A nation underwater: Quinault’s village of Taholah continues fighting inundation issues

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News; photos by Jeff Eison and Shelley McCrory

The mouth of the Quinault River holds a special place in the heart of every single tribal member of the Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) – and that is no exaggeration. A photo of the river alone can evoke memories of adolescence, whether that is celebrating Chief Taholah Days during each fourth of July weekend, swimming with your cousins in the summertime, or harvesting delicious blueback sockeye salmon from its waters. Long before the days of colonialism, the ancestors of the Quinault people lived and harvested along the banks of the river. And to this day, nearly two hundred households, approximately seven hundred people total, still call the Indigenous village that leads to the ocean, home. 

Present day Taholah can be divided into two sections; the lower village and the upper village (more commonly known as Snob Hill). The upper village consists of a handful of homes, the Roger Saux Health Center and the Tribal administration office. These facilities are relatively new as many of the buildings were established in the 80’s and 90’s due to a need for expansion for the growing tribe. However, during QIN’s early days of self-governance, all tribal operations were located in the lower village and the tribal office itself had quite the view of the mouth of the Quinault River. 

In addition to the many families that occupy the lower village, several departments and businesses still operate near the river including the Quinault Cultural Museum, Quinault Enterprises (a.k.a. the fish house), the Taholah Mercantile, the post office, the community center, the police department, the Nugguam (QIN newspaper), as well as the senior center, shaker church, daycare, head start and the K-12 tribal school. Generation after generation, Quinaults spent their youth learning about their lifeways, traditions and culture, largely centered around the lower village and the Quinault River. 

The Quinault River feeds into the Pacific Ocean and during the 70’s, the Nation installed a seawall extending along the coastline for about a half a mile and roughly ten-feet tall, protecting the town of Taholah from the unpredictable, powerful, and often times dangerous waters of the sea. This proved to be an effective solution to the threat of flooding during high tide and stormy weather. That is until 2014 when the ocean breached the seawall and excessive water poured into the lower village, causing water damage to many homes and establishments. 

The Quinault River feeds into the Pacific Ocean and during the 70’s, the Nation installed a seawall extending along the coastline for about a half a mile and roughly ten-feet tall, protecting the town of Taholah from the unpredictable, powerful, and often times dangerous waters of the sea. This proved to be an effective solution to the threat of flooding during high tide and stormy weather. That is until 2014 when the ocean breached the seawall and excessive water poured into the lower village, causing water damage to many homes and establishments. 

The Nation made an emergency declaration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers answered the call, assisting the tribe with repairs to the ruptured seawall. That incident also forced the Tribe to consider relocating the entire lower village to higher ground and out of harm’s way, from both the inundation of the Quinault River and the possibility of a tsunami as Taholah is located on the Cascadia subduction zone.

Since then, QIN created a master plan to relocate the lower village and even began clearing land and constructing a select few buildings of the new village, the very early stages of a 25-year plan. Ideally, the Nation would like to get everybody uphill as soon as possible, but they have been met with a number of challenges such as funding. The original masterplan estimated the total cost of relocation right around $65 million. 

Although many QIN tribal members agreed that relocation is probably the best solution, several families expressed that they simply would not leave their homes when it came time to relocate, and perhaps deemed the threat of extreme flooding too far ahead in the future. 

The 2014 flood was attributed to climate change, a result of sea-level rise. Rising sea-level is a complex topic that will in time impact the entire planet. Like Taholah, many towns and major cities across the world will experience severe flooding, and in some extreme cases they could be underwater completely. Scientist and environmentalists predict that sea-level will continue to rise at about its current rate until around the year 2050, and then will start to accelerate at even a faster pace after that.

Since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800’s, the Earth has been rapidly heating up due to the excessive burning of fossil fuels and the production of greenhouse gases. As the planet traps those emissions in its atmosphere, the warmer Earth gets. And as a direct result of global warming, the amount of water in the ocean is increasing because as water heats, it expands. Another contributing factor to sea-level rise are the melting ice caps. 

“Sea-level has risen eight or nine inches in the last hundred years and it’s accelerating,” said Phillip North, Tulalip Natural Resources Conservation Scientist. “Since global warming is happening faster than we expected, the water is getting warmer faster and expanding. We’re getting more sea-level rise than expected. Plus, the warmer ocean is melting the ice faster. Greenland is melting faster, Antarctica is melting faster, all the continental glaciers; everything’s melting faster than we expected. We’ll see a pretty steady progression up until the middle of the century and then it will start to speed up.”

Almost seven years later, amid a worldwide pandemic, ocean waters encroached the lower village of Taholah once again on the morning of January 12. Following a stormy PNW night, that cut out the lights on the Tulalip reservation, the ocean surge met with high tide causing the Quinault river to swell, allowing even more ocean water to enter the village than the 2014 flood. QIN Interim Emergency Coordinator and volunteer firefighter, Desiree Markishtum, explained that they were prepared and prepped 200 sandbags the night prior in case the water threatened to flood the village. However, not many could predict the amount of flooding and water damage that would ensue that morning. 

“On January 12, high tide was expected around 11:00 (a.m.),” she stated. “I received an email from Bob Shale in Utilities Maintenance at 11:23 stating that his department would be needing a lot more sandbags and that the water was coming in fast. His office building is located on the end of First Ave. Immediately afterwards I received a call from [QIN COO] Andrea Halstead asking that I get an eye on that as soon as possible. I showed up on scene to see our ambulance’s, and other first responder vehicles, tires about 1/8 of the way underwater which is unusual. 

She continued, “next I see Lisa Hall, the Nation’s lead paramedic, about mid-shin in the water observing the scene. At 11:53, I was given the orders to evacuate the residents of First Ave by Chief of Police, Mark James, and began evacuating the most vulnerable, our elders and our children. At that time, public safety began the evacuation of Pine and Cedar Street, both impacted by the flood as well. Evacuees were placed at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino in Ocean Shores and at the Ocean Crest in Pacific Beach until conditions were safe, which was two days total.”

Once again, QIN declared a flooding emergency and released a statement claiming that the excessive water inundated the tribal police station, court house, multiple homes and essential infrastructure. The statement also warned the tribal membership of the possibility of landslides on the only safe and reliable road out of Taholah, SR-109, that could prevent or hinder evacuation efforts. 

“As a tribal member it was a very scary feeling seeing so many homes being impacted by the flooding,” expressed QIN Tribal member, Tootie James. “Desiree Markishtum, current acting emergency management coordinator, did an awesome job evacuating the elders and community members in need. I brought my mom, a tribal elder, for a ride around the village after the storm. She said she’s never seen anything like it before. The flooding has never been this bad.”

