VA and Indian Health Service announce national reimbursement agreement

Native Veterans Able to Access Care Closer to Home

Press Release, Department of Veterans Affairs,

WASHINGTON — American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans will soon have increased access to health care services closer to home following a recent Department of Veterans Affairs and Indian Health Service (IHS) joint national agreement.

“There is a long, distinguished tradition of military service among tribes,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “VA is committed to expanding access to native Veterans with the full range of VA programs, as earned by their service to our Nation.”

“The President has called on all Cabinet Secretaries to find better ways to provide our military families with the support they deserve, and that is exactly what we are doing today,” said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans benefit from this agreement, which provides increased options for health care services.”

As a result of the national agreement, VA is now able to reimburse the IHS for direct care services provided to eligible American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans. While the national agreement applies only to VA and IHS, it will inform agreements negotiated between the VA

and tribal health programs. VA copayments do not apply to direct care services provided by HIS to eligible American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans under this agreement.

“The VA and IHS, in consultation with the federally-recognized tribal governments, have worked long and hard to come to an equitable agreement that would ensure access to quality health care would be made available to our Nation’s heroes living in tribal communities,” said Dr. Robert Petzel, undersecretary for health, Veterans Health Administration. “This agreement will also strengthen VA, IHS and tribal health programs by increasing access to high quality care for Native Veterans, particularly those in highly rural areas.”

Poetry is alive at Hibulb Cultural Center

LuLu Canales takes a break after of series of poetry she read to the crowd on at the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center on December 6th.

Article and photo By Jeannie Briones

TULALIP, Washington- Poetry is alive at the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center. Guest poet, Jamestown S’Kallam tribal member, Lulu Canales, is a student at the Northwest Indian College at the Tulalip site and on December 6th, she shared the most intimate moments of her struggles, pain, and joy, giving the audience a gritty look into her heart and soul.

Despite her small stature, Lulu stands tall in front of her audience, her words flowing with a fierce energy, piecing like jolts of electricity, sending out a tidal wave of emotions. The crowd responded, listening attentively to every word being spoken.

Only 20-years-old, she draws on past experience to provide her inspiration. She wrote her first poem at the tender age of seven, a poem about the loss of her mother, a woman she never knew. Poetry became a way for her to heal from the pain she felt throughout her lifetime.

“Poetry and music, that’s my life, poetry is the only way healthy way I know how to get the yuckiness out in a positive matter,” said LuLu. “If I am feeling angry about something and I feel like writing a poem, I will turn on real harsh hip hop beats, real fast, big base, really slamming and booming and it will come to me. One word turns into a phrase, a phrase turns into two lines, and into a stanza, and it will keep going and by the time I have come down, I’m sitting there with one to three sheets of paper. I try to let all my poetry have a beat,” said LuLu.

Lulu’s mother is Native American and her father is Hispanic. She never knew her mother and was raised most of her life by her father. As a young child, she had an appetite for words and read the dictionary for fun. Her need for knowledge and words fueled her curiosity and her natural ability to write raw emotions on paper.

At a young age, Lulu gained insight into her soul through poetry. She feels everything happens for a reason and that people good or bad have taught her valuable and tough lessons. She hales her late uncle, William Hunter, for changing her life. At thirteen, she recalls her uncle was the most sweet, loving, and charismatic man.

“With the exception of my father and my two little brothers, William David Hunter is one of the most important men in my life. He gave me the gift of being the women that I am today through learning my Native culture; he gave me back the other half of who I was.”

Another mentor to Lulu is her adoptive mother Renee Roman Nose. Both share a love for writing poetry. Renne inspired her to write and read her poetry, and through that support and encouragement she now shares her poetry and wants to help other through her poetic words.

“I am going to school for my certification in chemical dependency. Ultimately my goal is to be a social worker because I come from a hard background. I know there are kids out there like me who didn’t hear when they were younger that they have potential and that they have talent and what’s in their head and heart is important. I want to go out there and tell them, you are important and you do count, you are a person, and what’s inside is important. I want to take this poetry and writing and take it to people who need it and help them through my writing,” said LuLu.

