Get your huckleberry harvest on before time runs out

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

For thousands of years, huckleberry has served as an important food, medicine, and trade good to the Coast Salish peoples. Mountain huckleberry is most abundant in the middle to upper mountain elevations, and favors open conditions following disturbances like fire or logging. Prior to European colonization, Native peoples managed ideal harvesting locations by using fire and other traditional means to maintain huckleberry growth for sustainable picking.

In 2011, the Tulalip Tribes began working cooperatively with the U.S. Forest Service to sustain huckleberries at a 1,280-acre parcel of land, 4,700 feet above elevation in the upper Skykomish River watershed. This particular location is one of several co-stewardship areas throughout the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest where Tulalip collaborates with the Forest Service to preserve and maintain important cultural resources. 

“It is not only important that we continue the struggle to uphold our treaty rights, but we need to be involved in taking care of those resources our culture depends on so they will be available to future generations.”

– Wisdom from elder Inez Bill

Named swədaʔx̌ali, Lushootseed for ‘Place of Mountain Huckleberries’, this end of summer destination gives Tulalip tribal members an opportunity to walk in the steps of their ancestors and harvest the highly prized mountain huckleberry. The gate to swədaʔx̌ali was officially opened on August 23 and will remain opened, tentatively, through the end of September. 

Northwest mountain huckleberries generally ripen in the late summer and can be picked into the early fall. Huckleberry, well-known for boosting the immune system and being rich in antioxidants, has always had a strong relationship to the area’s Indigenous cultures. Coast Salish tribes consider the huckleberry to be an important dietary staple because of its medicinal properties and sweet, delicious taste. 

“Huckleberry is a food and medicine to our people,” explained Tulalip elder Inez Bill. “Our ancestors visited certain areas for gathering these berries. They knew where the berries were growing, what companion plants were growing there too, and how to use them. 

“Through the teachings of how we value, take care of and utilize our environment, we pass down our history and traditions, and what is important to the cultural lifeways of our people,” she continued. “This connection to the land enables us to know who we are as a people. It is a remembrance. Today, it is not only important that we continue the struggle to uphold our treaty rights, but we need to be involved in taking care of those resources our culture depends on so they will be available to future generations.” 

Wild mountain huckleberries only grow in soils at elevations between 2,000 to 11,000 feet.

swədaʔx̌ali is a prime example of how Tulalip is diligently working to reclaim traditional areas. Stemming directly from the Point Elliot Treaty, which secured claims to gather roots and berries in all open and unclaimed land, the ‘Place of the Mountain Huckleberries” is clear expression of Tulalip’s sovereignty.

Embracing that sovereignty is every tribal member who journeys to this ancestral harvesting area and practices their cultural traditions that continue to be passed on from one generation to the next. The mountain huckleberry is intimately tied with traditional Tulalip lifeways and culture. 

Historically providing an end of summer harvest opportunity, the journey to swədaʔx̌ali strengthens a deep connection to the land.  Nearly 5,000 feet up, in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, berry pickers are completely immersed in the grand splendor that is the Pacific Northwest. Epic views of luscious, green-filled forestry, towering mountains, and clear waterways can be mesmerizing.

swədaʔx̌ali is a sustained effort between Tulalip Tribes and U.S. Forest Service partnership.

“It was a beautiful, uplifting experience. Once we hit the forest, where there were no buildings, no cars, no people, just trees…my spirit soared,” said Lushootseed teacher Maria Rios after staining her hands purple from a day of Huckleberry picking. “I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to speak my language, but that is only a piece of my culture. Berry picking feels natural, like I’ve always done it. The smells are intoxicating. The sounds are beautiful, from the buzzing bugs and chirping birds to the gentle breeze rustling the huckleberry leaves. These are the meaningful experiences that we all need to share in.”

 Mountain huckleberry season is short, lasting only a few weeks between August and September. The sought after super food and medicine ranges in color from red to deep blue to maroon. They are similar to a blueberry in appearance and much sweeter than a cranberry, with many people rating huckleberries as the tastiest of the berry bunch. The gate to swədaʔx̌ali will only remain opened for a couple more weeks, so don’t miss the opportunity to harvest, take in breathtaking views, and, most importantly, express your tribal sovereignty.

Huckleberry Health Benefits:

  • Huckleberries are full of antioxidants, compounds that are essential for improving the health of numerous systems within the body, while also preventing the development of serious health issues.
  • An excellent source of vitamin A and B, huckleberries are great for promoting a healthy metabolism which in turn helps reduce the risk of stroke. They are also known to help stave off macular degeneration as well as viruses and bacteria.
  • Huckleberries are associated with lowering cholesterol; protecting against heart diseases, muscular degeneration, glaucoma, varicose veins, and ulcers.
  • Huckleberries are an excellent source of iron which helps build new red blood cells and helps fatigue associated with iron deficiency.
  • High in vitamin C, huckleberries protect the body against immune deficiencies, cardiovascular diseases, prenatal health problems, and eye diseases.

Following Faith: Tulalip’s own social media influencer is on the rise

By Kalvin Valdillez; photos courtesy of Faith Iukes

Next time you are screen-scrolling on your favorite app, whether it’s YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, do yourself a favor and search for the username @faith.iukes11. You will find a number of videos and photos that are guaranteed to brighten your day and boost your serotonin levels, all created by a Tulalip entrepreneur who is making quite the name for herself at the young age of 12.

“My name is Faith Iukes. I’m 12 years old and I work on social media,” she proudly beamed. “I vlog myself every day and I basically share my everyday life.”

