3rd & Goal Foundation builds upgraded deck for Tulalip Veterans

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The 3rd & Goal Foundation was founded in 2011 by Notre Dame graduate and former NFL quarterback, Brady Quinn. His father served as a Marine in the Vietnam War and his grandfather fought in World War II, which inspired Brady’s desire to give back to the often neglected needs of America’s military veterans.

According to their website, the 3rd & Goal Foundation began building wheelchair ramps, as well as, remodeling bathrooms and kitchens for those veterans who were wounded to help them adjust a little easier to their new life and surroundings. Years later, 3rd & Goal began to expand its efforts to be able to serve more veterans in need by implementing Operation Education and Operation Joy components to their mission. While the mission is still growing, one thing that will always stay the same is that 3rd & Goal is committed to making a difference in the lives of our honored veterans. 

This past summer 3rd & Goal supporter Tom Hoban, who grew up in the Tulalip community, had a timely conversation with Board of Director Mel Sheldon. During their chat, Mel mentioned how the reservation-based Veteran’s building was in need of repairs. Hoban immediately brought up 3rd & Goal as a viable solution. After some coordination between Hoban, 3rd & Goal, and then Tulalip Veterans coordinator Rocky Renecker, a mutually agreed upon idea to replace the aging and hazardous deck of the Veteran’s office with a new one was put into place.

“This office is intended for all Tulalip veterans, so by replacing our old and withered deck it feels like a genuine gift for every single one of veterans,” said Veterans Department manager William McLean III. “Staff from 3rd & Goal came out periodically over the last several months, while most of Tulalip was furloughed, and built us an upgraded deck. It was must needed.

“Prior to COVID, we were having monthly gatherings for veterans,” he continued. “We were hosting those meetings at Admin because upwards of 30 people would show up and we lacked the capacity. Now with our new deck, which is twice the size of our previous one, we are able to host future monthly gatherings at the Veterans office.”

The expanded deck with improved stairs and accessible ramp makes it easier for our veterans to access their building, gather comfortably outside when they want to, and revel in the knowledge that they are not forgotten. Foundations like 3rd & Goal and individuals such as Brady Quinn and Tom Hoban are intentional with their desire to positively impact the lives of retired military servicemen.

With operation build a new deck now completed, it marks the first-ever project by 3rd & Goal accomplished in Indian Country.  

“Having a group of people willing to give back to veterans for nothing more than a thank you is always great to see,” added McLean. “When our building looks nice and is maintained, it lets our veterans know they are cared for and prioritized.”

“[A huge] thank you to 3rd & Goal for everything they’ve done,” added Tulalip veteran Rocky Renecker. “Ninety percent of our Tulalip veterans are over sixty-years-old and this new accessible space will make it possible for us to come together as a veteran community.”

Becoming a Tulalip Police Officer

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Over the past several months, the Tulalip Police Department has welcomed nearly ten officers to the tribal law enforcement agency. These include four lateral officers who transferred from other departments and four new officers, who recently completed three-months of training at the United States Indian Police Academy in New Mexico. With the addition of these eight officers, TPD currently stands about forty officers strong. 

 According to TPD Professional Standards Manager, Angela Davis, the department would like to see the tribal police force increase by about twenty-five additional officers. 

The main focus now is recruitment. TPD has made it their priority to introduce Tulalip tribal members and citizens to the badge, in an attempt to strengthen the community from within. With the Tribe’s best interest at heart, Tulalip PD is looking to increase communication and interaction with the people who they vowed to protect and serve, and they believe a major key to achieving that is bringing on individuals who also have Tulalip’s best interest at heart, whether they are members of the Tribe or simply call Tulalip home. 

Angela, who oversees a large portion of the hiring, took a moment to speak with Tulalip News about the process of becoming a Tulalip Law Enforcement Officer.

TPD is growing! Eight new officers were recently sworn-in and the department is still looking to expand. How long does it take to become a police officer after making the decision to apply?

It takes so long for them to get to this point; a long time to go through the background process. To get through a background investigation, there’s a lot of steps. The first is they have to pass the testing requirement for employment and they have to pass the interview. Once they get done with the interview process, we do a conditional offer of employment, stating if you pass the background investigation, we’ll hire you. 

Once we have an effective start date, then we have to try to get them into the Academy. Unfortunately, being a tribal division, we do not have priority when we go through the Washington State Academy in Burien, it’s a hurry up and wait and you might not get in. We’ve chosen to go to the U.S. Indian Police Academy in New Mexico. Even with that though, there’s a waiting list. It could be months. And then when they finally go to the Academy, which is three-months long, they come back and have to complete their field training before they can be on the street by themselves. 

There have been strong efforts to hire and train officers from within the community, why is it important to have that tribal and citizen representation on the tribal police force?

Chief (Sutter) and I both believe that it is important to have people that represent the community that we serve on the force; having officers of minorities, any kind including non-tribal, that represent all of the people that we serve. And we have all different kinds of people out here, different cultures and races. It’s important for us to have that representation so when people are interacting with a police officer, they feel more comfortable and at ease, like they can relate and connect with them. It’s more about building a relationship and connection, to try to help de-escalate a situation better, to understand where they’re coming from – why they might be acting this way. Or let’s say they’re other Native from another tribe, they might understand some of the culture and traditions here. A lot of the Tulalip ways are done on other reservations, and so just trying to understand the ways of the Tribe and the people and not disrespect it. 

Every single officer who recently took the oath stated that they are not going anywhere, that they plan on serving the Tulalip community for years to come. How does it feel hearing that, especially after several former TPD officers left once they received their training and the necessary amount of required field hours?

I think it’s really great because retention is key. We have had a lot of turnover in the past couple years. Retention is a big topic that we’ve been talking about with the Board of Directors. Law enforcement officers off-the-reservation get to be a part of a retirement pension package, so if you work twenty years you get to have a pension. Here, we don’t offer that. We have a 401k-type of retirement package, but it’s not a pension. A lot of times, off-the-reservation, medical insurance and stuff like that is cheaper. They have the same great benefits but at a lower cost for them and their families. Here, we are all under the same umbrella as the government, TGO, and everyone that works for them. It’s really difficult to retain people because of wages, because of insurance, and sometimes even growth and opportunity. But, it’s really nice to have people that are committed to staying here. 

And it has to do with recruiting. When we’re recruiting, we’re trying to tell them upfront that we want someone who is committed to the community. We tell them that we would like them to be committed to serving Tulalip for at least five years with us. I think one thing that’s different to with our recruitment is that we’re trying to find people with a servant’s heart – just good people on the inside. I’m not focused about someone’s physical appearance, their physical abilities as much; are you tall and strong and intimidating looking? Are you a woman? Are you a man? It sounds like all those things happen in the law enforcement world but I’m not like that. Chief’s not like that. We want people with a good heart that will serve our people and respect each other and have dignity and respect the human life and not have this power struggle with the people. 

Where would one start on the journey to becoming a member of the TPD?

We have our new updated Tulalip tribal police website where they can look at all the information there. On there, it talks about the careers and they can click on job openings to learn more. They can apply to the any of the positions that are open. And they can always reach out to the Chief or I and we can take their name down for any future openings, so just reach out to us, stop by anytime and introduce yourselves.

