Native American community quilt show comes to Tulalip

By Cullen Salinas-Zackuse, Tulalip News; photos courtesy of Colette Keith, NWIC Tulalip Site manager

On February 11-13 Northwest Indian College Tulalip campus is hosting a quilt show called Humble Stitches, Generous Quilts from Indian Country. It will be held at the Tulalip admin building from 9am – 4pm and will feature quilting styles from five tribal regions, including Northeast, South East, Southwest, Northwest, and Plains. There will be over 30 unique quilts on display with noticeable traits to their respectable region of influence. Whether it is Coast Salish design with trigons, crescents, and circles, a plains lone star quilt, a Northeastern woodland ribbon flower design, a Southwest Hopi pinwheel, or a Seminole patchwork style, all were beautifully crafted with a labor of love. 

Traditionally, quilts in all regions are to be gifted to loved ones or someone you want to honor. A symbolism of generosity and respect that can be gifted during ceremonies and gatherings. Tulalip has a long history of crafting and sharing during community gatherings. In 1950, at what people in the local area called the thrift shop at the bottom basement of an old gathering community hall is where a lot of the traditions of quilting were passed down. The tradition is being carried on at NWIC Tulalip campus where students and community members gather together and craft quilts that will soon be displayed for everyone to marvel at the workmanship.

Colette Keith, NWIC Tulalip Site manager, explains how the quilt show came to be. “When we received a grant [for the quilting class] from the Stillaguamish Tribe, we then attended the Everett Quilt Show two springs ago. I said, ‘Why don’t we have our own show?’ So, I asked the staff and students and they were excited about the idea. ”

The Tulalip Tribes contributed to the showcase by donating a quilting machine, space for the quilt show to be held, and informative catalogues for attendees. With the generous donations and hard work put in to make this vision come to reality, the anticipation level for the quilting showcase is rising. 

“This is big! There has not been a show even close to one like this since the University of New Mexico did one 20 years ago. And they are a large university, we are one small humble, but extremely talented and resourceful, satellite campus. As we get closer to the Feb 11th show date, people are starting to realize just what a significant deal this is,” Colette exclaimed.

Anyone in the community can submit their own quilting work to the show. It must be submitted to the Tulalip NWIC site by January 31. There will also be a free quilt raffle and free admission to the general public.

Making beaded earrings with Stephanie Jones and Chelsea Martinez

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Strands upon strands of vibrant beads covered two entire tables in a classroom at the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC). Choosing from the many hues of yellow, blue and red, seven local ladies sat down for a fun, cultural experience together on January 18. Picking up their needle and thread, some ladies exchanged stories and laughter while they worked, and others seized the opportunity for some alone time as they zoned in on their project at hand, designing and crafting medallion earrings.  

Tulalip tribal member Stephanie Jones, along with step-mother Chelsea Martinez, returned to the cultural center to host their third beaded earrings class, as part of the HCC’s Culture Series.

“I’ve been beading these types of earrings for about three years now, but I’ve been beading ever since I was 8 or 9,” said Stephanie. “Originally I started beading key chains and feathers, but I saw these earrings being sold by other artists and just started learning by asking other artists. And YouTube has helped me a lot. And honestly, just practicing with my stepmom, Chelsea, we’re helping each out other along the way.”

The relationship between Indigenous people and beadwork dates back generations prior to colonial times when our ancestors crafted beads from bone and stone. Beads were worn as a status symbol of wealth with beaded items featured on traditional regalia, jewelry and artwork. As the years progressed, so have many of the stitching designs. Due to the introduction of glass, metal, crystal and various beads through trade, the colorway and pattern possibilities for Native beadwork are infinite. Today, many Natives coordinate their beaded jewelry with their outfit of the day, matching their colors and patterns to those on their fabrics.

“I did a class here at the Hibulb about a year ago and learned how to make a beaded bracelet,” said class participant and local resident, Susan Stachowiak. “I thought I’d come down today and try my hand at earrings too. It was a wonderful learning experience, trying new techniques and my earrings turned out pretty cool. Keeping the culture alive is primo, I come to as many events at the Hibulb as I can to help support and soak in the knowledge, even as a non-tribal member.”

Three-and-a-half-hours passed by quickly and by the end of the class, most ladies completed one half of a pair of earrings, and then packed the rest of their materials up to finish their projects at home.

“It makes me feel good to pass this on and teach other people,” expressed Stephanie. “Personally, it helps me get in touch with my spirit. It’s medicine, putting a piece of myself into my work. You give away that work to other people, and by doing so, you give that piece of yourself to other people. I think putting yourself out into the world through your art is important.”

For more information about upcoming culture series workshops, please follow the Hibulb Cultural Center on Facebook. And for any beading inquires, feel free to reach out to Stephanie Jones, preferably through Facebook.

Help prevent stalking and human trafficking

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

On the evening of December 23, Tulalip community member and Muckleshoot tribal member, Brittany Nelson-Jones, urgently sent out a message to her friends and family via her Facebook account.

