More than fireworks, Boom City represents Tulalip culture

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

“Boom City is much more than a business or money making venture. It’s part of my culture, my history, and really represents what it means to be Tulalip,” declared Rocky Harrison while peering out from his stand as potential customers walk into Snohomish County’s firework epicenter. “Most advocate for hunting, fishing, or gathering Cedar and berries as what it means to be Tulalip, but to me Boom City is just as strong and just as much a part of our culture.”

For nearly 40 years now, the Tulalip Tribes have turned a vacant lot on their reservation into an excitement-filled marketplace for those looking to satisfy the celebration demands of Independence Day. 

Thousands of customers from all over the Pacific Northwest journey to Boom City every year seeking the perfect purchase consisting of child friendly sparklers and snap poppers and, of course, the thrilling sights and sounds of more advanced explosives, such as artillery shells and 500 gram, multi-shot cakes.

Largely illegal in the State of Washington, the sale of fireworks is permitted on Tulalip lands as a direct result of tribal sovereignty. Embracing that sovereignty is some 80 or so stand owners, each a Tulalip entrepreneur looking to cash-in on 4th of July festivities. Together they form a powerful voice in the community that personifies self-determination and tradition.

“Seeing old friends from school, church, and every job I’ve ever had is the best part to me,” shared Terry Parker, Jr. He’s been selling at Boom City for 39 years now. “We all have our repeat customers and through those relationships we’ve seen kids become adults and eventually parents themselves bringing their kids out here. I’ve witnessed three generations of families grow up via their annual trips to buy fireworks. That’s three generations worth of laughter and priceless stories.”

For Dan Pablo, Jr. and wife Kelsea, they’ve factored prominently in the firework marketplace for years, too. So much so they created custom branded products to go with their towering stand, JR Cadillac, that always captivates the attention of first time patrons.

“We got lucky with a distributor we’ve known for a long time, and he made us some custom rapid-fire cakes with our name on them,” explained Dan. “It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of hours and long days go into being successful, but it’s worth it in order to pay off bills and afford things for our family that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.” 

The financial incentives for those willing to embrace the Boom City life are tried and true. In recent years there’s been a trend by Negative Nancy’s to try and diminish the hard work and sacrifice made by those willing to put their marketability and people skills to the annual test.

From nearby cities instituting zero-tolerance policies on fireworks, to recent dry spells causing worry about fire hazards, to even COVID-19 creating concern for some, yet Boom City persists and prevails. Like culture and tribal sovereignty, it remains stronger than anything attempting to tear it down. 

“For me and multiple stand owners, this was the best opening weekend of Boom City we’ve ever had…and we almost didn’t have it,” reflected Rocky. For the past 13 years he’s co-managed a stand with his brother, Josh Fryberg.

Tensions ran high as Tulalip leadership and the Boom City committee negotiated this year’s regulations. There were strong indications it would be cancelled altogether before finally getting the green light just two weeks ago. 

“All this revenue and income was nearly taken away from us and the many families who depend on Boom City to supply the atmosphere for their 4th of July celebrations,” added Rocky. “The community we have here every single year brings people together in a way few things can. I’m just thankful to be a part of it and look forward to teaching my kids how to continue on this tradition in the future.”

Tulalip weight loss challenge: Determined to lose that “quarantine 15”

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

*Trigger Warning* The following combination of letters and punctuation depicts a factual desire to make healthier choices, lose body fat, and become better role models for children. In the era of #AllFeelingsMatter, some readers may find this kind of content offensive. 

Heard of the quarantine 15? The phrase started popping up on social media back in March, as people considered how quarantining at home would affect their eating and exercise habits. Like most things on social media, it started mostly as a joke, but three months of shelter-in-place orders later many can attest to gaining a few inches around the waist line. For these folks, the intent to steer clear of coronavirus resulted in an unintended consequence of catching the quarantine 15.

