Special Olympian Bruce Williams brings home gold

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Since 1968, the Special Olympics have been a global movement used to unleash the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports. They empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all.

In Washington State, year-round sports training and athletic competition are provided in a variety of Olympic-type sports for more than 18,000 children and adults who refuse to believe a disability is a limitation. These inspiring individuals are given continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in the sharing of friendship with their fellow athletes.

Thirty-seven-year-old Bruce Williams is a proud Tulalip tribal member who has competed in numerous sporting events at the Special Olympics for over a decade. Previously showcasing his skills at soccer, basketball and volleyball in years past, Bruce is now focused on track and field. He’s had a long-time passion with running, so it was only a matter of time before he transitioned to track.

Bruce’s collection of previously won medals.

On Sunday, April 28 the Cascade Area Regionals were hosted at Mariner High School in Everett. After months of preparation and sporting his brand new pair of Nike Free running shoes, Bruce was ready to race. His first competition was the 100-meter sprint. In a highly contested dash, Bruce took 2nd place, finishing less than a tenth of a second behind the 1st place runner. For his effort he was awarded a silver medal.

A short while later, Bruce again took to the starting line, this time for the 200-meter sprint. This time he wouldn’t be denied the gold. From the start he jumped out in front of the pack and maintained his momentum all the through the finish line. A huge smile on his face after finishing 1st, Bruce was beaming when he received a gold medal.

The Special Olympian proudly wore his two medals every day the following week. He made time to sit down with Tulalip News staff and share his thoughts about winning gold and silver in his two athletic events. Here are some of the highlights from that conversation:

Q: How does it feel to be a gold-winning Olympian?

A: “Feels great! Very proud of winning. Want to show everybody my medals.”

Q: What was your training routine like? 

A: “Train on the treadmill, do laps at the Marysville YMCA, and lots of track stretches. Very important to stretch.”

Q: Any special foods you like to have on race day?

A: “Strawberry yogurt is my favorite and lots of water.”

Q: You raced in a pair of Nike Free shoes. What do you like about them?

A: “They make me run fast!”

Q: Were you nervous going into your races?

A: “A little. Lots of people racing, but I’m the fastest one around.”

Q: You’ll be competing at the Spring State Games next month. What are your expectations?

A: “Win more gold, the big one this time.”

Bruce will be prepping over the next several weeks to compete against the best Special Olympians in the state. The 2019 Spring State Games will be held May 31 – June 2 at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. Bruce asks that anyone who isn’t busy those days to come out and cheer him on to victory. 

Warm Beach to launch trauma-informed, equine therapy for Tulalip youth

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Warm Beach is well-known as the home of The Lights of Christmas, a popular holiday festival featuring dazzling light displays. Not as commonly known, however, is the fact Warm Beach has one of Snohomish County’s largest horse herds offering year-long equestrian programs. The dedicated staff of Warm Beach’s equestrian program are currently developing a trauma-informed therapy course designed specifically for Tulalip foster children. The first-of-its-kind course is anticipated to debut in September.

The inspiration for a tribal specific version of equine therapy came about after Rebecca Black (Quinault), who’s been raising two Tulalip children for four years now, participated in a parent/child camp with horses at Warm Beach. While there she couldn’t help but wonder how much more impactful the camp could be if it were designed for tribal youth and geared towards healing historical traumas.

“I grew up around horses and, being in an abusive foster care system as a young teen myself, there were literally times where the horses saved my life,” shared Rebecca, now a licensed foster care provider. “I wanted my two boys and other tribal youth to experience the healing that horses make possible. It’s so important that we intercede at a younger age because the health outcomes in our communities, especially for our kids in foster care, can really change.”

Rebecca met with Warm Beach executive staff and engaged in a series of productive meetings regarding a camp that not only establishes a working relationship with Tulalip, but also would break down barriers of opportunity for tribal youth. Months’ worth of meetings and cultural education led to an application to the Tulalip Charitable Table and a subsequent grant award to develop a prototype version of equine therapy for Tulalip foster children. 

Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman, Teri Gobin

On the morning of April 25, representatives from Warm Beach Horsemanship met with Chairwoman Teri Gobin, Board of Director Mel Sheldon, and Charitable Contributions Director Marilyn Sheldon to thank them all in culturally appropriate way for the grant funds making the innovative therapy course possible. A brief introduction of what’s to come and how the children will benefit was also detailed.

