RaeQuan leads Marysville-Pilchuck to best ever showing at State

RaeQuan Battle

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Back in early December, the much-hyped boys basketball team of Marysville-Pilchuck high school (M-P) were in the midst of early season struggles after starting their 2018-2019 campaign with a disappointing (1-3) record. Incredibly, the bumpy start has been all but forgotten as the Tomahawks responded by winning their next 19 games in a row.

Led by Tulalip tribal member RaeQuan Battle, a 6’4 shooting guard and fourth best Washington State recruit*, the Tomahawks strong finish to the regular season proved the pre-season hype was legit. Their 19-game win streak included domination over their league foes when they stampeded through the 3A District Tournament (beating Shorecrest 64-42, Stanwood 80-50 and Arlington 65-47) en route to claiming back-to-back District Championships. 

After dispatching Kelso 72-51 at Regionals, Marysville-Pilchuck earned the #4 seed for the WIAA Hardwood Classic, Washington State’s Championship Tournament. The annual tournament took place February 27 – March 2 at the Tacoma Dome.

A hard fought battle with O’Dea in their opening round resulted in a 53-63 loss, the team’s first since December 10. In that game O’Dea attempted 26 free-throws compared to just 9 attempts for M-P. RaeQuan’s stat line of 24 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks proved he did everything possible to keep his team in the game

Alec Jones-Smith

The Tomahawks had no choice but to shake off the loss quickly with a matchup against Ingraham only hours away. M-P went up 36-31 at halftime, continued to build on their lead in the 2nd half, and won 80-68. RaeQuan double-doubled in the game, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Fellow Tulalip tribal member and high school junior Alec Jones-Smith received quality minutes down the stretch while chipping in 5 points.

Fourth place was on the line when M-P took on Kelso in the waking moments of March 2. In a tightly contested matchup, the Tomahawks jumped out to an early 16-9 lead in the 1st quarter. However, Kelso battled back by running play after play through their talented 6’6 center Shaw Anderson. Having no one on the roster capable of guarding the Kelso big man straight up, M-P trailed 26-31 late in the 2nd quarter.

Aggressive, fast-faced Tomahawk basketball ensued in the 3rd and 4th quarter. RaeQuan showcased his 3-point shooting touch by knocking down five long-range buckets and managed to block Kelso’s center for a huge defensive play to fire up his squad. After going up 50-38, the boys wouldn’t look back and claimed a decisive 71-60 victory.

The 4th place finish at State marks the best ever showing for a Marysville-Pilchuck team. 

Three Tulalip tribal members on the M-P
Tomahawks team are
senior RaeQuan Battle (holding trophy), junior Alec Jones-Smith (11th from left) and junior TJ Severn (4th from left).

“I’m so proud. This is a special group,” said M-P Coach Bary Gould postgame. “They played for the love [of the game] and made history. So much of what we do hinges on RaeQuan and when he lets the game come to him, he is incredible…he’s such a difference maker. The surrounding pieces all stepped up in a big way to put us over the edge.”

“Our journey to State was a total team effort and showed our mental toughness,” added RaeQuan. During the State Tournament, when competition is at its highest, he averaged a whopping 23 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks per game while leading his team to the history books.

“I was ready and prepared to play against this level of competition thanks in part to playing on the Nike AAU circuit last spring and summer,” explained RaeQuan. The four-star recruit has committed to the University of Washington. “Hard work really does pay off. Looking forward, my goals are to keep getting stronger over the summer to prepare myself for the college level.”

A huge congratulations to the M-P team on their history-making efforts, especially their trio of Tulalip hoopers: senior RaeQuan Battle, junior Alec Jones-Smith and junior TJ Severn. 

*Source: 2019 ESPN Recruiting Database

Community learns traditional Coast Salish art during weekly ‘Honor Our Culture’ Night

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The people of Tulalip have a strong connection to their artwork. A walk through one of their many establishments, whether it be the Tulalip Resort Casino, the Hibulb Cultural Center or the Tulalip Administration building, you are sure to be blown away by the Coast Salish masterpieces that are proudly on display. Such art includes masks, story poles, drums, and art prints, all of which depict stories about the rich history and traditional lifeways of the Tulalip people. 

Recently, the Don Hatch Youth Center began incorporating more artwork throughout their hallways. Upon entry to the center, you are now greeted by a totem pole that stands at the center of the lobby, and if by chance you glance up, you will notice traditional paintings of a variety of animals lining the ceiling. If you’re lucky enough to find some free time around 5:00 p.m. on a Tuesday, you can learn how to create traditional Salish art at the youth center by attending their weekly Honor Our Culture Night. 

Lushootseed language instructor, Celum Hatch discusses the three shapes that comprise most of the art of the Pacific Northwest tribes; the circle, the crescent and the trigon.

On the evening of February 26, a group of fifteen young adults rushed up to the second floor of the youth center. As the kids settled in and found their seats, they were given blank sheets of paper and pencils to practice three shapes that comprise most, if not all, art of the Pacific Northwest tribes; the circle, the crescent and the trigon. As the students worked on the shapes, Lushootseed Language Instructor Celum Hatch shared the Tulalip story, The Bear and the Ant, incorporating the traditional language into the lesson plan. After drawing a few designs and listening Celum’s story, several kids left the room to participate in other activities at the center while a handful of students stayed behind to perfect their artwork. 

“This was my first time coming to Culture Night,” expressed young participant, Susan O’Day. “We drew animals and shapes today. I drew an owl with lots of detail using the crescent, circle and trigons. I want to come to more Culture Nights because I had a lot of fun learning about the art.”

