Tribal elders led a planting ceremony that included University of Washington students, faculty, and visitors on the afternoon of December 3. In the spirit of growing partnerships and sharing the importance of land cultivation, the memorable gathering occurred near the new Burke Museum’s entrance. Home to a future Camas meadow.
“This garden here will be a witness and teacher to something that is very important and sacred to all people, but especially to this land,” said Wanapum tribal elder Rex Buck. “The land has longed for these foods to come back and call it home. And so this is our way, the Burke’s way and the community’s way to recognize this planting as important. It represents a teaching for our children to maintain something sacred in a good way.”
After receiving proper instruction on how to plant budding Camas bulbs, all those in attendance were encouraged to plant multiple bulbs that will transform into stunning purple-blue flowers in a few short seasons. Once fully bloomed, visitors to the University of Washington and Burke Museum will find themselves walking by a Camas meadow, as were once in great abundance in the area prior to colonization.
A utilitarian plant, food source and medicine, the multi-purpose Camas was and continues to be one of the most important root foods of Indigenous peoples in western North American. Except for choice varieties of dried salmon, no other food item was more widely traded. People traveled great distances to harvest the bulbs and there is some suggestion that plants were dispersed beyond their range by transplanting.*
The part of the plant most revered is actually the bulb. Traditionally, Camas bulbs were pit-cooked for 24-36 hours, which was necessary for the inulin in Camas to convert to fructose. The sweetness of cooked Camas gave it utility as a sweetener and enhancer of other foods, making it highly valuable for trading purposes. The plants stalks and leaves were used for making mattresses. Additionally, Coast Salish tribes used Camas as a cough medicine by boiling it down, straining the juice, and then mixing with honey.
“Camas is medicine that our people have known and understood for thousands and thousands of years,” explained Cedar Moon Woman, Connie McCloud, cultural director of Puyallup Tribe. “The Creator put this plant here for us to nourish our bodies as food and to heal our bodies as medicine. The land knew this medicine would return here today so it would be an educator for our children. If our future generations do not understand their relationship to the Mother Earth, to the trees and to the plants, then they cannot be the protectors she desperately needs.”
The long-awaited planting ceremony and gardening activities have been years in the making, since design plans for the new Burke were first being drawn up. Ultimately, the museum’s surroundings will feature some 80,000 native plants of 60 different species representing different parts of Washington State, ones genetically tied to the region. The spring bloom of purple-blue flowers should be spectacular. This is yet another way to bring the region’s natural history to the public.
“In planning for the new Burke, many of us advocated for having the whole grounds of the museum be a garden to represent the plants that are native to the Pacific Northwest and of value to the Indigenous people who live here,” explained Dr. Richard Olmstead, UW professor and Burke curator. “When Meriwether Lewis came west with the Lewis & Clark Expedition, he was the first European to collect this plant and provide it to western science. In providing a name for it, the Latin name Camassia quamash brings together the two words he had learned in phonetic English that represented the Native American names for this plant species.”
In time, the Camas bulbs planted by environmentally-conscious citizens of all ages and professions will blossom into a sweeping meadow alongside the Burke Museum. The meadow will evoke thoughts of wild prairie lands that once covered much of Washington, during a time when Indigenous people were sole caretakers and Camas was widely known not simply as a flower or plant, but as life giving food and medicine.
In 2013, a historically Native American based school, Indian Heritage, was torn down in the northern Seattle area it devastated the urban Native community. Those who remember Indian Heritage and know the significance of Licton Springs wanted to make sure it was protected from development and possible desecration because Licton Springs is located directly across the street.
For most of America’s history, the interactions with Native people have been about destroying our culture, removing our ties to land and forcing us to assimilate. That’s why the recognition of Licton Springs as a National Historic Landmark is so important. It protects one of the few sacred sites that still exists in an urban landscape. It protects and brings our history to life for both our people and the non-Native people of the area. It reminds modern America that we were here long before the modern government, and we are still here.
If you’ve never heard of Licton Springs you’re not alone. In a small park in Northgate overshadowed by condos and high rises, after walking through a network of trails, you’ll see a small hole in the ground. This hole is called Licton Spring. Licton is derived from the Lushootseed word “liq’təd” which means red mud. Licton Springs in particular is rich with iron oxide, magnesium sulfide. Coast Salish elder and historian Tom Speer said, “liq’təd, the red ochre, was used since time immemorial.” It was used before European colonization for religious ceremonies such as baby namings, weddings, and even buried with people during funerals”.
According to Tom, Licton Springs is, “the last sacred site in the ancestral homeland of Seattle. Due to development around Lake Washington other springs were capped off and destroyed”. Although this landmark has huge significance to the first people of the Puget Sound there is little recognition of its Indigenous value.