“TULALIP-MARYSVILLE FAMILY/FRIENDS: You always read these things and never expect it to happen to you,” her post read. “I was last minute shopping for my family for Christmas. I went to Ross in Marysville then the Tulalip Walmart right after. Some guy was legit following my sister, my daughter and I in each store and it made me super uncomfortable. He had one item and was standing too close to us at Ross, he even held onto our cart and was trying to ask questions about my daughter. And then he was following us around Walmart. He was looking for us when we were checking out. Very scary! All I know is I wasn’t letting my baby go and I was just trying to hurry up and get us home safe. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE BE CAREFUL AND ALWAYS STAY ALERT!”

Within minutes the social media warning was shared over a dozen times and several people added comments, recounting similar experiences at businesses throughout the area, while others suggested contacting the authorities or investing in pepper spray. 

“My sister is 16, my daughter was 7 months at the time of this incident and I’m 25,” explained Brittany. “Ross’ carts have these long blue poles on the side, he grabbed that pole and he started asking about my daughter. I was uncomfortable and my sister was too, we got a weird vibe like something wasn’t right. So we hurried out of Ross as fast as we could. That’s when things got very sketchy. 

“We got to Walmart and he followed us there too. That same guy, watching us. As we were in line paying, I saw him towards the front of the store lurking down every cashier aisle looking for us. I alerted my sister to keep her eyes open. He noticed that I caught him looking for us and tried to play it off. He then just stared at us from behind. After we paid for our stuff, we walked as fast as we could to my car and got out of there. That situation was very scary. When I warned everyone and told my family they asked why I didn’t tell an employee at Ross or Walmart. But when you’re in the moment, you don’t think about that, you don’t think of anything but your safety.”

Thankfully, due to their attentiveness, the young ladies returned home safely that night. Too many times communities nationwide dismiss these instances as coincidence or pay little mind to accounts like Brittany’s. That is, until it’s too late and someone turns up missing. For the betterment of the Indigenous community as a whole, it’s important that we learn exactly what to do in those terrifying moments because, quite simply put, Native Americans are being targeted. 

The results of a study conducted by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) indicated that approximately 40% of women forced into sex trafficking identified as Native American. Another shocking statistic is that 48.8% of all Indigenous women experienced some form of stalking in their lifetime, per the National Institute of Justice.

The Tulalip Legacy of Healing and Child Advocacy Center are taking part in a national campaign to raise awareness for the countless victims and survivors by educating the community with prevention methods. They are teaching people how to recognize key indicators one might display if they are currently being trafficked or stalked.

“January is the month where we focus our efforts on educating our people about the real dangers of stalking and human trafficking,” said Sydney Gilbert, Forensic Interview Specialist at the Tulalip Child Advocacy Center. “We often unintentionally minimize it by saying things like, ‘I Facebook stalked you.’ Which can be harmless if you have consensual social media friends, not fully understanding that it is a very dangerous and chargeable offense and crime.

“Human Trafficking Prevention Month is more aligned with bringing awareness to the prevalence of the issue because a lot of times when we think of human trafficking, we think of international sex rings,” Sydney continued. “There are all kinds of human trafficking, it’s not just sex work, sometimes it’s labor trafficking as well. Human trafficking prevention means equipping people with skills on how to recognize someone who is already a victim of human trafficking and how you can report that and help them get out of the life. We want to raise awareness on the red flags to look for if you think someone is being victimized and how to make a report.”

It’s important to note that in certain instances, stalking can lead to human trafficking, but that is not always the case. Sydney explained that stalking is often an extension of domestic violence and usually occurs between estranged partners. A stalker will use extreme measures while trying to stir-up a reaction, such as sending multiple threatening calls, texts, direct messages and e-mails, as well as tracking your movements by means of your cell phone’s GPS or driving by your place of work or residence. Sydney advises to never come into contact with a stalker or respond to their requests because it can lead to a more hostile situation. 

“If you feel like you’re being stalked, the first thing I would suggest is to contact the law enforcement and let them know, because it can turn dangerous fast,” Sydney stated. “Also, document everything. Save all the text messages, phone calls, incidents when that person is somewhere they shouldn’t be. If you are in a public space and feel like someone is suspicious and you’re worried about your child or yourself, notify security to make sure you get to your vehicle safe. And as much as you want to be there to protect your kid 24/7, the best thing you can do is empower them to use their voice when they’re not right by your side. Let them know they don’t have to go anywhere with a stranger and to yell out something like, ‘get away from me, you’re not my mom or my dad’.”

With the proximity to Interstate 5, one of the largest trafficking corridors in the country that extends from Canada to Mexico, the locals of Tulalip and Marysville should stay on alert when out and about. Studies show that traffickers prey on tribal populations due to certain jurisdictional complexities that often prevents them from prosecution. 

