Traditional Foods for the People: Tulalip Tribes distributes King Salmon to it’s membership

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“The salmon is an important part of our upbringing, we’re people who relate to the water,” expressed Tulalip elder, William Williams. “This distribution is helpful to me, my family, to everybody. A good way for all of us to get in touch with each other, by getting a hold of, and sharing, this salmon.”

Nearly one month ago, Tulalip tribal members engaged in a ceremony to honor the yubəč, the king salmon. This important traditional event is held at the start of every fishing season to thank the salmon for providing sustenance to the people and to bless the tribal fishermen. Salmon are a key element to the Salishan diet and have been for generations, stretching back to the start of time. It’s no wonder the Tulalip people hold the delectable and nutritious species in such high regard. 

“It’s what we lived-off of,” said tribal member, Melissa Gobin. “It’s coming back to our original diet and helping our tribal fishermen at the same time.”

In an effort to provide traditional foods for the people and connect the community to the tribe’s way of life, Tulalip purchased hundreds of pounds of king salmon for its membership. And to make a wonderful gesture even greater, the Tribe bought the salmon directly from the tribal fishermen. 

Tribal members over the age of 18 were eligible to obtain one whole salmon each. Distribution days were held on June 30th, and July 5th and 7th from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Elders were offered preference and were also encouraged to go to the front of the line to receive their salmon. 

“This is something the Tribe has been wanting to do for a while,” explained Tulalip’s Natural and Cultural Resources Executive Director, Jason Gobin. “We were able to get some funds this year. We’ve done smaller distributions in the past, of hatchery surplus fish and whatnot, but this is the first big distribution. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue this on a yearly basis for the membership.”

The salmon were distributed to Tulalip tribal members at the parking lot of the local marina. A steady line of cars trickled-in throughout the cloudy, yet warm, summer afternoon of July 5th. The people happily exchanged good-humored banter with the crew handing out the fish and conversed about the recent holiday. The salmon were in large crates of ice, and one-by-one they were scooped out and placed in strong plastic bags for the people to transport to their homes with the least mess possible.

Numerous families traveled to the marina together and picked up their fish in bulk, and many people got out of their vehicles to check out all the salmon in the crates.

“I came out to get fish to share with my mom, that way she can eat some healthy fish. I think it’s really awesome and cool that the Tribe is giving back,” exclaimed Joseph Hatch as he waited patiently in a line of cars, tribal-ID ready in-hand. 

While getting his personal cooler out of the back of his pick-up, Tribal member Alan Cortez shared, “I used to work at the hatchery and bring salmon home all the time. Now that I’m retired, it’s a blessing to get this. It’s an important part of our diet, it’s just like me going out hunting.”

The salmon distribution is a great way to feed the community at large and in-turn is creating an opportunity for families to pass down traditional teachings, in regards to preparing the salmon for consumption. 

“My husband seasons and broils it, we just love salmon!,” said Sonia Sohappy. “I believe it’s more healthy for you than the stuff we usually eat, and I’m trying to get my family to eat more healthy, so it helps us out. Win-win.”

After picking-up her salmon, Katie L. Jones stated that she knew exactly what she was going to do with her share of the distribution. “I am going to teach my boys, and other people who want to learn, how to can. I learned through Gayle Jones. We’re going to can salmon and give to people who need it, and keep some for ourselves. This helps feed our Indian and gives us traditional foods that we can enjoy at home.”

Jason explained that the fish distro is a good opportunity for non-fishing families to indulge in an integral piece of their traditional diet, as salmon may be a little more challenging to acquire for those who don’t have the ability, means, or necessary teachings to go out on the water. 

“I’m fortunate enough to go out and catch my own. But this distribution, this salmon we’ve been able to get, is important to the community because it brings traditional foods to the table,” he said. “Especially for the elders who don’t have family members who are fishing. It’s important to be able to share with the community and share with the families. The salmon is not just for that one person, they’re taking that home and they’re going to share with their entire family. This really brings the community together – sharing in that salmon as they eat it, smoke it, use it, and do whatever they’re going to do with it.”

As Jason stated, this is the first major salmon distribution and it is something that the Tribe hopes to continue going forward. 

When asked how he felt after receiving his salmon, Tulalip elder Marvin Jones simply put, “It feels real good anytime that you get a fish, because this is such an important part of our culture.” 

Make Your Independence Day a Blast! Visit Boom City

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“It is that time of year again,” exclaimed a young teen, wearing a huge grin as he greeted his group of friends at the gravel lot behind the Tulalip Resort Casino. As he finished exchanging high-fives and daps with his peers, a loud boom rocked the entire area. “Whoo! That’s what I’m talking about. You guys ready?” One of his friends chuckled and replied, “we were just waiting on you!” And with that, the group of four young adults hurried down a row of stands, looking to find the best deal on their first purchase of the holiday season.

The Northwest pyrotechnic capital known as Boom City officially opened on June 22nd this year, to the excitement of many firework enthusiasts, die-hard American patriots, and business-minded tribal members alike. 

If you grew up locally, then Boom City is practically synonymous with summertime fun. Each summer, for nearly the past fifty years, Boom City has been the go-to place for people to purchase their favorite fireworks in the Snohomish County region. And of course, thanks to tribal sovereignty, Boom City vendors offer many fireworks that are not available to the public at stands located off reservation. 

By permitting their membership the right to buy and sell federally legal fireworks at Boom City, Tulalip has provided an opportunity for tribal entrepreneurs to earn another source of income for their families. And not to mention, gain some experience in commerce and business ownership. 

Close to one-hundred stands are currently open for business at Boom City this year. The stand owners have innumerable types of fireworks available for purchase including cakes, firecrackers, bottle rockets, sparklers, Roman candles, fountains, smoke bombs, pop-its and many more, sure to make your Independence Day a blast. 

This year, we asked a handful of stand owners about the theme behind their vibrant and creatively designed stands.

“My theme is ‘Light It Up’, which means a few things,” explained Jennifer Ashman, who is also the manager of Tulalip Remedy. “I love lighting fireworks and I sell cannabis. I had Dalton Shay do my art, he’s a tribal member and he also did the art at the [Remedy] store and that’s how I knew his work. I love it. I had all these cool ideas and he brought them to life.”

Eli Ruiz, who helps run a jungle-themed stand with his wife Danielle, said, “Our stand was painted by an artist named Lou. He did it back in 2018. He painted it twice. The first time we liked it, but it was called Wildthing. I wanted to change it because I felt that it was not just about the stand, I wanted it to also be about our products which are Wildthings. Our zebra-print is our signature, and we are the very first ones with the zebra-striped countertop.”

One stand owner, William Moses, proudly showed-off the back of his stand. Painted at the center is a Native man, donning traditional regalia. The most prominent article he is wearing is a headdress made of feathers. “It really is a good name,” he expressed. “War Bonnet Fireworks. It is famous, I think it’s cool and it is a part of our tradition. One of my buddies painted it, I probably had it for about seven or eight years now. It looks real good!”

Near the center of Boom City, is a red stand with a cupid theme and a downward slanted roof. When asked about her stand, Sylvanna Brinson shared, “I’m the only backward stand with a metal roof. My younger brother had some crazy wild idea that it would be better for me because I’m short. I still have to use a ladder on the inside, but I can maneuver my own shelves and I know where everything goes.” 

