By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News; Photos courtesy Montana State Athletics
Flashback to the 2021-2022 basketball season. In his first year at Montana State University, after transferring from the University of Washington, Tulalip’s own RaeQuan Battle played the role of 6th Man. He was the first bench player into the game most nights. As a transfer, he was required to be patient while adjusting to his new role in a new system, implemented by his new coach on new team.
Biding his time watching and learning, RaeQuan continued to develop his overall game. Yet, at all times, he stayed ready with that thang on him. That thang being his ability to fire away from deep. Something that the entire collegiate sports landscape witnessed on March 5, 2022 when he hit a game-winning 3-pointer from deep that made Logo Lillard proud. His first game-winning bucket as a Montana State Bobcat ended up as ESPN’s top play of the day.
That singular play reminded all doubters, critics, and casuals of the singular talent RaeQuan possesses. It also propelled him to even higher standards befitting a number one option in his second year at MSU.
It’s almost an understatement to say the 6’5”, 190-pound shooting guard thrived during the 2022-2023 regular season. His game soared to new levels as he led his Bobcats squad in total minutes played, field goals made, and 3-pointers made. Playing a team high 29.6 minutes per game as a starter, Rae showcased his silky-smooth jumper while scoring a team high 17.4 points per game. By the numbers, his defense improved as well, while ranking third on his team in both steals per game and blocks per game.
Montana State finished the regular season with an impressive 14-2 clip over there final sixteen games. Included in that run was RaeQuan scoring a college career high 32 points on January 18 against Sacramento State. The Bobcats finished the regular season with a (22-9) record, good for the #2 seed in the Big Sky tournament.
In their opening game of the Big Sky tourney, Montana State secured an 84-73 win versus Northern Colorado. Then two days later, on March 7 versus Weber State, RaeQuan again made ESPN’s highlight reel with a dazzling display of athleticism and play call execution.
In double-overtime and only 13.4 seconds remaining, Montana State’s coach Danny Sprinkle drew up a play designed to get RaeQuan open along the baseline. The play worked to perfection as Weber State did indeed leave RaeQuan open, so open that he was able to slam home an emphatic dunk in front of a raucous fan base. Another W for MSU. Another game-winner for RaeQuan.
“I have about 7,000 text messages congratulating me on a great play call,” shared Coach Sprinkle after the thrilling double-overtime game that ended with a game-winning alley-oop from Darius Brown to RaeQuan. “But it wasn’t me. It was Rae. He called it.”
The Big Sky championship game pitted Montana State vs. Northern Arizona on March 8 and was televised on ESPN2 for the convenience of Tulalip households who tuned in to cheer on their beloved RezQuan. The Tulalip hooper who learned his love of the game at the local Boys & Girls Club put on an offensive showcase for the current crop of young Tulalips who dream of playing college basketball. He led all scorers with 25 points and, more importantly, led his Bobcats to an 85-78 win.
For the second consecutive season, Montana State men’s basketball claimed the title of Big Sky conference champions. Their lead scoring guard, who went from 6th man last season to offensive focal point this season, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
During the post-game press conference, RaeQuan was asked what’s the best part of winning Big Sky MVP? Without hesitation he responded, “That I won it with my team. I didn’t achieve this by myself. It took the entire team to get us [in this position] and I’m just happy I was able to win a championship ring with my best friend Jubrile and one of my favorite coaches all time, Coach Sprinkle.”
Just days ago, Montana State with their (25-9) record and Big Sky championship, was designated the #14 seed in the East Region during the NCAA Tournament selection show. The Bobcats will face #3 seed Kansas State (23-9) on Friday at 6:40pm.in the opening round held in Greensboro, North Carolina. As part of March Madness, the game will be nationally televised on CBS.
A bold collaboration between Youth Enrichment and Tulalip Bay CrossFit is seeking to make a significant, perhaps even lifelong, impact in the overall health and wellness of Tulalip youth. That is, those youth who are willing to commit just one hour a day, twice a week to burpee, box jump, assault bike, row machine and push themselves into a strength transformation.
“Our goal is to get our youth into strength and conditioning along with gaining knowledge on nutrition. We hope that by them developing these skills, they then gain access to lifelong health,” said Josh Fryberg. “This is also a cool opportunity to support a local, tribal member owned business. Tulalip Bay CrossFit classes are free for youth grades 6th – 12th thanks to financial support provided by Youth & Family Enrichment.”
It’s no secret that many of our people who live past the age of Tulalip’s 58-year average life span are at high-risk for developing high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Also, not a secret that many in the under 40 age group have a propensity to engage in a lifestyle that’s resulted in diseases of despair (drug overdose, suicide, and alcoholic liver disease) among the Tribe’s leading causes of death.
What is a secret, one often whispered in safe spaces filled with like-minded fitness enthusiasts, is the previously mentioned afflictions are largely preventable. All it takes, wait for it, is self-confidence and a purposeful focus to accomplish long-term goals. That’s it, really? Yes, really. Confidence to decline the social pressures of unhealthy activities in order to sustain a mind and body capable of thriving from functional fitness long into the elder years.
This is where Tulalip Bay CrossFit and this newly created youth-centered class comes in. Because for our 712 teenage Tulalip tribal members, they have so much untapped physical potential and teachable mental elasticity that often they just need a safe environment led by a passionate coach who believes in them to break through their imagined limitations.
