Tulalip athletes train like the pros

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

There are many things Tulalip is known for. Depending upon who is asked, the responses may vary widely. However, within Snohomish County coaching circles a common response is raw athleticism.

Indeed, for generations now, Tulalip has churned out athletes who have showcased an uncanny ability to learn and compete in sports at a high level. Whether it be at the beginning stages at the Boys and Girls Club or YMCA, middle school intermediate stage or varsity quality at local high schools, Tulalip is well-represented across the sporting spectrum.

As our proud athletes continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible for a simple Rez kid, like those currently fulfilling their dreams to play collegiate sports, it’s critical for the next generation to receive access to the newest training technology and latest performance-based guidance. 

Analytics and data is quickly becoming the preferred method for evaluating college prospects and professional athletes. In keeping up with the data-driven times, husband/wife duo DeShawn and Sharmane Joseph created a first-of-its-kind partnership to bring cutting-edge athletic assessors Basic Athletic Measurement (BAM) to Tulalip.

“Moving in real-time, many Tribes, educational systems, and business institutions throughout the world are using data and analytics to make informed decisions about any number of things. Why not, then, use data and analytics to assess our children’s athletic needs and abilities? This way we can showcase their talents and give them something real from top level trainers to motivate, inspire, and change their path, one kid at a time,” explained DeShawn. 

The Joseph’s Reservations Without Borders program and BAM hosted a modified skills camp in the friendly confines of the Tulalip Youth Center on Saturday, January 29. The skills being tested? That raw athleticism Tulalip is known for.

Athletic assessment typically relies on stop watches, manual data collection, and non-standardized testing protocols. Due to bias and inconsistency, comparing and benchmarking an athlete’s performance has historically been a subjective measure. BAM has revolutionized the process with remote sensors, motion tracking lasers, and other SmartSpeed tech wizardry. BAM’s staff and methodology have been stamped with approval by the NBA, ADIDAS, Under Armour, EuroCamp, and power 5 college conferences such as the PAC12 and the BIG10.  

“We were invited to come to Tulalip and present our service we offer to athletes around the world,” said BAM founder Brett Brungardt. He has nearly thrity years of experience as a strength and conditioning coach for the Dallas Mavericks and University of Washington basketball teams. “We brought this technology to the NBA fourteen-years-ago and since then its been utilized for twenty-two different sports. Our design assesses each athlete and provides them with a foundation to build from. This way they can workout or train in a manner that they know is making them faster, improving agility, increasing power…basically improving all the components necessary for becoming a better athlete.”

After the preregistered Tulalip athletes showed up at the Youth Center, joined by a few excited day of participants, things quickly got going on the freshly waxed gymnasium hardwood. Brett and his team gave the aspiring sport superstars a quick orientation and immediately got to warm-ups. Everyone hit the lines and participated in a 15-minute group warm-up session to adequately stretch and prepare for the training to come.

The traditional basketball court area had been reconfigured into five testing zones, each with a unique function and it’s own set of challenges. The group of kids were split up into groups and rotated through each zone, being allowed a practice try and then two scored attempts. A nearly identical set up as professional ballplayers at the annual NBA Combine. 

Each testing zone provided a key measurement that when used as a whole can determine a participant’s overall athleticism. The zones were as follows:

  • Vertical Jump. Evaluates the ability to exert a maximal force in as short a time as possible within vertical distance depending upon sport specifics.
  • Sprint. Evaluation to determine acceleration, maximum speed and endurance speed. Sprint time can be performed over varying distances, depending upon sport specifics.
  • Reaction Shuttle. Evaluates the ability to show how quick and effective decisions are made and actions initiated, plus the brief interval of time it takes to react to an external stimulus.
  • Broad Jump. Athlete starts within 15 feet of the Vertec. It is a running start vertical jump. Measurement is similar to the vertical jump, but also includes athlete’s ability to coordinate and incorporate strength and power with reach.
  • Agility. Valuation measures the ability to make quick changes of direction while moving at speed and the ability to move quickly and change directions. 

Every basketball player knows that major bragging rights go to the player with the most hops, and the easiest way to determine that is the though an official vertical jump test. One by one the athletes got into position, buckled their knees for an added boost and then leaped skyward, extending their fingers as far as possible. After the competitive jumping session, the day’s vertical jump crown went to 17-year-old Tommy Nguyen.

 “I knew I could jump high, but not that high! A thirty-seven inch vert is definitely low key bragging rights,” said Tommy to his fellow Marysville-Pilchuck teammates.

During the agility and reaction shuttle drills, it become apparent to the athletes that pure speed and power could be outdone by light, nimble feet and a lightning fast reaction. It was in these events that 13-year-old Mayleah Madera shined brightest.

“My favorite sports are basketball, softball and volleyball. I can’t choose just one, I love them all,” beamed Mayleah after her days testing session. “Today was a lot of fun and different than anything I’d ever done before. The coaches told me that by being light on my feet and continuing to develop better foot work that I’ll be an overall better athlete for all my sports. Also, it was really cool to outscore the boys on some activities.”

New and developing technologies like BAM’s athletic assessment system make it possible to standardize a player’s performance level. Giving them not only an athletic GPS to track their progress, but to recognize areas in need of growth as well. For families who dedicate endless time and financial resources to their child’s dreams, these assessment systems validate a commitment to athletic excellence.

Emphasizing the event’s unique nature, BAM staff made sure the young athletes recognized how special they were by remarking multiple times this was the first group of Native Americans to ever test their athleticism under the BAM system. Something DeShawn and his wife are proud of, as they hope to test thousands of Native kids throughout the country with this latest partnership. 

“They got to witness the beautiful athleticism come out of our kids. The showcasing talent we’ve always seen in our communities came to life today, in front of real professionals who were able to track the data we need to move our kids forward in a good way,” reflected DeShawn after the day’s session concluded. “With this technology, our kids and athletes can gauge themselves and know exactly which parts of their training they need to focus on to improve their overall skills.

“With this BAM partnership we hope to achieve the same outcomes in Indian Country  that the professional institutions are getting from their athletes – the inspirational improvements and the amazing stories,” he continued.  “I’m hoping over a 5-10 year span we can test over 10,000 Native American kids in all of their communities throughout the United States and Canada.”

DeShawn added a special thank you is in order to the Tulalip Board of Directors for believing in his vision for our athletes and the Youth Center for providing an amazing facility and lunches for all the participants.

Gary Payton dropping dimes: The importance of being a mentor, inspiring the next generation, and setting practical goals

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Seattle SuperSonics legend Gary Payton, better known by his nickname “The Glove”, partnered with the Native basketball camp Rise Above in order to put his Hall of Fame talents to good use – impacting thousands of Native youth through basketball. His partnership with Rise Above took him to Colville, Kalispel, Coeur d’Alene and many other reservations throughout the Pacific Northwest. 