“Our intent is to use the grant to run a three day trauma-informed, therapeutic program that will cater to serving eight Tulalip children currently in foster care,” explained Lisa Tremain, Horsemanship Director at Warm Beach Camp. “Through the use of horses we’ll be doing activities both mounted and on the ground that help walk the children through various stages of their healing journey. Building relationships, trust and confidence are critical pieces to the healing process that equine therapy offers.” 

“In a therapeutic and safe environment, horses provide unique nonverbal feedback that can facilitate social, physical and cognitive skill development in people of all ages,” added Ginger Reitz, Therapeutic Horsemanship Coordinator.

Tulalip Tribes Board of Director, Mel Sheldon

Two therapeutic horses, Mirage and Cameo, wore ‘Lightening Horse’ blankets courtesy of Eighth Generation. After making their introductions with everyone in attendance, the horses’ blankets were used to wrap Board members Teri and Mel. 

“Our hands go up to you all for your good work,” stated Chairwoman Gobin. “We understand how important work like this is to help people, especially our children, heal from their own personal traumas. It’s often not easy to speak about, but it’s essential if we’re to move forward in a good way.”

Tulalip Police Respond to Stabbing at McDonalds

On April 25th, at approximately 8:30 p.m. the Tulalip Police Department (TPD) responded to a call about an assault with a weapon at the McDonalds, 6322 33rd Avenue NE, in Tulalip. Upon arrival, officers made contact with the victim and administered first aid for stab wounds on the top of his scalp. The individual was later transported to an area hospital. TPD coordinated with Snohomish County and Marysville for dog teams to search for the assailants. The area was contained, statements were taken from witnesses, and the crime scene processed for evidence. TPD Detectives were deployed and conducted the investigation.

After a K-9 track, two suspects were captured and identified. Both suspects, one a Tulalip citizen and one a non-Tulalip, were then booked into Snohomish County Jail for aggravated assault and robbery. We learned that the victim and the suspects knew each other and this appears to be a drug related incident that turned into assault/robbery. There is no outstanding threat to the community. TPD is in contact with the FBI to evaluate if this case will be prosecuted federally or in Tribal Court.

The Tulalip Police Department takes seriously the calls and concerns we receive from the community. We are committed to addressing crime when it happens and working to reduce crime in the future. I commend our officers and detectives for their quick response and dedication to the safety of our community. This is an active investigation, anyone with information about the incident is asked to call our tip line at 360-716-5990.

 

Native Art Festival highlights range of imagination from emerging Tulalip artists

Taylee Warbus, 1st place – Painting. Sophomore at Lake Stevens High School. “I wanted to put something together that represented a lot of things I really care about and love. I love looking at the stars, which is represented with the night sky. I just love succulents and learning about them, so I added a lot of plants. The clock read 5:17 that represents my birthday. It’s definitely a patchwork painting with lots of colors that shows a variety of my passions.”

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Jacynta Miles, 1st place – Culture. Freshman at Heritage High School. “My paddle represents the layers of life. At the top is the sun, then Earth represented by a beach and the ocean, followed by a mermaid, and then finally the salmon. The colors are bright at the top and get darker the further down you go just like in nature.”

Hundreds of artistically inclined students strolled through the makeshift art gala that was the Don Hatch Youth Center on Thursday, April 18th, for the annual Native American Student Art Festival. Accompanied by their families, friends and teachers, the student-artists ranging from 1st to 12th grade wowed festival attendees and judges with their imaginative creations.

“The Art Festival is an opportunity for each student to express themselves in a positive way. It is the largest community event we have where we get to showcase our Native students,” explained Jessica Bustad, Positive Youth Development Manager. “It’s the pride each of the students have in their artwork, their parents and community members coming together to support our children that make this event so great.”

For more than two decades now, Marysville School District has partnered with the Tulalip Tribes to dedicate an evening to the art scene created by emerging Tulalip artists and other Native students within the district. The Festival gives these young people an opportunity to show off their creative talents to the community, while getting a chance to take home a coveted 1st place ribbon.

