Once a suggestion, ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ now a full on directive

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On March 23rd, Governor Jay Inslee announced his order for Washingtonians to stay at home. The rationale was simple: by staying home the chances of spreading coronavirus is minimized and, in effect, everyone abiding would be doing their part to ‘lower the curve’. Hours later, the Tulalip Tribes issued an emergency proclamation for all citizens on the Tulalip Reservation to ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’.

“We’ve been very clear on the need for everyone to stay home. The less time we spend in public, the more lives we will save,” explained Governor Inslee. “We know [this] announcement affects millions of our livelihoods and means life will look different in Washington. But these necessary restrictions will protect us and our loved ones so that we have a livelihood to come back to.”

Fast forward two-weeks and while most Washingtonians are doing their part, some still don’t grasp the seriousness of this global pandemic. The numbers boggle the mind. As of April 1st, there have been at least 905,000 total confirmed cases in 192 countries, with the most alarming number, the death toll, continuing to rise at an exponential rate. Globally, more than 45,200 deaths are now attributed to COVID-19.

Yet, locally on the reservation it was still a common occurrence to see children, teenagers, and adults casually out and about, partaking in leisurely activities. Gathering at Mission Beach? Yup. Games of pick-up hoops at the outdoor courts? Sure. Energetic youth roaming free on the ball field and neighborhood parks? Of course.

Social disobedience is nothing new. Ask any parent and they’ll attest to the fact that once you tell a child they can’t do something, regardless of what it is, that something becomes the only thing they want to do. That is until the consequences become severe enough that it’s no longer in their best interest to be disobedient.

And no, this type of behavior isn’t only on the reservation. The entire state is witnessing social disobedience from individuals and businesses, alike. 

“Since I announced the ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order for our state, we have seen social distancing and other compliance from businesses and residents across Washington for the good of the public health,” Governor Inslee recently said. “But thousands of calls are also pouring in to state and local agencies from concerned residents, with reports that some individuals and businesses are not in compliance.

“The actions of those who willfully violate this order may ultimately drag out the COVID-19 crisis even longer.”

Tulalip leadership has responded to this woeful behavior by implementing a new tribal code authorizing the enforcement of stay at home quarantine orders. To further reinforce the ‘stay home, stay healthy’ directive, all reservation parks, outdoor basketball courts, Youth Center skate park and ball field, and Mission Beach public access points have been permanently closed until further notice. 

Once a welcomed sight to all, now these recreational areas are sealed off with bright yellow CAUTION tape. Impossible to miss, the message is loud and clear. Similar to the Tribe’s adult playgrounds – Tulalip Resort, Quil Ceda Casino and Bingo – the outdoor community areas are officially closed for business, pending a must needed flattening of the curve when it comes to COVID-19 cases.

“The safety of our community is of the utmost importance,” said Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “We want people to stay home. [By doing so] it is slowing the curve and lowering the number of deaths. The Board of Directors will continue to adapt and make the best decisions we can for our community and our Tribe.”

Enduring the virus: Inside one Tulalip family’s corona experience

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a worldwide crisis. Its rapid spread has reached Earth’s far corners and no end to the infectious pandemic is in sight. On the global level, at the time this article was written, there are 184,976 confirmed cases and 7,529 deaths reported in 159 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Because of a general lack of testing or lack of sufficient supplies to even perform accurate testing amongst the global health community, the number of people who have contracted the virus is presumed to be much higher than the confirmed cases. The good news is that the infected mortality rate is estimated between 1% – 3.4%, and fewer than 5% of all confirmed cases are deemed critical.

People of all ages can be infected by the coronavirus. However, older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

Typical symptoms, which develop quickly, include a high fever, dry cough, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue. In the most severe cases, breathing difficulties arise that require intensive medical care.

With the endless supply of fear and panic-inducing content produced from most mainstream 24/7 news cycles, it’s increasingly difficult to remain calm in the wake of corona chaos. Yet, it’s in these trying times that being mindful is of utmost importance. Being properly prepared and knowing what to expect can make all the difference. 

One Tulalip family who recently contracted, endured and overcame the infamous virus shared their experience with Tulalip News under the condition their identities remain anonymous. We will refer to them as the Doe family; husband John, wife Jane, and their child Jaimie. 