With lower village residents safely evacuated, QIN was not in the clear just yet. With much of the town still covered in about a half-a-foot of water, the Nation still needed to prepare for yet another challenging day as a king tide was set to make an appearance the following morning. 

Said Tootie, “the Tribe issued leave time for [employees] to utilize work-hours to fill sandbags so we would be ready. There was probably about fifty or more people filling empty sandbags working to beat the tide. By the time we were finished, it was almost noon and the tide had already pushed us back. For me it was really scary being around a large group of people due to COVID, but it felt like it was work that needed to be done.” 

Added Desiree, “coming from a close community like Taholah, a big thing to take away from this event is the importance of knowing your community, what their capabilities are, and also knowing their needs.”

After a great show of community, QIN President Fawn Sharp issued a statement to Quinault membership and expressed, “On behalf of the Quinault Business Committee, we want to publicly thank all those who stepped up to help in our moment of disbelief as we all witnessed the ocean breach into our village.  The line of volunteers who dropped everything to answer our call to action to fill sandbags was a testament to our strength, resiliency, and love for each other.  No matter how crazy the outside world becomes, there’s one thing for certain – in times of need and emergency, we are Quinault Strong, always have been and always will be.”

President Sharp also shared that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were on their way to the reservation to assess the damage of the village, while also calling on ‘federal and state partners to work with [QIN] to better prepare for inevitable future flooding’. 

QIN tribal member, Nancy Underwood, lives in the lower village and was evacuated the day of the flood. She stated that luckily there was no structural damage to her home, but it did cause damage to her plumbing and electrical systems. And if there was any skepticism about relocation before this event, she now sees the idea in a whole new light.

“It was an eye opener for sure,” Nancy exclaimed. “It gave us all a real fear of the elements. We are now in emergency preparedness mode and wondering what the next storm has in store for us. This most certainly gave us a greater respect for Mother Nature, our family and belongings. After that experience and how fast everything happened, I firmly would relocate my family. You can replace material things, but you can’t replace your family had something worse happened.”

For now, QIN is continuing with their relocation master plan that places their membership and residents of the lower village 120-feet above sea level, out of the tsunami flood hazard zone. With the recent declaration of disaster caused by the tribe’s largest flooding catastrophe to date, hopefully the Nation can now find additional funding to help speed-up the process of relocation to ensure the safety and well-being of the tribe’s membership and future generations. 

“Our tribe is currently working as fast as they can to move the village to higher ground,” explained Tootie. “There are plans for new homes; the senior center, daycare and head start are going to be opening soon so they will be safe from flooding and out of the tsunami zone. It’s a hard but necessary decision for people to leave their homes and move to higher ground.”

Meet Dr. Kay Moua, advanced diabetes management specialist for Tulalip’s health clinic

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Native communities and diabetes. The two have been linked since colonization forcibly removed tribes from their ancestral lands and traditional food sources. Ever since it’s been a never ending struggle to battle one of the most challenging health problems of the 21st century. According to the World Health Organization, each year an estimated 1.8 million deaths are directly caused by diabetes, while another 2.2 million deaths are attributed to high blood glucose.

It’s no question that diabetes is a nationwide health problem, but for Native people its life altering effects are felt at a much higher rate. Native communities have the highest diabetes prevalence of all ethnic groups in the United States. Nearly 1 out of 6 Native citizens has diabetes presently, and the Centers for Disease Control predicts that 1 in 2 Native children born since 2000 will have type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. 

Fortunately, Tulalip is excited to announce a vital new resource in its fight against the shared enemy. Dr. Kay Moua has joined the health clinic’s Diabetes Care and Prevention Program. An advanced diabetes management specialist, she brings a treasure trove of experience and cutting edge knowledge. She is well regarded for her expertise in the latest techniques and most effective practices for managing and preventing diabetes.

Dr. Kay was gracious enough to be interviewed by syeceb staff in order to introduce herself, her medical background, and what she hopes to accomplish in Tulalip. 

SYS: You have a unique cultural background. Can you tell us about it?

I was born in Laos, and my ethnicity is Hmong. My family migrated to a refugee camp in Thailand after the Vietnam War and came to the Unites when I was 11-years-old. I started learning English (e.g. the alphabet, colors, numbers) in 7th grade.

My husband and I have been married for 30 years. We have 4 children, 3 boys and 1 girl. We are family-oriented people and love to host. My husband is the oldest of seven siblings, so we’re always surrounded with family and friends. My in-laws live on the same property, which is common for us to have multigenerational living in the same house. My mother-in-law is a Shaman, so we still perform traditional rituals and practices.  

SYS: Please describe your educational journey to become Doctor Kay. 

I’ve worked in the medical field since graduating High School. My first job was in a family practice where I started as a receptionist, then later trained in back office work, which included billing and rooming patients. I attended a community college while working full-time. After completing my AA degree in Medical Office, I continued school in the pursuit of a nursing degree.

Once I graduated with my Associate Degree in Nursing and earned my license, I went to work as a Registered Nurse (RN) at Providence hospital in Everett. Seeing so many people come into the hospital with poor diabetes control motivated me to pursue my Nurse Practitioner license to help people living with diabetes. After attending graduate school, where I received my Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN) and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) license, I joined the Endocrinology team at the Everett Clinic to care for patients with diabetes. 

Even though I enjoyed my work very much, I knew that I need to get back to school to achieve my personal goal of having a doctoral degree. With hard work and dedication, I graduated with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in 2015. I continued to take extra classes and trainings and was able to pass the National Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM) certification the following year.

SYS: What motivated you to join the Tulalip Health Clinic and practice medicine for the Tulalip people?

Native Americans are one of the highest risk groups for the development of diabetes. I was surprised to find out that in the history of the Tulalip Health Clinic an Endocrinologist or someone like myself has not been available for the people of Tulalip without a referral to an outside facility. I am pleased to be one of the first contracted providers to manage patients utilizing devices like CGM and insulin pumps. These technologies have evolved over time and under my care and direction we will be offering these devices in 2021 to patients who have this interest in advanced diabetes management.

The Tulalip Health Clinic already has a successful Diabetes Care and Prevention Program. I love the fact that the program is able to provide so many activities to teach people about diabetes and keep the community engaged with the clinic. In fact, I’ve never came across another diabetes program that is so unique and able to provide so much for their patients. I want to work with the team to help expanding the diabetes program by offering advanced diabetes care to Tribal members, to ensure that their treatment is up-to-date with most current medications and have the option to use technologies to enhance diabetes management. Tribal members should not have to seek care outside the Reservation for diabetes treatments. 

