that patients can still use the other program resources and courtesy dose while they wait for their medications through QCCC.

While receiving services or dosing, patients can leave their children in the playroom area, where they will be taken care of until the patient is finished. The facility does contain robust security and procedures ensuring the safety of its clients, children, and staff.

Even though addiction treatments like methadone, Suboxone, and Vivitrol have remained quite a controversial topic amongst many, staff on the ground argue that this is the most effective path for recovering patients. Elissa said, “When I first started, I wasn’t big on [patients using] methadone either. I know there is a stigma towards it, and people believe that methadone is replacing heroin or fentanyl, but that couldn’t be more false. Methadone doesn’t get you high, it blocks patients from the euphoric effects of opioid use. It is a harm reduction program, and we administer these medications and techniques to debilitate opioid use. I’ve seen it be successful for many people.”

The opioid epidemic has affected many communities and families across America. In our area alone, according to Snohomish County, in 2022, over 345 Snohomish County residents overdosed. And drug-related overdoses remain the leading cause of death within Tulalip Tribes. With many health professionals and community leaders working together to fight this epidemic, medications like methadone and Suboxone have made strides in these efforts. 

Elissa previously worked at Lummi and the didgwalic Wellness Center of Swinomish before coming to Tulalip. She has seen the effects of opioid addiction within Native communities firsthand. “I’ve seen opioid addiction spread heavily across tribes. Overdoses have increased tremendously in the last ten years of working in this field. We’re losing a lot of our Native people, and every time someone is an addict, they lose their connection to their culture, whether in the church or the longhouse. The more addicts and deaths we have in our community, the harder it is the hold on to our culture. Sometimes I see patients as young as 12 years old using methamphetamines or have tried opioids, and it’s scary.” 

The QCCC is an excellent resource for addicts ready to take that next step. It is open to tribal and non-tribal members, and referrals are not required. Operating hours for the facility will be M-F 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Saturday 6:00 a.m. -10:00 a.m., and closed on Sundays. It solely serves on a first-come-first-serve basis to avoid long waiting periods and adhere to the needs of patients more quickly. However, tribal members and pregnant women do take priority. For more information about the services, please call 360-716-2200 or drop in at 6330 31st Ave NE, Suite 101, Tulalip, WA 98271. 

Recovery Resource Center designed to ‘save lives’

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On the morning of Monday, January 30, community change makers convened for the grand opening of Tulalip’s latest resource designed to combat substance use disorder and an opioid crisis that continues to terrorize our community. Appropriately named the Recovery Resource Center, the remodeled building is intended to serve as a safe space for those actively along their recovery journey in search of resources to get clean, maintain sobriety, or simply desiring to chat with nonjudgmental staff and peers about obstacles experienced.

“We’ve been working on the development of this building for close to a year now, and the time has finally come to unveil this latest project,” said Rebecca Hunter, director of comprehensive recovery solutions. “We brought over the ODMAP team from the court house to work with our clients closely, which allows for a greater level of outreach. Within this Recovery Resource Center, we offer short-term sober living for those getting out of inpatient treatment, we monitor compliance of aftercare recovery, check-ins with recovery counselors, NARCAN distribution, and even offer financial services for those living in Oxford housing.”

An Oxford House is a shared housing residence for people in recovery from substance use disorders. An Oxford House describes a democratically self-governed and self-supported drug-free house. There is no length of stay and the house may have from six to ten residents. There are houses for men, women, men with children, or women with children. Visit for more information and eligibility requirements of Oxford living. 

The newly remodeled building that is the Recovery Resource Center has served Tulalip in multiple capacities over the years. Most notably as the old health clinic, before being the one-time home of Lushootseed and then a domestic violence shelter after that. It’s burnt orange exterior with red trim resembling a rustic torch, lighting the way to new beginnings for those whose life may depend on its resources offered

“Our overarching mission is to work with people as they are. Those coming right off the street and looking for a warm space to stay dry and have a bite to eat, even if for a short while, are much more open minded and accepting to engaging in our services,” Rebecca explained. “It’s another pathway for us to get the education out there and NARCAN distributed so we can save lives.”

According to the latest data available from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), 250 Americans die every day, on average, from a drug overdose. The number of overdose deaths has increased over time, with a sharp rise during COVID. Making matters more concerning for Native American population centers is the well-known fact that per capita, we have the highest rate of rate of overdose deaths, and that rate has only increased in recent years. This unfortunate, gut-wrenching trend is clearly illustrated in the accompanying CDC chart.  

“Having a drop-in center for people to go to, staffed with friendly, well-informed individuals who won’t judge, but will listen and suggest resources is so important for outreach,” added Rebecca. “We have so many community members in need with recovery, and yet we continue to have more deaths, too, especially among our young people. So where are systems not speaking to each other? Where are our gaps between Behavioral Health, Family Services, and the Health Clinic? 