On Sunday, March 8, the family felt great. They were living out their normal weekend routines and preparing for the week ahead. Little did they know their sense of normalcy would come to a screeching halt just hours later.

Their Monday morning routine went as usual with John going to work. But as the day went along he started to feel a little warmer than normal. Around noon he received a phone call from his wife Jane who said she had a fever. Finding the timing odd, he called their child Jaimie who also admitted to running a temperature. So John went home and checked his temperature with a thermometer. It showed 101. He knew then the situation was worrisome. 

“I called my primary doctor and answered a series of questions over the phone,” said John. “He recommended we call Snohomish County Health District and notify them first, then go to Everett Clinic in Smokey Pt. because they were doing COVID-19 testing.”

The family unit went to the Everett Clinic facility at 6:00p.m. where they were triaged in a large medical tent with medical personal masked up, just like a scene out of a movie. By that point, each member of the family were experiencing fever, sinus pressure and headache. They underwent testing for nearly an hour, including being tested for two of the most common strains of influenza or the flu. 

“At that time, we were told they were only administering the COVID-19 test to first responders and people who’ve come into confirmed contact with the virus,” explained John. “You could say we were never officially diagnosed with it because they refused to give us the COVID test, but we tested negative for the flu and everything else. Multiple members of the medical staff told us that our symptoms lined up exactly with coronavirus and there was no need to test us because the results were obvious.

“We were told then to contact our local health precincts and let them know of our status and that we’d be self-quarantining until our fever was gone for at least 72-hours,” continued John. “Of course we wanted the confirmation test so we’d have peace of mind. But we were literally told by members of Snohomish County Health District and Everett Clinic, ‘From your symptoms it’s obvious what the results will be. There’s no need for a confirmation test. If any member of the family begins to experience breathing problem, then go to the hospital.’”

They returned home, reached out to each person’s job, Tulalip Community Health, the Board of Directors, and Tulalip Bay Fire Department to make them all aware they’d be self-quarantining. They even posted a sign in the window letting their neighbors and anyone else know of their status.

Over the next few days their symptoms continued to worsen. The fever would continually spike at 104, while a persistent dry cough made the muscle ache and headache worsen.

“The worst part by far is the fever, followed by the constant head pressure that feels like someone is literally squeezing your head,” shared the family via telephone on Day 5 of their self-quarantine.

Fortunately, the Doe family had been taking precautionary measures as early as January when the first confirmed case of COVID-19 struck Washington State. That case was in Snohomish County. It was shortly after hearing that news, John and Jane began slowly stockpiling necessities. They were pretty much set on the essentials, but found out they hadn’t exactly prepared for conditions when they came down with the sickness.

“So many people are buying supplies now to remain indoors and avoid getting COVID, but what you’ve also got to prepare for is the scenario where you and your family actually catch the virus,” advised the recovering family from their first-hand experience. “What worked best for us was Gatorade and Ibuprofen. A lot of both.”

Gatorade to replenish the body’s fluids and provide essential electrolytes being lost from a 104 degree fever, and Ibuprofen to help reduce the non-stop muscle aches and head pressure. Any kind of electrolyte beverage or on-the-shelf anti-inflammatory may be just as effective to help alleviate the signature symptoms of coronavirus. A thermometer to occasionally check on body temperature and immune boosters, like Airborne or Emergen-C, are also highly recommended.

Prices reflect availability at Tulalip Walmart, as of March 15, 2020.

Being in self-quarantine, they relied on a family member to complete resupply runs and door drops when needed. When they were running low on Gatorade, Ibuprofen, and any other essential items they’d simply call or text their designated support member and he’d fill their order and drop it outside their door. This system fulfilled the intended results of a self-quarantine, which is to minimize the risk of passing on an infection to anyone else.

The Doe family reported not really having much of an appetite nor any digestive issues. They went as far as finding the current toilet paper crisis pretty amusing. “We don’t understand why everyone wants to horde all the toilet paper. Or food for that matter. The priority should definitely be to have enough adequate medicine and fluids on hand,” shared the family. 

By Day 7 of their self-quarantine, the family reported being fever-free. Their cough had all but subsided and only mentioned some slight chest pressure. On Day 8 they said their spirits have returned fully, the fever remains gone, and they were looking forward to resuming some semblance of normalcy. With so many businesses shut down, entire school districts closed, and large public gatherings outright prohibited for the foreseeable future, what their new normal will be is a mystery. For now, they are simply relieved to have endured a pandemic sweeping the globe and intend to share their experience to help others be prepared.

