Insight from Idle No More co-founder Sylvia McAdam

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Idle No More co-founder Sylvia McAdam.

Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum) has garnered respect from around the globe as a cofounder of the international movement Idle No More. Hailing from the Treaty 6 lands of modern day Canada, she’s travelled the continent to support countless First Nations and Native American tribes in their efforts to defend and protect sacred lands, waters, and animals. 

Sylvia is a citizen of the Cree Nation and proudly holds a Juris Doctorate (LL.B) from the University of Saskatchewan and a Bachelor’s of Human Justice (B.H.J) from the University of Regina. She is a recipient of the Carol Geller Human Rights Award, Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers Award, 2014 Global Citizen Award, and has received several eagle feathers from Indigenous communities that she holds dear. A law professor at the University of Windsor, Sylvia is routinely asked to speak on her experiences defending Indigenous rights and participating in Indigenous-led protest movements.

Idle No More started in November 2012, among Treaty People in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta protesting the Canadian government’s dismantling of environmental protection laws, endangering First Nations who live on the land. Born out of face-to-face organizing and popular education, but fluent in social media and new technologies, Idle No More has connected the most remote reserves to each other, to urbanized Indigenous people, and to the non-Indigenous population.*

Led by women, and with a call for refounded nation-to-nation relations based on mutual respect, Idle No More rapidly grew into an inclusive, continent-wide network of urban and rural Indigenous working hand in hand with non-Indigenous allies to build a movement for Indigenous rights and the protection of land, water, and sky.

Because colonization has dramatically caused the heartbreaking loss of Indigenous languages, customs and traditional lifeways, Sylvia uses the oral tradition of her people to share her dream to revitalize Indigenous nationhood. It is Sylvia’s dream, shared by many Indigenous peoples, that freedom, liberation and self-determination will lead Indigenous peoples away from the pain of genocide and colonialism.

Following a riveting presentation at the World Issues Forum, she honored See-Yaht-Sub staff with a sit-down interview to discuss several issues that are of utmost importance to Indigenous peoples and communities.

Wisp of Hope created by Fanny Aishaa to memorialize an anti-fracking protest in New Brunswick.

SYS: During your presentation you mentioned as Indigenous peoples we shouldn’t identify as an ‘environmentalist’ or ‘activist’, but instead view ourselves as defenders of our homeland. Why is that?

“When you begin to identify as an environmentalist or activist there’s a fear that arises because those terms can be associated with economic terrorists. The fear is rooted in the belief that environmentalism and activism affect the economy. That’s part of it, the other part is activism and environmentalism infers that there is no inherent connection to the land; you just show up and protest. However, when it comes to Indigenous people doing this kind of work, their connection, attention, and investment to the land is much different. Our history is written on the land, our ancestors are buried here, that land is our home. So we are defending and protecting our home. Being defenders of our homeland shifts the thinking, as it should, because our connection with the land is unique.”

SYS: Viewing ourselves as defenders of our homeland also unites us, regardless of citizenship as Native Americans or First Nations people. As defenders of our homeland we become a common people with a set of common goals, right?

“Absolutely. When you are born you are born not only as a human being, you are born into lands. When we go home we have a very clear set of lands that we are born into and we have a responsibility and obligation to protect those lands. That’s what I continue to do every day and that’s why I tell people, ‘when you know your lands you will know your relatives.’ I’m not just talking about the human relatives, I’m talking about the land, the plants, and all the animals, the flyers, the crawlers and the swimmers. Those are all our relatives and right now they have no agency to defend and protect themselves. That’s where we need to step up because the forces that threaten our land and humanity are very identifiable right now. Those forces are the extractive corporations that are going into our lands, almost in a frenzy, to take the very things we need to sustain us.”

SYS: Some of the forces that continue to threaten Native culture and Indigenous identity are more covert than others. You mentioned the term ‘ethnocide’ earlier. Can you explain what ‘ethnocide’ is?

“We speak about genocide, but people forget about ethnocide. Ethnocide is the death of the way of being of people; the things that we need to carry us on as a people. Ethnocide is the taking of our trees, the taking of our water, and 

the taking of our plants. What then do we have to carry our ceremonies on? The ceremonies are pivotal and integral in who we are as a people. If you could not have trees to make your canoes, what then? If there are no trees then there are no forests to harvest from. If the waters and oceans are poisoned and you can no longer perform your ceremonies, then what happens to your songs and the language? How does your culture live on? You lose who you are as a people. That’s ethnocide.”

Idle No More logo created by Coast Salish artist Andy Everson. 
    He explains, “Going to my first rally in 2012, I needed a poster to bring along. Knowing that the fist and feather with its image of strength and spirituality was quickly becoming the symbol of the movement, I thought it would be fitting if I created one in the formline style indicative of the west coast. I quickly drew up this image at my dining room table and then put it on my Facebook page and it suddenly went viral. Soon, this image appeared on poster boards, buttons, t-shirts, stickers and banners. My feeling was that I wanted this image to go out into the world and find a life of its own. It did.”

SYS: The idea of disenrollment based upon blood quantum is gaining traction amongst many tribes. It’s based on a system of thought not of our own, but instead is passed down from colonization. What are your thoughts on disenrollment?

“It’s so unfortunate because it seems we’re always in the realm of inadequacy. We’re always inadequate; its either we have too much culture or not enough culture. We’re always in that measure of inadequacy. Ultimately, we can turn to our ancestors to see we never throw away our relatives. We never throw them away, even the ones we have come to adopt. It’s against our culture and against our natural laws as Indigenous peoples. At the end of the day, if you can demonstrate and show to me where your lands and your relatives are, then doesn’t that speak for itself? Every child, every original peoples’ child is born into lands. They have an inherent right to protect and defend those lands. No human can take that away from them.

If you are dis-enrolling children, then you are taking away their inherent obligation and jurisdiction into the lands they are born into. No human being has that right. It’s against our laws to do that. For every Indigenous child born it’s the duty of the parents to make sure that child is connected into the land, so that when they grow up they will defend and protect their relatives who don’t have agency to defend themselves.”

SYS: What astounds you most when you look back at all you’ve experienced and achieved over the past decade with Idle No More?

The amazing courage of grass-roots people when they set their minds to things. That’s what blows me away. The courage and determination of so many individuals who unite and come together for a common goal is what drives Idle No More. On a global scale, we got a message from the Amazon, from the original peoples there, and they told us they were trying to stop the development of a dam. While defending their homeland they were opposed by paramilitary brought in to keep them away from the dam site. On one occasion they were standing there with their spears and bow and arrows chanting ‘Idle No More!’ while the paramilitary pointed their guns at them. They told us Idle No More was their battle cry. 

So when I start to feel discouraged or overwhelmed I remind myself of these stories to remember I’m not alone. I have to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves and continue this work. If I don’t, then what am I going to tell my grandchildren when they ask me, ‘what did you do to protect and defend our culture and homeland?’ I want to be able to tell them I did everything that I could. That’s why I’m here.”


Commemorating the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott

Dancer  at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary’s  yearly Tulalip Day celebration. 

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“At this time, we remember and acknowledge our ancestors who signed the treaty,” said Tulalip Elder, Inez Bill. “We reflect on the importance of that treaty – who we are as a people and how to continue our way of life – a commemoration of the signing of the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott that affected the coastal tribes.”

January 22nd marks 167 years since tribal leaders across the northern Puget Sound region gathered at the location that is presently known as Mukilteo. A historic day in which representatives from various tribes, bands and villages, including the people of Snohomish, Lummi, Swinomish and Suquamish, met with Washington Territory Governor Issac Stevens to negotiate and sign a document that would become known as the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott. Close to 5,000 Coast Salish people were in attendance, and the negations required two translators – one translating English to Chinook Jargon and the other interpreter translated the Chinook Jargon into the traditional languages of the various tribes.