Sylvanna also has five words painted on the front of her stand: Crazy, Unsafe, Psychotic, Insane and Dangerous. Each word represents a member of her family. “When I was younger, my mom Theresa had a firework stand that was called Unsafe and Insane. One day, when we were painting this stand, I realized I didn’t have a name. I said, well I’m crazy, everyone calls me crazy. My brother was there, and he said he was psychotic. And dangerous is Sophia because she is young. Crazy, unsafe, psychotic, insane and dangerous – I always say those [words] describe the fireworks, not people. But really, that’s how we came up with our name.”

Many of the stand owners at Boom City have a unique and entertaining story behind the artwork, name, and theme of their stands. And hearing those stories and seeing all the hard work that goes into decorating the stands, is almost as much fun as sticking a punk to a wick and running a safe distance before your fireworks burst into the sky – almost (wink emoji)!

Boom City also offers a designated area so you, your family and friends can enjoy those fireworks safely and legally. Several food vendors are stationed at Boom City as well, serving up treats such as kettle corn, Hawaiian shaved ice, frybread and tacos! 

Boom City is open daily, 8:00 a.m. – Midnight, until July 4th.

Tulalip Healing to Wellness Court recognized as National Mentor Court

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

In recognition of outstanding service to the treatment community, the Tulalip Healing to Wellness Court Tulalip, WA is hereby recognized as a member of the 2022-2024 National Mentor Court Network by NADCP’s Drug Court Institute and The Bureau of Justice Assistance

On the afternoon of June 27, the courtroom at the Tulalip Justice department was filled with multiple people, some hailing from as far away as Arizona. On the hottest day of the year so far, many were in splendid spirits and thankful to be in the comfort of the almighty A/C. About six of those individuals were especially in a good mood, as they are currently on a journey to becoming the best version of themselves, fighting hard to stay on the road to recovery. And thanks to the Tulalip Healing to Wellness Court, they are seeing successful results. 

One by one they approached the stand and the first question the judge asked was, ‘how many clean days do you have?’ Ranging anywhere from 36 days to 265 days clean, each person received a resounding and well-deserved round of applause by the entire courtroom when they revealed the amount of days they have remained sober. 

The clients then reflected on the past week with Judge Peter Boome. The judge let the clients know if they were in-compliance, and together they discussed all of the weekly tasks the clients have completed, or were meant to complete, such as community service hours, check-in’s with their advisors and team, court-mandated essays, and UA’s.

 A few of these individuals, who are just beginning their recovery journey, were experiencing the Healing to Wellness Court’s proceedings for the first time, and this appearance served as either an observation day or an opt-in day. Others have long been participants of the wellness court and were celebrating upwards of hundreds of days clean, that were acquired with the assistance of the Tribe’s wellness court. If the client was 100% in-compliance, they were rewarded with an incentive of their choosing.

Observing the wellness court in-action, was Susan Alameda, the Project Director of the National Drug Court Institute. Once the proceedings were finished, Susan presented an engraved plaque to the tribal court, recognizing the Healing to Wellness Court as an official member of the National Mentor Court Network. 

This is the second two-year term in a row that the Tulalip Healing to Wellness Court received this esteemed title. The title allows other courthouses throughout the country, that are looking to improve or begin their own wellness courts in their respective communities, the opportunity to visit and learn from Tulalip’s model. 

Said Susan, “At the National Drug Court Institute, we say that these programs are about saving lives. I believe that is absolutely true. There’s an approach to these programs, especially Tulalip’s Healing to Wellness Court, it’s very rooted in community, very rooted in science and research. When you think about families who are able to stay together, or to be reunited, people who turn their lives around from substance abuse and have a second chance, to me, that’s life saving. When they get all that fog out of their system, and they can see themselves and all the things they want to achieve, they become a new person. That is such a beautiful thing to see.”

She continued, “This particular wellness program now has the prestige title of being a mentor court, which is one of very few mentor courts throughout the country. We take great honor in recognizing this court for all of its achievements. The staff played a big role to begin and continue carrying out this program, and [the judges] have been very dedicated, as well as all those who have come before. To be called a mentor court, you really have to adhere to some high standards. And through that, you have the opportunity to play a role in helping shape other courts that are interested in doing something like what’s been going on here.”

The Tulalip Tribes and the Tulalip Justice department first introduced the Healing to Wellness Court at the start of 2017 as an alternative path to the road to recovery for it’s tribal membership. As the heroin and opioid epidemic continues to escalate, skyrocketing in Native America since the pandemic, the tribal Wellness Court program looks to continue to be a source for the people as a means to get clean and escape the battle of addiction. 

The tribe tailored the wellness court to meet the needs of their people, and implemented community and cultural work, or ‘give-back hours’, as a requirement to complete the program. And thereby helped re-instill traditional values in many of their clients as well as helping them get re-acclimated back into the community. 

In addition to having a strong team of professionals by their side, consisting of judges, attorneys, tribal courthouse officials, TPD officers, drug counselors, and recovery specialists, the client is also reunified with their families, friends, and community along the way. And with a strong support system and a return to traditional Tulalip lifeways, the client has a great chance of completing the 18-24 monthlong program and maintaining their sobriety once they graduate from the Healing to Wellness Court. 

Susan presented the plaque to Tulalip Chairwoman, Teri Gobin, who stated, “I would like to thank you on behalf of the Tulalip Tribes. It’s a true honor for our court system. I also want to thank Judge Bass, who was there since the beginning to help bring this forward. And all of the other judges, lawyers, staff, supportive staff, and everyone who has been involved. It’s an honor to receive this prestigious honor for our court system.”

In attendance for the special recognition, and taking note of the court’s proceedings, were representatives of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe who are in the planning phase of opening their own reservation-based wellness court. The Muckleshoot Wellness Court coordinator, Henry Carranza, is anticipating a ribbon-cutting ceremony as early as September, but noted that a lot of work is still required before they’re able to hold their first hearing. 

“A lot of the things happening here at the Tulalip Healing to Wellness Court, we’re going to borrow and implement,” Henry said. “We’re looking to get as much information that we can get and use it for our court. The whole transformation of helping others and watching them turn their lives around will be so worth it. Here at Tulalip, everybody has the same goal of helping the individual turn their life around, everybody works together to help that one person, I think that’s the key.”

The mentor court title will remain in effect through 2024, where if eligible, the courthouse can once again apply to be a member of the National Mentor Court Network and can continue to lead by example for wellness courts nationwide. 

While wiping tears from her eyes, Teri expressed, “I think about everybody’s lives that it’s changed – seeing the difference in what has happened with our people. It makes a difference having everybody surrounding you, supporting you. It’s like the medicine wheel. We’re making sure they are whole all the way around, but also keeping them accountable for that first year. I want to thank you for this honor on behalf of our court and the staff who made this possible.”

Perseverance and a Diploma: Celebrating the Class of 2022

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

“Welcome to our 2022 ceremony to celebrate our graduates,” said Rochelle Lubbers as she greeted the hundreds of family and friends who ventured to the Tulalip Resort on June 14. “We’re so excited to have you all here. Our hearts are beyond full to be in the same room with our community on such a remarkable occasion.

“Reflecting on all our beautiful students today, I thought about all the different journeys they have taken to get here, and how each journey is unique and special. Not a single one had the same walk, but there are some commonalities that they experienced being seniors during a global pandemic. They experienced distance learning and all the challenges with technology that came with that. However, what I’m most impressed with is they exemplified perseverance. Our students overcome these challenges and pushed through in whatever way they had to in order graduate. For that, their entire Tribe is proud of them and that’s why we’re here to celebrate this wonderful accomplishment.”

The triumphant atmosphere was palpable in the Resort’s Orca Ballroom as the unrelenting hopes and limitless dreams from the Class of 2022 took center stage with a stylish graduation banquet. 

