Krislyn Parks weaves together the past, present, and future into her Salish skirts

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Long strands of intricately woven wool sway vertically at the bottom of a traditional Coast Salish skirt. Across the top is a horizontal pattern that creates the skirt’s waistband, which often features Salish designs or accessories such as shells and buttons.

The skirts were a necessity pre-colonization and are now often overlooked by the general public, thanks to some of our other masterful creations such as blankets, shawls and cedar weavings. However, the Coast Salish skirt played an intricate role in the lifeways of our women ancestors. For the skirts provided warmth throughout the cold fall and winter months, and also served as ceremonial attire during traditional gatherings. 

Native America is currently experiencing a powerful and important ribbon skirt resurgence. Locally, more and more women from coastal tribes are contributing to what could be the start of a new revitalization movement by wearing wool skirts to ceremonies and as a part of their OOTDs (outfit of the day). These ladies also often alternate between ribbon and wool skirts, to show their continued support of the ribbon skirt initiative. 

Although new to the game, Tulalip tribal member Krislyn Parks has found a passion in creating traditional Coast Salish skirts. Her handmade textiles with exquisite color schemes are bringing more attention to a practice that was nearly lost during the assimilation era, while also putting a her own spin on it.

After coming across her beautiful work, on her Instagram business account, Tulalip News reached out to Krislyn to chat about her newfound passion, it’s history, and what she hopes to accomplish through her handwoven skirts. 

Tulalip News: Why don’t we start by learning a little bit about you?

My name is Krislyn Parks. I am 20 years old. I’m Kristie Fryberg and Jared Parks’ kid. My grandparents are Karen Fryberg and Cyrus Fryberg Sr., and Beatrice Forman and Leslie Parks. I’m proud to be Tulalip because it roots me down here from generation to generation. I have family ties here and I think it’s important to learn about my people and who I am. And be proud of who I am – express my culture and show everybody what it means to be Tulalip and who we are today. 

What are some of the cultural practices that you take part in?

As a kid, I always took part in canoe journeys and sweat lodge, my dad’s side of the family always participated in that. And as I’ve gotten older, I was taught how to bead by my auntie Winona Shopbell and uncle Bubba Fryberg. My grandma Karen taught me how to sew at a young age so I could make my regalia. And I picked up weaving when I joined the Lushootseed department. Michelle Myles sat down with me a couple of days and just weaved with me, showed me how to do it and got me interested in it. 

That’s awesome! Can you talk to us about the wool skirt and it’s history?

The wool skirts were something that we would wear during the cold time. Just to keep us warm, our women would be weaving all the time, that was one of our jobs. I’ve weaved cedar before, but weaving with fabric was new and really interesting. And so was learning about the woolly dog.

The story about woolly dogs is fascinating. Can you tell our readers more about the woolly dogs?

Our people used to have our own island that we used to take care of. Our ancestors, the women of the families, would go out onto the islands and take care of our woolly dogs. They would process their wool into the yarn used for skirts. 

That shows how strong our ancestors were. To me, it’s always about recognizing how much they put into their work and how much love they put into it. They didn’t get to go to the store and buy yarn. They had to breed that type of dog, take care of them, and then they would shave the wool off the dogs every season. They would then pull it, spindle it in a whorl, and turn it into its own yarn. 

Now that woolly dogs are extinct, what type of wool do you use in your work?

I use alpaca wool instead of woolly dog because – well, because we can’t get any of that anymore. We can never get that type of wool back, but we can keep preserving the tradition in different ways by showing and telling people about that kind of wool compared to the kind of wool we are using today. 

You mentioned that you picked up the practice from Michelle Myles, can you expound on the beginning of your weaving journey?

When I started, I learned everything at the Lushootseed department. We had looms that were donated to us that were kind of old and broken down. But, we decided to work with them. And really, we just picked it up while preparing for language camp, to teach the kids about weaving and how to do it. 

In our department we always say that we can’t just teach the kids and not practice the work ourselves. I teach weaving in the winter because that’s when our ancestors would weave at Tulalip. And my first time teaching that weaving unit, it was hard to connect with the kids. Learning how to weave this summer will make that weaving unit a lot easier. Now I’ll be able to bring in the loom and show the kids how to warp up their own weavings and make skirts for the classes, which I’m really excited to show the kids this year. 

Now that you’ve learned how to weave wool, can you explain your process of creating a skirt?

Weaving wool skirts is really calming for me. I typically do it at home now, I have my own little weaving station setup in my room. Once you have your wool, you’re going to setup your loom and it’s going to need to have two bars on it. And then you’re just going to start warping the wool, just wrapping it around the loom. For an adult sized skirt, I would wrap it around 200 times, warping it up on the loom so it looks like a flat map. And then, I would take individual sections by two and just weave. Then I’ll twist through every two pieces and that’ll will be like me creating the design. It’s definitely all about the twining.

We heard that you paid homage to Barbie through your skirt designs. Let’s hear the deets!

We did! During the Barbie movie release, Marysa Sylvester did an Indigenous Barbie shirt and I bought it. So, I was like I need to make a skirt! Me and my coworker both made Barbie-themed pink and purple skirts and we raffled them off as a part of a Barbie raffle. It was so much fun. 

When I was growing up, there were Indigenous Barbies that Mattel put out and they were in powwow regalia. So, we were talking about making dolls with some wool skirts for our classes because it would be nice to show the kids our representation. To show not only what a Native American Barbie looks like, but what a sduhubš, Snohomish Tulalip, Barbie would look like. 

Since you started this new endeavor and you now have skirts available for purchase, have you seen any of your skirts in the wild or during a ceremony?

I’ve had a few so far. I made a skirt for myself and I ended up letting a friend have it, and she wore it to a jam that was happening that night. It was also really awesome to see a couple little girls and my old coworker walking around in my skirts and dancing in my skirts, when I know that they would’ve otherwise worn ribbon skirts. I’m glad that they’re culturally getting down, and are enjoying it and representing it with pride. I think that’s such a beautiful thing.

You are not only learning about wool weaving and how to do it, but you’re also passing down that knowledge to the next generation. What does it mean to you to carry on this tradition?

For me that means being open to share with anybody who is wanting to learn. Since I’ve learned and picked this up, I’ve had many of my own family members asking me to to host a class and teach them how to do this. I think that really shows how open our tribe is to learning things, we just don’t always have access to it. I think by me doing this, it’s granting more opportunities for other people to feel comfortable expressing their culture. 

As you continue to practice this tradition, what do you hope to see in the future for your skirts?

I hope to see other kids find this way of life and that they show me how they practice it. This is something that our people dedicated their lives to, and there’s reason for that. It’s always going to be my main goal to see somebody I taught speaking the language and practicing all the arts our people did. 

Where can people find your work and purchase your weavings?

On my Instagram account, @krislyns.kreations, or on Facebook under Krislyn Jo. Those would be the best ways to reach me. I know that every Native got some type of social media, so that’s the way for right now. 