“We honor the good intentions our ancestors had for us in negotiating and signing the treaty,” stated Lena Jones, Tulalip Elder and Education Curator of the Hibulb Cultural Center. “I encourage young folks to listen to their elders when they talk about the treaty and our sovereignty. Understanding the treaty will help you understand the influence it has in every aspect of our lifeways.” 

With their future generations in mind, the tribal leaders ceded upwards of 5 million acres of ancestral land to the United States government for white settlement. Today, that enormous amount of land currently makes up Washington’s King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. The treaty established the Tulalip, Port Madison, Swinomish and Lummi reservations, and thereby acknowledged each tribe as a sovereign nation. In exchange for ceding such large portions of land, the tribes reserved the right to fish at usual and accustomed grounds and stations, as well as the right to hunt and gather on open and unclaimed lands.  

Ryan Miller, Tulalip Tribes Director of Treaty Rights and Governmental Affairs, speaks on the importance of treaty rights and the need to protect them (2019).

“Treaty rights are an inherent right,” explained Ryan Miller, Tulalip Tribes Director of Treaty Rights and Governmental Affairs. “Treaty rights were not given to tribes. It’s a common misconception that the government gives Native Peoples special rights. That’s the exact opposite of how it works. Tribes are sovereign nations, they give up rights and they retain rights. Treaty rights are rights that are not given up by tribes, and they’re upheld by the federal government as part of their trust relationship with the treaty tribes. The tribes’ right to self-govern is the supreme law of the land. It’s woven into the U.S. constitution as well as many legal decisions and legislative articles. The constitution says Congress has the power to make treaties with sovereign nations, and that treaties are the supreme law of the land.”

Tulalip Fisherman, Brian Green, expressed, “The treaty is literally my livelihood. We fight for our rights every day – fighting to keep our treaty rights. I want my kid’s kids to come out here and be able to exercise their treaty rights. Not everyone has to be a fisherman, but it should be there if they want to exercise it.”

Tribal communities faced difficult years after the signing of the treaty, including the boarding school era. Fifty years after the signing of the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, the Tulalip Indian Boarding School opened, one of many Indian boarding schools throughout the country. During this dark era of American history, Native children were forcibly removed from their families and had to attend these schools and learn how to live the new colonized lifestyle.

The institutions were established to ‘civilize’ the Indigenous population. But while at these boarding schools, the kids were often punished, physically and mentally, for speaking their traditional language and practicing their spiritual and cultural teachings. Many children died as a result of the abuse, while the ones who made it through these atrocities often, and unknowingly, passed on their traumas to the next generations, causing vicious cycles of abuse and destructive coping mechanisms to deal with that abuse, throughout the years.

During this era, the U.S. Government also outlawed traditional practices and spiritual ceremonies that took place on these lands since time immemorial. Coast Salish tribal members could not sing their songs, perform their dances or speak their ancestral languages, and therefore could not pass those teachings to the next generations. Longhouses were demolished and modern-day houses were erected on the reservations. The people who inhabited, lived-off and cared for this land for ages were to learn the ways of agriculture and become farmers.

The descendants of the signatories of the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott were in the middle of experiencing the horrors of forced assimilation when the last hereditary chief of the Snohomish, William Shelton, stepped in to save his people’s heritage, culture and way of life. In 1912, persistence paid off when he convinced the Tulalip Superintendent and the U.S. Secretary of Interior to build a longhouse along the shores of Tulalip Bay. 

William created a way for the tribes to practice their traditional lifeways every winter by informing U.S. Government officials that the people would be celebrating and commemorating the anniversary of the treaty once a year at the longhouse. This allowed tribal elders and wisdom keepers the opportunity to teach the younger generations about their culture, which seemed to be slipping away at an alarming rate due to colonized efforts. The annual gathering became known as Treaty Days, a yearly potlatch that often extends into the early morning of the following day.

Treaty Days is an event that tribal members across the region look forward to every year. Although the original longhouse, which Shelton convinced the government to build, was replaced in the sixties, people met at the historical location every January 22nd for over 100 years after the first Treaty Days ceremony took place. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tribal members have not been able to gather to commemorate the treaty for the past three years. However, many tribal families still take the time to honor, reflect, study and pass on the knowledge of the treaty to the next generations at home, until it is safe to convene once more in large numbers at the smokehouse.

“I think that we have the responsibility to revisit the treaty all the time, so we know we are keeping our younger people abreast and informed as much as possible,” said Ray Fryberg, Tulalip Elder and Hibulb Cultural Center Tribal Research Historian. “We gave up a lot in the treaty to keep our sovereignty – to be able to determine our own future and our own direction in our tribal path. And also just living on the reservation, and protecting those rights that were reserved for us, as well as the spiritual and cultural way of life.”

Added Lena, “The treaty accepts the fact that our people have the right to organize themselves, protect our way of life, and care for our resources. Our tribes have significant control of, and rights to, important natural resources such as fishing. As our language and culture become stronger, we are able to help others understand how to take care of the earth and one another.”

The 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott is currently on display at the Hibulb Cultural Center as a part of their The Power of Words: A History of Tulalip Literacy exhibit. For more information, including the most up-to-date COVID guidelines and restrictions, please contact the museum at (360) 716-2600 or visit the Hibulb Cultural Center’s Facebook page.

Desperate for a family daytrip? New Burke Museum is a prime destination

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

“The Burke Museum stands on the lands of the Coast Salish peoples, whose ancestors resided here since time immemorial,” said Burke executive director Julie Stein to a crowd of 400+ people representing tribal nations from all across the Pacific Northwest. “Many Indigenous peoples thrive in this place. Part of that history is embedded in the museum, allowing us to move forward in a good way.

“You all are the first to be invited to tour and experience the all-new Burke Museum,” continued the museum’s executive director. “We are truly honored by your presence. The Burke recognizes our colonial legacy, and we promise to dedicate ourselves to learning from communities and building a more ethical and collaborative future together.”

Julie’s words were direct and heartfelt as she greeted hundreds of Native American visitors who convened for the Burke Museum’s Indigenous Preview in late 2019. Only a matter of months after that glorious day, the global landscape would be upended by a coronavirus. The museum, along with countless other establishments worldwide, would soon close out of an abundance of caution.

Mary Jane Topash, Burke Assistant Director for Cultural Education Initiatives

Now, more than two years after the Indigenous Preview that created legendary memories, the Burke has reopened and welcomes Tulalip families to visit. Located on the University of Washington campus, it’s a 45-minute drive from the Reservation to the $99 million, 113,000-square-foot facility dedicated to preserving creative, complex knowledge. As a thriving cultural resource officially reopened to the public, the Burke staff are excited to host local Native culture-bearers from the greater Tulalip community.

Among the Burke’s staff is Tulalip’s own Mary Jane Topash. She spent eight years at the Hibulb Cultural Center before transitioning to the Burke as its Assistant Director for Cultural Education Initiatives. The UW campus is a home away from home for Mary Jane as she earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees while dawning the purple and gold. 

In honor of the Burke’s collaborative spirit with Indigenous communities, Mary Jane invites all Tulalip families to visit the redesigned museum. 

“Tribal members and their families should visit the new Burke because it’s our only natural history museum in the state, but if that isn’t enough then you should know the Burke isn’t a typical museum. It’s a place we can actually see ourselves and related tribal cultures represented and showcased in the best kind of way,” explained Mary Jane. “It’s an opportunity to learn about fun and excited things beyond just our tribal history, too, like the prehistoric era. We have Dinosaurs!