“Our team is committed to finding solutions and identifying those gaps in service so we can better our services to the community and save lives.”

When your tribe’s leading cause of death is drug overdose, which is and has been the case for Tulalip in recent years, it’s no understatement to say having more resources, more outreach, and more staff trained to recognize the signs of substance use disorder can save lives. Rebecca and her team at the Center are committed to being the change that the community has called for: a group of culturally responsive, judgement-free professionals committed to helping those caught in the trenches make their way out to live long and full lives. 

“Although the grant for our overdose mapping program is coming to an end, we fully intend to continue on that mission to implement as many efforts as we can to combat the opioid crisis and high rates of overdose in Native communities,” said Kali Joseph, manager for the Recovery Resource Center. “One of our goals is to offer a space for our people to come together and feel that connection of community. For those who feel lost, that connection to community may be the exact thing they need to start their recovery journey.

“In order to most effectively reach our people and keep them engaged, we must take a holistic approach to substance use order,” she continued. “Meaning we need to approach it not just physically, but spiritually, mentally, and emotionally as well. We understand the need to raise awareness about how this crisis is related to intergenerational and historical trauma. A lot of times people use substances as a coping mechanism to heal from all that unresolved grief and trauma.”

It’s worth mentioning that the source of so much of that intergenerational and historical trauma that currently burdens our people stems from the now demolished Tulalip Boarding School that operated from 1857 to 1932. On the same grounds where multiple generations of Tulalip children were stripped of their culture and forced to assimilate, where untold horrors and countless wrongs occurred, that is where the newly minted Recovery Resource Center now stands. 

Tulalip’s Recovery Resource Center is here to support all Tulalip citizens in all phases of their journey: whether new to recovery, after a difficult transition, during mental health changes, or now wanting to give back in service to others. A bold initiative to arm our people with the resources they need to build resiliency, acquire strength, and feel empowered to heal themselves and our community in a good way.

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Human Trafficking. Torn pieces of paper with the words Human Trafficking. Concept Image. Black and White. Closeup.

By Marisa Chavez, Tulalip Children’s Advocacy Center and Legacy of Healing 

Human Trafficking is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 24.9 million people around the world.  Every year millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide, and Washington State has the 11th highest rate of trafficking in the United States. It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. 

40% of women who are human trafficking victims or survivors identify as Native American or Alaska Native according to a 2015 study by the National Congress of American Indians. 

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the business of stealing freedom for profit. It has also been known as “trafficking in persons” or “modern slavery”. In some cases, traffickers trick, defraud or physically force victims into providing commercial sex. In others, victims are lied to, assaulted, threatened or manipulated into working under inhumane, illegal or otherwise unacceptable conditions. 

Traffickers will use violence, manipulation, false promises of well-paying jobs, and romantic relationships to target their victims. 

Traffickers also look for people who are easy targets for a variety of reasons which include psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, and lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, and political instability. 

Sex Trafficking vs Labor Trafficking

There are many misconceptions of what sex trafficking is. Trafficking rarely looks like what we see in the movies.  We all have a picture in our minds of someone lost in a back alley, suddenly grabbed, suffocated with chloroform, and thrown in the back of a van, only to wake up bound by straps or duct tape or handcuffs. 

Sex Trafficking can occur in any context, such as hotel-based commercial sex, fake massage businesses, street-based commercial sex, residential brothels, truck stops, or escort services.

Labor Trafficking can occur in any industry, including domestic work, agriculture, traveling sales, health and beauty services, restaurants, or construction.

Traffickers use a variety of methods to lure victims into trafficking situations. Language barriers, fear of their traffickers, and fear of law enforcement frequently keep victims from seeking help, often making human trafficking a hidden crime.

The trauma caused by trafficking can be so impactful that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.

Who are the Traffickers?

Traffickers usually employ a much less risky and more effective method: grooming.  Grooming involves building trust and taking exploiting vulnerabilities. A trafficker might be a family member, or try to take the place of one, gaining the victim’s trust while brainwashing her or him to see the world in a certain way.

Perpetrators of human trafficking are just as diverse as their victims, and span all racial, ethnic, and gender demographics. Some use their privilege, wealth, and power as a means of control while others experience the same socio-economic oppression as their victims. They include individuals, business owners, gang members, parents or family members of victims, intimate partners, owners of farms or restaurants, and powerful corporate executives and government representatives.   

How do traffickers control victims?

Traffickers employ a variety of control tactics, the most commonly include physical and emotional abuse and threats, isolation from friends and family, and economic abuse. They make promises aimed at addressing the needs of their target in order to impose control. As a result, victims become trapped and fear leaving for myriad reasons, including psychological trauma, shame, emotional attachment, or physical threats to themselves or their family.

Traffickers target vulnerable people who have needs that the traffickers can fill. Sometimes they offer material support – a place to live, clothing, and a chance to “get rich quick.” Other times they offer love, emotional support or a sense of belonging. Kidnapping victims and forcing them into the sex trade through violence is rare.