Showcasing stunning camera work and an amazing on-screen presence, Faith is practicing an art that Native peoples have passed through the generations since time immemorial, storytelling. Bringing the tradition to present-day digital platforms, Faith utilizes her gift of storytelling just as her ancestors did before her, documenting the times and culture, making others laugh and smile, and teaching her peers, the next generation, how to be a voice for the people. 

With wisdom beyond her years, she passionately shared, “If we are not preparing our youth to become successful, we are not preparing the world for the next group of leaders.”

A natural-born go-getter, Faith creates opportunities by simply being herself, giving the world a first-hand look at what growing up on the Tulalip reservation looks like. Faith’s love for her family, community and homelands shines in each of her videos and photos, whether that’s participating in community events, using a drone to record all the scenic views Tulalip has to offer, or sharing screen time with her friends and family on her daily vlog. 

When asked about some of her favorite highlights of her blossoming career, she quickly stated, “Sometimes I do food reviews with my sisters! I love my family and I love social media. This is something that I’ve always wanted to do and when I was younger, I just wasn’t ready yet. COVID came around and my great-grandma passed. Everyone in my family was so sad, I thought I could use this to bring a smile to everybody’s face, so I got on YouTube.”

Not only is she a rising social media star, Faith also possesses impressive filming and editing skills, and she is just as talented behind the camera as she is on-screen. Everything she has created to-date has been self-taught. Through YouTube how-to videos, she learned all of her cutting, sequencing and scoring techniques and she already has a vast knowledge of how to use industry-standard editing software programs such as Adobe Lightroom. 

Faith’s father, William Iukes, has also been instrumental in her social media journey so far. In addition to helping her map out her goals, recording additional footage, and learning editing skills to help out when he can, he’s also taken on the role of her manager and helped land her a number of partnerships with other Indigenous artists, creatives, musicians and organizations, ensuring he’s doing everything he can in order for his daughter to exceed her goals.   

“She’s bringing a positive message to a lot of our kids out here, especially in Indian Country,” he shared. “The one thing she is really into is helping people with the success she’s getting. Her success is their success. We’ll be at Walmart or somewhere and kids will run up to her, say hi and ask for a selfie. And when they ask how do I become who you are, she stops and tells them, ‘this is who I am and this is what I do. You can do the same thing, you just have to keep believing who are and keep thriving to be the best you.’ That is something that I’m very proud of as a father.”

Faith interviews former Seattle Seahawk, Doug Baldwin.

Faith’s hard work is on display in all of her productions and has helped build her personal brand, leading to several partnerships and collaborations. Currently, Faith is sponsored by the local Native clothing company, Salish Style. She was also given an official title as media journalist for Rise Above, an Indigenous non-profit that was established to promote healthy lifestyles and empower Native youth through sports. In fact, she recently attended a Rise Above basketball camp where she got the chance to meet and interview Seattle Seahawk Doug Baldwin. 

“I asked him, how much does giving back to the youth mean to him and what inspired him to work with Rise Above. He said it was me, because his daughter watches me. I thought that was really exciting because it wasn’t expected, it was shocking and it made me happy,” she expressed.

During that same basketball camp, she also met representatives of the newly established NHL hockey team, the Seattle Kraken, and she now has plans to work with the team throughout their first season. Also in the works, a future collaboration with Native rappers and actors, Lil’ Mike & FunnyBone, who first gained popularity on America’s Got Talent and are currently starring in the hit TV show, Reservation Dogs. 

William stated that Faith is not one to get caught up in the numbers and stats such as the amount of views, clicks, reaches, shares, followers and subscribers, but those numbers continue to climb on the daily. At the time of her sit-down with Tulalip News, Faith said she had a goal to reach 600 subscribers on YouTube and 10,000 followers on TikTok. Her father, who has to follow the numbers as her manager, shared she wasn’t too far off from achieving that goal. Not too long after the interview, she surpassed those numbers. And after this article is published, with your help, she can continue to grow her following, with a simple click of a follow/subscribe button. And in return, you’ll get the opportunity to say that you have followed thee Faith Iukes since the beginning of her career, as she continues to grow and spread good vibes and positivity through her social medias. 

Keeping true to one of her main goals of sharing all her self-taught knowledge and skills with other Indigenous youth, a key reason to why she began her influencer journey, Faith shared, “If you want to be a YouTuber but you don’t know how, you don’t need a fancy computer or camera. When I started I only had an iPhone and a rubber ice tray for a tri-pod. You can go out, have fun, be yourself and try your best.”

Back To School Bash

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

End of summer signals the official kick-off for the back to school season. In Tulalip, that means Positive Youth Development’s always highly anticipated, annual ‘Back To School Bash’.

Local school-aged children descended to the Reservation’s centrally located Youth Center by the hundreds in order to collect essential school supplies, hygiene kits, and gather information from a variety of community resource booths. The students and their families were eagerly greeted by community friends and a number of educators from Marysville School District who could hardly contain their excitement at finally being reunited with their kids, some of whom they hadn’t seen in person in over a year.

“In my role as both a mom and educator, I’ve attended Tulalip’s back to school event for the last fifteen years,” said Tulalip tribal member Chelsea Craig. “It’s always grounded me as a mother to have access to all the resources the Tribe has to offer, but also the connections with Marysville School District and the outer community. Anytime we can bring together our tribal community with those around us in a positive way, it’s an opportunity to provide healing and create new relationships that can foster true understanding.