“We’re still in a pandemic, so I know circumstances may be difficult for some of our people, especially families with multiples kids in the house asking questions that seem to have no answers, but that’s why the Burke is a prime daytrip destination,” she continued. “You can escape to the museum and be immersed in imagination. It’s a perfect family outing for children because it gives them a different outlet for learning and we can answer so many of their questions. Plus, the Burke offers family-based activities such as interactive crafting and scavenger hunts.”

Nearly a decade’s worth of planning and consultation went into the unique redesign of the natural history museum that boasts a massive 16 million object collection. An emphasis on transparency and treating Native cultural artifacts with their proper respect, while acknowledging their rightful creators, is sure to be a conversation starter for museum patrons as they peruse the Culture is Living gallery. From intricate weaving creations to generations old traditional regalia to a truly stunning dedication to canoe journey, Northwest Native artistry and craftsmanship is proudly displayed.

According to the Burke, the Culture is Living gallery breaks down traditional museum authority and brings the expertise and knowledge of communities to the forefront. Cultural objects aren’t tucked away on the shelves. They are alive, embodying the knowledge, language, and stores of people and cultures.

“We wanted to share how diverse our Indigenous cultures are and share the fact that we are still here,” said Sven Haakanson (Alutiiq), curator for North American anthropology. “To us, the cultural pieces we have on display are living. We are representing a hundred-plus cultures in our Culture is Living gallery and to pay them their proper respects we interwove elements of Earth, air, water, our ancestors, children, and community.

“As a curator, one of the things I’m most proud of is we put the Native languages first on every item. Over the next decade, I’m hoping to work with our local tribes to get more item descriptions written in their languages and to add quotes from those communities telling us what the item’s story is from their perspective,” continued Sven.

No trip to the Burke is complete without sampling the palette enriching food cooked up at Off the Rez café. Located inside the Burke, Off the Rez is a permanent outpost spawned from Seattle’s first and only Native food truck. Menu hits include handmade fry bread with choice toppings, braised bison Indian tacos, and smoked BBQ pulled pork wild rice bowls.

It’s a new kind of museum with a whole new way to experience our world. The Burke is located on the UW’s Seattle campus and is free to all visitors on the first Thursday of every month. You can expect to be blown away by the attention to detail the dedicated curators used in setting up each and every item in the multiple galleries. And with Native voices prominently featured, there is sure to be an opportunity for learning and reflection.

“The inclusivity is awesome!” shared Stephanie Masterman (Tlingit) of her Burke experience. “Yes, there are artifacts dating back hundreds of years, but there is so much contemporary art, too. So many young Native artists have works included among the galleries. The voice and presence of the future generations we always talk about is definitely represented.”

Due to King County restrictions, proof of vaccination for visitors ages 12 and older is required for museum admission. Burke staff also encourage pre-purchasing your museum tickets online at to make your trip as seamless as possible. Current museum hours are Tuesday – Sunday: 10AM – 5PM (Closed on Mondays). For more information please call (206) 543-7907

Carrying on culture through the power of storytelling

By Shaelyn Hood, Tulalip News

Storytelling is a cultural tradition passed through generations of Native American people. These stories speak of legends, folktales, and fables. They also have the ability to recount the history of our people, rituals, relate to everyday life, and educate children about cultural morals and values. 

Luckily today, many traditional stories are now readily available in books, various audio formats, and videos. But before these technological advances, they were carried on through oral communication. Today if you were to find the written records of historical events and stories, they would contain more visual aspects than narration. Every time a story is shared from one generation to another, it is preserving Native culture, cultivating the Native languages, and honoring our ancestors before us.

Language is one of the most important aspects of any culture. Language paves the way so that people can communicate with one another, build relationships, and create a sense of community. Like many other tribes across the nation, our language and having the freedom to use it is a privilege that our ancestors fought so desperately to keep.

Tribal stories often reflected the land they were on at the time, like hunting routes, local plants, how tribes came to be, family lineage, their spiritual leaders and elders, etc. Therefore, if you listen to stories told by the Inuit of Alaska, their stories may differ from the Seminole of Florida. 

In other ways, storytelling acted as a tool. It is how Native Americans maintained their symbiotic connection to the earth and relationships with animals. As they explored various parts of their land, the language and verbal use of storytelling helped them to live off the land, survive their environment, and how to best utilize the natural resources around them. Some of the themes surrounding storytelling were about creatures, fantasy and realism, places, tricksters, the creator, heroes, society, rites of passage, and disasters. 

Most of these stories were shared through talking circles, similar to events that the Hibulb Cultural Center puts on. On January 8th, 2022, a small group gathered to listen to Maria Rios share this tradition. She recited stories both in English and in Lushootseed.

Rios currently works for the Tulalip Tribes Lushootseed Department. But her love for the language goes as far back as when she was three years old. Her older cousin Tony Hatch was her teacher and helped her learn the language. She said, “Storytelling is a part of our culture and who we are. For me, as a kid, it was a way to learn how to behave and the ways of the world without being scolded.” She went on to talk about the values of people learning about Tulalip through these stories, “The words, the language, it all comes from the land. We have stories about the animals, because we observed them and picked up on the characteristics of them. Everything you learn, you can find a story related to it.”

One of the audience members, Mae Mcgehee said, “We try to come to all of the storytellings. We moved up here a couple of years ago, and it was important that we understand and respect the land and the people on it. Everything is connected, and we knew we needed to come here to listen to these stories.”

There is a lot of historical value that comes from people continuing storytelling today. Repeating the stories that were once told is an opportunity to share the mindsets that our ancestors had and continue our cultural values for future generations. Knowing our Native language is an essential aspect for storytelling, but understanding the worth and meaning behind these stories is what will continually shape our people.  

If you or someone you know is interested in reading some of these stories, or want to share them with your friends and family, you can find most of them through the Lushootseed Department’s website. If you would like to listen to the stories in-person, you can find more information about related events on the Hibulb Cultural Center’s website, or call (360) 716-2600 and ask about their upcoming Storytelling event.

Honoring our Indigenous educators

Indigenous educators recognized for having 20+ years of experience.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

While the vast majority of students were enjoying their winter break and anxiously awaiting what would become Snowmageddon, a special gathering took place among the Indigenous educators of Marysville School District. Co-hosted by MSD’s Indian Education and Tulalip’s Positive Youth Development teams, all Indigenous educators within the District, and their families, were invited to Heritage High School’s commons area to be honored for their united goal of decolonizing education. 

Decolonizing education means to dismantle a colonial system. In this case, the specific colonial system is education, which wasn’t integrated until the 1970s after decades of legal battles. So then how can a system that separated white people and people of color for hundreds of years, a system that was created and maintained by white people for the benefit of white people, all of a sudden become an inclusive system that prioritizes the success of all? Put simply, it can’t. 

Tulalip elder Dawn Simpson, with 50 years of education work, stands beside Heritage counselor Shonta Paul.

In order to achieve such a lofty goal, it’ll require the tireless pursuit and often underappreciated life’s work of Native culture bearers who are fully aware that they are raging against the machine and regularly feeling like no matter how much they do it’s never enough. Yet, for these special few, they know the deck is stacked against them but they’ll answer the call anyway. They take the college classes, get the required degrees, and receive the necessary accreditations to gain entry into colonized school systems as Indigenous educators. 