“We know that vulnerable communities tend to be targets of human trafficking or stalking,” expressed Sydney. “Human trafficking uses force, fraud or coercion to get someone roped in. If you feel someone is forcing you or someone you know to do something you don’t want to do, or is saying, ‘if you come with me and do this, I’ll give you a place to stay tonight so you’re not outside” – report it. It’s similar to reporting child abuse; you don’t have to have hard evidence to make a report. That’s someone else’s job, they’ll look into it. You just have to provide as much detailed information as possible.

 “Other signs to look out for would be if they’re not able to come and go as they please, and if they show any physical signs, including scarring, branding or certain tattoos. 

“And as it relates to MMIW, with the low reportings that we have, it is more likely that Native women have a proportionately larger amount of victims than other communities.”

The Legacy of Healing urges you to report any immediate human trafficking suspicions to the local authorities as well as to the National Human Trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888. For further details and guidance on these particular issues, please contact the Legacy of Healing at (360) 716-4100. 

“I really hope my story helps someone and alerts everyone to always pay attention to your surroundings,” Brittany said. “It’s scary how people around our area are stalking and contributing to trafficking. I truly hope our people will keep their eyes open and always stay cautious.”

Breaking the silence on sexual violence against men and boys

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Many people continue to find it frightening when they realize just how widespread sexual abuse and violence is in our society. What was long a taboo subject and could only be discussed in whispers is now spoken aloud at rallies and public gatherings, and is turned to the loudest possible volume on social media. 

According to Time Magazine, the groundbreaking anti-sexual assault and women’s empowerment movements #MeToo of 2017 and 2018’s Time’s Up upended the public conversation about women’s issues around the world, and elevated the global consciousness surrounding the obstacles women encounter in their daily lives, both personal and professional. The success of these two social movements continues to be the liberation of public discourse to include subjects and stories that were for far too long kept quiet.

Yet, as the terms sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual violence have permeated into national dialogue and every day conversations, there continues to be a veil of ignorance and denial to the fact that men and boys are victims as well. Often men are the neglected victims of all forms of sexual violence, including being abused as children.

Lenny Hayes, a tribal citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, is a therapy practitioner with extensive training in mental and chemical health issues that impact the Two-Spirit and Native community.

Organized by Tulalip Tribes Children’s Advocacy Center and Northwest Indian Health Board, the Tulalip community was invited to a January 13th training hosted by Lenny Hayes to offer insight while shedding light on such a dark topic. The training’s title: A silent epidemic – sexual violence against men and boys.

Lenny, a citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in northeastern South Dakota, is a therapy practitioner with extensive training in mental and chemical health issues that impact the Two-Spirit and Native community. He has travelled nationally and locally presenting on issues that include historical and intergenerational trauma, violence of all forms, child welfare issues, and the rarely discussed topic that is the impact of sexual violence on men and boys.  

“There is a general misconception that men are immune from sexual violence, owing to gender stereotypes of women as delicate and therefore victims, while men are either the powerful protector or perpetrators of violence,” explained Lenny during the one-of-a-kind training seminar. “Traditional masculinity is inconsistent with the position of victimhood, leading many to believe a man simply cannot be a victim of sexual abuse.

“A boy or man sexually abused by a woman is often greeted by disbelief, denial, or trivializing. Society tells us that if any part of his experience felt good, then he was not abused. Or if he did not enjoy it, then he must be gay. While a boy or man sexually abused by another male is even more reluctant to come forward because of the stigma and extreme shame faced, both internally and externally, by admitting to being victimized.” 

A new study funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and published in May 2016 looked at the extent and impact of sexual and intimate partner violence against Native American victims. The study clearly shows that Native American men and boys suffer violence at alarmingly high rates. 

According to the NIJ study, more than 1.4 million Native American men have experienced violence in their lifetime. This includes:  

  • More than 1 in 4 (27.5%) who have experienced sexual violence
  • Roughly 2 in 5 (43.2%) who have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner
  • About 1 in 5 (18.6%) who have experienced stalking, and
  • Nearly 3 in 4 (73%) who have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner

These are startling and heartbreaking statistics that were reviewed and discussed in great detail during the training. Illustrating the depth and scope of this rampant issue, especially in Native communities and on reservations, the PBS documentary Predator on the Reservation was shown. The film details a Frontline and Wall Street Journal investigation into the decades-long failure to stop an Indian Health Service (IHS) doctor accused of sexually abusing Native boys for years, and examines how he moved from reservation to reservation despite warnings. 

A National Institute of Justice funded study shows that Native American men suffer violence at alarmingly high rates.

Training participants, many of whom were professional advocates and social workers employed by community engagement entities throughout Snohomish County, were offered plenty of time to properly process and ask questions for further understanding about the heavy subject matter.

“You all took a huge first step just by being here today and being open to education about  sexual violence against men and boys, the many mental health issues that impact them thereafter, and how healing is possible by breaking the silence,” offered Lenny at the conclusion of the training. “I hope that when you all leave here you remember that failure to address the suffering of male victims has profound consequences for the survivor, his family and his community. By breaking the silence and creating safe spaces for these stories to be told, healing can begin.”