“A great memory from today has to be meeting a family who has been completely online since their kids started kindergarten last year,” continued the recently promoted Quil Ceda Elementary assistant principal. “This family had zero in-person contact with our school staff until today. To be able to introduce ourselves and help ease their minds about the transition back to face-to-face learning was priceless.”

The annual Bash looked a little different minus the usual backpack giveaway. However, Youth Development staff were on hand to walk families through a number of financial aid opportunities to receive critical funds for school supplies and other education related costs. Those forms are conveniently located on the website

Youth lined up to receive a fresh haircut, to fill their bellies with a BBQ lunch, and to meet all kinds of community resource representatives who can assist them on their educational journey. For the students and their families new to the Tulalip area or the school district, this event was a perfect welcoming. 

“After signing up my kids for school, they emailed us a flyer for this event. I think this is so beneficial because my kids really needed the things that are being provided,” shared Puyallup tribal member Angel Berry. She recently moved to the area and looks forward to her three kids attending schools with such a strong connection to Native peoples. “We’ve only been in the area for a few weeks, so this is a good opportunity for us to integrate into the community.”

Among the Bash’s many activities offered were a game of kickball, a BMX demonstration at the skate part, a photo booth, and an immersive petting zoo featuring a baby kangaroo and farm animals. Ever-popular among the tiny tots was a balloon artist who couldn’t buy a break from nonstop requests for light sabers, flower bouquets, and household animals. 

New to this year was a full on scholastic book fair. Regardless of reading level or age, students from pre-school up to high school senior could be seen perusing the paperback offerings in search of the perfect end of summer reading material. 

“Our goal was to bring everyone together in the best way that we could, in the safest way possible, so our membership could access the resources that they may need for the upcoming school year,” reflected Youth Development manager Josh Fryberg. “We partnered with so many departments from Tribal Government and Marysville School District to make this event happen. Weather it was something simple like getting your kid a haircut or updating their tribal ID, or needing help applying for Covid relief funds and speaking to a local school representative, so many left here satisfied and optimistic for the first day of school. This is what the power of community is all about.”

Salish imPRINTS

By Micheal Rios; Collection curated by staff of the Tacoma Art Museum

Since time immemorial, Native artists have expressed the cyclical nature of their culture and unique relationship to the world around them via a vast assortment of mediums available at any given time. This connection continues to evolve in the breathtaking artwork put forth by the current generation of Native creatives. From woodcarving and basketry to jewelry making and painting, an essence of the ancestors’ resiliency is felt in new waves of indigenous artistry proudly pushing their culture forward. 

Becoming Worthy. Created by Marika Swan.
“When our people were whaling they prepared their whole lives spiritually to be worthy of a gift as generous as a whale. Everyone in the community had to work in unity to ensure the hunt was successful and done safely. Each whale was such a bountiful offering of food for the community and each part of the whale was utilized and celebrated. As a Native woman, there are many large gifts I am hoping to bring home to my community. Pook-mis, the drowned whaler, lies at the bottom of the sea floor and offers a warning that things can go horribly wrong if you are not properly prepared to receive life’s great offerings.”

Some artists carve or weave following traditions dating back generations, using the same methods and materials their ancestors used. Others have adapted modern day technology to push the bounds of painting and printmaking to explore culture shifting concepts. Such is the case with today’s formline landscape. 

Sea Raven. Created by Henry Speck.

Often, when people think of Native art of the Northwest Coast, they think of formline. An artistic style thought to originate from the first peoples of northern British Columbia and Alaska, formline is characterized by free-flowing thick and thin lines often used in combinations of U-shapes, S-shapes and flattened ovals called ovoids. Most commonly rendered in bold black and red colors, these designs often depict animals and cultural spirits on story poles, hand carved paddles and masks, and most recently t-shirts and fine art prints. 

Raelene. Created by Francis Dick. “Before  anything else, my work is  about honoring my life process, my journey through my fires, from places of pain and darkness to places that I might stand in my truth.  My work is not a career, it’s a way of life.”

Artwork showcasing the distinct Coast Salish formline style became popular during the Alaska gold rush in the 1890s and the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific exhibit in 1909. The demand for formline continued as the prime choice for public exhibitions and private collections at the same time the Pacific Northwest region saw a dramatic boom in development and residency. As the greater Seattle area continued to develop into a tourism hotbed, the formline style eclipsed all other styles indigenous to the region.

Restoration. Created by Jeffrey Veregge. 
“For thousands of years Native and Non-Native storytellers have used art as a means to share the tales of their people. For me I am carrying on a tradition that started with my ancestors by simply using the means of today and all it’s modern conveniences to share the tales that I love. Art evolves, tools get better, but the essence of what I do is the same as those who did it on the canvases nature provided for them to tell the stories of gods and heroes long, long ago.” 

Since the explosion of formline onto the mainstream art scene, countless culturally inclined Native peoples from the Northwest Coast have developed their passion for creativity in an era known as Salish Modern. Tuning their skilled artisan abilities to fulfill the demand for popular formline, the latest wave of Coast Salish artists have infused the art world with innovative prints combining storytelling, powerful cultural reflections, and vibrant Native flare. Such are the prints we offer our readers now. 

Lynx’Ooy’. Created by Ken Mowatt.

Dubbed ‘Salish imPRINTS’, this collection is created by artists who call the Salish Sea home and is intended to inspire the inner artist in everyone, while enhancing relevant conversations about a shared past, present and future.

Not a Good Day. Created by Art Thompson.