A whopping seventy-eight high school seniors, accompanied by their loved ones, convened to commemorate the rite of passage. There were traditional songs sang and drummed, words of wisdom from tribal elders shared, opportunities to immortalize the occasion with a visit to on-site photo booth, a decadent buffet-style dinner, and plenty of motivational words offered from Tulalip’s next generation of leaders.

One emphatic message that was repeated throughout the night from graduates, parents and elders alike was a reminder to the praise worthy 18-year-olds that receiving a high school diploma is only the first major milestone on their journey to manifesting their dreams into reality. 

For some the dream may be finding a convenient job to establish independence via a one bedroom apartment, or joining the Tribe’s next TERO vocational training center class in order to enter the construction trades and start building up a pension. There are those newly minted adults who are far too eager to start a family of their own, and there are a few who never thought they’d graduate high school and now, having achieved the seemingly impossible, are in search of their next step. 

Then there are the awe-inspiring dream chasers. These type of high school grads aren’t satisfied with just the one diploma. They want more; more education, more diplomas, and more experiences than what can be found within the boundaries of the Reservation or Snohomish County. These individuals intend to redefine the expectations of success as it pertains to Native Americans and the education system. 

Like, homegrown Tulalip tribal members Tamiah Joseph and Quintin Yon-Wagner. They were chosen as Class of 2022 student speakers and shared heartfelt words to the Ballroom crowd. Tamiah was noted as being a standout athlete during her participation in Rising Stars gymnastics and UNITY basketball, as well as being credited for being a NABI finalist, Tulalip Nationals Champion, and 2022 WIAA District Champion. 

“I didn’t think I’d make to this day, honestly. But now I’m here and so thankful for all the support I’ve received. I’m delighted to share that next year I will be attending Multnomah University on a full-ride scholarship to play women’s basketball,” said Tamiah from the podium. “My high school experience was far from what I imagined it would be. From 8th grade on, my academic journey was not easy. However, my experiences have led me to who I am today. Returning to the class room setting after living through a pandemic was a difficult transition, with all the social expectations and norms of everyday high school.

“During my high school journey I was able to experience life outside of my tribal community,” she continued. “From traveling all across the nation for AAU and Native basketball tournaments, to being a part of ArchBishop Murphy playoff runs. I experienced triumphs and failures, but with each I became a stronger person for both myself and my family. I wish all my fellow graduates the best in your future endeavors and hope each of you realizes that your capable of greatness.”

  Meanwhile, Quintin shared how the two-year hiatus from the classroom for most students during the coronavirus pandemic may have been a struggle, but when viewed from a certain perspective it only helped prepare them for adulthood. He also credited Tulalip’s Education team, Marysville Indian Education, and the Tribe’s volunteer educators who assisted the community when it needed them most.

“We can all agree this has to be the most abnormal high school experience a student can go through,” Quintin said. “After waiting two long years, we finally came back to school, and we came back stronger than ever. This class of 2022 put their heads down and persisted through all the pandemic struggles in order to reach this stage. I appreciate all the parents and family support systems that adapted to online and at-home learning. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary. 

“The tough times we had to endure provided us with essential life lessons about priorities, time management, and sacrificing fun for what’s actually important,” he added. “After all the trials of the past four years, we’ve finally made it to graduation. I’m so excited to see where the paths lead each of you and hope that no matter the journey, the destination is fulfilling and prosperous. I’d like to share that I will be attending Central Washington University in the fall on a full-ride scholarship to play football and further my education in Mathematics and Business Administration.”

Becoming leaders of the present may seem like a daunting task to most young adults who have grown accustomed to daily consistency and certain levels of comfort provided by a cushy K-12 education. However, for these Native youth, they’ve been bucking the trend and blazing new paths to academic success for years now without even realizing it. They’ve overcome long odds that said they wouldn’t earn a high school diploma, while breaking down barriers that prevented previous generations from attending college.

For our students, their ability to thrive in the westernized school system and graduate with top honors meant not only proving the doubters wrong, but also proving their ancestors right. The right for future generations to be educated and have the ability to pursue a Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate Degree was something previous tribal leaders fought and sacrificed for. Their vision comes true every time an Indigenous citizen boldly ventures off to a University armed with strength of culture and a tribe’s worth of support. 

Natalie Otto soared into Tulalip from the Bird Clan of Eastern Cherokee. Far from her traditional homelands, the Otto family embraced the local community, which allowed Natalie to thrive in and out of school. Natalie participated in ASB where she held the role of Secretary during her senior year, while maintaining a flawless 4.0 GPA. She graduated atop her Marysville Getchell graduating class and for her stellar academic efforts was named valedictorian. She was also awarded Indigenous Student of the Year.

“I’m so humbled to have received scholarships from both the Tulalip Tribes and Marysville. These scholarships will help fund my college education and assist me achieving my next goal, which is to graduate Penn State University with a degree in fashion,” shared Natalie post-banquet. “My great-grandmother Dr. Lee Piper was heavily involved in our Cherokee culture and instilled in her family a dedication to becoming educated. My whole life, my goal was to become valedictorian. In doing so I honor her legacy the best way that I can.”

The final two awards given out on the evening were the coveted Tulalip Senior Students of the Year. Having spoke already, where he detailed his college plans, it was no shocker that Quintin was announced as the first student of the year. He was described as holding a 3.7 GPA, being a National Honors Society member, four-year varsity letterman in football and a 4x defensive player of the year.

The second Tulalip Senior Student of the Year winner was the four-year wrestling standout, three-year letterman earner for football, National Honor Society achiever, 3.67 GPA toting and proud Diversity Club member, Brianna Williams. Her educators describe her as having an abundance of positive energy that shows through with her stellar leadership, work ethic, athletic brilliance, compassion for others, and exceptional commitment to improving both herself and the world around her. 

She has earned many accolades during her high school tenure, but what stands out most is her humility and willingness to embrace challenges and new learning opportunities. This is summed up best by her dream to become a civil rights attorney.  

“The current school system wasn’t meant for us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t break those stereotypes. It doesn’t mean we can’t change the system from within and build ourselves up to make real change in the world,” explained Brianna with a beaming smile. “I’d like to thank my mom for everything she’s done to support me on my educational journey. She made it possible for me to dream of being a civil rights attorney. If that doesn’t work out, then hopefully another career in law because like our leaders tell us all the time, our Tribe needs lawyers and judges who understand our people. Through education, we can make this dream a reality.”

The annual graduation banquet culminated in a ballroom’s worth of support hooting and hollering as each graduate strutted down the red carpet to a podium where education staff and school district representatives awaited them. Each inspired-Native was given congratulatory handshakes, hugs, and a stunning Pendleton travel bag as a graduation gift.

A Strong Tribal Voice: Daryl Williams for WA State House of Representatives ‘22

By Kalvin Valdillez; photos courtesy of Daryl Williams

Tulalip tribal member Daryl Williams is well-known throughout the region for his work in protecting the environment and defending Northwest tribal treaty rights. For decades, he has dedicated his life to preserving the natural world and has been an inspiration to eco-friendly environmentalists, leaving his stamp by helping reduce the Tribe’s carbon footprint. In fact, he was the driving force behind the partnership between the Tulalip Tribes, Werkhoven Dairy and Qualco Energy, a bio-gas project that creates renewable energy from livestock waste, and therefore helps reduce the amount of pollutants that enter local stream systems. 

As a member of the Tulalip Natural Resources team, Daryl has spent many years behind the scenes blocking proposed bills that would ultimately hurt the environment and violate tribal treaty rights. Through this work, he has made strong connections with Washington State legislators and government officials. And with that experience and those connections, it is no surprise that Daryl wishes to continue to be a strong voice for the Indigenous population on a governmental level, not only for Tulalip but for all the treaty tribes of Washington State. 