Following the training, Tulalip tribal member and Community Health employee Rocio Hatch offered her thoughts. “In this community we don’t really talk about sexual abuse at all, let alone abuse towards men and boys,” she shared. “I was very uneducated in this topic and am just thankful to have participated here today. I’m excited to bring this knowledge back to my coworkers and, hopefully, start to have these necessary conversations and expand our outreach.”

Megan Boyer, lead family advocate for Legacy of Healing, added, “There’s an absolute need of education around the victimization of men and boys. It’s very prevalent, and in my job I’ve become aware of just how big an issue this is, but nobody talks about it. We all have a responsibility to let our boys and men know we believe them, it’s not their fault, and we appreciate them for having the strength to tell their story.”

Sexual violence is just as much a men’s issue as it is women’s, but the current structure for speaking about violence in any form often comes at the exclusion of men as victims. This constrained dialogue limits the opportunity for survivors to tell their stories and be included as critical resources and advocates. Fully recognizing male victims will not only bring much needed support and assistance, but create safe spaces for men to address the lifelong impacts of sexual violence as a whole, which benefits everyone.

Offered resources for further understanding:

To view the PBS film Predator on the Reservation documenting how an IHS doctor preyed on Native boys for decades, please visit:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/predator-on-the-reservation/

To view the NIJ-funded study showing that Native American women and men suffer violence at alarmingly high rates, please visit:

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/249822.pdf

Tulalip community celebrates ‘wellbriety’

Natosha Gobin, Tulalip tribal member.

By Kalvin Valdillez

“My name is Natosha Gobin. I’m coming up on three-and-a-half years of my second round of sobriety,” shared the Tulalip tribal member to approximately one hundred community members. “When I was 21, I quit drinking right after my 21st birthday and I was sober for eight years. I’ve been teaching our language for almost twenty years now and it took a lot for me to realize, this second time around, the disservice I was doing to my job by drinking. The more we learn and reconnect with our ancestors and reconnect with our way of life, the more we realize that addiction is not our way. I have to apologize to my nieces and my children for normalizing my addiction. We have normalized addiction within our communities. It’s time for us to have more gatherings like this and say, this is not our way.” 

Many happy tears were shed on the night of January 9th as people from all over Snohomish County gathered at the Hibulb Cultural Center. The celebration of sobriety, or wellbriety, has occurred every so often amongst the local recovery community at Tulalip for years. The gatherings took place namely at the Tulalip Resort Casino ballrooms and the Tulalip Dining Hall, and were hosted by passionate recovering addict and Tulalip tribal member, Helen Gobin-Henson. However, the wellbriety celebration is looking to become a staple event in 2020 as the Tulalip Problem Gambling program has adopted the wellbriety concept and will be hosting a celebratory dinner once a month throughout the year. 

“In the spirit of unity to support health and wellness, we want to create a safe space for the community to gather and support each other in recovery. Whether you have one day or fifty years, we want to recognize your efforts in maintaining your sobriety,” said Robin Johnson, Substance Use Disorder Professional and Problem Gambling Counselor, who is approaching twenty years of sobriety herself.

Problem Gambling enlisted Native American Grammy Award Winner, Star Nayea, to host the event, who shared that she is celebrating her sobriety of seventeen years. The program also looked for guidance from Helen Gobin-Henson who was in attendance to share her story and celebrate with the community. 

“There’s a lot of heart break when you’re recovering,” Helen tearfully admitted. “Keep fighting. Recovery works if you work it. I’m thankful for everyone, we praise you for coming together to honor your recovery. Stay safe and continue to walk with pride on the red road to recovery.”

Last year, the Problem Gambling program hosted a thirty-two-hour class at Tulalip called Recovery Coach Training. This course taught local recovering addicts, who were looking to help others, the essential tools on how to be supportive and help fellow addicts stay the course of sobriety. Six of those students who became certified recovery coaches were at the wellbriety dinner, cheering on their comrades in recovery, including Denise, a compulsive gambler who was caught embezzling money from her company in order to fuel her addiction. 

“One of the things I learned about recovery coaching is you have to meet the person where they are,” Denise explained. “If you say you’re in recovery, you’re in recovery. It doesn’t matter how much time you have; a year, a day or a minute. Being a part of the recovery coach community and being a part of the solution for somebody else is something I embrace. If you are in recovery and made the decision that you want to pass on that message of hope, recovery coaching is the way. Let me walk with you and tell you what I’ve done, what worked for me and what didn’t. Let’s take a look at who you are today, and what you need to wake up in the morning and realize you’re going to be okay.” 

One by one, community members stepped up to the open-microphone to share their personal story of sobriety. Some celebrating decades, some celebrating days – all equally met with rounds of applause that echoed throughout the cultural center halls. 

“I graduated from Drug Wellness Court. I was the very first one,” said Verle Smith. “I did have a minor relapse of sorts after I graduated, but I got the opportunity to step up to the plate and figure out what my next addiction was, and it was gambling. I’m thankful for Robin, Problem Gambling and Family Services for leading me back to the red road of recovery because on the 20th I will have one year and I’m extremely proud of that.”