This issue was addressed by local Seattle Native American youth program, Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA). The youth program teamed up with Seattle public libraries and coordinated an extensive amount of community workshops to make this project happen. The initiative to protect the spring was started by Oglala Sioux member Sarah Sense-Wilson, executive director of UNEA.
Local Activist Matt Remle first heard of Licton Springs’ historic significance from elders such as Chief Andy Delos Angeles of Snoqualmie and Ken Workman descendant, of Chief Seattle himself. Matt described being able to feel “the energy” when being at the site. Matt and his team then brought the importance of preserving the spring to Seattle’s Historic Landmark Committee.
One story in particular about the healing powers of Licton Springs not only involves Native history but also non-Native history. It follows two Coast Salish leaders, Chief Lake John and Dr. James Zackuse, who met and befriended one of Seattle’s founders, David Denny. David’s daughter Emily had an incurable skin ailment that white doctors could not fix. She met the Chiefs, who gave her a drink from the spring, which eventually cured her. She ended up writing about this experience as an adult in 1909, about being helped by these first nation doctors. Many of Doctor Zackuse’s descendants have been spread across Indian reservations in the Pacific Northwest including Tulalip, Muckleshoot, and Snoqualmie.
This story was one of the key components in having Licton Springs made into a historic landmark. The historic landmark status passed, but still has to go to Seattle City Council before being approved. Getting this status means that what remains of Licton Springs will be untouched.
A common rhetoric when developers want to destroy a sacred place to Native Americans is, “If it was sacred to you, then why are you just bringing it up now?” said Matt. He explained that Native Americans have an obligation to protect the lands and what is sacred. “If we don’t get there before developers come it will be too late,”
This sacred place is unique due to it being in a highly urban area, “You don’t really hear about sacred sites that are left in urban cities,” said Matt. Learning about sacred sites and Indigenous knowledge brings more awareness and closeness to our natural environment, and reawakens how important tribal people are to the history of lands here. Hopefully the Licton Springs project and landmark recognition brings more awareness to sacred Native American sites all over the U.S.
Hundreds of visitors journeyed to the Tulalip Reservation on Sunday, November 17 to browse handmade gifts, purchase one-of-kind items made by local artists and stock up on holiday spirit at the annual Native Bazaar. The Tulalip Youth Center hosted the place to be for those in the market for truly unforgettable gifts and Native décor.
The Bazaar was jam-packed with unique goodies galore including beaded jewelry, cedar creations of all varieties, custom artwork and much, much more. Filled to the brim with a variety of vendors, all of whom were Tulalip tribal members, customers had no shortage of buying options just in time for the holiday season.
Coordinated by Tammy Taylor, who has organized the event for ten years in row, the annual shopping experience combines traditional Tulalip culture with the best of the holiday season. There was something for everyone, even those who simply wanted to fill their bellies with frybread and smoked salmon.
“This is such a great event,” said Tammy. “We have over 30 vendors setup. I try to find young artists who are willing to sell their art, and encourage them to participate. Teaching our people to be entrepreneurs at a young age has so many benefits.”
Eleven-year-old Jaylynn Parks is a prime example of what happens when an energetic youth is filled with the entrepreneurial spirt. With her grandmother’s help, she baked about 60 mountain huckleberry and pineapple cupcakes that were a major hit as they quickly sold out. Jaylynn also came prepared with her classic Roosevelt Popper and switched up her vending style from cupcakes to freshly popped popcorn.
“Everyone really liked my cupcakes. [So far] I’ve sold like 150 bags of popcorn,” beamed young Jaylynn while also sharing she has big plans with her Bazaar profits. “I’m going to redecorate my bedroom. If I can buy anything it would be a big pink bed!”
Another spirited youth who made the most of her passion for art and crafting was Catherine Velasquez. “I made hair barrettes with little flowers and bells and bows,” she said while sharing a station with her family. “I sold, like, quite a few. My first few I made took like 10 minutes or so to make, but once I got going I was able to make them really quick. I helped make cookies, muffins, and ferry ornaments. The best part of being here is hanging out with family.”
Several stations at the bazaar showcased tradition teachings that have been passed down from one generation to the next. One such example was Keeta Sheldon and her daughter Jamie who are well-known in cedar weaving circles. Their expertise with gift giving cedar is as boundless as their artistic imaginations, exemplified by their innovative creations.
“Weaving is a good hobby because there are so many styles and so much that can be made that you won’t ever be bored,” said Keeta. She’s passed on her passion for weaving to all of her daughters and together they teach classes in the local area. “I’ve been teaching off and on now for 17 years at the college and museum. We like to teach what we know so that it stays in our culture.”
The 2019 Native Bazaar will return to the Youth Center on December 7 and 8, from 9:00am – 4:00pm, providing yet another two-day opportunity to enjoy delicious holiday treats while stocking up on holiday gifts. All visitors are welcome to support their local artists.
