Native American Fitness Council empowers local fitness leaders

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Native American Fitness Council (NAFC) was established in 2004 with the mission of empowering Native Americans through exercise education. The NAFC cofounders recognized a need for knowledgeable, passionate, and experienced Native American fitness instructors, but their vision didn’t stop there. These dedicated professionals developed programs that teach people to train other Natives in proper exercise and healthy lifestyles.

Today, NAFC has educated and inspired thousands of individuals to become positive role models in their communities. Tulalip was fortunate to receive their one-of-a-kind, culturally relevant approach to Native health during a two-day fitness camp hosted at our local youth center on August 4th and 5th

“The Fitness Council chose Tulalip as one of only four northwest tribes to help implement their vision of learning traditional games and exercises in an effort to ignite a spark for new fitness leaders within the local community,” said Erik Kakuska (Zuni Pueblo), western tribal diabetes project specialist. “These traditional games ranged from Eskimo Olympics, like the seal pull and seal carry, to the plains version of field hockey, better known as shinny.

“Our goal is to incorporate a great deal of functionality into all our workouts, so the youth learn proper form and alignment when they’re running, jumping, and really playing any popular sport,” he added. “The last two days have been filled with all kinds of activities that encourage the kids to find the fun in the game. Visiting tribal communities across the nation, we recognize that a lot of our culture was lost. It’s important to reteach that culture to the best of our abilities, and a part of that is teaching the value of keeping yourself healthy. Not only with your physical, but also with your mental.”

In true collaborative fashion, the NAFC worked side by side with Tulalip’s own diabetes care and prevention teams and representatives from youth services to make the multi-day fitness camp run as smoothly as possible. The shear quality of garden-fresh breakfasts and nutrition filled lunches cooked up by chef Brit Reed was almost as impressive as the 30 or so adolescents who went back for plate after plate. Filling up on much needed fuel for their mind, body and spirits as they engaged in a variety of A/C chilled, indoor games and even more sun soaked outdoor exercises in 80+ degree temperature. 

It’s no secret that as an ethnic group, Native Americans are hit the hardest, per capita, by several life shortening risk factors, such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes. Then there’s the recent engagement of our young people with that homicidal maniac Fentanyl. A dark topic that needs a brighter spotlight shed on it for sure, but we’ll save that for another time.

Breaking news! All these debilitating diseases can come to a screeching halt by simply making healthier decision on a routine basis. Wild, right? Well, the even better news is that there are those among Gen Z who recognize this truth and desire to break the stereotypes that depict their people as unhealthy. Two such lean, mean fighting against the diabetes machine tribal members were willing to share their fitness camp experience. 

“What I’ve enjoyed is that all the activities we’ve done aren’t really hard to do, like anyone can participate and still go at their own pace,” said 16-year-old Ryelon Zackuse. “I’ve had some coaches who’ve been really rude or loud trying to make a point and that makes some people want to give up. But the coaches and instructors here were sensitive to our people’s abilities and took it slow to make sure everyone understood the motions and rules of the games. Eating good foods and being active is important to me because I have goals I want to achieve through sports and I can’t achieve those things if I’m eating junk food all the time. Its pretty simple really, if you stop treating your body well, then eventually your body will stop treating you well.”

“My favorite parts of the camp were learning to play traditional games from other tribes across the country, like when we went onto the ball field and played shinny. Not only did we learn to play a new game, but they showed us some simple tips to make sure we were engaging our cores and keeping our hips in alignment while running,” added 17-year-old Samara Davis. “I’ve really enjoyed the past couple days, being with so many of my peers and just having fun outside. It’s important for all our people, the youngest to the elders, to know the importance of daily movement.

“Personally, I love the way fresh fruits and vegetables taste, so it was cool being in an environment where we were provided with good, nutritional foods,” she continued while snacking on an apricot. “Healthy habits, whether its eating or exercise, is all about consistency. Once you’ve learned the habits, just keep doing them. That’s how we become elders.”

The showcase of Tulalip physical talent ranged from flexing agility and dexterity with a balloon tied around their ankles while attempting stomp the balloon of another player, to demonstrating nimbleness and light on their feet juke moves in a hybrid version of dodge ball, except they used water-soaked sponges on the hot summer day. Two days filled with exercise, education, an abundance of health and nutrition advice, traditional games from across Indian Country, and many memories made for the what the Native American Fitness Council are dubbing community fitness leaders.

“Our team believes if the kids see us as adults having a good time and doing our best to demonstrate good fun sportsmanship in winning and losing, while embracing simple traditions like coming together to share in wonderful meals where the kids can share their experiences, then we all benefit and win,” explained Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy, diabetes care and prevention manager

“Our health clinic wins in the sense our program engages with the youth of Tulalip by delivering the best we can offer, and gives us chances to build long-lasting, positive relationships. The youth of Tulalip wins by having opportunities to be trained by some of the best trainers in Indian Country, not to mention experience traditional foods and the making of traditional medicines, like sore muscle salves. It really was so amazing to witness all the joy and laughter from simple fun and games that brought us all together. 

“We look forward to a time when we can offer this again, but on a larger scale,” added Roni. “So many people of all ages could really learn and enjoy these expert trainers and have so much fun in the process. Definitely one of the best events our program has offered.”

Learning the fundamentals of S.T.E.M.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

According to the U.S. Department of Education, if we want a nation where our future leaders, neighbors, and workers have the ability to understand and solve some of the complex challenges of today and tomorrow, and to meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving workforce, then building our students’ skills, content knowledge, and fluency in STEM fields is essential. We must also make sure that no matter where children live, they have access to quality learning environments. A child’s zip code should not determine their STEM fluency. 

For those unfamiliar with the acronym STEM, its stands for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. On the Tulalip Reservation this concept can be thought of as career pathways to critical departments within our government, such as Natural Resources, Tulalip Data Services (TDS), construction and infrastructure building, and financial literacy necessary for various fields of Finance. 

In today’s fast-paced, constantly changing, techno-driven climate, it’s imperative our Tulalip youth be prepared with fundamentals of STEM teaching, such as problem-solving, making sense of important information, and being able to gather and examine evidence to make sound decisions. These were the skills being learned in truly stunning ways at this year’s 5th annual STEM week, made possible by some brilliant minds journeying all the way from Colorado and our local homework support program.  

“Our youth today are digital girls and boys in a world that is digitally based,” said Shana Simpson, lead student support specialist. “It is important for our kids to make these connections between science, technology and mathematics in order to draw out the relation to engineering. For this to be possible, they must first gain the knowledge to understand those connections and how they are applied to everyday life.”