Honor Our Culture Night focuses on the vast elements of Coast Salish art while simultaneously explaining the history of each project. Currently, Culture Night is in the middle of a three-part drawing series that was actually inspired by the youth who requested the class in order to explore their heritage. 

Susan O’Day working on her design.

“It’s a program that brings the community together, people of all ages from youth to elders,” explains Youth Services Activity Specialist, Rachel Steeve. “We do different activities; we’ve done a few drum making classes where we also painted them, we’ve done cedar weaving, beadwork like necklaces and we did moccasins last year. I ask the community what they want to do and I’m always surprised by the answers, it’s always something different. I didn’t realize there were so many cultural activities and crafts. A lot of times people are making their art for the first time. And with our traditions and our teachings, your first project is the one you put the most love and work into and then you gift it away. It’s nice to see their relatives wearing and showing it off, being so proud of that work.”

For the past three years, the night of traditional art has been organized by Rachel who watched the class evolve since it originally debuted in 2013. Not only has participation grown from the youth within the center, word has spread throughout the community and adults and elders now often frequent the upstairs classroom to learn more about the artwork. Many students are also young Tulalip tribal members who live off the reservation as well as Wellness Court participants who are fulfilling their cultural hours required by the court. 

“My absolute favorite thing I get to see is the elder and youth classes,” says Rachel. “We do specific activities for the elders and youth, like our past drum making class. It’s nice to see them together. The kids just listen, they slow down for a minute and take in everything the elders have to say. I’m always surprised by the people who are interested in the classes, those who we don’t necessarily get a chance to see at the cultural events here, they come and are so enthusiastic and want to learn. Or, they already know and they want to help and assist others. I think it gives them a sense of happiness and pride of their knowledge, that they’re able to pass that down to other people.”

Loretta Frye has fun learning about Pacific Northwest art styles.

The students get to keep their finished projects which in turn can lead to further cultural enrichment, allowing the artists to use their work at traditional ceremonies. For instance, past Culture Night participants have used their handmade drums at local events including several coastal jams and drum circles. Rachel states that seeing the art being used in the community, as it was originally intended centuries ago, is a great way to connect the future generations with their ancestors. 

“Our goal for the spring is to get a regalia class going so we can make regalia for the Salmon Ceremony and Canoe Journey. We have a drum class here every Friday and they just jam out, a group of boys come every week. We’ve also had a couple drums that we made and donated to the Native liaisons at the schools. At MMS (Marysville Middle School), Saundra Yon-Wagner, the Youth Services Native Liaison, has two drums that we made during these classes and the kids fight over who gets to use them every day, because during lunch they have a daily drum session. It’s nice to see that they’re actually being used enthusiastically.”

 Ask any Coast Salish artist, carver or storyteller, there is a great deal of spiritual work that goes into constructing these projects. Youth Services wants to continue to produce items where the people can experience that medicine and continue to pass down that knowledge generation after generation. 

“There’s a lot of importance in carrying on these cultural activities,” Rachel states. “As years go on, we get busy and we either forget or push back our teachings. Our community needs programs like these because whether it’s a community or personal issue, everybody needs a little healing and working with your hands is healing. I want to extend our hands out from Youth Services and welcome and invite everyone. I ask that people invite their family, don’t just come yourself. Bring your cousin, your uncle, your auntie and bring an elder who doesn’t have the means to get down here or needs a little extra company.”

Honor Our Culture Night is held every Tuesday at the Don Hatch Youth Center from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. For more information, please contact the Youth Center at (360) 716-4909.

Heritage Hawks take care of business at Tri-Districts, move on to Regionals

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

After an impressive regular season showing, the Tulalip Heritage Hawks took 2nd at the 1B District Tournament. Now, with an (18-3) overall record, the boys earned the right to host an opening round game of the Tri-District Tournament.

On Thursday, February 14, Tulalip hosted the Mustangs of Rainier Christian at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium. It was a sluggish start for the home team, as the Hawks fell behind 0-8 in the early going. Coach Cyrus “Bubba” Fryberg called a 1st quarter timeout to fire up his team and they responded in a big way. Led by guards Leno Vela and Paul Shay Jr., Tulalip righted the ship and went on an impressive 29-10 scoring run to take a 29-18 lead midway through the 2nd quarter.

With the defense clamping down and forcing turnovers left and right, Heritage was able to transition into their fast-break offense and score easy buckets. Being at the Tri-District stage, every team was more than capable of game changing scoring barrages to shift momentum. Early in the 3rd quarter the boys took a 42-29 lead only to watch it slowly fade away. Rainier Christian didn’t buckle and starting knocking down contested shots. What was once a 13 point lead was whittled to only 4 points, 46-42, with two minutes to go in the 3rd. 

In a pressure filled situation, in front of a raucous home crowd, the boys responded yet again. Shay, Jr. caught fire from long range to hit three consecutive 3-pointers, while Alonzo Jones was attacking the rim and finishing multiple acrobatic shots. A 27-11 run gave the Hawks a 20 point lead, up 73-53, with only four minutes remaining. The big lead allowed Coach Bubba to sub in his bench and let the team’s youngsters get a taste of the Tri-District playoffs.

Tulalip won 84-65. The team was led by Shay, Jr.’s game-high 20 points, while Alonzo and Isaac Comenote scored 17 points each.

“Our defense sparked on our offense in both halves,” reflected Coach Fryberg postgame. “Sometimes we get too comfortable shooting 3-point shots when we could be driving more and feeding our post players. When we force turnovers and are playing aggressive defense it carries over and allows us to be aggressive and attack the basket, like we did in the second half.”