“I want to thank the community for coming out and supporting all of our tribal artists,” said coordinator Tammy Taylor. “It’s so beautiful to witness because we don’t have many places available to sell our stuff, but here we have a good mixture of Native and non-Native visitors who truly appreciate the skill and craftsmanship that goes into authentic Native art.”
On display in public buildings throughout the Tulalip Reservation are beautiful works of traditional Tulalip art. Paintings, drums, paddles, masks and carvings created by Tribal artists cover the walls of government offices and local schools. Some of those establishments are also home to large wooden sculptures carved from cedar that depict insightful stories passed through the generations, many welcoming guests to their space of business, healing or learning. At certain places, such as the Tulalip longhouse, you may even spot a carving with a family crest or symbol in the design.
“There are several different types of poles,” said Tulalip Carver, Tony Hatch. “Story poles, house posts, spirit poles, family crest poles. There’s clan poles; if you belong to a bear, wolf, seal, otter clan, they all have their own symbol and that’s what they put on their house posts. The house posts are the ones you see if you went into our longhouse, on the inside. Each one of those poles mean something different.”
The Tulalip people have a long, rich history with the cedar tree. For centuries, the Tribe’s ancestors utilized the tree’s resources by carving canoes, paddles, rattles and masks as well as weaving baskets, headbands and clothing from the sacred cedar. Although today Indigenous art is admired for its beauty from an outsider’s perspective, most pieces were intentionally created as tools for everyday necessity and for cultural and spiritual work.
Family and clan crests have been carved into house posts since time immemorial, specifying designated areas at the longhouses. An easy-to-spot indicator of a house post is the grooved indent at the top, intended to support the beams of the longhouse as house posts were initially apart of the building’s infrastructure. House posts are a common carving amongst Northwest tribes and can be viewed in person at a number of locations on the reservation such the Hibulb Cultural Center, the Don Hatch Youth Center and the Tulalip Longhouse.
Also widely constructed by the tribes of this region are welcome poles. These sculptures are generally placed at the entrance of buildings, extending a friendly invite to visitors. They typically feature an Indigenous person in the design, highlighting a certain aspect to the tribal way of life. Welcome poles are prominent throughout Tulalip, with pieces at the entrance of the Tulalip Administration Building and the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy.
“Those are storytelling poles at Early Learning,” stated Tulalip Carver, Steve Madison. “We put those there for a purpose, for the little kids. The poles are carved in the shape of a salmon. On the salmon there’s a woman and a man and they are both storytellers. That’s why they were carved, so our kids will always know the stories about our people, the salmon. Because the salmon encompasses the spirit of our people.”
Perhaps the most recognizable welcome pole is the monumental post, created by Joe Gobin, which stands in the lobby of the Tulalip Resort Casino. With arms reaching out to the people, the pole welcomes newly arrived guests to the elegant hotel; a great photo opportunity for those receiving the Tulalip experience for the first time. Located directly at each side of the welcome pole are two story poles; a gambling pole representing the traditional game of slahal, also created by Joe Gobin, and a story pole that features an eagle and a seawolf designed by James Madison.
“There’s differences between house posts and story poles,” explains James. “A lot of people don’t know where a totem pole came from, or a story pole. They don’t know that we didn’t do that here, traditionally. But we continue it because William Shelton created it for our people, to keep our culture alive. They’re the stories of our families, about our people, and they hold the information of who we are and what our people went through; the history, knowledge and spiritual side of it. Joe Gobin and I decided to follow that William Shelton look but modernize it, refine the carvings and bring it up to date. You’ll see that high relief in our carvings. It’s a unique style and something that Shelton created, he was a pioneer in that way. It’s our way to pay respect to him as a carver.”
At a time when the Indigenous population was enduring assimilation efforts by the U.S. government, the last chief of Tulalip, William Shelton, made it his mission to preserve the traditional Salish way of life. By cunningly requesting approval to formally honor the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot, Shelton received permission to construct the Tulalip Longhouse on the shore of the bay. Due to his dedication, the people were able to gather once a year at the longhouse to take part in a night of culture as well as reflect and continue the teachings of those ancestors who came before them.
Drawing inspiration from Alaskan Natives, as well as incorporating his own heritage, Shelton created the very first story pole in 1912 that was later erected at the Tulalip boarding school in 1913. The unique pole caught the attention of the masses and Shelton story poles began to pop up in local communities. The city of Everett, Seattle Yacht Club, Washington State Capitol, Woodland Park Zoo, and a number of parks throughout the nation commissioned his story poles and as time moved forward, colonizers eventually switched from condemning Native artwork to collecting it and his work was in high-demand.
In 2013, a William Shelton story pole returned to the Pacific Northwest after standing at Krape Park in Freeport, Illinois for almost seventy years. The pole was taken down due to damage from weather over the years and the thirty-seven foot pole was sent to the Burke Museum. Today, the pole is in possession of the Burke and contained in storage off-site with plans of restoration in the near future.