“The main reason I came tonight was to celebrate my recovery – nine months!” said Tulalip tribal member Winona Keeline. “This is the first time I’ve been in recovery and I just wanted to see the community come together and celebrate their journey. What stood out to me the most was how many of our youth were here and seeing that we are capable of coming together to celebrate life in a good way and show the youth a new way for our people to live.” 

The Tulalip Youth Council offered the group a song and president, Kaiser Moses, followed up with some strong words to encourage people along their path of recovery. 

“Thank you for showing each other that support for sobriety and taking back control of your lives and protecting your time,” Kaiser expressed. “One thing that I still carry with me that my mom always told me when I was little is that alcohol and other substances are like snakes. She told me a story Raven Moses used to tell. There was once a guy who was walking up the mountain and it was really cold. There was a snake that was walking alongside him. The snake kept asking, ‘can you pick me up for warmth, it’s cold,’ and the guy kept refusing. But the snake was persistent and the guy eventually picked up the snake – and it bit him. The guy asked ‘why did you bite me?’ and the snake replied, ‘you knew I was a snake when you picked me up’. So, the moral is don’t pick up the snake or you will get bitten.” 

A lot of knowledge, encouragement, pride and laughter was shared throughout the night. Wrapping up the two-hour event was a round of karaoke and a sobriety countdown. Starting at fifty, the community counted backwards to present day, celebrating the amount of time clean each person attainted. 

“Tonight filled my heart,” Robin said. “The participants in our program worked hard, coming to group sessions every day and giving their all to their recovery, and it’s not acknowledged or celebrated nearly enough. They don’t know a lot of those people on the same path to recovery. This was a great opportunity for them to meet and share with each other. I wanted to show the community how hard our people are working to stay sober and allow them the opportunity to bring that education and knowledge back to the community, to heal the people from within.”

The Problem Gambling program is gearing up for a big year, beginning by hosting two upcoming Recovery Coach Trainings; one on January 18 and 19, the other on January 25 and 26. Both classes are held between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at the Tulalip Administration building. For further details, please contact Problem Gambling at (360) 716-4302.

Careers in the construction industry are booming, TVTC can be your entry point to a better tomorrow

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Educators, parents and others often place strong emphasis on college preparation and earning an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree by traditional means. But that lengthy and expensive route often means accruing a ton of debt just to enter a highly competitive job market. College degrees may be the preferred goal for many, however there are a growing number of students who see a more hands-on future for themselves. For these individuals, unafraid of getting their hands dirty and learning the true meaning behind a hard day’s work, there is an abundance of opportunity within the construction industry.

Whether it be laborer, carpenter, ironworker, electrician or heavy equipment operator, there are countless positions available for work and advancement within the trades, especially for sought after minorities like Native Americans and women. A major access point for entry into these desirable career paths for tribal citizens and their families continues to be Tulalip’s own TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC).

“Not everybody wants to be a doctor or lawyer. Not everybody wants a desk job. I’m a lifetime fisherman that started a construction company when it became apparent we could no longer sustain ourselves simply by living off the land,” said Tulalip Vice-Chairman Glen Gobin. “Some want to be outside working with their hands. That’s what brings people to our training program, it gives them an opportunity to get exposure to all the different trades, learn how to function on a job site and how to get work. Graduates of TVTC enter a section of the workforce that is in high demand.”

In fact, a quick glance around the greater Seattle area and onlookers are sure to see more cranes than they can count. Along the I-5 corridor, from Tacoma to Everett, construction projects are booming and many on-site jobs continue to go unfilled. While other career pathways may be oversaturated and hard to come by, those within construction trades are thriving. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, open construction positions are expected to increase by more than 700,000 jobs nationally through 2028, a faster growth than any other occupation. In Washington State alone, there are nearly 3,000 unfilled construction jobs that pay much more than the average state wage. 

Brighter horizons and prospects galore were among the reasons so many gathered to celebrate the TVTC autumn cohort’s achievement on a December morning at the Tulalip Resort’s orca ballroom. Fifteen students (including eight Tulalip tribal members and three women) were honored with a graduation banquet for their commitment to building a better future. Nearly 200 guests attended, including trade union representatives, several construction employers, and many cheerful family members.

“Our TVTC program is 100% supported by grant funds,” explained TERO director Summer Hammons. “Our TVTC graduates earned various certifications and college credits, while learning many skills that will undoubtedly make an impact on their future. We thank the Tulalip Tribes, Washington State Department of Transportation, Sound Transit, and the Tulalip Cares charitable fund for always supporting us. These organizations and community partners are ensuring our future leaders have viable career paths.”

TVTC is the first and only state and nationally recognized Native American pre-apprenticeship program in the entire country. The program is accredited through South Seattle Community College and Renton Technical College, while all the in-class, hands-on curriculum has been formally approved by the Washington State Apprentice and Training Council.