Shana and her fellow coworkers were able to witness first-hand the amazing journey several Tulalip youngsters were able to have in the STEM realm. Nearly twenty kids, ranging in grade level from kindergarten to 6th grade, learned the fundamentals of STEM in the kind of fashion previous generations only experienced while watching Bill Nye the Science Guy. 

“It is highly enjoyable to watch our kids get nerdy as they are captivated by STEM activities,” added Shana. “After participating in STEM week, the kids continue to make their own observations and connections once they leave here. They are more likely to repeat what they have learned and pass their knowledge along. Hopefully, some continue to hold on to their interest and develop it into a true passion as they get older. Their participation in STEM week gives them an advantage at school and, we like to think, more opportunities in the future.”

Not only does STEM provide a new way of thinking and learning to students, the earning potential of a STEM versus a non-STEM career is staggering. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average wage for all STEM occupations is $87,570. This is nearly double the average wage for non-STEM occupations averaging just $45,700. 

The four-day STEM week hosted from August 1-4 was anticipated for some time by Matthew and Kathy Collier, who taught the course to Tulalip’s youth for four straight years before the pandemic forced a two-year hiatus. The 2022 rendition a host of fund, hands-on activities that the kids embraced and thrived in.

“The robotic gripper teaching is all about studying different designs and analyzing how to make them more efficient. It also is an engineering model used in used in prosthetic limbs and shows how they can extend the use of programming and engineering to help humans. It’s used in Robotics and manufacturing,” explained Matthew Collier, STEM education training specialist. “The experiment with the brain scanner allowed children to tangibly see the force of their brain waves, invisible yet tangible forces we all have in our brains. 

“We taught them about Theta and Beta brain wave,” he continued. “Through the activity, they could see that Theta waves grow stronger with rest and Beta waves grow stronger through intentional focus. This science is used in education, medical science, behavior research and more. Additionally, the push car derby with LEGOs taught them to explore the forces of push and pull, as well as the effects of friction between objects. It provides great examples of cause and effect.”

From brain waves and robotics to a LEGO derby and computer coding, some of Tulalip’s youngest minds were able to successfully grasp STEM fundamentals and apply them in a variety of activities that have real world applications. The best part about their experience was the instructors’ enthusiasm and passion for STEM education was infectious. To the point the young participants were genuinely learning while having fun.

“The importance of providing children with STEM opportunities when they are young is the way in which it empowers them to better navigate their 21st century world around them,” said Kathy Collier, STEM education program development. “They can become participants rather than spectators in regards to the technologies that will influence every sphere of society. Through STEM camps like this one, as children take part in these activities, they begin to connect the dots in their understanding and discover that they may carry ideas for the next invention…or perhaps realize they hold the answer to a problem the world needs solved.”

A family reborn through naming ceremony and canoe unveiling

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News; Photos courtesy of Stacey Sam

On July 30, a Tulalip family held a canoe unveiling and naming ceremony for four of their family members, Stacer, Sampson, Saleena and Scotty. The highly anticipated event followed years of the family members attempting to reconnect with their culture and people, and the desire to earn their Indian names.

Naming ceremonies and receiving an Indian name plays an important role in Native American culture. Certain elements and traditions of each ceremony are sacred and specific to it’s given tribe. Nonetheless, each name that is given carries on a piece of our ancestors, and the language that we speak. Rather than their English name, Native Americans can proudly use their new name and be a representation of our people and our perseverance. 

Traditionally speaking, Native Americans used to not receive a name at birth, and would instead earn a name that was passed down from their family lineage. The name is typically chosen based on their personality, skills, or similar characteristics and traits that a loved one also once had. These names are taken and used with pride as each person with a given name represents the strengths of the past and the promises of the future.

Stacey Sam is the father to Stacer, Sampson, Saleena, and Scotty. He once lived on the Tulalip Reservation and then went on to spend most of his life at Muckleshoot. Unfortunately, with some familial problems that Stacey faced growing up, he didn’t quite have the connection with his culture as much as he would’ve liked. But, after building a family, and having kids of his own, he was able to watch them grow and see them strive for a culturally-led life. 

Scotty was the first of the kids that made an initiative to connect with his culture and asked his brother Stacer to join him. They went out of their way to learn cultural teachings, become more engaged within the community, and create a newfound respect for their people and ancestors. They started by attending Coastal Jams up and down the coast, and eventually became apart of the Canoe Team in Muckleshoot. By doing so, Stacer also found a new love for singing and began performing at jams and ceremonies. 

After watching his children and their newly found cultural journey, Stacey was inspired to continue on the path that his children had embarked. He realized they had gone too long without culture in their lives, and wanted a reset for his family. He wanted to establish a new legacy for his family that would last for generations to come. He quickly connected with some tribal elders and Tulalip family, and decided that a family canoe unveiling and naming ceremony would be the perfect next step.

“This is all new to me, but I want to bring that cultural presence back into my family line. My kids have already started and I want to see it through. They helped me pick up the drum, and it’s a blessing to get to know our ways. This journey has opened my eyes with the way we all come together and take care of one another,” Stacey said.

Stacey reached out to George Swanaset Sr. of Nooksak, who is an avid canoe carver, to help build his family canoe. Stacey wanted to be sure the canoe could fit everyone in his family, and that the canoe would hold “S?adacut” on the side, a tribute to his late father William Edward ‘Sonny’ Sam. Being Tulalip himself, it was important to Stacey that the canoe would paddle off into Tulalip Bay.

Shortly after, Stacey reached out to various Tulalip tribal members and asked for their help to ensure the naming ceremony would play out perfectly. Don ‘Penoke’ Hatch who has been a longtime family friend of theirs helped orchestrate and organize the ceremony to ensure it’s traditional ties, “Stacey’s dad was a tremendous friend of mine, and I was glad to be involved” he said. Penoke talked about the importance of having the ceremony, “I’m really proud of what the Sam family is doing. It’s an honor to carry an Indian name. You earn your name, and it’s how you present yourself to your people.”

Marlin Fryberg also helped by researching the Sam family’s lineage to find appropriate names to use and pass on to all four of the children. It was decided that Stacer would carry on his grandfather’s Indian name “S?adacut”, Sampson would carry on “Tsoh-see-oose”, Saleena would hold “Tsee-si-lit-sah”, and Scotty would be named “Tix-tad”. All of the names came from their ancestors and family before them.