Where to Get Help

For urgent situations, notify local law enforcement immediately by calling 911. You may also want to alert the National Human Trafficking Hotline described below so that they can ensure response by law enforcement officials knowledgeable about human trafficking.

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline, a national 24-hour, toll-free, multilingual anti-trafficking hotline. Call 1-888-373-7888 to report a tip; connect with anti-trafficking services in your area.

Legacy of Healing is also available to support victims of sex trafficking. To speak with an advocate, call (360) 716-4100.

The rise in Tribal grandparent guardianship

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News

Family issues surrounding chemical dependency, domestic violence, and homelessness have created a continued upward trend of Native grandparents obtaining guardianship over their grandchildren.

Traditionally speaking, the concept isn’t too far off from how our ancestors raised their kids. For centuries before us, Native people thrived through communal operations. Rather than families only being responsible for their ‘own,’ families worked together, raised children together, and depended on one another frequently. 

Historically Native grandparents helped raise children in their community out of choice and tradition. However, with certain struggles that today’s world brings, grandparent guardianship has become more about necessity and intervention. Native grandparents have become the glue for many Native households trying to keep their families together. 

Family Haven manager Alison Bowen recognized that grandparent guardianship is nothing new to Tulalip. Still, she has witnessed the increase in the trend as well, “We mostly see grandparents offer to help and take over guardianship. It says a lot about their love for their family and keeping the kids close, safe, and surrounded by their community. Beda?chelh has also taken great strides at approving kinship care and allowing that to happen, which is wonderful,” she said.

Other than some of the obvious struggles that derive from family distress, grandparents, in particular, have their own set of adjusting and obstacles to overcome. A big hurdle is the difference in generations. Many have raised their children in a completely different era and environment than they are now in.

“Understanding concepts around bullying, social media, drugs, and technology are all new to them. Fifty years ago, they might have had a version of these struggles, but as time has progressed, so have these parental stresses. They are being exposed to these new situations and have to adapt quickly,” Alison said. 

The success of these grandparents weighs heavily on the amount of support that they have. A 2019 Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology studied Montana’s Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Project’s stressors, resources, and resiliency of rural Native and European American custodial grandparents. In short, the research found that 33% of the Native grandparents suffered from economic distress and were ill-prepared to financially accommodate the needs of childrearing. They also found that living on reservations or small communities brought shame, guilt, and fear of gossip that challenged the uptake of services when eligible.

It was argued that due to Native Americans’ history of traumas from colonialism, cultural genocide, forced relocation to reservations, and residential boarding schools, Native American grandparents suffered a higher level of depressive symptoms. On the other hand, because of these historical events, it forced Native Americans to adapt, and the grandparents scored a higher level of resiliency than their European American counterparts. 

Alison spoke about her admiration for Tulalip grandparents taking on this new role, “To settle down and retire, and then to choose to repeat the childrearing chapter of their lives, is so amazing. You can feel the love that they have for their grandchildren. And whenever kids can stay in their family or community, they feel more connected and like they belong. That’s what any child wants,” she said. 

An anonymous tribal grandparent shared their story, similar to many other grandparents holding guardianship. They obtained guardianship over their four great nieces and nephews in 2020 due to parental mental health and addiction-related issues. Raising four kids under eight years old, lack of energy, exposure to new technology, and adapting to new parenting styles were all obstacles the grandparents had to overcome. But they look at this time in their life to better themselves and have a second shot at parenthood.

The anonymous grandparent spoke about not having parents and how they didn’t want these kids to experience that same trauma, “It was not a question at all when we took them in. We love them, and we had to keep our family together. We wanted their parents to be sober and care for their kids because they were once awesome parents. But it’s just not what happened. We struggled at first in our transition because this wasn’t what we had planned for our life, but we shifted our thoughts and started saying- ‘this is our life,’” they said.

The grandparent also shared their gratitude for how their family has come together and helped them with raising the kids. They expressed how TANF and Beda?chelh have been substantial resources for them.

“The biggest thing I could say to other grandparents experiencing this transition is to enjoy the moment, enjoy the children, and find your support system. Kids are a blessing and can motivate you in ways you haven’t thought of before,” they said. 

Many resources are available for Tulalip families in distress, including Family Advocacy’s programs like Beda?chelh, funding through TANF, Child Advocacy, and Legacy of Healing. Child Youth and Family (CYF) Mental Wellness also provides individual and family therapy, transportation services, and referrals to various psychological services. Additionally, Family Haven provides Teen Outreach Program, Tulalip Peer Support Program, MOMs Group, parenting classes, Family Spirit Home Visiting Program, and the Family Preservation Program.

If you or someone you know needs services, please contact Beda?chelh and Family Haven at 3607163284, Family Advocacy at 3607164320, or CYF Mental Wellness at 3607164224.