“Knowing these moments of accomplishment experienced by the kids eventually turn into memories that fuel them to accomplish more and more is just amazing to me,” said Ananda Pablo, certified CrossFit trainer and coach. “The kids of our community are so adaptable and eager to be active that after the initial shock of actually working out, they make progress so quick as they get adjusted to the CrossFit routines.
“We’re able to offer a convenient spot that’s on the reservation for them to exercise and engage in healthy behaviors,” she added. Ananda and her husband Roy have been co-owners of Tulalip Bay CrossFit since September 2019. “Honestly, the kids motivate me because I get to witness their growth. I watch them do things they previously told me they couldn’t do, and to see their attitude and self-belief soar after they do those things is just phenomenal.”
Participation in CrossFit has become increasingly popular in recent years, and many young people are reaping the benefits of this high-intensity exercise program. Within the familial confines of Tulalip Bay’s box, how those in the CrossFit world refer to their gyms, is a daily changing workout that combines cardiovascular exercise, weightlifting, and gymnastics.
CrossFit focuses on functional movements performed at high intensity that offer the following benefits:
Improved Physical Fitness: CrossFit is an intense workout that can help young people to improve their physical fitness. The program is designed to improve cardiovascular endurance, strength, flexibility, and overall body composition. Young people who participate in CrossFit can expect to see improvements in their cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and body fat percentage.
Increased Confidence: CrossFit workouts can be challenging, but they can also be empowering. Young people who participate in CrossFit can gain a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence when they complete a tough workout or achieve a new personal best. This can be particularly important for young people who may be struggling with self-esteem or body image issues.
Social Support: CrossFit provides a sense of community and social support that can be beneficial for young people. The workouts are often done in a group setting, which can provide a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. This can be especially important for young people who may be struggling to find a sense of belonging or social support in other areas of their lives.
Improved Mental Health: Exercise has been shown to have positive effects on mental health, and CrossFit is no exception. The high-intensity workouts can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and can provide a natural outlet for negative emotions. Young people who participate in CrossFit may also experience improved self-esteem and self-confidence, which can be beneficial for overall mental health and well-being.
Healthy Habits: CrossFit can help young people to establish healthy habits and practices that can last a lifetime. The program emphasizes proper nutrition and rest, which are essential for overall health and well-being. By establishing healthy habits early on, young people can set themselves up for a lifetime of health and wellness.
An additional benefit of the Tulalip Bay CrossFit and Youth Enrichment collaboration is the competitive spirit that is summoned during workouts that showcase the girls versus the boys. When functional fitness is the name of the game, the girls can and do win in convincing fashion.
“It’s so important for women to know it’s okay to be strong. Especially during the teenage years, when there are so many social pressures to be skinny and entire marketing campaigns aimed at making them feel inadequate,” explained Ananda. “When it comes to fitness and exercise, skinny is not a strength; strength is strength.
“We want our women and girls to feel empowered, so what better way than to actually develop a power they can feel and use on a daily basis. During these youth classes I’ve witnessed two teenaged girls, Lillyannah and Kyla, become so proud to be strong. I’ve seen them out rope climb the boys and out row the boys. Each time they are motivating and pushing each other to be a little bit better than that time before, and that just so inspiring to me because that’s the beauty of progress,” she continued.
Youth fitness and self-care through exercise are essential for overall health and well-being. Particularly for Tulalip youth, regular physical activity can help to prevent chronic diseases, improve mental health and promote healthy habits and practices. It can be lifechanging for our young people to establish healthy habits early on and to incorporate exercise into their weekly routines.
These Youth Enrichment sponsored Tulalip Bay CrossFit sessions are held on Mondays and Thursdays from 4:00pm – 5:00pm. Sign up today at the Tulalip Youth Campus located at 6700 Totem Beach Road. Get fit. Be strong. Live healthy.
Led by a new coaching staff, with head coach Malcom Mack at the helm, the Tulalip Heritage boys basketball team soared to a (7-0) record to open the ’22–’23 season.
It wasn’t until early January that they finally played legit inner-league competition in rivals Grace Academy and Lummi Nation. Those two teams proved to be too much for the Hawks, who couldn’t match the physicality and tempo of their rivals for a full four quarters. Heritage went (0-4) versus the cream of the Northwest 1B crop.
Fast forward to the end of January and the Hawks were riding a losing streak, with one no-contest vs. Fellowship Christian because of an on-court scuffle, to conclude the regular season. On the morning of February 1, both players and coaches woke up with an overall (12-6) record, which was good enough for the 3rd best team in the Northwest 1B division. However, they also knew they’d be without a couple starters for multiple games because of post-scuffle suspensions and consequences from accumulating too many technical fouls.
Shortly thereafter the 2023 District Tournament bracket was released and the #5 seeded Hawks drew a team in Providence Classical Christian that they had defeated twice by 30+ points during the regular season. This fact gave the coaching staff confidence their squad would still be victorious even being down a couple key contributors.
Tulalip hosted Providence at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium on February 2. The Hawks came out playing well on both ends of the court. After taking an early 12-3 lead, they extended that to 15 points midway in the 3rd quarter when they led 40-25 in front of their emphatic fans. Then things got really interesting.
Providence didn’t sulk, nor let their bench players stay in. Instead, the away team left their starters in the whole 4th quarter and they battled back to create a real sense of urgency in the Hawks who had led big for most of the game. Tulalip didn’t help matters by going nearly 8 minutes of game play without scoring a point. With under 4-mintues to go, Tulalip’s big lead had been whittled down to just four points, 40-36. Tarynn Fryberg finally ended his team’s scoreless run with a must needed bucket and made free-throw, which ended up being the difference as the Hawks would hold on to muster a 46-40 win.