Due to the snow days and resulting school district closures, Tulalip didn’t get any days rest like the Tri-District Tournament usually calls for. Instead, they hit the road the very next day and travelled to Port Angeles for a highly anticipated matchup with Neah Bay. 

The Hawks offensive momentum carried over from the day before, as they took a 15-13 lead after the 1st quarter. But everything changed in the 2nd quarter. One foul call after another quickly mounted and threw Heritage off their game. They only managed to score 6 points in the quarter and trailed 21-26 at halftime. 

In the 2nd half, Tulalip bounced back early. Alonzo Jones and Josh Iukes combined to score 13 of the team’s 17 points in the 3rd quarter. They held their team afloat but still trailed 38-45 going into the final quarter. Neah Bay took complete control in the 4th, while Tulalip struggled again to put up an offensive fight. The Hawks were outscored 6-21 in the game’s final minutes, resulting in a 44-66 loss. The 44 points marked a season-low in scoring for the Hawks. 

The loss to Neah Bay pitted Tulalip in a high-stakes matchup with league foe Cedar Park Christian in a 3rd round Tri-District game. A high seeding and berth in Regionals was at stake. The game took place Saturday, February 16 in Mount Vernon. 

Knowing the stakes and having confidence from beating Cedar Park decisively three times this season already, the Heritage Hawks (19-4) steamrolled for big time victory in front of a large Tulalip crowd that made the journey to cheer them on.

In the 1st quarter, Heritage jumped out to a 15-4 advantage thanks in part to a patient offense that probed Cedar Park’s zone defense. The patience led to uncontested jumpers from the outside or easy buckets at the rim. Leading by 11 points at the halftime, Tulalip hosed Cedar Park in the 3rd quarter by holding their opponent to a measly 2 points. Meanwhile, Paul Shay, Jr. once again caught fire from deep and made three triples to push his team’s advantage to 51-20. 

With a comfortable lead, Coach Bubba was able to get his bench players some run in the 4th quarter en route to a 61-31 blowout victory. Tulalip was led by Shay, Jr.’s game high 16 points, while Alonzo Jones scored 15 and Rodney Barber added 14.

“My team’s season is going great so far,” said senior guard Shay, Jr. following the win. “In the middle of the regular season we did struggle a bit with our mindset by letting little stuff get us down, but now that playoffs are here we’ve been playing really well again. We took a tough loss to [Neah Bay] that has us more than ready to chase a State title. We’ve come together as a team and a family. The mindset of us seniors is getting back to State and winning it all this time!”

The quality showing at Tri-Districts has boosted the Hawks to the #4 spot for all 1B schools in the state, according to the WIAA rankings. Next up, the Hawks will matchup with fellow tribal school Muckleshoot in a Saturday showdown at Jackson High School in Mill Creek.

Tribal nations summit in DC included Tulalip voice

 

By Micheal Rios. Tulalip News; photos courtesy of Theresa Sheldon

From February 11-14, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) hosted a tribal nations policy summit in Washington, DC. Many Native citizens with political know-how and an unyielding desire to see progressive change sweep this country for the better were in attendance. Two former Board of Directors, Theresa Sheldon and Deborah Parker, were present at the tribal summit representing forward-thinking advocacy and the Tulalip voice.

“I started traveling to DC when I was 26-years-old for our Tribe,” reflected Theresa. “I never tire of the possibilities that are there. The ability to educate someone of influence on our treaty rights, the need to fully fund Indian Country as it should be, and to change laws/policies to support our communities. 

“A lot of times we share our own personal stories to explain how the federal government is not living up to their trust responsibility. It can be mentally exhausting having to fight an establishment that wasn’t created to support our way of life. It can be uncomfortable speaking to people who cannot relate to us as Indigenous peoples who have inherent rights. It can feel demeaning and embarrassing, but we never surrender.”

A definite highlight of this year’s annual NCAI winter executive session was the excitement and hope spurred on by the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Democratic representatives Deb Haaland of New Mexico and Sharice Davids of Kansas attended the tribal summit and shared their political experiences to date, while making time to take photos galore and chat with their Native constituents. 

“For every picture you see of a U.S. Senator or U.S. Congressperson with a Tribal leader, it means something,” explains Theresa. “It means that we are documenting their words with us. That we are keeping proof of their support and holding them accountable. We are documenting our issues with them and showing the world that this Congressional member is going to follow through. If they do not live up to their word, we have proof of it. This may seem silly, but it’s absolutely necessary.”

Theresa and Deborah, a pair of Tulalip tribal members, made the most of their week on Capitol Hill navigating the current political structure while broadening their network of influence. They attended several tribal policy breakout sessions, an Emily’s List event, had countless conversations with Congressional representatives and tribal leaders from all over the country, and made time to attend the 24th Annual National Indian Women’s “Supporting Each Other” Honoring Lunch. 

“Indian Country’s progress should be a lot farther than we currently are, but without the tireless advocates who travel to D.C., we would be completely invisible,” shared Theresa on the importance of having tribal representation present and engaged in the nation’s capital. “I’m thankful to have grown up in the Northwest where we support each other, mentor each other, advocate together, and uplift each other. 

“We have no time or space for competition, jealousy, and animosity,” she continued. “There is so much work to do that we can all shine brightly and there will still be work to do. I’m thankful for the teachings and thankful for the knowledge to be able to arrange Hill visits, find my way in D.C., and believe in the words that need to be shared in the offices of Congress. We are here and we will continue to aspire for good!”