Daryl recently announced his candidacy for the District-38 seat on the Washington State House of Representatives, a position that was long held by fellow Democratic Tulalip tribal member, John McCoy, before he became a state senator. An ideal candidate for the position, Daryl is looking to make an even bigger impact if elected to the house of representatives, furthering his efforts in protecting treaty rights and Mother Earth, as well as addressing many other tribal issues. Tulalip News recently sat down with Daryl to discuss his candidacy as his campaign run officially begins.

Tell us a little about your journey so far and your background.

Well, I got hired on by Tulalip shortly after I graduated high school. I’ve been working in our Natural Resource program ever since, doing legislative work for at least the last thirty-some years. 

I received my degree through Columbia College through the U.S. Navy base in Everett. Several of our tribal members have received their degrees there. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a member of the Navy to take courses on the base. They have the extensive courses offered to everybody. The more people we get enrolled, the broader amount of courses they can offer.

Can you explain what position you are running for? 

I’m running for the legislative seat for the 38th district, which covers most of Everett, most of Marysville, and all of Tulalip, to get into the state house of representatives and try to work on issues from the inside. We have a lot of legislators that really want to do the right thing for the environment, but they don’t know how. They don’t understand the issues that well. The same with tribal issues, they don’t really understand tribal issues that well, but most of them want to actually do things that support the tribes. We need more people on the inside who can help educate the rest of the legislators on environmentalist issues, health care, education, and things that can overlap with what the tribes are doing. We have to work with them on what works for the tribes and what doesn’t, and try to come up with things that works for both the non-tribal and tribal communities. 

What is the biggest issue you wish to address if you are elected into that seat?

We want a little more flexibility with tribes because we want to be able to do compact schools for the tribes. I think most of the tribes want to be able to set up their own schools and be able to receive some state funding to help do that.But we don’t necessarily want to see state funding going to compact schools that primarily benefit rich kids. We have to work with legislators to develop proper language to where we can do both. 

What are compact schools?

They are really just privately-run schools, created in order to give kids another option on how to get an education. But for the most part, they are primarily schools for rich kids. Most of the funding comes from rich families who pay tuition fees, they get some supplemental state funding, but a lot of it is just fees from the kid’s parents. Both middle- and low-income families can’t afford to send their kids to compact schools. So, what the tribes are looking into is creating a tribally funded school along with some state funding to help pay for it. 

You mentioned that you have done a lot of legislative work over the years, if elected would you be doing some more of that same work, or would be proposing and writing other bills?

Probably a combination of the two. Proposing new bills to submit, but also commenting on other legislator’s bills from the inside and try to make some changes to make them better for the tribes or to convince the legislators that they really are doing the wrong thing. But most likely, the worst bills typically come out of the Republican Party, and they’re doing it just to show support for their members. And even if they don’t expect the bill to pass, they’re still going to submit them just to show their voters that they’re trying to do something. So, we can’t kill all the bad bills, but we can at least try to change them to where they’re less damaging to the tribes.

What are some of your proudest moments working for Natural Resources and doing that important legislative work?

Most the time, we were just trying to kill ‘bad bills’. I didn’t really get too involved on creating good ones. It’s a long process. When the bill is submitted, it has to go through a committee in each house and has to be passed by each house, before going to the Governor for final approval. And we have asked the Governor to veto a few bills, which is what governors have done over the last few years for us. But most of the time we can get them killed in committee if they are something that could hurt the tribes.

What are some examples of bad bills?

Well, most of them that I fought against were bills for water rights. When they were ready to authorize cities, counties, corporations, and others to pull more water out of the river. Really, every river is already over-allocated for water, so anymore that comes out just hurts our fish runs even more. We’ve really worked hard to prevent further water appropriations. 

You said you were fresh out of high school when you started working for the Tribe, how has working with the Natural Resources department over the years prepared you for this run?

My first like four years, were working with our hatchery program. I’ve worked with every governor since John Spellman. And I know a lot of the legislators in Olympia because we’ve worked with them for a few years. I’ve got the experience dealing with legislative issues, things I’ve learned on the job working with other folks. Dave Somers and Kimberly Orton are the two who I’ve learned the legislative issues from most. Of course, Dave’s our county executive now and Kimberly retired from us a few years ago. 

A lot of it’s just spending the time doing it and learning on the job. It takes a lot of time and effort to read through the proposed bills, understand how the process works, talk to key legislators before the bill is discussed in committee, and then actually testify in front of the committees. If the bill makes it out of the committee, it’s talking to a lot of legislators to try to prevent it from passing out of the house.

And of course, you have done some very important work with Qualco Energy. Can you talk to us about that project?

The one project that I’ve worked on that everybody likes, bio-gas project, where we work with Werkhoven Dairy. We receive all of their cow manure and run it through an anaerobic digester and capture the methane gas within the digester. That’s just the normal product of decomposition. Anaerobic digester speeds up the decomposition rate of the cow manure, so we capture the methane and use it for producing electricity. And the digestate that comes out the back end of it, the farmer uses it to irrigate his fields because it’s basically a high-nutrient water. They use the nutrients to fertilize their field as well.

When you apply raw cow manure on farm fields, it takes a year to a year-and-a-half for the nutrients to mineralize into a form that the crops can use. And during that year, year-and-a-half, a lot of those nutrients wash away during the floods. By running it through the digesters, it comes out in the form that crops can use right away. So, we store the liquid effluent in our lagoons and apply it as needed. And none of that nutrient is getting washed into our river systems. That’s the main reason Tulalip got into it, developing renewable energy with just a byproduct.

You have dedicated years to protecting our environment and tribal treaty rights, how will that experience help you if elected to this position?
I’ve worked on environmental issues, and fish and wildlife habitat issues for over forty years. I actually started the Tribes’ air quality program back in the 90’s. 

We had a person burning all sorts of debris, which would have been illegal anywhere else. He found out there was a loophole because the Tribe didn’t have any air quality regulations on the books. 

He wasn’t breaking any laws, because the state laws on air pollution are not enforceable within reservation boundaries under the Clean Air Act. The federal regulations for clean air are pretty minimal. And we couldn’t show that he was violating any federal rules, so we had to create our own set of air quality rules. We were able to put a stop to it because he was burning plastics, fiberglass, rubber, all sorts of things that you really don’t want to be breathing. 

Are there any specific areas within environmental preservation that you haven’t had the chance to focus on, that if elected to this position, will allow you to work on?

Over the last four decades I’ve worked on about everything, so I don’t think there is anything I haven’t put much time into. I would probably put more time into protecting wildlife habitat. We must rebuild our deer and elk herds for our hunters. I work with our wildlife staff periodically to provide some assistance for them, but that is an area I believe we need to put a little more time into.

In addition to those two values, environmental protection and defending treaty rights, what are some other issues that you are passionate about?

Being a tribal member and working for the Tribe my whole adult life, I want to help the tribes out any way I can. I know mental health and drug addiction are big issues. And it’s not just on the reservation, it’s everywhere. That’s something I want to get more involved in. That’s something my dad (Adam Williams) worked on back in the late 60’s through the 70’s. He started Tulalip’s drug and alcohol program. That’s a problem that has been getting worse over time. We need to do a better job of education and outreach before people start using the drugs and come up with a better way of treating people once they do start using.

Do you have any suggestions or tips for people to start being more environmentally friendly? Something that they can start working on right away?