Annual Salmon Bake raises $51,000 to benefit Hibulb Cultural Center

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Kaya, an elder Salish woman with a basket full of clams, has welcomed thousands of people to the Hibulb Cultural Center since the museum first opened its doors in 2011. As a twelve-foot cedar carving known as a welcome pole, Kaya serves as each visitor’s first introduction to a beautiful experience of Tulalip’s culture, history, traditions, and artwork.

Since its establishment, the cultural center has imparted a vast amount knowledge about the Tribe’s ancestral traditions and teachings to the wider community. While providing their guests with interactive exhibits, the museum shares the Tulalip way of life, from present day all the way back to pre-colonial times, through an astounding display of visuals including artwork, photos, documents, and artifacts. 

In addition to their exhibits, there is a gathering space that resembles a cedar longhouse, as well as a wall dedicated to all of the Tribe’s military veterans. The cultural center also has three dedicated classrooms where cultural workshops take place throughout each month. And they have an impressive gift shop that often features the works of Tribal artists. 

“Over the past 13 years, we have welcomed more than 120,000 guests; 150,000 if you were to include special events,” said Hibulb Cultural Center Manager, Mytyl Hernandez. “That’s 120,000 opportunities to educate people on our culture, our true history, and how much Tulalip does for our outside community. We have had more than 1,500 events here, that includes workshops, lectures, films, private events. 1,500 opportunities for us to invite in our own community and outside communities to learn a little bit more about our culture, our history and about us.”

Now an award winning museum, and a top field trip destination for nearby schools, the Hibulb Cultural Center has provided insight and a tribal perspective on issues such as colonialism and assimilation while taking time to celebrate the teachings, values, beliefs, stories, and lifeways of the Tulalip people. 

Because the cultural center has grown in popularity and offers new exhibits and workshops on a regular basis, the Tulalip Foundation organized a silent auction and salmon bake to raise funds for the museum’s exhibits, events, and workshops back in 2017. 

The Tulalip Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports tribal programs and projects based on five support areas – culture and natural resources, education and workforce, law and justice, community and development, and health and social. The Foundation has made a positive impact on the tribal community and has become well-known throughout the region. Many local companies and nationwide corporations have donated thousands of dollars for the betterment of both Tulalip’s governmental programs as well as community-led and focused projects. 

The inaugural salmon bake brought in approximately $25,000 from the silent auction and a number of sponsors. Since then, the Salmon Bake has continued to grow and has become an event that many look forward to each summer.  Funds from previous Salmon Bake benefits went toward fan favorite exhibits such as Interwoven History: Coast Salish Wool, Vibrant Beauty: Colors of our Collection, and The Power of Words: A History of Tulalip Literacy, as well as a number of events and workshops including the museum’s annual film festival. Although it’s been seven years since the first event, the Foundation hosted its 5th Annual Salmon Bake this year, after two events were canceled due to the pandemic. 

“For all your loving energy and support for the Tulalip community, we raise our hands to you,” said Tulalip Foundation board member Rochelle Lubbers at this year’s salmon bake. “We’re able to celebrate and share our living culture throughout all of our business days. We are not a people of the past. We are here, we are present, and we are thriving.”

The 2023 Salmon Bake Fundraiser happened on the evening of August 19, and over a hundred of people were in attendance and dressed to the nines. The event was held outdoors, behind the cultural center’s classrooms, where tables with formal settings and a stage were set. About halfway between the stage and the last line of dinner tables, three tribal members were busy behind a smoke screen of traditional deliciousness as the smell of cooking salmon emanated from a rectangle fire pit. As always, the salmon was prepared in real time for all to see by Lance and Tammy Taylor and their grandson Jared, who demonstrated not only the art of a traditional salmon bake, but also the act of passing down ancestral teachings to the next generation. 

Showcased in the middle classroom of the museum, were rows of artwork donated by over 20 Tulalip artists. Next to each donation was a sheet of paper which detailed information about the art pieces and their creators. At the bottom of each paper were several blank lines where the attendees could place their bids. Included in the vast array of traditional artwork were weavings, paintings, carvings, beadwork, paddles, ribbon skirts, a hand drum, and a flute.

Once the silent auction placed a last call for bids, the guests took their seats at their respective tables. The event began with an opening prayer and the presentation of colors by the Tulalip Honor Guard. Attendees were entranced when Flutist Paul Nyenhuis played a welcome song to kick off the entertainment for the evening. While the sponsors and silent auction bidders enjoyed their fresh king salmon dinners, the youth of the Red Eagle Soaring collective performed a read-through of a play written by one of their young and talented members. It was an emotional and relatable story of aging told from both the youth and elder standpoints of the same few characters. 

To close out the salmon bake, Mytyl thanked all of the sponsors. And with the help of her teenage daughters, who were babies when the museum first opened, she blanketed each sponsor in attendance. The blankets featured orcas pulling cedar canoes through the Salish Sea and were designed by Tulalip artist James Madison for the summertime tribal canoe journey. 

“Thank you for supporting the Hibulb Cultural Center,” Mytyl expressed. “We always have an ask to keep funding our programs, curriculum, efforts, workshops, events, and our new exhibit that will open at the end of October. Our goal for the exhibit, just like it is throughout our museum and in everything that we do, is to make culture accessible to our community.”

Executive Director of the Tulalip Foundation, Nicole Sieminski, officially announced that a grand total of $51,000 was raised at this year’s silent auction and salmon bake. That is double the amount raised at the inaugural event, which speaks volumes to how the cultural center has grown over the years and its significance to the community. 

The following statement was included in this year’s program, “The Tulalip Foundation is proud to host this event for the benefit of the Hibulb Cultural Center as it continues to revive, restore, protect, interpret, collect, and enhance the history, traditional cultural values, and spiritual beliefs of the Tulalip Tribes.”

The Hibulb Cultural Center is currently gearing up to launch a new exhibit that focuses on the traditional languages of the Coast Salish people. The exhibit is slated to open on October 28, so be sure to follow their Facebook page for any updates, as well as details for upcoming events. 

Strong winds, and even stronger competition

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News 

The day was mighty gusty as canoe pullers from all over the Pacific Northwest and Canada battled waves in Tulalip Bay on August 18 during Tulalip’s Annual Canoe Races. The two-day event pitted the young and old in different canoe races. Although the waters were choppy, each competitor gave forth an outstanding performance. 

Starting at 9:30 am, Saturday’s competition was fierce. Not only were the competitors battling the strong winds and waves, but also each other to take home a trophy and some prize money. 

From single-person canoe races to 11-person teams, events for all levels of racers, male or female, gave many a chance at competing. There were races for kids nine and under to races for adults 19 and older, including a special race Saturday evening between co-ed partners of two. This consisted of one male and female partner who had to run with a paddle for about half a mile, then jump into their canoes and paddle for about a two-mile journey. 

In the face of wind gusts reaching up to 15 mph, creating turbulent waters, dedicated pullers demonstrated unwavering determination, securing victories by multiple boat lengths. A few pullers would find that the seas were not playing around as some rolled over due to being off balance when the wind and the waves hit their canoe. 