“Wonder why we crave pizza, potato chips, and chocolate during the coronavirus quarantine? When we’re worried or frightened, we’re more likely to seek out sugars, fats, and carbs for a quick energy boost,” explained Psychology Today’s Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. “These comfort foods act like a natural tranquilizer that calms us down in times of peril.

“But what feels like a satisfying solution in the short term grows into a bigger problem in the long run. Comfort eating traps us in a hard-to-break eating cycle that adds to stress levels, resulting in serious health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, as well as emotional problems, such as depression and anxiety.”

Over the past several weeks, states and cities all across the United Sates have gradually loosened their shelter-in-place orders. Locally, Snohomish County is in phase two and will be entering phase three in a matter of days, which means more and more businesses and outdoor recreation activities are available to the public. A group of local mothers look forward to returning to some semblance of normalcy and together they share a desire to make healthier choices, which means shedding that unwelcomed quarantine 15.

Knowing that weight loss alone can be difficult, they are pooling their emotional and physical support in a way that is fun, constructive, and gets the competitive juices flowing. Enter Tulalip’s own weight loss challenge – the mommas gotta get it done edition. The inspired group consists of ten Tulalip tribal members, all women and all mothers.

“We’ve created a Facebook group to motivate each other, share recipes, and support one another through this process,” said Malory Simpson. “We’ve set this up to be a challenge, hoping the completive nature comes out to help us stay motivated, but at the same time we’ll be able to rely on the group for support when it’s needed.”

The group met in person on Monday, June 22, near the stunning overlook of Tulalip Bay to both officially weigh-in and pay the buy-in that ultimately adds a competitive wrinkle to further incentivize living a healthier lifestyle.

“I need all the motivation I can get. Having money on the line just helps to jump start the process for everybody,” shared Michelle Martin. “It’s been rough being stuck at home during this whole quarantine. Especially being a mom of three young boys who never seem to be full. I’m constantly feeding them or giving them snacks, and it’s so easy to snack along with them. Participating in this weight bet will help me hold myself accountable and knowing there are nine other ladies watching me gives me even more drive.”

A change in lifestyle is never easy. Making wholesale changes to your typical grocery list, creating brand new go-to meals, and cutting out sugar-filled beverages like sodas, energy drinks, and those tasty caffeinated drinks from your favorite coffee stand sounds daunting, there’s no doubt about it. But for an entire nation that went into a 3-month long quarantine over fear of catching what some refer to as a largely overhyped virus*, the goal to live a healthy and more active lifestyle is even more substantial. 

Countless reports show overwhelming evidence clearly showing that not only is eating nutritious foods and regular exercise good for you holistically, together they will also mitigate underlying health conditions which are the most emphatic precursors to COVID-19 related deaths. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading serial killers in modern day Native communities and remain pervasive threats to our culture. So much so that they are attributed to an estimated 50% of all Native American deaths. 

For the ten moms participating in a weight loss challenge, their courage to go outside their comfort zone and engage in a healthier lifestyle can have tremendous effects not just in the short term, but in the long term as well. By holding themselves accountable, channeling stress in proactive ways, and staying active, each mother will be promoting immeasurable health benefits to not only each other, but their easily influenced children, too.

“It can only be a huge positive for our kids to see us choosing to make good changes and live healthier,” added Malory. “As moms, realizing that what we cook is what our kids will eat only adds a layer of importance. Of course our kids have their own snacks, but by focusing on adding more fruits and vegetables to our daily meals, and cutting out the unhealthy stuff, our entire households will become healthier.”

An opportunity for parents to teach their kids how to be healthy, shutting off the TV, computer and phone screens more often to go outside and enjoy the outdoors, while working together as a family is a win-win-win.  Plus, there are huge bragging rights to whoever comes out the victor of Tulalip’s own weight loss challenge and puts a little extra coin in their pocket. 

The group is set to reconvene on July 22 for another weigh-in. Regardless of what the scale shows, by choosing to be healthier with food selection and engaging in more exercise each determined woman is a winner.