Tulalip senior center closes amid coronavirus outbreak

With health officials now reporting 19 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Snohomish County, the Tulalip Tribes is working to ensure the health and safety of its elders.  Since elders are identified as some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19, extra precautions are being taken within the Tulalip community. 

 According to Rochelle Lubbers, Chief Administrative Officer of Tulalip Tribal Government Operations, as of Friday, March 6, the Katherine “Molly” Hatch Senior Center has temporarily closed its doors until tribal officials gain more information about the spreading virus. Bingo sessions, elder commission meetings and other gathering events have been canceled.

The Tribe considers those to be over 62 years-of-age an elder, and will be delivering soap, paper towels, hand sanitizers and information about the virus to all tribal member elders on the reservation. Following that, deliveries will be made to seniors over 55 years of age. 

Elders are advised to stay in their houses to limit the exposure to a possible outbreak. If an elder is part of your household, buy supplies and help with errands if you can. Also be sure to call and check in on elders you know may need help. And most importantly, wash your hands regularly with an alcohol-based hand rub or with soap and water, and avoid touching your face.

If an elder has an illness, contact their doctor. If they are experiencing life-threatening symptoms call 911. For more information about COVID-19, contact the Snohomish County Health District hotline at 1-800-525-0127.

Elders are encouraged to tune in to Tulalip TV, Channel 3/503 (HD) for video updates from Tribal leaders about COVID-19. Tulalip TV can also be accessed at TulalipTV.com, the TulalipTV App, available from the Apple App Store/Google Play Store, and Roku and FireTV, Tulalip TV channels.

Please continue to check in with Tulalip News, at tulalipnews.com and Tulalip News Facebook and subscribe to emails for the most current information. You can also subscribe to the text alert line (text STORM to 30644), to receive updates and alerts. 

2020 Native Vote tour visits Tulalip

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Native Vote is a nonpartisan campaign initiated by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). It is designed to encourage Native Americans throughout the nation to exercise their inherent right to vote. With the heightened political participation of Native people, Indian Country has become an increasingly powerful voting bloc. In recent years, the Native vote has been publicly acknowledged as making a pivotal difference in national, state, and local elections.

The ability to make such a pivotal difference is 100% reliant on you, the voter. Historically, the turnout rate of registered Native voters is 5 to 14 percentage points lower than the rate of many other racial and ethnic groups. Add in the fact that nationwide a whopping 34% of eligible Native voters are not registered to vote, according to the NCAI, and the need to empower the entire electorate to register and cast their ballot is a clear priority.

Native Vote’s admirable Rez-to-Rez tour intends to fulfill that priority in Washington State by going directly to Native voters on their reservations, speaking truth to power on issues that impact our people, while encouraging each tribal citizen to vote. The Rez-to-Rez tour visited Tulalip on Tuesday, March 3.

“I’m honored to be here with you all on Tulalip land,” said Larry Cordier (Lakota), coordinated campaign tribal organizer. “It is critical that we get together, register to vote, and let our voice be heard by casting our ballot. Your vote is guaranteed to you by the U.S. Constitution. As treaty tribes, we have joined the United States in citizenship. Our men and women have defended this country. No one has to set that table for us. We did that with our veterans.

“The chiefs negotiated those treaties and it’s our responsibility to make sure those Treaty Rights endure,” continued Larry. “In all my travels I’ve heard so many people say, ‘Why should I vote? My vote doesn’t count.’ But if all those people got out and registered, and cast their ballot, we would have this country exactly where it needs to be. We need everyone because everyone counts. So let’s mobilize and make them feel our united power.”

Larry Cordier, coordinated campaign tribal organizer.

During the two-hour visit, engaged citizens were welcome to ask questions about candidates, register if they weren’t already, shown how to update their mailing address to insure arrival of voting documents, speak with 2020 Census representatives, and, if they were ready, cast their Washington State primary ballot.

“I saw the advertisement for this event in the Tulalip newsletter and was interested in finding out more about the presidential candidates,” shared tribal elder Joyce Alexander (Haida). “I haven’t decided who I will be voting for yet, but leaning between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

“As a Native American citizen, I’m always curious about how any politician or political candidate feels about Native Americans. [Their platform] affects us and our issues should matter to them.”