“You need to do a few things to prepare yourself to be out there on that rough water,” said Buddy Gray, from Cowichan, racing with Lummi. “You’re going to be tired; you’re going to get fatigued. You can’t quit. You paddle out, so you have to paddle back. Having that mental and physical strength is very important, as is healthy eating and keeping yourself hydrated so you don’t cramp up out there.” 

Buddy continued, “I’ve always had a different mindset on just paddling to win. I have kids now and have that mindset of being there, showing them a good way, and setting a better example for the next generation, as they are always watching. The more you train, the more you race, the better you get.”

One of the teens who won a few different events in the 16 and under category, Elias Mamac of Lummi, said, “Eat lots of French toast, train, and get some rest to be able to race your best.” When asked why he loves canoe races, Elias said, “Makes me feel good.” 

Although the waters were rough and the air was a little smoky, canoe pullers who braved the seas for the chance of victory took home the thrill of competition and great memories. 

From one generation to the next: Carrying on canoe culture

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Since 1989’s iconic Paddle to Seattle, a remarkable cultural revival has been taking place across the Pacific Northwest region, known to the tribes therein as Coast Salish Territory. Sovereign Native nations from Alaska to Oregon have united almost every summer to participate in the time-honored tradition of tribal Canoe Journeys. These annual Journeys have deep cultural significance and spiritual importance for our Indigenous communities, fostering unity, healing, and a profound reconnection with our ancestral roots.

Originating from Coast Salish traditions, Canoe Journeys have been practiced for millennia. Traditionally, canoes were the primary means of transportation, allowing our ancestors to navigate the intricate network of waterways that crisscrossed their territories. These Journeys were not only practical but also ceremonial, carrying spiritual significance that symbolized the connection between the people, the water, and the land.

However, the tradition began to wane before ending abruptly due to the impacts of colonization, forced assimilation policies, and the displacement of one tribe after another from their ancestral lands. Yet, in the latter half of the 20th century, a revitalization movement breathed new life into the practice, and now, in the 21st century, Canoe Journeys are experiencing a resurgence like never before.

The revival has been spearheaded by Native American leaders, cultural activists, and elders who recognize the importance of preserving their heritage and passing it on to future generations. Through storytelling, intergenerational knowledge sharing, and the relearning of traditional canoe-building techniques, our sovereign nations are actively reclaiming their cultural identity with each paddle stroke.

“The Canoe Journey campsite, to me, is the epitome of being a tribe,” explained Tulalip elder and Journeys veteran, Monie Ordonia. “We’re all there together. The younger kids are running around, making friends and having fun. The older kids are taking in all the experience from becoming a puller and getting opportunities to sit with their elders and hear their stories. And the adults become that traditional teacher again. Whether it’s sharing songs and dance, or some kind of regalia making technique, or even just accepting the role of watching other people’s young ones and making sure they stay safe. This is the closest thing to experiencing the real village environment that our ancestors thrived in.”

Central to the significance of Journeys is the sense of community they create. 2023’s Paddle to Muckleshoot had nearly 100 canoe families, each representing different tribes and clans, embark on a Salish Sea expedition that stretched for weeks. As these proud culture bearers navigated their ancestral waterways, they were greeted by host tribal communities that welcomed them with open arms, sharing food, songs, and dances. This exchange reinforced the ties that bind our Coast Salish people.

The revitalization of the Tribal Canoe Journeys has also highlighted the importance of environmental stewardship. As participants paddle through pristine waters and encounter the impact of climate change, the connection between the land and its people becomes even more evident. The tribes have been at the forefront of advocating for the protection of their waterways, embracing sustainable practices, and raising awareness about environmental issues within their communities and beyond.

The impact of Canoe Journey 2023: Honoring Our Warriors Past and Present extended far beyond the participating tribes. Non-Indigenous communities have been invited to witness the significance of Journeys and contribute to various cultural exchange activities. This cross-cultural understanding helps dispel misconceptions and raise appreciation for local Native American traditions and histories.

As the sun set on another successful Canoe Journey, the participants returned home with hearts full of memories, renewed connections, and a strengthened sense of cultural pride. The revival of this sacred tradition has proven to be a powerful force in preserving tribal identities, fostering healing, promoting environmental stewardship, and creating lasting connections among communities.

“For us in Tulalip, I’m sure this year’s Paddle to Muckleshoot had a record of youth pullers and parent/child combinations,” reflected Monie. “Does this youth movement excite me? Hell to the yeah! For me, I’m on the verge of retiring and hanging up my paddle, so to witness the kids consistently coming to canoe practice and to be so excited to pull for the first time, and then to get their Journeys experience and already be excited for next year…this brings me so much hope because I know the next generation is ready to learn, eager to get on the canoes and keep this part of our culture alive.”

Julianna Fryberg, 16 years old

“The entire experience was eye-opening. Me, my sister Lilly and my dad all got to pull together on Big Brother for 11 miles straight. That was my first time pulling and something I’ll never forget. We got to be out on the water with so many other canoes around us, all heading to the same destination. Being able to bond with other tribes through our stories, songs, and dance was amazing. It was a real family atmosphere, especially in the camps when Natosha Gobin would hold Lushootseed class to help us learn and pronounce the words of our ancestors.”

Skipper Natasha Fryberg, 33 years old

“Being in the canoe with my daughter is something I’ve anticipated for so long. As a mom, this is truly one of my greatest experiences, being able to share this part of our culture with my daughter. We strive for our kids to follow in our footsteps and now here she is pulling stroke for us, the same position I started out in. She may only be 14, but with each pull, she gains experience and gets stronger.”

Damon Pablo, 17 years old

“It’s been such an honor. A cool moment for me was when another canoe family from up north allowed me to join them as they welcomed a brand new canoe into the water and be a part of it’s first pull. Aside from that, just being able to spend this time with my dad and bond with him in new ways, like during protocol in the longhouse, is something that’s brought us closer. I’d like to see more father/son duos on the water next year.”

Theresa Sheldon, 45 years old

“When I was six months pregnant with my son Klayton, I was on the water pulling canoe, so he has not known a day without the canoes…until Covid. He’s grown up with Canoe Journey every summer since before he was born. It’s something I like to think he inherited from his grandmother and my mom, Toni Sheldon, who was the only woman to pull for Tulalip in 1989’s Paddle to Seattle. All four of her daughters pulled canoe, and now this year her grandchildren are pulling, too. Having my son out there just brings everything full circle and reassures me that we are living who we truly are as canoe people.”

Lilly Jefferson, 15 years old

“Me, my mom, and my siblings tried to make it to every canoe practice so we could all be on Journeys together. Right before my first pull, I was so excited because I never pulled before and didn’t know what to expect. It was everything I imagined it would be. It’s two different experiences, depending if your on Big Brother or Big Sister, but both are amazing in their own way. The weather and views were so nice. I love being on the water.”

Alicia Horne, 40 years old

“My daughter Keyondra is 20 now, but she actually started out on the canoe when she was 12. Back when Natasha Fryberg, Shawnee Sheldon, and I all chipped in and encouraged our kids to participate in canoe race practice. It was important to us to have our kids get that initial experience needed to build up their confidence on the water, their muscles and endurance needed for long pulls. She’s a true paddler. She loves being on the water, whether in single-man races, doubles, or on Canoe Journey. For her to have the strength to pull through all the mental and physical challenges of navigating the waters, I am just so proud of her.”