For more information on future poetry series or other series at the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center & Natural History Preserves, please call 360-716-2600 or visit

nes: 360-716-4188;

Tulalip Bay Restauramts awarded AAA Four Diamond Distinction

AAA Diamond Rating Process Reviews More Restaurants Than Any Other Entity in North America

 Press Release, Lisa Severn, Food & Beverage Director, Tulalip Resort Casino

Tulalip, Washington – Tulalip Bay Restaurant at the Tulalip Resort Casino has been honored with the prestigious Four Diamond Restaurant Award from AAA. For the 2012 Diamond Ratings, 31,000 establishments qualified. However, only 3.8 percent of those hotels and restaurants earned this distinction.  Dining venues at these rating levels offer an extensive array of amenities and a high degree of hospitality, service and attention to detail.

When reviewing each property, the AAA team looks for all the accoutrements of a fine-dining venue. Tulalip Bay offers an environment of rich wood paneling, plush seating, a Chihuly chandelier,  award winning wine list, exhibition kitchen, and table-side service. They also judge on menu creativity and found an array of fresh seafood, local produce and prime meat selections. As a Four Diamond restaurant, Tulalip Bay’s highly attentive, dedicated service staff cater to dining guests every need. Sommelier Tommy Thompson is always available to assist with wine selections and share his vast enological knowledge.

“We are honored to receive this award and to share it with the community and our guests.  The Resort is committed to offering an exemplary balance of unparalleled service, luxury and value representative of the AAA Four Diamond rating,” said Severn.

The AAA’s professionally trained inspectors use published guidelines to conduct unannounced property evaluations. AAA grades more properties than any other rating entity and is the only system that covers the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. It is one of only two that conduct physical, on-site evaluations, assigning AAA/CAA approved lodgings and restaurants one to five AAA diamonds. Travelers can access information about AAA inspections and diamond ratings at  or AAA TourBook® guides are available at AAA and CAA offices across the continent.

About Tulalip Resort Casino

Award winning Tulalip Resort Casino is the most distinctive gaming, dining, meeting, entertainment and shopping destination in Washington State. The AAA Four Diamond resort’s world class amenities have ensured its place on the Condé Nast Traveler Gold and Traveler Top 100 Resorts lists, as well as Preferred Hotel & Resorts membership. The property includes 192,000 square feet of gaming excitement; a luxury hotel featuring 370 guest rooms and suites; 30,000 square feet of premier meeting, convention and wedding space; the full-service T Spa; and 6 dining venues, including the AAA Four Diamond Tulalip Bay Restaurant.  It also showcases the intimate Canoes Cabaret; a 3,000-seat amphitheater. Near by, find the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve, Cabela’s; and Seattle Premium Outlets, featuring more than 110 name brand retail discount shops. The Resort Casino is conveniently located between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. just off Interstate-5 at exit 200. It is an enterprise of the Tulalip Tribes. For reservations please call (866) 716-7162.

Filmmaker showcases lives of Native people

Article and photo by Jeannie Briones

  TULALIP, Washington-  Makah tribal member Sandra Osawa, is known for her work as a producer, director, and co-owner of Upstream Production. Sandra along with her husband, Yasu Osawa, has created 63 films for various tribes, museums, and non-profit organizations, along with five films that have been broadcasted on PBS. Her production company explores political issues affecting Native American tribes, which is reflected through a variety of documentaries, and contemporary art mediums.

            The documentary film “On and Off the Res with Charlie Hill” was featured as part of the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center Film Series on November 29th.  Sandra directed the film which takes the viewer on an intimate journey through the life of a Native American comedian and his rise to fame.

            At an early age, Sandra was aware that Native Americans were being depicted as stereotypes in the media. It wasn’t until she worked for her tribe that she became interested in making films that would correctly represent Native Americans in a more contemporary fashion. 

“When I worked for my own tribe at Neah Bay, I was a Community Action Director. I couldn’t find any films relevant to Native people and that began my interest. I decided that I wanted to get into media to see if we can do something about the void in Native American films and to break down stereotypes.”