Quickly, more and more Tulalip family and community members became involved and helped with painting the canoe, cooking food for everyone in attendance, and establishing themselves as witnesses to the ceremony. What started off as just one family’s journey quickly became a community journey that supported and helped aid the teachings of our people.

On the day of, Tulalip members Thomas Williams and Natosha Gobin stepped up to the plate to help with ceremonial blessings and prayers, and the unveiling of the names. Most of the ceremony was presented first in Lushootseed and then parts in English to instill its traditional roots.

The ceremony couldn’t have gone more perfectly. “I had never been to a naming ceremony before, and I didn’t know what to expect. But once it all took place, I felt very calm and at peace. I feel honored to carry my grandpa’s name. And being so close with my siblings growing up, it meant a lot to do this together,” Stacer said. 

The Sam family could feel their ancestors smiling down on them as they took this new step together. They are extremely grateful to everyone who helped them take on this journey and rebuild their cultural ways. Being gifted their Indian names was a fresh start for their family, and created a new sense of pride that they planned to hold onto for the rest of their lives.

Pride BBQ happening Saturday, August 13

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“We want to make sure the youth have a place, a space, and a voice if they are part of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Problem Gambling Counselor, Robin Johnson. “This is a super important event to bring community awareness to the two-spirit population at Tulalip and the surrounding area. It’s important to make sure that they feel comfortable in our community. This is the big kick-off event, it ought to be great and lots of fun.”

Years in the making, the highly anticipated Pride Everyday BBQ at Tulalip is scheduled to take place on August 13, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., at the Don Hatch Community Center. Since the successful, and Tulalip Youth Council organized, Pride Walk in 2018, members of the LGBTQ+ community at Tulalip were inspired to create a yearly Pride celebration on the reservation.

Aiming to embrace, uplift, support, honor and help individuals create new friendships within the local two spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, asexual, and ally community, the Pride BBQ promises nothing but great times, good summertime grub, and fun for all. 

Phoenix Two Spirit (Cree) is a well-known member of the Tulalip community, as well as the self-proclaimed ‘instigator’ of this project. Phoenix presented the idea for the get-together as well as helped organize the event. Phoenix shared, “This event is great for community awareness. It’s part of the decolonization process, recognizing that two-spirit people have been in the Indigenous community since time immemorial. And it’s time to recognize that, indeed, there is a place for two-spirit people in the tribal community, that they hold a special place. This is not new. This is reclaiming our past.”

Originally planned for 2020, the Pride BBQ was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the tribal government re-opened, following the first initial wave of the novel coronavirus, the Pride BBQ was rescheduled to take place last summer. That is, until a large spike in the number of COVID cases at Tulalip rose once more prior to the event, causing another postponement. Now, nearly a year later, the Pride BBQ is happening for the very first time.

Said Phoenix, “I’ve been in the Tulalip area for a few years and thought that this a very-needed event. I’ve been part of the pride celebrations in Seattle and Snohomish County, and I have been noticing announcements locally for Puyallup, Muckleshoot, and Lummi, who are having pride celebrations. There has been much interest by the Tulalip LGBTQ+ TS community to have an event, but COVID put a damper on creating one. So, now is the time to bring us together and celebrate our community.”

The Tulalip Pride BBQ will feature music by DJ Monie Ordonia, as well as several icebreaker games and activities, which helps create opportunities for people to meet and build connections while celebrating their true selves together. 

The event is sponsored by the Tulalip Problem Gambling Program, Tulalip Family Wellness Court, and the Tulalip Community Health’s Youth Wellness program. With the promise of high 70-degree weather on Saturday, the Pride BBQ is sure to be a day to remember for all involved, so be sure to mark your calendar and come show your pride and support!

“I want everybody to know that everyone is welcome to come,” expressed Phoenix. “Whether you define yourself in the LGBTQ+ community, the two-spirit community, if you are friends, family, allies, or tribal members, I want everyone to feel welcome to come.”

Traditions from an Elder: Kirk Jones shares his salmon teachings with local nonprofit

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tulalip elder Kirk Jones sat patiently next to his homemade, ten-foot smoke stack. The savory aroma of King salmon being slow cooked at 225 degrees Fahrenheit gradually filled the air. In his chair, he reminisced about his earliest days as a splash boy working alongside handmade seine nets in the 1960s, while his then-elders fished to provide for their people.

“Growing up, most of the elders either fished or logged to make a living. Either way, they were handling and collecting wood to keep the fires going all year long,” remembered Kirk. “We’d usually eat the fish as fresh as can be, right there on the beach as the fisherman beach seined. Whatever fish was leftover they’d smoke and hang on Cedar sticks. 

“Back then, when I was learning to smoke, all we had was salt…process the fish, salt the fish and then let them dry. It was hard chewing for sure,” he chuckled. “But they were preserved to be ate throughout the year regardless of weather. We didn’t have freezers or stoves or nothing fancy like today. Just our teachings passed on from one generation to the next intended to make use of what we had available to us and keep our people fed.” 

Today, the 65-year-old smoked salmon savant credits Glen Parks, Les Parks, Rocky Parks and Bernie Parks for becoming his secondary family after he got clean and sober in 1986. Under their guidance and skill with their family smoker, Kirk learned to take his ancestral teachings and add a touch of his own flare. Small technical changes like the use of a particularly gauged chicken wire and addition of brown sugar in the seasoning, Kirk has perfected his technique for creating golden-colored ‘Indian candy’. 

Kirk’s Smoked Salmon is a prime example of Tulalip’s entrepreneurial spirit. Known for its high quality and sweet salmon offerings, Kirk created a business that is flexible enough to be sold on the side of the road along Marine View Drive or from a makeshift blue stand often seen between Cabela’s and Home Depot in the spring/summer time. Its also become a family operation as his children, nieces and nephews are frequently doing the sales, so Kirk can focus on making his primary source of income: smoked deliciousness.

“My passion for the salmon is still the same as when I was a little kid filling the role of splash boy to maneuverer fish into the elders’ nets,” said Kirk. “You know what, maybe my passion is even stronger now. Being older, I have a greater sense of appreciation for what those who came before me managed to accomplish and pass on. It’s my responsibility now to make sure their teachings aren’t forgotten.”

With that sentiment in mind, Kirk lent his lifelong expertise with a fillet knife and 25-pound freshly caught King salmon to a cultural workshop coordinated by local nonprofit, Indigenous Beginnings. For an afternoon in late July, the Tulalip culture bearer did his best to impart practical skills and guidance on the double digit, all-Native group who were eager to learn the ins and outs of fish filleting. 