Janiesha Zackuse, 13 years old

“I was a little bit nervous, but at the same time it was a lot of fun and definitely healing to be out there. A cool moment was when we pulled into Lummi and saw everyone waiting for us on the shore, ready to welcome us. Having my mom there by my side for my first Canoe Journey was everything and filled my heart knowing how much it meant to her, too.”

Michael Wenzel

“I was so proud to watch as my son Thomas put in all the effort necessary to attend practices and ask questions when he was curious to learn more. Now, here he is utilizing what he learned and embracing all the healing that the water gives us. Witnessing not only my son but the other kids following in their parent’s footsteps with canoe culture is simply great. It lets me know that another generation wants to and will be enjoying the waters in the future.”


Tulalip Canoe Family parent/child combos 

  • Alicia and Clayton Horne with their daughter Keyondra 
  • Shawnee Sheldon and her kids Adrian, Lilly, and Isabelle Jefferson
  • Eddy Pablo Jr. and his son Damon Pablo
  • Natasha Fryberg and her daughter Kaylenna
  • Josh Fryberg and his two daughters Julianna and Lillyannah
  • Theresa Sheldon and her son Klayton
  • Michael Wenzel and his son Thomas
  • Tanisha Fryberg and her daughter Maliyah
  • Jolene Fryberg and her daughter Janiesha Zackuse

Camp culture powered by language warriors

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

For two-and-a-half decades, dedicated language warriors of the Lushootseed department have planned, coordinated, and hosted our community’s children in the closest thing we have to a full-on cultural immersion experience. An opportunity for the youngest generation to glimpse the traditional syllables and syntax of their ancestor’s common tongue through everyday phrases, storytelling, and glorious song accompanied by deer hide drum beats.

“Teaching Lushootseed is incredibly beneficial to our youth,” explained Michele Balagot, Lushootseed Manager. “Learning more than one language helps with brain development, which opens their minds to more possibilities. 

“We know some kids don’t have the opportunity to learn Lushootseed in school, so, for them, our summer camps are the only chance they get to participate in learning the language,” she continued. “No matter the experience level or how ingrained in the culture the children may be, they all make connections and becomes family here. For me, my favorite part of Lushootseed camp is the big play put on Friday. All the parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts come together to watch their child in the program sing, dance, and act in a play. All in Lushootseed!” 

Highly anticipated by both parents and kids alike, this year’s 26th annual Lushootseed day camp was offered in two one-week options. The first occurred between July 10-14, while the second took place the following week July 17-21.

Open to children between the age of five to twelve years old with a desire to learn a little language of their ancestors and a whole lot about their traditional lifeways, Lushootseed Camp provides invaluable cultural immersion through various methodologies. This is achieved by kids cycling through several hands-on workstations each day, such as art, weaving, songs, traditional teachings, games, language, and technology.

During week one, there were a total of 57 camp participants and 18 group leaders. Week two saw a slight uptick, with a total of 59 participants and 17 group leaders. It’s important to note that nearly all the group leaders, whether teenage or adult, were previous camp kids in their younger years, now older and willing to give back to the summer experience they once enjoyed.

One of those grown-up camp kids includes now Lushootseed teacher assistant Krislyn Parks. She credited long-time Lushootseed teacher Michelle Myles for being a highly impactful, positive influence on her not just at camp over a decade prior, but also at Heritage Highschool. Michelle has instructed a Lushootseed course at Heritage for a few years now. That’s where Krislyn was able to take the course and receive a thorough education on the language of her ancestors. The combination of experiences was so transformative that Krislyn chose to join the Lushootseed department after graduation.

“Seems like only yesterday that I was a Heritage student taking Lushootseed for three years straight, all of it taught by Michelle. She motivated all of us students at the time to embrace our culture, learn our language, and challenged us to implement what we were learning into our daily lives,” recalled Krislyn. “That experience was a big reason why I chose education as my future and what better way to educate our kids than through Lushootseed. Just by learning the language, you can learn all kinds of lessons about what was important to our people back then and what we should probably return to today.”

This year’s camp centered around Tulalip ancestor Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Krise’s traditional story titled Deer and Changer. This story takes place long ago. Long before the world was the way it was today and long before humans were a part of it. There were only animal people. When Changer passed through this world to make it ready for humans, some of the animal people were resistant. One such being was Deer, who attempted to stop Changer from making his changes. Ultimately, Deer’s plan fails, and his treachery results in all modern-day deer having dewclaws in their hooves, otherwise thought of as bones in the back of their feet.

The lessons youth learned daily at the various workstations were based on Lizzie Krise’s story, which tells how deer got extra bones in their feet. This story plot provided ample opportunity to teach the children about Bone Games, which Krislyn was excited to teach the kids how to play as she’d been playing for as long as she could remember. 

“It was stressful prepping a workstation that would be enticing for the kids to play and keep their attention, but in the end, it all worked out and was a lot of fun. The best part for me was after teaching them, being able to then step back and watch them play Bone Games with each other,” said Krislyn. Her aunt Carrie Fryberg’s family has played, traveled, and organized Stick Games tournaments for a long time. 

“Having a camp like this, where our kids get to learn about all aspects of their culture, not just ones that their family carry on, is super important,” she added. “We had so many kids admit to not even knowing what Stick or Bone Games are, and now some of those same kids are asking for Tulalip to form a kids’ travel team so they can continue to play against other tribes. That’s pretty cool to witness, in real-time, the transformation that can happen when our kids are given the opportunity to learn their culture.”  

Every camp station and its daily lessons incorporated some kind of traditional teaching and Lushootseed verbiage. Using creative, hands-on activities to keep the energetic youngsters focused, the language warriors made the most of their opportunities to teach the importance of tradition. From vibrant art creations to working together as a community to problem solve, camp kids were learning while having fun.

Using tablets loaded with custom-built software called ACORN (Acquisition of Restored Native Speech), combined with the next generation’s natural predisposition for digital screens, Lushootseed techs Dave Sienko and Brian Barry used digital gaming and videos to teach tradition. 

“I’m new here in the Lushootseed department, but found out pretty quick that it operates like an extended family. Everyone is willing to help the next person to reach the desired outcome, whether that’s going out harvesting together or sharing ideas and know-how that help us all perform our work more efficiently,” shared Brian as he pivoted between kids asking for assistance with their tablets. “At the technology station, we had Samsung tablets that were loaded with culture-related games and videos. Through the various age groups, some of them loved to watch previous years’ plays and songs. Some kids didn’t want to watch the play and instead would sit mesmerized by a video showing how to fillet a salmon. That showed me how much the cultural stuff really does resonate with even the youngest of tribal members.”

Both one-week camps culminated with the kids performing their own rendition of Deer and Changer in play form for their loved ones and the greater Tulalip community. Afterward, the ceremonial witnesses shared heartfelt words, followed by camp participants giving away their handmade crafts created during the past week to audience members. 