Suquamish Tribe Holds Scaled-Down Covid-Conscious Chief Seattle Days

War Canoe Races – Suquamish competitors participate in “war canoe” races just off the shore from the Suquamish Tribe’s House of Awakened Culture in downtown Suquamish on Saturday. (Photo by Jon Anderson/Courtesy of Suquamish Tribe)

Press Release: Suquamish Tribe

With the Delta variant of the coronavirus spiking across Kitsap County and Washington state, the Suquamish Tribe held a scaled-down version of Chief Seattle Days over the weekend. There were just a handful of the usual number of events, and the occasion was open to Tribal households only.

“We missed hosting the larger community, as we normally do,” said Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman. “Hospitality is an important part of our culture, and Chief Seattle Days has grown into playing a big role in that joy of connecting with our community. But we had to put the safety of our Tribal citizens first.” 

Teylor Matysn Ives – Teylor Matysn Ives was selected to serve as the 2021-22 Junior Miss Chief Seattle Days in small ceremony in Suquamish during a scaled back Chief Seattle Days on Saturday. (Photo by Jon Anderson/Courtesy of Suquamish Tribe)

Concern about safety has grown as Kitsap County has seen higher numbers of infected and hospitalized than at any other time since the pandemic began. 

Within the Tribe, vaccination rates are above 70 percent, says Emergency Operations Manager, Cherrie May. Still, with school about to begin, and children age 11 and under still unable to receive vaccination protection, concerns have grown.

Graveside Ceremony – Suquamish Elder Marilyn Wandery presides over ceremonies at Chief Seattle’s gravesite in Suquamish at the opening Chief Seattle Days events on Saturday. (Photo by Jon Anderson/Courtesy of Suquamish Tribe)

Last year, the 2020 Chief Seattle Days was all but cancelled due to the pandemic. To keep the tradition alive, however, Suquamish Elder Marilyn Wandrey spoke to the Tribal community by video message offering reflections at Chief Seattle’s gravesite. 

This year, the Tribe brought back some of the key events, but permitted limited numbers and were mostly for Tribal households only. This year’s events included:

  • The Chief Seattle Days Golf Tournament, on Thur. August 19, at the White Horse Golf Club with dozens of teams playing at this 10th anniversary event.
  • Ceremony at Chief Seattle’s Gravesite, on Sat. August 21, a long-standing honoring of Chief Seattle, with Tribal Elder Marilyn Wandrey presiding. The ceremony was for Tribal households and ceremony staff, and live streamed for those who could not attend in person.
  • Salmon meals were served “to go” to Tribal members on Sat. August 21 at the House of Awakened Culture. 
  • Royalty Pageant – With the cancellation of most events at Chief Seattle Days 2020, the 2019 Royalty had generously continued their duties until this weekend. The princess and her entourage were finally able to turn over their crowns at a ceremony on Saturday. For the coming year, Teylor Matysn Ives will serve as the royalty court’s Junior Miss Chief Seattle Days.
  • Suquamish Canoe Races – Suquamish youth took their swift “war canoes” out on the water off shore from the House of Awakened Culture. The races were live streamed in heated competitions. Normally, racing teams from First Nations and Native communities throughout the region would join in, but this year’s race was limited to Suquamish Tribal members with family members in attendance.
Graveside Ceremony2 – Scaled back to due the pandemic, Suquamish Tribal members gathered in small groups to celebrate Chief Seattle Days on Saturday. (Photo by Jon Anderson/Courtesy of Suquamish Tribe)

Looking Forward to 2022

The Suquamish Tribe hopes to open Chief Seattle Days to the larger community again in 2022.

“We are grateful and appreciative of the relationships people have created within Suquamish and the surrounding communities,” says Lisa Jackson, who organized this year’s event. “We had to keep this gathering small for safety. But we are looking forward to hopefully welcoming many more people in 2022.”

Recovery through creativity

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Radiant energy beamed from a group of artists on a late summer Saturday afternoon. Collectively working on a large masterpiece, they shared bubbly conversation as their brushstrokes left behind vibrant colors on a canvas that consisted of four panels. The artists zoned-in on the task at hand while Indigenous music blasted out of a boombox. Inside of a storage shed on a large property in Stanwood, their workspace serves as a pleasant escape from the busy world, a creative environment they get to enjoy on a near-weekly basis. 

“I experience pure relaxation. It’s very therapeutic,” said artist Jeanie Skerbeck. “It opens my mind to things I need my mind opened to. When I’m in a bad mood, I like coming here to paint. And I’ll tell you what, when I leave, I’m always in a good mood.”

Over the past few months, several Tulalip Healing Lodge residents have contributed their time, creativity and artistry to a collaborative project that many locals will get a chance to see in-person upon completion. Though plans on where have yet to be finalized, the traveling mural project will more than likely be on display at a location near you in the upcoming months. 

Although it is still a work-in-progress, the mural is a meaningful project that already holds a special place in the hearts of each artist who picked up paint brush and left their imprint on the canvas so far. Utilizing their creativity to express their story in detail, the painters found an outlet and a new form of expression that they can use as a tool during their recovery journey. 

“It’s going to be big, I love being a part of this,” exclaimed Tulalip artist, Ambrose Alexander James Jr. “I thought that I was just coming out here with my fellow comrades to keep them upbeat, but I decided to participate and it’s changing who I am. I never did this before, but my grandpa told me art brings out your true spirit and who are.  I’d like to learn all that I can because he tried to teach me before, but I never experienced what he was talking about until now, that I got two years sober.”