Artists were able to win 1st, 2nd or 3rd place, plus honorable mention, in a variety of artistic mediums. Categories included culture, drawing, painting, writing, mixed media, sculpture, digital art, and pure heart. The top four from each grade and category not only received a ceremonial ribbon as recognition for their talents, but a monetary prize as well.

Peyton Gobin, 2nd place – Sculpture. Third
grader. “My inspiration was Chihuly’s art, like his glass blowing. First, I had to cut all around these plastic water bottles to make the swirly parts. Then I painted every single one a different color because if they were all the same color it wouldn’t be artistic.”

“Everyone that attends is a winner by the end of the event because they’ve helped to create unity and teamwork,” said Josh Fryberg, Youth Services Manager. “The Festival turned out amazing. From all of the families sharing a meal together to seeing the looks on each person’s face when they win a raffle to seeing all the art being showcased for all to see.”

This year’s Native Art Festival received a whopping 700+ submissions, with the most popular category being painting. There were many young artists who showed off their diverse talents by submitting artwork in as many categories as they could. Taylee Warbus and Samara Davis were two such overachievers who claimed top honors in multiple categories.

Irista Reeves, 1st place – Sculpture. Ninth grader at Heritage High School. “My sculpture depicts sadness, which is the black layers, and its peeling away to show an underlying happiness, which in my case is my family. When your sad it’s important to remember who are the ones that love you and are truly there for you.”

“It was amazing to see just how talented our Native students are; the new ideas and concepts they come up with every year continue to surprise us judges,” marveled Native Advocate Doug Salinas. “Every kid has the capability to be an artist because their imagination has no limits.”

Native culture and art are often thought of us intrinsically tied together or, in the case of Savannah Black Tomahawk and Lilly Jefferson, they are sewn together. According to their mothers, neither Savannah nor Lilly had ever sewn before prior to creating traditional ribbon skirts to enter in the Festival. By putting a modern twist on a traditional concept, Savannah’s Disney princess skirt and Lilly’s metallic blue with shimmery pink ribbons both received high praise and earned an additional ribbon – 2nd place and 1st place, respectively. 

“As coordinating staff, we look at every single piece of artwork and recognize how much work each student puts in. Some art pieces show real vulnerability in the students, they are showing themselves and expressing their thoughts, feelings and dreams,” added Jessica. “It is also very gratifying when students are already coming to us with their creative ideas for next year’s Art Festival.”

If you missed out on this year’s Student Art Festival, each and every piece of authentic Native American art that received a winning ribbon will be on display at the Hibulb Cultural Center from now – May 5th.

Officer Powers receives grand send-off

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

On April 19, Officer Phillip Powers walked into the Marysville Mountain View Arts and Technology High School for his last day on duty as a School Resource Officer and his last day as a Tulalip Police Officer, until he returns to the country in 2020. As a member of the United States Army, Powers was called up to serve a yearlong deployment overseas to protect our Nation’s freedom. 

Officer Powers found a home within the Tulalip community upon graduating from the Police Academy and becoming a member in blue for the Tulalip Police Department. Shortly after, he was named the School Resource Officer for all of the schools in the Tulalip area including the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy, Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, Heritage High School and Marysville Arts and Tech, where he built strong connections with the community members, instructors and students. 

As he said his final goodbyes at each school, he was met with cheers and applause at Marysville Arts and Tech, where the students organized a surprise farewell party for the officer. A look of shock, followed by a large smile spread across his face as he made his way through the school’s cafeteria to the center stage, while the young adults honored the local hero with a well-deserved standing ovation. 

The law official was presented with a goodbye card, which all of the students signed, before a number of youth, school faculty, family, friends and fellow officers shared memories as well as expressed words of gratitude for the impact he’s had within the community. During the emotional morning assembly, nearly each speaker wiped away tears before embracing Officer Powers with a hug. The teens recalled games of gatorball and conversations about movies and pop culture. And some kids simply thanked him for acknowledging them on some of their toughest days. 

“Powers, my man I love you dude,” stated an Arts and Tech student. “I just want to thank you. I know cops get a lot of crap nowadays, but I think you changed the way that’s perceived, especially in this community. You’re fun, you know the culture, you listen to hip hop, which is lit. I think you changed the way a lot of young people think and feel about law enforcement, because we got to know you on a more personal level. I want to thank you for dedicating your life to protecting and serving our country, whether it be locally or globally. Thank you for protecting our freedom.” 