“It’s so important to acknowledge everybody has a different body that will react uniquely to different weight loss methods,” said Courtney Jefferson. “Sharing this information lets us know its ok when a particular type of diet doesn’t work. For example, we hear a lot of talk about the Keto Diet, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Same applies to Paleo, Atkins, and even going vegan. We each have our own nutritional requirements and need to, most of all, be in tune with out body and how it reacts to different foods. 

“There are sure to be some difficulties on this journey, but that’s why we’re doing it together,” she added. “Our support for one another will make it easier to keep moving forward.”

*Snohomish County health department reports 3,814 confirmed cases, with 3,209 of those individuals recovered and 164 deceased (4% mortality rate), as of 6/23/2020. 

Senator McCoy named 2020 Public Official of the Year

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Well renowned Tulalip tribal member and now retired U.S. Senator, John McCoy, was named ‘2020 Public Official of the Year’ by Evergreen State College during the college’s virtual commencement on June 12th.  

“The motto of our Master of Public Administration program is ‘be the change’,” explained Evergreen’s MPA Director Dr. Michael Craw. “Senator McCoy has personally shaped the education of many of Washington’s leaders as an adjunct faculty member in our program and as the sponsor of numerous internship opportunities for students. In his courses, Senator McCoy has provided the wisdom of experience that can only come from a skilled practitioner of governance and public administration. Senator McCoy truly has been, and continues to be, the change we hope to see in Washington and the world.”

After 17 years of service in the Washington State Legislature, McCoy announced his retirement after submitting a resignation letter to Governor Jay Inslee in April. The longtime Democratic lawmaker leaves behind a legacy of steady leadership and commitment to serving his community. He brought a career in military service and years as a computer technician to his work at the Legislature, culminating in a lawmaker who effectively advanced economic development and equality of opportunity for his district. 

His work is characterized by tireless advocacy for Native American communities, expanded access to high-quality education, and environmental sustainability. Before McCoy became one of the longest serving Native American legislators in the state’s history, he led efforts to bring better telecommunication infrastructure to the Tulalip Tribes. He also helped bring to fruition the economic powerhouse that is Quil Ceda Village.

In addition to being named public official of the year, Evergreen’s faculty also voted unanimously to bestow an honorary Master of Public Administration degree upon the Tulalip elder. 

“Senator McCoy has provided extraordinary educational leadership for us at Evergreen,” said college president Dr. George Bridges. “He and his tribal nation helped establish the Tribal Governance concentration in our Master of Public Administration program, which Alan Parker (Chippewa Cree) and Linda Moon Stumpff (Apache) co-founded. We look forward to celebrating the graduation of our 10th MPA Tribal Governance cohort this year.” 

Senator McCoy always prioritized the education of his people. Here he visits the Early Learning Academy to hear youth singing in Lushootseed.

During his five terms in the Washington State House of Representatives, McCoy fought for students, for the environment, for a healthy economy and for tribal communities. He sponsored policy that expanded support for students struggling with behavioral and emotional health needs, protected water rights and access, and integrated comprehensive tribal history and cultural education into teacher preparation programs.

Most notably, he authored Senate Bill 5433 which was signed into law in May 2015 by Governor Inslee, making it mandatory for schools to educate students about the history and governance of northwest coastal tribes. The State has since worked diligently with Native Nations to develop a first-of-its-kind curriculum, Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State.

“When I first came home and started to work on building the Tribe’s resources, one of those resources was getting our tribal members educated,” reflected McCoy from the comforts of retirement. “Getting them educated was very important so that we could build on our resources and help our people grow.”

Additional plans are underway at Evergreen State College to create a scholarship in the Senator’s name to support future Tribal Governance students.

Peaceful march against racism

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Over 1,000 community members from the Tulalip/Marysville area came together on Thursday, June 11 to peacefully march against racism. Organized by the Black Student Unions of Marysville School District, the crowd of demonstrators met at Jennings Park where they listened to several inspiring black youth offer a heavy dose of reality.