According to the U.S. Census, Native Americans have one of the youngest populations of any racial/ethnic group in the United States, with those under the age of 25 making up about 40% of the total Native population. Every four years, about half a million Native young people turn 18-years-old and become eligible to vote. This provides an opportunity to engage almost one in ten Native people as new voters.

In order to maximize the Native vote, it is critical that Native citizens become educated in the political process in order to actively participate in tribal, local, state, and national elections. It’s not only the U.S. President and Congress, but state governors and county and local elected officials who make important policy decisions that affect the everyday lives of Native peoples. Increasing the Native vote and in turn our electorate’s participation in non-tribal elections will lead to better responsiveness to the needs of tribal communities across the nation.

“One of the beautiful things about voting is it is open and accessible to everyone. And every vote matters,” explained Theresa Sheldon (Tulalip), Native American political director for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). “Please know that it’s not too late for people to register to vote. There is a great online resource iWillVote.com 

“Anyone can visit that site to register, check if you are registered, and/or update your mailing address. It’s so important to know that if we want to take back the white house, then we have to show up and vote. Please talk to your friends, your family and encourage them to get their ballot in. Sooner is better. Don’t wait until the last minute,” encouraged Theresa.

Northwest Natives rally for Bernie, honor MMIW in front of thousands

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

President’s Day. A day historically marked by United States citizens looking back through history and remembering all former Presidents. This year’s President’s Day was quite different. Instead of looking backwards, thousands looked forward to a new, hopeful future led by presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

The Vermont Senator and current frontrunner for the Democratic presidential candidate came to Washington State and held an awe-inspiring rally that drew 17,000+ people to the Tacoma Dome. Understanding he was visiting the traditional homelands of the Coast Salish people, Sanders’ team invited the area’s first inhabitants to not just attend the rally as honored guests, but to be seen and heard on a campaign trail captivating audience members by the masses.

“For too many years, the needs of the American Indian have been ignored, treaties have been broken and lie after lie has been told to you,” stated Senator Sanders. “The time is long overdue, perhaps hundreds of years overdue, for the Native American people to be treated with respect. The pain and the lies and the broken treaties, it should never have happened, but our job together is to end those terrible things, to bring our people together and to treat the Native American people with the dignity they are entitled to.”

Answering the call was a coalition of Northwest Natives including tribal members from Tulalip, Puyallup, Lummi, Muckleshoot, Swinomish, Nisqually, Yakama, Alaska, and even some First Nations relatives from Canada. 

“This is a sign that politicians are recognizing the important roles that Tribes play not just in politics, but in protecting the environment,” said Puyallup Chairman David Bean. “Bernie Sanders is a champion for protecting Mother Earth and bringing awareness to the realities of climate change that threaten our homelands and natural resources. It’s so significant to have a presidential candidate reach out to the Tribes to recognize he’s on our homeland and allow us to share our messages regarding climate change and missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW).”

Freddie Lane, Lummi council member, added “It’s so important for any presidential candidate to reach out to Indian Country, not for the fact that we have $33 billion dollars going through Indian Country every year and that some of the strongest economies in our states are within Indian nations. It don’t matter if it’s California, Oklahoma, Florida, Washington State or Connecticut, Tribes must step up and utilize their positions to get tribal-friendly people elected to public office. We have to set aside our differences, get out and vote, in order to make our voice heard. Our communities are stronger together.”

Unified strength is exactly what the inclusive gathering of Northwest Natives displayed by journeying from so many different reservations with a common mission to share culture and perspective.

Upon arriving to the Tacoma Dome, hours prior to the scheduled rally start time, the tribal cohort nearing 200 strong were led through a private entrance by Sanders representatives to the Tacoma Dome’s main floor. While thousands of excited rally attendees stood outside in a long line wrapping around the stadium, some as long as six hours waiting to be let in, the tribal members were given a full VIP treatment.

The stadium filled with eager rally-goers of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds, eventually reaching near maximum capacity with an official headcount surpassing 17,000. When the rally was officially underway, the Northwest Native coalition took to the stage to share their powerful message as only they can, through a remarkable culture. 