The sendoff ended with students lining up on both sides of the hallway while Officer Powers walked through, giving each student a high-five.

“I feel very appreciative,” said Officer Powers. “I try to make a positive, lasting impact on the kids as much as I can just by being genuine and bringing a caring aspect. Sometimes you don’t see the effect you have on people, some of the kids won’t ever show it. To hear some of them talk about their interactions with me in a heartfelt manner, that’s different than what I normally see on a daily basis, and it was so special.” 

A perfect day, a perfect moment’: UNITY mural revealed

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Don “Penoke” Hatch Youth Center. Kenny Moses Building. Greg Williams Court. Alpheus “Gunny” Jones Ball Field. Debra Barto Skate Park. 

These locations have become five common place names in everyday Tulalip lexicon. However, the people these locations are named after are anything but common.            They were influential individuals who dedicated much of their lives to supporting, bettering, and empowering tribal youth. 

Each a Tulalip citizen, their commendable spirits are now immortalized in paint as part of a five portrait project known as the UNITY mural. The highly anticipated mural reveal took place on Saturday, April 13.

 “This is a perfect day, a perfect moment,” declared Herman Williams Jr., a representative from Greg Williams’ family shortly after the murals were unveiled. “This is what we are about as Tulalip people, honoring those who had a positive effect on ourselves. Each mural is of someone who was very influential to us as young people, old people, and everything in between.” 

More than 150 community members gathered at Greg Williams Court to share in the special moment as the curtains were pulled down and the vibrant portraits were put on full display. This type of gathering was exactly what the project coordinator had in mind.

“Initially, I envisioned something that would bring the community together and bring families together,” explained mural coordinator Deyamonta Diaz. “These murals tell the stories behind our buildings, who they are named after, and the legacy these people left. To see all five people together gives the families an opportunity to share memories. 

“Also, for the people who don’t know them, they are going ask ‘who are these people?’ and ‘why are their pictures up?’” added Deyamonta. “I think that’s a great conversation starter for the community to keep these people’s legacies alive.”

Legacy was a concept routinely mentioned as speakers and representatives for each painted figure shared loving words and fond memories. A shared hope for future generations to carry on their family member’s legacy through resolve and action, while looking to each painting as a symbol of support when needed, was also expressed repeatedly at the podium. 

Don “Penoke” Hatch gets an up close and personal view of his portrait, while daughter Denise speaks of his long-time commitment to the youth.

Four of the five mural honorees have passed on, with Penoke Hatch being the lone exception. 

“As we look at these murals, it’s important to know each one of them is still here with us. They are here in their families who tell their stories,” shared Penoke. “Each one of them made an impact in different ways. They always took care of everybody, especially the young ones. Thank you to the artists, Youth Services, and the Tribe for what they did here to honor us.” 

Honoring those represented on the Tulalip Bay athletic campus with a UNITY mural was made possible in partnership with Youth Services and local Native artists, Monie Ordonia (Tulalip) and Jordan Willard (Tlingit).

Tulalip artist Monie Ordonia (right) and assistant Jordan Williard (Tlingit) reflect on their painting process during the mural reveal.

“They had a vision of having portraits in mural form of all the legends that these building are named after,” said Monie. “The concept incorporates Native colors, so we used red, black, yellow, and white as the backgrounds. For Debbie, we used gray as the background and then incorporated her grandchildren’s hand prints.

“I like to feel the energy of who I’m painting, like an activation, it helps bring the person to life,” continued Monie. “Once the murals are complete and I look into the eyes of the painting, then I can feel them communicating with me. Hopefully, that helps other people have the ability to do the same.”

The memories of Kenny Moses, Debra Barto, Greg Williams, Penoke and Gunny Jones are kept alive by those who knew them best. Some were beneficiaries of their admirable determination, while others were fortunate to witness their heroic exploits in action. For everyone else, the UNITY mural serves as a reminder that legends are never forgotten. 