Can you outline in detail the process of becoming a Tulalip officer?

After successfully passing the interview process, they can do their new hire paperwork, their UA, and fill out this thirty-five-page personal history packet that lists their whole life, along with some personal references, work references, any other law enforcement agencies that they’ve applied to, any drug history – just tons of questions. 

I then call them in and do what’s called an integrity interview, and ask them eleven more pages worth of questions that are similar, but now I’m seeing them face-to-face to see how they respond. Are they pausing? Are they quick to answer? Are they trying to get around the question? It’s just another way to verify what they wrote.

The next step would be a polygraph test, once they pass that they get to the point of a medical exam. They also have a psychological evaluation from certified public safety psychologists. If they pass that, and all the references and all the information I got, all that totality of everything allows us to decide if they’re suitable for Tulalip or not. 

Hopefully the department continues to grow. I know the new officers are excited to get out into the community. Perhaps by seeing people of the community on the force, others will be inspired to follow a career in law enforcement with TPD. 

You know, it is a long process. It’s not an easy decision, it’s not an easy job to get into. For anyone that wants to become an officer, and that has tried and failed at some point, you can always keep on trying. Sometimes time is all that people need. For instance, let’s say that there was someone that was young, and used to get a bunch of tickets, or smoked marijuana. Well, now the laws have changed and the times have changed. Don’t disqualify yourself, apply for the job and let us make that decision.

If you wish to pursue a career with the Tulalip Police Department, please reach out to Angela to begin your new journey with law enforcement. For additional details, visit www.TulalipTribalPolice.org or call the non-emergency line at (360) 716-4608. 

Artist Jeffrey Veregge empowered by Marvel Comics

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News; Images courtesy Marvel Comics

November is Native American Heritage Month. It’s an entire 30-day calendar month dedicated to celebrating rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of America’s first people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribal sovereignty and raise awareness about the 574 federally recognized tribes and their inherent uniqueness. Moreover, it’s an opportunity to spotlight tribal citizens who dedicate themselves to conquering the challenges Native people have faced both historically and present day.

Jeffrey Veregge, a Port Gamble S’Klallam tribal member, has been an artist since the moment he was able to hold his first action figure and create stories of his childhood superheroes on paper with whatever art utensils were available. That creative fire and passion for super powered warriors and comics never faded as he grew from imaginative youngster to inspired illustrator. His desire to keep improving eventually led him to the Seattle Art Institute where he studied industrial design technology. 

Afterwards, he was fortunate enough to study under the tutelage of Tsimshian master carver, David Boxley. It was with Boxley’s vigilant guidance Veregge learned the basics of Salish formline design. Formline is an Indigenous art of the Northwest Coast and is distinguished by the use of characteristic shapes referred to as ovoids, U-forms and trigons. 

“A member of Port Gamble S’Klallam, I was raised and spent a majority of my life on our reservation known locally as Little Boston, which is located near Kingston, Washington. Although I am enrolled there, I am also of Suquamish and Duwamish ancestry,” explained Veregge to Tulalip News in 2015. “I graduated with honors from the Art Institute of Seattle and had the privilege to study with Tsimshian master carver, David Boxley.

“Salish formline is beautiful and felt like a natural extension. Comic books, Star Wars and all this hero stuff are equivalent to modern day myths. Salish art has told stories and myths [for countless generations],” he continued. “My work is a reflection of a lifetime love affair with comic books, toys, TV and film; taking my passions and blending them with my Native perspective.”

After graduating from the Seattle Art Institute, Veregge had a job at an advertising agency for eleven years. Working in advertising allowed him to tap into his creative side, but the Native artist within wasn’t satisfied, he needed something more. He went to art school to hone his skills and have fun, not to have his inner artist constrained by the everyday politics of advertising. 

For him, being an artist wasn’t just to sell art and make money. Being an artist meant loving what you do and constantly searching for new ways to create. It meant viewing a blank piece of paper as a magical canvas to express the imagination of a cluttered mind who loves comics, movies, Sci-Fi, and action figures. So he left the advertising agency and embarked on the artist’s mission: to create something truly unique. 

A search for a new, personal and bold direction in his work resulted in Veregge creating Native Superhero comics. The sleek lines of the Salish design applied to superheroes such as Batman and Spiderman give them a solid, yet defined silhouette against a simple background. The use of negative space and vivid color contrast so well that the illustrated defenders of peace and justice convey a real sense of power and motion.

“Basically, I am just trying to have fun and get back to that kid that went to art school to begin with, wanting to create artwork that I want to see and make just for the hell of it,” described Veregge of his formline remixed, boundary pushing artwork he creates today. “There is a time and place for preserving the old ways, the traditions, but then there is the call for all artists to push the limits, find new ways to say things, and new stories to tell.”

The eye-catching, Salish remixes of Earth’s greatest heroes brought about one opportunity after another to showcase his work in local comic book stores, online publications and the occasional commission. Then a monumental shift came in 2018 when he was asked to host a 15-month solo exhibit at the Smithsonian in New York City, called ‘Of Gods & Heroes: The art of Jeffrey Veregge.’

His growing fan base dubbed him ‘Salish Geek’, while online Veregge went by the moniker ‘NDN Geek’ when contributing writing on behalf of pop and nerd culture. His explosion onto the highest levels of the art scene eventually meant his one-a-kind designs reached the game-changing creatives at Marvel Comics. It was perfect timing, too, as the comic book goliath was in the midst of developing an all-new collection titled Marvel’s Voices.

Marvel’s Voices started and evolved from a popular Marvel podcast into a larger program within our comics,” explained Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief, C.B. Cebulski in a press release. “Our first anthology in this program was released this past February and the reception from fans was incredible. It was clear we needed to do more to lift up more voices and talent and increase representation in and behind our stories. This is the first step of our next expansion of the program to discover new writers and artists who can bring their voices to our characters, both old and new. And this is only the beginning.”

In a cosmic shift for Native representation, Marvel will be celebrating Indigenous history this November with a landmark special, Indigenous Voices #1. Written and drawn by some of the industry’s most renowned Indigenous talent, including none other than the ‘Salish Geek’ himself, Jeffrey Veregge. Now a celebrated artist, he is leading this super powered movement alongside a team of creators to explore the legacy and experiences of Marvel’s incredible cast of Indigenous characters.

In addition to the new Indigenous Voices comic, Veregge illustrated Native American heritage tribute variant covers for other popular comic titles that will feature Dani Moonstar, Black Panther, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and others. All depicted in his signature Salish style.

“I am truly grateful for the platform that Marvel has not only provided for me and my work, but with this edition of Marvel Voices, all of Native America,” Veregge said. “This is an opportunity to share the cultural influences that we as Native artists and writers grew up with that will add more depth and dimension to the Native heroes in the Marvel Universe.”