People need to stop throwing trash out their windows. I can’t believe how fast that builds up along our roadways. I don’t know how many polluters are our tribal members, I hope it’s not much. A lot of our tribal members are good at recycling things, because of the way they’re brought up – our traditional background. Most of our members have learned enough about their culture that they respect our environment and want to protect it, and really aren’t doing the things that the rest of the country does. Unfortunately, other cultures don’t have our background, our respect. I think we’re trying to teach the rest of the world. 

Exactly. And if you get into that position, our voice will be amplified, and you can help speak to those issues on a higher level.

Yes! We really need to treat our environment better. One of the biggest problems is the amount of toxic drugs that end up in our stream system, both prescription drugs or illegal drugs. Your body only absorbs a small portion of what you take-in, and the rest ends up in the sewage system. Since our sewage systems aren’t designed to remove drugs, they end up washing out into our streams and rivers. We can detect levels of certain drugs in the juvenile fish coming out of the rivers; we can detect cocaine levels in our juvenile Chinook – and pretty much every prescription drug can be found in those fish now.  

Now the latest issue has been tire residue. Little rubber pellets wear-off our tires and end up at the storm drain, killing off our juveniles. Coho are actually the most susceptible. We just found out about it during the last year, and it’s really showing up in urban streams. The heavier the traffic is, the higher the concentrations of the tire residue that’s hitting the streams. So, we’re looking at different ways of treating the stormwater to help prevent that residue from affecting our fish. Fortunately, we’re finding some fairly simple ways of doing it, but having to do to every storm drain is going to cost a lot. We’re working on testing out some different techniques in the Nisqually watershed that seem to be working.

The Washington House of Representative District-38 seat represents the Tulalip/Marysville/Everett area, and you are the only tribal member running for that position. Are there other tribal members running for a seat in the other districts throughout the state?

Debra Lekanoff, who’s an Alaskan Native, is holding a seat and currently is the only tribal member in the house. Previously, we had John McCoy, of course, in the Senate and before that he was also in the House. And we had a senator, Claudia Kauffman, who is from the Nez Perce tribe, and has worked for Muckleshoot for many years, she’s running for the Senate again.

Why is it important to have tribal representation in that position?

When John McCoy was there, he was able to really teach legislators about Northwest treaty tribes. When they were drafting bills, they would talk to him and ask him questions about how the bill would affect tribes. He was able to explain to them the tribal view on a lot of those and he was able to do that before the bills became public for others to look at. You get a lot of opportunities to educate other legislators on the issues that concern tribes, and that really makes it easier to get good bills passed.

Are there any important upcoming dates that Tribal membership and our readers should know about?

The ballots should be getting mailed, I believe on July 14th, and then Election Day for the primary is August 2nd. We’re scheduling a kick-off event for the campaign at the Tulalip Resort Casino on June 30th from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Where can people learn more about your campaign?

They can visit the campaign website, And we also have a Facebook page. We have cards that we will be handing out when we start going door-to-door. 

Is there anything that we didn’t touch-on that you would like to mention?

A lot of tribal members know that I’ve worked for the tribe forever, but it’s important that we have a strong tribal voice in Olympia. With Debra being the only tribal legislator, we really need to have two or three tribal members down there, and hopefully this year we will!

Construction jobs are booming! Tulalip’s TVTC program is here to take full advantage

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Educators, parents and others often place strong emphasis on college preparation and earning an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree by traditional means. But that lengthy and expensive route often means accruing a ton of debt just to enter a highly competitive job market. College degrees may be preferred for many, however, there are a growing number of students who see a more hands-on future for themselves. For these individuals, unafraid of getting their hands dirty and learning the true meaning of a hard day’s work, there is an abundance of opportunity within the construction industry.

Whether it be laborer, carpenter, ironworker, electrician or heavy equipment operator, there are countless positions available for work and advancement within the trades, especially for sought after minorities like Native Americans and women. A major access point for entry into these desirable career paths for tribal citizens and their families continues to be Tulalip’s own TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC).

“Not everybody wants to be a doctor or lawyer. Not everybody wants a desk job. I’m a lifetime fisherman that started a construction company when it became apparent we could no longer sustain ourselves simply by living off the land,” said former Tulalip board of director Glen Gobin. “Some want to be outside working with their hands. That’s what brings people to our training program. It gives them an opportunity to get exposure to all the different trades, learn how to function on a job site and how to get work. Graduates of TVTC enter a section of the workforce that is in high demand.”

Along the I-5 corridor, from Olympia to Mt. Vernon, construction projects are booming and many on-site jobs continue to go unfilled. While other career pathways may be oversaturated and hard to come by, those within construction trades are thriving. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, open construction positions are expected to increase by more than 700,000 jobs nationally through 2028, a faster growth than any other occupation. In Washington State alone, there are nearly 3,000 unfilled construction jobs that pay much more than the average state wage. 

Brighter horizons and prospects galore were among the reasons so many gathered to celebrate the TVTC spring cohort’s graduation on June 10 at the Gathering Hall. Thirteen students (including nine Tulalip citizens and two women) were honored with a banquet for their commitment to building a better future. Among those in attendance were trade union representatives, several construction company managers, and many cheerful family members.

“Our TVTC graduates earned various certifications and college credits, while learning many skills that will undoubtedly make an impact on their future,” explained TERO coordinator Billy Burchett. “We thank the Tulalip Tribes, Washington State Department of Transportation, Sound Transit, and the Tulalip Cares charitable fund for always supporting us. These organizations and community partners are ensuring our future leaders have meaningful career paths.”

TVTC is the first and only state and nationally recognized Native American pre-apprenticeship program in the entire country. The program is accredited through South Seattle Community College and Renton Technical College, while all the in-class, hands-on curriculum has been formally approved by the Washington State Apprentice and Training Council.

The sixteen-week program provides 455 hours of hands-on instruction, strength building exercises, and construction skills that can last a lifetime. In addition, students are trained and earn certifications in flagging, first aid/CPR, industrial fork lift and scissor lift, 40-hour HAZWOPER, and OSHA 10-hour safety. 

Homegrown Tulalip citizen Duane Henry opted to retake the class after not being able to complete it his first time around because of a coronavirus infection. To jumpstart an all-new career path as a tradesman, he had to grit and grind. The 19-year-old maintained a full-time position at Taco Time working a hybrid swing/graveyard shift. He sacrificed convenience and some sleep to attend the TVTC class every week day.

“I love to stay busy,” shared Duane. “I was disappointed not being able to finish last season because of covid, but it was understandable and something out of my control. But I came back and got all the way through this time. Now, I look forward to creating a new career with construction.”

When asked what he’d say to his fellow tribal members who think they can’t take the TERO class and hold down a full-time job at the same time, Duane quickly responded with “That’s nonsense! It’s all about balancing priorities. If I can do it, you can do it.”

Along with gaining a wide-range of new employment opportunities via the trades, two diligent students, Cobey Comenote and Chance Guzman, took advantage of the educational aspect and earned their high school diploma.

With hundreds of skilled-trade workers retiring every day across the state, the construction industry needs the next generation workforce to help build an ever-growing Puget Sound community. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, construction employment climbed by 36,000 jobs in May alone, while hourly earnings rose at the fastest yearly rate in 40 years. These are job opportunities that actually pay a living wage and are available to people straight out of high school.

Only a year ago, Alonzo Jones and Isiaha Moses were part of the largest Heritage High graduating glass in school history. Now, both are graduating TVTC with a litany of every day skills and are eager to put them to use. 