Two days later Heritage played rival Grace Academy, in their house, and caught a quick and decisive L. The boys couldn’t hang their head for long following the 37-61 loss because they were scheduled for a loser-out game just 48-hours later.
On February 7, once again at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium, the Hawks hosted Shoreline Christian. Tulalip had bested Shoreline during both regular season matchups, but that didn’t deter Shoreline from bringing the heat the third time around. The home team struggled mightily offensively in the first quarter to the tune of trailing 2-13. Coach Mack and his assistants must’ve lit quite a fire under the boys because after battling back to make it 24-29 at the halftime, the Hawks shooters ignited an offensive explosion in the 2nd half. After only putting up 24 points the entire 1st half, they put up a whopping 44 points over the 3rd and 4th quarters to pull out an impressive 68-56 come from behind victory.
With the latest win came a chance to place at Districts and secure a spot in the Tri-District Tournament. All they’d have to do is get one more win against their opponent Lopez Island Lobos in their matchup played at Mount Vernon Christian High School on February 9. The Tulalip faithful travelled well for this away game and did their best to bring high energy fandom from the bleachers.
Those in attendance were treated to a back and forth, entertaining game between two teams desperate for a win. Tulalip jumped out to an early 12-5 lead, but was plagued by turnovers committed against a Lopez full court trap that resulted in easy transition buckets for the Lobos. With senior guard Louie Gallagher on the bench, the Hawks offense continued to sputter and eventually found themselves trailing 17-20 midway in the 2nd quarter.
After Louie was reinserted back into the game, he’s intensity on both ends of the courts became contagious as his fellow Hawks began jumping passing lanes and running the floor at a near frantic pace…Rez ball at it’s finest.
After leading 31-25 at halftime, Louie and senior forward Nicholas Rhoads did their best to put away the Lobos with timely passing and interior scoring. Louie even had a chasedown block that sent the Hawks fans into a frenzy. The team fed off that energy and continued to run at every opportunity, eventually pushing their lead to 20 points at 61-41. Tulalip never lifted the throttle and wound up with a huge 80-43 win. Senior players Louis Gallagher scored 27 points and Nicholas Rhoads added 20 points to lead their team.
The crowd pleasing win secured a 5th place finish for the Hawks at Districts and punched their ticket to the Tri-District Tournament.
It was a tough draw for the home team as they were seeded #11 and had to travel to Orcas Island to play a team that had beaten both Grace and Lummi, both teams Tulalip had struggled against all season. It would indeed be an uphill battle versus an overall better team as the Hawks season ended abruptly with a 71-88 loss on February 11.
“Overall, it was a good season filled with a lot of team dubs,” shared guard Louie Gallagher. “There were times we trailed in games and had to calm down and come back together as a team with the right energy. Those were the most fun games to me when we showed our ability to refocus against a good team and come back to win by a lot. I loved the support the Tulalip community showed me and my brother Blaine and the entire team all season long, whether it was at home games or traveling to watch our away games. Thank you, Tulalip.”
By Kalvin Valdillez, photos by Kalvin and Tyler Fryberg
We all know someone who loves to run. Some runners train for marathons where they competitively engage in the sport with their fellow members of the running community, and many others run with their health and conditioning in mind. No matter what people run to achieve, what brand their running sneakers are, or if they run on road, trail, treadmill, or track, they develop a deeply personal relationship with their self’s byway of the sport.
After the initial stage of side stitches and that feeling of complete exhaustion, running becomes an activity that new athletes look forward to in their everyday schedule. And once runners have all the techniques down, such as breathing, stretching, practicing proper running form, and eating a healthy and nourishing diet, running eventually becomes second nature, which allows time for people to go inward to process their thoughts and focus on their mental and spiritual state.
There is something so freeing while you are out in the middle of a run and the endorphins are high. Perhaps it’s the terrain and the beautiful scenery of the natural world that puts people in a meditative state and increases their cognitive clarity. Whatever it may be, runners usually gain a positive outlook on life and are very in tune with the universe as we know it.
That connection between soul and exercise is all the more special for the Indigenous Peoples of North America. What many gain from ceremony and engaging in various cultural activities, Native runners also share – that experience of connectedness to their territory, spirituality, and traditional way of life.
Long before colonialism arrived at our lands, Native people utilized running as a means of delivering messages to other tribes, and also as rites of passage as their youth transitioned into adulthood. For generations upon generations, Natives relied on running and traveling by foot, and to say they were good at it is an understatement. Not only could Natives run long distances, but they could do it in a short amount of time, and they frequently covered as many as one hundred miles over the course of 24-hours.
Several survivors from the boarding school era went on record to tell of how they escaped the institutions of genocide on foot and ran extremely long distances in harsh conditions to be reunited with their tribes and families.
It’s safe to say that running is embedded in our traditions, heritage, and culture. In modern times, the act of running in Native America is typically accompanied with a cause to raise awareness. Last Fall, NCAI President and Vice-Chair of the Quinault Indian Nation, Fawn Sharp, organized a 1,787-mile relay that spanned across five states to bring attention to the 2022 Supreme Court ruling, Castro v. Oklahoma, and also to celebrate the recent reinstatement of Jim Thorpe’s 1912 Olympic records as the sole champion of the that year’s decathlon and pentathlon.