In a world severely lacking in authentic representation of Indigenous cultures, Veregge has reached the highest pinnacle of his craft while helping bring Salish formline to the comic book mainstream. Globally there are millions of Marvel fans, including a very devout base of comic book enthusiasts. The exposure to November’s Indigenous Voices and the must-have Native Heritage tribute covers offer immeasurable introductions and learning experiences about Salish formline and traditional Native storytelling 

“For thousands of years, Native and non-Native storytellers have used art as a means to share the tales of their people,” reflected Veregge. “For me, I am simply carrying on a tradition that started with my ancestors by using the means of today, and all its modern conveniences, to share the tales that I love. Art evolves, artist tools advance, but the essence of what I do is the same as those who created with the canvases nature provided to tell the stories of gods and heroes long, long ago.”

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to own a piece of Native history with the Salish remixed covers of your favorite superheroes. Contact a local comic shop this month to pre-order the exciting new Marvel comic, Indigenous Voices #1, featuring stories, words, and images created by an all-Native ensemble.

Continuing Native teachings with craft and medicinal kits

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

As the original caretakers of this region, the Tulalip people share a deep connection with Mother Earth. Generation after generation, the youth are taught about the natural world; the knowledge of plants and their medicinal components, as well as their use for sustenance and ceremonial purposes, including but not limited to regalia and blessings. The traditions are usually passed on through families. Today, classes are offered by a number of departments and traditional ceremonies are often open to the public, helping pass down that knowledge on a larger scale and ensuring the sduhubš way of life is preserved and lives well into the future of Tulalip lineage. 

One such program that develops cultural lessons and projects, and thereby provides the Tulalip people with a deeper understanding of the local Native plants and their many uses, is the Rediscovery Program. Originally started by Tribal members Hank Gobin and Inez Bill, Rediscovery was recently, in traditional fashion, handed off to the next generation as Virginia Jones and Taylor Henry take the knowledge learned, working alongside Inez, and prepare to put a new spin on tradition. 

The program has been invested in the annual Tribal Canoe Journey and makes traditional medicinal supplies with the community, not only for the Tulalip Canoe families, but also to gift to the hosting tribes along the way. Throughout the year, the program will hold classes at the Hibulb Cultural Center where tribal members can create handmade products such as lip balm, sunscreen, salves, headache and sinus oil, tea, and also sage and cedar bundles for Journey. With the cancelation of Canoe Journey this year, the Rediscovery had an abundance of product that would expire if not used within the year. 

While determining what to do with the handmade goods, the program was met with yet another challenge – how to provide their services to the tribal membership during a worldwide pandemic.

Explained Virginia, “We had to find a way to provide a cultural connection for our people. And when we were thinking about classes, it didn’t feel like that was reasonable around COVID. We were considering how many different family members and households we could reach if we put together this drive-thru kit idea, and we’ve been able to reach a lot more families than if we were just providing classes.”

Once-a-month, you can catch the Rediscovery team offering medicine, in the form of both laughter and DIY craft kits, at the far end of the Hibulb Cultural Center parking lot. Since the kits are offered to Tulalip tribal members only, Virginia and Taylor advertised the first two events solely on the Tulalip tribal member Facebook page. Those advertisements alone brought hundreds of people by the carload to see what the program has to offer their families. Each tribal member chooses one kit of their liking and receive one bottle of sinus and headache oil. 

“Some of that smudge from Journey are in these kits because we figured that maybe the Tulalip families could use those things even though they were put together with the intention of being for Journey,” Virginia continued. “The sinus and headache oil was another one of the items that people got together to make. With a lot of these plant medicines, it’s better that they get used than waiting until next Journey, so we decided we would provide them to the community.”

On the morning of October 22, Rediscovery set up shop and were busy throughout the day while cars trickled in and out of the Hibulb parking lot. People had three options to choose from; shawl kits complete with thread and needle, rawhide rattle kits or a smudge blend and loose-leaf tea kit. Tribal member Theresa Sheldon expressed that COVID cannot stop the culture when she dropped by to pick up several kits for herself and her nieces to construct while they spend a little family time together. 

“I love this, because we are all at home and this really helps,” said Theresa. “I have nieces who we’ve been doing art projects with, so it’s perfect being able to teach them how to do this stuff, because they’re going to carry this on after us. And it doesn’t stop, the teachings and the time to learn, that doesn’t stop as time goes on.”

Overall, 251 DIY kits were handed out during October’s drive-thru event, as well as 261 medicinal plant kits with items such as four thieves room spray, smudge blends, tea and sinus and headache oil. The next drive-thru kit-giveaway will take place on November 4th, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Rediscovery is currently planning drive-thru events through March 2021, but Virginia warns that could change depending on any new developments of the COVID-19 virus. 

“I would say that they’re all very happy when they come through to pick up their kits,” assessed Virginia. “It’s hard for them to choose because they want a little bit of everything. I’ve seen a couple people respond to us, showing their completed crafts. We hope to offer different kits at each drive-thru for each month. The November drive-thru will probably be necklace kits – it’ll be a carved paddle or a carved canoe head with string and sandpaper, but they’ll have to do their own beads this time. 

“We miss being able to offer the classes and the culture night events in-person. We miss being able to spend time, sharing-in all of those cultural activities, like gathering together and making items. But, we are definitely glad to see the families who come through and take some of these kits home because then at least we know that they can spend that time with their family making those things.”

Pumpkin picking provides reassuring pick-me-up during pandemic

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The coronavirus continues to have its way with planet Earth’s human civilizations. Worldwide there have been 40 million confirmed cases, 1.1 million deaths and, most importantly, over 30 million people have recovered. Seemingly every major news channel in the United States continues to break stories about surging spikes, outbreak hot spots, super spreader events and the dreaded second wave. Yet, life continues to adapt and find new ways to thrive. As is the natural order of all things.

Pumpkin picking is a perfect example. The typically mundane tradition is done in the weeks leading up to a holiday where individuals pretend to be something else by wearing a costume in an effort to receive as many sugar-filled treats as possible. But now? Leaving the house, going outside in a social distancing friendly environment, and picking a plump pumpkin at the local farm is simply party business. More than that, it’s a reassuring pick-me-up during a global pandemic.

On Saturday, October 17, the greater Tulalip community and patients of the reservation’s health clinic were cordially invited to Garden Treasurers organic farm for a host of fun activities, highlighted of course by roaming the make shift pumpkin patch. Over the last few months, Garden Treasures has become a sanctuary for those in desperate need of fresh air and sunshine. There people can take a leisurely stroll through acres of vegetable-fill greenhouses and flower gardens, while reconnecting with nature. 

“We had 150+ community members participate in last weekend’s farm tour and u-pick. In our 11-year history, that marks our largest non-ceremonial event ever!” marveled Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy, manager of Tulalip’s Diabetes Care and Prevention Program. “The enthusiasm of those who come and share their thoughts with us of how they want to use their harvested foods gives our team an opportunity to share our knowledge and cooking skills with them. 

“For me personally, I love to listen to their hearts speak about the plants and their experiences with them,” continued Roni. “I enjoy answering their questions about how the plants grow and how to care for them. Our team is well rounded at the farm, we have people with different skills and levels of understanding who eagerly want to share their gifts with others.”

Farmers markets and local organic farms are making the most of an otherwise dire situation this year. Under the scope of pick-your-own or u-pick, both considered a type of agritourism, business is booming during the growing seasons of Covid-19. As nationwide health concerns and pandemic-induced lockdowns continue to loom, farms, as food producers, are essential businesses and remain a healthy alternative to overly processed, pre-packaged grocery stores.