SYS: You specialize in advanced diabetes management. Can you explain what this means?

As I mentioned earlier, diabetes care has been my main focus from training during Nurse Practitioner school and my doctoral degree school. I’ve worked with patients with diabetes for over ten years. I continue to immerse myself with conferences and continuation education that’s specialized on diabetes to stay up-to-date with current medications and technologies and guidelines. 

I’m an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) by trait, with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree and national Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM) specialist. Patients are referred if they need to improve blood sugar control or have interest in insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor. Diabetes treatment is complicated and has to be individualized. I make sure that patients are offered the best and most appropriate treatment options available to the individual. 

I also have extensive experience incorporating technologies such as continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps to help patient improve diabetes control. Insurance requires additional documentations and special forms for approval. These technologies requires extra training and longer appointment time with patients that may not be feasible for general providers. This is why my service is required. I work with these devices every day and familiar with insurance requirements for quick approval.  

SYS: With your extensive professional experience, what do you consider the biggest challenges to minimizing the diabetes epidemic?

Unfortunately, diabetes prevalence continues to increase every year. There are many contributing factors to this epidemic. I think our current financial economy posts many obstacles in diabetes prevention and treatment. Budget is tight in most households, especially with more and more people losing their job during COVID, leading to even more unhealthy diet and lack of exercise.

We all know the importance of a healthy diet. However, it may not always be feasible when you have a tight budget. Fresh food costs 2-3 times more than process food. People are working longer hours and don’t have time to cook, so they are eating more fast food. Combining processed and high fat foods with eating late at night contribute to weight gain, leading to increased insulin resistance or worsening diabetes control.

Healthy diet and routine exercise are the cornerstone of diabetes prevention and treatment. As people are working longer hours to make ends meet, they don’t have time to do anything else. Exercise is unlikely to be a high priority after a long work day. Lack of exercise increases fatty tissue, which causes insulin resistance and high blood sugar. 

SYS: In your ideal scenario, how will your work positively impact the Tulalip community?

Diabetes management is complex and requires collaboration between the patient, their family members and the healthcare team to achieve best outcomes. As a new provider of the community, it’s important for me to learn the culture and incorporate the Tribal ways of living when making treatment plans. I believe getting to know the people, developing good rapport with patients, and building trust with the community are the key steps to improving diabetes control within the Tulalip community.

My understanding is that some tribal members have been going elsewhere for advanced diabetes care or have not been active in seeking diabetes care. My goal is to provide the most current diabetes treatment options for members living with diabetes right on the reservation. I will need to prove my knowledge and earn the trust of the community in order to draw members back to the Tulalip Health Clinic for diabetes management. 

SYS: A principle of Native culture has always been holistic care (mind, body and spirit). Considering this, what advice or best practices would you suggest to combat diabetes and pre-diabetes?

I’ve always believe in holistic care approach. It is crucial to access and address the individual’s mental and physical health that may impact their ability to maintain diabetes management. Successful diabetes care also requires taking the time to access and get to know the patient, their family, their environment, and cultural practices and incorporating this information into individual treatment plans. We all have different cultural practices and traditional food that should be respected. 

I’m so excited that the Diabetes Care and Prevention team has a garden to showcase and incorporate the Pacific Northwest native plants for natural medicines and herbal remedies. The Diabetes Program garden provides diabetes education and promotes traditional food, healthy eating, and activity. Healthy diet and staying active are important for everyone, but even more crucial for those who have diabetes or prediabetes.

My goal is to be a resource and provide guidance for patients who have diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes through obstacles like diet, exercise, blood sugar checking, or medication management. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause many unforgiving long-term complications. Diabetes can start to cause damage to internal organs in prediabetes state. Therefore, it is important to do everything you can to maintain good blood sugar control if you are considered high risk or as soon as you found out that you have diabetes.

My vision for the Tulalip Diabetes Program is to expand diabetes care to Tribal members with prediabetes. Historical records show that at least 20% of these patients convert to full blown type 2 diabetes yearly. We need to focus our attention on preventing diabetes in order to decrease the diabetes epidemic. I hope that we will be able to offer routine educational group classes on diabetes disease and have activities to promote healthy eating and active living once it’s safe to have group classes again. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to find safe activities to stay active and practice meal portion control.        

SYS: Anything else you’d like to share to our readers?

Special thanks to Roni Leahy (Tulalip Diabetes Program Coordinator) for having the vision to expand the Diabetes Care and Prevention Program and entrusting me with this opportunity. I am grateful for the support from Dale Jones (Diabetes Program Advocate) and Brooke Morrison (Diabetes Program Assistant). I also like to thank the Tulalip Healthcare providers, Dr. Chad Cleven, Dr. Natasha LeVee, Dr. Howard Johnson, Dr. Rhonda Nelson, and Dr. John Okemah for welcoming me to the clinical team. 

It is an honor and privilege to have the opportunity working with the Tulalip Health System. I look forward to learning the Tulalip culture, earning the trust of each patients and the community, and collaborating care with the clinical team to improve the health and quality of life of tribal members suffering from diabetes.

New Mukilteo ferry terminal features Tulalip artwork and shares rich history

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“One of my goals is to keep my culture alive. With this project I wanted to give respect to our elders that have passed down all this information to us through the generations. I want to give respect to our elders that gave us life, that taught us who we are and the importance of our culture, the importance of our territory, the importance of understanding that our people are still alive and that we still practice our culture. We never stopped,” expressed Tulalip Master Carver and Artist, James Madison. 

Mukilteo-Clinton commuters who boarded the infamous white and green, double-decker ferry boat, at approximately 6:00 p.m. on December 29, were the first to experience a shared vision between Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Washington State Ferries (WSF) and a handful of local tribes; Tulalip, Lummi, Muckleshoot, Nooksack, Samish, Stillaguamish, Snoqualmie, Swinomish, Suquamish and Sauk-Suiattle. After twenty years in the making, the project officially broke ground in 2019 and days before the start of 2021, the Mukilteo Multimodal Ferry Terminal opened their tollbooths to people traveling across the waterways to Whidbey Island. 

Said Phillip Narte, WSF Tribal Liaison, “This new facility sits on Indigenous lands where the Snohomish and other Indigenous peoples fished, hunted, and gathered for generations. Without the partnership of eleven federally recognized tribes, we would have not been able to build this facility.”