“We’re here to honor all our fallen sisters and brothers: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery,” said 17-year-old Jenasis Lee, president of the Marysville Getchell’s BSU and one of the co-organizers of the youth-led event. “Racism is taught. Our long-term goal should be to educate all of our friends, family, community members on what being black truly is.

“How many more of our people have to die in order for the world to see how much damage has already been done?” she asked. Her powerful words reaching the many minds now eagerly open and receptive to take in the depth of her message. 

Among the student speakers was Tulalip’s own RaeQuan Battle. The former Marysville Pilchuck basketball phenom spoke candidly about his time on the basketball court, where he routinely heard opposing fans call him the N-word. Learning to excel through that kind of adversity ultimately helped him achieve his dream of playing hoops for the University of Washington.

“Being a Native American and an African American, it was heartbreaking to watch that eight-minute video [of George Floyd being murdered by the police],” shared 19-year-old RaeQuan. “My heart really dropped and I just couldn’t imagine being in that position.

“My little brother Tayari saw that video. He comes up to me and asks what’s happening. It sucked to explain to my 10-year-old brother that he could be in that position.”

Acknowledging concepts like systemic racism and police brutality, both of which are impossible to ignore in today’s society, is one thing, but to take action in a common cause to denounce these insidious mechanisms used to oppress people of color in our country is something else entirely. As the student speeches continued to ring out through the loud speakers, so too did their message in the hearts and minds of concerned citizens of all colors uniting under a common goal: to eliminate racism in all its forms. 

The day’s event received a blessing of radiating sunshine that brought an extra layer of warmth to the 1,000+ people crowd. A torrential downpour had many turning out with raincoats and umbrellas ready, but minutes before the march started the rain came to an abrupt stop. Under a clear spring sky, the march began from Jennings Park to Ebey Waterfront Park. Non-stop chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “Say his name. George Floyd!” brought out many onlookers from their residential homes to take in the scene.

Near the march’s core was a cohort of Tulalip tribal members offering their support through rhythmic drum beats and melodic song. Heartfelt messages written in Lushootseed were seen proudly displayed by both tribal and nontribal alike. 

The peaceful march against racism concluded at Ebey Waterfront Park with an impassioned speech by Tulalip Chairwoman Teri Gobin.

“We stand with George Floyd’s family and the families of every person who has been a victim of racial inequity and violence,” she stated. “As people of color we understand the oppression and the historical trauma it causes. We have felt this pain. We have endured this hatred. None of our children should have to live like this. 

“If we stand together as a community, we can change our future. We can build a world where we can see the value of a person, not the color of their skin. We can all become social justice warriors by challenging ourselves to change the way we treat each other.”

Change the way we treat each other. It really is that simple, and yet remains so challenging for us as a society to do so. However, the hope remains. Every person who showed up and marched against racism with the Tulalip/Marysville community, each handmade sign made, each powerful word shared, all of it and more are positive proof that hope remains. 

A look inside the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ)

By Daniel R. Smith

The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle, established by Black Lives Matter protestors, has inspired a wave of negative media attention (false rumors of extortion initiated by a rightwing blogger were repeated by Police Chief Best, she later retracted the statement) along with a threat of military force by President Trump on Twitter. CHAZ, comprising several blocks near Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, is a self-governed area, largely free of police presence, established when SPD abandoned the precinct Monday. Following a week of violent police actions directed at protestors, CHAZ has been transformed from a raucous war zone with teargas and flash-bang grenades, to a mecca for activist speeches, mural painting, leafleting, and free food and water.

Having visited CHAZ three successive days this week, Tuesday—Thursday, it’s obvious the protestor’s position is tenuous. During the day, crowds swelled to several thousand and with the sun out it’s incredibly relaxed, like Seattle’s most vital street fair. But the fear of police returning is constant—protestor speeches are punctuated by calls for bodies to man street barricades. On Wednesday I saw police nonviolently repelled twice by protestors, but a chain of bike police did manage to enter the East Precinct in the afternoon. They installed themselves in windows directly above the people’s mic at 12th and Pine, monitoring the protests from above.