Tulalip wrestlers put on a show at Novice Championship

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Of the many sports children can participate in, wrestling is perhaps the most misrepresented, misunderstood, and underrated. Each year hundreds of thousands of kids participate in this non-violent combat sport, yet the average person knows as much about wrestling as they might know about rugby or polo.

“Wrestling is perhaps the purest form of athletic competition to exist in the realm of organized sports,” explained Young Champions President Bill Campbell. “There are no bats or balls, or pucks or sticks. No pads or helmets or jerseys. There’s no time to rethink strategy, regroup, or even to catch your breath. There’s only you, and your opponent of equal weight and size. Experience, preparation and the will to succeed will determine the victor. There’s no doubt about it, wrestling tops the list of intense, highly competitive sports.”

Put that way, it’s no wonder why there is a multi-generational connection of Tulalip athletes who are coming up in the sport and finding serious athletic achievement and personal growth, on and off the mat. Coached by Tulalip tribal members and former wrestling standouts, Sam Davis and Tony Hatch, the Marysville Tomahawks wrestling program has amassed quite the youth following. They have wrestlers of all ages, skill level, and quite a few girls who prove wrestling isn’t just for the boys.

There are additional youth tribal members who are making quite the name for themselves while wrestling under the Punisher wrestling banner, located in Arlington. Regardless of team camp, the aspiring athletes are learning invaluable lessons such as self-discipline, hard work, skill building, and an inner strength that’s only developed over countless hours of practice. Plus, there are many social skills and benefits that come naturally for athletes who learn what it means at an early age to be part of a team. 

“To us, Marysville Tomahawk wrestling is our family,” shared Katie Lancaster-Jones, mother of two Tulalip wrestlers, Milo and Cole. “We started seven years ago when Milo was six-years-old and Cole was only four. They started with Tony Hatch and his family. Now, we work with coaches Sam Davis and Brandon Davis. From the coaches, athletes and families we are all here to help the youth move forward in life, not just the sport. 

“We motivate our wrestlers to keep their grades up, respect one another, and to stay healthy by being active,” continued Katie. “The team is here to teach and to learn from. Wrestling is a life style. There’s a lot of coordinating, planning, and fundraising that requires commitment by our athletes and their families. The team gives them a place to go; gives them goals to work toward. It’s all about our future generations learning how to handle tough moments on and off the mats.”

A large group of local wrestlers were invited to participate in the WWKWL 2019 Novice Championship, which took place on January 27 at Kirkland Middle School. The novice designation means only wrestlers within their first two years of competition. 

In front of family, friends, and hundreds of onlookers, the novice wrestlers competed in an all-day, round-robin style tournament. Win or lose, the collection of wrestlers demonstrated strong grappling maneuvers and a variety of defensive techniques. Several of the kids’ wrestling prowess stood-out even in a gym where eight matches were going on at any given time. 

One such wrestler was 8-year-old Julie Blevins. Representing Tomahawk wrestling, Julie’s limber frame and quickness caught spectator attention as she went heads-up with the boys. She held her own in every match, not allowing herself to be pinned nor giving up any points easy to her male counterparts, and came away victorious in the hearts of her adoring fans.

“She found wrestling naturally because her dad (Jason) wrestled for coaches Sam and Tony back in his wrestling days. Now, he coaches for the Tomahawks program,” said Julie’s mom, Victoria Blevins. “It’s been so awesome watching Julie grow as an athlete. When she first started she was really scared and tentative, but now she pushes through even if she gets hurt or competes against boys tougher than her. Going up against the boys, Julie relies on technique more and that’s given her opportunities to learn some go-to moves. Her confidence has soared since she has learned she’s capable of picking up her opponent and slamming them for a pin.”

Wrestling, like any sport, has its share of phenoms; those that make excellence look like ease. Five-year-old, Tulalip tribal member Julian Lawrence is such a phenom. This year alone he has accomplished quite a bit, taking 1st place in several tournaments held in Spokane and Oregon. In fact, the day before the Novice Championship, Julian competed in another tournament and entered in two separate brackets. He dominated both and took home two 1st place medals for his efforts.

The dazzling five-year-old put on a show in front of community members who couldn’t help but gravitate to whatever mat he was competing on. Pin after pin, Julian overpowered his opponents en route to being crowned a novice champion and earning yet another 1st place medal.

“As parents, we couldn’t be any more proud of our son. Watching him grow stronger, faster and smarter…pushing himself to be the best that he can be…he has so much passion and heart for the sport,” beamed his mother Honeykwa Lawrence. “We are very proud of his sportsmanship, win or lose. Julian has grown into a polite, respectful little boy on and off the mat.

“He has grown so much within these past few months since joining team Punisher. He is constantly learning new things and he soaks it all up like a sponge,” continued Honeykwa. “After this tournament, Julian’s record is currently 50-4, so 50 wins and only 4 losses. We are looking forward to State coming up next weekend. We have high hopes for him and think he will take State title!”



Out of the local Tulalip/Marysville competitors, quite a few wrestled into a high placing or earned a 1st place medal at the Novice Championship. Julian Lawrence, Donte Luong and Conner Juvinel all took home top honors for their brackets. Karter Wright took 2nd place, Troy Blevins took 3rd, and his brother Jason Blevins took 4th. 

For any parents who are interested in getting their kids participating in youth wrestling, feel free to connect with Marysville Tomahawk Wrestling through their Facebook page or email Marysvilletomahawkwrestling@gmail.com

King tides and the impacts of rising sea levels

Crowd gathered at Flintstone Park in Oak Harbor to view the king tide.