At Tulalip, several awareness runs are hosted throughout each year such as the Orange Shirt Day Run and the Color Run, which helps open up the discussion about some of the issues that tribal youth face due to generational trauma such as suicide, bullying and addiction.
The fact that running plays a huge role in our history and our practices is often overlooked in today’s society of planes, bullet trains, and driverless automobiles, not to mention the ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft.
This year, Tulalip News is highlighting a number of Native runners, historians, and organizations that are focused on the cultural aspect of running. And there is no better place to start than with the Tulalip Marathon Man himself, Tyler Fryberg, who has received countless accolades for his passion and dedication to the art of running, and who has also actively participated in the state’s Special Olympics throughout the years. So, without further ado, we present a fun Q&A with Tyler Fryberg.
As a tribal member, can you describe your relationship with running?
My relationship with running – I got into running seventeen years ago. At first, I hated it and then something clicked to where I loved running, and I started running five days a week when I was in high school. I used to hate the fact that I would always get injured. At one point, I wanted to stop running, but one day I realized that was just something I would have to [endure] if I wanted to keep going on as a runner. So I did and now I love the sport, and I’ve learned so many ways of how to run injury-free and how to keep my body in shape so I can keep running for many years to come.
You can often be seen training throughout the reservation, do you feel a special connection to your homelands when you are running through Tulalip? If so, what are some of your favorite scenic views during your route?
Yes, I do feel a connection to my homelands. My favorite view is when I run to the end of Mission Beach. When I look out, I can see everything from the water and animals in the trees, to seeing different tribal members do what they love on the water. Another view that I enjoy is when I go to the water, down behind the longhouse. I love the water and I feel a connection to my homelands by the water, since we as Tulalip members are water people.
Traditionally, running is an extension of the Native American way of life and is a great exercise both physically and spiritually. While you are running, do you feel as though you are able to embrace that connection to our ancestors and traditions?
When I run, I feel the Native Americans before me. They did not have cars at one time, so they didn’t just run for a sport like I do today, but also to get food for their families, to get wood, and other [necessities]. And for me, I feel that they’re watching me run and are there without me even knowing it. Because sometimes I feel like I am talking to someone who is not there on my runs. And I believe it’s the ancestors who lived before me. I feel like they would be proud of me for keeping running alive as a Native American today.
As mentioned before, running is practically in our DNA. In today’s world, with all the different modes of transportation and everyday distractions, why do you think it’s important for tribal members to reconnect with the sport of running?
I feel like running is our way of life, and we don’t take enough time to connect with what our ancestors did before. We might also have football or basketball in our DNA today, but people forget running was a sport here way before any of those were even created.
And lastly, what are your current running goals, are you training for anything specific lately?
I am training for a full marathon on April 2, 2023, in Everett. And I am also training at the same time for the 5k road race for the Special Olympics. Because I run for sport as a competitive athlete, I never forget the Native Americans who came before me and I want to make them proud. Which I feel like I already do.
November is Native American Heritage Month. A time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures and traditions, and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and presently, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to overcome these challenges.
Most people should know Native peoples aren’t a monolith. That is to say each of the 574 federally recognized tribes is unique, each with their own set of traditional teachings stemming from treaty rights, connection to regional lands and resources, and level of economic freedom to express tribal sovereignty.
Encompassing each tribe is a beautiful diaspora of tribal citizens who live their lives expressing their own sense of personal identity according to a unique set of cultural values, whether that be traditional or contemporary or some combination of both. For young Tulalip phenom Charlie Contraro, the answer may be both or, better yet, simply something as unique as she is.
For starters, Charlie isn’t just a girl who plays basketball. She’s a hooper. Meaning she has the offensive range to shoot a deep 3-ball just as easily as she could beat her defender off the dribble and score a lay-up. And defensively she’s even better. Willing to dive on the deck for a loose ball, defend her opponent’s best or biggest player, and really, like for real, really looks forward to someone attempting a shot within her vicinity so she can swat that thing outta there like Dikembe Mutombo.
“I’d rather have a game saving block than a game winning shot,” said the defensive minded Charlie as she detailed her October basketball tournament in New York. “Because when my team is up or we’re already winning, then I can really get after it [defensively] and get lots of blocks. Yeah, I like blocks instead of shots for sure. I got lots of blocks in New York. So many that my mom started calling me Charlie Mutumbo.”
Measuring in at 4-foot-11-inches, Charlie is typically one of the tallest girls on the court when she’s playing within her own age group. That level of verticality, plus her swift movement, allows her to soar through the air in pursuit of her coveted blocked shots. However, the recently turned 10-year-old often plays multiple years up against competition older and more physically mature. It’s a welcomed challenge that gives Charlie plenty of opportunity to play her favorite position – point guard.
“Charlie’s been a baller since the womb,” said her mom Annie Jo Parish proudly. She’s well known as Miss A.J. from her years of teaching at Tulalip Montessori. “I played ball until I was at least six months pregnant with her. Then as a toddler she would watch from the sidelines as I coached her older sisters at the boys and girls club. She was at all their practices and at a certain point she started participating in their drills and conditioning exercises. So, really, Charlie has always been immersed in basketball culture, but she had to be patient and wait her time to play because, generally, competitive teams for girls don’t start until 4th grade.”
Now, after years of watching and learning from her sisters, the Jackson Elementary 4th grader has been unleashed to play to her heart’s desire on select level travelling teams. She’s also a regular on the Native tournament circuit, playing with older competition and against the boys.
No matter the competitive setting, whether it be on concrete or hardwood, Charlie is impossible to miss on the basketball court because of a Native asset she’s been growing her entire life, her hair.