One of the truly unforgettable basketball camps Rise Above held was in Tulalip. Back in September 2015, Payton co-hosted a youth skills camp at the Tulalip Youth Center. For all those youth who participated and the adults who volunteered, they quickly realized the camp was about much more than just basketball. It was about using basketball as a means to empower our kids and teach life lessons, while instilling a bit of resiliency in each participant so they could grow into productive members of the community. 

Following that memorable basketball camp, Payton sat down with Tulalip News staff to share what his insights are on how to most effectively impact urban youth. 

You may be wondering what kind of insight a former NBA superstar can have about our Native kids. Well, the answer is simple – Payton’s very familiar with growing up in an impoverish neighborhood, being surrounded by the poverty mindset, witnessing drug use and petty crime being committed by his friends and family…all while having to struggle against a system determined to see him fail. 

Payton grew up and survived the drug-infested streets and gang filled neighborhoods of Oakland, California in the 1980s. Oakland was plagued in the eighties by a continuation of the rising crime rate and drug issues of the previous decade. Crack cocaine exploded as a big problem for the city during this period, and Oakland was regularly listed as one of the U.S. cities most plagued by crime. 

From being born and raised in Oakland to currently following his new life mission to travel to mentor and coach youth in most need of positive role models, Payton has the ability to not just address the issues of most concern to today’s youth, but also offer simple guidance to the adults who want to make our community better.

Gary Payton currently coaches in the BIG3 league, where he continues to offer guidance and support. 
Photo courtesy of BIG3 basketball.

The following conversation may have happened six years ago, however the knowledge and perspective the Seattle hoops icon offered is just as relevant today. Here now, we offer our See-Yaht-Sub readers unique insight from one of the best point guards in NBA history as he endeavors to assist parents, teachers, and guardians to create a better environment for our kids. 

“Growing up in Oakland, California I was in a similar environment to a lot of these kids today, where they have a lot of free time on their own with not much adult supervision. That means you get to be around your friends the majority of the time, and your friends are going to be doing things that you want to be involved in because you want to fit in. Then things start to happen.

As a kid, I had a father who was working all the time, but he used to tell me ‘you got to be your own man, you got to be a leader not a follower.’ If somebody says something or wants to do something that ain’t right, then tell them they ain’t right. If they don’t want to be that person who helps you and says okay I understand, then they aren’t really not your friend. That’s what a lot of these kids are starting to see more and more of because youth of this generation prefer to do anything to not be bored. 

My generation was different because we knew how to go outside and just have fun. Everyone didn’t have a fancy cellphone, iPads, and all the rest of it. Even our cartoons and TV shows were only on during Saturday mornings and a couple hours after we got home from school. Today TV, cellphone apps, and the internet caters to these kids so they can be burying their face in a screen all day, every day. 

I think for these kids today, all they need is a little push. They need someone, like myself, who has been through and seen the same things they have, to come around and give them a talking to and tell them the right way and what not to do. Because once we leave and they get someone they think is a friend who pressures them, it’s hard for them to make the right decision because of the peer pressure and idea it’s better to fit in than stand out.

But when these kids have adults and role models around who are not only looking out for their best interest, but are actually making themselves available by text, phone call, or to meet up to talk, then it becomes easier for them to say no to the bad choices and yes to the good ones. All they need is to have that support behind them, people they know are helping build them up into the best person they can be. But it can’t be only a sometimes thing, it has be an all the time thing because these kids can tell who is fake and who is real.

It’s important for us as mentors, the adults who these kids will listen to and respect, to get the youth to set individual goals. We want them to set goals or to have an ultimate goal for themselves. Most of these kids don’t have goals other than to have fun or good times with their friends, that’s not a goal. We see it all the time where they’ll get just a little bit of satisfaction from what they are doing in school or from actual hard work and then they’ll immediately flip to okay that’s enough now let me go and hangout with my friends. That mindset comes from not having goals to succeed, not having the goal to be someone who the community looks up to.

If they had goals that are bigger than just hanging out with friends or messing around on social media, then they’d be more willing to say no to the little things that get in their way in order to achieve their goals. That’s the biggest problem with youth today. Their so focused on the immediate and what’s right in front of them that they don’t see the larger picture, they don’t have the passion to set long-term goals and follow through. They don’t understand that by focusing in and setting goals today that they are actually investing in their future.

As mentors, advocates, and educators we have to remain vigilant and get these kids to buy into setting goals and following through. It starts with their education because nothing is more important than getting a good education. A good education means opportunity and with opportunity comes the ability to do what you want to do, not just what you have to in order to scrape by. We know that kids today love doing what they want to do, so now it’s on us to get them to see that through education they can be adults doing what they want to do as well. Getting them to set goals in the classroom and with school is where it starts. 

We want them to have goals like, ‘I’m going to get better grades this year than I had last year’, ‘I’m going to make honor roll this semester’, ‘I’m going to graduate with my high school diploma’, and ‘I’m going to go to college’. They seem like no-brainers, but we’ve seen they are too interested in other things and have lost that focus in school and on their education, and I’m going to keep going back to it and say it’s because there’s a lack of goal setting. It’s not good enough to be satisfied with just showing up or only doing enough to get by. We have to want and expect more from them in order to get them to want and expect more from themselves. 

Our mission as mentors is to encourage, and support our youth as they discover who they are and what they want to be. Through goal setting and an emphasis on education as future opportunity for themselves, they’ll be able to become the best person they can be. Once they have that mindset to want better, to be better, everything will start to click and it’s an amazing process to witness. These kids have so much they can accomplish and so many opportunities available to them. When they are empowered to realize they’re capable of reaching their goals and achieving like they never thought before, then this entire community benefits. Let’s do our part to make this happen.”

From walk-on to scholarship recipient, Zues Echevarria latest Tulalip athlete to compete on collegiate level

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tulalip history is filled with stories of athletic achievement. Ranging from grandiose tales told by elders reminiscing about their glory days, to standout high schoolers showcasing their skills in front of adoring families, to proud parents posting on social media about how amazing their child’s latest bitty ball performance was.

Sports have become as valuable to passing on traditional teachings as any other element of Tulalip culture. Think about it. Passing down knowledge and insight from one generation to the next, check. Learning invaluable lessons about patience, determination and hard work, check. Teaching the importance of mind/body connection with an emphasis on balancing nutritious foods with physical activity, check. Each generation of Tulalip youth being able to connect and participate regardless of family ties, check. An entire community being able to unite and root for the success of an inspiring tribal member, check. 

It should be no surprise then as to why recent success stories of homegrown athletes like Tysen and Bradley Fryberg (Salish Kootenai College basketball), Adiya Jones (Skagit Valley Community College basketball), Collin Montez (Washington State University baseball), RaeQuan Battle (University of Washington basketball), and Mikail Montez (Everett Community College basketball) have spread like wildfire on the Tulalip Reservation. Their stories stretch the imagination of what’s possible for a rez kid with a sports dream, while also giving parents a clear cut example that all the long practices, tournament-filled weekends, and substantial financial investment is worth it. 