Wearing traditional regalia over vibrantly red fabrics, the group drummed, sang, and danced in unison to honor the MMIW movement. Faces painted with a red handprint, a sign peacefully bringing attention to the inability of victims to speak for themselves, captivated the rally’s attention during a nearly ten-minute song intended to bring awareness and raise support. 

Violence against Indigenous women has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. and Canada, with Native women being battered, raped, and stalked at greater rates than any other population of women. According to the National Crime Information Center, there were 5,712 known incidents of missing and murdered Native American women in just 2016 alone. Additionally, 84% of Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime. These glaring statistics speak for themselves, yet it’s surprising how few people outside of Native communities are actually aware of this crisis.

By being given a platform to be seen and heard in front of thousands, the Northwest tribes were recognized and empowered at the Bernie Sanders rally. Many onlookers could be seen live-streaming the powerful MMIW song via their social media accounts. It’s impossible to know the song’s reach at such an event, but the hope is its message and meaning now resonates in the minds of engaged citizens who otherwise wouldn’t have a clue about MMIW or its heartfelt impacts on Tribes. 

“It’s a huge honor to help our people heal from broken hearts for those that never made it home, while giving hope to those who might have given up,” shared MMIW song composer and Snoqualmie tribal member Antone George. “I really wanted this song to have deep feeling and harmony and flow to where our people all over Indian Country would be able to sing it.

“We might not ever meet all of the ones that are hoping and praying that their loved one comes home. They’re not alone with their prayers. They’re not alone with how they’re feeling,” George added, addressing the families of MMIW victims. “To be singing here today we’re letting our non-Native relatives know we are here to be heard. Everything our people have gone through over these hundreds of years to this point, we are still here. Our culture is strong.”

By sharing his campaign platform and central rally stage with a clear representation of the area’s Native population, Senator Sanders proves he clearly understands that as a public and federal official, he has a responsibility to Tribes. When interacting with any federal officials, it is paramount they be vigilant in understanding their trust responsibilities. No other people in the country do they have that trust responsibility over. Those responsibilities are clearly expressed in the treaties signed by Tribes all over the nation.

When a candidate is running for any public office, let alone President of the United States, they have to know they are obligated to fulfill their trust responsibility and honor Treaty Rights. If they aren’t even reaching out, let alone acknowledging their local Tribes then that’s a clear sign they either don’t know about their trust responsibility or, worse yet, they do know and simply don’t care. Bernie Sanders continued to prove he does know of his trust responsibility and in fact does care about the needs of Native American population following the rally when he met with tribal leadership and representatives in an intimate setting backstage. 

“The culture of the Native American people should be respected by all people all across our nation,” declared the presidential hopeful to the group of Northwest Natives. “You have enriched the American people, you have educated the American people, especially your respect for the environment. What you have taught us, and it is a lesson that must be learned now or the entire planet will be endangered, you have taught us that as human beings we are part of nature and we cannot destroy nature and survive. 

“I want to thank you all for your support here today. We must all stand together to create a nation that belongs to all of us. Transforming this nation is going to be hard, but as everybody here knows real change never ever takes place without struggle. If you think change is easy, then you aren’t talking about real change.

“We’re taking on enormously powerful people who love the status quo,” continued Senator Sanders. “They love the exploitation of the Native American people; the ability to come in to your lands to drill and destroy the land and water while circumventing Treaty Rights. It’s not going to be easy, but we have the moral responsibility not only for ourselves, but for future generations to make that fight. That’s what this campaign is all about.”

His words brought beaming smiles and positive visions for the future to the tribal citizenship fortunate to hear them. Hearing a presidential candidate who not only understands Treaty Rights, but is making the effort to uphold them while honoring tribal nations could be history in the making. 

After the much anticipated rally, there was lots of conversation connecting the political ideals of Bernie Sanders with the traditional teaching of Tribes.  

“My heart is full having Bernie Sanders here in our homelands because he really lives the values of our people,” reflected Puyallup tribal member Danelle Reed, director of Kwawachee Counseling Center. “What people label Socialism really comes down to caring for all human beings and taking care of everyone, especially those who can’t take care of themselves. For me, his message is really about bringing back traditional values that we all as Native people hold.”

“Bernie’s position, his values, are in line with tribal values,” added Puyallup Chairman David Bean. “We’re taught from a young age that a person will be remembered for what they have done for their people, not what they have done for themselves. That lesson serves to teach us to take care of our community, to think of others before we think of ourselves. 