Numerous studies have proved that art therapy has assisted greatly in addiction recovery, boosting self-esteem and reducing anxiety and stress levels, while also allowing the artist the space to go inward and address and resolve any personal conflicts they may be facing. This past spring, the Tulalip Problem Gambling program hosted an art class at the Healing Lodge where they asked the participants to ‘paint from the soul rather than from their brain’. 

“We really wanted to have something new they can learn, and use their gifts and talents they didn’t even realized they had, and put their energy into that,” said Problem Gambling Counselor, Robin Johnson.  “We were really amazed at how good their attention, questions and interest were during the first session. We went for two hours and we didn’t even get to the painting.” 

Problem Gambling enlisted Tulalip tribal creative, Monie Ordonia to instruct the class and the Healing Lodge residents loved her energy. Because of the great interaction between student and teacher, and all the positive results and feedback of the first class, the Problem Gambling program presented the idea of the mural to the Healing Lodge residents and asked Monie to return and lend her good vibes and expertise to the participants. 

Said Monie, “We had the residents do sketches and the question posed to them was, ‘what if instead of surviving addiction, we go past that and thrive?’ We already survived, so what’s the next step? It’s to thrive and become an empowered citizen. To thrive and use that as their legacy. This mural is part of their legacy, to help others recognize that they can also thrive through the Healing Lodge. That’s how these images came out, they were all sketched by the residents who were here at the time.”

Robin and Monie both explained that the residents at the Healing Lodge often change and many of those artists who started the project are no longer staying at the lodge. However, the new residents were happy to pick-up where the others left off and continue the project.

On one side of the mural are four drawings, including a shark-whale and a ‘star-eyed’ mask, created by previous residents at the Healing Lodge, that Monie expanded in size and transferred to the panel-canvas. The other side of the mural depicts a Tulalip Canoe Family on the waters of the Salish Sea, with their paddles facing up and an eagle soaring in the distance. 

“I feel welcomed. I feel good. I actually feel comfortable coming here and doing something like this. I really enjoy it,” expressed Tulalip artist Justine Moses. “I think it’s important for recovery, it helps us connect to our inner-selves, spiritually. And it’s cool just to see the art come out. Even if we mess up, it still looks good.”

The Healing Lodge was first established in 2015 and has helped both Tulalip tribal members and those enrolled with other tribal nations attain and maintain a healthy and sober lifestyle. Healing Lodge Resident Aide, Desa Calafiore stated, “The Tulalip Healing Lodge is a clean and sober living home for tribal members. I believe it helps people greatly. I think it’s great for the community. We have some real success stories come out of here. We offer groups, meetings, stability, cultural events. It gives them a chance to be around clean and sober people in a safe environment.”

Desa went on to explain that people often find a new passion in normal, everyday activities while on the road to recovery and self-discovery such as art. And as she mentioned previously, the Healing Lodge has many success stories, but she also stated that there were some instances where residents experienced setbacks as well, but quickly noted that this is often a necessary part of recovery. This is also a lesson that Monie is sure to incorporate in all off her teachings. 

Monie shared, “One of my biggest lessons is reminding them there are no mistakes. Mistakes are stepping stones to bring you to a new choice. When you realize it’s not about being perfect, it’s about opening up that outlet and letting your creative energy flow, that leads the way to remembering who you are and how powerful you are as a creator. So when you can activate that creative source within you, now you’re also awakening that freedom of choice, am I going to choose something that imprisons me like addiction, or am I going to choose something that empowers me, something creative that feeds the soul rather than the addiction?”

Tulalip News will keep you updated as the Healing Lodge artists complete the mural and take the art project out on the road. For further information about the Healing Lodge, please visit

The future of Tulalip literacy is in good hands

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Over the last five weeks, a group of Tulalip youth with a shared interest for writing met at Hibulb Cultural Center to embrace their creative sides, while improving their intellectual skills for the upcoming school year. Led by local author and Cascade High School teacher Steve Bertrand, the Youth Writer’s Workshop came together Monday mornings for two-hour sessions. 

“Our workshop was open to students between 5th and 12th grade. Every week focused on a different form of creative writing, from short stories to letters to songs and poetry,” explained Steve. He brought a wealth of experience to the workshop with over 40-years of teaching experience and more than 35 books published.

“From brainstorming and idea development to rough drafts and the editing process to final publication and sharing with the group, I’ve been really impressed with the kids and how much material they developed in such a short amount of time,” he continued. “Throughout my career I’ve taught both middle schoolers and high schoolers, and it’s always remarkable to witness the creativity and openness of younger people. The students I was fortunate to teach here were eager to learn and embraced all the forms of writing.” 

Every day kids experience events that are new to them. In doing so, they learn new words that expand their vocabulary and have new ideas that help them develop a creative and curious mind to understand the world around them. By encouraging children to write from a young age, they can develop critical emotional skills that are beneficial at any age. Channeling emotions, being able to manage a difficult situation, and understanding how others feel are just some of the skills invoked through creative writing.

A group of middle schoolers giving up precious hours of their summer break to develop their writing skills seems farfetched, that is until you talk to the students in question. Then it becomes clear you’re dealing with the kind of academic achievers who don’t require encouragement to explore their imaginations, nor are they bashful about conveying their personal experiences and emotions through written word.

“I enjoyed learning new ways to write,” said soon-to-be 6th grader Allyea Hernandez. “Learning how to properly write a poem was my favorite part of the class. Poetry isn’t something I’m really interested in, but it was still fun learning how there are so many ways to create a poem. Did you know they don’t have to rhyme? They can be about mood and emotion. I wrote a poem about happiness that my mom really liked.”