Large turnout for Stick Games Tournament 

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Several dozen camping tents were set up throughout the northern parking lots of the Tulalip Resort Casino during the first weekend of June. The sound of traditional hand drums could be heard around the gaming establishment and luxury hotel.  The drum beats emanated from the center of the Tulalip Amphitheater where close to 1,000 people gathered for the Tulalip Tribe’s annual Stick Games Tournament. 

According to stories passed down generation after generation, stick games was originally introduced to the Northwest coastal tribes and First Nations Bands thousands of years ago. The traditional game, also known as bone games, slahal, hand games, and lahal, was created as a way to settle intertribal disputes such as the rights to hunting and fishing grounds, and also as a means to prevent warfare between tribes. And while each tribe and band have different stories pertaining to stick games, the origin of the game is consistent throughout the region. Tribal nations agree that the game was gifted and taught to the people by the Indigenous wildlife of our territory. 

Requiring the skill and mastery of deception and distraction, the game is initiated by two opposing teams that consist of three to five players. During gameplay, the team’s alternate turns, and sticks are used to keep score throughout the contest. A set of bones is discreetly distributed amongst the team that is in-play and the opposing squad must correctly guess where the bones are hidden and how many pieces the player has concealed in their hands. While the bones change hands between teammates, the team sings traditional family songs to distract their opponents from seeing who is in possession of the bones. The team with the most correct amount of guesses wins the game and advances to the next round. 

In addition to bones and sticks, there are a number of unofficial game pieces that each team utilizes to their advantage during a stick game tournament. Such items include foldable lawn chairs, so that teams can quickly set-up against their opponents and move and play about the grounds; pull-over hoodies, blankets, and bandanas are used to cover a player’s hands to prevent opponents from seeing where the bones are placed. Of course, traditional hand-drums and rattles are used to distract the rival team while the bones are in-play.

“I’m happy to be back here playing at Tulalip,” said Lummi tribal member, Tavis Washington Jr. “I am a 5th generation stick game player, but it’s been a part of my family since the beginning of time. It always feels great to come out to this event and see all the people who I [know] and meet new people too. My favorite part of the game is winning, I like when my team or my family wins.” 

For observers and players alike, a highlight of the Tulalip Tribes annual Stick Games Tournament is supporting Indigenous owned businesses as local artists and chefs set up shop at the amphitheater throughout the weekend. This year a vast amount of vendors were scattered throughout the amphitheater’s grounds, including several Tulalip entrepreneurs. 

Josh Fryberg’s clan sold their signature smoked salmon as well as a selection of hoodies and t-shirts, Jared’s CORNer was popping as many stopped by the food truck to grab a bag of kettle corn, Winona Shopbell-Fryberg had a beautiful array of her family’s beaded jewelry for sale, and Angel and Amber Cortez’s kids operated the ‘Traveler’s Drinks & Grub To-Go’ food truck to help raise funds for a trip to Washington D.C. this fall. Other items for purchase at the tournament included Indian tacos, snow cones, and Native-designed clothing, blankets, and accessories. 

The participants of the Tulalip Stick Games Tournament competed for the chance to walk away with some scrilla in their pockets. With a total payout of $60,000 this year, many cash prizes were awarded throughout the three-day event, including the grand prize of $25,000. In addition to the main competition, several mini matches were also held during the tournament such as the three-man tournament and the kid’s tournament.

Jennie Fryberg, Tulalip Stick Games Tournament Committee member, shared, “I’m so happy our Tribe hosts tribal events for our people. We hosted 145 teams for Saturday’s five-man tournament and 115 teams for Sunday’s three-man tournament! Congratulations to Martin Hannigan’s (Muckleshoot) five-man team for winning first place in the big tournament Saturday night. It was an amazing weekend full of friendship, good food, and beautiful art by Native vendors. Hands up to my sister Carrie Fryberg for making this event happen. Can’t wait for next year’s event!”

Training for a better tomorrow: TERO hosts graduation ceremony

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

This past February, sixteen men and women took a chance on themselves and committed to a sixteen-week course at the Tulalip TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC). Entering the game with little to no experience, those individuals showed up every morning for five days a week to soak up as much knowledge as they could about the booming construction industry. At TVTC, their slogan is ‘Training For A Better Tomorrow’, and that day officially arrived for those sixteen students on the afternoon of May 26. 

A transformation took place at the space where the latest round of TVTC students learned numerous skills over the past few months in carpentry, cementing, plumbing, blueprint reading, and also in electrical and mechanical work. Tables were set up at the center of the TVTC building, and as soon as the clock struck 1:00 p.m., families and friends of each of the students began to pour in to show their support to their loved ones on their special day of recognition. 

“This is an amazing program,” said Teri Gobin, Tulalip Chairwoman and former TERO Director. “You all have improved your skills in all of the different trades that are offered here to help you. This is a good step. You are making a big difference in your life, your family’s lives, and especially your children’s lives. You are setting the example for the next generation by being somebody they can look up to. I’m so proud that we have so many here today that are graduating.”

TVTC is a construction-focused course, and it’s the first of its kind. To date, TVTC remains the only Native American pre-apprenticeship program in the nation. The course is offered to tribal members enrolled in any of the 574 federally recognized tribes, as well as to their parents, spouses, and children. Throughout the years, TVTC has helped hundreds of Natives find their career path, some from as far away as Alaska and Wyoming. And that’s not to mention the countless homegrown students. Out of the sixteen graduates this quarter, eleven are enrolled Tulalip tribal members.

“We are accredited through LNI. And what that does is it gives our graduates direct entry into an apprenticeship, in whatever union that they choose to go into,” explained Jerad Eastman, TVTC Site Specialist. “So, it checks a box that gives them a step up, compared to anyone coming off the street, into a union. Some of the other things that we do here is we give them OSHA-10 training, we give them First Aid/CPR and AED training, they get certified in boom lift, forklift, scissor lift, and they also get HAZWOPER-40 hours, which is like asbestos abatement and working with hazardous materials. Those are all beneficial for anyone who’s looking to get into the trades.” 

As soon as the students complete their 455 hours of coursework, they are introduced to a world full of opportunity with their newly acquired experience. According to the latest report by the U.S. Department of Labor, construction jobs are currently in high demand and are expected to grow exponentially over the next five years by an estimated 700,000 jobs. 

Many, if not all, of those available positions pay much more than the state’s minimum wage of $15.74. And a majority of those jobs are entry-level positions, so there is plenty of opportunity for TVTC students to make gains in both hands-on experience and financial health once they’ve completed their required apprenticeship hours. 

“The Native way is to take care of your people because that’s what we do, we take care of each other,” said TVTC Family Career Navigator, Lisa Telford. “Construction wages are livable wages that you can support your family on. I’ve always been interested in helping Natives enter the construction industry, mainly because it is such a good wage.”

In addition to helping their graduates get their foot in the door of the construction industry, the TVTC staff actively makes an effort to offer continued support throughout the graduate’s newfound career journey. And due to spending several hundred hours together, each class forms a unique bond with each other and the instructors. Classmates often keep in touch with one another far beyond their TVTC experience, and some even enter the same field together. 