Over the course of two-hours, the group received up close and personal instruction on proper technique to clean a salmon, including the conventional fillet and butterfly fillet methods, how to remove the jaw for making fish head soup, and some general advice from their elder on best practices to smoke, can or cook their fish at home. 

Along their way, the group of learners shared many laughs as they attempted to mimic Kirk’s proficiency with a fillet name. Most failed miserably, but it was in that failure where Kirk was able to step in and offer gentle words of encouragement; often reminding them that we all gotta start somewhere. Luckily, there was more than enough whole salmon provided that those choosing to rework their fillet skills could give it another go. Some even shrieked with excitement when opening their fish and finding eggs to be used for homemade sushi, stew or as a simple caviar side dish. 

For their commitment to learning cultural traditions, the group was rewarded with jumbo sized bags of salmon fillets and all the ‘Indian candy’ they could eat. With tummies full, Kirk thanked everyone for participating and helping him grow as an instructor. 

“I love fishing. A goal of mine has always been to learn to smoke salmon,” shared Tulalip citizen Sara Andres after the workshop. “Getting an opportunity to learn from Kirk was super exciting and I’m so happy to have participated. With the fish heads I’ll be making my grandma Katie’s fish head soup that I remember fondly as a kid. I also bought a small smoker so that I can brine the salmon filleted here and smoke my fish for the first time.”

“We are so thankful to Kirk for sharing his home and teachings with us to learn the basics of filleting and smoking salmon together,” added Stephanie Cultee, Indigenous Beginnings founder and chairwoman. “Originally, this workshop was only going to be focused on smoking salmon, but then we received such a huge number of requests by people who admitted to not even knowing how to clean and fillet a fish. By being vulnerable and admitting to not knowing this tradition, we were able to fulfill a big need. Ultimately, this workshop got such good turnout and positive responses already that we plan on hosting another workshop with Kirk at the end of summer.”

For those who missed out on this amazing opportunity to receive hands-on learning from a Tulalip elder and are interested in participating in a similar workshop in September, please email or text 425-418-2346 for more information. You can also follow Indigenous Beginnings on Facebook or Instagram to stay up to date with a variety of teaching workshops intended for first-time learners and those desiring a safe place to ask questions about our shared culture.

Tulalip’s National Night Out 2022

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News

On August 2, the Tulalip Police Department gathered with Tulalip families and various Tulalip government departments for National Night Out (NNO) to connect with one another and bridge any gaps. The two-hour event was filled with community members conversing and laughing with one another, gaining information about available resources, and kids exploring the official Fire and Police department vehicles.

Though this is not a new event, across the nation, many police departments gather within their communities to enhance the relationships between neighbors and law enforcement. This effort is to ensure that some people’s and children’s first interactions with law enforcement is a positive one. What first started in 1984 has quickly trickled to over 16 thousand communities in the US, and takes place every year during the first Tuesday of August.

The Chief of Police Chris Sutter was in attendance and said, “My favorite part about National Night Out is connecting with the community and neighbors. People are meeting one another, and allowing our service providers the opportunity to know the people whom we serve. The police department loves that we get to help support this event, and we get to thank all the other tribal departments.”

A lot of the departments that participated included Behavioral Health, Child Support Program, Family Wellness, Tulalip Office of Civil Legal Aid, Children’s Advocacy, Beda Chelh, Family Haven, Higher Education, TERO, Gambling Treatment Services, and various others. Each department provided free swag for the attendees, toys and treats for the kids, and a plethora of information, cards, and pamphlets to help educate tribal members about the numerous services available to them. Many of the attendees were exposed to programs that they either haven’t heard of before, or have been wanting to get into contact with.

Chris also spoke about the importance of maintaining the relationships with the other departments because of how interdependent they all are, “We like being able to put a face to a name when we’re emailing people or talking to them over the phone. There’s not one department that our police department doesn’t interact with. We are all interconnected and we impact the quality of life and the livability of our entire community,” he said.

He continued by talking about how vital it is for tribal members and the police department to have that bond as well, “In just about every culture when you sit down, break bread, and eat together, it’s a sign of coming not only together, but also creating a mutual respect and understanding. I think it’s really important for us to see each other as human beings and let the community know that police office are humans too. We have strengths and weaknesses and at the end of the day, we’re here to serve our people.”

Kids all gathered to meet one of the Tulalip Police Department’s newest member Buster, a German Shorthaired Pointer police dog that recently graduated from K9 school. Buster jumped around and loved meeting all the kids, as they asked his handler a mountain of K9 questions. Everyone’s seemingly favorite question was, ‘do you get to take him home?’, in which Buster’s handler said ‘yes’ with a smile on his face. 

With red, white and blue lights spinning, the Fire vehicle’s horn blaring, a child pointed at an officer and yelled, “I want to be like you!” It was another success event for the police department, the community and everyone in between. People left National Night Out with full stomachs, fuller hearts, and anticipation for next year’s event.

Tribes and NOAA honor historic site following decommission of Mukilteo Research Station

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Merely feet away from Mukilteo’s new ferry terminal is an abandoned building. With boarded up windows, no trespassing signs, broken glass along the grounds, fire-stained equipment, and a chain-link fence around the facility’s entire property, it’s hard to imagine what once took place in the building. However, the front door of the facility, at the time, stood wide open. And just inside the door was a large sign, that once pristinely stood in front of the property, that reads Northwest Fisheries Science Center Mukilteo Research Station, with a large logo of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“The Mukilteo Research Station did research in marine science, aquaculture, eco toxicology, acidification, and such,” explained Deirdre Reynolds Jones, NOAA’s Chief Administrative Officer. “I’ve seen some of their work before they closed the station. They had fish tanks and studied crabs and different species of salmon, how they’re adapting to the environment as it changes – changes in water temperature and changes in chemicals in the water, and how what their eating is affecting their behavior.”

As Deirdre mentioned, the Mukilteo Research Station is now closed after nearly fifty years of operation. During that time, NOAA studied the Salish Sea and all its inhabitants, and their work has helped preserve and protect the local waterways. Because of the environmental and marine science work that they do, NOAA has built great partnerships with the treaty tribes of Northwest over the years.