The sixteen-week program provides 501-hours of hands-on instruction, strength building exercises, and construction skills that can last a lifetime. In addition, students are trained and awarded certifications in flagging, first aid/CPR, industrial fork lift and scissor lift, 40-hour HAZWOPER, and OSHA 10-hour safety. 

Homegrown Tulalip citizen Demitri Jones opted to retake the class after not being able to complete it his first time around.  To jumpstart an all-new career path as a carpenter, he had to grit and grind. He maintained his full-time position as a security officer working the dreaded graveyard shift, while sacrificing convenience and lots of sleep to take the TVTC class during the day.

“My biggest takeaway is learning the benefits of hard work and dedication,” reflected Demitri. “My advice to those who already have a job but are interested in taking the class, if you really want it then make it happen. Creating a routine was so important, but knowing in the end it’ll all be worth it kept me going.” 

His instructors noted he was the first in his class to gain employment. “I’m a carpenter’s apprentice right now and looking forward to journeying out, becoming a foreman or even superintendent,” added the ambitious 26-year-old.

Along with gaining a wide-range of new employment opportunities via the trades, seven diligent students took advantage of the educational aspect and earned their high school diploma.

Three hardworking ladies were among the graduates, Carla Yates (Haida), Cheyenne Frye (Arikara) and Shelbi Strom (Quinault). Each wanted to acquire a new skillset while creating a pathway to a better and brighter future.

“I really liked the class. I met some really cool people and learned so many new skills that I would have never been exposed to if I didn’t try it out,” said 20-year-old Cheyenne. Originally from North Dakota, her family relocated to the area so her mom could take the TVTC program. After graduating and seeing all the opportunity now available to her, she convinced her daughter to follow suit.

“I had zero experience with construction tools, like the nail gun and different saws. All of that was pretty intimidating at first, but after I learned to use them properly it became a lot of fun using them to complete projects,” admitted Cheyenne. “Both my parents have jobs as plumbers on the new casino project now. Hopefully I can join an electricians’ or sheet metal union and get work on that project, too.”

With hundreds of skilled-trade workers retiring every day across the state, the construction industry is in need of the next generation workforce to help build an ever-growing Snohomish County and surrounding Puget Sound communities. In the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area alone, construction employment increased by 6,400 jobs between March 2018 and March 2019, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. These are well-paying jobs that are available to people straight out of high school. It takes some grit for sure, but for those folks with a strong work ethic and can-do attitude, they can find themselves running a construction company of their own someday.

“When our student graduates go out into the world of construction, they can compete on equal footing with anybody,” declared TVTC instructor Mark Newland during the graduation ceremony. “We’re gaining traction with union companies and construction employers all over the region. 

“I just can’t say enough about this class,” he continued. “From day one, they were engaged, helping each other out, and understood what they had to gain by putting their nose to the grindstone. Really amazing stuff! They’ve given me so much as their instructor and I wish them all the best.”

Those interested in being among the next available TVTC cohort or would like more information about the program, please call (360) 716-4760 or email Ltelford@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov 

Tulalip weavers share their craft with the community

By Cullen Salinas-Zackuse, Tulalip News

On Sunday December 15th, at the Tulalip Resort Casino, fifteen of Tulalip’s cedar weavers came together to teach the community how to weave. They shared their expertise and enjoyed their time teaching traditional ways of making cedar baskets, headbands, dolls, jewelry and many other cedar creations. It was the first time this many Tulalip weavers came together to enrich the community with cultural activity of this nature.

“All the teachers have a lot of teachings and history,” said event coordinator,Virginia Jones, on how the weavers showed the importance of carrying on these skills for all the generations after us. 

Weaver Clarissa Johnny talked about how she learned from Anna Jefferson (Lummi) how to peel and process the cedar, and how to cure it. “She [Anna] was taught how to respect the forest and pray before taking anything from the cedar tree. Pray before you leave and thank the cedar tree for giving up part of its life for us”. 

One of the younger weavers, Shylee Burke, said that she “learned from her aunties and it is passed down from generation to generation”, because she was always around it as a child. It wasn’t until later in life that she said learned how to “put her hands to work,” learning how to weave. 

Overall, everyone who attended took away something from this event. Whether it was learning how to carry on the culture or different weaving styles, it was a fun way to come together and share culture with the community. 

Festival of Trees unites community for ‘Season of Miracles’

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Extravagantly festive Christmas trees and wreaths, each decorated with its own unique theme and style, brightened the Orca Ballroom at the Tulalip Resort Casino during the 34th annual Festival of Trees. The week-long celebration kicked off December 3rd with opening night festivities, continued with the excitement-filled Gala Dinner and Live Auction on December 6th, and concluded December 7th with the family friendly Teddy Bear Breakfast.

Each year, thousands of community members take part in the Festival of Trees – including volunteers, sponsors, and attendees – to raise funds for Children’s Services at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. For more than three decades, Providence Children’s Center has been providing comprehensive, family-oriented care and highly specialized therapies – such as physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy – for children with a wide variety of special needs.