To Peace and Beyond: Gala benefits Domestic Violence Services

Tulalip tribal member Jadin Thompson Sheldon (right) donates to the cause.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The 27th annual Chocolate Lovers’ Gala was a sellout event attracting 550 thoughtful attendees to generously give from the heart and wallets to make a difference in the lives of domestic violence victims, survivors and their families. Benefiting Domestic Violence Services (DVS) of Snohomish County, the annual gala transformed the Tulalip Resort Casino’s Orca Ballroom into an out of this world experience with the theme “To Peace and Beyond!”

“It’s our number one event of the year,” said DVS Executive Director Vicci Hilty of the high-energy gala and accompanying auctions. “Last year was the first time we raised over $200,000 and from the way it feels tonight I think we’re going to top it once again. These dollars we raise are the most important ones because they literally keep the lights on. Money raised helps every client we have and funds all the services we provide to help anyone who’s been abused and are a victim of domestic violence.

“Having Tulalip’s Charitable Contributions Fund be this year’s title sponsor means so very much,” continued Vicci. “To have a community partner that understands what it’s like to be in these situations is absolutely paramount. The Tribe is such an important partner for us and are a critical piece for everything we do every day as an organization.”

Soon to be Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman Teri Gobin enjoying the photo opportunities.

There was a variety of eye catching space-themed props and backdrops perfect for photo opportunities, along with a seemingly limitless supply of flavorful wine and decadent chocolate keeping the atmosphere fun and upbeat on the evening of March 29. The popular gala also featured a silent auction with hundreds of items ranging from a Russell Wilson signed football to handmade quilts and jewelry to limited edition bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon. 

During the live auction, 35 big-ticket items, including several destination vacation packages and international cruises, resulted in exciting bidding wars with all proceeds benefitting the DVS. The local nonprofit has served Snohomish County since 1976 and provides comprehensive, confidential services to all victims of domestic abuse. Services include a 50+ bed emergency shelter, 24-hour hotline, supportive housing, support groups, legal advocacy, children’s programs, and community education.

Switching tones from lighthearted to serious, a video montage of domestic violence survivors played on several large Orca Ballroom projector screens. Courageous stories were shared followed by podium speakers giving voice to victims who all too often suffer in silence. 

“Think about this: if someone’s father has Alzheimer’s then we rally around them. If someone’s mother has cancer or someone’s kids are sick then we donate our vacation time, we cover there shifts at work,” shared guest speaker Dr. Robin Fenn of Verdant Health. “For these individuals we bring them home cooked meals and send texts saying ‘thinking of you’ or ‘hope everything is okay’. But with domestic violence we avert our eyes, we whisper at the water cooler, and we don’t ask questions. 

“Isolation is one of the biggest contributors to domestic abuse. If you see something, then say something. Please have the courage and grace to make eye contact and ask the hard questions. And if you have the stories be brave enough to share them because if we don’t give voice to this, then who will?”

Domestic violence affects millions of people in the U.S. every year. All divisions of society are impacted regardless of age, race, religion, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey found that every minute, 20 people in the U.S. are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner. One in three women and one in ten men, or 45 million adults, experience physical violence, rape, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lives.*

A victim’s life may be in most danger when they attempt to leave or seek a protection order against their abusers. Which is why organizations like DVS of Snohomish County are dedicated to ending domestic abuse by providing a wide range of services to victims and by facilitating social change. The agency believes every individual has the right to live in a safe, nurturing environment.

“Our partnership with Domestic Violence Services is extremely important to take care of our people,” shared soon-to-be Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “In the past, people stayed in abusive relationships because they had no safe place to go. If there were kids then they suffered watching the abuse happen and often got abused themselves. It’s another historical trauma that’s happened to our people.

“I’m excited for our DVS partnership because it makes more options available for our people, and our current programs utilize these resources to help those in need of assistance,” added Teri.

The 27th annual Chocolate Lovers’ Gala was a huge success because of the community, business partners, and generous individuals who collectively contributed a record breaking $276,000. All funds raised support the services needed to stop domestic violence, and the fear it brings into the lives of countless victims and their precious children.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County can help you. For information, please call their 24-hour crisis hotline: 425-25-ABUSE (425-252-2873).