“We’ve been working with NOAA for quite a while. They’re there to protect the environment and so are we,” expressed Tulalip Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “They’re out there testing the waters to make sure they are safe for our salmon. We commissioned them to do a count on how many pinniped seals are out there, and we need that information to move forward because they are an invasive species to the salmon. We’ve been working with NOAA for years with our Natural Resources department to make sure the waters are protected.”

Added Deirdre, “We have common goals, and as Chairwoman Gobin summarized, we need to ensure the salmon continue because they are so much a part of the culture here. The culturally significant part of being here is so integral to the mission that we perform.”

 Following a brief rainfall, after close to two weeks of 90-degree summer days, the clouds passed and the sun shone brightly on the abandoned building on the morning of August 1st. Immediately next to the building, there were chairs and a canopy for shade arranged for a small gathering as the officials from NOAA and local tribal leaders, including Swinomish, Suquamish, and Tulalip, met for a unique ceremony. 

“Normally we celebrate a grand opening for a new facility, but today we are acknowledging a change that’s going to happen on this property,” Deirdre said. “They’re going to demolish this facility, so it will be open space for a while. My understanding is that every time there’s a change in property, that’s of cultural significance to the tribal community. We pause to acknowledge we’re going to do something, and to ensure that the land and the ancestors are aware that we’re about to make a change.”

Although the facility has been shut down for over two years, NOAA wanted to invite the signatories of the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott to the site before the building is torn down and turned over to the Port of Everett. Before colonization, current day Mukilteo was a place for Coast Salish tribes to gather, and many tribal ancestors lived along the beach community. 

“This land is so important to us,” Teri expressed. “It’s where our ancestors had longhouses. We also signed the Point Elliott Treaty here.”

She continued, “All of our tribes used these waterways like our freeways to go from one place to another, and we have many relatives at all these different tribes. Our people met here together, and all agreed to sign the treaty. By ceding that land, from the water to the mountains, they guaranteed us our treaty rights for the future generations. I’m so glad that our ancestors thought about that when they did that, because they were trying to protect our tribes.”

At 10 a.m. on the dot, tribal members, from all three tribes in attendance, grouped together and sang Harriette Shelton-Dover’s Welcome Song. Each tribe then shared some words, prayers and offered a song in traditional Lushootseed while standing where their ancestors once stood and made a difficult but necessary decision. All the meanwhile, Washington State Ferries and Naval ships passed by in the background, voyaging sacred waters that were once only navigated by cedar canoes. Familiar with the Northwest Native culture, NOAA gifted blankets to each of the speakers throughout the morning, commemorating their partnerships with the tribes. 

The news about the decommission of the research facility was released in 2020. Originally, NOAA planned a full remodel of the building to coincide with the recent facelift the Mukilteo waterfront has undergone. However, due to inflation caused by the aftereffects of the pandemic, NOAA could not afford the cost of construction that would be needed to build the new facility. 

Dierdre explained that the property was once owned by the U.S. Navy. In the 1970’s the Navy transferred the property to NOAA, but the fine print indicated that if NOAA ever shut down the Mukilteo project, the property would then go to the Port of Everett. 

After the demolition of the research station, the Port of Everett is looking to build something that will both compliment the new ferry terminal as well as solve Mukilteo’s traffic and parking issues. According to the Lynnwood Times, the most recent buzz is that a trolly station may be taking the place of the old NOAA facility. 

NOAA plans to continue their research of the Salish Sea and their partnerships with the local tribes and will be fulfilling their work from the Manchester Research Station. 

Dierdre, who traveled across the country from Washington D.C. for the ceremony said she was “completely moved by the songs that were shared and the stories that were told about the ancestors, the great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers who lived on the shoreline.”

Chairwoman Gobin shared, “Being out here and singing those songs, with our friends to the north and south, it was an honor. It felt like our ancestors were here. I know they’re watching us. When we start singing the songs, speaking the language, they gather and they’re here looking over what we’re doing. It was a blessing today. I’m really glad that Swinomish and Suquamish came here to be with us because this is where they came to sign their treaties too.”

Live. Laugh. Lushootseed.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Lushootseed, ancestral language of the modern day Tulalip Tribes, was the supreme language of the land seven generations ago. From the Salish Sea to the Cascade Mountains, from the Nisqually River to Vancouver Island, tribes of the plentiful Pacific Northwest shared a common tongue. Then arrived colonization. Followed by assimilation.

The shared language of the Coast Salish people nearly vanished after decades of brutal treatment inflicted upon generation after generation by the U.S. government and its various forms of enforcement police after the Treaty of Point Elliot was signed. ‘Kill the Indian, save the man’ was the name of the game, and the colonizers played it well.

Various laws and federally enforced policies, such as the Indian Removal Act (1830), Religious Crimes Code (1883) and General Allotment Act (1887), intentionally sought to to strip Native people of their culture and connection to place. It can be argued the most successful part of the assimilation process was boarding schools because the innocent children forced to attend couldn’t defend themselves. Their hair was cut to military standards, their traditional clothes replaced with church designed uniforms, and in horrific fashion they were helpless as they watched classmates beaten for speaking Lushootseed.

In the Declaration of Independence, we are referred to as merciless Indian savages. The use of merciless couldn’t have been more accurate as it foreshadowed a determination and sheer force of will to survive. Yes, colonization happened. Yes, assimilation was effective. However, it can’t be overlooked or understated that our ancestors survived. They were in fact merciless. If they weren’t then we wouldn’t exist today; part of a thriving tribal ecosystem consisting of 574 federally recognized tribes. 

Within that thriving tribal ecosystem exists the Tulalip Tribes’ Lushootseed department tasked with increasing awareness of Lushootseed within the community and beyond, as well as restoring the language to everyday use. This is a colossal undertaking, but one intending to make the ancestors proud. Proud that generational healing is taking place on the same grounds where missionaries and government officials inflicted so much harm. Proud that the same Lushootseed language they were punished, beaten and even jailed for having the audacity to speak while attending boarding school is spoken today by our own culture bearing educators and their spirited students. 

At the 25th annual Lushootseed language camp, which took place from July 11 to July 22 at the Kenny Moses Building, over 120 Tulalip youth became an integral part of Lushootseed revival. Led by our own committed crew of language warriors and their support staff, the children participated in eight different daily activities: technology, weaving, art, play, songs, traditional teachings, games, and play. In doing so, Tulalip’s next generation embraced their culture while learning vital traditional teachings, stories, and, most importantly, the language of their ancestors.