The debut of the new ferry terminal was a hot topic over the past several years. Highly anticipated and discussed amongst Washington State residents, government officials and tribal nations due to its location and the necessity of a new terminal to help address a plethora of issues the city of Mukilteo faced including traffic congestion and the safety of their townspeople and ferry riders. The previous docking station was in use for over sixty years as the state’s second busiest terminal, carrying 4 million travelers annually, and WSF anticipates over the next twenty years, the amount of foot passengers will increase by 100%. 

“This project represents everything that matters to Washingtonians,” stated Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee. “The largest ferry system in the country has a new facility we can all be proud of – it is a symbol for the bright future we’re building here in Washington state.”

Previously, on any given day you could expect ferry-boarding traffic for miles, stretching from the sidewalk of Ivar’s Seafood Bar to Paine Field, but the new terminal aims to address that problem, now located a third-of-a-mile from the old station and off the main road. The terminal also includes closer drop-off and pick-up zones for bus passengers as well as a transit center for Sound Transit. Loading lanes have also been extended in both length and number of lanes, holding up to nearly 250 vehicles at a time. 

In addition to many new and exciting features, the terminal is located at a historic site, a location special to the tribes who frequented the Salish Sea long before the invention of ferries. People who called present day Mukilteo home since the beginning of time, harvested salmon and shellfish from its shores generation upon generation, and gathered at that location 165 years ago to sign the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott.  

That Treaty is a formal agreement between the federal government and the people who make up the central and north Puget Sound tribes, including the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish and other allied bands. As direct descendants of the Snohomish, the Tulalips ceded millions of acres of land, agreeing to move their people to the present-day Tulalip reservation. In return, the Tribe retained their rights to fish in their usual and accustomed grounds as well as hunt and gather on open and unclaimed lands in order to continue practicing their traditional cultural lifeways.

“This project is a pretty big deal for me because I’ve fished all along here all my life,” said Joe Gobin, Tulalip Artist and Master Carver. “We used to go there with Stan [Jones Sr.] and my dad, Bernie Gobin. I was also on the Fish Commission for like 30 years, and we actually had to negotiate for that ferry terminal to even go in because we had to give up certain fishing rights. It was a long time ago. It didn’t happen overnight, we knew that going into the project. It took a lot of years. It took a lot of negotiation. And this is kind of what came out of it, they recognize that this is our land, Tulalip’s, not anybody else’s.” 

Signage is posted along a walkway leading up the 5,865 sq. foot building that details the history and traditions of the Tulalip people, including information about canoes, treaties and longhouses. Drivers, foot passengers, and even locals out for a jog or walking their pets can learn about the Coast Salish lifestyle and journey, beginning with pre-colonial traditions, throughout the years of forced assimilation, and up until the current cultural resurgence that shows local tribes reclaiming their traditional language, songs, stories and practices, as evidenced by the many Lushootseed words and phrases displayed throughout the new terminal. 

“I’m from Eastern Washington, that’s where I grew up, and it’s nice to see the history for people who may not have the biggest voice around here, so that folks that come through here can actually see what was here before white people,” said Everett resident, Paul Shelton. “I like that it’s true to the tribes that were here before everybody else and that they’re properly represented, that makes me feel good.”

The biggest attraction at the new ferry terminal, garnering a lot of buzz online, is the artwork commissioned by a number of artists who originate from the tribes that signed the Point Elliot Treaty of 1855, including several designs created by Joe and James. Over a dozen traditional and contemporary pieces are showcased at the terminal, which was constructed to replicate a traditional cedar longhouse.

“The longhouse idea, that might have been Hank,” explained Joe thoughtfully. “My cousin Hank Gobin was involved with all of that in the beginning before he passed. He did a lot of the groundwork, making sure that it was representative of our people in the right way. That’s how I approached this project, how I tried to do my artwork, representative of us; the killer whales, the salmon, our canoes.”  

In total, Joe can be credited for six contributions; two metal spindle whorl designs located at each end of the building (one killer whale, the other salmon), one cedar spindle whorl on the inside of the building that depicts the traditional Tulalip Seal Hunting Brothers story, two welcome posts (one man and one woman) located near the restrooms, and a full-sized cedar dug-out canoe, which hangs overhead inside the terminal and faces a gorgeous ceiling-to-floor view of Possession Sound.

Many other magnificent Indigenous works are on display throughout the 400,000 sq. foot property such as carvings and weavings by tribal artists who represent other sovereign nations, like the welcome figures located at the tollbooth created by Suquamish artist Kate Ahvakana. 

James also made two artistic contributions for the project that are unique in design, traditional in story, and personal in heritage. In each elevator shaft, extending both levels, are dual-sided glass displays that place you in an underwater world, a Tulalip story that James grew up with and heard his entire life. 

James said, “For me, it was important to speak from teachings that I learned from my grandfather. Teachings that he learned from his grandmother and from his uncle, who taught him in our old traditions and with our old stories. Those teachings have been passed down all the way to me. My art, the giant glass pieces, are kind of historical and are the very meaning of our existence in that area. My story is about the water people. It’s a story my grandpa, Frank Madison, told me many times about this village that was under the water; there used to be a longhouse under the water and we, the human beings and animals, all spoke the same language. I have a portrait of my grandfather in the water amongst the whales and the salmon, two important creatures to our people. And the other glass mural is of my grandfather’s mother, my great-grandmother Delia Jimicum. They’re all amongst the water people. There’s a longhouse in the background and that’s the water people’s longhouse.”

As the original caretakers of this land, Tulalip kept the sacred Salish waters and all of its inhabitants in mind during the early phases of planning for the new terminal. Going green and minimizing the carbon foot print was a shared interest, as well as a special request, from the city of Mukilteo. This resulted in several design features that will be ‘light on the earth’ like minimal overwater coverage so marine plants can thrive in their native waters, and a shed roof covered with solar panels for energy efficiency as well as to collect rainwater. The Terminal also focuses on the proper treatment of storm water runoff with rain gardens and ‘pervious concrete’ in the holding lanes. And soon, Washington State Ferries will be going electric, which is great news for the environment. 

“Putting the whale and the salmon in my art was important,” James stated. “Not just because of stories that we passed on in our culture, but also to show the significance and importance of what the orca whale, we call it Blackfish, and the salmon mean to Native people in the Puget Sound. We need to take care of them, it’s been my mission to put that message out there. It’s so important for us to protect them because when they’re gone, we’re gone.”