 After working for her tribe for more than three years, Sandra attended UCLA Graduate film school in the 70s. During this time, Sandra notes there were sixteen minority students enrolled in her film class, more than she had ever seen. After working on experimental films, she received her first break in television in 1975.

“We [my husband and I] did a Native American ten-part series[“THe Native American Series”] for NBC Television. Historically that is important because it has become the first major series produced by a Native American for television in the country,” said Sandra. “The topics range from Indian religion, family, treaties, powerless politics, art, stereotypes, and fishing rights in the Northwest. Some colleges are now buying that series for historical archival purposes because it represents the start for Indians in films inAmerica, so I am really happy that it is getting a bit of attention.”

Through her travels and work in Indian Country she has realized the beauty and rich humor Native Americans have. She incorporated those experiences to portray the realistic personality and humor of Native Americans, by presenting films with real images of Native peoples in biographical documentary filmmaking.

“On and Off the Res with Charlie Hill” covers the life of Charlie through his early years as a comedian with brief reflections into his childhood and his family.

“Meeting all the different people that we have come in contact with in all the films, I have gained intimate relationships with each of our subjects and think in turn, it has made the films more powerful,” said Sandra.

Films that Sandra directed include, “Lighting the Seventh Fire” (1995), “Pepper’s Pow Wow”(1996), and “Maria Tallchief “(2007) produced and written by Sandra.

Visit for listings of her films or you can email Sandra Osawa at


Jeannie Briones: 360-716-4188;


U.S. Chamber launches Native American Enterprise Initiative

New advocacy initiative will promote interests and agenda of tribes and tribal entrepreneurs

Press Release, U.S. Chamber of Commerce,

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today launched the Native American Enterprise Initiative (NAEI) to promote the interests and agenda of tribes and tribal entrepreneurs across the country. The NAEI will work with tribes and businesses to highlight opportunities for economic growth and networking for Native American enterprises, as well as promote foreign direct investment on tribal lands and pursue an aggressive advocacy agenda before Congress and the administration in coordination with other Native American advocacy organizations.

“Tribes and tribal enterprises across the country face a unique set of economic opportunities and challenges as entrepreneurship and economic diversification in Indian Country continues to grow,” said Rolf Lundberg, the Chamber’s senior vice president for Congressional and Public Affairs.  “The U.S. Chamber is launching NAEI to help boost economic growth and job creation by identifying opportunities and advocating for the policies that will help tribes and tribal entrepreneurs succeed. Drawing on the Chamber’s longstanding track record of successful business advocacy, NAEI will provide value to Indian Country by working to remove legislative and regulatory road blocks to their economic success.”

The issues that NAEI’s advocacy will focus include taxation, energy development, trade and economic development, and promoting a sensible regulatory policy. NAEI’s Leadership Council, composed of major tribes and tribal enterprises, will serve as the governing body of the initiative and will further develop policy priorities.

More information is available at

Tulalip’s larger annual donation to expand “Food for Thought” program

By Monica Brown, Tulalip Communications Department

Marysville Community Food Bank received a larger donation this year from The Tulalip Tribes. The $20,000 donation will benefit many people during these holiday seasons. Steve Gobin agreed,

“This is a larger than normal donation for us, but we understand that there’s a growing need in this community, the homeless population is growing every day. We’d like to help the citizens of Marysville who have been such big contributors to our own economic enterprises, and the most effective way of doing that is to help those in need stay alive, and to help their kids stay healthy.”

With a regular annual donation of $15,000 to the Marysville Community Food Bank, the extra $5,000 will contribute to the “Food for Thought” program, which began in May of 2012, to expand to three schools. As quoted in the Marysville Globe, Amy Howell, coordinator of the “Food for Thought” program, describes how the additional monies will benefit students at Liberty, Shoultes and Quil Ceda Elementary Schools

Amy Howell explains the process of how a child is included into the program, “They (the children) were chosen through input from their teachers, counselors, principal and lunchroom staff; their families sign permission slips to approve them for the program, and nobody above the school level knows which students they are, aside from the ones that I’ve met with personally, so nobody feels like they’re being singled out.”