The photos accompanying this article illustrate Tulalip pride and a strength of culture as only our beautiful children can elegantly emit while participating in the annual Lushootseed camp. However, it’s in the words and background stories of their fully self-aware educators where we can grasp what it takes to create such a Lushootseed-rich environment. Educators like Tulalip’s own Sarah Miller, Nik-ko-te “Nikki” Oldham, and their tech guru Dave Sienko have dedicated their livelihoods towards a dream of Lushootseed being spoke at work, in schools, and in the homes of every Tulalip family. 

Sarah Miller

“I became interested in Lushootseed when I was about 15-years-old, when I took a Lushootseed class taught by Toby Langen and Tony Hatch at Pilchuck High School. I had a great time learning and it’s one of my fondest memories of high school. I enjoyed speaking the language and wanted to do more with it, but at the time didn’t know what more I could do. So there was a many-year gap in my language learning. 

Nearly ten years ago, I decided to switch jobs from the newspaper to the language department. I took college level Lushootseed and started teaching preschool kids. It was fun teaching the kids. Eventually I worked my way up to teaching the college level Lushootseed classes, and in doing that, I began to understand the language even more. It is a passion for me. I take every opportunity I can to use the language and to teach it to others.

At this year’s 25th annual Lushootseed camp, my station is Language. Our theme is seasons, so my partner Michelle Schmaus and I teach the kids about the various seasons using Lushootseed. After that, we have the kids decorate the season tree with leaves, snowflakes or flowers, depending on the season. I hope the kids take away from this experience how our ancestors used to live from season to season. I want them to understand that we used to live off the land and the land had everything we needed to survive from season to season.

What I look forward to most about camp is the kids developing a passion and interest in their ancestral tongue. I hope they walk away understanding more about what it means to be Indigenous. I look forward to them taking what they’ve learned home to their families and sharing it. This is how we keep our culture alive. 

Camp time is a wonderful but stressful time because we only get one week with the kids. It’s kind of a rush to teach the kids as much as we can and hope that some of it sticks. I hope the experience is nourishing to their spirits and they will be eager to learn more.

In the future, I’d love to incorporate families into the camp element so the parents can learn their language alongside their children. I think it would strengthen relationships and bonds and further our mission to keep the language alive.”

Nik-ko-te “Nikki” Oldham

“My background with language is a sort of unique because I grew up hearing both Lushootseed and Absentee Shawnee words and phrases spoken by my great grandma, grandparents, aunts, uncles and mom.

  • What time is it? – ʔaləxʷ k̓ʷid
  • Be quiet – x̌ʷubiləxʷ
  • Sit down – gʷədil
  • No – x̌ʷiʔ
  • Drink – sqʷuʔqʷaʔ
  • Knock it off – gʷəƛ̕əlad
  • Dog – sqʷəbayʔ
  • Cat – pišpiš
  • Frog – waq̓waq̓
  • Eagle – yəx̌ʷəlaʔ
  • Deer – sqigʷəc
  • Crap – sp̓əc

These were common words to me at a young age. I have always loved the language, but I became very inspired learning that my great grandma Marya was one of the last fluent speakers.

At this year’s camp, I am managing the weaving station with Jasmyne Diaz. We are teaching the kids to make wool headbands. I hope they learn to never give up, that it’s ok to mess up and start over because that’s the basis for all learning, and the more you practice, the better you get. I also want them to learn our tradition of giving away an item that you made for the first time.

I look forward to seeing everything that the kids create. It’s difficult to describe hearing them speak the language and understand new words, especially for first timers. It makes my heart so happy to see the kids do the closing ceremony play and hear them speak the language. Being a Lushootseed teacher isn’t always easy, but hearing the kids speak the language of those who came before them makes it all worth it.”

Dave Sienko

“I’m just a cog in the team, trying to increase the learning and use of dxʷləšucid. I started in the department 17 years ago when the need was creating resources beyond the archive recordings made by Thom Hess and Leon Metcalf.  We started making CDs and then video recordings of elders. Then we focused on creating our Tulalip Lushootseed website was the next thing we created. Trying to increase the number of language resources available to the community is a key need the department focuses on. 

The biggest challenges over the years has really been the rapidly changing technologies. It’s always a challenge to stay current.

At language camp, I always run the technology station. When I first started, we used older computers, then Nintendo DSi’s, and now we use Samsung tablets. The kids can use a variety of language apps, including the Lushootseed Alphabet app, Lushootseed Phrases, and Word Quizzes, as well as Our Table, a family orientated Language App. Teachers from different stations tell me what they are doing and I try to develop material that focuses on these key items.

Preserving and encouraging the use of the language is one of the most important things about the work we do, and it’s one of the reasons I took the job at Tulalip. I really enjoy working with the younger kids because of their high level of enthusiasm. There are always several camp participants that we witness their growth in the language surge over the week.

For the teachers and camp staff, this is also an opportunity to create or nurture bonds the kids that can last a lifetime.  Watching the youth develop that spark of excitement in speaking dxʷləšucid clearly brings so much joy to not just me, but our teachers and the families as well. When young tribal members grasp the language early, they can develop a happiness and strength from their cultural self-confidence that is truly awe-inspiring. I’m humbled to be a part of this.”

The Lushootseed department has so many resources available for our people who desire to learn their ancestral language beyond the annual youth camp. Their website offers videos, common words and phrases, and all sorts of traditional stories told in Lushootseed with accompanying text to follow along. If you’re a more hands-on learner, then Lushootseed staff would remind you that they offer classes through NWIC and community outreach programs. 

Lastly, tribal members are always welcome to stop by the Lushootseed department and ask for hard copies of work books, CDs and various learning materials intended for beginners. It’s never too late to join in on the language warriors’ mission and make your ancestors proud by speaking the same words, in the same syllables they once did.

Rez Dog: A love story

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News

What started off as just any other day, on July 20, another stray dog was being posted on the Tulalip tribal members Facebook group. I’ve learned that I’ve grown accustom to seeing the frequently posted ‘found’ pets on the reservation. Whether it be someone’s family dog getting out of their possession, a cat traveling just a little too far, or the unfortunate situations of pets being dumped on the reservation by neglectful owners. 

The gentle giant we now call Lola, had first been posted about around 5:00 p.m., and it wasn’t until 11:00 p.m. at night, as I’m crawling into bed, that I see she had been posted about again. The time stamp between the two posts illustrated that she had been on the streets of Tulalip for at least 6 hours. With a high temperature of 82 degrees that day, it makes you wonder how long she was out wandering for, and how much longer she would made it out there on her own. 