By Kalvin Valdillez; photos by Kalvin Valdillez and Ben Lubbers

Bright and early on the morning of January 25, a gathering of about thirty people met at Flintstone Park in Oak Harbor. Similar to Tulalip Bay, the waters of the Salish Sea travel into the inlet of Whidbey Island, providing a scenic view for the citizens of Island County. This morning in particular was gorgeous. While the sun emerged into the sky, fog slowly ascended from the water that was now approaching the paved boardwalk of the park. This was the event the locals came to witness, a king tide. 

On the night of January 20, you may have caught a glimpse of the super blood wolf moon as the sun, earth and moon aligned perfectly. This rare lunar eclipse is also known as syzygy and causes a stronger gravitational pull and therefore, higher tides. At an estimated thirteen feet, the tide was highest at 8:28 a.m. in Oak Harbor that Friday morning. The long stretch of sand, rocks and driftwood that makes up the beach of Flintstone Park appeared to have vanished as large waves splashed against the coast. 

“King tide is not a scientific term, it simply means higher than our normal everyday tides,” explained Bridget Trosin, of Washington Sea Grant, to the crowd. “In this area, we get king tides usually in November, December, January and February. One of the situations where we get a king tide is at a perigee tide. Basically that is when we orbit the sun and as the moon passes in that close section we get higher than high tides. As the moon is hugging the earth in its orbit, it’s bulging out our ocean waters. 

“The other situation is when we have a nice alignment of the sun, earth and moon, that’s where we see a nice king tide from the pull from the sun and the pull from the moon as they’re compounding upon each other. And another event happens only on January 2. That’s as Earth is orbiting around the sun, we’re closer and that creates pull from the sun and makes our tides a little larger than normal. Any one of those situations can happen at the same time and each one gives the tide a directional pull.”

Now that the Oak Harborites acquired both a better understanding as well as a live visual of a king tide, Bridget requested that each member of the group download an app to their phones called MyCoast. The purpose of the app is to measure king tides at local shores by using user submitted photos. She then stressed that king tides are an important occurrence and the need to monitor them is crucial because they give us a glimpse into the future of what normal, or perhaps even low tides, might look like in a few decades due to sea-level rise.

Rising sea-level is a complex topic that will in time impact the entire planet. Many major cities across the world will experience severe flooding and in some extreme cases will be underwater completely. Because sea-level rise is so dynamic and there are several factors in play, it’s hard to determine exactly when specific areas will begin to see major impacts. However, the general consensus appears to be that sea-level will continue to rise at about its current rate until the middle of this century and then will actually accelerate at even a faster pace after that.

So what causes sea-level rise exactly and why should you be concerned? Since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800’s, the Earth has been heating up due to the 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 large contributing factor to sea-level rise is the melting ice caps and ice sheets happening in both Greenland and Antarctica. 

“Sea-level has risen eight or nine inches in the last hundred years and it’s accelerating,” says Phillip North, Tulalip Natural Resources Conservation Scientist. “Since global warming is happening faster than we expected, that means 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. It does seem that anytime anyone has ever said something like that, it’s happened sooner than expected and more than expected. We are already seeing it.”

Shortly after the King Tides event in Oak Harbor, and we’re talking merely a few hours, reports from major news sources were released. Alerts from the New York Times, BBC News and CNN began to pop-up onto people’s smartphones claiming that Greenland’s ice caps are indeed melting at an even much faster pace than predicted by scientists, environmentalist and conservationists. 

The news was shocking to say the least and sent social media into a bit of a frenzy. The reports show ice caps in Greenland’s southwest region have been melting at least four times faster in the past decade than they have over previous centuries. Due to the combination of global warming paired with oscillation, a weather phenomenon that affects air temperature, Greenland’s ice caps are not only breaking off into large icebergs, which over time melts into the ocean, but are also beginning to thaw at the top of the glaciers which is causing ‘rivers’ of meltwater to pour into the ocean, and is subsequently melting more ice as it travels down the glaciers. Cities along the east coast of the United States will be the first to be affected and will see significant sea-level rise and are also now susceptible to more hurricanes. 

Northwest tribal nations have been anticipating a rise in water for at least a few generations now. As coastal communities, Salish tribes are one the first to feel and witness the effects of sea-level rise. As you may recall, the Quinault tribe is currently in the early process of relocating both of their entire villages of Taholah and Queets because rising sea-level and high tides have already begun to flood the communities.

 As sea-level rises, it has the potential to change entire landscapes. In a report released in the summer of 2018, the Projected Sea Level Rise for Washington State, evidence shows that because of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, many Puget Sound communities are currently sinking while Neah Bay’s land is actually rising. 

In addition to inundation and landform change, another huge impact sea-level rise will have on tribal communities is habitat loss, reducing marshes, mudflats and intertidal habitats. Habitat loss can cause significant changes to the food chain and as Phillip explains, this happens due to the erosion of coastlines. 

Mission Beach, Tulalip.

“One thing we are studying in Tulalip is our outer coast,” he states. “Because as sea-level rises, a couple things will happen. One, the water will be at base more often and it’s the water at the base of the bluff that erodes the bluff more than anything else. But also because it will be higher than the storms that are coming in. When storms come in, you have the distance over open water that the winds are blowing, the greater the distance the bigger the waves. But also the deeper the water, the less those waves are dragging on the bottom of the ocean floor and losing energy. So the deeper the water is, those bigger waves will come further in and hit the bluff more often. So you end up with faster erosion. As it erodes faster, that means that all the material is coming down faster. 