Enter 6-foot-2, 290 pound Jesus “Zues” Echevarria Jr. The latest Tulalip athlete to compete on the coveted D1 collegiate level. A former team captain of the 2016 state championship winning Archbishop Murphy, Zues made the bold decision to attend Washington State University the following fall and endeavored to make their football team as a true walk-on. His prowess on the grid iron, focus during film study and tenacity in the training room earned him a spot as a redshirt freshman.

“The key is to be patient because every athlete that goes to the college level learns that you have to start all over. No matter how big of a high school star you were or how many programs were recruiting, once you get to college you have to earn your spot every day and work for every opportunity,” said Zues. “Gotta keep your head down and keep working, knowing that the patience will pay off when given the opportunity. A lot of times it comes down to the simple things like eating the right foods, getting enough sleep so your body can recover, and having the discipline to do the little things every single day knowing that you gotta stay ready for whenever opportunity presents itself.”

Unfortunately, injuries derailed his college career before he had opportunity to shine under the bright lights. He suffered a gruesome leg injury that forced him to miss most of the 2019 season and made it difficult to regain a top position on the depth chart in 2020. Instead, of taking the easy road and quitting on his football dream, the headstrong defenseman shifted his focus on rehabbing his body and conditioning in a way to minimize future injuries.

“Injuries are always gonna be a part of sports, especially at the higher competition levels, and I’ll admit the recovery process is more a mental challenge than anything else, but at no point did I think of giving up,” reflected Zues of his near 15-month recovery and rehab from a devastating leg injury. “I’ve worked way too hard to get to this point. My dream of playing football at the highest level is something I’ve had since being a little guy. My support system of my mom, my grandparents, and my teammates kept me up when I was down. The whole process just fueled me to want to get back on the field even more.”

The determination that fuels him as a defensive tackle combined with the mental strength to preserve over injury, to not give up, and to keep on working at his craft was something his coaches took notice of.

“Even when he was unable to practice with the team because of injury, Zues was coming out of the training room just as sweaty as our players who had gone through a two-and-a-half-hour practice,” explained WSU D-line coach Ricky Logo. “That’s how he showed us his commitment to coming back and getting healthy. When he finally got his chance to step back on the field and see game action, it was like he didn’t miss a beat. That’s what I love about him most. His will to fight through adversity and overcome separates him on and off the field.”

All the countless hours of rehabbing through injury, conditioning to keep his body at peak performance, and film study to ensure when his opportunity presented itself he’d be ready came to fruition on Saturday, October 9. It was WSU’s homecoming game and the stakes couldn’t have been higher as the Cougars hosted the Pac-12 North’s leading team, Oregon State.

On the field pre-game, the now 5th year senior and recent scholarship recipient warmed up with the same tenacity and vigor that his coaches had anxiously been waiting to unleash on their opponents. With a near packed house cheering on their home team at Martin Stadium, Zues got his chance to seize a meaningful role in the Cougar defense. He was on the field for twenty defensive snaps and came up with two crucial solo tackles that were met with a thunderous roar from the WSU faithful. His impactful play helped his team secure a huge 31-24 upset win over a Pac-12 rival. 

In what may have been his most extensive playing time in any game of his collegiate career thus far, his head coach offered praise for the 22-year-old Tulalip tribal member. 

“It’s good to see [success from] young people who have gone through some adversity and worked hard to get something,” said WSU head coach Nick Rolovich postgame. “[Zues] was really productive before getting hurt. He’s a hard worker and attacked rehab the same way, and we knew he was going to add to our defensive-tackle play as he got healthier. If he didn’t get hurt, I think he would have had a big part in all of our games this year.”

Zues intends to climb the depth chart further and become a fulltime defensive stalwart for the Cougars, whether that happens this year or next is of no concern because he understands the process is part of a much larger picture.

When asked if he still dreams of playing in the NFL, Zues responded without hesitation, “Absolutely! That’s my number one dream. Everything I do in practice, film study, and in games is geared towards continuing to get better, developing my skills to dominate on the college level. Then maybe NFL scouts will take notice. That’s the dream anyway.”

In the meantime, the student-athlete understands that he has to prepare for a career outside of football. Zues is close to earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Tenchology that will allow him to continue his family’s longline of tribal artistry in the digital realm. 

Zues’ grandmother, Judy Gobin.

Zues’s grandmother Judy Gobin is his self-described #1 fan. She and her husband Tony make the five-hour drive from Tulalip to Pullman every home game to cheer on their grandson. Their support has proved to be instrumental, as has the support Zues receives from his Tribe in assisting with college related expenses.

“We are so fortunate as Tulalip because our kids have the opportunity to go to any school in the nation and excel,” said Judy at a postgame dinner, where her grandson was approached by random WSU fans applauding him for his efforts. “They can study to become whatever they want knowing our Tribe will pay for the vast majority of costs. We have so many great success stories because of the resources our tribal gaming allows us to access. Yet, so many of our children don’t do it. Stories like Zues show them what’s possible and can incentivize the next generation to take their education seriously. When they see Tulalips succeeding at college it breaks the stereotypes and lets them know they can accomplish great things in academics and sports.”

Because of the pandemic, Zues has gained two extra years of eligibility to play college football. The WSU football program hopes to see him accomplish great things with the extra years and awarded him with a scholarship as a sign of further commitment in his potential. Two extra years is plenty of time for him to become a Cougar legend. To this point, he’s already a Tulalip legend. 

Seattle Mariners celebrate Indigenous People

Tulalip Tribal members attending and supporting the event. Kayla Joseph, Giani Moses, Gia Joseph, Sophia Quimby, Sylvanna Brinson, and Gabe Joseph.

By Shaelyn Hood, Tulalip News

On Monday, September 13, 2021, the Seattle Mariners hosted their 18thannual Native American Heritage Night. The first 5,000 fans received a t-shirt by Chris Duenas that featured the Mariners “S” logo with Coast Salish motifs and the message, “We honor our ancestors”.

Photo by Ben VanHouten, Seattle Mariners. 

 The night started off with a performance by members of the Puyallup tribe with a traditional song, drum, and dance. Throughout the night, fans enjoyed viewing a hand carved, 30-foot tribal canoe and a gallery of 40 works of art by local tribal artists. 

During the game, the Mariners honored Dr. Alan Shelton, a Puyallup tribe medical director, as a Hometown Hero, for advocating health and safety practices during the pandemic. The Mariners recognize members of the Pacific Northwest community at each game for their part in helping others to overcome the pandemic. 

Tulalip tribal members, Danika Hatch, Aurella Hatch, Izzabella Hatch, Francis Hatch, 
Barbara Hatch, Diana Aguilar, and Alex Havel.