*Source: 2016 Biennial Report to Congress, D.O.J. Office on Violence Against Women

Tulalip and Stanford partnership strives to cure opioid-based addiction

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Native Americans are hit hardest by opioid addiction. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that Native Americans have the highest drug overdose death rates and the largest percentage increase in the number of deaths over time from 1999-2015, compared to all other racial and ethnic groups. Indian Country is all too familiar with the opioid epidemic.

Opioid epidemic, seems like a trendy phrase that’s received national recognition recently. But on reservations across the country, Native families have been dealing with the pain, trauma, and loss associated with opioid use, from drugs like heroin and OxyContin, for a couple generations now.

With an aim to successfully combat a crisis that’s run rampant through the community for years, the Tulalip Tribes partnered with the brightest minds at Stanford University’s School of Medicine to create a one-of-kind medical cannabis research project. The goal: curing opioid-based addiction. 

An eagerly awaited community meeting took place on March 11 led by tribal leadership and Stanford scientists to share the leading edge study’s early indicators.

“Through Stanford’s expertise and reputation, our partnership will scientifically prove cannabis can cure addiction”, said Les Parks, Tulalip Tribes Board of Director.

“This meeting has been a long time coming,” stated Board of Director Les Parks. “We’ve been working on this medical cannabis research project since 2014, and this is the first time membership will be briefed with its details and results to date. Stanford is one of the most renowned universities in the country, if not the world, and happens to have a one-of-a-kind laboratory dedicated to the neurosciences. Through Stanford’s expertise and reputation, our partnership will scientifically prove cannabis can cure addiction.

“Nobody in this country has yet to scientifically prove that cannabis is an actual healer,” continued Les. “In partnering with Stanford University, our goal is to be the first to produce those scientific results. We think the cannabis plant has miraculous properties about it, such as healing the body and potentially curing type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and specific forms of cancer. First and foremost, we think cannabis can cure heroin addiction and all forms of opioid-based addiction.”

A painful, yet illuminating, moment was shared by all eighty community members who attended when Les asked the crowd, “Raise your hand if you have not been personally affected by the opioid crisis? If you have not had it affect your family or loved ones?” Not a single hand went up.

“Here in Tulalip, we’re losing 7 to 8 people a year to overdose,” shared Tulalip Tribes Vice-Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “This study and the implications for creating addiction therapies and remedies would be not only a game changer, but a life saver for our community.”

Tulalip Tribes Vice-Chairwoman, Teri Gobin, speaks on the benefits of using cannabis for healing opioid addictions.

People have used marijuana, also called cannabis, for a variety of health conditions for at least 3,000 years. More recently, individual components of marijuana or similar synthetic substances have also been used for health purposes. These substances are called cannabinoids.

Balancing traditional values with the realities of the 21st century means embracing a changing culture that views marijuana and cannabinoids as natural medicines, especially when compared to prescription pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals with countless side-effects and man-made chemicals that receive FDA approval, only to come out later those same chemicals cause a litany of damaging health concerns with sometimes fatal consequences.

The changing tide in not only popular opinion, but science-based evidence as well with regards to medicinal properties of cannabis is rapidly gaining momentum. Since 2014, when retail marijuana became legal in Washington State, consumers have spent $2.95 billion on various forms of cannabis, according to the state Liquor and Cannabis Control Board.

Remedy, the Tulalip-owned retail cannabis store and one of the first legalized marijuana dispensaries in Indian Country, opened its doors in August 2018. Tulalip was originally seen as embracing cannabis for business purposes only, but now with the Stanford partnership and the study’s implications for saving lives that narrative is changing. 

  “The intellectual property, any and all results found in this study, whether it be related to diabetes, Alzheimer’s or whatever it may be, will be owned by Tulalip,” added Vice-Chairwoman Gobin. “The medical applications of cannabis are really exciting because not too long ago we declared a state of emergency for opioid addiction and if this research project can save just one life then it’s worth it.”

Dr. Annelise Barron, Stanford Associate Professor and bioengineer, was on hand to share early results of the study and to answer any questions concerned community members may have had.  

“It’s important for people to know this research we’re doing with whole cannabis oil, meaning it came from the whole plant, the leaves and the flowers, and its effect on addiction has never been studied before,” explained Dr. Barron. “This is the first time a study of this kind has been done, and it’s only possible because Tulalip invested in our ability to do the research.