“That material is what makes up the intertidal habitat. So how will the system deal with that, that’s another important question. That’s where all the clam beds, juvenile crab are and that’s where all the juvenile salmon and forage fish hang out. The dynamics of the energy of the waves on the beach sorts all that material, so you end up with patches of fine sand and gravel. All of those different patches are different type of habitat, so if you change the energy on the beach, those things all change. Those changes of energy change the habitat. Most of the detrital food chain are not eating the grass and seaweed directly but they’re eating it when it dies and starts to decay – that’s the base of a food chain. The way the detrital material gets distributed changes the habitat for juvenile crab, juvenile salmon, forage fish and all those organisms that live in those areas.” 

Unfortunately, sea-level rise is inevitable. Yes, you read that correctly. In time, which is proving to be closer than we thought, all of the ice caps will melt and the world’s water to land ration will increase. How much it will increase and when is still yet to be determined but if the recent news of Greenland’s ice caps are any indication, scientists are predicting by the year 2100, cities around the globe can see anywhere from three to ten feet of sea-level rise. And although the east coast will probably see the effects on a larger scale, the entire west coast along the Cascadia subduction zone could be pushed back, making many current coastal cities uninhabitable. Researchers are hoping communities can look at these statistics and estimations to plan for relocation if need be and to prepare for a series of natural disasters such as extreme floods, storms and hurricanes that could result from sea-level rise. 

“Get involved in your communities,” urges Bridget. “Let your planning commissioner know that this is something that you are concerned about, this is something we need to get on board with and make a priority. This is something that is extremely important to the resilience of your community.”

Please visit www.WAcoastalnetwork.com to view the most recent reports and projections of sea-level rise in Washington. And be sure to check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sea-Level Rise Viewer at www.coast.noaa.gov/slr/ to see how sea-level rise, of up to ten feet, can impact your communities, as well as for additional information.  

2 Wheels, 1 Engine, No Limits: Melissa Hammons thrives in arenacross racing

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

High-revving engines, roaring exhausts, and non-stop adrenaline rushes…that’s the atmosphere of amateur arenacross racing. Think of it as action packed motocross, but taking place indoors. Within the non-stop, dirt bike racing scene is 15-year-old Tulalip tribal member Melissa Hammons is seeking glory on a dirt battlefield. 

“Racing arenacross is my passion, it’s what I love to do most of all,” declared the fierce teenager who has been riding dirt bikes and quads since she was just 5-years-old. “The sport of arenacross has changed my life because when I’m racing I feel free, nothing else matters.”

Arenacross races take place in sports stadiums and arenas all over the globe. They are run over man-made terrain courses with hills, jumps and tight turns. The scaled-down version of motocross features shorter, more technical temporary tracks and often attract large crowds. Recognized as one of the most strenuous sports in the world, it’s also one of the most fun. 

What draws a female like Melissa to a sport so physically demanding and potentially dangerous? For her it’s the excitement, the thrill of riding on the edge, of performing to peak potential and above all else beating other racers to the checkered flag.

“What matters most to me is getting that 1st place trophy,” explained Melissa. “This past racing season was my fourth on the amateur circuit and best season I’ve ever had. Sure, I had my share of crashes and DNF’s this season, but I’ve also placed in the top three a bunch. For me, taking 1st place twice this season in my women’s 16+ class and 1st once in my Lites class with boys is what I’m most proud of.”

That’s right, not only does the 15-year-old rider compete in higher age women divisions, she also regularly races with the boys…and wins.

“My girl is a badass!” boasted Melissa’s mom, Sara Hart. “She dominates the track even when competing against guys. As a mom, I still get nervous every time before she races with the men, but once she’s out there I have full confidence in her abilities.” 

What was once just raw ability and a fierce competitive spirit during her early racing days has since been honed in and given a laser-like focus based on countless hours spent practicing with racing coach Eric Waunch of E.W. MX School.

“I’ve been working with Melissa for about a year now, and she’s really put in the time and effort into making herself a better rider,” reflected coach Eric, a former long-time motocross pro. “Her commitment and willingness to always push her abilities to new limits is really a joy to coach and fun to work with. With Melissa, keeping her focus on the technical side of riding is most important. She’s so fast and fearless, but when she adds precision and controlled aggression to the mix her racing goes to a whole new level.”

This past season, Melissa has been placing (finishing top 3) regularly and adding to her countless bounty of racing trophies. She admitted that when she first started racing against the boys it was added motivation to win, but now that her skills have grown so much it no longer matters who or what age she is competing against. Also, it helps that she has a mighty large contingent of fans who follow her from race to race and are always cheering for her, win or lose.

“I am forever thankful for my support of family and friends, especially to my grandpa Don ‘Wheatie’ Carpenter who has always been my number one supporter,” shared Melissa. “If it wasn’t for my coach Eric, I wouldn’t be achieving the things that I am right now. I’ve learned you can’t just race and expect to go somewhere; you need to put in the time, work, and effort even if that’s blood, sweat and tears.”

Her skills were on full display on January 19 when she competed in WHR’s Northwest Arenacross Nationals that took place in Monroe. In front of family, friends, and numerous spectators, Melissa showcased her riding expertise while competing in two divisions: women’s 16+ and against the boys in Lites. 

Blazing around the track on her 250cc Honda 4-stroke, Melissa wowed the dirt bike enthusiasts in attendance with a level of speed and aggression she is known for. After a series of practices and qualifying races, the four-lap Final races were a go. Against the women, Melissa finished 2nd overall. In her race against the boys, when the checkered flag flew, she took 1st to the delight of her fans and family.

“Racing in a male-dominated sport and succeeding like she does proves she is a confident, strong and independent young woman,” said Melissa’s grandmother, Lena Hammons following the 1st place showing. “Her aggressiveness in the races says she will not settle for less in her life. Melissa is an amazing role model and her family is so proud of her.”