Although the project required lots of dedicated hours from several parties and took multiple years to complete, everybody’s hard work could not be celebrated in-person together, unfortunately, due to COVID-19. Instead, WSF and WSDOT held a virtual ribbon cutting ceremony that featured commentary from many of the individuals who had hand in the project, and also numerous Washington State lawmakers like Governor Inslee and Senators Cantwell and Murray who are excited about the new terminal and its location’s rich Salish history.

“I hope to see that all of this starts a trend when they start remodeling other ferry terminals and incorporate artwork by our people at all of them just like they do in Canada,” Joe expressed. “It kind of opens up the door for other artists, so hopefully the younger artists are watching and start getting involved in more projects like this. I’m kind of the old guy now, the eldest artist out there.”

James added, “It’s been a long, long time coming for this project. And being a part of such an important project on our very land that our people lived on and harvested from, is important to our people. A building like this is significant, not just because it’s our territory and it’s on our land, but because people get to intermingle with all the art and read it, and read about us and about the area and the territory. I think that this needs to be done everywhere in the Puget Sound region. My hands go up to the Tribe and our leaders. I hope I was able to represent our people in the best way that I could.”

Edmonds mural honors Coast Salish culture

By Kim Kalliber, Tulalip News

A recently finished mural project in downtown Edmonds, spanning two facing walls, portrays the pre-European life of our Coast Salish ancestors. Local residents and visitors can view the large-scale depictions of early encampments, canoes, smoking fish, cedar baskets and garments, and native plants and animals.  

Completed in September 2020, the mural project is a collaboration of hard work and cultural understanding between Edmonds artist Andy Eccleshall, and Tulalip tribal member artist Ty Juvinel. The project was organized by Mural Project Edmonds, a committee of Art Walk Edmonds.

“I was approached by Andy because of the carving I am doing for the Edmonds Historical Museum, as well as various exhibits throughout Edmonds,” explained Ty. “Andy needed someone to create a mural that would represent the history of Edmonds and I mentioned the possibility of doing a mural depicting early contact, between fur trading. 

“Andy did the amazing painting and I helped with the depiction,” said Ty. For more than a year, Ty shared history and photos with Andy, including a visit to the Hibulb Cultural Museum, to help him gain a better understanding of Coast Salish culture. 

Everything from the way huts were constructed, the design and use of canoes, how cedar was used, traditional cooking methods and the inclusion of a woolly dog, were discussed by the two artists.

Ty explained that woolly dogs were bred for their long hair, which was perfect for weaving into blankets and other items. 

“One thing I like to mention, is Andy was told by a passerby that the women in the painting were wrong,” said Ty. “The passerby said they were wrong because their hair wasn’t matted and the hair shouldn’t be that nice. Luckily, I was there that day to dispel that claim, and educated them both that the Salish people bathed religiously, sometimes up to three times a day. Even during the winter, with cedar bow’s dipped in water and brushed against the body.”


“That area of Edmonds used to be a marsh land, so I figured it may have been used as a summer camp area; summer foraging and prepping for winter,” explained Ty. “From there it was just trying to close my eyes and go back to those days of beach camps, elders teaching basketry, hunting, fishing, kids doing as they please, everyone is busy with their chores, preparing for the winter. I was hoping the idea of a community would be shown, and Andy shows it. Community is everyone bringing their resources and abilities together for the community. Again, Andy depicts this wonderfully. When I stand in front of this mural I feel like I’m waiting for them to come to life. The men on the water shouting ashore, the scent of the smoke mixed with salmon and gentle tides.” 

Ty’s signature can be found, along with Andy’s, at the base of each mural. 

“It was a joy to work within the Edmonds community. Every time I visit I’m welcomed as a neighbor and everyone seems very genuine. I look forward to my next visit,” added Ty.

The mural is located on facing walls in the alley between 4th and 5th Avenue in Edmonds, connecting to Main Street. 

A remarkable achievement! Moderna Vaccine welcomed with open arms in Tulalip

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On January 19, 2020, a 35-year-old man presented to an urgent care clinic in Snohomish County with a four-day history of cough and subjective fever. He disclosed he returned to Washington only days prior after traveling to visit family in Wuhan, China. After multiple days of examination and a litany of tests, it was revealed that the man was positive with a severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by a novel coronavirus. This was the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States. 

Nearly one year later, the COVID pandemic continues to rage on. According to the Department of Health, there have been 246,000 confirmed cases and 3,482 deaths in Washington State attributed to the virus at the time this article was published. A whopping 91% of those deaths are individuals at least 60-years-old.

On the Tulalip Reservation, those who are 60+ are revered as elders. They are a living history, a source for cultural and spiritual knowledge whose wisdom is irreplaceable. Protecting them from COVID is of utmost importance, which is why the Tulalip Health Clinic was full of hope and excitement on December 23 as the first doses of the much heralded Moderna Vaccine were administered to Tulalip’s most vulnerable. 

“Today is a great day for Tulalip! We have received the COVID-19 vaccine,” marveled Tulalip tribal member and Patient Care Director, Jennie Fryberg. “My hands go up to everyone who comes to our health clinic to get vaccinated and help save lives, save our community, and save our elders. The 2020 year was a tough one for us because we lost some loved ones to the pandemic. I’m getting vaccinated for my parents, so I can protect them and avoid possibly spreading COVID to them. My advice to our community is come and get vaccinated so we can have a much more hopeful 2021.”

After months of battling the pandemic at the reservation’s go-to health care facility, Tulalip’s emergency management team’s latest update states four Tulalip elders have died with COVID-19. Two were in their 70s and two were in their 80s. Their memories live on in the younger generations who carry on their cultural traditions with pride.

In order to protect as many remaining elders and high-risk tribal members, Tulalip’s medical personnel promptly rolled out phase one of COVID vaccinations after receiving 400 initial doses from Moderna. The immediate recipients were Tulalip’s elders, most high-risk citizens, first responders, and frontline healthcare workers. 

“This is an amazing event taking place and I feel so fortunate to play a role in offering protection and hope to such a beautiful community,” said medical assistant Kristina Bartek while filling syringes with the potential lifesaving Moderna Vaccine. “My grandfather is 84-years-old and it scares me to think of what could happen if he gets COVID. I’ll be getting vaccinated to protect him, myself, and anyone I come into contact with.”

History was made as the first administered vaccination went to Tulalip elder Dale Jones. “We are fighting a very dangerous virus and have already lost some of our people because of it,” shared Dale moments after getting vaccinated. “This vaccine means we finally have protection for our people, especially our elders.”

Real life heroes who put their lives on the line every day to keep the community safe were eager to get a literal shot in the arm to ensure they can carry out their duties while preventing COVID exposure to others. 