Armed with traditional teachings and ancestral wisdom, and fueled by a relentless love for their people, it’s the Indigenous educators who are fighting to change the education system from within. From their positions they can actively provide an environment where Native students can learn about, and be proud of, their history and culture. It is these educators who were celebrated on that December evening. 

“I’m going on my eighteenth year now working in education. In my new position I’m so honored to be working with all of you, the beautiful Indigenous educators of our District. As far as I know, this is the first time a celebration like this has been held exclusively for you all,” remarked Matt Remle, MSD Indian Education coordinator, to all in attendance. “The thought behind this event is simple. We want to honor, encourage, and uplift our Native educators because what you all do every day is remarkable and worth celebrating.”

“I want to thank you all for being here and allowing us to acknowledge you together as our Indigenous educators,” added Jessica Bustad, executive director of Tulalip Education. “Words can’t express how important you are, and the work that you do to positively impact our youth is immeasurable. But we do know how important it is for us to support each other.


Heritage teacher Marina Benally (center) with her son and daughter who both work as educators
within the District.

“We know that these systems we work in were not built for our Indigenous students,” she continued. “Times are difficult right now, but it’s never been easy doing the kind of work we do. What keeps us going is a shared dedication to our students’ success and a passion to do what we can to help them thrive in and out of the classroom. The Indigenous students within the District need and depend on us. They are so fortunate to have educators who genuinely care for them, and I hope you all know how much of a difference you make.”

Public education was among the first colonial institutions deployed over Native American tribes as a tactic to subordinate, confuse and debilitate. The effort to forcibly assimilate Native children through education took place all of the United States. Today, we refer to this effort as the Boarding School Era; when Native children were removed from their families and placed in faraway boarding schools to eradicate Native culture. Whether the boarding schools were sponsored by the church, state or federal government is of little difference. The Native students were stripped of their traditional languages, clothing, and teachings. They weren’t able to see themselves in the curriculum nor in those individuals appointed as teachers.

Because of our Indigenous educators’ efforts, the same cannot be said for Native students within Marysville School District. They have opportunity to see themselves in Since Time Immemorial curriculum, and to learn traditional teachings from their elders who unapologetically display their Native cultures in the school setting. From intricately handwoven cedar to vibrant ribbon skirts and beaded earrings, to Lushootseed words and the heartbeat of hand drums, the sights and sounds of a thriving Native culture is embodied by these educators.

During the celebratory dinner, within the commons area of Heritage High School, the sentiment was shared how fitting the location was. The high school located on the Tulalip Reservation, dreamt of by past leaders, serves as a model that can redefine and inspire Indigenous education. Nationally, many Native students struggle with low academic achievement and only about half graduate from high school. Contrast that with Heritage High recently setting records for overall student enrollment and total number of seniors earning their diploma. It becomes easy then to understand the importance of allowing Native youth to learn in a community-led, culturally-rich environment.

Marina Benally has been teaching Tulalip’s youth for twenty-three years. Most recently as a teacher at Heritage where she is routinely spoken highly of by her students, past and present. Before the intimate gathering, Marina asked her son, Terrance, and daughter, Amanda, to stand with her. Her kids have inherited their mom’s passion for educating the next generation, as they both work as Indigenous educators in the District as well.

“We love being here and are forever grateful to be entrusted with educating your students,” said an emotional Marina. “Ray and Sheryl Fryberg recruited me to come here and help the Tulalip youth back in 1999. Since then, we’ve made Tulalip our home, and you all have helped make us feel like we belong. We thank the Tulalip community for upholding us. Like each and every one of the Indigenous educators out there, we stand on the shoulders of giants who came before us.”

 Quil Ceda 4th grade teacher Tanya Houle (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) sharing her educational journey. 

There were songs shared, traditional medicines offered, and many messages of encouragement between the group of educators. After a hearty meal, a special recognition of those who had 20+ years working in education ensued. Each offered more good words on the mic before being blanketed. Tulalip elder Dawn Simpson received a huge ovation when she announced she now has over 50 years helping her people achieve their academic goals, and she’s still working.

“Dawn was the lifeline for many of us educators here today,” shared Quil Ceda assistant principal Chelsea Craig. “When we were the young students attending schools within the Marysville School Districts, we may not have had much support, but we had Dawn. She was always there and some of us may not be doing the work we are today if it wasn’t for Dawn paving that foundation.”

Imagine how many Native students within the District these awe-inspiring educators are impacting every year. How many kids are excited to go to school and learn from teachers who look like them, or are emboldened to wear traditional regalia, even if it’s just accessories, because their teachers sparked that Native pride? Now, envision just a fraction of these students being inspired to create real change because their educators made them believe it was possible. That’s a kind of cultural legacy powerful enough to take down a system, maybe even to decolonize education.

Damming the West: Northwest tribes battle the legacy of energy colonization

Tribes and supports hold ‘Free the Snake’ flotilla to protest Snake River dams. Photo by Idaho
Rivers United

By Rae Rose of Last Real Indians

“The Indian will be allowed to take fish. . . .at the usual fishing places and this promise will be kept by the Americans as long as the sun shines, as long as the mountains stand, and as long as the rivers run.” Treaty of Walla Walla, June 9th, 1855, spoken by Isaac Ingalls Stevens 

One hundred years later, after the Treaty of Walla Walla was signed, tribes watched their sacred rivers and waterfalls being dammed one after another.  The fishing wars had begun as the American government tried to take away treaty rights from Northwest tribes.  

Today, the fish are dying and no longer able to return home navigating through mass pollution, warming waters and massive dams that block their only way home to spawn.  Spawning grounds have been built over.  Many of the great forests have been clear-cut, destroying precious spawning grounds. Another broken treaty.  

Here, in the Northwest, short-termed thinking of American policymakers mutilated and deformed the beautiful Columbia Basin as they pursued the energy needs of the settler colonizers at the expense of Tribal communities and the environment by constructing dam after dam. 

President Roosevelt called those who objected to the dam’s construction, short-sighted. He referred to our great rivers as a ‘national possession’, disregarding the Tribal communities that lived along these rivers and their treaty rights to fish in those rivers. The ensuing construction of these dams led to mass destruction of habitat, loss of traditional tribal fishing grounds, ones that were promised in treaties. It was sold to the American public as progress.  Anyone who spoke against destruction caused by the dams were labeled as unpatriotic by America pro-dam policymakers.

Mother Earth, a living, breathing planet, her life allows us to live, yet to a small, but powerful, corrupt few who see the disfigurement and destruction of Mother Earth as progress.  To me, any disfigurement or destruction of our beautiful planet can only be seen as reckless destruction of our children’s future.  This idea of ‘progress’ at the expense of destroying the planet, is achieved by the direct manipulation of the American public through the spread of mis-information by energy companies and their government puppets.  

Behind the propaganda, lies the underlying true cost of America’s industrial “progress.”  The destruction and the death of our beautiful river systems, loss of plant and animal species, loss of tribal lands and broken treaty agreements. These dams leave a legacy that speaks volumes for their cruel disregard for the original peoples, the land, our waters, and certainly our other animal and plant relatives.  What strikes me as the saddest fact, is it also speaks volumes to pro-dam backers’ blatant disregard of their own children.  They don’t care if anyone, including their own children and grandchildren, have clean water, food, or a living planet to live upon.