“We’ve undertaken a research project to study the ability of cannabis oil extract to treat heroin addiction. In order to scientifically address this question we are conducting controlled studies at Stanford Behavioral and Functional Neuroscience Laboratory. We’ve essentially done large-scale experiments that demonstrate cannabis oil suppresses the craving and desire to continue using heroin. This means, I think with high certainty, we would see the same effect on people if we treated them with cannabis oil after they stopped using heroin.”

Striving to cure opioid-based addiction, the Tulalip and Stanford partnership has a lot of work ahead of them including the peer review process and submission to medical journals. Yet, only ten months into a thirty month study, the early indications are most promising. Reiterating an earlier sentiment, if lives can be saved then it’s all worth it.

RaeQuan named Youth of the Year

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

RaeQuan Battle’s inspirational journey from rez ball rookie to Marysville Pilchuck legend to University of Washington commit continues to demonstrate a seemingly limitless potential on the basketball court. Even with a bright future ahead of him and dreams of making the NBA, the 6-foot-5 human highlight real has never forgotten his roots. Those roots keep him grounded with a rare humility and silent strength that don’t go unnoticed by adults and youth alike.

That is just one of the many reasons RaeQuan was named by the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club as Youth of the Year. The 18-year-old high school senior was honored with a custom plaque and given some fancy gadgetry, a 2-in-1 Notebook/Tablet, in front of a crowd of his adoring young fans on March 12. 

For years, the Youth of the Year program has honored and celebrated the Club’s most inspiring teens and their incredible journeys. Stories of outstanding leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle have made Youth of the Year a premier leadership and recognition program for teens. These amazing young people represent the voice and spirit of hope for children everywhere, inspiring kids to lead, to succeed, and to inspire.

“RaeQuan has been coming to our Boys & Girls Club since he was 5-years-old,” said Club Director Mark Hatch. “We see his greatness with basketball, but more importantly we see how he’s become a true inspiration for our young ones who look up to him as an example of what’s possible through hard work and dedication.”

“He was chosen for his volunteering and mentoring with the youth, and for his community service, sportsmanship and demeanor,” added Office Manager Diane Prouty.

Each year, one exceptional Club member is selected to be Youth of the Year, serving as an ambassador for Boys & Girls Club youth. Over the years, these individuals have exemplified the Boys & Girls Club mission and are proof to the impact Clubs make in creating life changing opportunities that transform the lives of countless Club kids.

“The first time I ever played basketball was here. I fell in love with basketball right here,” reflected RaeQuan as he stood in the Club’s gym with a horde of basketball fledglings around him, each eager to witness one of his gravity defying dunks. “I want all the kids to know they can turn out just like me or be even better. All they have to do is take advantage of their opportunities.” 

Following the ceremony, RaeQuan’s mother Jacquie Williams shared, “Having the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club for my kids to attend and grow up at has been a true blessing. RaeQuan wouldn’t be who he is today if not for all the experiences and lessons learned by being a Club kid.”

Like A Hammer

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

At the intersection of 1st Avenue and University Street in downtown Seattle is a large sculpture of a craftsman utilizing a hammer outside of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). For decades, the museum has been the home to a collection of diverse artwork celebrating the many cultures from around the world, including several installations and exhibits that highlight traditional Indigenous artwork such as carvings and paintings.  This spring, the SAM decided to host a major exhibit that was first curated and featured at the Denver Art Museum and showcases the works of Choctaw and Cherokee Artist Jeffrey Gibson who, much like the craftsman sculpture, used a hammer to attract the masses and break into the art world, albeit metaphorically. 

“Like A Hammer as a title has always been conceptually and philosophically the idea of a hammer being used as a tool of deconstruction and reconstruction,” Jeffrey stated in a video displayed within the exhibit.  “In particular, like a DIY ethic. It’s this simple tool that a single person can alter something with.”

Located on the top floor showroom of SAM, the Like A Hammer exhibit invites visitors to explore Jeffery’s mind and vivid imagination as his creations serve as a reflection of who he is, all while paying tribute to the history of the art, material and words that inspire his artwork, drawing ideas from his culture, modern music and personal life.