The comradery was on full display at this quarter’s graduation ceremony. During the celebration, the students sat together at the back end of the classroom and let out enormous whoops, cheers, and applause each time their classmates received their certificate of completion. 

Said Jerad, “One of the things that we always talk about is that when you come to this program, you’re family. You gotta come back, and you gotta talk to future students. And another thing is that we’re always here to help you after this program. We’re always here to provide support, we’re always here to provide insight for them in whatever they need. At the end of the day, in the classes, we say ‘we leave together’, so we make sure no one’s leaving early. We all gotta leave together when everything’s done. We build a lot of groups here and we’re all one big family.” 

 After parting ways with their previous instructor at the end of the 2022 Fall quarter, Lisa, Jerad and TERO Client Services Coordinator Billy Burchett took on the instructor role for this group of students. 

Prior to the start of the quarter, Lisa shared, “Billy, who is a sheet metal worker and was the teacher’s assistant, is now the Client Services Coordinator of this program. And Jerad worked for Quil Ceda Village as a Project Manager, he knows a lot about blueprint reading and construction. We’re all going to do it together. I know about carpentry, Jerad knows about blueprints, Billy knows about math, plumbing, and electrical. We’re going to put it all together to make one exceptional instructor.”

After taking on that challenge, the instructors enjoyed the fruits of their labor on graduation day and shared laughter, hugs, personable daps, and happy tears with their students as they came forward to accept their certificates and gift bags.

“To me, the graduation is not really the finale because no matter what, they belong to the TERO vocational training center,” Lisa expressed. “We’re always going to be supporting you and reaching out to you. We can work as an advocate, act as a liaison, whatever we have to do to make your transition into the construction industry smooth. Throughout the whole program, I have the opportunity to watch them grow and shine. My favorite part is when they realize that they enjoy what they are doing, you can hear their laughter and see the pride on their faces. I enjoy watching them grow into that person.” 

The next TVTC course begins this September. Classes are held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a few exceptions such as days when the class travels for a job site tour or when participants take part in a hands-on experience known as an ‘apprenticeship for a day’. Please feel free to reach out to Lisa at (360) 716-4760 for additional information and an application.

And hold up! Before you fold your copy of the syəcəb or exit the Tulalip News website, we put together a short Q&A with a select few of this quarter’s TVTC graduates. Check it out below! 

Tirja Greenwell, Tulalip Parent

Tulalip News: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the program?

Tirja: Yes, absolutely. I am a tribal parent, the grandmother to my children is Benita Rosen. She knew that I was really interested in working with my hands and building things. She actually turned me onto this program about year and half ago, but that was during COVID. I finally took it this quarter and it’s a super cool program.  

Tulalip News: What were some of the skills you picked up through the course and what was your overall experience with TVTC?

Tirja: We had a crap-ton of hands-on experience, which was really cool and a lot of fun. We did personal projects, and I really grew through this program. I think one of the things that was most interesting was learning how to make blueprints.

Tulalip News: Now that you’ve completed the program, what’s next?

Tirja: I actually ended up leaving the program a couple of weeks before completion because I ended up getting a job at a small local plumbing company as a project manager. The program made a huge difference. Walking in there, and just having this this huge bag of knowledge, I was so confident, I was so prepared in that interview. After they hired me, they told me that I was one of the most impressive candidates they’ve ever seen. And I put my hands up to Lisa for that because I feel like she really harped on us to learn our strengths to help us succeed out in the real world. 

Jazlyn Gibson, Tulalip tribal member

Tulalip News: Can you share how it feels to complete the TVTC course?

Jazlyn: It was a great accomplishment for myself and my fellow students. We all accomplished getting our diplomas on top of getting our certificates for construction.

Tulalip News: Can you describe your experience with the TERO program?

Jazlyn: It was a very hands-on experience. It was great to be here and to get know everybody. And we were the first to experience the program with three different teachers who weren’t used to being teachers. And also, as students we got to learn from each other because a lot of them had some prior experience. So that definitely helped us grow and do everything we needed to do to get through the program.

Tulalip News: Why do you believe this program is beneficial for tribal members and their families?

Jazlyn:  It definitely helps get your foot in the door. You gain the necessary skills and have all these different possibilities that you can pursue so that you can get out there and be successful.

Tulalip News: Now that you completed the course, what do you plan to do next?

Jazlyn: Personally, I am looking to get into a sheet metal position or electrician. This definitely helped me figure out what I wanted to do as a career.

Erik Cruz, Colville Spouse

Tulalip News: You completed the course; how does this accomplishment feel?

Erik: It feels great! I’m not sure what I’m going to do next, but I’m definitely going into the construction field. This has been a really great traditional way to learn about the construction industry. Carpentry is my future.

Tulalip News: As a tribal spouse, why do you believe this program is beneficial to tribal members and their families?

Erik: Honestly, it’s something that people can get into early. And if young people can get into the trades early, they’ll be set for life. If you want to be rich, this is a great way to do so, it’s not the only way but it’s a good way to support yourself and your family.

Tulalip News: Do you have any advice for those interested in starting the course?

Erik: This is a pivotal program and it’s changed many people’s lives for the better. TERO is the GOAT!

Armando Vega, Tulalip tribal member

Tulalip News: What is the biggest thing you are going to take away from this TVTC experience?

Armando: All the experience and tools that I gained here – working with machinery, telehandler, boom lifts, scissor lift. And getting to know what goes together when building a tiny home, from the framing, roofing, flooring, the shingles, learning all of that was pretty cool. And also, taking in all the electrical work. They taught us about Ohm’s Law and how to wire three-way circuits. I was really good at that. They taught us about sheet metal workers and the air systems in buildings, and I was really interested in that. And I built a table here and it made me really like carpentry. It was nice to learn how to nail things with the nail gun and about what goes between wood, and how wood glue sticks good.

Tulalip News: Why do you think this program is beneficial for tribal members, other Natives, and their families?

Armando: It’s really beneficial because you learn new skills and learn more about yourself. It opens up everything – it opens your mind and opens all your options. 

Tulalip News: Now that you completed the program, what’s next?

Armando: What’s next for me is going into a union. I got three applications that I’m finishing up. I’m going to apply for carpentry, electrician, and sheet metal worker. So, I’m doing whatever one gets back at me first.

Still Alive, Not Petrified

“Gooch” Wolf Mask. Red cedar, acrylic paint, cedar bark. 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

In an era of rapid technological advancement, the art world is undergoing a profound transformation. Artists, once limited by traditional mediums, are now free to embrace modern tools and digital platforms to push the boundaries of their creative mind. 

Tulalip citizen James Madison is one such artist who isn’t simply embracing this challenge of adapting to an ever-evolving art market, he’s actually empowered by culture and tradition to forge forward and demonstrate to the next generation what’s possible. A mindset he inherited from his grandfather Frank Madison.

Self Portrait “Triptych.” 
Limited edition case bronze, carbon fiber backing, lexan base.