If you wish to nominate someone who has stepped up to help others during this time, nominations are accepted through September 30, 2021 at www.mlb.com/mariners/fans/hometown-heroes.

Photo by Ben VanHouten, Seattle Mariners. 

Seahawks logo isn’t just accepted by Coast Salish tribes – it’s beloved

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

There is no such thing as a seahawk. This may come as a surprise to some Seattle football fans who, while tuned into this weekend’s 2021 NFL Kickoff, may be unaware of the origin of their home team’s logo. Some might even assume that, as an appropriated Indigenous design, it falls under the banner of problematic logos, like those of a handful of other sports franchises, such as the Cleveland Indians or the Kansas City Chiefs. 

But unlike those teams, whose logos are founded on stereotypes (as opposed to any specific aspect of one of Native America’s 574 federally recognized tribes) the Seattle Seahawks’ logo is that rarest of birds: a culturally accurate sports icon directly inspired from an Indigenous masterpiece — and embraced by the Indigenous People it is borrowed from.

Tulalip tribal member Josh Fryberg with his beaded Seahawks medallion.

Anatomy of a logo

Ornithology experts theorize the term seahawk refers to a combination of an osprey, which is a bird of prey native to coastal North America, and a skua, which, in the Pacific Northwest, we normally call a seagull. So if there isn’t an actual “seahawk” found in nature, then where did the inspiration for the Seattle Seahawks’ logo come from?

The general consensus is that in 1976 the NFL commissioned a logo for the newly formed Seattle football team. Then-General Manager Ted Thompson wanted the Seahawks’ logo to reflect “Northwest Indian culture.” He and his team of concept designers must have been Native culture enthusiasts who stumbled across a truly remarkable piece of Indigenous Northwest Coastal art. That artwork in question was a Kwakwaka’wakw (pronounced: KWA-kwuh-kyuh-wakw), a transformation mask from northeastern Vancouver Island. 

In September 2014, the Burke Museum, located on the University of Washington campus, learned of the mask’s whereabouts and launched an online fundraising campaign to bring it back to the Northwest Coast. It didn’t take long to raise the money needed to conserve, insure and ship the mask across the country. Within weeks of arrival the hidden history of the mask was unveiled and the origin story of the Seahawks logo went public.

While the details behind the origin story of the Seahawks’ logo remained a mystery for decades, what has always been certain is its positive celebration by local Coast Salish tribes. All along the Salish Sea, tribal people have embraced the Seahawks logo and re-appropriated it into our culture.

“Great things inspire imitations. In the same way that so many Native people and white people and Asians are inspired by hip-hop, an art form created by Black people, many people are inspired by our beautiful art,” said attorney and Seattle resident Gyasi Ross (Blackfeet). “Native people have some beautiful artwork, and of course it inspires people to want a piece of it. The Seahawks logo is a perfect example of that. And we love it.

“But also, the Seahawks are actually active and respectful of the huge Native community here in the Pacific Northwest,” he added. “From speaking at graduations to speaking out against the [Washington] Redskins mascot, the Seahawks have a great relationship with the Native community here, both urban and Reservation-based.”

Tulalip tribal member Dion Joseph with a remixed Seahawks logo shirt. 

A team that uplifts

Their commitment to Native communities is what distinguishes the Seahawks from so many other organizations that claim to honor Native culture with their logos and mascots, yet contribute little or nothing to their local tribes. The Seahawks have a history of making significant impact to the Tulalip Tribes in particular.

Back in 2008, Seahawk Bobby Engram collaborated with Home Depot, the Kaboom! Program, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County to build a 50-by-50-foot playground at the reservation’s ‘Club.’ In 2014, following a shooting at the Marysville-Pilchuck High School, the Seahawks hosted tribal member Nate Hatch, who was shot and survived, along with his family at CenturyLink Field (now Lumen Field), where they received the VIP treatment from players and coaching staff.

Then in June 2019, Seattle Seahawks legend Michael Bennett hosted a once-in-a-lifetime football camp for Tulalip community youth. Nearly 250 participants ages 7 to 18 had an opportunity to catch a pass from and do drills with the Super Bowl champion. Afterwards, Bennett stuck around to sign autographs and take photos with every single one of his adoring fans. Most recently, in October 2019, former Seahawks Cooper Helfet and Jermaine Kearse landed a seaplane right in Tulalip Bay before spending an afternoon with 30 Tulalip youth. 

A history of positive impact. Countless moments to uplift Tulalip youth and inspire them to always dream big. Promoting healthy lifestyle choices and physical fitness as a means of self-discipline to achieve long-term goals. The reciprocal nature of Seahawk respect and appreciation for local tribes and the proud Native fandom they’ve received in return continues to manifest itself in truly imaginative ways.

For starters, it’s common to see the Seahawks’ logo reimagined via Coast Salish designs in all possible mediums. Native artisans have reproduced it as blankets, clothing, beaded jewelry, eye-capturing medallions, wooden panels, furniture, flags, face masks and even six-foot-tall chainsaw carvings that celebrate the Seahawks’ Native roots. These items and more can routinely be found at powwows, all-Native basketball tournaments and other Native vendor-friendly events around the region.

“The Seahawks have given back to our community in so many ways and really made a difference in the lives of our youth,” shared lifelong fan and Tulalip tribal member Josh Fryberg, whose family of eight buys new Seahawks jerseys representing their favorite players every year. “As for the connection between the Seahawks and Coast Salish art, the roots definitely run deep. For my family, we have a lot of Seahawks-themed artwork created by very talented Native artists, both from Tulalip and other tribes. More than the art though, the Seahawks mean family togetherness. Every Blue Friday we rock our jerseys and every game day we gather as a family to cheer on our Seahawks.”

The unique partnership between the Seahawks organization and Coast Salish tribes who comprise part of the devout 12th Man fan base takes on a new, awe-inspiring form outside of Lumen Field. Dubbed “Muckleshoot Plaza”, the field’s north entrances have been adorned by Indigenous artwork. Featuring a massive seahawk, two salmon, a traditional dugout canoe and written Lushootseed, the impossible to miss architecture designed by Muckleshoot artists serve to remind all who pass by that they are guests on Coast Salish land. 

“This artwork will not only inspire our communities, but also educate them on the important history of the Native Americans in this region,” said Chuck Arnold, President of the Seattle Seahawks. “We look forward to a long and meaningful partnership for many years to come.”

Whether the Seattle Seahawks make it to this year’s Super Bowl or not, in the hearts and minds of thousands of Coast Salish tribal members, they will always be champions. Not because of a Vince Lombardi Trophy, but because our football team respects their local Native communities off the field — where it matters most.

Wrestling icon reveals championship insight to youth wrestlers

Giving up is easy. Making decisions to overcome and choosing actions that will get you to where you want to be is what makes champions.”

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Seventeen local youth with aspirations to become wrestling champions someday were surprised by a special guest appearance from professional wrestling icon, Ken Shamrock, on Friday, April 23.