So many popular entertainment venues are closed, but people remain eager to get out and do stuff. Especially parents seeking family activities. That’s one of the reasons Josh and Danielle Fryberg attended the community farm day with seven kids and two grandparents in tow.  

“It’s a good time for us to be together as a family and benefit from something that one of our Tulalip departments put together for our community to stay healthy,” said Josh. “We’ve participated in a few u-pick days now, and learned something new each time. We’ve been able to learn about what fruits and vegetables grow in which seasons, and realized how much healthier the foods are here than what’s sold in stores. You can literally see the difference, taste the difference, and even smell the difference.”

Eleven-year-old Kyla Fryberg displayed her picking prowess when she ventured off to the carrot field and then to the greenhouse where strawberries grow. She wanted to make sure she got the perfect snack foods for her two pet rabbits, and some carrots for herself.

“It was really nice,” chuckled Kyla about her time roaming the farm. “There are pretty flowers and lots of carrots to pick. I like fruits and vegetables, mostly carrots and apples because they are my favorite. I think it’s important for kids eat vegetables so we can grow to be big and strong.”

For Tulalip citizens desiring to eat healthier and want to add a variety of vitamins and nutrients to their everyday meals that will naturally boost the immune system, fruits and vegetables are the answer. Nearly everyone left the farm with not only their own pumpkin, but a fresh bounty of organic food to add to their favorite meals. Those who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases and have more energy to tackle every day stresses.

Sisters Marilyn and Denise Sheldon made the most of their afternoon farm visit. Their goal was to handpick a variety of beautiful flowers, ranging in colors and size, to make unique bouquets. Along the way they thoroughly enjoyed a brisk fall excursion while experiencing the joy shared by Tulalip youth able to spread their wings and run around.

“There were all kinds of organic fruits and vegetables,” said Marilyn Sheldon. “What I liked most was seeing our people out here enjoying all of it. There were little ones running around being happy they were outside and able to pick something cool. There were adults and elders walking around with beautiful bouquets of flowers they created themselves.”

“You can pick whatever you want!” added Denise. “I enjoy soaking up all the pleasant aromas from flowers to vegetables to herbs. Some of the herbs I hadn’t seen in their farm grown form before and had to smell them in order to figure out what was what. I’m thankful to receive a large pumpkin because I’ve been excited to bake pumpkin seeds and try out a new recipe to make pumpkin bars.” 

Several children took full advantage of the on-site pumpkin carving demonstrations. Young Dalyn Jones spent his morning at the farm with his great-grandpa Dale. He put his carving skills to the test when he attempted a difficult owl design. After his first attempt didn’t exactly go as planned, the owl had an unfortunate accident that couldn’t be fixed, he skillfully carved an exquisite squiggly face design. 

“Who doesn’t like to carve pumpkins? Not me,” shared 10-year-old Dalyn while showing off his jack-o-lantern. “I think it’s so much fun. I call mine Squiggles. I’m excited to bring it home and put a candle inside. It’ll go outside my house until Halloween. I can’t wait for Halloween because I’m dressing up as a vending machine.”

It was a day filled with laughter, excitement, and pleasant stories shared by some who hadn’t seen each other in months. One person after another roamed the pumpkin patch, but none did so quite like the younger kids who beamed with a sense of independence and pride as they picked the perfect pumpkin to claim as their own. 

The community thrived in the open-air space Garden Treasures offers. From youth to adult to elders, there was something for everyone and activities to experience together. Roni and her Diabetes Prevention team are so thrilled with Tulalip’s response to the farm days that they are already planning to expand future activities to include crafting, educational opportunities with native plants and berries, and more hands-on workshops.

“It’s like watching a connection occur right before your eyes. It’s like watching people you care for enjoy life’s gifts,” reflected Roni on the countless memories made from first time farm visitors and veteran food harvesters alike. “For example, watching kids experience the ocean waves for the first time, or catching their first fish. It is something that completely fills your heart. This is what our whole team experiences and why we have this driving force of motivation to share with others the opportunity to experience the farm with all our people.

“Peer-to-Peer motivational education seems to have the biggest impact on our lives,” she added. “The farm, the clinic gardens, and our field trips give our multi-disciplinary team the opportunity to bring people and nature together. Our days always end with our hearts filled with good memories and hopeful anticipation to create more. This is why we do this work; we believe that creating positive memories and connective experiences with our food sources truly helps in the development of a healthy and vibrant community.”

Tulalip police welcome four new lateral officers

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

As the Tulalip Police Department continues to grow, they welcome aboard four new lateral officers to the tribal police force, bringing the total amount of TPD officers to nearly forty strong. Although some of the lateral officers have been a part of the crew from as early as May of this year, they were officially sworn-in to their positions on October 7, joining in celebration with the latest cohorts of cadets-turned-officers who just returned from three-months of intensive training at the U.S. Indian Police Academy in New Mexico. 

After vowing to protect the land and people of Tulalip and uphold the law, rights and constitution set forth by the Tribe, the lateral officers; Michel Carrington, Justin Lee, Austin Correa, and Theodore Ojeda, took a moment with Tulalip News to formally introduce themselves. They inform the community  about their past experiences in law enforcement as well as their new journey, which takes place on the sduhubš’ territory, known in modern times as the Tulalip Reservation. 

Officer Carrington.

Michel Carrington (Transferred from Sauk-Suiattle Fish and Wildlife)

Tulalip News: Welcome to Tulalip! How does it feel now that you are a sworn-in member of the Tulalip Police Department?

It’s awesome. Growing up, I’m from the Sauk-Suiattle, I always shopped here and was always amazed at what the Tulalip Tribes has done for their reservation and governance. I didn’t have too many role models growing, but all the police officers of my community would stop and say hi and I looked up to them. They are who inspired me to become a police officer, I remember saying ‘I want to be just like them.’ The reason why I wanted to come to Tulalip is because there’s lots of opportunity and you can see that the Tribe is going to keep growing.

Why do you believe it’s important to keep that role model aspect of the job going for kids and people who want to become police officers?

The positive influence and impact it could have on the youth. For me growing up, it was the little things, when they would come around and ask how’s your day’s going. When they’d give me a sticker here and there, things like that, because not a lot of kids have that positive role model when they’re growing up, especially in Indian Country.

How long was the process since you made the decision to go for it?

It was quite a while. I first wanted to be a fish and wildlife officer. Obviously, as a tribal member, hunting and fishing inspired me to become a fish and wildlife officer. Our fish and wildlife at Sauk-Suiattle was at the natural resources department. I applied as a technician and it got transferred back to the police department. And that’s when I got my opportunity, because there wasn’t a lot of officers, they were wanting tribal members to apply, so I took my chance and that’s where I started.

Can you speak about the importance of serving a tribal community as a Native police officer?

People, especially kids, like to see their color, their same person, and will feel more open to talk to you. It’s the same with adults too. They may respect you more or feel more open to talk to you because they’re talking about deep personal stuff that not many can relate to or understand. 