“This is a big moment for our community and our fire department by ensuring the health and safety of our first responders,” said Fire Chief Ryan Shaughnessy while joining his team in getting vaccinated. “We’re really excited and grateful for the Tulalip Tribes generosity to vaccinate our team. Moving forward, we can fulfill our duties with more confidence knowing we’re vaccinated against this deadly virus.” 

It’s been two weeks since Tulalip received the vaccine and the health clinic has administered 407 vaccinations as of January 4. Phase two of vaccinations is now underway. Tulalip tribal members ages 50+ and who have chronic health conditions may now stop by the clinic for a vaccination visit. 

If you are a Tulalip elder and not yet received the vaccine, please visit the clinic as soon as possible to do so. You do not need to make an appointment nor call.

“The Moderna Vaccine is a remarkable tool that helps us to decrease the spread of COVID and mitigate life threatening concerns associated with COVID,” said Dr. John Okemah, Chief Medical Officer. “Finally having a vaccine available to our people brings about a new sense of hope to our people throughout Indian Country. We’ve been dealing with this global pandemic for close to a year now. By getting vaccinated we, as a community, are now fighting back and doing what we can to protect our loved ones.”

Tulalip Tribal Court introduces ODMAP to combat drug overdose rates in the community

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“There are a lot of overdoses during bonus and Christmas time,” said ODMAP (Overdose Detection Mapping & Application Program) Outreach Specialist, Tashena Hill. “People are feeling sad because they can’t be with their families or they are reminded of family members who passed on. ODs really spike during this time of year, so it is very important for us to get this information out.”

As overdose rates continue to climb nationwide, the Tulalip Tribal Court is taking action in an attempt to address the opioid epidemic on the reservation. Multiple studies from the likes of the CDC and the Washington Post report that Indian Country has been hit the hardest, claiming that from 2006-2014 Natives were 50% more likely to die from an opioid overdose than any other race in the country. Those reputable sources also released a disclaimer stating those statistics are more than likely under reported due to a number of factors. Most misreporting stems from hospitals and coroners indicating the incorrect race on the death certificates of overdose victims. 

The numbers reported on a national level are still staggering. After approximately 70,000 overdose related deaths occurred in 2017, the United States saw that number decrease to 67,000 in 2018. Unfortunately, in 2019, the CDC reports that the drug overdose rate rose by 4.6% in the course of a year to nearly 71,000 deaths nationwide. Early projections indicate that those numbers may have spiked yet again in 2020, citing the novel coronavirus as a key contributor to several overdoses throughout the year. 

In 2017, roughly 30% of deaths in Washington State were attributed to overdose with a large percentage occurring in Snohomish county, particularly the Marysville, Everett and Tulalip region. It would be extremely challenging, however, if you wanted to gather and analyze data regarding the number of overdoses and overdose related deaths at Tulalip alone, as reportings tend to vary based on jurisdictions and which emergency response team answers the call of distress. 

Tulalip Tribal Court Director Alicia Horne explained, “Right now, Tulalip has no central data to utilize to determine OD. This new program is going to create the database to track those statistics, that’s one of the objectives of this program. And prevention. If an emergency response team is responding to a 9-1-1 call and they issue Narcan, having that information will help this program go out to do intervention services and provide detoxing treatments, getting them set-up on a Suboxone or Methadone program. This will help us collect data to see what the overdose rate is in the Tulalip community and how we can provide prevention and intervention services.”

ODMAP, or the Overdose Detection Mapping & Application Program, is a service utilized by communities across the nation. Counties that have elected to use the company’s database have been able to significantly reduce the number of overdoses in their region.

“ODMAP is a system that emergency response personnel like the fire department, EMTs, and the police department can enter real-time data regarding an overdose,” said ODMAP Project Coordinator, Kali Joseph. “That includes a general location of the overdose, whether Naloxone was administered, how much Naloxone was administered, and whether the overdose was fatal or not. And then we have our outreach workers deploy the resources to those people who are susceptible to overdose or are suffering with substance abuse disorder.”

Having access to those reports is a major step in addressing the opioid and heroin epidemic on the reservation. Now TPD and other emergency response teams can pinpoint specific neighborhoods and areas that are affected most by drug overdose and can thereby, in theory, disrupt any activity when the numbers are on the rise. 

“Using the ODMAP app we can see a spike happen in real-time,” expressed ODMAP Social Worker, Cara McCoy. “When we have all these spikes and overdoses, we can warn the community that maybe there’s a bad drug and to be careful. The app is really easy to use so the officer or whoever has the app will be able to capture it immediately so we have more accurate numbers.”

In addition to tracking and monitoring overdoses on the reservation, the ODMAP team is focused on promoting a healthy Tulalip community and will provide outreach work, cultural activities, and endless resources for those ready and willing to leave their addiction in the past. 

“We’re working on getting a list of all the things that could be barriers in between someone obtaining their sobriety,” stated Kali. “That could be food, a driving abstract, Washington State ID, duffle bag, clothes, signing up for insurance, cell phones, or providing them with a ride. Sometimes the fees for a driving abstract or an ID, to be able to get into a detox center or treatment, can be a very big barrier for people trying to get clean and sober so we just want be able to help them break down those barriers.”

Added Tashena, “The biggest obstacle for any of our clients is having a place to go after coming home from treatment or jail. The Tribe doesn’t offer anything for short-term, so we’re working on trying to find a place for them to go in the interim. We need somewhere for them to go so they can be successful on their journey.”

The very first project for the ODMAP team is taking place on December 16, a virtual training session that will inform those who attend how to appropriately and effectively administer Naloxone or Narcan nasal spray, which can potentially save someone’s life in the event of an overdose. According to their research, 690 overdoses in Washington State were reversed with Naloxone in 2016.

“It first started with Cara setting up a meeting with the Swinomish Wellness Center, they have reduced their overdose rate by 50%,” Kali noted. “We asked them what type of things they’re doing to reduce their rate so greatly and they said that a big factor was distributing Narcan to the community members. We thought we should have a Narcan distribution for our community right before the holidays. It was actually Tashena’s idea to do it before the holidays, especially because we all get this big chunk of money. We are here for prevention and we think that sharing information and knowledge is a really good prevention method, as well as distributing the Narcan.”

In total, the ODMAP team will distribute 50 Narcan kits to the community by December 18. Those who wish to receive a kit will be required to sign-up and attend a GoToMeeting session on Wednesday December 16. The trainings will be split into two sessions, one at 10:00 a.m. and the other at 2:00 p.m., and will be limited to 25 participants per session. After attending the training, the ODMAP team will hand-deliver the Narcan kits to your doorstep, along with other resources, including information about the program as well as some fun holiday gifts. You must be at least 13 years old to attend the training and receive a Narcan kit. 