“It’s been fun. There were way more types of writing than I thought, but Steve is a really good teacher and made learning about the different writing forms enjoyable,” added future 7th grader Kileea Pablo. She mentioned writing with a focus on imagery, rhyme, metaphor and personification would help her in English and Literature classes she’ll be taking next month. “I know I’ll be doing a lot of writing in 7th grade and wanted to get a head start practicing and learning new writing skills by coming here. It was worth it. I’m more confident expressing emotion in my writing now.”

In a world where text speak and emojis are so common, creative writing helps to develop writing skills that are being forgotten about. If a youth cannot communicate effectively through written word, the problem may only become worse as they grow older. Encouraging creative writing can help a young person, better yet anyone of any age, to communicate effectively.

Middle schooler Allyea put it best when she proclaimed, “Writing is something you need to know how to do well, otherwise you can’t really get far.” 

Concluding their fifth and final writer’s workshop, the wordsmiths in training proudly displayed their certificates of completion in front of the latest Hibulb exhibit ‘The Power of Words: A History of Tulalip Literacy.” If these Tulalip writers have anything to say about it, the future of Tulalip literacy is in pretty good hands, too.


Friendship is the best.

Everyone knows that friends last.

That’s why I stick with mine.

– Amaya Hernandez 


Happiness is as yellow as a lemon on a hot summer day. 

Sounds like a bumblebee buzzing or a bird chirping.

Tastes like sweet vanilla ice cream. 

Smells like your mothers homemade cookies out of the oven. 

Looks like a cozy bed after a long day. 

It makes you feel joyous. 

– Allyea Hernandez

Honoring Officer Charlie Cortez

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

It has been nine months since the tragic accident occurred on local waters, claiming the life of a young, Tulalip tribal member. At the age of 29, Charlie Cortez was pronounced lost at sea, paying the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty as a Tulalip Fish and Wildlife Officer. 

On the afternoon of August 17, Charlie’s family and friends, as well as both the tribal and law enforcement communities, gathered at the Angels of the Winds Arena in Everett for the fallen hero’s memorial service. 

“Charlie was a kind man who always greeted you with a smile,” said Tulalip Chairwoman, Teri Gobin. “He was so sweet. When I think about Charlie as a child, I think about all the memories that the family has of him growing up, all of his adventures. I think about how he grew up to be such an honorable young man. He made his family, his ancestors, and his community very proud. Charlie was not only a motocross rider, that’s where he spent a lot of his youth, they were always on the road having a blast with the family, but he was an avid hunter and fisherman. He was also an awesome father, son, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend.” 

With each day that passed since that stormy night on November 17, when Charlie’s vessel capsized, the family remained optimistic and hopeful that the beloved officer would be found and brought home. When the heartbreaking news first broke, volunteers from near and far dedicated their time, scouring the sea and shoreline in search of Charlie. 

Tulalip Vice-Chairman, Glen Gobin shared, “Nobody thought we’d be at this point when we got that call, that we had a boat tip over and there were people in the water. When the call went out, many people answered. Many of our local sister tribes, local law enforcement agencies, fire departments, Navy, Coast Guard, and our tribal fisherman. And they came out in weather conditions that they normally would’ve not went out for. When the call came out, they freely went out in the storm to search. In hopes of a different conclusion, many stayed out there 24-36 hours straight searching, only to go home to take a nap and continue on. For weeks that took place. It was really hard this past nine months, for the family, for the community. For the family, it felt like unfinished work we need to conclude here, but can’t yet.”

Charlie’s family was embraced by the law enforcement community over the recent months. His name eternalized on memorial walls in Spokane, Olympia and Washington D.C., and also displayed upon medals and plaques, honoring the man who died while defending tribal treaty rights. Although the family is very appreciative of those accolades and acts-of-recognition, they still remain deprived of closure as his remains have yet-to-be recovered.

“It means a great deal to our family that we’re finally able to have a service to honor our Charlie,” tearfully expressed Charlie’s cousin, Casey Woods. “We were never expecting this type of tragedy to happen, especially to him. Charlie, you give me strength. I was so hopeful in the beginning. I miss you, Charlie. I tried to make the most meaning of your absence, a constant battle between denial and acceptance. I just couldn’t believe someone as good as you could be taken from us. I know your spirit is alive and well in all our hearts. Charlie, you are truly one of a kind and that is the hardest part, to go on without you.”

The beautiful and moving ceremony opened with a performance of the National Anthem by Tulalip tribal member Cerissa Kitchens. An acoustic guitar cover of Go Rest High on the Mountain was performed by Tribal member Andrew Gobin. Lieutenant Governor Danny Heck spoke to the family, offering encouraging words while he also presented them with the Washington State flag. The family also received the Tulalip Tribes flag from the Chairwoman and the U.S. flag from Tulalip Chief of Police, Chris Sutter. 

“Charlie, as a tribal member, grew up learning and hearing the stories of tribal elders and leaders who fought the battles to uphold and preserve tribal sovereignty and treaty rights,” stated Chief Sutter. “As a fish and wildlife officer, he took his duty seriously and understood the higher significance of his work, which was to protect the sovereignty and treaty rights and preserve the way of life for tribal hunters, fisherman, gatherers and future generations of tribal members. Charlie always had a smile as you can see in his photos. Charlie was kind. He was well-liked by all. He was always was willing to help and give assistance.”