“It’s not too often a guy like this walks in the room when you’re in the middle of practice, so it’s exciting to say the least,” expressed coach Tony Hatch. “To be honest, I’m star struck to have a legend of his caliber here with us. Shamrock is one of the pioneers of Ultimate Fighting Champions, he’s a Hall of Famer, and we’re really lucky to have him in the area to share his insight with our kids.”

The former WWF Intercontinental Champion and one-time UFC Superfight Champion shared his experience growing up with a rough childhood and being known as troubled teenager before ultimately turning his life around for the better. The still sweaty from conditioning youth had their attention captivated as the icon detailed how at just thirteen-years-old, his future did not look bright. 

Ken had grown up fatherless in a poor neighborhood in Georgia, where he learned life’s lessons on the streets. While his mother worked to put food on the table, he cruised the neighborhood with his friends, causing trouble wherever they could. The first time he ran away from home, he was only ten. He found refuge in an abandoned car with other delinquents, but wound up in the hospital after getting stabbed by another child. In the years that followed, he would be ousted from seven group homes and serve time in Juvenile Hall. 

Although the strong-willed youth only weighed 125 pounds, Ken had his own way of looking at the world, and he was always ready to protect his pride with his fists. Showing no signs of rehabilitation, the State grew weary of him. He was given one last chance to turn his life around: he would go to a group home, the Shamrock Ranch, run by Bob Shamrock, a man renowned for working with misguided youths. 

Bob had raised more than six hundred boys in his home, and his methods were both unique and effective. In response to the feuds that often arose with prideful boys sleeping under the same roof, he offered them an unorthodox method of resolution. If both parties were willing, he allowed them to throw on boxing gloves and duke it out in the backyard. It did not take long before Ken was the house champion in both boxing and wrestling. 

Recognizing the boy had tremendous athletic ability, Bob redirected Ken’s anger into sports. He got him on a weight-lifting program and registered him in wrestling and football. Along with becoming a leader for the other boys in the group home, Ken also became the son Bob Shamrock never had. Shortly after Ken turned eighteen, Bob legally adopted him, which is the origin story to how Shamrock got his now famous moniker. 

“Your coaches have shared with me that some of you can relate to aspects of my upbringing,” said Shamrock after detailing his childhood to the attentive teenage wrestlers. “For those who can relate, I stand here as a testament of what’s possible despite growing up under such challenging conditions. For those who can’t relate, I promise each and every one of you are going to go through some kind of adversity in your life, whether it’s in high school or as an adult, that will test you to the core. And in those moments, only you can make a decision to do something about it, to choose a means of action to overcome the challenge, or to give up.

“Giving up is easy. Making decisions to overcome and choosing actions that will get you to where you want to be is what makes champions,” continued the legendary mixed martial artist. “You can start right now, at your age, and make the decision on what it is you want to do and start following a path of hard work and commitment that will get you there. Hard work goes beyond the wrestling mat; it’s at home with how you nourish your body and manage your family relationships, it’s in the classroom with embracing your education, and it’s in your commitment to being your best self even on the hard days.”

Following his heartfelt words of encouragement, Shamrock sat down with 15-year-old Tulalip wrestler, Milo Jones for a one-on-one session. They discussed chasing dreams, the importance of staying properly hydrated and eating the right foods for maximum physical performance, and weight lifting techniques used by the pros.

Millions of fans worldwide have not forgotten all Shamrock has contributed to the sport of MMA and WWF over the years. Whether it be choking competitors out in the octagon, slamming his opponents in the rings of professional wrestling, or entertaining the masses in mainstream movies and books, Shamrock has always embodied the essence of what it means to be a Hall of Famer. His legendary reputation only grows after taking time out of his busy schedule to inspire the next generation.

Elevate your game with strength and conditioning

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“I think it’s important to stay fit and healthy,” expressed young Tribal member Kyla Fryberg. “I play a lot of sports and I don’t want to get super tired in games or practices. I’d like to see more people get up, come out and do this with us instead of staying inside because I know quarantine has been a lot on everybody. I think it would be nice to see more kids.”

Glimpses of normalcy can be spotted every now and again in a world post the global COVID-19 pandemic. As restrictions are lifted, vaccines administered and the outside world continues to open back-up, people are re-engaging and re-igniting their love for activities that were either limited or altogether banned to stop the spread of the disease. 

Throughout the pandemic, the Tulalip Youth and Family Enrichment program has remained a space for Tulalip youth to experience some of that normalcy by continuing to provide services, host gatherings, and offer all sorts of fun for in a safe, responsible manner. As school districts turned to Zoom to offer teachings and instruction to their kids, the Youth and Family Enrichment department converted their entire campus into a socially-distant learning environment, where students could work online and complete assignments in their own safe-spaces. 

Now that schools are back to teaching in-person lessons and many youth sports have fully-resumed, Youth and Family Enrichment are slowly rolling out some of their activities and events that were popular amongst the public, pre-coronavirus, as well as debuting many new ideas. 

The Youth and Family Enrichment department recently began a new activity-program called Strength and Conditioning, to help build endurance as well as promote health and fitness to kids who spent the majority of 2020 indoors and more-than-likely in front of a screen.

Youth and Family Enrichment Manager Josh Fryberg explained, “We’re doing basketball conditioning every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Right now, it’s open to 6th – 12th grade. Eventually, we want to do family nights to encourage the families to come workout together and be as healthy as we can. Conditioning, overall, is something all of us need and something that all of us should practice on a regular basis, so we can have nice long healthy lives.”

 With good early 2000’s hip-hop blasting in the background, a group of five showed up to the Greg Williams Court on April 27, for the tip-off, so-to-speak, of the new Strength and Conditioning program. With a shared goal of fine-tuning their game in anticipation of summertime tournaments, the group was locked and zoned-in throughout the hour-and-a-half class, sprinting the full-length of the court multiple times and hustling their tail-ends off during drills. 

“A lot of things we’re doing right now are fundamentals for lay-ups, left-hand and right-hand dribbling, we’re also working on spin-moves as well as doing a lot of cardio and shooting on our shooting machine,” said Josh. “I usually have them go about three to five minutes in each area. We’ll also stretch, drink a lot of water and work on breathing techniques, in through the nostrils and out through the mouth, so you get the maximum amount of oxygen.”

 Basketball is an important aspect in many Native cultures as countless bonds have been made through the sport, by way of both local rez-ball pick-up games and inter-tribal tourneys. Reservation-based high school basketball games are popular community events where friends and families ban together to support their tribal teens as they showcase their on-the-court skills and love for the game. 

With only five participants at the first session, Josh led a fun and fast-paced class that had the feeling of a summertime basketball camp, like the ones often hosted by former NBA all-stars and local hardwood legends. It’s easy to envision, in the near-future, the Greg Williams Court jam-packed with youngins working hard to elevate their game. 