Charlie’s near body length, beautiful black hair is a form of cultural expression naturally woven all the way back to her earliest ancestors. There are many teachings and practices that vary from tribe to tribe and generation to generation, but one that is near constant since time immemorial among all the tribes is the importance of hair to cultural identity. A Native American’s hair is considered sacred and significant to who they are as an individual, family, and community.
In many tribes, it is believed that a person’s long hair represents a strong cultural identity. For young people especially, a strong cultural identity promotes self-esteem, self-respect, a sense of belonging, and a healthy sense of pride. For Charlie, the constant chatter about her hair from teammates and competition is something she uses to elevate both her game and her culture. In fact, a few of the gyms she’s showcased her budding basketball talents at thus far, she’s been referenced as the baller with the braid.
“Some of the things I hear all the time on the court is ‘Wow, your hair is really long!’, ‘Can I have some of your hair?’, ‘Your braid is so big. I wish I had hair like that’ or even ‘You’re like Rapunzel except your hair is black’,” reflected Charlie with a huge smile. “It’s cool to get compliments about my hair from my teammates and people I’m playing against, too. My mom tells me all the time that my braid is my signature.”
How we as Native Americans relate to our hair is a constant reminder of our connection to our culture and a distinct worldview grounded in the sacredness of relationships. Braiding a child’s hair is the beginning of establishing an intimate and nurturing relationship. For Charlie, it’s her father Mike Contraro who braids her hair before basketball games and practices.
“It makes me so proud to watch her playing the game she loves, running up and down the court with her braid trailing behind her,” said Mike during an intermission between Charlie’s tournament games. “It’s funny, too, because if you watch her, Charlie has a habit of rubbing the end of her braid in between free throws or during timeouts. Almost like it’s a lucky charm.”
Sure enough, during Charlie’s next game she was spotted at the free throw line holding the end of her braid before she swished one in. Maybe its muscle memory from a lifelong relationship with her hair and her parents braiding it before sports, or maybe it’s a continuation of her family’s grounding practices they do during travel.
“When we travel, my older daughters and I practice grounding or what’s sometimes called Earthing,” explained momma bear A.J. “This is something Charlie does, too. We’ll go barefoot in a safe space and take time to ground, reflect and reconnect with the Earth. The intention is to allow the Earth’s positive charges to enter through our feet and reconnect our bodies to our natural world.”
The inspiring 10-year-old hooper and her family have recently returned from a Nike Phenom camp in the sunshine state. Charlie’s mom shared that shortly after landing in California they went on a hike near the Golden Gate Bridge, where they were able to take in the iconic view while grounding themselves.
Her stellar play in California resulted scoring high in all her player evaluations and an exclusive invitation to Phenom National Camp in 2023. Her parents’ dedication to their youngest child, from the countless miles driven to her practices along the I-5 corridor and east side near Issaquah to the hours in the gym rebounding tirelessly as their daughter shoots jump shots, continues to bolster Charlie’s love for the game. She looks forward to filling out her skill set and working on her step back 3-pointers like she sees her favorite Seattle Storm players, Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart, routinely hit on the game’s biggest stage.
“Charlie is a scorer, a defender and an extra point guard. And she can play big. She can pretty much do everything on the court,” said 5th grade Nike coach Chris Nolen. Charlie plays a year up to play on Nike’s Tree of Hope team. “She’s been a huge addition for us. She’s a starter and gets a lot of minutes.
“Any time you have a player playing with older competition that means they have a huge competitive spirit. I can always count on Charlie to compete on both ends of the floor,” her coach continued. “Tree of Hope is an AAU type program and under the Nike banner. We are part of the national recognition level which is really competitive. We want to prepare our players for the next level, and we want to win. Charlie definitely helps us win.”
Winning comes in many forms. There’s the score of the game and the game of life. For Charlie, when asked what some of her favorite basketball memories are, she responded with the most whimsical tales from shooting in the wrong basket once to seeing huge flocks of pigeons while in New York.
However, ask her about being challenged in basketball by boys at her school and her tone changes dramatically. “Oh, they always want to challenge. Most of the time I’m the only girl they’ll pick to play with them, even though others will watch from the side. One time this boy who is a bully tried guarding me and I dribbled between my legs, crossed over and then between the legs again into a jab step…he went for the fake and fell to the ground. Then I made the basket. Everyone watching started cheering and saying things like ‘OHHH!’ That was a pretty cool.
“Some boys say girls can’t play basketball, but they’re wrong,” she added defiantly. “Just look at woman’s college basketball or the WNBA. Those are professional girls getting paid big bucks to play basketball. Hopefully, that’ll be me one day.”
Charlie dreams of playing for one of the biggest college programs after graduating high school in 2031 before moving onto the WNBA. Which WNBA team? The Seattle Storm of course. Her mom is also planting seeds through all the travel basketball that she could continue her ball is life dream in far off lands like Europe or even China where they have huge followings for professional women’s basketball.
Until that dream comes true, Charlie and her signature braid will continue to work on perfecting fundamentals, beating the boys whenever possible, and being a beacon of inspiration to her Native American peers.
“When we decided to go down this path of sports betting, we knew it was going to be a long and grueling process in Olympia. Our lawyers worked hard finding the right legislation and gaming compact language so we could bring our goal to fruition,” explained Tulalip Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “With all the Washington tribes working together, we earned our legislative victory a year ago. It did take a while to make our vision a reality, but in the end we did it the Tulalip way. And as you can see, it’s a grand way.”