“The William Shelton story pole is an important piece of Salish, and more specifically, Tulalip history,” explained Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, Burke Museum Curator of Northwest Native Art. “Shelton’s story poles brought oral histories and valued stories into monumental form, anchoring Tulalip history into these permanent markers. He did this during the years in which governmental and educational policies were aimed at erasing Indigenous languages, customs, and knowledge.”
In his lifetime, Shelton constructed a total of sixteen story poles that were raised at various locations to help educate newcomers about Tulalip culture. His efforts helped bridge the gap between Natives and non-Natives. Shelton found ways to feed the non-Indigenous population knowledge about the heritage of his people in small doses, subtly squeezing in traditional stories, language and songs through his art. In addition to the story poles, Shelton gifted the world two publications and a better understanding of the Coast Salish lifeways.
Tessa Campbell, Lead Curator of the Hibulb Cultural Center has been on the search for Shelton poles since the museum’s opening. Tessa and her team have recovered and restored, or are in the process of restoring, several poles after successfully tracking them down through Shelton’s correspondence letters. Unfortunately, due to decades passing by, a few poles were taken down, only to never be seen again. However, she intends to continue pursuing the poles until all sixteen are accounted for.
“We credit William Shelton for coming up with the idea of the story pole,” Tessa expressed. “There weren’t story poles around before William Shelton, but there were welcome poles and house posts. He saw the story pole as a way to preserve our history. I compare it to a book; people preserve their family history by writing, he did it through carving. For his first pole, he went to the elders and got their stories, and he carved each story into the pole. So, each figure is like a chapter of a book.”
Another set of carvings that held significant value to the people of Tulalip were the gateway poles. Over forty years ago, the entryways to the reservation were marked by two story poles and connected by a canoe carving overhead. Now fondly missed by the older generations of the community, the carvings were cut down by non-Natives of neighboring towns who were upset with the Boldt Decision in 1974.
“I remember my grandpa (Frank Madison) used to talk about the poles that were out here, the two upright poles and a canoe over the top and everyone used to drive underneath it,” James reflects. “That was an identifiable icon for our tribe way back when. A long time ago, something happened between the people of Marysville and some people of Tulalip. The Marysville people came over and chopped it down with a chainsaw. It’s a harsh story but its history – it’s what happened. I always had that story in the back of my mind. My grandpa always wanted to recreate it. I’m on that same path, so hopefully some day they let me recreate that out of a different material, out of bronze or cement. That way our people can have that to be proud of because we were all raised knowing that arch was there back in the day, the two of them one at the beginning of the rez and the one at the end.”
William Shelton and every Tulalip artist since his time have excelled at preserving and continuing their ancestral teachings. By passing on the tradition and the knowledge that comes with it, they have carved quite the story for the future generations of Tulalip as well as the history of the generations who came prior.
“Starting the little ones out while they’re young is important,” said James. “People like me; we don’t know any different. I was doing this before I can remember. Starting the youth early is important to keeping this part of our culture alive. Anybody can just pick it up and learn, but the knowledge of the work to go along with the skill is important. I was very fortunate to have my grandpa and my dad there to teach me that information. Honestly, you can teach anybody to carve or draw, but it’s the information that goes with it, putting your spirit and soul into it, making it come alive, making it Indian – that’s what I think is important.”
We live in an age where a message, no matter how positive or significant, is only as good as the platforms that give it life. Platform then is everything. So it was of utmost importance when 10 years ago the world’s largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel chose to collaborate with Native America. Together Nike and Native artists and athletes developed an all-new platform to bring cultural representation into the mainstream. Enter N7.
N7 is inspired by Native American wisdom of the Seven Generations: in every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the seventh generation. It’s Nike’s commitment to bring sport and all of its benefits to Native American and Aboriginal communities in the United States and Canada.
Over the past decade, N7 athletic attire has become a highly sought after product due to its exclusive releases featuring distinct Native designs and imagery. From the devout sneaker heads to rez ball youths dreaming of making it to the pros, every N7 release is an opportunity to represent something authentic – a living, breathing and, most importantly, thriving culture.
“Self-representation, for me, is being authentic to my people and who I am,” explained Nike graphic designer Tracie Jackson, who created this season’s Nike N7 x Pendleton pattern inspired by the weavings of her great-grandmother, Phoebe Nez (Navajo). “Being visible means that we’re acknowledged, our land is acknowledged, our community is acknowledged.”
That authenticity and acknowledgment was on full display when Nike and Tulalip came together to celebrate the release of N7’s 10th anniversary product line in early November. Over 150 special invitees packed the Nike Outlet located on the Tulalip Reservation two hours before the store officially opened. Among the gathering were several Nike brand ambassadors, urban Natives from the Seattle area, members of the Tulalip Youth Council, and several culture bearers with drum in hand.