“I started learning how to carve at 5-years-old,” shared the now 49-year-old James in a recent episode of Hibulb Conversations. “Some of my earliest carving memories are from when I’d be dropped off at my grandma Lois and grandpa Frank’s house every day during elementary. I’d basically receive my culture teachings from them in the morning, before going to school at Whittier Elementary, then continue the culture teachings with them after school. Back then, my grandpa would carve around the kitchen table. He’d sit me down with my cousin Steven and we would watch and learn.” 

James comes from an artistic family that spans multiple generations and includes both Tulalip and Tlingit forebearers who were deeply rooted in cultural traditions and storytelling. They used a variety of tools and elements that were at their disposal at the time to preserve their culture through art. 

Whale Mask. Hand carved yellow cedar.

Today, as the world becomes increasingly interconnected and technology-driven, James and his contemporaries are finding ways to evolve their craft by blending traditional techniques with new mediums that require a functional knowledge of the latest techno wizardry. Welcome to the competitive art scene of 2023. Where true master’s of the craft must push themselves to learn exciting and innovative methods to preserve their cultural heritage like those before them.

“I always dreamt of being an artist like my grandpa and father before me,” admitted the Tulalip master carver. “There was a Haida artist named Bill Reid, who I never actually met in person, but he had a profound impact on me through his books filled with northwest coastal art and stunning sculptures that were 15 to 20-feet large. When I was young, his books were accessible to me and I’d look through them constantly; studying his technique and visualizing what I’d do if I had the ability to create things larger than life.”

Thunderbird Blackfish Panel. Hand carved red cedar, acrylic.

As his portfolio grew, so too did his public commissions; to the point that his previous childlike visions of one day creating larger than life carvings and sculptures came to fruition. James has created stunning 10, 20 and even 25-foot installations that are easily visible all across Coast Salish territory. From his home reservation (at Tulalip Resort Casino, Hibulb and the Admin Building), to Mukilteo’s Lighthouse Park, Stanwood’s Kayak Point, Arlington’s Centennial Trail, and Everett’s Evergreen Arboretum. 

Now in his first solo exhibition with Stonington Gallery, located in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood, James mastery of the latest artistic mediums is on full display. His unique cultural expression fills the gallery space and allows onlookers to explore complex themes, while immersing themselves in the awe-inspiring creations developed by a master at work. 

“I know it’ll sound kinda goofy, but I don’t look at myself as a Native artist. I look at myself as an artist,” reflected James while reviewing his latest gallery collection. “My grandpa always told me, ‘we need to not just carve things out of the books, but look to create new things to show that we’re still evolving. We’re not petrified. We’re still alive.’ That was his mantra and I’ve incorporated into my life by always pushing myself creatively to create something new. To show that we’re not petrified. We’re still alive and still evolving.”

“Eclipse” Moon Mask.
 Hard carved yellow cedar, carbon fiber.

Fittingly titled Still Alive, Not Petrified, his Stonington Gallery exhibition embodies what an artistic mind can achieve when experimenting with different techniques, collaborating across disciplines, and creating groundbreaking works that challenge conventions, while intending to inspire new ideas from the next generation of artists.

“I’ve been so enthralled by not just the level of mastery James routinely exhibits, but the sheer diversity of his mediums as well. It was his carvings and public works that really caught my eye, and why I initially contacted him over Instagram,” explained Jewelia Rosenbaum, director of Stonington. “In my 24-years with Stonington, we’ve made it a mission to spearhead the connection between this region and Coast Salish art. In 2005, we were the first to put out a wide-ranging, largescale exhibit of only Coast Salish artwork. This went hand-in-hand with our partnership with University of Washington Press to publish a book titled Contemporary Coast Salish Art.

Stonington Gallery exhibit display. 

“We are so honored to feature a James Madison solo exhibition because he truly encapsulates contemporary Coast Salish art,” she added. “From metal sculptures and glass woven panels to intricately carved cedar masks and paddles to even molded carbon fiber weaves that contrast beautifully with a carved cedar panel backdrop, he represents everything one might want when coming to the art form.”

As he continues to evolve his use of traditional storytelling through new mediums and digital tools, James is actively revitalizing the Coast Salish art scene by injecting innovation, vibrancy, and relevance into the creative process. By leveraging technological advancements to preserve and showcase his culture, he’s also bridging the gap between generations and diverse backgrounds to create a collective understanding of what it means to be alive, not petrified.

Honoring Our Heroes: TPD holds special gathering to commemorate fallen officers

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News; photos submitted by Paula Cortez, Teri Nelson, and Anita Matta

On the morning of May 17, an intimate ceremony took place at the Tulalip Dining Hall as the community, Tribal police department, and the families of William Williams Sr. and Charlie Joe Cortez gathered to pay tribute to the two fallen heroes of Tulalip. Nationwide, police departments take the time to honor and recognize those officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice and died in the line of duty every May 15th, and its corresponding week, which is officially known as Peace Officer Memorial Day and Police Week. 

Tulalip Police Department Chief of Police, Chris Sutter, shared, “Just a little history on the importance of this day – in 1962 President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designates this week of May 15th as Peace Officer Memorial Day and Police Week. That was sixty years ago. Today and this week in Washington D.C., officers from all over the country and their loved ones are having ceremonies at the [United] States Capitol.

“This year, President Joseph Biden sent out a Presidential Proclamation and in part, this what that proclamation reads: ‘Every day when law enforcement officers pin on their badges, they make an extraordinary commit to the American people. To rush towards danger, regardless of the risks, and to faithfully stand up for the rule of law. Across our neighborhoods, towns, and cities, they put themselves in harm’s way, hoping to return safely to their families. On Peace Officers Memorial Day and during Police Week, we celebrate the remarkable courage of our law enforcement community and honor the fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their fellow Americans’.” 

At the beginning of the month, the annual Washington State Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Project took place in Spokane. During the memorial project, a candlelight vigil is held for fallen officers from around the state. Each year, a select number of fallen officers are recognized during the memorial project and their names are etched into a granite wall outside of the Public Safety Building in Spokane. At this year’s remembrance, Tulalip tribal member and TPD Fisheries Patrolman, William Williams Sr.’s name was unveiled on the wall next to Charlie Joe Cortez.

On the Officer Down Memorial Page, a website dedicated to the memory of all of the fallen officers across the nation, Williams’ dedication states that he drowned while patrolling Quil Ceda Creek in July of 1965, and that he was reported missing after his boat was found unoccupied. His body was recovered along the creek in the days following, just west of the I-5 overpass in Marysville. 

TPD Fish and Wildlife Officer, Charlie Cortez’s End of Watch date was on November 17th of 2020. While on duty, and after assisting a distressed boater in rough and stormy conditions, Charlie’s fisheries vessel capsized in the Salish Sea. After a two-day search and recovery mission, Officer Cortez was pronounced lost at sea and his body has yet to be recovered and returned home to his family. 

These two brave men and Tulalip tribal members dedicated their lives to protecting their beloved tribal community. And with each passing day, their presence is missed more and more by their families and community, but their memory continues to live on through their loved ones and fellow TPD officers. Which is why gatherings such as Honoring Our Heroes event are of the utmost importance, to remember their sacrifice and their commitment to keeping the people of Tulalip safe.