I bet having that understanding of tribal lifeways is definitely helpful out there. Now that you’re a part of the squad, what are your future goals?

I plan on staying right here. There isn’t a lot of call volume at home (Sauk-Suiattle), it’s low crime. There’s about 400 tribal members there, so it’s real small. My goal was to come to a bigger department and bigger reservation and learn what they have to offer. My plan is to stay as long as I can. And my advice to anybody interested in following this career is train, learn the codes in your community, and get to know the local police officers because knowing people is a real big thing too. If you know somebody they’ll help you and guide you to where you need to be.

Officer Lee.

Justin Lee (Transferred from Edmonds Police Department)

How does it feel joining the Tulalip force?

It feels great! This is my third agency. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this department. I’ve known Sgt. Bardsley for like 20 years, Chief Sutter – amazing guy, and of course Paul Arroyos, I’ve taken his undercover classes before. The more I get to know about this place – it’s a great department. 

What brought you to Tulalip?

To have this caliber of communication, training and caring. Police work is one thing, but being here you get to understand the culture and the community in interactions on any given day and that speaks volumes, because that translates to a better community and more support and better unity as a group.

In this day and age, communication has broken down and because of bad communication, there’s misunderstanding and because of misunderstanding there is distrust and because of distrust there’s the social issues we face. If we can change all that from the beginning, and work together, I think we’re advancing as a group, community, and society. Everybody wins, except if you’re a criminal, obviously.

What inspired you to become an officer of the law?

To protect and serve. I’m a minority. My family has been victims of crimes, I’m a second-generation immigrant, so I’ve seen that. I’ve been burglarized before and I also faced the racial tension – I’ve seen that – and I experienced it as a police officer, both externally and internally. Having said that, I’ve always wanted to help people. That’s the whole reason I became a police officer, to help Korean Americans initially. There’re not many fluent Korean speaking officers in the state of Washington and I wanted to be a part of that. I’ve utilized my language skills in many ways, in many agencies throughout the years.

That was my catalyst, or beginning. Then when I got the experience, I fell in love with what we do. It’s a mentality, a culture. When you bleed, you bleed blue. When you have that support, you build comradeship. I had five co-workers who are LL currently serving in other agencies who came to support me during the swearing-in celebration. 

What are your overall thoughts of the department so far?

This is a great place; do we have room to improve? Absolutely. Are we on par with other agencies? Not really, but that’s not everything. I think we have a great foundation, we’re a young department, less than 20 years old. I think we have great leadership, I think those leaders understand the vision of the tribe and of the people. Having said that, is there room to improve, hearing that other departments receive better benefits, absolutely. Hopefully this will bring forth improvements too. We could have officers stay here, instead of providing them some of the best trainings and then when watching them leave because other departments have better benefits. Right now, there are a scarcity of good officers. We lose them left and right; they leave within a year or two here. I’m hoping that will change as we improve, whether it be benefits, pay, better overall package. I know we have the foundation, now it’s time to build something solid so people can say that the Tulalip agency is where I want to work. Not because they are great officers but because of everything else that’s offered here. 

Officer Correa.

Austin Correa (Transferred from Tacoma Police Department)

What brought you to the Tulalip reservation?

Originally, I was born and raised in California. San Jose specifically. I moved to Tacoma, Washington about ten years ago and ever since then I lived in that vicinity. I began my law enforcement with Tacoma Police Department in 2018. I wanted a new change, the things down there weren’t that great to me. I decided to venture out around the whole state, Tulalip was fortunately one of the departments I applied to and they were the first department to offer me a position as a lateral officer, so I’m gracious to them and they were gracious to me, and I signed the final offer right there and then.

When did you start and what are your thoughts about the community?

I like the community, so far. I’ve been here since June and everyone has treated me with respect in the department as well as the community itself. 

Right now, I’m in the position as a transport officer, so I do more social stuff like transporting those who have been arrested and bring them to court. I get to know them on a personal basis, it’s kind of interesting where I’m at. I like it in this position, I plan on going back to patrol within a year or so. But where I’m at right now is where I’m comfortable both business-wise and personal-wise because I have a wife and a one-year-old son at home, so the schedule itself is amazing and is beneficial to my family.

What made you want to become a police officer?

Funny thing is I actually wanted to be a firefighter growing up. What influenced me was my grandfather and my uncle, they were prior law enforcement on the big island of Hawaii. I didn’t see much of the career then because they both retired before I was born, but just the stories they told, the stuff they did on a day-to-day basis was something that pushed me to venture out to a career like this. My brother is also a police officer with the Tacoma Police Department and has been with them since 2015. With him recently becoming an officer and telling me the ways he was helping his community, that was something I wanted to do, to help change the life of someone in any way possible. That’s what led me down the path of law enforcement. 

You mentioned you were Hawaiian, why do you believe it’s important for minorities to serve on the force, especially in a tribal community?

I feel like it provides a safe net for the community. We want the best for everybody because we know, Hawaiian, tribal, it’s a tight knit family; we care for one another, we help one another. That’s another reason that drew me to this department, the family aspect. I grew up with that all my life, being Hawaiian, family is key. We use the word ohana, that’s a key aspect of why I wanted to come here. Seeing a minority being an officer could help influence positivity to our younger generations to this career and actually reach out to us and feel safe and know we’ll do the job and help them in any way possible.

Since the incidents earlier this year, law enforcement has not been a great career to pursue, it’s like people judge us based off the career. I want everyone to see that, yeah this is a career we chose, but we’re all human inside and we want to do good, we know we can do good by you. I encourage more training, but in order for that training to happen we need money to be put in the departments. I feel like the defund the police that’s going around, those monies should be put towards us getting more training, not taken away because I want everyone to feel safe to call law enforcement.

Officer Ojeda.

Theodore Ojeda (Transferred from Harris County Sherriff’s Department, Houston, Texas)

Let’s begin with your background, how did you make your journey to Tulalip?

I was a deputy sheriff in Houston, Texas. My children live here in Washington State.   At the time when the four officers were shot in Lakewood, Washington (2009), I was trying to become a police officer. I tested, but no one was hiring. I talked to my uncle Jesse, who’s in Houston, and he knew the sheriff. He said that they were actively hiring. I applied, they flew me down, and I signed on with them, thinking I was going just do the to the minimum two-year commitment and lateral back up here. 

Well, something happened in my family dynamics that caused me to stay down there for eight years.  I was flying back and forth every three to four months to see my children and spend time with them. One day, my daughter was cheerleading at the new football field in the Mission Beach area. There was an officer there and he said they were hiring.  When I got back to Houston, I applied. I came up here on my own dime and I tested, went through the interview process and everything. I also applied to a few other agencies. I made a promise to myself that whatever agency saw my potential and made me an offer, that I would sign.  Of all the other agencies that I tested for, because I was number one for Lacey, number two for Olympia, and Vancouver had me on their list too, Tulalip was the first to offer me a spot. I came here and I had the pleasure of meeting Angela and Chief, they sat me in the office and they interviewed me. Right afterwards, they made me an offer. It’s funny, no sooner than I signed that offer, the other agencies reached out to me too, and I told them I appreciated it and that it meant a lot that they finally saw what I was worth, but I told him that I already signed with Tulalip, and so here I am. 