Moments later, Chairwoman Gobin beamed with excitement as she stood next to fellow board member Hazen Shopbell, Seattle Mariners legend Randy Johnson, and DraftKings representative Johnny Avello for a ceremonial ribbon cutting. While the red ribbon fluttered to the floor, a sweeping thrill of energy radiated through the largely Tulalip crowd, announcing Tulalip’s sportsbooks are officially open for business.
A large contingent of Tulalip culture bearers were on-hand to open the event in a traditional way. The voices and thumping drum beats of adults and children echoed through the casino gaming floor, reminding everyone they are guests on Indigenous land.
“I’ve opened a number of casinos and sportsbooks in my career and want to thank the tribal members for their songs and prayers because I’ve never encountered that before. That was fabulous,” said Johnny Avello, DraftKings director of race and sportsbook operations.
Tulalip Resort Casino and Quil Ceda Creek Casino both celebrated their grand openings simultaneously on Tuesday, September 20. The much-anticipated events featured celebrity guests – former Mariners pitcher, the towering 6’10” baseball hall of famer Randy Johnson at the Resort and Seattle Seahawks former wide receiver and hall of famer Steve Largent at the Q.
The retail sportsbooks feature live in-game sports betting and other engaging wagering options, with viewing of a multitude of sporting events at the same time possible via jumbotron-like LED screens. The Resort’s sportsbook is over 5,000 square feet and offers sporting enthusiasts the opportunity to watch up to 10 live sporting events while placing bets at 20 touch screen kiosks and 4 over-the-counter ticket windows. Another ten sports betting kiosks are located throughout the Resort’s gaming floor.
The state-of-the-art sports betting venue is managed by Tulalip citizen Brandon Jones. Impressively, the 35-year-old has 17 years of gaming experience. He started his gaming career in the cage at just 18-years-old and hasn’t looked back since.
“Gaming and the casino life are all I know, it’s all I’ve ever done,” shared Brandon, sportsbook manager. “It means so much to be a Tulalip tribal member and be able to build something all-new from scratch that adds so much value to the reservation, from both a business and community perspective.
“We’ve designed this sportsbook for the new generation. A lot of people my age and younger aren’t interested in bingo or keno, but are super engaged in all forms of sports entertainment, whether it be professional or college level,” he continued. “We’ll continue to evolve our sports betting and are already working towards facilitating e-gaming betting in the near future. To my fellow tribal members, this venue offers a new place to gather and enjoy the Seahawks, Mariners, or Huskies and Cougs games with all the high energy of a local crowd.”
Meanwhile, the Q’s new sportsbook features 20 sports betting kiosks and 3 over-the-counter ticket windows located on the gaming floor. The four video walls in The Stage, the Q’s entertainment venue and nightclub, span nearly 900 square feet, comprised of 13 million pixels that can also display up to ten different games simultaneously. Both of the sportsbooks are outfitted with a variety of betting resources, including odds boards, scrolling tickers with live-score updates, statistics, and player information.
In development with Tulalip’s newest partner, DraftKings, a digital app is in the works that will allow gamers of either casino sportsbooks to place bets from their mobile devices while on casino property. Future announcements are planned when the app is ready for launch.
After the grand opening ceremony ended, several tribal members eagerly waited for a picture opportunity with former Mariners, the Big Unit and Bucky Jacobsen. Others quickly took to one of the new sports-based kiosks to place their first-ever sports bet. Father/son duo Cyrus Fryberg Sr. and Jr. were spotted putting their combined sports knowledge together for a wager or two.
“As an avid sports bettor, I know this is going to be huge for Tulalip. The atmosphere around sports is different than our other revenue streams because the younger generation is so involved with sports,” said Bubba Fryberg. “We can definitely anticipate many new people coming to Tulalip on Saturday for college football, Sundays for NFL games, and throughout the weeks for marquee matchups and primetime games. Also, it’s cool for everybody to have a new spot where family and friends can come together to root for their favorite teams.”
Both of Tulalip’s sportsbook offerings are open 24/7. All sports bets are cash only, so there’s complete anonymity. Unless, you were one of those attending the grand opening and wanted to share your sports bet ticket, like councilwoman Marie Zackuse who placed a $10 wager on the Mariners money line.
The annual Salute to Native American Night hosted by the Seattle Mariners was a great success, once again. So many proud Natives from across the Pacific Northwest journeyed to T-Mobile Park on August 23 to celebrate the Puyallup Tribe canoe family as they shared their songs and dance on the immaculate baseball field.
“This event gives us an opportunity to build our tribal community and develop must-needed awareness for the thousands of non-Natives in attendance. For many of them, this is may be their first time witnessing our songs and dance or have the opportunity to have a conversation with an actual tribal member of one of the surrounding Tribes,” shared Puyallup Tribe culture director and elder, Connie McCloud.
“We had so many of our people join the canoe family in the last year or so that we were really excited for just how many we’d have potentially for this special presentation,” she continued. “We had between 100 to 125 show up to the stadium. During practice we gave regalia to those who didn’t have any. There was such a huge sense of pride from knowing we are representing our Tribe, our families, and our community in such a good, positive way. And to do this in front of such a large audience only reaffirms the power of our culture and traditional teachings to the young ones. They are growing up in an era where they can truly embrace their culture and not be afraid to wear traditional clothing and ceremonial items in public.”