“As a basketball player, I had zero construction experience before this class and hadn’t used any of the power tools before. It was hard switching it up, but with the support of my family and Tribe I know it’s worth it in the long run,” said Alonzo. “While building bird houses, a saw horse, and two tiny homes, I learned I really like carpentry. Building things with my hands and seeing the finished product is amazing. At the end of the day, we traded four months of commitment and focus to Tulalip and TERO for a legit chance at a life-long career. It’s time to cash in.”

Two hardworking ladies were among this season’s graduating class. Carissa Robinson and Ora Yallup (Yakama) both desired to acquire a new skillset while creating a pathway to a better and brighter future.

“Prior to enrolling in the class, I was unemployed and a stay at home mom with my two daughters. I wanted something better for myself and to show my daughters what’s possible,” shared Carissa. “I told them I was going back to school and they were happy for me. It was so cute because my oldest would tell me ‘have a good day at school mom’ when I’d drop her off in the morning. 

“Carpentry as a career path really speaks to me. I’d like to earn an apprenticeship at the local 292 union. There’s so much transferable skills and opportunity within the trades. This experience can only brighten the future for me and my daughters,” she added.

It takes some grit for sure, but for those folks with a strong work ethic and can-do attitude, they can find themselves being an integral part of a local construction site. 

“When our student graduates go out into the world of construction, they can compete on equal footing with anybody,” said TVTC instructor Lisa Marx during the graduation ceremony. She replaced long-time instructor Mark Newland when he retired last year. Lisa is a real-life pioneer who completed a Scaffold Apprenticeship for a carpenter’s union and is now looking to pave the way for more inspirational women.

“I come from a pretty tough background myself and know what it’s like to want a new beginning,” shared instructor Lisa. “To help those in need of direction find their way through hard work and a gritty skill set, and to see each of our students excel and graduate just makes my heart so happy. Today, there is so much opportunity for everyone, especially women. The construction culture has seen a huge shift in the last five years. 

“Many programs, like the City of Seattle and Sound Transit, have initiated a priority hire program that actively seeks out people of color and women to join their job sites. Graduates of our program make for ideal candidates and that’s why its so great to witness the strides they’ve taken to create a better future for themselves and their community.” 

Those interested in being among the next available TVTC cohort or would like more information about the program, please call (360) 716-4760 or email 

Tulalip TERO is actively recruiting for its summer cohort. Don’t miss out on a life changing opportunity. 

The Salmon Ceremony

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“The reason Salmon Ceremony is important is because it’s a part of our culture,” said Tulalip tribal member, Josh Fryberg. “We want to preserve it for our future generations while honoring our past generations, who kept the ceremony alive for each and every one of us.”

On the bright and overcast morning of June 11, Tulalip dancers and singers gathered outside of the tribal longhouse. They shared laughter and exchanged many pleasantries while draped in traditional regalia. Cedar-woven hats, headbands, cuffs, waistbands, and jewelry were proudly displayed by the Coast Salish people, as were beautifully designed shawls, vests, ribbon skirts and shirts.

Meanwhile, the community gathered inside the longhouse, and joining them were several members from other tribal nations including Lummi, Swinomish, Quinault and Makah. There were also many non-tribal members in attendance, who wished to learn more about the traditional lifeways of the Tulalip people and witness the important work that is practiced at the start of every fishing season.

The drummers and singers formed a line beginning at the entrance of the cedar-plank building, and at 10:30 a.m. on the dot, they began to sing Harriette Shelton Dover’s Welcome song as they entered the longhouse, circling the fire at the center of the floor twice.

“This ceremony was taken away from us,’ said tribal member, Arielle Valencia. “It’s good that we’re reclaiming it.”

In an attempt to ‘kill the Indian, save the man’, the U.S. Government outlawed cultural and spiritual practices during the early 1900’s. The sduhubš ancestral teachings, language, and traditional way of life were almost completely lost, including the Salmon Ceremony. However, a resilient group of tribal members held onto their teachings while they also endured the horrific boarding school experience. 

After years of keeping that information tucked away safe in their memory banks, they came together in the mid-70’s and recalled the events that took place at the Salmon Ceremony, sparking a revitalization that grows stronger with each passing year. Leading this revival was none other than Harriette Shelton Dover, who passed on the story of the Salmon People and a handful songs that are a major part of the annual ceremony of honor. 

In the early 90’s, Tulalip Leader Bernie ‘Kai Kai’ Gobin shared a retelling of the Salmon People story with the Marysville School District. Kai Kai shared, “The story goes that there is a tribe of Salmon People that live under the sea. And each year, they send out scouts to visit their homeland. And the way that the Snohomish people recognize that it’s time for the salmon scouts to be returning to their area is when, in the spring, a butterfly comes out. And the first person to see that butterfly will run, as fast as they can, to tell our chiefs or headmen, or now they are called the chairman. One of the other ways they recognize that the salmon scouts are returning is when the wild spirea tree blooms. The people call it the ironwood tree, and that’s what they use for fish sticks and a lot of other important things, like halibut hooks. It’s a very hard wood. So, when they see either one of these, a tribal member will tell the chairman, and he immediately sends out word to the people and calls them together in the longhouse for a huge feast and celebration to give honor to the visitors that are coming.”

The current Chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes, Teri Gobin, has a special connection to the Salmon Ceremony and has attended each gathering since it’s revival, as well as every practice leading to the event each year. 

Teri shared, “My father [Stan Jones Sr.] was one of the main people to work with the elders to bring the Salmon Ceremony back. A lot of these songs were almost lost. It was Harriette Shelton Dover and all these iconic elders that wanted to make sure this was carried on. That was so important. My mom was the one who brought the cakes, and we would visit and write everything down to keep it for future generations. And that’s what’s most important, that these young ones are learning now.”

The future of Tulalip was well-represented at this year’s gathering. Youth of all ages took the ceremony very seriously, recognizing the importance of an event that pays tribute not only to the salmon, but to their identity as the descendants of the sduhubš people. Happy to engage in the cultural experience, each time the kids entered the longhouse they went in focused solely on the work that was taking place, and sang and danced with their all. 

“It’s important that we understand and learn the songs that have been brought back by the elders, the main songs of the ceremony,” stated young tribal member, Image Enick. “The ceremony is also important because I’ve always thought of it as a good way for the young ones to learn the songs, and what it is to see and show respect. And to actually see the young ones go out there and dance.”

Prior to this year’s ceremony, the Tribe began preparing eight-weeks in advance, giving the participants the opportunity to learn all about the traditional ceremony, and build a strong connection to the songs, stories, dances, blessings and chants. The practices were held at the Tulalip Gathering Hall this year and the tribe conducted an entire walkthrough of the Salmon Ceremony at each practice, taking plenty of time to explain to the youth what the dances and songs mean to their people.  

Ten songs and blessings are offered at the Salmon Ceremony and they are performed in the following order:

  • The Welcome Song
  • Sduhubš War Song
  • Eagle/Owl Song (Tribute to Kai Kai)
  • Blessing of the Fisherman
  • Listen to our Prayers
  • hikw siyab yubəč
  • The Happy Song
  • Table Blessing Song
  • Canoe Song (Kenny Moses Jr.’s Song) 
  • New Beginnings Cleansing Song (Glen’s Song)

Halfway through this year’s ceremony, everything came to a sudden halt when Jaxson Gobin, a young Tulalip tribal member, ran into the longhouse after the blessing of the fisherman and the prayer song ended. Bearing good news, Jaxson informed the people of the arrival of a special guest. 

Said Jaxson, “When we sing the prayer song, my grandpa gives me the signal – when to go out. And he tells me when to come back in, which is at the end of the song. Then I yell, the canoe is coming, but isn’t touching the shore yet, with big chief king salmon.”