What do you think of the community and the reservation so far?

I’ve been here since May and I love that the people have a lot of respect for each other, and the elders. I come from an agency that’s 5,000 officers strong and we have a little bit of community policing out there and that’s something that I’m trying to promote out here as well, getting involved with the community. Right now, I’m almost done with my shadow phase, my training. I know the Chief is excited for me to go out there and try to develop something. I was told that maybe I could head-up a bicycle patrol. When I was in Harris County Sheriff’s Office, myself and a few other officers were involved with the homeless outreach team. We dealt a lot with the homeless and went to some nonprofit organizations and they were able to donate toothbrushes and toothpaste and that progressed to getting some attorneys and medical for those that needed help. I don’t know if Tulalip has anything here yet because I’m going through the training but once I’m done, I would like to see if there’s anything that we could possibly do to help the with the homeless out here.

What experience do you bring to Tulalip?

I bring a lot to Tulalip. There’s a lot of things that they don’t have here that I’ve experienced. I’m a rescue diver, bicycle patrolman – part of this special response group when we hired to riot control and stuff like that, and the Honor Guard as well. We did the special funerals for our fallen officers, and for family members. I’m happy I’m here. I think the Chief sees something in me, and I’m grateful for that.

When did you know that you wanted to become a police officer?

I went into the Marine Corps in January of 1989. I did 14 years in the Marine Corps, and I met my wife, now my ex-wife, in Hawaii. I was stationed in Hawaii. When I came here, I fell in love with Washington State and told myself this is where I was going to make my home. But then when our family fell apart – I was from Texas, so I was planning this start over down there. But my kids are growing up and I wanted to be there for them. So, I applied up here. But what really got me into it, like I said, was the fallen four in Lakewood. That’s actually what made me want to try to make a difference. 

What are some of the things you wish to accomplish in your new position on the force?

Try to develop some type of game plan where we can get some of the tribal members that are homeless or are addicted to opioids, some type of help. Try to reintroduce them into life and make them part of the community again. That way, when we see them on the street, they’re no longer looked at like an outcast. I think a lot of these people, from my experiences, just need somebody to talk to. If I could try to help at least one person, it’s worth it to me to take that step.

Eventually, I would like to be a field training officer as well. I admire Chief Sutter, he’s a good mentor. I asked him if there was a mentor program here, and I think that’s something that we need. The way we do policing today is a lot different from what they used to do a long time ago. Today is more about talking to the citizens and finding out what we can do as officers to make the community better. 

For a tribal community, do you find that the people are more willing to open up and talk to you as a minority-in-blue?

I always had that desire to help people, that gift to talk to people. It doesn’t matter what color you are, what religion you are, what gender you are – if you’re gay or lesbian, or transgender. If somebody is in need of my help, I’m there. I see people for people. I believe in honor, respect, loyalty. 

Any message or words you would like to share with the Tulalip community?

I tell the Chief all the time that I thank him for seeing my potential. And I’m just a small little seed right now. I hope that as time goes on, as I get to know more about the traditions of the people here and what’s really expected from the community, I can partake and try to help. Like I said, even helping one person makes things satisfying for me. 

The new TPD officers are excited to get acquainted with the  Tulalip community. They have also expressed a strong desire to learn more about the traditions, culture and history of the people, so when you see them, be sure to say hello. And if you are interested in pursuing a career with the Tulalip Police Department, please reach out to Angela Davis, TPD Professional Standards Manager, to begin your new career journey. For further details, visit www.TulalipTribalPolice.org or call the non-emergency line at (360) 716-4608. 

2020 Tulalip General Election Voters Guide

Referendum 90-Yes. Comprehensive age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health education plays an important role in teaching children about what kind of touching is appropriate and which is not. Education of teens about sexual health is critical to preventing unwanted pregnancy and STD/STI’s. This referendum affirms a bill passed by the Washington State Legislature in the beginning of 2020 while leaving an “opt out” option for all students. 

Advisory Vote on 32- Maintain. This advisory vote upholds a bill passed earlier this year by the Washington State Legislature that prohibits businesses from using single-use plastic bags and requires an 8-cent pass through charge for each paper bag that it distributes to its customers.

Advisory Vote on 33- Maintain. This Advisory vote upholds a revenue-generating bill passed earlier this year the Washington State Legislature that imposes a tax on the rental of heavy equipment within the State equal to one and one-quarter percent of the rental price on each rental. The tax revenue generated will go into two state accounts that fund transportation projects in the State.

Advisory Vote on 34- Maintain. This Advisory vote upholds a revenue-generating bill passed earlier this year the Washington State Legislature that increases a business and occupation tax on certain businesses with the revenue generated by the increased tax will go into the workforce education investment account and the Washington state general fund.

Advisory Vote on 35- Maintain. This Advisory vote upholds a bill passed earlier this year the Washington State Legislature that changes taxes on certain businesses. This change should bring the state and the nation into compliance, and reduces the threat of retaliatory tariffs against Washington industries such as fish, wine, and intellectual property.

President/ Vice President of the United States

Joseph R. Biden and Kamala D. Harris. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are committed to upholding the U.S.’s trust responsibility to tribal nations, strengthening the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the United States and Indian tribes, and working to empower tribal nations to govern their own communities and make their own decisions. The current administration has attacked environmental protections, refused to condemn white supremacists and their mishandling of the pandemic has led to the death of over 215,000 Americans. America and tribal nations cannot afford four more years of Donald Trump. 

US Representative Congressional District 2

Rick Larson. Congressman Larson has been a strong advocate for jobs, transportation, and infrastructure projects in the second District. Before serving in Congress, he served on the Snohomish County Council and worked on economic development for the City of Everett.

Governor of Washington State

Jay Inslee. Under Inslee’s leadership, Washington recovered from the last great recession to become the country’s #1 rated economy, and our state is poised to rebound more quickly thanks to the Governor’s progressive policies. Inslee’s’ continued work with tribes has helped support tribal sovereignty since the beginning of his time as Governor. His response to the pandemic has saved the lives of Washingtonians. 

Lt. Governor of Washington State

Denny Heck. Former Congressmen Denny Heck has represented Washington State at every level of government throughout his time he has been a staunch advocate for tribes in all those places. Denny was chief of staff for Governor Booth Gardner when they signed the Centennial Accord with Washington Tribes outlining the process by which tribes and Washington State will consult on a government-to-government level. 

Secretary of State

Gael Tarleton. Representative Tarleton has 30 years of experience as a defense intelligence and national security analyst. She will bring that knowledge to bear to protect our free and fair elections in the state of Washington Tarleton was also the prime sponsor of the House bill that resolved Tulalip’s tax case against the State of Washington.

State Treasurer

Mike Pellicciotti. Representative Pellicciotti formerly worked as an economic crimes’ prosecutor and Assistant Attorney General. Mike has never accepted corporate campaign donations and has been a strong advocate for financial transparency. He will bring a pragmatic approach to the office of State Treasurer. 