Sweet Lola weighs almost 120 pounds, and is assumed to be a Mastiff of sorts. According to many Mastiff expert sites, Mastiffs also have a very low tolerance for hot and humid weather, and are prone to suffer from heat strokes and overheating. Even in situations of a causal stroll outside, their short snouts make it difficult for them to breathe. So in cases of increased temperatures, Mastiffs have twice the likeliness to overheat and die than a dog like a Labrador that have longer snouts.

After spending about 30-45 minutes searching for her, we found her. She unfortunately had no collar, or any leads as to who she might belong to.  She looked exhausted, and was panting heavily. She was not interested in any food, only the water that we had brought for her. She easily climbed into the kennel, already entrusting that we were there to help and were her new safe place.

The next few days consisted of us acclimating her into our home and with our other two dogs. We quickly went out to buy her a bed of her own, and a collar. We scanned her at two different shelter locations looking for a microchip, took her to the vet for a wellness check, and have posted abundantly on lost pet sites/groups/pages, and registered her as a ‘found’ pet at the Snohomish County animal shelter. In the midst of all the chaos, she quickly adjusted into our home and her personality began to unfold more and more every day. After all our efforts, no owners have come forward, making us ponder the question, was she dumped?

Unfortunately, the pandemic brought a multitude of problems for people in the world, but is also created an opportunity for all their pets. With everyone being forced to stay home, pets were receiving the most attention from their owners that they’ve ever had, and some families even took this as time to build their fur families. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), with more than 23 million American households, nearly 1 in 5 nationwide adopted a pet during the pandemic. 

But since many government restrictions have since lifted, and people have started to go back to in-person work, pet owners are facing the harsh realities of the expenses, time, and effort that it takes to take care of a pet while working a full-time job. Now having to worry about paying for dog walkers and pet sitters to watch their pets while they’re at work, or on vacation. And with many dog boarding and daycares being waitlisted months out, many people are being forced to find other options like a friend or loved one that will take the time and effort to watch their pet. 

People are also realizing the difference in costs of food from an adolescent pet to an adult pet. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, people get caught in the excitement of having a new pet, but lose sight of the many years of commitment and love that a pet requires, and because of this are left with pets they can no longer take care of. But as something to keep in mind about pets, wildlife photographer, writer, and wildlife preservationist Roger Caras said, “They might only be here a part of our lives, but to them you are their whole life”.

In any case, where there is a lost/found pet or someone is looking to forfeit their pet, the Tulalip Police Department is able to help. In these situations, Tribal members can call the Tulalip Police Department dispatch team and Animal Control will come pick up the dog and take it to the Everett Animal Shelter. The department also has a contract with the Everett Animal Shelter, so tribal members have direct access. If a tribal member can see that the dog is safe to go near, they can pick the dogs up themselves and take them to the Everett Animal Shelter and the shelter will bill the tribe and cover all the cost of turning in the pet. 

When asking Sgt. Chris Gobin from the Tulalip Police Department how often lost/found pets get reported he said, “At least half a dozen calls a week.” He continued to talk about how much of a safety issue this is, “There’s always a possible threat of dogs being vicious and biting someone who is out running, or kids who are playing. They can sometimes attack other people or other pets. But it’s also a safety issue for the dog. A lot of times dogs will run into the streets not seeing cars and get hit by them, or they risk themselves get attacked by another dog that’s running loose.”

Though there are no laws pertaining to pets consistently running loose, the tribe does have its own animal code surrounding issues like animal neglect.  Chris said, “Some cases it’s just about us helping educate someone on how much dogs should be getting fed, how much shelter they need, or how often they need to exercise. But if a tribal member has found a missing dog or a dog they feel like they can’t take care of, they can contact the police department and we can help surrender the dog to the animal shelter at no cost to them.”

When thinking about how often these situations happen out on the reservation, it makes you wonder, how can we prevent lost and found pets and any possible neglect? Some helpful resolutions include getting pets neutered/spayed, microchipped, and providing fencing for the pet. Spay and neuters are helpful because they stop the rapid reproduction of litters that are produced and people are not able to take care of. Microchips are helpful is the case of lost/found pets because its acts like an ID tag inside of a pet where the owner can be more easily found and contacted. And fencing created a physical barrier to lessen the likeliness that a pet can get outside of your property. 

Recently, in the efforts to help with these solutions, the Tribal Police Department has partnered with a non-profit called Pasado’s Safe Haven. Together, the Police Department and Pasado’s provide events for tribal members to bring their pets, receive free spay/neuters, and vaccines and microchipping for just a $10 copay. With four events already successfully held, the department plans to continue with more. 

What seems like easy solutions for such a reoccurring problem, may still be hard for some, but the Tulalip Police Department is here to help mitigate the needs of these animals. For anyone needing help with an animal, or dealing with a lost and found pet, please call the Tulalip Police Department dispatch at (360) 716 – 4608. 

And though after searching high and low for Lola’s owners and having no such luck, we are still continuing to keep her safe in our home, where she lives an active, loving, and fulfilled life.

Tulalip hosts ballot parties to help amplify Native voices

Next party happening August 1

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

If you happened to visit the Tulalip Administration Building on July 18, you may have heard the unmistakable sound of laughter, that only Indigenous aunties and cousins can seem to produce, erupting from the first-floor conference room. For some much-needed relief from the everyday grind, about thirty Tulalip tribal members and employees trickled into room 162 during their respective breaks throughout the day to see a few familiar faces, have a few laughs, and to cast their ballots for the 2022 political races. 

“I love Tulalip’s ballot parties,” exclaimed Theresa Sheldon, Tulalip tribal member and former Native American Political Director for the Democratic Party. “As soon as people get their ballots, they start asking where’s the ballot party and when is it? Tulalip constantly doing ballot parties is empowering our citizens and saying that your voice actually does matter, and that individual vote does count, as well as removing all the barriers to make it as easy as possible.”

During election season, Tulalip regularly holds ballot parties for not only their membership, but also their citizenship and employees. By taking something like voting, that may otherwise seem like a chore to some, the Tribe turns it into a social gathering where people can drop in, have a snack, and share a few ‘ayyyees’ with their relatives and community. 

Although it is a party, and good times are had all around, some very important work is also happening during the ballot parties. With laptops, tablets and printers at the ready, the crew working the event, which includes the Tribe’s Events Coordinator Malory Simpson and the Tribe’s Director of Treaty Rights and Government Affairs Ryan Miller, takes the time to assist individuals with voting registration and online voting. And if somebody requests additional information regarding the voting process or has general inquiries about the election, they are always willing to share their expertise. This thereby creates and increases well-informed votership at Tulalip. 