“His values also line up with taking care of Mother Earth. Being fishing people, we have a strong connection to the land, water and salmon. Another lesson we’re all taught as children is what happens to Mother Earth, good or bad, happens to us. We have a responsibility to take care of her. If we take care of Mother Earth, she will take care of us. Bernie may use different words, but he’s broadcasting the exact same message.”

Healing to Wellness Court awarded two-year title as National Mentor Court

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

At the start of 2017, the Tulalip Tribes and the Tulalip Justice Department introduced a new system to address the drug epidemic that was overtaking the entire nation at the time and claiming many lives of Indigenous people all across Native America. For a point of reference, that year over 70,000 deaths resulted from heroin, fentanyl or opioid overdose in the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The number of overdose related deaths did decrease, however, dropping to a recorded 67,000 deaths in 2018. Which is still alarmingly high. 

In an effort to help guide those wishing to get clean and escape the battle of addiction, as well as set them on the road to recovery, the Tribe took a chance by tailoring the standard state drug court to the needs of their Tribal people when developing the Healing to Wellness Court. This new approach originally drew skepticism from the community, perhaps due to failed drug court experiences in the past. But fast forward three years and the program has two prominent graduates who are actively inspiring from within the tribal society, and over twenty participants who have anywhere from a week to hundreds of days free from the grip of their addictions, as the program takes about 18-24 months to complete depending on the individual’s personal journey. 

The wellness court has often been attributed by many of its participants as a ‘lifesaver’. Dozens have shared about the healing they receive during local gatherings like the monthly Wellbriety celebration dinners sponsored the Tulalip Problem Gambling program, or at weekly meetings, cultural events and during ‘give back’ hours while working at the smokehouse or with the Tribal elders. Most importantly, wellness court creates a community-like environment amongst its participants, and in many ways a support system where the people hold each other accountable and offer encouragement and support while working on their own sobriety.  

Although their focus is the people of Tulalip, word about the work the wellness court is conducting has spread nationwide. On the afternoon of February 25, an official from the National Drug Court Institute, Karen Cowgill, flew across the country to hand-deliver a plaque recognizing the wellness court for their effective system. 

“The award we received today was the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) Mentor Court,” stated Interim Wellness Court Program Manager, Ashley Utz-Cook. “We were awarded to be a part of the Mentor Court Network, which means under the NADCP they’ve deemed us as one of the best of the best. So far, we are one of two tribal courts in the network and I believe there are nine other courts in the network.”

As an added bonus, Karen witnessed firsthand the inner-workings of wellness court. Such as how the judge interacts with the participants; how those who are in compliance are recognized for their accomplishments and challenged to continue striving forward. And those who aren’t in compliance are still offered encouragement in addition to a stern talking-to and the appropriate sanctions. 

“I came out today because the Healing to Wellness Court applied to become a mentor court,” said Karen. “For the next two years, when we have courts that are learning how to be a tribal drug court, we can send them here and they can observe the judge and meet the team and talk to them and actually see what this all about. This [system] is really going to be an example across the United States for tribal courts to see how to do the job. It’s a different way of doing drug court; we can help get people back on track and make sure they succeed in the long run.”

The wellness court has done a great job of turning the perception of their system around, so much so that drug court teams will be flying in from all around the nation to see the healing aspect of drug court take place in real life. 

“It feels awesome,” expressed Ashley after her team received the award. “It was a lot of work put in by every single team member, as well as the people before us and of course the participants. It feels great to see everything we do every day, the daily operations, recognized on such a high scale. We appreciate everyone’s hard work from the staff to the participants.”

Before concluding wellness court and the award celebration, the court team decided to pay it forward by extending love and recognition to a Tribal member who dedicated her life to assisting recovering addicts. Helen Gobin-Henson was gifted with a certificate of appreciation for the support and guidance she offers to the local recovery community. 

“This means so much to me because this is my calling,” Helen said with tears running down her cheek. “I’ve been doing this work for about thirty years, helping my people get into treatment and doing whatever I can. I sung for all the funerals for over fifty years and it really hits me hard when we lose our young ones, even our old ones, to this addiction, to this disease. I hope that I can be a blessing to my people and show them that recovery works if you work it.”

For additional details about the Healing to Wellness Court, please contact (360) 716-4773.