“Knowing this is one of the largest charitable events for Snohomish County, it is appropriate for us to host and participate with goodwill and sharing the opportunity to help all children in need,” explained Marilyn Sheldon, manager of Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, on the importance of hosting the Festival and being the title sponsor. “We recognize that over 50% of Tulalip’s population is 0-24 years of age and Providence is our local hospital for care most tribal members use for emergency situations and other needs. Also, this event brings many people to our facilities for the week and encourages them to come back and host their own business/charity event at our venue.”

A highlight of the holiday season, the Festival of Trees provides entertainment for countless families and children. Whether it’s a black-tie evening with a three-course dinner or a free afternoon with cookies and Santa, the Festival’s variety of events offer holiday cheer for all kinds of crowds. The stunningly decorated Christmas trees won’t soon be forgotten as their specialized themes like ‘Merry Christmas from Mickey Mouse’ and ‘Christmas Under the Sea’ to ‘Arctic Winter Dreams’ and ‘A Celebration of Tulalip Culture’ capture the imagination.

During the elegant gala dinner and live auction, the dazzling Christmas trees and wreaths were sold to the highest bidders, with proceeds going to Providence Children’s Services. Several of the trees were reserved to be put on display throughout the Children’s Center as a special treat for hospitalized kids this holiday season.

“For more than three decades, this fun-filled, weeklong series of events has raised more than $12 million dollars to support the healthcare needs of children in our community,” stated Festival Chairs, Scott and Kippy Murphy. “Over the years, we have been in awe of the generosity shown at this event and it is that spirit of generosity and collective effort of our community that inspired us to choose this year’s theme – Season of Miracles.”

The generosity of countless donors and Festival attendees supports Providence in growing and expanding specialized therapies, equipment and educational classes that really does make miracles happen for children and families at Providence every day. Total monies raised this year topped $1.2 million, with all funds going directly to Providence programs and services such as Pediatrics, the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, the Children’s Center, the Autism Center, and Camp Prov, a summer camp for children with special needs. 

For nearly two decades, Tulalip Tribes has been an important partner to Providence in the Northwest Washington Region, by helping provide the funding and support needs to care for the health of our growing community. Contributions made by Tulalip to Providence General Foundation since 2002 have totaled more than $750,000. For their dedication to the Festival of Trees, the Tulalip Tribes were honored with the Spirit of Festival Award at last year’s Gala and live-auction.

“The lives of thousands of children, that includes Tulalip tribal children, will be helped thanks to the generosity received from the Festival of Trees fundraising efforts,” said Board of Director Mel Sheldon, fourteen-year member of the Providence General Foundation. “We are very fortunate to have a relationship with Providence Medical Center and to support such an amazing opportunity that really looks at the bigger picture. We all want to do our part to create a sustainable and healthy community.”

One of Snohomish County’s largest and most well attended holiday events, the Festival of Trees has been a beloved community tradition for 34 years. The annual outpouring of community spirit, combined with a magical setting, delivered a wonderful event that united many during the holiday season. 

Camas meadow a teacher for future generations

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tribal elders led a planting ceremony that included University of Washington students, faculty, and visitors on the afternoon of December 3. In the spirit of growing partnerships and sharing the importance of land cultivation, the memorable gathering occurred near the new Burke Museum’s entrance. Home to a future Camas meadow.

“This garden here will be a witness and teacher to something that is very important and sacred to all people, but especially to this land,” said Wanapum tribal elder Rex Buck. “The land has longed for these foods to come back and call it home. And so this is our way, the Burke’s way and the community’s way to recognize this planting as important. It represents a teaching for our children to maintain something sacred in a good way.”

After receiving proper instruction on how to plant budding Camas bulbs, all those in attendance were encouraged to plant multiple bulbs that will transform into stunning purple-blue flowers in a few short seasons. Once fully bloomed, visitors to the University of Washington and Burke Museum will find themselves walking by a Camas meadow, as were once in great abundance in the area prior to colonization. 

A utilitarian plant, food source and medicine, the multi-purpose Camas was and continues to be one of the most important root foods of Indigenous peoples in western North American. Except for choice varieties of dried salmon, no other food item was more widely traded. People traveled great distances to harvest the bulbs and there is some suggestion that plants were dispersed beyond their range by transplanting.*

The part of the plant most revered is actually the bulb. Traditionally, Camas bulbs were pit-cooked for 24-36 hours, which was necessary for the inulin in Camas to convert to fructose. The sweetness of cooked Camas gave it utility as a sweetener and enhancer of other foods, making it highly valuable for trading purposes. The plants stalks and leaves were used for making mattresses. Additionally, Coast Salish tribes used Camas as a cough medicine by boiling it down, straining the juice, and then mixing with honey.

“Camas is medicine that our people have known and understood for thousands and thousands of years,” explained Cedar Moon Woman, Connie McCloud, cultural director of Puyallup Tribe. “The Creator put this plant here for us to nourish our bodies as food and to heal our bodies as medicine. The land knew this medicine would return here today so it would be an educator for our children. If our future generations do not understand their relationship to the Mother Earth, to the trees and to the plants, then they cannot be the protectors she desperately needs.”