“Our team is driven to reduce the overdose rates here at Tulalip,” expressed Tashena. “This is important to me as a Tribal member who has suffered from this opioid affliction, being able to give back to my people and show them there is hope. If I can overcome such a horrendous obstacle then anyone can. There is help here for people that want it or need it. There are people who care and are more than willing to help our community members if they want it. The upcoming Narcan training is so important because if we can save anyone, even one person, that is a win. Every last person matters. That is our way, huyadad, to care for every one of our members. At least that’s what my grandfather Stan Jones Sr. taught me – to care for everyone.”

For further information and to register for the upcoming Narcan presentation and distribution, please contact Tashena Hill at (360)-913-7897 or tahill@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov, Melissa Gover at (360)-631-2668 or mgover@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov, or Cara McCoy at (360)-631-7443 or cmccoy@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov.

King County Search Dogs support ongoing mission to bring Officer Cortez home

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The tragic loss of police officer Charlie Cortez, who died in the line of duty on November 17 after his patrol boat capsized, has been felt near and far. A 29-year-old hero and father of two young children, his family and friends offer prayers and well wishes to the recovery teams who depart Tulalip Marina shortly after sunrise every day in search of the fallen Tulalip tribal member.

“To date, we’ve used some of the best technology in the world to aid in our search and recovery mission,” explained Chris Sutter, Tulalip Police Chief. “Advanced underwater sonar imaging of the ocean floor, underwater drones, air resources including fixed wing aircrafts, helicopters, and unmanned drones, and, our most important resource of all, thousands of hours of manpower by dedicated first responders, fishermen, and civilian volunteers. 

“We’ve done our best to cover all relevant search areas , from north of Tulalip, Port Susan area to Camano Island, top end of Whidbey Island, both sides of Hat Island, up the Snohomish River system, and all the way down past Mukilteo looking for our lost officer,” he continued. “We have not turned away any resources, as we’ve had many vessels and specialized search teams on the water searching far and wide.”

 One such resource is the King County Search Dogs. A part of the King County Search and Rescue Association, the highly specialized canine unit assists law enforcement agencies with missing person searches and human recovery in the wilderness and urban settings. A team of ten (four dogs, four handlers and two support) joined Tulalip’s recovery efforts for Officer Cortez on December 5.

The search dog unit were briefed by Chief Sutter and Commander Robert Myers at the local marina before being transported to the primary search area by Fish and Wildlife boat operator supervisor Bernie Edge and Tulalip citizen Sam Davis. 

 The extraordinary dog-handler teams are trained for effective and efficient searches thanks to the four-legged companions’ possession of up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in people. The part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is, proportionally speaking, 40 times greater than the average human.

Dogs’ sense of smell overpowers our own by orders of magnitude – it’s 10,000 to 100,000 times as acute, scientists say. “Let’s suppose they’re just 10,000 times better,” says James Walker, former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University, who came up with that jaw-dropping estimate during a rigorously designed, oft-cited study. “If you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away.”*

Three super powered snouts actively worked the waters of Possession Sound, between Port of Everett, Priest Point and Hat Island, while a fourth roamed on land in search of any possible leads. Dog handler Joan Hitchner, an 18-year vet with search and rescue, trailed 7-year-old R2 as he traversed nearly six miles of sand dunes, boulders, a horde of driftwood, and wetland sniffing for viable scent trails on Jetty Island. 

On water, the search dogs literally stood on bow and stern of two separate boats while being taxied back and forth along the coastal waters for hour after hour. With noses held high, they processed the Possession Sound environment for any trace of Officer Cortez.

“Recovery efforts from water, especially the ocean, is inherently challenging because water is in a constantly changing state,” said dog handler Josh Gerstman, a 23-year vet with search and rescue, while beside his 8-year-old chocolate Labrador, Natick. “Fluctuating water temperatures, ocean depths, wind currents, turbidity and tidal impacts are all variables that cannot be understated. Our dogs’ sense of smell is incredible and they adhered to their training admirably under these conditions.”

After their day on the water and along the coast, the search and recovery teams reconvened at the Tulalip Marina to debrief. Information received from the search dogs will be further analyzed with all other search effort information logged to date. 

“Each day for the past three weeks, we’ve had different teams from a variety of local, regional and state agencies participate in our search and recovery mission,” reflected Chief Sutter. “Having the canine search team out today really gives us hope as we continue to bring in as many resources as we can to help locate and recover Officer Cortez. We are grateful to receive support from our neighboring King County Sherriff’s Office and every other community partner who has dedicated time and resources to support us.”

In the three weeks since Tulalip lost its first ever officer in the line of duty, the Tulalip Police Department, in partnership with Fish and Wildlife staff and countless fishermen, remain committed to bringing Officer Cortez home. Their exhaustive efforts show the depth of this community’s love for each other and of the brotherhood of law enforcement. The search continues.

*Source – https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/dogs-sense-of-smell/

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

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Memorial for Native veterans unveiled in U.S. capital

Native American Veterans Memorial, Harvey Pratt

By Micheal Rios, photos courtesy of Alan Karchmer for NMAI

A permanent memorial dedicated to generations of Native American military veterans was unveiled on Veteran’s Day, November 11, in the heart of Washington D.C. It’s been over twenty-five years in the making, as Congress authorized construction of such a dedication in front of the National Museum of the American Indian back in 1994.

To celebrate the momentous occasion in the age of COVID-based restrictions and social distancing, a planned dedication ceremony and veterans procession was replaced with a virtual program. Opening the video presentation was none other than Tulalip’s own Board of Director and Army veteran, Mel Sheldon.

  “I’d like to start by thanking our elders and veterans. All the brave men and women who have served before us created the foundation for our next generation,” said Mel during the initial moments of the twenty-two minute program. “They created a legacy that extends to the younger leaders of our country, as well as those who are now currently serving in the armed forces. 

“My father was a Marine and he served in World War II. His example led me to carrying on that proud tradition when, at just 19-years-old, I served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot,” he continued. “Here at Tulalip, we have a number of women who have served in the military and in our traditional way we raise our hands to them for their courage and service. There have been 29 million people serving in the U.S. military from World War I to Iraq and Afghanistan, and a good portion of them are proud Native Americans. [We] have served at a very high rate in the military and we’re very proud of that warrior tradition.”