A Native American family is show standing near Celilo Falls, a longtime fishing and trading spot for Native Americans, on the Columbia River in this undated photo. The falls were flooded when The Dalles Dam was constructed in 1957. (Yakima Valley Museum, courtesy photo)

Addressing the legacy of dams 

In NOVA’s Planet Earth the Undamming of America by Anna Lieb, Frank Magilligan, a professor of geography at Dartmouth College explains. “Over 3 million miles of rivers and streams have been etched into the geology of the United States, and many of those rivers flow into and over somewhere between 80,000 and two million dams. “We as a nation have been building, on average, one dam per day since the signing of the Declaration of Independence,” 

The first peoples, who have lived in these lands since time immemorial, have a history of co-existing with the land and waters.  We lived, hunted, worked, and navigated the mighty rivers, forests, hills, and valleys.  It frustrates me that there are people who use clean water, who eat food that is grown from the land, but advocate for destroying and depleting our precious, finite resources.  It hurts me because these are the same people who seem to hate and ridicule those of us who do cherish the waters and land.  I have never understood why they hate us for loving the land that also cares for their loved ones too.

As a guest in the lands of the Coast Salish people of the Pacific Northwest, I have seen elders speak to the loss, the death, and the desecration of land and water by the corrupt mentality of ‘progress’.  These brave elders talk about what was once there, how life once was, and the heartbreaking loss when it was stolen away. 

In speaking about the damage done after the loss of Celilo Falls, Elmer Crow, Nez Perce had this to say in the Damnation documentary. “Celilo Falls is gone. I knew what was there, and I knew what they had done.  The wind changed because of the flat surfaces coming up the Columbia, the temperatures of the water changed.  The dead water makes it harder for the fish.  It means nothing to me. All it means is what they took away.  What these dams have done; they completely tore my country apart”.

Celilo Falls after construction of the Dalles Dam.

In speaking with elders from Coast Salish tribes, I have heard over and over again how the health of the people, the salmon, our land and our waters are all connected.  Each important in their own right, but always a reflection of one another.  If the salmon are suffering, so are the people.  When the waters are cut off and polluted you will see it reflected in the lives and health of the people, of the salmon.  We are all related, never separate, always connected.

It is indisputable that dams have damaged habitat placing natural fish runs and animal habitats in danger.  Over 80,000 dams have altered or completely destroyed Indian Country.  Each dam should be reconsidered, re-evaluated and removed. We have no excuse not to re-evaluate these invasive and costly structures.  There is enough solar, wind, and other new clean renewable energy sources to create real energy needs solutions. It is inexcusable to not reconsider each, and every dam built in America.

While there are numerous dams throughout the Northwest, there are specific dams we need to address, ones that are causing more harm.  This article targets four dams on the Snake River.  The Little Goose, the Lower Monumental, the Lower Granite, and the Ice Harbor dams.

The Columbia Riverkeepers are working to save the Snake River, revitalize the salmon runs, while building a better economy for the surrounding communities.  They reached out to Last Real Indians to help advocate for the removal of the Little Goose, Lower Monumental, the Lower Granite, and the Ice Harbor Dams.  The Columbia Riverkeepers are a collective of tribes, activists, and professionals who have all come together for a healthy river system and a return of our salmon.

In an Interview with Miles Johnson, attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper, he admits that there is a lot of information to process when you are talking about the large-scale energy companies. Taking down all dams is not immediately possible and that is not their goal. Columbia Riverkeeper is asking for the removal of the above-named dams on the Snake River.  

In their efforts to remove the dams, Johnson is adamant that Columbia Riverkeeper is taking into consideration all populations living alongside or by the Snake and Columbia rivers.  Columbia Riverkeeper envisions subsidies for farmers, hope for commercial growth, and economic stimulus, the return of tourism, all alongside the return of our rivers and salmon.

These four dams are all over 100ft high making it virtually impossible for salmon to maneuver home to their spawning grounds.  These dams besides being no longer needed are taking away taxpayer’s money from our communities and the programs we need to survive.  The water does not flow, locked up behind concrete gates the water dies. When the water dies, so do the fishing, and recreational boating, kayaking, that go along with healthy waterways.

It is a simple truth, the blood in our bodies circulates to maintain healthy tissue and muscle while cleaning and disposing of waste.  Mother Earth’s system of rivers is much like the blood in our bodies. When our blood is unable to flow tissue dies and you risk losing that part of your body, or even death. When the blood of our Mother Earth dies or is forcefully pooled, the land and life surrounding that dead body of water are also lost to us.

The first study, Lower Snake River Feasibility Study, cost taxpayers 35 million dollars and was done by the Army Engineering Corporation.  It highlighted the fact these four dams only produce 4% of the electricity used in the Pacific Northwest in the spring.  This 4% is easily replaceable using wind and solar resources, resources that constantly renew without any harm to the environment, economy, or habitat.  Jim Waddel, former Army Corp. Engineer lost his job to blow the whistle on this study’s findings.  

The second study was done by an independent source, the Lower Snake River energy replacement study. This study also shows the inefficiency of keeping these dams in place.  Just the tax dollars for its upkeep would go a long way to revitalizing the communities by the Snake River.  I could find no reason in either study to keep these dams operating.

Both studies found the dams to cause detrimental harm to salmon habitat, and to the outlying economies, while not even producing enough energy to be necessary or in any way beneficial.  Washington and Oregon taxpayers are footing the bill for these dams upkeep, but we are not receiving any benefits for the money taken.  The cost is too much. It is a waste of taxes to continue paying into these outdated and unnecessary relics of “progress” at the cost of environment, habitat, and restoration of our Mother Earth’s beautiful river systems. 

There is so much propaganda and deliberate manipulation of the facts, it is hard to wade through all the information to finally get to the simple and honest facts regarding these four dams.  The first misleading fact comes from the Bonneville Energy Company.  As soon as you open their website, the first thing you will see is a picture of a dam with big bold words stating “NATIONAL HYDROPOWER DAY!” above this reads, “Half of the region’s power comes from hydropower,” beside it, “HYDROPOWER FLOWS HERE.”

To someone like me, before researching this issue, this ad makes dams look pretty “damn” good.  “More than half of the hydropower generated in the region is made by federal dams and marketed by Bonneville Power Administration.” In the first paragraph Bonneville Power admits this is a business and much like Puget Sound Energy and Seattle City Light, they are harnessing our natural resources, using our tax dollars to pay for and to maintain, for these power companies to monopolize and to profit from.  

Lower Granite Dam, one of the four dams on the Lower Snake River that are driving all remaining Snake River salmon toward extinction. Photo by Chris Jordan-Bloch/ EarthJustice.

Our rivers, the extinction of wildlife are all resources that have been perverted by power companies to control outcomes, profit from natural resources, and justify their destruction of natural habitat.  It is a man-made disaster; we have to correct these mistakes before it is too late.  

The areas of dead water, near-extinct species, and the amount of taxpayers’ dollars wasted should be enough to relook at and rethink our current energy crisis.  Big energy companies like Bonneville Power Company, Puget Sound Energy, and Seattle City Light tell consumers there are no other natural solutions.  They put millions into making the public believe our only choices are to rape our Mother Earth for fossil fuels or to disfigure Our precious Mother Earth for hydropower.  

Even beyond the moral issues, switching to renewable non-invasive power solutions is more efficient for long-term stability.  These dams are not solutions, they do not produce enough power to even be considered necessary. These four dams being marketed as clean renewable energy is misleading and irresponsible.  

Crippling our planet and downplaying the importance of natural habitat creates dangerous illusions. Even beyond the fact that it is wrong, detrimental, and divisive, it is taking away from every American citizen and all of our generation’s right to a future.  Not to mention it is only feeding an already corrupt existing system of power and wealth monopolies for the few at the cost of us, the many. 

Columbia Riverkeeper is fighting to remove these 4 ineffective and environmentally harmful dams. More importantly, the National Congress of the American Indians and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians also support comprehensive legislation to remove these dams for the greater good.