Protestors see the police as an occupying force which uses violence disproportionately against people of color. Among protestor demands are defunding the SPD, essentially redistributing funds to the community, turning the precinct building over to the community, so no return of the police. The protestors give near-constant recognition to the fact that CHAZ sits on stolen land, and encourage collaboration with Native movements. Roxanne White, Yakima, Nez Perce, Nooksack and Gros Ventre, an advocate for the families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) spoke on Wednesday about the connections between Native people and BLM:

The future of the zone is unclear. Protestors say they are willing to talk to Chief Best but that she backed out of a meeting yesterday. In the meantime the city is experiencing a flourishing of voices and mutual-aid collaboration not seen since Occupy. At a minimum, everyone hopes a resolution is achieved, non-violently, that brings significant reform to the way Seattle is policed.

Petition to Defund SPD:

Reading helpful to understand the context of CHAZ:

Nationwide Black Lives Matter rallies continue to demand real change

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

In the days since video evidence surfaced clearly showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds that resulted in Floyd’s death, protests have erupted across the United States. From Minneapolis to New York and from Atlanta to Seattle, thousands upon thousands of concerned citizens have taken to the streets in a show of solidarity. Their message: Black Lives Matter.

These peaceful protests are part of fifteen consecutive days and counting of nationwide demonstrations in direct response to the death of George Floyd on May 25. In memory of both him and countless other people of color who have died while in police custody, the people of this country are forcing the media, corporate elites, and anyone with a TV or internet connection to reexamine America’s deep-seated notions of racial equality and justice for all.

Over the weekend of June 5, the Black Lives Matter movement united hundreds of people across the racial spectrum in the city of Everett. Armed with only eye-catching signs and their bold presence, the peaceful rally began at the always busy intersection of Everett Avenue and Broadway, just four blocks from Snohomish County Jail and Everett Municipal Court.

“We’re out here because our lives matter. Police brutality is just tremendous right now. We want them to stop killing us,” explained Alana Wilson as she stood proudly with her daughters. “My kids our here with me because they need to understand this is the world we live in and, unfortunately, we have to have these conversations with our kids. It’s a lot for them to grasp, but it’s important they know.”

Her 9-year-old daughter Laylah held a handmade sign in honor of George Floyd’s final words, ‘I can’t breathe!’ At such a young age, Laylah recounted watching the horrifying video of Floyd’s final minutes and said it was important everyone remember him. “I want people to know that we are all the same,” she said. “We all matter.”

As demonstrators stretched a block in every direction, holding up their signs and clenched fists in protest against systemic racial injustice and police brutality, they received an outpouring of support from commuters who continuously honked, yelled out ‘Black Lives Matter’ or held their own signs from their vehicle’s open window. 

  “We’re here in support of the city for showing support for us and this Black Lives Matter movement,” shared Rafael Harris. “We appreciate the solidarity and all the love we are getting out here. This is a networking opportunity. By being out here we all are putting our thoughts and minds into action. What can we do? How can we assist? These are opportunities for us to be the change that makes a real difference for our future and our children’s future.”

Among the hundreds of demonstrators was a group of local teachers from North Middle School. “We are standing together to support our students and our community,” explained 6th grade math teacher Shauna Harris. “Enough is enough. We can’t keep letting this happen and to continue to watch it happen and nothing be done is unacceptable.”

Protesters nationwide are demanding police reforms and a reckoning with institutional racism in response to George Floyd’s death. Calls to ‘defund the police’ have become rallying cries for many. A heavy-handed response to demonstrations in several major cities has highlighted what some critics have maintained: law enforcement has become militarized and too often defaults to using excessive force.