The long-awaited planting ceremony and gardening activities have been years in the making, since design plans for the new Burke were first being drawn up. Ultimately, the museum’s surroundings will feature some 80,000 native plants of 60 different species representing different parts of Washington State, ones genetically tied to the region. The spring bloom of purple-blue flowers should be spectacular. This is yet another way to bring the region’s natural history to the public.

“In planning for the new Burke, many of us advocated for having the whole grounds of the museum be a garden to represent the plants that are native to the Pacific Northwest and of value to the Indigenous people who live here,” explained Dr. Richard Olmstead, UW professor and Burke curator. “When Meriwether Lewis came west with the Lewis & Clark Expedition, he was the first European to collect this plant and provide it to western science. In providing a name for it, the Latin name Camassia quamash brings together the two words he had learned in phonetic English that represented the Native American names for this plant species.”

In time, the Camas bulbs planted by environmentally-conscious citizens of all ages and professions will blossom into a sweeping meadow alongside the Burke Museum. The meadow will evoke thoughts of wild prairie lands that once covered much of Washington, during a time when Indigenous people were sole caretakers and Camas was widely known not simply as a flower or plant, but as life giving food and medicine. 

*source: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_caquq.pdf

Seattle gets first Native American historical landmark

By Cullen Salinas-Zackuse, Tulalip News

In 2013, a historically Native American based school, Indian Heritage, was torn down in the northern Seattle area it devastated the urban Native community. Those who remember Indian Heritage and know the significance of Licton Springs wanted to make sure it was protected from development and possible desecration because Licton Springs is located directly across the street.  

For most of America’s history, the interactions with Native people have been about destroying our culture, removing our ties to land and forcing us to assimilate. That’s why the recognition of Licton Springs as a National Historic Landmark is so important. It protects one of the few sacred sites that still exists in an urban landscape. It protects and brings our history to life for both our people and the non-Native people of the area. It reminds modern America that we were here long before the modern government, and we are still here.

If you’ve never heard of Licton Springs you’re not alone. In a small park in Northgate overshadowed by condos and high rises, after walking through a network of trails, you’ll see a small hole in the ground. This hole is called Licton Spring. Licton is derived from the Lushootseed word “liq’təd” which means red mud. Licton Springs in particular is rich with iron oxide, magnesium sulfide. Coast Salish elder and historian Tom Speer said, “liq’təd, the red ochre, was used since time immemorial.” It was used before European colonization for religious ceremonies such as baby namings, weddings, and even buried with people during funerals”.

According to Tom, Licton Springs is, “the last sacred site in the ancestral homeland of Seattle. Due to development around Lake Washington other springs were capped off and destroyed”. Although this landmark has huge significance to the first people of the Puget Sound there is little recognition of its Indigenous value. 

This issue was addressed by local Seattle Native American youth program, Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA). The youth program teamed up with Seattle public libraries and coordinated an extensive amount of community workshops to make this project happen. The initiative to protect the spring was started by Oglala Sioux member Sarah Sense-Wilson, executive director of UNEA.

Local Activist Matt Remle first heard of Licton Springs’ historic significance from elders such as Chief Andy Delos Angeles of Snoqualmie and Ken Workman descendant, of Chief Seattle himself. Matt described being able to feel “the energy” when being at the site. Matt and his team then brought the importance of preserving the spring to Seattle’s Historic Landmark Committee.

One story in particular about the healing powers of Licton Springs not only involves Native history but also non-Native history. It follows two Coast Salish leaders,  Chief Lake John and Dr. James Zackuse, who met and befriended one of Seattle’s founders, David Denny. David’s daughter Emily had an incurable skin ailment that white doctors could not fix. She met the Chiefs, who gave her a drink from the spring, which eventually cured her. She ended up writing about this experience as an adult in 1909, about being helped by these first nation doctors. Many of Doctor Zackuse’s descendants have been spread across Indian reservations in the Pacific Northwest including Tulalip, Muckleshoot, and Snoqualmie.

This story was one of the key components in having Licton Springs made into a historic landmark. The historic landmark status passed, but still has to go to Seattle City Council before being approved. Getting this status means that what remains of Licton Springs will be untouched. 

A common rhetoric when developers want to destroy a sacred place to Native Americans is, “If it was sacred to you, then why are you just bringing it up now?” said Matt. He explained that Native Americans have an obligation to protect the lands and what is sacred. “If we don’t get there before developers come it will be too late,”

This sacred place is unique due to it being in a highly urban area, “You don’t really hear about sacred sites that are left in urban cities,” said Matt. Learning about sacred sites and Indigenous knowledge brings more awareness and closeness to our natural environment, and reawakens how important tribal people are to the history of lands here. Hopefully the Licton Springs project and landmark recognition brings more awareness to sacred Native American sites all over the U.S.