“My great-grandmother was still weaving right up until she passed at 92,” continued Tracie. “Without my great-grandmother, I wouldn’t have learned about my culture, and without my culture, I wouldn’t have been a designer. My family ties are what influence my Native identity.”
Tracie passed along her grandmother’s legacy in the 10th anniversary of the N7 collection, honoring heritage through special patterns with Pendleton. Native heritage was celebrated both through the specialty clothing line being released on Tulalip land and for the tribal citizenship who turned out to support the cause with their wallets and through powerful song and dance.
The Tulalip drummers, singers and dancers displayed their thriving culture on the Nike Outlet showroom. Several songs and important messages regarding missing and murdered Indigenous women, unity through community, and the positive impact of sport were shared.
Afterwards, the gathering turned its attention to the N7 x Pendleton attire as all invited guests got first dibs towards shopping the exclusive clothes designed by and for Natives.
“I thought this whole event was fantastic,” shared tribal member Marvin J. Velasquez as he was loading up with the latest N7 gear for his children. “What this collaboration represents for our Native people is huge. Just goes to show we are making a significant impression one step at a time.”
Proceeds from all N7 product line sales go directly to the N7 Fund, which is committed to getting youth in Native America moving so they can lead healthier, happier and more successful lives. The N7 Fund helps Native youth reach their greatest potential through play and sport while creating more equal playing fields for all. Since 2009, the N7 Fund has awarded more than $7.5 million in grants to 259 communities and organizations.
Co-coordinator of the Tulalip-based N7 event, Nate Olsen (Yakama Nation) reflected, “It was powerful to see our people really represented and celebrated in such a beautiful way. We really got to address some of the bigger social issues Native peoples face today thanks to the platform that Nike provided. Being able to present these issues to a wider audience and to have Tulalip drummer and singers sharing as well was just amazing.”
It was the summer of ’69. A special moment in time that many reflect upon as the best days of their lives, including the players of local baseball team, the Chiefs. The team was assembled by Tulalip tribal member, Cy Fryberg, and had an outstanding run that summer, winning in all-Native tournaments hosted at Yakama and Taholah. The Chiefs efforts led them to the final tournament of the summer held in Tacoma, where the stakes were high and the teams from surrounding tribal nations brought their A-game.
“We weren’t the first team with just Tulalip ballplayers, but this was the biggest one,” explained ’69 Chiefs second baseman, Don ‘Penoke’ Hatch. “All the top dogs from right here were recruited. At the time, that was something special. We were ready to face and challenge anyone that came at us, we didn’t care who we were playing.”
The all-star Tulalip team consisted of fifteen tribal members including Leroy Joseph, Marlin Fryberg Sr., Alpheus Jones, Richard Jones, Butchie James, Dean Fryberg Sr., Billy Jones, Skooky Henry, Jerry Jones, Gerald Fryberg, Dale Jones, Myron Fryberg, Penoke and player-coaches Herman Williams and Francy Sheldon.
With Leroy being the youngest on the team at 18, the rest of the players ranged in age from their early twenties to early thirties and brought plenty of experience to the team. Previously, each player spent their young lives playing for different teams like Marysville while growing up. The road to a championship wasn’t easy, however. While at Tacoma for the tournament, the team and their families slept on the floor of Penoke’s sister’s house. This allowed the team to further strengthen their bond while they stayed up late into the night strategizing, among other social activities.
“The first game we played was against Yakama Nation and we won that game,” recalled Penoke. “The following day we played Nisqually and won that one too. After that win, we went onto the championship game against Warm Springs and they were not an easy team to go up against.”
The large amount of playing began to take a toll on the Chiefs’ pitchers and the team needed a strong start to the championship game. Starting pitcher Marlin Fryberg went deep into the innings during their previous match against Nisqually. After trying out a number of players on the mound, the coaches turned to the catcher, Leroy, whose arm was looking strong each time he threw the ball back to the pitchers. Leroy received a quick lesson from his teammates, as he never pitched in a game prior to the championship competition. The Chiefs rallied behind Leroy and locked in. Inning after inning, the team pulled together and made big plays. By the end of the game, the Tulalip Chiefs proudly hoisted a trophy into the air and Leroy was named MVP.
Fast forward fifty years. Penoke stumbled across an old photo of the Chiefs during their 1969 summer baseball tournament tour and was filled with nostalgia. Reaching out to the Tribe, he organized a gathering for the players and their families on the afternoon of November 10, 2019 at the Greg Williams Court.
“It’s been 50 years since that tournament down there on Portland Avenue,” Penoke said. “I thought it was important that we celebrate this and share some good memories. Nobody celebrates these types of accomplishments anymore. I want someone young to see this in the See-Yaht-Sub and say ‘look at what they did 50 years ago’ and be inspired.”