In the wake of George Floyd’s homicide and his preceding pleas for help catching wildfire in the eyes and minds of millions, his memory lives on in the countless peaceful protests already held and the many more to come. Their accomplishments are too many to list outright, with the most significant being Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin arrested and charged with second-degree murder, and for the three other officers who failed to intervene also being arrested and charged with aiding and abetting.

“Nothing can be done to bring back our brother George Floyd, but these are steps in the right direction,” shared demonstrator Rick Nelson. “By being together, showing love and unity, and being positive examples to our families and community as black folk, we are showing the world this is our moment. It’s our time. 

“Getting everyone to come together like this is how real change happens,” he continued. “This is not a problem only one race can solve. It’s a problem everyone has to solve. It’s not just about unlawful cops. It’s about equality. It’s about reforming the justice system. It’s about being better for our community and our planet.”

There is a Marysville-Tulalip Peaceful March Against Racism happening on Thursday, June 11, beginning at 1:00pm at Jennings Park.

Meant to bee

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Ten years ago, Tulalip tribal member Mary Jane Topash was enjoying her undergrad experience at the University of Washington when the opportunity to view an informing documentary about bees presented itself. She quickly found herself captivated by their importance to the environment and high level of interconnectedness. The dream to someday become a beekeeper was created that day.

Fast forward seven years to Mary Jane perusing Facebook when an advertisement for a local business, Snohomish Bee Company, offering classes to become an apprentice beekeeper pops on the screen. Her interest again sparked, she clicked on the ad and followed through with the class. 

“It didn’t cost that much at all, like $100 maybe, and for two days they taught me all about the lifecycle of bees, beekeeping, and honey production,” recalled Mary Jane about the apprenticeship class. “There’s a short test at the end. After passing you get officially certified as a beekeeper. The best part was getting to learn a bunch of cool facts about bees and why they’re so vital to a healthy planet.”

Cool facts like at least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of all plants require cross-pollination to spread and thrive, and here in the United States, bees are the most important pollinators. Bees earn their reputation as busy workers by pollinating billions of plants each year, including millions of agricultural crops. Their importance cannot be understated. Small bees play a big role in one out of every three bites of food we eat. Without them, many plants we rely on for everyday nourishment would die off.

After receiving her beekeeping certification in 2017, the ambitious tribal member was eager to put her skills to use, but was forced to wait until the timing was right. She needed to accumulate the necessary supplies and have enough dedicated free time to properly nurture a start-up hive. That’s time she just didn’t have while working fulltime at Hibulb Cultural Center and balancing her school work in the pursuit of a Master’s Degree in Cultural Studies from U.W. 

Enter the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and a state-wide ‘stay home, stay healthy’ order. It may have taken a few years, but all of a sudden Mary Jane had an ample supply of free time to achieve her beekeeping dream. Plus, the Tulalip Tribes had just issued their membership a stimulus check to help cope financially in times of uncertainty. Well, uncertain for some, but not the aspiring Tulalip beekeeper. The same day that stimulus payment hit her bank account, she purchased the necessary gear and supplies to create her own colony. The most important supply? The bees, of course. 

“Bees are purchased in pounds, so I bought a 3-pound box of Italian honey bees. That’s about 10,000 – 12,000 bees and one queen,” explained Mary Jane. She started her own bee hive on April 29th. “In the beginning stage they are completely reliant on me to provide them with food, which is sugar water. I’ve gone through a 25-pound bag of sugar in just one month. In a few more weeks they’ll be self-reliant and won’t need me to feed them. Until then they are my bee babies.”

That previous spark of interest fully aflame now as a passion project, the 30-year-old revels in the time she’s had to build a reciprocal relationship with her bee colony. From planting them their own garden with a variety of flowers to learning their behavioral patterns from dawn until dusk, Mary Jane proved she is meant to bee. So much so that she’s already looking forward to expanding her bee family next spring.

“This whole experience has been a great way to channel energy. Overcoming the natural instinct to run or swat around bees, especially an entire hive, is an intellectual challenge,” admitted Mary Jane. Overcoming those fear-induced natural reactions, like to not flinch if a bee is buzzing by her face, shows a level of understanding about the nature of benevolent bees.