“Basically, what we did today was strength and conditioning and we were working on running,” said Lillyannah Fryberg. “It was like basketball training, getting us in shape for tourneys and really, it’s just better for our overall health in general.”

Added Kyla and Lillyannah’s sister, Julianna ‘Julie’ Fryberg, “It’s my dad so he goes extra hard on us. He makes us do a lot of exercises that he knows we can handle, just pushing our limits to see how far we can go. It’s really nice to see him help other kids too, other than his own. It would be nice for more people to come though, we had five people today, and we definitely want to see a bigger group. We are working on a bunch of drills; spin-moves, lay-ups, free-throws, three-pointers and running to build our conditioning. So, come on out, it’s fun and I can’t wait to see everybody next time.” 

Josh explained that there is a-whole-nother aspect of the basketball skills and stamina building program, aside from improving one’s basketball IQ and skillset, and that is diabetes prevention and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. And thanks to a strong relationship with the Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention Program, the Youth and Family Enrichment team received two basketball shooting machines that automatically rebounds your shot and feeds you the rock at different locations on the court.  

“A big thing that we face in Indian Country is diabetes,” he stated. “With these shooting machines, that were donated by our Diabetes program from Roni Leahy and Dale Jones, the goal is to get as many shots for diabetes as you can. So, that’s one of the things we’re doing with this program as well, prevention work for us to be as healthy as we can.”

Josh assures that this is just the beginning, stating that the Youth and Family Enrichment program is planning more activities, events and programs extending into the Summer and Fall months. And after helping establish both a little league division and a football program, the department is now in the early-planning process of bringing yet another new sporting league to the community. 

Josh shared, “One thing we’re currently working on is starting up a Tulalip AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] program. We want to start with three divisions and work our way up, for all of our players and volunteer coaches to participate in. That way we can really bring our youth in and get them to that next level of competition, so that we can get more of our athletes into college and the recognition that they deserve.”

The Strength and Conditioning course takes place from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at the Greg Williams Court. For more information, please contact the Tulalip Youth and Family Enrichment program at (360) 716-4909. 

Collin Hood shares how snowboarding helped him reconnect with cultural lifeways and recover from tragedy

The Fresh Powder Feels

By Kalvin Valdillez; Photos courtesy of Collin Hood 

As the original caretakers and citizenry of this local territory, the sduhubš people have an everlasting connection to the land, stretching from the Salish Sea to the mountainous regions. Thriving from the fish, deer, elk and berries, the tribe lived off the mountain’s plentiful resources year-round since time immemorial. Some tribal members would say that simply being high up in the mountains today, in their ancestral homeland, provides peace to their soul, a sense of spiritual solace that can be likened to what many experience when reflecting and pondering life near the ocean – a rejuvenated perspective on life itself. In fact, the Tulalip Tribes organized the annual summertime Tulalip Youth Mountain Camp, a week-long outing to the Skykomish mountains, just so their young membership can experience that connection to the land, the resources and their ancestors. 

Approximately eight years ago, the tribe debuted a similar idea where their youth could engage in outdoor fun while exploring areas their great-great-great relatives once roamed. This idea, however, occurred in the wintertime and was a tad bit more extreme. By participating in the First Nations Snowboarding Team of Tulalip at a young age, Collin Hood, a local 25-year-old tribal fisherman, discovered not only a passion and a newfound community, but also a connection to his cultural and spiritual lifeways. And perhaps most importantly, a form of medicine and healing that only being on a board and shredding through fresh powder can provide. 

Tulalip News: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Why don’t we begin with your background, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Collin Hood, I’m a Tulalip tribal member. My dad is Alonzo Hood and his mom is Rachel Moses. My family has always been super connected with the mountains. We have property in Darrington and back when all the boarding schools were going on, my great-great-grandma Mariah Moses took the family up there to the mountains. I’ve always felt like it’s so easy to get up to the mountains in the springtime and in the summertime, but when winter hit, I never felt like I was able to get up there as often as I’d like to, to really get the chance to be with the trees, the water, the fresh air. 

When did you first get into snowboarding?

I started snowboarding when I was young. I got introduced to it when I was doing the Tulalip snowboarding team that they had back in the day. The tribe had a team basically for us youth to connect with each other and the mountains, and just improve ourselves. But one of my buddies passed away while snowboarding and I hadn’t been up there since. It took a while for me to get back on the mountains. Last year, I got back into it; it felt so good. Snowboarding has so many challenges that you have to overcome and I feel like you’re able to bring those teachings from snowboarding back into your everyday life. 

Any examples come to mind where lessons learned on the slopes can be applied to real-life situations?

Falling down and getting back up – that’s one of the biggest ones honestly. Falling down when snowboarding, when you see everyone around you succeeding and doing so good, you want to be like them you want to be able to do all these cool tricks and get a sponsorship, but you keep falling. You just feel like, ‘ugh, I’m never going to get good and I want to give up.’ But you keep going no matter what because you have that love and drive for it. I feel like you can bring that into your daily life. When you feel like life is kicking you and you keep falling down, you got to keep your head up. Especially after this past year of 2020.

When did you know that snowboarding was the sport you wanted to practice and dedicate your time to?

I knew I wanted to stick to this and keep practicing when I first felt that sense of accomplishment. I didn’t feel like I had to be the best right away, just knowing that I was making progress was all that really mattered.

How has your skill-level advanced over the years since you first strapped-up to a board?

No one has talked to me about a sponsorship just yet, it’s something that I want to keep progressing toward. I’ve been practicing my 360’s, getting my back ones down, and I’ve also been trying to do back flips this year. The tricks are cool. I love doing tricks, but hitting the steep lines, the ones where you’re looking straight down and it’s like ‘alright, there’s no room for mistakes here’, that’s something that I’ve been really pushing myself towards lately. Those deep uncomfortable moments. 

There’s a quote that I like that talks about living outside your comfort zone. I’ve been trying to do that a lot lately because I feel like life’s going to be a lot better for me if I keep doing that. My skill-level has progressed a lot over this past year. I definitely wasn’t comfortable enough to hit some of the steep lines. I have another family member, Greg Moses, he’s an awesome snowboarder he used to do the snowboarding team with me back in the day as well. He’s been really helping me, pushing me to excel outside of my comfort zone. 

As a Tribal member, what does it feel like to be up in the mountains, admiring that scenery in the natural world that your ancestors and people took care of and thrived off of since the beginning of time?

It’s a feeling that is super hard to explain. You’re worry-free, you’re in your own zone. You feel like you’re floating on air, you’re literally flying through the trees. I have a ritual every single time I go up there. I like to pray and spread a little tobacco out before I hit the slopes. It’s important to me because I want to give thanks for everything that is given to me and for everything that is around me, with the fresh air from the trees and the snow that keeps falling, which will melt and return to the ocean to help the salmon return. 