After enjoying lunch, the families were treated to a slideshow presentation which featured narration by Leroy. Laughter ensued as Leroy’s colorful commentary recapped the championship game.
“It’s a big story because we already been to Yakama and won, we already been to Taholah that summer,” said Leroy. “This Tacoma tournament was the biggie. Just being a part of that reminds me of how together we were as friends and family, regardless of the games, we were all Tulalip and that is something I was extremely proud of.”
Coach Herman and several other players took time to express their desire to see the game of baseball flourish within Native communities once again, suggesting ideas such a tribal booster club to get more youth out on the field.
“The relationship from reservation to reservation, there’s little of it left,” agreed Penoke. “We’ve done very little to keep it going. You should’ve seen the strength of the community during hardball season, we all knew each other because each reservation had a lot of good ball players.”
To commemorate the 50th anniversary, each player received stylish red jackets that read ‘1969 Champs’ on the front and a Native, baseball-themed design on the back. Family representatives of those who are no longer with us accepted the jackets on their behalf.
“Best tournament I ever played in as an adult,” said Penoke. “We had a good team and good pitching. This team was successful because we had two veteran coaches in Herman and Francy. I’m 80 years old now and I wanted to honor those players who are still here.”
On the morning of Monday November 11, the Tulalip community gathered at the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) longhouse to thank the brave heroes who put their lives on the line to defend this Nation’s freedom. Service men and women filled the stands of the longhouse to pay their respects as well as share their active-duty experience.
During roll call, the veterans stated their name, military branch and years of service, among intriguing deployment stories. Family members of fallen soldiers spoke their name, recognizing them for their dedication to protecting this country. The HCC presented each veteran in attendance a gift bag, filled with items from their shop, as a sign of respect and gratitude. Since opening in 2011, the cultural center has made it a point of emphasis to pay tribute to the vets and ensure they are honored properly each November.
“It’s always a big honor to celebrate our veterans,” expressed Mytyl Hernandez, HCC Marketing and PR. “The veterans are a big part of the community and have been a huge part of our exhibits and museum. Being able to have an event for them is very special.”
Becoming an annual tradition, the ladies of the Veteran Quilting Project returned with several beautiful quilts made specifically with a tribal veteran in mind. Now in its fourth year, the Veteran Quilting Project is comprised of seven tribal quilters who produced nearly thirty red, white and blue star quilts for the eldest Tulalip veterans since 2016.
“I made mine for Walt Campbell,” said Quilter Verna Hill. “This is my first year joining the ladies and what an honor it is. With each and every cut, you think about what those veterans done for this country. To sit down and sew for them is so rewarding. And to be here today and wrap him with that quilt was amazing. His response to me was ‘this is better than any medal I’ve ever received’. That was very powerful. I’m thankful to be a part of this group and I can’t wait to continue wrapping our veterans in love.”
As the veterans accepted their quilts, Tulalip Artist Melissa Bumgarner surprised the veterans with a gift of her own.
“I made some beaded medallions,” she said. “At the center of each medallion is a plaque of the branch they served in; the Navy, Air Force, Army and Marines. I did it because I want to say thank you for what they did. It felt good to present that to them and show them appreciation.”
The HCC’s Veterans Day observance ended with three workshops geared toward the Indigenous veteran community; a soapstone carving demonstration with Choctaw Air Force Veteran Sam Sitt, an Ozette Archeological Recovery Experience with Tulalip Army Veteran John Campbell, and the Veterans Healing Forum with Rev. Bill Eaglehart Topash, Tulalip Marine Veteran.
“Veterans Day is a good time to remember those from the past,” expressed John McCoy, Tulalip Air Force Veteran. “Today was especially tough because we lost two of our World War II vets, Stan Jones and Moxie Renecker, this year. That was a special moment for me today, remembering those two great men.”
Tulalip, Wash. – The Tulalip Bay Fire Department (also known as Snohomish County Fire District 15) received the Washington State Auditor’s 2019 Stewardship Award. Only four fire districts have received the award in the last five years.
The award was presented for outstanding accomplishment in accountability, transparency and good stewardship of public resources. The Stewardship Award is given to local governments who show exemplary financial management practices.
State Auditor Pat McCarthy said in a recent letter, “The District has shown dedication to transparency on its path to improving operations.” She continues, “As stewards of the public’s trust, it is incumbent on all governments to promote accountability and transparency.”
Fire Chief Ryan Shaughnessy said, “It is an honor to receive this award and reflects the hard work we have done at the Tulalip Bay Fire Department to be open and transparent in our financial practices.”