With the impending addition of students from Shoultes and Quil Ceda, 25 from each school and 30 students from Liberty who are already served by the program, Howell has already met her enrollment goal for the spring of 2013, and is eager to serve more students who would otherwise go hungry between the close of school one day and the opening of school the next day. The “Food for Thought” program helps to relieve childhood hunger by providing nutritious weekend meals to students during the school year.

Marysville Community Food Bank Director Dell Deierling, as quoted from the Marysville Globe, explained that the regular donation of $15,000 will go towards “filling in the gaps” of needed food items and utility payments for the winter holiday season, from Thanksgiving through Christmas and the New Year.

“The community has done an awesome job of keeping donations coming,” Deierling said. “The Tulalip Tribes have been our biggest donors since our current building was built.”

Quil Ceda Village General Manager Steve Gobin credited both the Marysville and Tulalip communities with placing a shared value on the importance of charitable giving.

Donations may be made out to Marysville Community Food Bank and sent to P.O. Box 917, Marysville, WA 98270. If you would like to designate your funds specifically for “Food For Thought,” please write in the memo line of your check the program you wish to support. Donations may also be made online at via PayPal.




Salazar Finalizes Reforms to Streamline Leasing, Spur Economic Development on 56 Million Acres of American Indian Trust Land

Rule removes roadblocks to residential, commercial, renewable energy development; restores greater leasing control to tribal governments

 Press release, November  27, 2012, Blake Androff. U.S. Dept. of the Interior,

WASHINGTON – As part of President Obama’s commitment to empower tribal nations and strengthen their economies, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn today announced final regulations that will streamline the leasing approval process on Indian land, spurring increased homeownership, and expediting business and commercial development, including renewable energy projects.

The comprehensive reform, informed by nation-to-nation tribal consultations and public comment, overhauls antiquated regulations governing the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ process for approving the surface leases on lands the federal government holds in trust for Indian tribes and individuals. As trustee, Interior manages about 56 million surface acres in Indian Country.

“This reform will expand opportunities for individual landowners and tribal governments to generate investment and create jobs in their communities by bringing greater transparency and workability to the Bureau of Indian Affairs leasing process,” Secretary Salazar said. “This final step caps the most comprehensive reforms of Indian land leasing regulations in more than 50 years and will have a lasting impact on individuals and families who want to own a home or build a business on Indian land.”

“This reform is about supporting self-determination for Indian Nations and was developed in close consultation with tribal leaders,” said Assistant Secretary Washburn.             “The streamlined, commonsense rule replaces a process ill-suited for economic development of Indian lands and provides flexibility and certainty to tribal communities and individuals regarding decisions on the use of their land.”

The new rule complements and helps to implement the recently-passed Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act (HEARTH Act), which allows federally recognized tribes to assume greater control of leasing on tribal lands. The HEARTH Act was signed into law by President Obama on July 30, 2012.

Previous BIA regulations, established in 1961, are outdated and unworkable in today’s economy. They lacked a defined process or deadlines for review, which resulted in simple mortgage applications often languishing for several years awaiting approval from the federal government. These types of delays have been significant obstacles to homeownership and economic development on tribal lands.

The new regulation, effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, will fundamentally change the way the BIA does business, in many ways by minimizing BIA’s role and restoring greater control to tribal governments. The final rule provides clarity by identifying specific processes – with enforceable timelines – through which the BIA must review leases.

The regulation also establishes separate, simplified processes for residential, business, and renewable energy development, rather than using a “one-size fits all” approach that treats a lease for a single family home the same as a lease for a large wind energy project.

The new process provides a 30 day-limit for the BIA to issue decisions on residential leases, subleases, and mortgages. For commercial or industrial development, the BIA would have 60-days to review leases and subleases. If the BIA does not complete its review of subleases in this timeframe, those agreements will automatically go into effect.

The new rule increases flexibility in compensations and land valuations, with BIA deferring to the tribe’s negotiated value for a lease of tribal land rather than requiring additional, costly appraisals. Other changes eliminate the requirement for BIA approval of permits for certain short-term activities on Indian lands, and supports landowner decisions regarding the use of their land by requiring the BIA to approve leases unless it finds a compelling reason to disapprove.