When I come back from snowboarding, my whole spirit is refreshed. When I’m up there, I feel like all my worries and fears disappear. I feel a lot closer to my relatives and friends who I’ve lost as well. 

Are there any areas of your life where snowboarding has helped you through difficult times?

Charlie Cortez was one of my friends who passed away. It was really hard on me this year. The mountains were one of his favorite places to be as well. This whole winter time, I kept thinking how can I feel closer to him? Being on the water has been so hard for me. The mountains have been my getaway and my way to feel closer to him and everyone I’ve lost this past year. The fresh powder feels, man, it feels like nothing else. 

Is there a certain vibe you have to set while you’re up there? Any specific music you need to listen to, any gear that you need to wear? 

Yeah, I do like listening to music while I’m up there. Mostly reggae and rock, keeping the vibes flowing, stuff that makes you feel alive. 

I would say don’t go cheap on gear. You want high quality gear to keep you warm and your vision clear. Your whole experience will be that much better.

Do you have a favorite spot you like to go to?

[Mt.] Baker is definitely my home run. I usually don’t like to tell people that only because Baker is super low-key. It’s definitely so much fun, even if you’re not the best snowboarder, just to be up there having a good time, enjoying the vibes and energy the mountains brings. 

Where do you see snowboarding taking you in your future?

I see it taking me around the world. I plan on making more videos and traveling to different mountains, hitting steeper slopes and doing cooler tricks. I see it taking me pretty far and I love that because it’s during the off-season of fishing. I get to go fishing and once fishing’s done, it’s snowboarding season baby! I feel like I’m living the dream, hunting, fishing and snowboarding; enjoying all the seasons.

Any advice on how to get started and involved in snowboarding for young tribal members?

If you’re interested in the sport, try it out. Ask your parents to help you get involved, reach out to anybody in the community who can help you learn. There’s a lot of people. There’s an entire snowboarding community within the tribe who are willing to help teach people, teach kids. I know it might be a little scary at first, but if you stick with it, you’re going to have fun and it’s something that you’re going to love for the rest of your life.

Where can people check out your work and find out more about snowboarding? 

I have a YouTube channel, just under Collin Hood. I only have two videos right now. I’m just getting started and involved in making videos, so I’m super excited about it and can’t wait to make more videos. 

From inspiration to artistic reimagining, Seahawks logo embraced in Coast Salish territory

This indigenouscreated transformation mask is what inspired the Seattle Seahawks logo.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tampa Bay’s football team is heading to the Super Bowl. And with their participation in what is typically the most watched American television broadcast of the year, an estimated 115 million households will tune in February 7th to see a squad of Buccaneers compete against the Kansas City Chiefs. Not any specific Chief mind you, like say one representing any of Native America’s 574 federally recognized tribes. More like the stereotypical kind of Chiefs that a certain segment of American culture just won’t let go of. 

However, instead of lambasting yet another professional sports team’s name and mascot for clearly misrepresenting Native culture, let’s instead focus on our local football franchise. The Seattle Seahawks; a team that has been embraced by Coast Salish culture and whose logo is directly inspired from an Indigenous masterpiece.

In case you weren’t aware already, there is no such thing as a seahawk. Ornithology experts, people who study birds, theorize the term ‘seahawk’ refers to a combination of an osprey, which is a bird of prey native to coastal North America, and a skua, which in our area we normally call a seagull. So if there isn’t an actual ‘seahawk’ found in nature, then where did the inspiration for the Seattle Seahawks’ logo come from?

The general consensus is that in 1976 the NFL commissioned a logo for the newly-formed Seattle football team. Then-general manager Ted Thompson wanted the Seahawks’ logo to reflect “Northwest Indian culture.” He and his team of concept designers must have been Native culture enthusiasts who stumbled across a truly remarkable piece of Indigenous Northwest Coastal art. That artwork in question was a Kwakwaka’wakw (pronounced: KWA-kwuh-kyuh-wakw) transformation mask from northeastern Vancouver Island. 

Exquisitely hand carved in the finest local wood, it’s easy to imagine the team of contracted designers becoming infatuated with the ceremonial mask depicting a mighty eagle with bold black and red formline accents unique to the traditional Coast Salish region. In its closed form, the eagle appears to be in motion with its wings spread, as if it’s ready to soar. 

According to curators at Seattle’s Burke Museum, long before the Seahawks took the field at the old Kingdome, this hand-carved mask played an important role among the Kwakwaka’wakw people. Transformation masks represented rights owned by individual leaders, often depicting family origin stories or an ancestor’s super-natural encounters. When this mask is danced in ceremony, a pivotal moment in the song calls for the mask to be opened, revealing a stunning human face inside.

Carved in the late 19th century, the mask was purchased by the Fred Harvey Company before 1910 and later came into the collection of Max Ernst. Ernst, Picasso, and other Surrealist artists were fascinated by the aesthetic power of Northwest Coast masks, which they saw as direct expressions of human instinct and unconscious thought. After Ernst’s death in 1976, the mask was acquired by a private collector. Eventually the privately held art collection came to be displayed publically, but always in its open position…meaning its likeness to the Seahawks logo was hidden from view. 

In September 2014, the Burke Museum, located on the University of Washington campus, learned of the mask’s whereabouts and launched an online fundraising campaign to bring the mask back to the Northwest Coast. It didn’t take long to raise the money needed to conserve, insure and ship the mask across the country. Within weeks of arrival the hidden history of the mask was unveiled and the origin story of the Seahawks logo went public.

While the details behind the origin story of the Seahawks’ logo remained a mystery for decades, what has always been transparent and secure is a positive celebration by local Coast Salish tribes. All along the Salish Sea, tribal people have embraced the Seahawks logo and re-appropriated it into our culture.

Dion Joseph (Tulalip) has remixed the Seahawks logo, giving it a more prominent Coast Salish design

“Great things inspire imitations. In the same way that so many Native people and white people and Asians areinspired by hip-hop, an artform created by black people, many people are inspired by our beautiful art,” wrote attorney and Seattle resident, Gyasi Ross (Blackfeet). “Native people have some beautiful artwork, and of course it inspires people to want a piece of it. The Seahawks logo is a perfect example of that. And we love it.

“But also, the Seahawks are actually active and respectful of the huge Native community here in the Pacific Northwest,” he added. “From speaking at graduations to speaking out against the Redskins mascot, the Seahawks have a great relationship with the Native community here, both urban and Reservation-based.”

Their commitment to Native communities is what distinguishes the Seahawks from so many other organizations that claim to honor Native culture with their logos and mascots, yet contribute little or nothing to their local tribes. The Seahawks have a history of making significant impact to the Tulalip Tribes in particular.

Back in 2008, Seahawk Bobby Engram collaborated with Home Depot, the Kaboom! Program, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County to build a 50-foot by 50-foot playground at the reservation’s ‘Club’. In 2014, following the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting, the Seahawks hosted tribal member Nate Hatch and his family at CenturyLink Field, where they received the VIP treatment from players and coaching staff.