A copy of the award and the State Auditor’s letter can be found on the Fire Department’s website at
Potlatch Fund is a Native-led nonprofit that provides grants and leadership development in tribal communities throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. The Fund’s driving mission is to expand philanthropy within Northwest tribal nations by inspiring and building upon the tradition of giving. From potlachs to powwows, building community and sharing wealth has always been a part of Native peoples’ way of life.
On November 2, the Potlatch Fund held its highly anticipated annual fundraising gala. With venue location and theme changing every year, the one constant the gala promises is attendees will be inspired and given ample opportunity to show their generous side. This year the location was Little Creek Casino Resort and the theme: ‘Spirit of Reciprocity’.
“This gala brings together people of many different tribes, from many different communities, from many different organizations, and unites us in the common goal to raise money to help us meet the needs of Northwest Indian Country,” said Dr. Charlotte Coté, Potlach Fund board president. “Our theme ‘Spirit of Reciprocity’ really captures the essence of our organization’s mission to expand philanthropy for and among tribal communities, while empowering community leaders with the tools they need to succeed.
“We have gathered here in the spirit of the potlatch tradition with the sharing of song, dance, art, and of course delicious food,” Dr. Coté continued. “The support we’re so thankful to receive allows us to keep alive the spirit of reciprocity. I raise my hands to everyone who joins our Potlatch Fund canoe and helps us paddle to our fundraising goals.”
Since 2005, Potlatch Fund has re-granted over $4.5 million in the support of tribes, tribal nonprofits, Native-led nonprofits, Native artists, and Native initiatives in their four-state service area. Through a focus on youth development, community building, language preservation, education and Native arts, they are building a richer future for all that they serve.
The Potlatch Fund’s annual gala is their major fundraising event and brings together people from a variety of neighboring tribes, organizations, corporations and communities. Close to 20 Washington State tribes were listed as event sponsors, including the Tulalip Tribes listed as a Raven-level sponsor.
At the gala, Native community impact makers are given a chance to share their plans for the future and learn how other like-minded individuals and groups are striving to make a positive difference for the benefit of Indian Country. This is an invaluable benefit for up-and-coming leaders and organizations who can sometimes struggle to get their message broadcast to larger audiences.
“At Potlatch Fund, we recognize the importance of bringing people together to share our stories and experiences,” added Dr. Coté. “Our intent is to generate deeper connections and conversation among Native professionals and our extended community. All are welcome to attend and build relationships with our Native communities.”
A dynamic and truly benevolent event that brought together tribal leadership, representatives and impact makers from all across the Pacific Northwest, the fundraising gala also had additional benefits for guests. In a setting befitting those who strive to make the world a better place than they found it, the mostly Native gathering took in the sights of Squaxin Island Tribe drummers and dancers, heard the enchanting violin sounds of Lummi musician Swil Kanim, and perused a silent auction filled with unique Native art.
“Potlatch Gala is the most fun event of the year,” shared Suquamish Foundation Director, Robin Little Wing Sigo. “Not only does it raise money, but it raises spirits, energy and excitement. Everyone gets to get dressed up and connect with people they may only see once or twice a year. Also, so many incredible artists donate their artwork for the silent auction that gives us a good opportunity to purchase wonderful Native bling.”
“We lovingly call it ‘Native Prom’ because it’s one of the last gatherings of the year and we all get dressed up to celebrate being Native,” added Colleen Chalmers, program manager at Chief Seattle Club. “There is representation from so many different tribes yet we’re here as an Indigenous community proving we are still here and we are thriving.”
The ‘Spirit of Reciprocity’ gala provided the opportunity to share culture through song and dance performances, to support and celebrate Native art and artists, and to assist Potlatch Fund with its fundraising efforts as it continues to undertake important work throughout Northwest Indian Country. The evening centered on generosity and was a success as pre- and post-dinner networking receptions brought people together to create future impact opportunities, while close to $60,000 was fundraised that will ultimately go to where it’s needed most, Native communities.
A delightful aroma filled the air around the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic on November 5. Near the clinic’s entrance was Indigenous Chef Britt Reed, sizzling up a stir-fry mixture of cabbage, onion, celery and chicken. The chef displayed her outdoor culinary skills over a propane flame, and the large wok of fried veggies and protein garnered plenty of interest from clinic patients and those living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes in attendance of the Diabetes Care and Prevention program’s yearly Diabetes Day.
Occurring during National Diabetes Month, the event aims to educate and raise awareness about diabetes, while having a good time with the local community, through healthy tips, resources and support to those diagnosed with the disease.
“We like to take this day to spend some time with our patients, and maybe meet some new patients, to see how they are doing because it’s the end of the year,” explained Miguel Arteaga, Tulalip Health Clinic RN and Diabetes Educator. “Diabetes is exploding across the world, it’s always been a problem for the U.S. and particularly with minority people. At Tulalip, we want to present the community with the best information there is to help prevent diabetes.”