The exhibit features over sixty-five unique pieces from Jeffery’s collection, all of which were created after 2011 following a huge revelation that found him deconstructing and reconstructing many areas of his life. In a lecture at the New York Studio School, Jeffery explained that he nearly gave up his passion after his material was rejected by several art museums and studios. He was so upset that one day he took all of his paintings to his local laundromat and put them through three back-to-back wash cycles. 

After hearing this news, Jeffery’s friend recommended him to a counselor for anger management. The counselor in turn suggested physical activity as a way to take out his aggression, so he joined a nearby gym and it was here where he had his first breakthrough.

“I sat down [with my counselor] for my first session and all these issues around race, class, gender and homophobia came out very easily,” he said. “What we began talking about was this disjoint between the mind and the body. Ultimately, he recommended that I worked with a physical trainer and the physical trainer is the first one who introduced me to the bag. When working out aggression on the punching bag, my trainer would ask me to name what I was punching – to name who I was angry at, what were my obstacles. And somehow this naming and projecting, and then literal hitting, was meant to unify what was happening up here [in my head] with what was happening in the body.”

The beaded Everlast punching bag is perhaps Jeffery’s most notable work to date. Approximately fifteen colorful bags are displayed throughout the exhibit, all featuring traditional beadwork with contemporary designs. On several punching bags, Jeffery incorporates the lyrics of his favorite songs into his beadwork such as ‘If I Ruled the World’ by Nas and Lauryn Hill as well as ‘I Put a Spell On You’ by Nina Simone. In addition to lyrics and beadwork, Jeffrey also included various elements of ceremonial regalia like jingles, sinew and fringe.

“The punching bag was a lifesaver for me in the sense that it was able to, as a format and materials, encompass the narrative for the first time. This idea of adornment and regalia defused the violence of a punching bag. Where it coincided is that these traditional people were wearing garments that they made, that identified them as different from the mainstream. They felt very proud, they carried their history with them and they had happiness and sadness. There was something about it that I thought was different from fashion, it is a garment that really signifies your identity and it’s a garment that indicates that you are working and moving through the world differently. It also commanded respect. Ultimately this all melded together into the bags. Once the bags started, I started looking at all sorts of different tribal aesthetics. The powwow is an intertribal event. It’s an event where the dancers, although they are relative to tradition, they are encouraged to innovate, they are encouraged to individuate themselves and there are lots of different modern innovations that happen.”

The lyrics and wordplay aren’t limited to the punching bags. In fact, Jeffery repurposed a number of traditional wool blankets into contemporary art that hang on the wall of the museum and garner a lot of attention from local art enthusiasts. Memorable lines from ‘Time (Clock of the Heart)’ by the Culture Club, ‘Fight the Power’ by Public Enemy as well as a quote by writer James A. Baldwin are spelled out in glass beads on the blankets. SAM also displayed a number of Jeffrey’s geometrical paintings which he constructed on rawhide as well as sculpted figurines that don traditional regalia, such as jingle dresses and shawls.

The exhibit ends in a room with rainbow curtains covered with bold letters that read ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ and ‘Accept Me for What I Am’. Projected on the wall is a video presentation by Jeffrey in which he is dressed in customized ceremonial garb and performing spoken word and song on a traditional hand drum. 

Although, the Like A Hammer exhibit displays artwork that explores the identity of Jeffery Gibson as a proud queer Indigenous creative, his intention behind his work is the hope that others can identify with the art, whether through triumph or struggle, and find a sense of community as well as inspire the next generations to come to simply be themselves. 

“Indigenous history and crafts provides this incredible infinite use of materials and content that I really feel privileged to have access to. When I decided to start making again, I was determined to make what I wanted to see. I started to use the word maker because it allowed me to go into everything from garments, to video, to sculptures; embrace textiles, and adornment and the decorative without feeling the boundary of what art is perceived to be. I look for words that I imagine a viewer can actually place themselves in. I move forward as an artist on the trust that we all share a similar experience. Ultimately everyone is at an intersection of multiple cultures, times, histories. The world is shifting and changing and if you’re engaged in the world, you are also shifting and changing.”  

Like A Hammer is a must-see-in-person exhibit and is currently on display until May 12. For tickets and more info, please contact the Seattle Art Museum at (206) 625-8900 or visit www.SeattleArtMuseum.org.