Hearing of the scout’s arrival at Tulalip Bay, the tribe then began singing hikw siyab yubəč, as they filed out of the longhouse to greet the first king salmon of the 2022 fishing season. 

“hikw siyab yubəč is one of the primary Salmon Ceremony songs,” explained Glen Gobin, the Tribe’s official Salmon Ceremony Leader. “We sing this all the way down to the beach once yubəč is here. We sing this to greet our visitor. Once the canoe has landed, and he’s unloaded, he now leads the way. From this point for the rest of the ceremony, he’s at the front, nobody goes in front of him. We sing this all the way to the longhouse and then again when we take him back to the water. We recognize him, give thanks. He is the scout, he comes to see how well we are doing and if we treat him correctly, he’ll tell his people that the Tulalip’s are good people.”

The guest of honor was escorted to the longhouse on a bed of cedar branches and given a tour of where the ceremony takes place, before he was prepared to be shared amongst the entire community together. 

The singers, dancers, and witnesses journeyed from the longhouse to the Greg Williams Court, following behind yubəč. Once everybody found their seat, the Tribe performed the Table Blessing Song, a song that has been passed down through thousands of years, as told by Glen. Then they all took their first bite of salmon together, followed by a drink of cool water. 

“This first piece is representative of us all sharing the blessing of the yubəč,” said Glen as he addressed the participants in the gym. “I ask that we all eat this piece at the same time together. Now, I’m going to ask that we all take our water and drink it together. This clear water represents the purity of life, and the lifegiving waters in which the salmon come from. Now I’m going to ask that we all eat this wonderful meal together.” 

Following the meal, the people brought yubəč’s remains down to the canoe and he was sent back to the Salish Sea to start his journey back to his village, so he could tell the Salmon People how well he was treated by the people of Tulalip. In return, the salmon will frequent the waters of Tulalip Bay this season, where tribal fisherman can catch and bring them into the tribal community, and they can continue providing delicious sustenance for the sduhubš people as they have since time immemorial. 

“Salmon Ceremony is about giving respect to those that come from nature,” Glen reflected. “But it also teaches about giving respect throughout life and honoring those gifts that we get, and respecting our way of life in a good way. Part of that is making sure how we sing the songs, how we conduct ourselves, it teaches how to carry yourself in life. All of the songs have meaning, everything is connected. The songs encourage the people to carry themselves in a good way.”

He continued, “Today was great. The longhouse was full. The floor was extremely full. It’s great to have that problem, to have all the young people circling that floor and still coming through the door. The kids did great. The songs were all together, everything sounded great and everybody looked great. I think the ancestors would be very proud, and are very proud, of the work we are doing.”

Pendleton’s iconic wool wear now available at Seattle Premium Outlets

6-year-old Udora and 5-year-old Yuliana model the latest in Earth-toned Pendleton accessories. 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Uniquely woven into Native communities, Pendleton Woolen Mills continues to partner with and share traditional Native design and artistry with the world. Known for their vibrant colors and distinctive patterns, Pendleton blankets and jackets have been embraced by the Tulalip Tribes for generations. From graduation gifts to burial shrouds, from decorative wall hangings in tribal member homes to staple items in gift shops of both the Tulalip Resort and Hibulb Cultural Center, Pendleton is synonymous with Native pride and heritage. 

The connection with Tulalip will continue to grow and evolve now that a Pendleton store has officially opened at Seattle Premium Outlets. The iconic wool wears have never been more accessible to the local community with huge discount savings and exclusive tax exemption for Tulalip citizens.

Seventeen-year-old tribal member and soon to be Marysville Getchell graduate, Alaqua Spencer, visited Pendleton on its ceremonial grand opening. She perused many of the store’s offerings before falling in love with a signature zip-front wool jacket. She shared, “This was my first time ever inside a Pendleton store. Seeing all the cool Native designs on so many different items was amazing. I bought a gray and black jacket that I absolutely love.”

Alaqua Spencer shows off her new Pendleton jacket made sustainably from sheep’s wool. 

Fellow Tulalip citizen Udora Ceja was excited to visit the outlet’s latest addition as well, while her 6- and 5-year-old daughters scurried around, checking out all the colorful purses and handbags. They could be heard arguing over which bag was prettiest, but before coming to an agreement, the 5-year-old darted off after catching a glimpse of a cute pair of baby booties. 

“We were walking around the Outlet and saw the sign saying ‘Pendleton: Now Open’ and we had to check it out,” shared Udora after coming away happy with several purchases. “It was a good opportunity to pick up some cool Father’s Day gifts. I was surprised to see they have so many nice designs and stunning graphics. I didn’t know Pendleton made so many products outside of blankets and jackets. And the prices are really good, too.”

Pendleton has long held connections with wool ranchers across the nation, with some providing wool to Pendleton for nearly a century now. Not only is much of their wool grown in the U.S., it’s also milled in Pendleton’s Oregon and Washington factories. Adding another layer of connectiveness to past Tulalip generations that wove every day garments from mountain goats and the legendary wooly dogs.

Wooly dogs were a specialty breed that the Coast Salish held in high regard, to the point their caretakers kept the coveted source of fur on nearby islands to prevent crossbreeding. The dogs were sheared every summer and their warmth generating wool was used to make protective layers during the winter months. According to local historians, the wooly dog breed went extinct in the early 1900’s. 

In the absence of the wooly dog, sheep quickly became the alternative wool of choice as it’s a natural, durable fabric that can better withstand the natural elements associated with the Pacific Northwest.  Modern wool is one of the most sustainable sources for textile use as fleece regrows every year. Plus, sheep wool naturally resists odor, stains and soiling. 

Tulalip women carding & spinning wool, 1898. 
Photo by Edward Curtis.

Since 1909, Pendleton has produced Native-inspired blankets, robes and shawls for tribes across the continent. Today, Pendleton maintains its connection to the Native American population by uplifting Native artists and supporting a variety of Native causes that make a real-world impact. 

In partnership with the American Indian College Fund, Pendleton creates wool blankets whose proceeds are collected and disbursed as college scholarships for the next generation of Native scholars. In fact, Pendleton has provided nearly $1.65 million in higher education support for Native students to date.

Self-taught ledger artist, beader, graphic designer and painter from Montana’s Fort Peck Reservation, Chelysa Owens (Fort Peck Assiniboine & Dakota Sioux) is an American Indian College Fund scholar and 2021 Tribal College Blanket Contest winner. Her art is represented by Pendleton’s ‘Unity’ pattern.

“Pendleton is one of my favorite brands,” she said. “They work with the artist to get the work as close to our vision as possible. I’m living the dream at such a young age because I have always wanted to be a graphic artist. This just adds to my art journey, which is a good feeling. I would like to give a huge thank you to Pendleton Woolen Mills and the American Indian College Fund for giving this amazing opportunity to tribal college students and allowing others and me to showcase our talents and share our visions with you.”

Pendleton is also tied to the Water Is Life movement with their most recent Native artist collaboration. Emma Robbins (Diné) is an artist, community organizer, and Executive Director of the Navajo Water Project. This community-managed utility alternative brings hot and cold running water to homes without access to water or sewer lines. The blanket she designed, the Gather Blanket, costs $279 on the Pendleton website. A portion of each sale goes to support the Navajo Water Project. 

“This is a dream of mine, to work with a company like Pendleton. We grew up with Pendleton all around us, and even though the company isn’t necessarily traditional, it’s such a big part of our tradition,” said Emma to the Navajo Times. “And it’s exciting that we’re working with Pendleton because not only is it good to get those proceeds and get them back home to do running water systems, but also spread the word about the project and water issues and solutions that are being implemented by our people.”