Looking to the future, the multi-trophy winning dirt bike rider has set her sight on bigger ambitions already. She wants to accomplish what many have been unable to do, become a professional motocross rider. 

“A female rider going pro, yeah a lot of people don’t see it,” admitted Melissa when pondering her future in the sport. “But all I know is I’m going to work hard and keep bettering my skills until it happens. Just wait, I’ll be 16 soon and have a driver’s license. Then I can really accomplish even more while chasing my dreams.”

Steven Madison is teaching traditional carving, and it’s cultural importance

Steven Madison (left) helps a student learn carving techniques.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The pleasant smell of freshly cut cedar floated out of classroom 2 of the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) on the afternoon of January 19, as a group of ten local citizens gathered for the center’s first Intro to Carving class. The museum enlisted longtime HCC collaborator and Tulalip Master Carver, Steven Madison, to teach the two-part culture series. Wood shavings fell to the floor while the group worked, constructing small projects and exchanging stories and laughter. 

Each participant was challenged to learn the art of carving in an expedited fashion, picking up new tips and tricks throughout the two, three-hour courses. As Steven bounced about the room, personally assisting each student with their carvings, he introduced them to an assortment of tools such as the drawknife, a two-handed blade used to shape wood, and emphasized technique for safety reasons, constantly reminding the class to pay attention when sculpting their pieces. During the class, Steven carefully used a bandsaw to cut a whale design out of a block of cedar for one of his students.

One young lady needed assistance with an adze, a large axe-like tool with a sharp blade used for cutting and smoothing out large pieces of wood. He took a seat next to the student and placed a large slab of cedar on his knee, picked up the tool before advising with a chuckle, ‘don’t do this on your leg’ and began hacking with the adze as strands of wood flew all around him. All eyes appeared to be fixated on the master carver as he gave them a step-by-step tutorial on using the traditional tool. 

“This all started with me simply wanting to teach people how to use the adze,” Steven recalls. “I did a carving demonstration here last year at the [HCC annual Salmon Bake Fundraiser]. During that demonstration, a lot of people were interested and asked their questions about my technique and the history, so I end up teaching them a lot about carving that day. After that, we decided we might as well do the carving class.

“This actually had a pretty good turnout. I really didn’t know how I was going to approach this series,” he admits. “Two, three-hour classes aren’t really enough time to get into depth with carving. So what I did with this class is I told them to go online and find a project they wanted to make, and let them know that we’re going to go all in, hands-on. Each of them chose a design; a salmon, the Tulalip whale, one girl is creating a carving with mountains and tress, like you’d see on a cedar basket. We just start carving wood and they’ve been learning as we go.”

The traditional art of carving has been passed down generation after generation. Amongst Coast Salish tribal communities, carving was important to the cultural lifeways of our people. The ancestors carved items for both ceremonial purposes and everyday use, sculpting canoes, paddles, rattles, masks, totem poles and even longhouses out of the spiritual cedar tree. 

“I’ve always been interested in carving,” expressed young tribal member Khianna Calica. “With that being said, I had no idea where to start or how to get involved. I’ve come to other [HCC] events and when I saw this workshop on the events list, it was perfect timing. Prior to this, I have never touched any carving tools and with the two classes I feel more comfortable with the execution. I came to the workshop today because I think that events at the cultural center are a phenomenal way to preserve the old medicine and the traditional arts and craft. We have to participate. If the knowledge keepers are willing to be here, people need to show up. I found it really important for me to show up and invite these traditions in my life, it’s so healing.”

Steven believes this series is an ideal way for beginning carvers to get familiar with the tools and technique. His partnership with the museum extends throughout the course of this year, hosting another Intro to Carving class before starting an in-depth six-week course in the late summer where students will craft paddles and spindle whorls. 

“The reason we’re doing this is really because we want to keep this alive forever,” states Steven. “That’s why it’s always so good to see the younger generations learning. A lot of kids want to learn but don’t necessarily have the patience for it. I’m one of few people who learned from my grandfather [Frank Madison] and Bernie Gobin. There’s a lot of great carvers, but those are the ones I learned from. There are so few of us left who know the technique of the old ways and the reason why we carve. You can go to anybody to learn how to carve a totem pole, it’s not rocket science, but the reason we do it is because each carving has a point and there’s a story to each one. 

“Carving is so important to our people. It was almost gone before [William] Shelton carved his story poles at a time when they were prosecuting people for carving and practicing traditions. Carving was passed down from my grandfather to my uncle to me and now I’m teaching that to the upcoming generations who want to learn.”

For further details about the Intro to Carving classes, please contact the museum at (360) 716-2600.

Our treaties are the last line of defense

Tulalip Tribes educates community on Treaty Rights

Indigenous women were at the forefront of Seattle’s Women’s March on January 21, 2017. Photo by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

If you’re an avid Instagram user, and let’s face it most of us are, chances are you’ve stumbled across somebody’s profile that is filled with gorgeous photos of mountain ranges, waterfalls, beaches and tall evergreens. Every day, more and more people are exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest, hiking hidden trails in search of breathtaking views and secret camping grounds. 

A 2016 study, conducted by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, reported that outdoor recreation generated over twenty billion dollars in this state alone. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, outdoor recreation is a three-hundred-billion-dollar industry and is continuing to grow exponentially. And while it’s important to disconnect, inhale fresh air, enjoy scenery and experience the great outdoors, it’s equally important to remember that this land is sacred and has strong spiritual ties to the original caretakers of this region, who have lived off its resources since time immemorial.  