The six-hour event allowed attendees to get acquainted with fellow diabetics and build a strong sense of community as well as hear a number of presentations by local organizations and businesses. Event goers were served two meals and an assortment of tasty snacks throughout the day, learned of new foods and recipes and how to prepare well-balanced meals to manage their diabetes more efficiently.
“65% of patients with prediabetes can prevent the onset or delay diabetes from occurring by simply losing 7% of their body fat, just by making changes in their food choices,” said Diabetes Program Coordinator, Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy. “Instead of ‘changing’, we talk more about shifting. Shifting from one food to another, something that is of equal value, is still tasty to you, but is a healthier version of it. We gave away bags of food to the people who came to watch Britt’s cooking demonstration. I think that’s a key component, bringing healthy foods to tribal homes that they can cook themselves. Eating healthy can be fun and simple.”
This year, the Diabetes Prevention and Care team put a little extra emphasis on prevention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is still on the rise throughout reservations nationwide. Their research has found that over 16% of the Indigenous population has been diagnosed with diabetes, nearly double the amount of the white American population. Meaning almost one in every six Native peoples are living with that diagnosis. These staggering statistics prompted the Tulalip Wisdom Warriors to ask the Diabetes program to focus on providing prevention education for the younger generations.
“I’m a Wisdom Warrior and having diabetes, naturally I want to learn as much as I can to take care of myself,” said Tribal Elder, Hermalee Coando. “Unfortunately, a lot of our tribal people have excessive weight and a lot of times we are fed, and often choose to eat, stuff that’s not good for us. There’s too many sweets available. The more education we have about what we drink and consume and how it damages our body, the more we know how we can prevent it. And the younger we start teaching the youth, the better. Our kids should continue to listen to the elders about our foods and take the wisdom we have to utilize it in your daily life. Don’t glorify candy, it’s better in the long run to have something healthy for you.”
The everyday bustle can often weigh us down and at times it is much easier to grab a quick and convenient bite at the end of a long day. But taking a little extra time to meal prep at the beginning of a busy week can assist diabetics, and even non-diabetics, in staying true to their diet, help regulate their blood sugar levels, and reach and maintain their personal goals.
Another equally important area the on-the-go diabetic must consider is self-care, which includes exercise and mindful practices such as meditation, yoga and tai-chi. For Diabetes Day, Roni led two seated tai-chi sessions, which is proven to help promote blood flow, muscular strength, flexibility, heart and lung function, and also reduce stress. In fact, the art of tai-chi is a highly recommended exercise for all diabetics. Because Natives are at such a heightened risk to be diagnosed with the disease, it’s important to find a way to incorporate these practices into daily routines.
“I’m a young Tribal member and was diagnosed with diabetes a couple years ago,” said Mike Pablo. “I was always healthy and active when I was younger. And what do you know, I’m a Type 2 diabetic. I believe awareness needs to be raised and people need to know what’s going on within their bodies because Native Americans are at a higher risk. There was a lot of good information here today. I came in for an appointment with the chiropractor and because I have Type 2 diabetes, I thought this looked interesting and checked it out to see what they have to offer. There were a lot of new recipes I picked up and am excited to use at home.”
Along with education and resources, the program also offered free blood glucose checks as well as tuberculous screenings. The World Health Organization states that approximately 15% of TB cases can be linked to complications from diabetes, as diabetes triples the likelihood of a someone developing TB.
“I didn’t realize diabetes was connected to so many other health complications,” admits Type 2 Diabetic, Debbie Jackson. “I came for a dental cleaning and the clinic encouraged me to check out Diabetes Day. I very much liked the cooking I watched Britt do. I learned about different spices I can use in my cooking instead of sugar and salt. It was a very good day, the food was excellent and the people were helpful.”
Diabetes Day drew close to a hundred participants throughout the event. People left with not only reusable totes filled with gifts and goodies, but also a better understanding of diabetes and how to properly care for, prevent and manage the disease.
“We want to strengthen, teach and encourage the people to overcome the setbacks and drawbacks of diabetes and make sure they have a really good quality of life,” Miguel expressed. “We care about them as individuals and want to see them have a better life. There’s so much we can do to empower people to learn how to manage their diabetes.”
The Diabetes Care and Prevention program has a few more events planned to close out 2019, including a Thanksgiving holiday dinner, a Seahawks game night and the annual Christmas powwow.
“For 2020, we’re going to start the National Diabetes Prevention program,” Roni said. “Our plan is to go about it in a way that’s similar to our past workshops. We want to incorporate herbal teachings with cooking, helping people make food shifts and monitor their weight loss and increase exercise. The patient to patient interactions is where we really see a lot of growth with our people, helping and supporting each other. Because they experienced what a newly diagnosed person is going through, they can be an inspiration to them so those people don’t feel like they have to walk through that alone.”
For more information, please contact the Diabetes Care and Prevention program at (360) 716-5641.