“This is my way of giving back because honey bees are so important to our environment,” she continued. “From our plant life to water to honey and their own hive, how these little guys all work together for a common goal is just amazing.” 

The value of teamwork in a honeybee colony is a lesson humans could definitely benefit from, especially now in an age of seemingly endless polarization and incessant squabbling. One worker bee makes only about 1/8th of a teaspoon of honey in their entire life, but a thriving colony where everybody is doing their part can produce 10+ pounds of honey per year. 

Speaking of the liquid gold, Mary Jane is curious as to what flavor of honey her bees will produce. They are surrounded by a cove of blackberry bushes and towering maple trees to forage nectar and pollen from, so odds are the locally sourced honey will taste of maple berry. The flavor won’t be confirmed until the fall when the honey is ready for harvest. 

“It would be pretty cool to incorporate Lushootseed into the name of the honey,” said Mary Jane of using the traditional language of her Coast Salish people. “Haven’t decided how just yet, but it makes sense because everything my bees use to produce their honey is given from the Tulalip land.”

Lessons and valuable teachings offered by beekeeping is something Mary Jane looks forward to passing on. Recently, her 10-year-old niece Jada has shown an interest and joined in on the veiled activity. Overcoming a fear of being stung is already quite the accomplishment for a fledgling helper, and with more time maybe her curiosity will lead to becoming a nurturer of bees like her aunt. 

Until the ‘stay home, stay healthy’ order is lifted and Mary Jane returns to the normalcy of her day job as an assistant director at Seattle’s Burke Museum, she will continue to enjoy her gifted time sitting on the porch watching her young pollinators perform their dance between surrounding flowers and blackberry bushes. She can’t help but beam with happiness witnessing her bee babies play their critical role in managing our ecosystem. Her decade old dream now fully realized.

Looting attempts at Quil Ceda Village

June 1, 2020

Last night the Tulalip Reservation was the target of vandalism and looting under the pretense of a protest. Based on the tone of the social media posts that encouraged this incident, it seemed likely that violence, rather than a peaceful demonstration was the goal.  With that in mind, Tulalip citizens, community members, and law enforcement mobilized to meet the potential threat and closed down the parameters of Quil Ceda Village, along with the Tulalip Resort Casino and the Quil Ceda Creek Casino.   

In addition to the Tulalip Tribal Police, our local law enforcement partners, including Snohomish County Sherriff’s and their SWAT team, Washington State Patrol, Everett Police Department, Stanwood Police Department, and Marysville Police Department assisted in ensuring Tulalip stayed safe. 

“Our community came together, and as we always do, shared wisdom, unity, and teachings. We stood in defense of our lands, along with our local law enforcement. 

“We stand with George Floyd’s family and the families of every person who has been a victim of racial inequity and violence,” said Tulalip Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “Our people have lived through oppression; we know this pain. My heart breaks for anyone who has lost a loved one due to racial violence.  His death did not need to happen, someone should have stopped it, and they should be held accountable.  We raise our voice and drums in solidarity with you.” 

We understand that protest is sometimes necessary to create change. But we will not stand for those who come to pillage and perpetrate even more violence on our people.” The people who came to Tulalip last night were not here to change the system. This was an attempt to loot and only targets the innocent.” I do not understand why anyone would want to target Tulalip, a sovereign nation that has suffered generations of historical trauma. 

After approximately 40 people converged on Tulalip in an attempt to vandalize and loot businesses within Quil Ceda Village, several suspects were arrested for criminal trespass, while others fled the property.  Tulalip and our partners will continue to secure the boundaries of the Reservation. Property damage, rioting, and looting will not be tolerated; those who are responsible will be apprehended and booked into jail.

“This has got to stop. We can’t go on this way, destroying even more lives,” said Gobin. “There are so many good people taking the brunt of this,” she continued. “Like Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ I believe those words, and that is what I witnessed last night. 