He continued, “To Charlie’s two children Dominic and Peyton, his parents Alan and Paula, brother Moochie, grandmother Sandra and all the aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family and loved ones, on behalf of the men and women of the Tulalip Tribal Police Department, no words can adequately express our sorrow and grief. We offer our heartfelt condolences and send our support, love and prayers that you may receive God’s peace and comfort in this time of loss and remembrance.”

In addition to the heartfelt words shared by cousin Casey, Chief Sutter, Teri and Glen, TPD Commander Robert Myers and TPD Sergeant Chris Gobin both fondly recalled their time spent with Charlie as members of the Tulalip law enforcement agency. Father Pat Twohy provided the service with an opening prayer, cedar blessing and the benediction. A slideshow celebrating Officer’s Cortez’s life, filled with pictures from his youth and selfies with his children, had the entire arena in tears. Margie Santibanez read the eulogy on behalf of the family and Tulalip drummers and singers provided medicine by way of traditional songs. The Seattle Police Pipes and Drums ensemble performed Amazing Grace on bagpipes, which was followed by a 21-gun salute. 

The stage was decorated with all the things that Charlie loved, from hunting to motocross to protecting and serving his community, Charlie’s certificates, uniforms, medals, accolades, trophies, and family portraits were on display, celebrating his legacy. Because he has yet to return home, a traditional bentwood box was donated and then customized in Charlie’s honor. The box was filled with personal items by his loved ones, and utilized as a way for the family to say their good-byes.

“As you all know, we never did recover Charlie,” said Glen. “In the box, the family has placed mementos, things of importance to them, things that were important to Charlie, in a way to continue to pass down his memories. The family, at various times if they want to, can open the box and they can go through and talk about the items in there with Charlie’s children, Charlie’s grandchildren when they come, other family members. I encourage each and every one of us to not be afraid to talk about Charlie. Don’t hold back. Share the memories, share the stories, share the feelings. Charlie’s life was not about the end, it was everything up to it. That’s what we carry within us, that’s what gives us strength to continue on and that’s what keeps his memories alive.”

The family indicated that although his memorial service took place, the search for Charlie will continue. After the service, Charlie’s family turned to the crowd outside of the Angels of the Winds Arena and raised their hands to everyone in attendance, thanking them in traditional Tulalip fashion for their love and support during their time of need. 

Thank you for keeping Charlie’s family and the Tulalip Police Department in your prayers. As always, please send any potential evidence, information or your own informal searches to us by texting 360-926-5059, or emailing, or leaving a voicemail at (909) 294-6356.

Monitoring Water Quality at Mission Beach

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

It has been a hot summer at Tulalip this year, with record-breaking heat during the last week of June reaching over 100-degrees, and multiple 80-degree days so far, people are getting out and having fun in the sun, taking advantage of weather that comes very seldom to the Pacific Northwest.

There are many ways Western Washingtonians can enjoy the clear skies and warm weather and some of those summertime activities include hiking and exploring nature, taking a scenic cruise with the windows down and good tunes blasting, visiting a zoo or a waterpark, catching a Mariners game, floating the river, or enjoying a cookout with your closest friends and family members. 

Tulalip tribal members have additional options to connect with their culture, traditions and people during the summer months such as huckleberry picking, cedar-harvesting, fishing, canoe-pulling, participating in the Salmon Ceremony and Spee-Bi-Dah festivities, and of course you can’t forget, spending the day at Mission Beach. Whether swimming, exercising, relaxing, or simply creating good times with good friends, Mission Beach is a staple destination for the local community, especially when blessed with gorgeous weather.

To ensure the safety of the public, Tulalip Natural Resources has monitored the waters at Mission Beach every summer since 2016, with the exception of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The local waters are integral to the Tulalip people whose ancestors traveled upon and procured nourishment from since time immemorial. With each passing generation, memories are made at Mission Beach by Tulalip youth who splash amongst the waters and laugh along the shoreline. By monitoring the bacteria present in the Mission Beach waters, the Natural Resources department is making sure the kids, elders and everyone in-between can safely continue swimming at the beach. 

“We do the Mission Beach sampling every year during the summer,” said Tulalip Natural Resources Storm Water Planner, Valerie Streeter. “We’re catching the times that people are out in the water and we take a sample in the areas where people will swim.”

Samples are taken from three separate spots along the beach when the tide is in and the average bacteria level is calculated and recorded based on those samples. 

Valerie stated, “If we get too much bacteria, people start to get sick. I heard stories of people who contracted a stomach illness, some had diarrhea or they got a skin rash. Sometimes it can be more serious like typhoid fever. If it’s not healthy, it basically means there’s a lot of sewage in the water and that’s what we’re measuring. We use one particular indicator that the EPA said correlates with human sickness, so that’s why we chose that and that’s really why we’re monitoring the water, trying to protect us humans.”

Over the years, Mission Beach has had great water quality, and the bacteria level never once rose over the 104 bacteria threshold limit. Twice in 2016, during the first year of testing, the bacteria levels reached 80 or above. There were three readings in 2017 that showed the bacteria level exceeded 20. But other than that, all the measurements from 2018, 2019 and 2021 have been low and the bacteria level remained under 20. In fact, the highest it has reached this summer is 14. 

The water samples are collected and recorded by volunteers of the WSU Beach Watchers. Every year prior to summer, Valerie and the Beach Watchers hold a training over the course of one day to teach volunteers how to take accurate bacteria level samples. Samples are taken on a weekly-basis for the duration of summer, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. After the volunteers collect the water sample, they deliver it to the Tulalip Water Quality Lab, based at the Tulalip Fish Hatchery, where Harvey Eastman, the Water Quality Program Manager, grows the bacteria to get an accurate reading of how much bacteria is actually present in the three samples. 