State Auditor

Pat (Patrice) McCarthy. Pat is the current Washington State Auditor, and has been so since 2017 when she was the first women elected to the position. She previously served as the Pierce County Executive and Pierce County Auditor. She has been a lifelong Democrat. 

Attorney General 

Bob Ferguson. Ferguson has served as Attorney General for the last 8 years where he has taken on large corporations like Comcast for defrauding its customers and won. He has taken on corporations and the Trump Administration, who have damaged our state’s natural resources. 

Commissioner of Public Lands

Hillary Franz. As Commissioner, Hillary has worked hard to protect Washington’s natural resources and public lands just as she did when she was an environmental attorney. Commissioner Franz has built a strong relationship with tribes around the state for her commitment to consultation on issues that affect tribal treaty rights. 

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Chris Reykdal. Under Superintendent Reykdal graduation rates have risen steadily and Washington is on track to reach its 2027 targets. His challenger wants to send children back to school during this pandemic with no plan for how to deal with it. She also has no experience as an educator. 

Insurance Commissioner 

Mike Kreidler. Kreidler has served as Insurance Commissioner since 2001. He is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and Doctor of Optometry. 

State Senator

June Robinson. Senator Robinson was appointed to former Senator John McCoy’s (Tulalip) senate seat after his retirement. Prior to that, she served as the Position 1 State Rep. for the 38th district since 2013. Her expertise on Operating and Capital Budget matters has helped bring opportunity to our district.

State Representative Position 1

Emily Wicks. Representative Wicks was appointed to Position 1 when Senator Robinson replaced a retiring Senator McCoy (Tulalip). Wicks is the President of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington and was formerly the legislative aid for outgoing Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib. She is the best choice for this race. 

State Representative Position 2

Mike Sells

Mike was elected in 2005 and has been a strong progressive leader representing the 38th Legislative District in Olympia for 15 years. He is the Chair of the Labor and workforce development committee and has been a strong advocate for labor and education issues. 

Washington State Supreme Court Justice Position 3

Raquel Montoya-Lewis. Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis is the first Native American woman in the Washington to be appointed to the Supreme Court. She is a strong advocate for children, families and justice. She is formally endorsed by the Tulalip Tribes and is the best candidate for the position. 

Washington State Supreme Court Justice Position 4

Charles W. Johnson. Justice Johnson is running unopposed but his commitment to equity and justice has shown through in his nearly 30 years on the State Supreme Court. He co-chaired the Washington State Minority Justice Commission for 24 years. 

Washington State Supreme Court Justice Position 6

Helen G. Whitener. Justice Whitener was appointed in April and is running to retain her seat. She is the first black woman to sit on the Supreme Court for Washington. Rated as “exceptionally well-qualified” by a number of bar associations and having an endorsement from every current Supreme Court justice, she is clearly the best option for this position.

Washington State Supreme Court Justice Position 7

Debra L. Stephens. Stephens is the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and has served the court and the state of Washington since her appointment in 2008. She has been rated “exceptionally well-qualified” and has earned your support. 

Court of Appeals Division 1, District 2, Judge Position 2

Linda Coburn. Coburn has served as City of Edmonds Municipal Judge since 2015 and is seeking election to the open Court of Appeals position. She emigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan at the age of four and earned her law degree from Seattle University. She has had a long and successful career and in law and is endorsed by many current and former justices. 

Snohomish Superior Court, Judge Position 8

Cassandra Lopez Shaw. Lopez-Shaw has experience as an Attorney in civil, criminal and family law. In 2019, she was awarded the Domestic Violence Advocacy Award by the Washington Women Lawyers for her work to support victims. She is rated “exceptionally well qualified and “well qualified” by a number of bar associations. Both candidates are well-qualified, but we believe Cassandra is the best selection for this position. 

PUD Commissioner

Sidney (Sid) Logan. Commissioner Logan is the incumbent in this race, he has advocated for programs that help customers reduce their carbon emissions. He is the best choice for this position. 

Meet the New Tulalip Police Officers

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

After returning from three months of intensive training at the U.S. Indian Police Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, four cadets were officially sworn-in as Tulalip police officers on the afternoon of October 7, taking the oath to support and defend the Tulalip Tribes constitution. 

The new TPD officers were surrounded by their friends, family and fellow officers while they were welcomed by tribal singers and Tulalip tribal leadership who spoke of commitment, bravery and compassion while congratulating them on their new journey.

The celebration, of course, was taken with the appropriate safety measures, ensuring everybody in attendance was practicing social distancing and wearing a mask. Angela Davis, TPD Professional Standards Manager and tribal member, organized the event and stated that normally the night would end with a feast, but with the recent uptick in coronavirus cases at Tulalip, the police department opted to forgo the meal. However, Angela explained that enjoying cake together is a longstanding nationwide tradition after newly appointed officers take the oath, so she ordered cake and had to-go boxes ready so the officers could bring their cake home and take part in the tradition safely. 

Four lateral officers who transferred from different police departments were also sworn-in on the 7th. Officer Jason Lee, who has taken the oath for a number of Washington State police departments, said the ceremony was, “amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it before. When I was previously sworn-in at other departments, it was always a quick process where we took the oath and signed the paper. But here, we actually had a ceremony in both the judicial way and the Tulalip way, council members spoke and they are very passionate about the city, the reservation and law enforcement. I thought that was pretty moving.”

Angela Davis stated, “My prior military service allowed me to be a part of ceremonies like this. We wanted to make sure that we had the ceremony that we’re used to having at these academies that are off-the-reservation, but also incorporate our culture. We made sure that we had a prayer song or protection song. I thought it was important to have the ceremony available for our new recruits, and our new officers, and even welcoming our new lateral officers, to bring everyone together.”

Now officially members of the Tulalip police force, officers Cheyanne Bear, Jordan Jira, Jonathan Blumm and Brandon Bennett, recently sat down with Tulalip News, in-between defensive tactic training (DT), to reflect on the past several months while on the path to becoming a tribal law official during the COVID-19 era.

Cheyanne Bear (Assiniboine Sioux/Tulalip Mother)

Tulalip News: How does it feel, now that you’ve completed training at the academy and have taken the oath to protect and serve?

It doesn’t seem real yet. I started here January 6th. We were supposed to leave for the academy around April or May and because of COVID, it kept getting canceled and postponed. Finally we got to go in July and we spent three months there. The best feeling that I’ve had so far is seeing how proud my family is, especially my daughter. She’s Tulalip and I just want to give back because the Tribe has been amazing to us. And like everyone else, I want to make a difference and make it safer. Myself, the other officers, we all have good hearts and I want to show being a female Native American, that I can help make that little bit of a difference.

What inspired you to become a police officer?

I was going to school for criminal justice and I had a couple instructors whose stories were amazing, and I knew immediately I wanted to do something like that. Personally, I had some bad experiences with police growing up, they weren’t the best. You see what’s going on in the world, on the news, I don’t want it to stay like that. I want my daughter to see that police officers aren’t bad. How many female police officers are there? Like 4%. And being a Native American, a minority, there’s like, none. At the academy, I was the last female that graduated in our squad. Over 90-something-percent were males. I want to show my daughter and other young women that you can do anything you put your mind to. 

What did you learn at the police academy?