The hope is that in turn, those voters will tell their people about the next ballot party and the votership and Native voice will continue to amplify each election season. And that is important if we want to impact change and bring attention to some of the topics and issues that are taking place on tribal lands in both the Northwest region and throughout the nation. 

“Every election they say it’s the most important time to vote. But right now, when you see white nationalists running for office, it’s so important that we use our voice by voting,” said Theresa. 

In 2018, a NCAI voting movement called Native Vote came to Indian Country and toured reservations throughout the states. Their mission was to increase the Native votership overall by providing voting access to the Native American population, so that tribal members nationwide could easily place their votes. Many states do not allow voting by mail or online and require you to visit the nearest polling station during elections. And more often than not, those polling stations are located miles away from the reservation. Another issue that effects the Native votership are bogus laws stating that tribal-IDs are not an acceptable form of identification, or that you must have a permanent address and cannot list a P.O. Box in order to register to vote. Never mind the fact that most reservations utilize the post office box system as their primary option to send and receive mail, and that USPS or even companies like Amazon do not deliver to the residence of those tribal members because their home may not even have a physical address. 

The Native Vote movement, and recurring local ballot parties such as Tulalip’s, helps many Indigenous citizens by assisting them through the registration process during each of their gatherings. According to the most recent study that the Native Vote included in their 2018 brochure, 34% of the Native population who were eligible to vote at the time, were not registered. Of course, that number may have changed throughout the past four years but the problem of voter suppression in Native America still remains a problem. 

With the knowledge that the Native vote has one of the lowest turnouts in mind, the ballot party team offers to check to see if the people who attend the party are currently registered to vote. If an individual is not registered, the crew makes sure to walk them through that process. Many people arrive with their ballots already filled out and sealed, and after the event, the crew turns the ballots in for those voters. If somebody is registered to vote and they do not have their ballot on-hand or did not receive their ballot at all, the ballot party crew offers them a laptop or a tablet so they can log on and place their vote through the wonders of technology.  

Ryan stated, “We want to get people registered to vote, we’re not here to tell people how to vote. They can vote however they want. But a big part of our push is that the Tribe wants not just it’s members, but it’s employees and all the people in our community to exercise their right to vote. We’re lucky that we live in a state where you can register to vote in multiple different ways – you can register in person at most government buildings, you can register by mail, you can also register online as long as you have a driver’s license. 

“There was a law passed a couple years ago, that said that you’re supposed to be able to register to vote online with a tribal-ID. But there’s been some problems with implementation. So, we’re in the process with the Secretary of State, whose position is up for election right now, to make that a reality so that our tribal members who don’t have driver’s licenses can still register to vote online without having to go do it in person or do it by mail, which takes more time and that usually means that people are less likely to do it. All we’re trying to do is just make voting as accessible as possible and give people as much information as we can so they can make educated decisions for themselves.”

As we covered a few paragraphs ago, Native American voter suppression is an obstacle that we are trying to get through, and since that 2018 study it would appear that we are beginning to show up when it matters most. Over the past couple years, we have seen several Indigenous leaders rise to positions where they can affect change on a congressional level and our voice can be heard on issues that are important to our people such as defending tribal sovereignty, protecting Mother Earth, and ensuring that all the MMIWP victims and survivors receive justice. US Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland recently vowed to uncover all the unmarked graves of the children from the boarding school era, and she also created a Missing and Murdered Unit within the BIA to help find and bring home all of our missing relatives. Ryan shared that the Native vote actually played a big role in the last presidential election.

He said, “There’s a lot of really recent evidence that shows that the Native vote is super important, including the presidential election in 2020. The swing states that went for Biden and made sure that Trump wasn’t going to be reelected, were really won by the Native communities and the Black communities in those states. Like Arizona for example, there was a huge Native population there. And if you look at the numbers, they voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden. Georgia – same thing, the Black and Native population there, and in Michigan, Minnesota, tons and tons of Native people over there, and they made a huge difference. Those are the kinds of examples that show us how much power we actually have.”

Here at home, if the Native vote shows out at Tulalip like it has within other Indigenous territories, we have a chance to send in another one of our heavy hitters to the political equivalent of the big leagues. If you live within the 38th District, which encompasses the Tulalip reservation as well as parts of Everett and Marysville, you may recognize a name on this year’s ballot. Tulalip tribal member, treaty defender and environmental icon, Daryl Williams, is running for Washington State representative. Daryl has decades of experience under his belt, working in the Tulalip Natural Resource’s Treaty Rights Office for over forty years. In that position, he was instrumental in making sure that bill proposals did not violate treaty rights before they hit the senate floor. Daryl’s vast amount of knowledge and hands-on experience makes him the perfect candidate to follow the blueprint which John McCoy left behind upon his recent retirement. 

“On a local level, the tribal members who live in the 38th (district) have an opportunity this year to vote for a Tulalip tribal member to represent them in the state legislature,” explained Ryan. “That is something that we had for many years in John McCoy, first as our representative and then as our State Senator. I think we took for granted having someone there who can speak about tribal values and represent us in that way. We now have an opportunity to have that again. John retired a few years ago, and we haven’t really had that in the state legislature since.”

He continued, “Representation matters. Not just for getting the policies done that help protect tribal sovereignty and tribal treaty rights, and all the social services that the tribes provide, but also for our youth to look and see that this is something that they can do in the future. When I was a kid, we never saw a Native person elected to anything. It never even crossed my mind that that was a possibility. And then, of course, John gets elected, and I think that was the first time, for a lot of Native kids, that they saw somebody who looked like them and who was elected to something. I think there’s so many reasons why that representation is important, and we have to take those opportunities where we can.”

The Tulalip Tribes will be hosting one more ballot party on August 1st, the day before the primary election, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. If you are planning to vote online, be sure to bring your driver’s license to the party. And as always, there will be some fun door prizes and a raffle for those who simply drop by and say hi. So be sure to visit Malory and Ryan in Admin Room 162 and get your vote on.

After delivering her ballot, Theresa shared, “It was great to be able to vote for Daryl Williams today. It’s beautiful to be able to be a part of that and to support him. And hopefully seeing a candidate who’s representing Tulalip and running for state legislature, inspires everyone to turnout, fill out their ballots, turn in their votes, and get out there and support him.”