Miles Johnson, attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper, was kind enough to speak with me about the dams, what they are trying to restore, and why it is important.  He estimates before the dams were built there were 10 to 15 million salmon returned to the Columbia River basin every year.  You could hear the salmon from the shore. There were so many.  The salmon created an economy for Native and then non-native settlers, the communities thrived when the rivers ran free.

 Miles continues to tell me about the loss of pink salmon in the Columbia River entirely, beloved rivers, great falls all gone.  In less than a century of damming our waterways, we have cut off, and we have destroyed great areas of habitat necessary for salmon, trout, steelhead, and countless other species to thrive.  To Native Americans who have been here since time immemorial, these rivers and falls are sacred.  The blood of a mother who has provided and cared for them always.  To see the damage inflicted upon mother earth is the same as watching a loved one maimed, tortured, and injured for no reason.

Even beyond the love for our lands and waters lies a brazen truth.  Taking down these four dams will allow the Snake River to heal.  A beautiful and powerful river flowing free will attract tourists creating an economy to help the communities around the Snake and Columbia Rivers to prosper.  As the river heals the fish and wildlife will return creating opportunities for fisheries to reopen, family farms will also be able to prosper from returning tourists.  

We have also seen several dams removed successfully.  It has been a powerful testament to the natural world’s ability to heal and persevere.  “I got to watch what happens when a river gets its teeth into a dam, and in about an hour, I saw what would otherwise be about 10,000 years of river evolution.” Grant a hydrologist spoke about what happened after the Marmot Dam was removed in the Undamming of America article

We have seen the recovery of nature, habitat, and the return of salmon.  To me, who fell into this research on a request, it is a simple solution we owe to our Mother Earth, the fish, wildlife, and to our future generations.  

Something we need to address dam by dam.  We also need to push for new power companies to stop the monopoly of power by big business companies like Bonneville Power Company, Puget Sound Energy, and Seattle City Light.  Instead, I would love to see community organizations led by diverse community groups bring forward large-scale conversion operations to revitalize long-term energy changes especially centering on wind and solar-powered solutions.

Community-led project, the Recovery Café, receives $25,000 anonymous donation

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News; Photo courtesy of the Tulalip Problem Gambling Program

“This project is important because we have nowhere for our people who are sober and clean, or want to get sober and clean, to gather,” expressed Tulalip Recovery Liaison, Helen Gobin-Henson. “We have so many people who are homeless, who are hungry, they could come to the café and enjoy a meal. And the people who are sober and clean can get together as a group and connect there at the café – a safe and supportive place to gather.”

Nearly two years ago, a group of Tulalip and Marysville community members met at the Tulalip Administration Building to attend a four-day training, spanning over the course of two weekends. By successfully completing the training, hosted by the Tulalip Problem Gambling Program, each participant earned certification and the official title of a recovery coach. 

In a nation where opioid overdose related deaths continue to climb, the support of a recovery coach can be an effective tool for those on the road to recovery. According to the CDC, more than 93,000 people died of drug overdose in the U.S. during 2020. A near 30% increase from 2019. Last July, the Washington State Department of Health reported that there were 40 more drug overdose deaths in the first three months of 2021 than the first three months of 2020, and that the state’s overdose rates were ‘on pace to break another record in 2021’, based on that preliminary study.

“Our philosophy is to help the community heal from within,” said Problem Gambling Counselor, Robin Johnson. “The more people that we can teach to be recovery coaches, and have them in the community and available to others, that is just going to snowball. A recovery coach is someone in-between a sponsor and a counselor. They’re there to help, depending on the individual’s needs – finding out what those needs are, and meeting them there. This is not the first recovery coach training that we’ve had, but it was the most successful and we’ve had a better response and incorporated not only chemical addiction, but also gambling addiction.”

Throughout the pandemic, the recovery coaches stayed in-touch with each other, with a shared focus and passion of helping their fellow community members, who are battling addiction, attain and maintain a sober and healthy lifestyle. While brainstorming ways on how to reach more people and better service the local recovery community with their newly acquired knowledge and skills, the coaches landed on the idea of opening a Recovery Café in the Tulalip-Marysville area.

Since 2004, Recovery Cafés have been popping up throughout the country, after the first café was established in Seattle. The cafés provide a positive environment for those struggling with addiction, and offer an opportunity for addicts to interact with others who share the same goal of getting clean. Participants can also attend group sessions at the café, which ultimately helps individuals create a strong support system for their recovery journey while also assisting others who are on a similar path. Recovery Cafés have also been a safe space for the homeless populations in multiple cities, as they offer warm and dry shelter and a place for people to grab a bite to eat. 

With a desire to open up a Recovery Café as soon as possible, the group instantly began planning by scouting locations, designing a logo, raising funds and establishing a dedicated team of professionals to help navigate the process of opening up the café. 

Currently, the team consists of those six recovery coaches, as well as Tulalip Tribal Prosecutor Brian Kilgore, Tulalip Recovery Liaison Helen Gobin-Henson, Tulalip ODMAP Social Worker Jackson Nahpi, and Robin Johnson and Sarah Sense-Wilson of the Problem Gambling program. The Tulalip Foundation has also lent their expertise to the project, helping the Recovery Café become a non-profit organization, as well as apply for and obtain grants. 

Shortly after announcing the plans to open a Recovery Café locally, the group received a generous anonymous donation to help kick the project off. 

“It was a nice surprise, we got a $25,000 donation, and it showed up in the mail actually,” said Nicole Sieminski, Tulalip Foundation Executive Director. “It came with a nice letter from a company that manages private donations. It was a pleasant surprise and I think it will get the Recovery Café off to a good start as we are looking for funding sources and funding opportunities. There’s actually funding available through the Recovery Café Network, but part of that funding is contingent on raising other funds. By receiving this anonymous donation, it will allow us to access other additional funding in the near future. All around it is a great benefit and a great help.”

While the team continues searching for a space for the Recovery Café, they are also working to establish a board of directors, recruit additional volunteers, finalize the Recovery Café logo and raise more funds. The recovery coaches will also be doing community outreach in the coming months. 

If you are interested in helping get this project started and helping people maintain a clean and healthy lifestyle, please contact the Problem Gambling program at (360) 716-4304 for more information. 

Said Brian, “I think that the power of having a physical place, around which to build services, is going to be really transformative for all the work we’re doing. Government, non-government, volunteers, we’re all working the same problem – we’re trying to save lives, trying to get parents back to their kids and rebuild families and communities and stop people from dying, but we just haven’t had a physical place to do it. I’m really excited about this group of people. I think that they’re going to go out into the community and they’re going to create a physical space where people can come in and get wraparound support and services.”

Atlas Genomics donates $50,000 to Tulalip Boys & Girls Club

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

We’ve officially entered the season of giving and holiday cheer. In that spirit, the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club is thrilled to announce a whopping $50,000 donation received from Atlas Genomics, a diagnostic molecular laboratory based in Seattle. It’s the largest single donation from outside the Tribe the Club has ever received.

“This money will be used for necessary upgrades to the building, expanding programs, and continuing our ability to offer a variety of sports and after school activities for our kids,” said Club Director, Shawn Sanchey. “This donation by Atlas creates even more opportunities for our kids to grow in all aspects. 

“One way to look at is not all our kids play sports, so being able to purchase new kitchen supplies, upgrade playground equipment, or develop new education programs are all pivotal to us helping them grow as young individuals,” Shawn continued. “I grew up here in the Club, so it means so much to be able to continue creating partnerships outside the Tribe that continue to provide opportunities for our kids that I had growing up. Grandma Diane was here when I was a kid, and now that I’m Director of the Club I’m able to create a lasting impact on our kids just like she does. We have kids who come here daily that say they want to work at the Club when they’re grownups. That’s a great feeling knowing we are setting that positive example.”