Official attendance of the Tuesday night game was a whopping 38,254 fans. Amongst that huge number was an estimated 200 Tulalips, many of whom were gifted free tickets and bussed to the game as one of our youth enrichment program’s summer activities.
On the field pre-game with the Puyallup canoe family was powwow circuit legend and Tulalip’s own Jobey Williams. He was accompanied by his 4-year-old son Dahnahhi as they both pounded their circular hand drums and sang in unison with their Puyallup brothers and sisters.
“First, I’d like to say just how appreciative I am for Puyallup to call and offer me and my son the opportunity to drum and sing with their canoe family,” said Jobey. “As Native people, we share the same spirit. Even if our songs and dance vary from tribe to tribe and region to region, the same spirit powers us all. To share in that moment with our neighbors from Puyallup was so amazing.
“Being in front of such a huge Mariners crowd and offering them just a sample of what we do as Native people – our songs and dance, our beautiful children in their regalia, and the power of our community – as a Tulalip, I’m just so thankful,” he added. “Us old ones remember that long before basketball became the most popular sport on the Rez today, it was baseball that was number one. Previous generations loved baseball because for a long time it was the only sport broadcast on the radio. No internet, no tv, but they had baseball on the radio. Families would huddle around the radio and listen to the games. Hard to imagine today, right?”
Families huddled around a radio listening to any sports today is hard to imagine. But what’s not hard to imagine is just how significant the Mariners yearly tribute to Native Americans is. Look at all images accompanying this article that demonstrate pure pride and joy, full of smiling faces, multi-generations dancing together, and a larger sense of community for what it means to be Native in the Pacific Northwest.
More impressive than the 430-foot bomb hit by third basemen Eugenio Suarez or the 7-strikeout gem pitched by Robbie Ray or even the Mariners 4-2 win over the Nationals, was the stunning display of Coast Salish culture that filled the ball park. Serving as a simple reminder to the tens of thousands in attendance and even more watching at home: we are still here and we are thriving!
With binoculars at the ready, numerous spectators sat in lawn chairs near the edge of the bluff overlooking Tulalip Bay on a sunny August afternoon. “Back it up” a voice instructed over a loudspeaker, as sleek canoes began to slowly creep forward in anticipation of the air horn which signaled the start of the race. Four canoes, each guided by eleven Indigenous athletes, were guided back to a line of floating buoys. As soon as the long canoes were behind the starting line, the airhorn blasted and echoed across the bay, and forty-four paddles simultaneously struck the water.
Moving at high speeds through the local Salish waters, the competitors pulled the entire length of Tulalip Bay, and passed through the inlet before journeying out into the sea. For a while, the canoes were out of sight, and then they came back into view, and raced back to the Hermosa side of the bay before making the last stretch of the race back toward the longhouse.
“Tulalip has always been one of our favorite races,” said Karlie Kinley (Lummi) of the Merisa Mae Canoe Club. “It’s one of the newer courses to the circuit, and it’s on the US side. A lot of times we have to travel far away, because many of the canoe clubs are from Canada. Tulalip is close to home, and we can bring more of our families. The hospitality and everything is always really good here. And it’s saltwater, and we’re saltwater paddlers so we get a little bit of advantage in the water – it’s definitely one of our favorite places to come.”
For the first time since the pandemic hit, the annual Canoe Races returned to Tulalip Bay during the weekend of August 20. The tribal athletes were excited to get back out on the water and visit with friends and family hailing from other nearby tribes.
“We started in 2015 at the direction of one of the elders of our family,” said Natasha Fryberg, Tulalip Canoe Races organizer and hostess. “They thought it was very important to bring it back to Tulalip, we used to host it many years ago. We really wanted the canoes back on our waters, on our land. My favorite part of the races is everyone coming here, seeing everybody who we haven’t seen in a while, hearing all the laughter and stories, and seeing the participants on the water. You get to see so many different athletes who bring so much to the canoe circuit.”
You may already know that traditional cedar dugout canoes were created as a means of transportation, so that the Salishan ancestors could navigate from tribe to tribe or harvest from the sea. The canoes utilized for the races, however, are much different than those seen every summer at Canoe Journeys. Sometimes referred to as war canoes, this speedy canoe variation is narrower and much lighter in comparison. Developed centuries ago, many traditional stories claim that these canoes were created so that people could travel quickly to and from other tribal nations to conduct raids during wartime between tribes.
“This goes all the way back to the beginning of time,” explained Willie Jones Jr., Lummi tribal member and skipper of the Lady Rose Canoe Club. “Of course, through the years the stories change. But what these races evolved from is when our ancestors started racing the canoes just for something to do at our potlatches. This is part of our teachings – we’ve been racing canoes for as long as I can remember.”
Participants of all ages pulled in a number of competitions throughout the weekend including singles, doubles, 6-man and 11-man races. Several Coast Salish tribes, bands and canoe families were well represented during the event.
Vivianna Thomas and Kieneshia Dominic James, young pullers from the Scowlitz First Nation, reflected on returning to Tulalip Bay and participating in the races.
Said Vivianna, “I pulled in the women’s six, thirteen and under six, women’s eleven and thirteen and under eleven. We got fourth in both women’s. And thirteen and under, it was a bunch of little kids and I felt happy to take them out. Coming out to Tulalip is always really fun and I enjoyed everything we did this weekend.
Kieneshia added, “It’s really fun to do, especially throughout the summer. You get to meet and see a lot of people and compete against other kids. And being out on the water gives me peace and a strong mind. And I always send up prayers for all my people in need.”