With low bacteria readings so far, the water quality at Mission Beach has been great all summer long. Valerie encourages the community to have some safe, healthy fun and to enjoy some of the remaining days of summer down in the waters of Mission Beach. The volunteer WSU Beach Watchers will continue collecting samples through Labor Day, so be sure to give them a friendly wave and ask any questions if you are feeling inquisitive about the local water quality.  

Valerie shared, “If you’re interested, come out to our training next year and learn how to collect water samples and measure it’s temperature and salinity. It’s not that hard and every time you collect a sample, you get to enjoy a beautiful morning at Mission Beach.”

For more information, please contact Valerie at (360) 716-4629.

The Long Run: Catching up with the Tulalip Marathon Man

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Tribal member, Tyler Fryberg is an inspiring young man. Whether participating in the Special Olympics, raising profits for Leah’s Dream Foundation by participating in the Miracle Mile, or simply running about the reservation and crushing his own personal goals, Tyler’s heart is always on the right track and he is constantly making strides to improve each and every day. Tyler uses his passion for running not only as a means to stay in peak-physical form, but to also raise awareness and bring attention to issues that matter to him the most. 

Tyler has been running for the majority of his life, picking up the sport in junior high and continuing all the way to present day, taking time off only to recover from injuries, and then he was right back at it again. Known throughout the community as the Tulalip Marathon Man, Tyler has medaled nearly every time he was invited to compete in the Washington State Special Olympics, and also held the honor of carrying the Torch of Hope for 18 miles in 2012. 

The last time we spoke with Tyler was after he logged his 1,000th mile in 2020 for Leah’s Dream Foundation’s Miracle Mile Challenge. After completing that challenge and helping raise awareness and funds for the local non-profit organization, Tyler kept on running because, as the saying goes, the marathon continues. Last year, the Marathon Man created new social media pages so his fans and supporters can stay up-to-date on his running journey as he continues to collect miles and medals left and right. In order to properly recognize all the hard work and effort that he has put in over the past year, Tulalip News took a moment to catch up with Tyler Fryberg, the Tulalip Marathon Man. 

Last time we spoke, you just completed the Miracle Mile for Leah’s Dream. What have you been up to since then? Have you taken on any new challenges or participated in any new running events?

I just completed my second 1,000 miles ran-in-one-year back in July 2021. During COVID I’ve been able to run a race, and that was a community race in Arlington for St. Patrick’s Day. It was a 5k road-race and I won first place with a time of twenty-three minutes. As of right now, I am training for my very first marathon. For people who don’t know, it is 26.2 miles. The race I will be doing will be virtual due to COVID, but it’s called the virtual New York marathon.  

What fuels your passion for running and what do you love most about it?

What I love most about running is that I just love being outdoors. But, I also use it for mental health also. If I am upset or stressed, I can always go for a run to calm me down. If I set a goal for some event, it makes me keep going. Also knowing that I have people in my life who support me with my running like the Tulalip Tribes, community, and my family and friends. 

What does your running schedule look like – how often do you run a week and do you prefer early morning runs are afternoon runs?

I am running six days a week, and two days of strength training. I like running in the morning the best because I can go outside with no distractions and I feel my best in the morning. 

How many miles have you ran so far this year? How many more do you hope to run before the year ends?

As of right now, I am at 1,111 miles and the goal I hope to get to is as close to 2,000 miles as possible.

How do you track your progress and miles?

I track my miles and runs with my favorite running app called Strava. I also use the 1,000 mile log app to count miles that I have already done. 

Do you have any new gear that you love, and are there any must-have accessories that you need when running?

The gear I have is the AONIJIE hydration vest, a Garmin watch and sunglasses. I make sure to bring the AONIJIE hydration vest and gel packets. Also my cell phone to count miles. 

Do you listen to music while running – and if so what are some of your favorite tunes to run to? 

Yes, I listen to music when I run. I listen to anything from Native American powwow or flute music to hip hop, pop and country. It all depends on my mood for the run.

Your journey is very exciting and inspiring! Do you have any advice for new runners and those who want to start but don’t know where to begin?

For new runners, set a goal because then you will have something to motivate you to run. Also, never set your goals too high or you will not achieve them. 

Why do you believe getting good exercise like running is important?

Getting good exercise will help with people who are diabetic and with a lot of other health problems that Americans face every day. It also gives you the Vitamin D that you need. If you just walk thirty minutes a day, that is still great on your health. With running, there are so many great health benefits as well, like it helps with weight loss and [controlling] blood sugar and so many others. 

What’s next for the Tulalip Marathon Man? Any personal goals you wish to accomplish or any exciting news you would like to share?

Running the virtual New York marathon (26.2 miles) on October 23rd. A goal I have is to run a 10k race (6.2 miles) under 50 mins. 

For the Special Olympics, I took a training class to become a health messenger and athlete leader. And, I just got first in the 2021 Special Olympics virtual community challenge competition in 2020. I also finished third in the North America move challenge, and now on September 13, 2021, I get to represent Washington State in the 2021 North America move challenge as a health messenger.

How can people follow you throughout your running journey?

People can follow me through Facebook – Tyler Fryberg (Tulalip Marathon Man). Also, I have Instagram @TulalipMarathonMan. And, I make YouTube videos, for health and fitness, called Tulalip Marathon Man.