Chief Sutter expressed, “I’m excited to see the community come together – this is good medicine for healing, supporting, and loving each other. We are gathered here today to show respect and remembrance for our fallen officers. This is a solemn event and we want to support each other and love each other and celebrate the lives of our two fallen heroes from Tulalip. And it’s not lost on me that they were both from the fish and wildlife patrol enforcement, and how dangerous and how quickly the waters can change. I want to acknowledge our fish and wildlife officers today and thank them for their sacrifice and service to the community along with all of our police officers.”

Following a blessing by Tribal youth drummers, the people were invited to share stories of their time spent with the fallen officers. Speakers included family members, their fellow brothers and sisters of the badge, and several Tribal leaders.  

“When I got up and spoke, I remember thinking that this was such a healing moment for the families and officers,” said Officer Cortez’s mother, Paula Cortez. “It was special. I’ve seen ceremonies like this held at other departments, and I’m just so grateful that TPD decided to do it as well.”

While recollecting on a time period during Charlie’s childhood, Paula continued, “I shared a cute story about Charlie when he was a little boy. We were driving down the road, he’d see a cop pass by and he’d say, ‘cheese man, cheese man!’. I looked at him like what are you talking about, and he’d be pointing at the policeman. I was wondering where in the world he got cheese man out of policeman. So, when we were driving down the road again one day, and I saw another cop, I said, ‘oh it’s the cheese’. That’s what it meant; they were the cheese men.”

The Tulalip Police Department plans on holding an Honoring Our Heroes event every year during Peace Officer Memorial Day and Police Week to bring healing to the community from here on out, by recognizing those two fallen officers who died in the line of duty while protecting their homelands.

“The honoring was really special to me, and it turned out really nice. It gave everybody who didn’t get to make it to the memorial services an opportunity to share some of their stories that they had together. As Charlie’s mother, I will always do anything and everything that I can to keep his memory alive.” 

25th Annual Auction raises record-breaking $595,000 in donations for the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Since the late 90’s, the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club has created a positive impact in the hearts and lives of countless young tribal members and local children as they progressed through adolescence. It is not a farfetched statement to say that the first-of-its-kind reservation-based Boys and Girls Club has helped shape many of its ‘club kids’ into the upstanding citizens and respectable adults that they are today. 

Whether it played the role of asylum for kids seeking an escape from a chaotic or busy home life, or just a place where children could hang out with friends after school, the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club has been consistently available to the youth of the community throughout the years and can always be counted on as a safe space where they can get lost in the joys of being a kid. Not only is the club a spot for endless amounts fun, but it’s a place where kids can learn a vast amount of social skills, and where many lifelong bonds and friendships are created. 

Each month is jampacked with activities and outings, and therefore provides parents and guardians peace of mind during their work day, with the assurance that their children’s time is being utilized responsibly in an entertaining and constructive manner, especially during summer and holiday school breaks. And on top of all of that, the club ensures that every kid who walks through their doors is served nutritious meals and snacks.

Servicing hundreds of kids on a daily basis is no easy feat, and when you factor in the funding that it takes to accommodate all of their necessities, it becomes all the more challenging. Thankfully, a quarter century ago the club organized a fundraising event that has become a popular tradition known as the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club ‘It’s for the Kids’ annual auction. 

May 13th marked the 25th year of the annual auction, and boy was it one for the books. Shattering records across the board, this year’s gathering had an all-time high 750 attendees show out for the kids. The formal event was held at the Tulalip Resort Casino and people arrived to the party dressed to the nines and ready to dig deep into their pockets. 

Prior to the night’s headlining festivities, a silent auction was held in the conference rooms of the resort. Row upon row of donated prizes were on display, including several Indigenous themed items such as a ribbon skirt by Morning Star Creations, as well as beaded jewelry and Native designed blankets and goods. Auction goers placed their bids through their smart phones and the winner of each item was notified via text message. 

The main attraction took place across the hall, in the Orca Ballroom, and that auction was far from silent. While attendees enjoyed a fine dining experience, complete with a surf and turf meal, as well as top shelf wine and champagne, a professional auctioneer rattled off the dollar amount placed by each bidder at a rapid pace. 

The items up for bid included numerous art pieces donated by Tulalip artists, from the creative minds of James Madison, Kelly Moses, Michelle Myles, and Martin Napeahi. Other items up for grabs were Seattle sporting event tickets and memorabilia, vacation packages for several destinations around the world, and all access passes to a handful of upcoming concerts and live events. 

Addressing the packed ballroom of donors, the It’s for the Kids Auction Chairwoman, Belinda Hegnes, shared, “Because of your generosity and your unwavering support, we are here tonight celebrating 25 years of memories. As former club kids, we all know the positive impacts of having a Boys and Girls Club in our communities. The club is a safe place to meet friends, and there is always something fun to do. We have made great progress over the past 25 years, however, meeting the basic needs of our children is still a challenge. By raising your paddles tonight, we can meet those needs and make a positive impact for our children.”

The funds generated from each auction go towards the improvement and expansion of the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club. Over the past 25 years, the club has kept up with the times in a technology forward society and has routinely upgraded their computer systems. A number of modern and advanced technologies, based on both the kids needs and interests, include a complete music studio and the new multimedia teen center. Additionally, auction funds assist with the upkeep of the club such as building repairs, remodels, and daily transportation for the kids.

Shawn Sanchey, Director of the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club and a former club kid himself, detailed the club’s current projects which are funded exclusively by auction donations. He said, “I want to share some big things we have coming up in our club. We are currently in the process of remodeling our kitchen. The goal of this project is to make it last another 15, 25 years to feed our kids every day. We feed our kids three times a day.

“Our other project we have coming up is a new security system throughout our club – new camera locations, updated technology. That’s really exciting because at Tulalip Boys and Girls Club we preach safety, it’s our number one thing. The next project we have coming up is our immersion room where the kids learn biology with technology. Last go-round we had Dr. Ballard, the man who found the Titanic, come and run this program, under the sea, with our kids. That’s a great program that we’re excited to get up and running. The last thing is we’re getting new vans. This will help transport our kids to and from practices from the club. Some of the kids might not have transportation, so we’re trying to alleviate that.”

One of the many highlights of the night was a special video presentation from Tulalip college hooper and future NBA prospect RaeQuan Battle, who shared, “Every time I play basketball and step onto the floor, I think of where it all started, and that’s the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club. The club was like my second home, it provided a safe space for me to go, it’s where I started playing a lot of basketball and really found myself.”

Altogether, the auction raised over $595,000, which is the highest amount donated throughout the 25 years of the fundraising event. And though attendees surely enjoyed the glitz and glamour of the extravagant get-together, their foremost priority remained intact,  Tulalip’s club kids, and a hope they receive amazing childhood experiences. 

  Following the successful auction night, Shawn took to Facebook to share his gratitude and expressed, “Huge thank you to everyone involved who donates, helps, and supports our kids in the community! Such a great night at our auction, our team behind the scenes does such an amazing job!”