Teri Gobin, 

Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman

Memorial Day in Tulalip

Honoring our fallen warriors

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Native American men and women have always been defenders of their lives, traditional homelands, and cultural lifeways. The call to serve in the United States military has been strong for Native people since the country’s founding, long before being officially recognized as American citizens in 1924. 

In fact, the Department of Defense recognizes that today’s military successes depend heavily on Native Americans. Thirty-one thousand Native men and women are on active duty today, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world. In total there are 140,000 living Native veterans. And the best stat of all, Native Americans serve in the Armed Forces at five times the national average while serving in the military at the highest per-capita rate of any other demographic.

While the warrior mentality to protect the sacred has a long and prideful history, simultaneously Native communities have never taken a loss of life lightly. Paying homage to fallen warriors as heroes with reverent memorials filled with ceremonies and prayers is a traditional teaching that unites tribal members of all 574 federally recognized tribes.

On Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, the Tulalip Tribes citizenship didn’t allow a typical Washington downpour nor a coronavirus pandemic stop them from uniting as a community to honor their fallen warriors.

“It’s heartfelt to see all the flags on bedsides of veterans who served, especially for those who paid their life, the ultimate sacrifice,” expressed Tulalip board member and Vietnam veteran, Mel Sheldon. He co-hosted the Memorial Day services at Mission Beach and Priest Point cemeteries along with fellow Tulalip veterans William McClean III and Rocky Renecker. 

“Memorial Day means honoring those who have passed or sacrificed the ultimate price for our country,” said Rocky. He represents the third consecutive generation of his immediate family to serve in the military. “It’s a time to reflect on the men and women who have served before me and set the examples.”
A parade-like caravan of tribal member filled vehicles rolled through both reservation cemeteries. The caravan allowed families and friends of fallen warriors to pay their respects while still adhering to social distancing protocols put in place by Governor Inslee and tribal leadership.

As he has for nearly every year since 1993, Tulalip veteran Cyrus Hatch III read aloud roll call for the 225 veterans buried on the reservation’s most hallowed grounds. 

“I come from a family that has a long history of veterans on both sides that influenced my decision to join the military,” shared caravan participant and Tulalip veteran Angela Davis. “My father, Calvin Taylor, was my first influence because he was continuing to serve while I was growing up. When I would go with him to events like today I remember him standing with the other veterans for roll call. I felt so much pride.

“As a veteran, what Memorial Day means to me is a day of remembrance and honor,” she continued. “It is our community taking the time out of our busy lives to remember the service men and women who sacrificed their life in the line of duty serving our country, and honoring their legacy they left behind by showing the families that their sacrifices have not been forgotten.”

Tulalip veteran Art Contraro was acknowledged multiple times for his heartfelt contribution and method for honoring his fallen brethren. While the majority of tribal government employees are furloughed, the 72-year-old took it upon himself to volunteer time and equipment in order to ensure the gravesites looked their best. Otherwise unattended and left to be covered in weeds and shrubbery, each grave was edged up and treated with the dignity it deserves. 

“Art really cares for our veteran’s graves and is setting an example that hopefully we can carry on and pass on to the younger generation,” explained Rocky Renecker. “Art enjoys doing what he can, when he can. He has lots of knowledge of the veterans that have passed on and knows which ones don’t get visitors and which ones do.” 

Every veteran tombstone was freed from overgrown shrubbery so they were clearly visible and honored with a new mini U.S. flag to denote their status as honored soldiers. A welcomed sight shared by the many veterans and their non-military family members. 

Among the 574 federally recognized tribes, each with their own cultures, traditions, and belief systems, military service remains remarkably consistent. No matter the conflict, Native American men and women continue to risk their lives and make untold sacrifices in the name of freedom.

 For the bravery and heroism embodied by each of the 225 Native veterans buried at Mission Beach and Priest Point cemeteries, a 21-gun salute rang out to conclude the Memorial Day services.