National Native American Veterans Memorial, Harvey Pratt

Native men and women have always been defenders of their lives, traditional homelands, and cultural lifeways. The call to serve in the United States military has been strong for our people since the nation’s founding, long before being officially recognized as U.S. citizens in 1924. 

In fact, the Department of Defense recognizes that today’s military successes depend heavily on the contribution of America’s first people. Thirty-one thousand proud Native American men and women are on active duty today, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world. In total there are 140,000+ Native veterans living, breathing, and passing on teachings about honor and duty to a cause much larger than oneself. 

The best stat of all is as a demographic, Native Americans serve in the armed forces at five times the national average and enlist in the military at the highest per-capita rate of any other group. A longstanding warrior tradition of so many, past and present, is now forever memorialized with a federal monument in the U.S. capital. 

Designed by multimedia artist and Marine Corps veteran, Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho), the one-of-kind fixture features an elevated stainless steel circle resting on a carved stone drum. It also incorporates water for sacred ceremonies, benches for gathering, and four lances where veterans, family members, tribal leaders and others can attach prayer ties for healing.

Native American Veterans Memorial, Harvey Pratt

“That big vertical circle that stands in the middle, I call it the hole in the sky where the Creator lives. When you pray, that prayer goes through there and the Creator receives it and blesses you,” explained Harvey in an interview with Indian Country Today. “No matter how you feel about how our country has treated Native people, it’s important to honor all our Native warriors. They fought to protect the land we live on. That’s what warriors do.”

While the warrior mentality to protect the sacred has a long and prideful history, at the same time Native communities have never taken a loss of life lightly. Paying homage to fallen warriors as heroes with reverent memorials filled with ceremonies and prayers is a traditional teaching that unites tribal members of all 574 federally recognized tribes. Dubbed the Warriors’ Circle of Honor, this memorial intends to unite any and all visitors though a connection of service and sacrifice by Native veterans, past and present.

“The National Native American Veterans Memorial will serve as a reminder to the nation and the world of the service and sacrifice of Native American veterans,” said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), NMAI director. “Native Americans have always answered the call to serve, and this memorial is a fitting tribute to their patriotism and deep commitment to this country.”

Kernels for a cause

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Kettle corn has been described as the perfect snack. Its unique combination of sweet and salty, with just the right amount of crunch, is a highly sought after mouthgasm at fairs and outdoor festivals by people of all ages. For one Tulalip family, kettle corn represents something much more significant than an occasional treat, it represents a voice for the voiceless.

“Our youngest son Jared has autism. He was put on the spectrum when he was a toddler,” explained former Board of Director, Jared Parks. “As a family of eight, it’s been an adjustment for us all. We’ve learned so much about autism and how it’s a spectrum, which means that it effects people differently. For our son, he has nonverbal autism. He may not be able to speak, but he can still express himself.”

That expression is clearly evident when 7-year-old Jared II is around kettle corn. His parents say “he lights up and has a grin from ear to ear”. Young Jared’s love for flavorful popped kernels was the inspiration behind his parents’ decision to create a small business venture named after their son, called Jared’s Corner. Their mission? To help raise awareness about autism spectrum disorder.

Autism impacts people regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or political allegiances. It is estimated that 25 million people are affected worldwide. There is no cure for autism, and currently boys are approximately 4.5 times more likely to receive an autism diagnosis than girls. Often not discussed is the high rate of autistic individuals who are nonverbal, which is true in roughly one-third of all cases.

“I had to throw out the parenting book with all I knew and needed to learn new ways to communicate and show affection,” shared momma bear, Kristie Parks. “It’s been challenging. I tell my kids all the time ‘I love you’ and they say it back to me, but my son can’t. He’s never called me ‘mom’, or been able to tell me if his tummy hurts or if someone hurt him. What my son has become is my family’s biggest teacher. He’s taught us to slow down our lives, be extremely patient, and accept all of life’s blessings.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 1 in 54 children have been identified with autism. That’s nearly twice the rate from 1 in 125 found in 2004. The dramatic increase and recent spotlight shining on the developmental disorder has opened opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve people on the autism spectrum and their families.

“Our son is different from our other five kids in so many ways, but we really do view it as a blessing,” added Jared. “He’s taught us to be better parents. We’re more patient and compassionate because of our son. Now, we want to spread awareness about autism and it just so happens kettle corn is a good metaphor for the spectrum.

“Basically, we can take a batch of this kettle corn, lay it out, and see that no two kernels are the same,” he continued. “They are all different, just like those on the spectrum. That’s the meaning behind our slogan, ‘not one kernel is the same’.” 

By founding Jared’s Corner this past summer, parents Jared and Kristie intend to speak on behalf of their son to customers who stop by their stand to purchase a bag of freshly popped kettle corn. While completing their transactions, customers are informed of Jared’s Corner’s namesake and the meaning behind the logo.

The puzzle piece is a highly recognized symbol for autism spectrum disorder. It symbolizes all the different ways individual kids fit together. It symbolizes the complicated ways this disorder may manifest itself in children. It also symbolizes how there is no one therapy that works for everyone, and sometimes it’s a whole puzzle of therapies that when pieced together just right actually make a difference. 

The Parks family is dedicated to helping find solutions and bring further awareness across the spectrum to the needs of individuals with autism and their families. They will be doing their part by donating a percentage of annual income to pro-autism foundations. 

“Being baby Jared’s mother, his voice, his protector, it was and still is an unbelievable roller coaster ride,” said Kristie. “We want to share our experience because the autism rate continues to go up and there is so little information available to parents and families who struggle in silence. Our goal with Jared’s Corner is to help promote understanding that just like ‘not one kernel is the same’, every child is different and every autism story is different.”

Jared’s Corner is conveniently located on the Tulalip Reservation along Quil Ceda Boulevard, in the vacant lot between Cabela’s and Home Depot. They are open for business Thursday – Saturday from 10:00am – 5:00pm. Other locations and times to come, such as outside Tulalip Market and Remedy. Keep a look out for the red pinched tent or follow Jared Parks on Facebook for details.

Regular kettle and caramel kettle are always available in medium ($5 bag) and large ($10 bag). A third flavor is offered as well, which ranges from cinnamon toast, chocolate, vanilla, orange and grape. Because this is the Pacific Northwest, aka Seahawks Territory, every ‘blue Friday’ a mixed batch of green apple and blue raspberry is available. 

Jared’s Corner can also provide kettle corn for private parties and events. For more information or to place an order to support a wonderful cause, please call (425) 737-2168.