The Northwest based manufacturer of everything wool offers a variety of products that prominently feature Native-inspired designs. Pendleton elevates the voices, work, and representation of tribal college students, artists and impact makers, while providing scholarship opportunities and a variety of products associated with important events.

For the Tulalip community, the long-awaited arrival of a Pendleton store at the local outlet mall means the highest grade of locally sourced, sustainable woolen blankets and jackets will continue to be associated with ceremonial giveaways and rites of passage. Like the tradition of gifting newly minted Tulalip seniors a Pendleton blanket or gifting a high school graduate a Pendleton jacket to rep with pride. This is a relationship sure to thrive even more going forward. 

“We remember so we don’t forget”

By Shaelyn Smead; photos by Kalvin Valdillez

Memorial Day is often a heavy day remembering the lost lives of fallen soldiers and veterans, but it also brings a sense of pride and honor to families and friends who once knew them. Much like years in the past, Tulalip community members gathered at the Priest Point Cemetery and the Mission Beach Cemetery to show respect for all the heroes that sacrificed and laid their lives on the line for our people and our country. 

As family and friends arrived at the services, some stopped to surround the gravesite of their loved one; some placing down flowers and mementos representing their life, reflecting on the person that once stood side-by-side with them. American flags were put on display at gravesites to those that have served.

The services were held by the Tulalip Veterans Department, with Board of Director Mel Sheldon guiding those in attendance. 

Mel reflected on the importance of recognizing Memorial Day saying, “When I think of this weekend, I think of all the men and women who served. Whether it be World War 1, World War 2, the Cold War, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan. We always come together to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Tulalip has a rich history of men and women who have served this country, and we are proud of all our veterans. We remember so we don’t forget.”

Chairwoman Teri Gobin paid special thanks to everyone in attendance, to the fallen soldiers, the veterans who have served, and to those who are still serving. She spoke about her father being a proud Marine, and the admiration for service members he instilled in her. She also paid a special thank you to the groundskeepers and cemetery maintenance crew that prepared the cemeteries for this month.   

Tulalip Veteran Angela Davis spoke and shared her experience of being a veteran, and the bond that she shares with others, “With my uncles, father, and grandparents all being a part of the military, I knew from an early age that I wanted to serve. Being in the military, for some of us it’s a choice to join, but for others, it chooses them. There’s many different paths that you can choose from, whether it’s to be a politician, or a police officer, education, or preserving culture, we all have a servant’s heart. We want to give to our community and to our people.”

Many notable moments took place to pay tribute to the Gold Star mothers, fathers, families, and friends of fallen soldiers and veterans, acknowledging the sacrifice they too have made, and the pain that they have endured. 

Native American culture has always encompassed a warrior identity. Tulalip veteran Cyrus “Cy” Hatch III exemplified this culture by holding roll call of the 247 fallen soldier and veteran names. A sense of honor and esteem swept over the tribal community members in attendance.

Ending the service was the Tulalip Honor Guard with a 21-gun salute, representing that Tulalip will always remember, so we don’t forget.

Following the Salmon Ceremony Part 6: Crafting Shawls & Vests

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Aside from the important spiritual work that is conducted at the Tulalip tribe’s annual Salmon Ceremony, one of the most captivating and spectacular aspects of the event is viewing all the regalia. Donning cedar hats and headbands, ribbon skirts and beautiful Indigenous accessories such as cedar-woven cuffs and beaded earrings, tribal members showcase their traditional gear at the ceremony, in which the local fishermen are blessed for a safe and plentiful season and yubəč, the first king salmon to arrive at local waters, is honored in a good way, as a means to pay respect to the entire species for providing nourishment for the people of Tulalip.

Much more than a fashion statement, the regalia serves an important role in the Salmon Ceremony. Shawls, which display family crests and colors, are visible as the dancers enter the longhouse.  As the singers bellow songs and chants in traditional Lushootseed, the dancers depict the stories within the songs to onlookers. 

During a number of songs, including the Eagle/Owl Song (Tribute to Kai Kai), the Happy Song and the New Beginning Cleansing Song (Glen Gobin’s Song), the dancers utilize their shawls to perform the traditional work. Spreading their arms out wide as if soaring through the air, while turning in complete and semi-circles, the fringe of their shawls swooshes in the air to the drumbeats as the dancers work their way around the longhouse. During the ceremony, the boys and men wear vests. Similar to the shawls, the vests also showcase family emblems and often times, miniature cedar-carved paddles are arranged in multiple rows and dangle from the vests.

 Creating your own regalia is an important experience for tribal members, whether it’s your first time participating at Salmon Ceremony or if you are returning to the tradition from a personal hiatus. Deciding the color and designs that your regalia will display helps create a strong connection to the official attire of the ancestors, and from that point on, a sense of pride is created each time you wear your regalia.  

Traditionally, regalia was made exclusively from materials found locally in the natural world, namely cedar and the fur from the now extinct wooly dogs. A lot of time, attention and detail goes into crafting regalia and because of the effort put into making the shawls, headbands and vests, the regalia holds a special place in the hearts of each drummer, singer and dancer. 

Although most tribal members craft their regalia within their families, there are numerous first timers this year, and like big chief yubəč, several returnees. Many of these Salmon Ceremony participants do not own any regalia whatsoever, and for this reason the Tulalip Tribes Events Manager, Malory Simpson, decided to host a weekly crafting circle. 

Held every Tuesday at various locations throughout the reservation, but mainly at the Tulalip Gathering Hall, the crafting night allows Salmon Ceremony participants the opportunity to learn how to make their own shawls and vests. Malory explained that the budget, specifically for regalia, was quite a small amount, considering all the materials that needed to be purchased in order to make the regalia. She reached out to her community and recruited a small group of people to help raise funds to purchase fabric and all the tools needed to create shawls and vests for those in need of regalia. 

“We decided to do a fundraiser because it frees-up money to be spent more freely on other items we may need such as shells, smaller paddles, or maybe a vest or velour dress for different options of regalia,” Malory explained. “I was approached by a few different people about when we would be hosting a culture night or regalia making night. It was my understanding that the Events Manager never really coordinated that, but I felt the need to reach out to those who I knew were savvy in sewing and creating regalia. I have never done something like that before, so I knew I needed help. After a Salmon Ceremony practice, it was brought up by Glen Gobin that we needed to get a craft night going. Tuesday seemed to work for the majority, so we went with that day. We have ten shawls made as of now and I think twenty more to go.”

With only a few weeks before Salmon Ceremony, it is important for dancers and singers to have their regalia ready to go for the special day of honoring. Tribal leaders are inviting the entire community to come out to the remaining practices, held at 5 p.m. every Thursday at the Tulalip Gathering Hall, to learn about the revival of the ceremony and its importance to the tribe, as well as to immerse in the culture and learn the meaning behind the traditional songs and dances that are offered at the Salmon Ceremony. The last practice on June 9th will be held at the Tulalip Longhouse, where the Salmon Ceremony will also be hosted two days later on June 11th starting at 10:30 a.m. 

In a Facebook post following the first regalia crafting circle, tribal member Lena Hammons shared, “Awesome night of making shawls for Salmon Ceremony. I got two done and had to learn [how to operate] this sewing machine. Awesome dinner and great company! Much needed community time after two years of isolating.” 

If you are interested in crafting regalia for this year’s Salmon Ceremony, please contact Malory at (360) 716-4399 for more information.