Led by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Donald E. (“Del”) Laverdure, Interior conducted several rounds of consultation in 2011 and 2012 to develop the proposed and the final regulations. The comments received in writing and during the public meetings helped inform the final regulations being announced today.


Seattle Children’s Hospital featured in launch of first-ever crowdfunded hospital gift catalog

Press Release, Jennifer Kern, PR & Company LLC

With the holidays fast approaching, holiday giving this year has a new social media twist: crowdfunding gifts that give back.

In Seattle, Seattle Children’s Hospital is taking part in the launch of the first-ever crowdfunded hospital gift catalog – – as part of a national campaign led by the world’s largest crowdfunding-for-good platform, Fundly, and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Through, individuals wanting to give back with their holiday gifts can purchase critically-needed medical equipment and medical care for children at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Once donors choose their gift from the catalog, ranging from comfort toys ($30), to a pediatric wheelchair ($970), to an entire hospital wing devoted to neonatal intensive care ($12 million), they will receive updates on exactly how their gift is being utilized.

Individuals can also quickly and easily launch their own personalized crowdfunding campaign on the platform to collectively purchase big-ticket, high-impact medical items for the hospital through small donations from friends and family via Fundly, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Tulalip Transit installs permanent bus stops along their routes

Permanent bus stop featuring benches for riders are now being installed along the Tulalip Transit Route

Article by Brandi N. Montreuil, photo submitted by Mike Sarich

            Tulalip Transit has finished installing the new permanent bus stops along their Tulalip Bay Route. Each bus stop will feature the Tulalip Transit logo to identify which service the rider will be using. Benches attached to the bus stop poles will be available for elderly commuters who utilize the free transit service currently running two routes around the Tulalip Reservation.

            “Right now nine have been placed, some additional work needs to be done in order to put the remaining three in, so there will be a total of twelve,” explained Tulalip Transit Supervisor, Mary Hargrove.

            “Mission Highlands [housing development] received four bus stops, and those are the people that we are really trying to reach, because they don’t have any bus service at all. By getting them to at least Silver Village they can catch the Community Transit, or if they needed any of the services that are located out here, they can ride our bus.”

            Currently, the bus routes offered through Tulalip Transit services areas along Tulalip Bay, including stops at the Tulalip Administration Building, Silver Village and Mission Highlands housing developments, the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic, Senior Center, and the Don Hatch Jr. Youth Center & Greg Williams Court.

            The John Sam Lake route covers areas in the John Sam Lake and Aspen housing developments, the Seattle Premium Outlet Mall, and the Tulalip Resort Casino.

            Riders, who need to reach areas near Quil Ceda Casino and Tulalip Tribal Court, will need to use Community Transit.

Community Transit, explains Mary, can be used to connect the two Tulalip Transit routes, John Sam Lake and Tulalip Bay, as they share some bus stops with Community Transit.   “Community Transit has been gracious enough to let us share their bus stops, such as the one along Totem Beach and 64th Street. We are going to be placing another one near the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic, there is a temporary bus stop there now, but Community Transit was kind enough to leave there bus stop there when they made changes to their route so our passengers could continue to have some place to sit.”

            Tulalip Transit is a free transit service to Tulalip Tribal members and residents located within the Tulalip Reservation boundaries. It provides service to rural areas of the Tulalip Reservation where there are no other transit service available.

            For more information on routes and transit schedules, please visit the website

Tulalip celebrates wellbriety

Tribal member Crystal Gobin-Wassillie shares a moment with Tonia Elfing. Crystals speech touched people in the Audience.

Article and Photo by Jeannie Briones

TULALIP, Washington- Saturday, November 17, the Orca Ballroom at the Tulalip Resort Casino was packed with friends and community members celebrating the 33rd Annual Wellbriety event. Many people joined in the special evening to share good food and conversation, giving  thanks to those celebrating their wellbriety from drugs and alcohol.