The Canoe Race circuit consists of several waterway courses located at tribal villages throughout the Pacific Northwest region. As Natasha mentioned, the Tulalip Bay course was recently unlocked during the summer of 2015 and has been a racer favorite ever since.
“I love the scenery here,” expressed first time puller, Kendra Jefferson who also belongs to the Marisa Mae Canoe Club. “This is my first-year racing and it felt amazing. I really enjoy canoe pulling and being with friends and family. This is something that I grew up with, and it’s been in my family for years. To me, it’s very important and I know it’s important to my mom, my dad, and my grandparents to carry on the tradition, and I hope my kids follow along.”
Passing on the tradition, along with various techniques, is something that every racer looks forward to. In fact, many of the young competitors belong to a longline of canoe racers, and often race alongside their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties during the team races.
“I like getting to race with my kids,” said Nooksack tribal member, Jeremy Roberts. “I have three kids who are ten and under and it was fun to get to race with them this weekend. This is important to the culture – to keep our traditions going, passing on our teachings, and just getting out there and having fun. It was a great weekend with good weather, good water, it wasn’t rough. It’s been a great season and I am thankful to be back on the water with family.”
In addition to keeping the canoe racing tradition alive, the summertime event serves as a great way to keep the youth away from destructive activities and behaviors, while engaging them in a positive and cultural experience.
“The Canoe Races gives our people a place to go,” Natasha stated. “People participate for many different reasons, whether it’s cultural, or their looking for their own self-healing. This is also a prevention tool for our kids. A lot of different clubs use it as a prevention tool for their club members.”
“These races are important to our people, especially for our youth and younger people nowadays,” Willie agreed. “We’re losing a lot of culture, values, and teachings in our school systems – they’re not teaching it there as much as they should. This is vital to teaching our youth a cultural way of life, showing them a good way of life, and keeping them away from all those things that get kids in trouble. We’re fighting a lot of drugs and alcohol on all of our reservations up and down the coast. Prevention plays a huge role, and this is a good way to keep our kids busy and support our youth.”
The last stop on the Canoe Race circuit will take place during the final weekend of August at Neah Bay. And although there were a handful of young sduhubš racers this year, Natasha expressed a desire to start a canoe club from Tulalip to participate in next year’s circuit.
For more information, including how to get involved in the races, please follow War Canoe Races page on Facebook.
Over the three-day span of March 11–13, bucket getters from reservations all across the Pacific Northwest journeyed to Tulalip to participate in a thrilling Jr Nationals tournament. The first major basketball tournament in over two years produced stunning nail biters, wire-to-wire victories, clutch time shots, and memories galore for hundreds of Native spectators who cheered on their favorite hardwood hoopsters.
There were nearly a dozen competitive divisions, from 8U up to 18U, filled with boys, girls and co-ed teams. There were so many teams that tournament coordinators reached out to Marysville Getchell and Marysville Pilchuck high schools for access to their basketball courts. Both schools graciously offered their courts for play to give the tournament a whopping seven courts of action, including those at the Youth Center, Boys & Girls Club and Heritage.
In total, a whopping 50 teams came together to play over 100 games over the three-day tournament. Giving players and coaches countless opportunities to showcase the free flowing, fast paced brand of ‘Rez ball’ that Native hoopers are well-known for.
“Traditionally, Jr Nationals is one of the first youth tournaments hosted on this side of Indian Country. It kick starts the tournament trail for parents, coaches, and athletes and gives them a long awaited opportunity to showcase all their skills and hard work,” explained Youth Enrichment manager Josh Fryberg. “It’s a great time for us as adults and coaches, too, because we’re able to network and see how we can continue to work together to make our youth and communities better.”
A horde of local Tulalip talent was present throughout the multiple divisions and age brackets, where they tested their dribbling and jump shot making skills against determined defenders from Muckleshoot, Lummi, Neah Bay, Yakama, and Lapwai.
“It was really good to see all the athletes and coaches on the court again, along with all families that travelled a long way so their athletes could participate,” said Josh. “There was a lot of great competition and even more laughs and smiled shared. The entire tournament went really well and we are pleased with the level of engagement we received from tribes both near and far.”
Among the many proud parents and guardians cheering loudly from the sidelines as their kids dribbled, passed, and put up jumpers to their hearts content was momma bear Sarah Murphy. Four of her sons competed in Tulalip’s Jr Nationals tournament; Gaylan in 16U, Jaylan in 12U, Josiah in 10U, and Zaedyn in 8U.
“It was amazing to see my boys out on their home courts again, playing for Tulalip teams and having so many local tribal members root for them to be successful,” reflected Sarah. “Normally, its our oldest son Gaylan bringing home the championship hardware, but not this time. His little brothers have been watching and learning and this tournament all their hard work paid off. Zaedyn had so much fun playing with the 8U team and taking 2nd place. Meanwhile J.J. brought the ship home for the 12U boys.
“Our car ride home after the tournament finished was definitely memorable because J.J. kept saying ‘It’s my time!’” she added. “As a mom with boys who dream of playing in the NFL and NBA someday, I was so proud of their efforts and thankful for the Tribe for allowing this tournament to happen. It was refreshing to see so many Natives on our homeland, united by sports once again. My family looks forward to many more tournaments this spring and summer.”
Be sure to keep a look out for flyers and accountments in future SeeYahtSub editions, or routinely check online at https://www.tulalipyouthservices.com/ for information regarding a host of basketball, softball, and other sports tournaments returning to Tulalip in the upcoming months.