‘The Club’, as it’s affectionately been nicknamed by hundreds of regularly attending children, is a safe place where kids can just be kids. While there, children are routinely exposed to healthy food choices, create an abundance of happy memories, and make relationships that last a lifetime.

The Club is the first of its kind to be built on tribal land in Washington State. Established in 1995, 2021 marks twenty-six years of commitment to the community. Through before and after school programs, it aims to help young people improve their lives by building self-esteem, developing values, and teaching skills during critical periods of growth.

Serving as a model for those working to improve the lives of young people in the surrounding communities, the Club is the primary beneficiary of an annual fundraising auction. With each auction building off the success of previous years, the Club has not only been able to sustain services, but to complete much needed campus expansions that add additional learning and activity space. 

It was actually at the auction earlier this year that the seeds were planted for Atlas Genomic to become the title sponsor for next year’s 24th annual auction. Teri Nelson, executive director of tribal services, hosted a table and one of her invitees had an amazing experience. So much so that when Teri’s friend came across a company looking to make a large financial donation to a local organization, she recommended the Tulalip Boys & Girls club for all the great work they do. The rest, as they say, is history.

“I think giving back to our kids is so important because they have to recover from this pandemic, too,” said Teri. “If we can continue to offer them after school programs and extracurricular activities and all the things that make it so much fun to be a kid, then what a true difference that makes for all kids who attend the Club every day. I’m just thankful that a friendship could evolve into making something as impactful as this being able to happen and truly benefit the Tulalip community.”

On December 10, representatives from Atlas Genomics arrived in Tulalip to meet with tribal leadership before getting an in-person tour of the Club. They marveled at all there was to offer on a reservation bound boys and girls club. They were warmly welcomed by Club kids in the gymnasium prior to writing the $50,000 check.

Shawn and Grandma Diane blanketed the group for their donation and commitment to helping Tulalip’s kids, while Natosha Gobin and her partner Thomas Williams offered a song and prayer of gratitude. 

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be here today to meet such a tremendous group of people working to support the Boys and Girls Club organization,” said Chris Destro, President of Atlas Genomics. “When this opportunity to give back was presented to us, there was zero hesitation; it was an immediate yes. A huge shout-out to Diane and Shawn for what they are doing here. As a company, we’re humbled for being given the opportunity to help out and add to what’s already been built here.”

Hip hop legend, Redman, visits Tulalip Remedy

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“Next,” rang out the unmistakeable, highly recognizable voice of a hip hop legend, whose work spans across the past three decades. A steady line of fans, the majority of whom did their best impression of the famous lyricist and actor while they waited, extended out of the doors of the Tulalip Remedy retail cannabis boutique. The 2x Grammy nominated artist shared conversation and posed for photos with each of his fans on the morning of December 11. However, this wasn’t your typical meet-and-greet, once fans received their photos and autographs, the rapper then asked, “now what type of bud you smoking today?”

“I come here all the time, I am a regular,” shared starstruck fan, Jordan Brown. “But when I heard about Redman, I had to come down and check him out. From ‘How High’ to ‘Power’, I’ve watched him in all that.”

It was a dream come true for many lifelong fans of Redman when they learned that he would be assisting them with their purchases, and that they would receive top-tier strain recommendations from a living icon in the cannabis culture. If you aren’t familiar with Redman (also known as Funk Doctor Spock), he is not only Grammy nominated, but he also has multiple platinum, gold, and silver albums under his belt including ‘Muddy Waters’, ‘Whut Thee Album’, ‘Doc’s Da Name’ and’ Blackout!’. And that’s not to mention his work as an actor. His voice could be heard as both cartoon and video game characters in numerous projects throughout the years, and of course he is known by many for his role as Jamal King in the stoner cult classic movie, ‘How High’. 

After the experience of meeting one of her heroes, Mara Brown excitedly exclaimed, “It is cool to see that he is really just one of us. He likes a lot of the same stuff as us and shares a lot of our opinions. It shows that he cares about us and enjoys making all of us feel good through his art and music. It makes you want to keep supporting him. Redman is a real person, someone you can look up to and support his message.”

Throughout the day, Redman signed a variety of memorabilia that his fans held close to their heart, including a VHS copy of ‘How High’, which prompted him to ask the fan, “Do you still got a VCR?” His comedic personality that he is famously known for did not disappoint during the appearance, and his presence uplifted the spirits of both the fans and employees during the two-and-a-half-hour event. One fan dressed in a nun’s habit and sunglasses, because Redman’s character in ‘How High’ also dressed in the religious get-up when he attended a Halloween costume party as Deloris from the movie Sister Act. Another fan and local community member, Alex Jimenez, did not wish to purchase anything from the store (and would’ve forgone the photo as well if Redman didn’t insist on flicking-it-up together), but simply attended to meet the rapper and gift him with t-shirts and hoodies that he designed himself through his business.

Alex stated, “I just came to meet Redman and give him some clothing that we made at Picture That Printing. We gifted him with an Every Child Matters shirt and an MMIW shirt and our ‘Tradish’ sweater. I felt like it would be nice to give him something that represented our culture.”

As one of the very first tribal owned cannabis retail shops, Tulalip Remedy has flourished since first opening its doors three years ago. The shop is known for their great customer service, and the friendly and knowledgeable staff at Remedy have helped change the overall perception of marijuana in the community. More and more people are learning about the benefits the plant has to offer while simultaneously becoming loyal Tulalip Remedy customers. 

For many, marijuana serves as an actual remedy, helping individuals manage diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, depression, insomnia, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, arthritis, epilepsy, cancer, among many other diagnoses. The medicinal aspect is something that caught the attention of Redman over a decade ago. Learning how the plant, which he has such an affinity for, is helping people in their everyday lives has strengthened his love for cannabis all the more.  

“It’s a blessing to see how far the cannabis culture has come since I first entered the game in ’92,” Redman shared. “The part I like most about it is that it’s not just for recreational use, it’s also medicinal. It helps save the lives of kids, and of many people – any kind of person with a disorder, internal or external. I actually did a crash course on cannabis at Oaksterdam University out in Oakland. After I did that course, in maybe 2005 or ‘06, I was like wow I didn’t know about all these components involved in the cannabis plant. There are over 400 components that haven’t been discovered yet, we won’t even be here in this lifetime by the time 30 of them are explored. I find that very interesting.”

He continued, “When I look back at how people used to look at cannabis, like we were just smoking for fun, and seeing what it is doing now, what it’s doing today, it has come a long way tremendously. I gotta thank the people and the scientists for bringing this awareness medically. Let’s keep going with it.”

Redman is the third celebrity cannabis connoisseur to make an appearance at Tulalip’s recreational shop this year thanks to a partnership between Tulalip Remedy and local YouTube show, The Dab Roast. Whenever the show brings celebrity guests to the Pacific Northwest, they make sure to line up an appearance at Tulalip Remedy. Previously, The Dab Roast and Tulalip Remedy brought out both Tommy Chong and Ken Shamrock to the reservation to meet the people of the community. 

“Our show, The Dab Roast, is ten dabs and ten questions with celebrities,” explained Jimmy Bako, Sales and Marketing Manager for The Dab Roast. “Obviously there’s a great tie between cannabis and music, so when we bring these stars in, Tulalip Remedy benefits greatly for bringing the name into the store and amplifying their imagery. It’s turned into quite a great marketing partnership. We have our cannabis line out during the events, but our main goal is to amplify the show. Getting the opportunity to come out here and participate in the cannabis industry and really be about the culture is a huge lesson. What Tulalip does for us is amazing.”