“It was great to meet Nate,” said Coach Pete Carroll to the Seattle Times. “We’ve communicated a little bit, and we’ve been connected to the whole Marysville-Pilchuck school and the kids. He was really excited to be [on the field]. His mom was there too, so it was really special to have them. I’m sure he had a big day.”

Then in June 2019, Seattle Seahawks legend Michael Bennett hosted a once-in-a-lifetime football camp for Tulalip community youth. Nearly 250 participants from ages 7-18 had an opportunity to catch a pass from and do drills with the Super Bowl champion. Afterwards, Bennett stuck around to sign autographs and take photos with every single one of his adoring fans. Most recently, in October 2019, former Seahawks Cooper Helfet and Jermaine Kearse landed a seaplane right here in Tulalip Bay before spending an afternoon with thirty Tulalip youth. 

A history of positive impact. Countless moments to uplift Tulalip youth and inspire them to always dream big. Promoting healthy lifestyle choices and physical fitness as a means of self-discipline to achieve long-term goals. The reciprocal nature of Seahawk respect and appreciation for local tribes and the proud Native fandom they’ve received in return continues to manifest itself in truly imaginative ways.

For starters, its common place to see the Seahawks’ logo reimagined via Coast Salish designs in all possible mediums. Authentically produced by Native artisans, they’ve created blankets, clothing, beaded jewelry, eye-capturing medallions, wooden panels, furniture, flags, face masks, and even 6-foot tall, chainsaw carvings that celebrate the Seahawks’ Native roots. These items and more can routinely be found at powwows, all-Native basketball tournaments, and other Native vendor-friendly events around the region.

Josh Fryberg (Tulalip) fitted with all Seahawks everything, including a beaded Medallion and face covering.

“The Seahawks have given back to our community in so many ways and really made a difference in the lives of our youth,” said lifelong fan and tribal member Josh Fryberg. His family of eight have a tradition once a year to get new Seahawks jerseys so they’re always repping their favorite player. “I’ve been fortunate to experience most of their events held in Tulalip and witnessed firsthand our youth just light up being able to hang out with and throw around a football with their football heroes. It’s encouraging for a lot of young athletes to know it’s possible to become a professional athlete or future Seahawk through hard work and dedication. 

“As for the connection between the Seahawks and Coast Salish art, the roots definitely run deep,” he continued. “For my family, we have a lot of Seahawks themed artwork created by very talented Native artists, both from Tulalip and other tribes. More than the art thought, the Seahawks mean family togetherness. Every Blue Friday we rock our jerseys and every game day we gather as a family to cheer on our Seahawks.”

So yeah, the Seattle Seahawks aren’t playing in this year’s Super Bowl. Yet, in the hearts and minds of thousands of Coast Salish tribal members, the Seahawks will always be champions. Not because of a Vince Lombardi Trophy, but because our football team respects their local Native communities off the field. Where it matters most.

Tulalip’s own RaeQuan Battle intends to take his game to the next level for revamped Huskies

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tulalip tribal member RaeQuan Battle has been getting buckets since the moment he was able to shoot a basketball. From his early days spent endlessly shooting in the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club gymnasium to his more formative years at Marysville Pilchuck High School, where he led the Tomahawks to back-to-back State tournaments, RaeQuan’s talents on the hardwood have always been astonishing.

Last year, during his freshman season at the prestigious University of Washington, RaeQuan showed his shooting touch was made for the collegiate level. Averaging a shade over 11 minutes per game, he scored double-digit points five times, connected on twenty-two 3-pointers, and saw action in twenty games for the Huskies. 

Now in his second year, the Tulalip phenom is determined to take his game to an even higher level. A sentiment echoed by his head coach during the offseason.

“The thing that makes him great is, he’s got what great players have, which is ultimate confidence,” Huskies head coach Mike Hopkins told The News Tribune. “I believe that he thinks if he took a half-court shot, it’s going in…I wish I had that as a player.

“At the end of the day, he had some incredible moments as a freshman,” Hopkins continued. “His ability to shoot the ball and he’s got a quick release. The one thing that people don’t know about RaeQuan, [he] can fly. Like he can really jump. His future is on a different level. His potential is just limitless.”

Limitless potential. That’s very high praise from any coach, especially one running a D-1 collegiate program. To his credit, the 19-year-old RaeQuan fully understands that in order to reach his full potential he has to continue training his body for the strength and conditioning necessary to compete on both sides of the court, while continuing to look for ways to improve his all-around game.

“I’m focused on improving my ball handling and my defense. Once I’ve added those to my game, to go with my shooting and athletic abilities, I could do whatever I want on the basketball court,” said the sophomore sharpshooter. “Hitting the gym for a variety of workouts to help me get stronger is a priority, too. I know putting in the work will make me better.”

All his dedication to improving his game in the offseason was on full display in the Huskies season opener versus the #2 ranked team in the country, Baylor, on November 29. Coming off the bench, the 6’5 shooting guard led his team in scoring and minutes played. Never one to shy away from an open 3-pointer, he went 2-8 from downtown while also displaying his court vision for three assists. 

Outside of his athletic prowess on the court, RaeQuan has accepted the mantle as cultural ambassador for his Native culture. Something many his age typically shy away from.

“I do consider myself an ambassador for the Tulalip Reservation,” he explained. Even on the Seattle campus with thousands of students, he stands out for his towering frame and eagerly describes his proud Tulalip culture to anyone curious enough to ask. “Whenever my name gets said, I want people to think of Tulalip, and for everyone back home to know I’m proud of where we come from.”

Quite literally wearing his culture on his sleeves, RaeQuan has a number of tattoos honoring his tribe. ‘Respect the past, Create the future’, accented by eagle feathers, is on the inside of his left arm. However, it’s the large Lushootseed print on both forearms that stand out most. One arm reads ‘dxʷlilap’ (Lushootseed spelling of Tulalip) and the other ‘səswix̌ab’ (Lushootseed spelling of his mom, Jacquie Battle’s Indian name).

“I wear number 21 for my mom,” said the Marysville Pilchuck alum. “She wore it in high school. My mom worked her butt off to provide for me and my siblings. She’s always done whatever is necessary for us, and I want to repay her by being the best man that I can be.”

With his playing time expected to increase this season and his offensive role sure to expand as well, the future remains bright for Tulalip’s latest sports icon. With the ultimate hoops dream to play in the NBA, RaeQuan remains dedicated to all the youth who adore him as their hero.

“It means a lot knowing [Tulalip youth] look up to me because I’m proud to be a role model to them and show them what’s possible,” he shared. “I still love visiting the Boys & Girls Club and the Teen Center on the reservation because it brings back a lot of memories, and it shows all the kids that I haven’t forgot about them. After all, they are my number one fans.”