We learned Indian laws. We are a sovereign nation, so we learned Tulalip policies, federal polices and Washington state polices. We did stress-test scenarios where they hired actors to come in and they were screaming in our face; there were big guys, small girls, and people you didn’t expect, like in real life. We did mock night calls and pulled people over. There’s a lot of steps to approaching a vehicle, before you get out of the vehicle there are like 12 steps you need to take. We had the gun range; shotguns, A-Ks, handguns – and this was all in the New Mexico heat. We had about 45 physical exams and you had to pass them or you would get sent home.

Why do you believe it is important to have Native American representation on the tribal police force?

I understand where the people are coming from, being Native American as well, I understand the culture. Being out here, there’s a lot of people that are related, so you just have to have an open-mind for that. I feel like that alone could help teach other officers who aren’t Native American tremendously. Like at academy, the cadets who weren’t Native American, we had to get them to understand that there are going to be family members showing up on scene, at the police station. Compared to the outside world, it’s different here. 

We are literally a family working out here. Imagine working in Marysville or Everett, when they first get to work they are 20 calls behind. It’s not like that out here, you get to stop, take a moment and talk to people. One time we were handing out food to the elders, that was an amazing experience you’re not going to get that anywhere else.

Now that you are officially sworn-in and a TPD Officer, what’s next?

I don’t plan on ever leaving Tulalip. I don’t plan on working anywhere else. I’ve grown so much being out here, getting to know people. My daughter knows more Lushootseed than I do, so I want to have her to continue to come here and grow as well. 

Honestly, I want to be a detective. That would be my dream. 

Any words of advice for those interested in joining the Tulalip police force?

If you have the heart, you can do it. You can push yourself to do it and you have all the support of the Tulalip community.

Jordan Jira (Tulalip)

You are officially a Tulalip police officer; how does it feel?

It’s definitely a good feeling. I feel like being a police officer is more of a calling, it’s a career. Tulalip is where I wanted to work because it’s where I grew up, it’s where my friends and family are. I want to raise my family on the reservation. It’s definitely an honorable position to have and I look forward to making the community safer and doing anything I can to put my part in.

What inspired you to follow this career path?

My grandpa was Stan Jones, Scho-Hallem; he made a big impact. If I could do a partial bit of what he did, that would be an amazing accomplishment. He always wanted what’s best for Tulalip and I feel like I have similar beliefs.

Also, my dad (Sgt. Jeff Jira) has been here at the department for 20 years. Every night he’d be going out in his uniform and I just thought that was the coolest thing. Growing up with a father who is in law enforcement makes you respect officers more, what they go through. Another thing is I’ve always wanted was to help make Tulalip safer. Tulalip is the community I love. 

What was your experience like at the Indian Police Academy?

It was definitely a good experience. We had it a little bit harder, we were kind of the trial run. It’s a 13-week program. Usually on the weekends you get liberty, meaning you get to go out, go on hikes, get try all the food in New Mexico. It was pretty hard for us because we didn’t get to leave at all, we were stuck on base because of COVID. Five days a week you’re working hard and that goes by quick, and then there’s those two days where you’re just sitting in your room wanting to be at home.

Why is it important to have tribal members serve on the Tulalip police force?

I feel like being a tribal member, especially growing up on the reservation, knowing people is an advantage. It’s not a strange face coming up to you with a badge, it’s someone you know, someone you’ve seen on the reservation. It feels good being a tribal member and working for the police department. Our sovereignty is such a big thing and it’s a big thing to have our own police department. 

What’s next for you and do you have any words of advice to share for aspiring police officers?

One thing I always wanted to be when I was younger is a K-9 officer. You have to start out on patrol for the first couple years, but I always thought it would be really interesting to be a K-9 officer. And not going to lie, it’s a hard job. Especially nowadays, you have to have love for the job, love for the people and the community. If you feel like it’s a career and not just a job, go for it.

Jonathon Blumm (Enrolled Alaskan Native)

You were sworn-in on Wednesday, congrats! How does it feel to reach this milestone?

It feels very good, I am pretty proud of myself and all of the other officers. It’s a lot of work, the three months in Artresia were rough, but awesome. I started here in February in pre-academy. At the beginning we were going over laws and lots of DT, shooting, getting ready for the academy. Going to Artesia was an eye-opener but also, looking back, you make a lot of good memories and good friends.

Why did you want to become a police officer?

I always wanted to be a cop, I just never thought I would actually do it. Before this, I was a fleet mechanic for the Tulalip Resort for 12 years. I’ve always seen the position posted online, and one day my fiancé and I decided to just apply and go for it. 

I’m Fish and Wildlife – still a police officer but basically patrol the woods and water. I commercial fished on the state side for 5 years, I built two boats and fished under a permit so I was already familiar with boating and commercial fishing. That’s the real reason I went for Fish and Wildlife because I get to be on the water.

Why do you believe it is important to have Native American officers on the tribal police force?

If you’re in uniform they can come up to you, and feel more comfortable doing so because they know you. I know a lot of people out here from working here for so long, and they know you, so you get that support from them.

What’s next in your career path with the Tulalip Police Department and do you have any words of encouragement for those who wish to become a member of the tribal force?

My goal is just to stay here and work my way up if I can and just grow. And even if you don’t think you can, try.

Brandon Bennett (Tulalip community member/parent)

You were recently sworn-in as a member of the TPD police force, let’s talk about your journey up until this point. 

I applied back in 2019, did a written interview with the chief and commanders and then did a polygraph, psych evaluation and medical exam. I got hired-on and started working as a cadet. We did a lot of pre-academy work until July 5th, when we left for the academy in New Mexico.  We got back a week ago today and it feels so good to be back with the family, my kids and my wife. My wife is other native, my son is other native and my daughter is Tulalip. It felt amazing to be sworn-in, it was a long process. The academy was not easy. I’m talking 10, 12, 16-hour days, so getting sworn-in is a huge accomplishment.

What inspired you to become a police officer?

To show the community that I care. I want to help protect and grow the community and try to keep all the drugs off the reservation. 

Why is it important to have members of the community on the tribal police force?

It’s important that kids don’t see police officers as bad people, so they don’t get afraid or think we’re there just to arrest somebody. Sometimes, that is our job, but most of the time we’re there to help the community out with whatever is needed at the time.

What’s next in your career as an official TPD officer?

Field training. Once I pass that, hopefully I get my own vehicle. I’m excited to get out there and start patrolling, I want to connect with more people, talk to more citizens, play basketball with the kids if they’re playing. Just to show that we are all the same, just because I wear a badge doesn’t mean I’m anything more.

The new Tulalip Police Officers will be out and about the rez while training with their senior officers, be sure to give them a warm welcome! And for more information about becoming a Tulalip Police Officer, please contact the department at (360) 716-4608 or visit their new website at www.TulalipTribalPolice.org

Chris Sutter, Tulalip Chief of Police, expressed, “It’s a real positive step in the right direction for the Tulalip Tribal Police to bring on and hire new officers to help grow the department. We’re all about community and service to our community, being guardians and protectors. We’re making significant investments in time and training to help our officers be successful in their new role here in Tulalip. I’m really pleased to see this happening.”