Although he was nothing short of astonished when reflecting on the progress the cannabis culture has made over the years, Redman was also quick to note that there is still a lot of progress to be made going forward. As more states around the country are beginning to decriminalize marijuana, he feels that what is needed most amongst the culture is organization, access to resources and empowerment, and he also stresses the importance of working together. For this reason, Redman co-founded the National Cannabis Party, the first-of-it’s-kind non-partisan political party.

He said, “I wanted to be behind the responsibility of the cannabis industry, that’s why you’ve never seen a Redman grow, a Redman vape pen, a Redman anything up to this point. I was saving my brand for the bigger picture. Now I’m the co-founder of the first FEC National Cannabis Party. Meaning, you have the Democratic Party, you have the Republican Party, and now you have the first FEC approved National Cannabis Party. We’re about the stability and structure of the cannabis industry. The Democratic Party has people as a unit to state their claims and issues to better their community, in order to create change and opportunity. So does the Republican Party. The cannabis industry is a billion-dollar industry, moving up to a trillion; do we have an umbrella where we can state claims and issues about this cannabis industry? No. 

“The cannabis industry is going to make the profit regardless, but we need more purpose. We need to unite more. We need to get involved with expungements and getting everybody out that’s been incarcerated because of cannabis. We need to worry about those areas and communities that have been affected by WOD, the war on drugs. We’re the guys that’s getting our hands dirty to implement these programs and help other dispensaries and other cannabis brands implement more programs for their communities. We were just founded this year, so hopefully we’re on the right track. If you want to find out more and do research please hit us up at and find out what we’re doing.”

Redman’s Remedy appearance was a fun experience for everyone involved and his larger than life personality brought laughter and smiles to all of the local cannabis enthusiasts and hip hop heads alike. In fact, the event was such a success that both parties expressed a desire to build upon this newfound relationship and continue collaborating in the future.

“This was my first time hearing about Tulalip and Remedy, I loved the energy,” Redman said. “I loved the attitude of the people. I like helping people and I got the chance to do something different today and service some cannabis to the people, talk to the people and take some pictures and meet the people of the Tribe and community. I want to thank the Tulalip Remedy spot for showing me love. I am going through a transformation with myself and needed to surround myself with good energy and good people, so I am so happy I came here today, it fed my soul.”

Tulalip Remedy Manager Jennifer Ashman added, “Redman was an amazing addition to our staff that day. I definitely look forward to working with him on some upcoming projects at our store and in the community. Remedy definitely considers him a part of our family now.”

Youth Summit uplifts, inspires and empowers

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On a frigid December morning, close to one hundred Tulalip community members rose at the crack of dawn in order to attend a brilliantly designed event held in the Tulalip Resort’s Orca Ballroom. Created in collaboration by the tribe’s Problem Gambling Program and Youth Council, the 2021 Youth Summit created memories galore through a variety of team building workshops and a series of inspirational Native influencers offering a unique blend of unforgettable entertainment mixed with words of wisdom.

Envisioning Our Indigenized Future was the theme of this year’s Youth Summit, held on December 11.

“We are happy to provide the momentum to do this and co-host a gathering with you all here today,” said youth council chairman Kaiser Moses during the early bird breakfast. “We chose the theme ‘envisioning our indigenized future’ because essentially the youth are the future and today we want to envision what we are capable of with all the opportunities available to us by our tribe. A lot of these opportunities are only possible by educating ourselves in order to avoid the pitfalls that effect so many of our people. We want to help each other develop the tools necessary to stay on a good path and realize those opportunities.”

The “pitfalls” Kaiser spoke of include substance abuse, gambling addiction, and a general lack of responsibility for one’s own actions when repeatedly choosing short-term pleasures over long-term success. Academics, physicians, and all other manners of wellbeing experts have written and lectured at length over these pitfalls and most recently have come to refer to them as ‘diseases of despair’.

Instead of dwelling on these negative concepts and bringing everyone down emotionally, Youth Summit coordinator Sarah Sense-Wilson went with a more effective strategy to showcase endless possibility through groundbreaking Native role models whose stories emphasize sobriety, self-respect, and conviction of culture. This star-studded lineup of all-Native entertainers shared a common belief that as Native people we are not bound by despair, but by resiliency and the ability to overcome any obstacle, real or imagined.

Innovative hip hop artist Supaman stunned the crowd with his one-of-a-kind presentation combining Native culture, comedy and urban music. He dazzled onlookers with his vibrant fancy dance regalia before captivating them with his uplifting words full of compassion and encouragement. 

Supaman’s uncanny ability to connect with his audience was exemplified by his message, “Yes, this country was founded on the attempted genocide of our people. Yes, they employed all kinds of violent means and federal policies to eradicate us from the face of the Earth…But you know what this means don’t you? This means that you all come from families who defied the odds. As beautiful, young Native people in 2021, each breath you take is in defiance to a system that didn’t want you to exist. Each one of you is a blessing that our ancestor’s prayed for.

“That’s why it’s so important for us to embrace who we are,” he continued. “We must uphold our culture and pass it on like our ancestors did long before us. I challenge you to learn as much as you can, participate as often as you can, and share everything you know because one day you will be an elder. And when you’re an elder the younger people will look to you for traditional teachings and protocols for ceremony. They will look to you for that knowledge and you’ll want to be able to give them the knowledge and guidance they’re searching for. That is how we pass on our culture in a good way. I believe in you. Your ancestors believe in you.” 

After Supaman’s riveting performance and many good words shared, high schooler and Tulalip tribal member Image Enick shared his appreciation by gifting him a handmade drum. Many in attendance then waited their turn to take photos with the Native hip hop icon.

The full day’s Youth Summit was filled with uplifting messages echoing the sentiments shared by Supaman, exercises in compassion building and benefits of team work, and informative presentations regarding the energy drain that social media and unchecked video gaming can have on youth’s social and emotional development. There was also an informative breakout session with Tulalip’s own podcaster Dominick Joseph. He shared his educational journey and gave listeners a glimpse into his podcast world, while receiving a number of topic requests for future episodes.

Performances by DJ Element on the turntables and Swil Kanim with his serenading classical violin both received a huge round of applause. However, it may have been a pair of brothers standing a whopping 4 feet and 7 inches tall that made the biggest impression. Known for their roles in the Emmy nominated TV show Reservation Dogs, Lil Mike and Funny Bone captivated their multi-generational audience through comedy, hip hop lyrics, and motivational stories about not letting haters get in your way of excellence. They shared that they’ve been overlooked their whole lives. If they let what others think of them matter, then they’d have never made it to primetime actors on a hit TV series.

In between performances and leadership sessions, Summit participants had many opportunities to fill up on event swag designed by Native artists and businesses. From t-shirts and backpacks to hoodies and essential school supplies, many could be seen leaving the Resort with their hands, bags, and hearts full of newly acquired swag and renewed confidence for their Indigenized future. 

After the exhilarating eight-hour Youth Summit, event coordinator Sarah Sense-Wilson shared, “We are thrilled with amount of participation and engagement we had today by such a special group of Indigenous youth. Our goal was to provide valuable and meaningful workshops that centered on our youth, while promoting health, well-being and resilience. Our workshops and presentations ranged from QPR (Suicide Prevention Certification), to a wide range of motivational speakers, to teambuilding and ropes course activities. We hope all the local Native youth who joined us for a full day of energizing, fun-filled edutainment will remember the messages shared today and use them as fuel for empowerment whenever needed. Their future is our future.”