Let’s use the power of imagination to travel back about two-hundred years or so. You’re a young Coast Salish hunter who has been tasked to provide food for your family and village. After many years of cultural teachings, you’re finally ready to head into the woods to get your first elk.

 While you’re trekking up to the mountains, you recall all of the stories about elk roaming about in abundance in an area your family has hunted for generations. But you arrive only to see that there are hundreds of people hanging out, sleeping beneath the stars and enjoying themselves in a not-so-quiet manner. Because of all the people and constant foot traffic, there isn’t an elk in sight. So, you decide to try nearby areas to see if the elk have migrated, but instead you’re met with more people. Now you face the dilemma of providing another source of sustenance for your people, who depend on that meat for the upcoming winter months. 

Although crowded hunting grounds weren’t an issue two hundred years ago, you can see how big of an impact it would’ve had on tribal villages. When the Coast Salish people signed their treaty one hundred and sixty-four years ago, they kept the right to hunt and harvest on the same lands their ancestors had since the beginning of time.

Fast forward to the summer of 2018. A story was released by a popular local radio broadcast, KUOW, with the headline reading, ‘Seattle Hikers: You may be trampling on tribal treaty rights.’ Within the article, Tulalip Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Director, Jason Gobin, shared a similar story but in modern time, claiming that many outdoor adventurers are showing a total disregard to the tribe’s ancestral lands. He expressed that due to over congestion, the areas for tribal members to conduct their spiritual work, whether it be hunting, gathering cedar or harvesting huckleberries, has decreased substantially since the signing of the Point Elliot Treaty of 1855. 

The story spread like wildfire across Facebook and Twitter as people shared the link, voicing both their support and concern. Over the course of a few months, the article inspired several outdoor recreational organizations and non-profit conservation groups to reach out to the tribe in an effort to learn more about tribal sovereignty. Because of the inquires, the Tulalip Natural Resources department hosted a daylong event for local non-governmental organizations to learn about treaty rights and the history of the Tulalip Tribes.

On the morning of January 9, around thirty individuals from recreational and conservation groups gathered at the Hibulb Cultural Center to begin the day with a tour of the museum. While having fun with the interactive displays, the group gained a basic understanding of tribal lifeways.

“It was a very powerful cultural exhibit, I learned so much I didn’t know before,” expressed Erika Lundahl of the outdoors publishing company, Mountaineers Books. “Particularly about the woolly dogs and also to see the special relationship the people share with the salmon in the area, as well as the weaving and the residential schools. It was powerful to hear first person accounts, it’s a lot to take in. There were things I’ve heard before, but getting a chance to hear the full story is something we all need to look at very closely to get an understanding of the impacts of generational trauma.”

The group then journeyed across the reservation and made their way to the Tulalip Administration building. In conference room 162, Natural Resources’ Environmental Liaison, Ryan Miller, spoke passionately about protecting the treaty rights his ancestors fought to keep. 

Ryan Miller, Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Environmental Liaison, speaks on the importance of treaty rights and the need to protect them.

“Treaty rights are an inherent right,” he explained. “Treaty rights were not given to tribes, it’s a common misconception that the government gives Native Peoples special rights. That’s the exact opposite of how it works. Tribes are sovereign nations, they give up rights and they retain rights. Treaty rights are rights that are not given up by tribes and they’re upheld by the federal government as part of their trust relationship with the treaty tribes. The tribes right to self-govern is the supreme law of the land. It’s woven into the U.S. constitution as well as many legal decisions and legislative articles. The constitution says, congress has the power to make treaties with sovereign nations and that treaties are the supreme law of the land. 

“We all love the Pacific Northwest,” he continues. “Other people love it here too and they keep coming back, it’s really getting aggravating. I’m not talking about one person going out and hiking. That’s not the issue. What we’re concerned about, just like the population increasing, is that those people are coming here for what we all love to do, get out into nature. They want to see all those places that you love and I love, that I have a spiritual connection to. We have to figure out a way that we can provide that for people in a way that protects not only the inherent rights of tribes but the resources, so all of us can enjoy it.”

Libby Nelson, Natural Resources Senior Environmental Policy Analyst, gave the group an in depth look at the Point Elliot Treaty. During her presentation, she familiarized the participants with the term, ‘usual and accustomed grounds’. She also touched on the Boldt Decision and spoke of the Tulalip’s current co-stewardship with the U.S. Forestry department, which dedicated an area solely for spiritual use such as berry picking and the annual mountain camp for tribal youth during the summertime. 

Natural Resources Special Projects Manager, Patti Gobin, shared a personal and moving story about her grandma, Celum Young, who was a first generation Tulalip boarding school student. As she shared her grandmother’s painful experiences, she quickly followed with a heartwarming story of Celum, depicting her as a woman full of love who struggled loving herself. Because of years of forced assimilation, Celum endured physical abuse for speaking her language and practicing her traditions while at the boarding school. And as a direct result from the boarding schools, Patti admitted that her grandmother never spoke Lushootseed or taught the language to her children and grandchildren, in fear that they would be punished just as she was. 

Patti Gobin, Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Special Projects Manager, speaks passionately about the boarding school era and asks that attendees honor the tribal treaties.

Native children who were around Celum’s age also experienced these atrocities at the boarding schools. Indigenous languages slowly began to slip away from their respective tribal communities. It wasn’t until recently that the language saw a major revitalization within the Tulalip community. Patti shared all this information, weaving together tales of happiness during dark times, to paint a picture that showcases how the trauma from the boarding schools trickled down generation after generation. 

Patti then asked the group to help honor tribal treaties, now that they are equipped with more knowledge and understanding of treaty rights and the tribal experience. She suggested signage depicting the tribe’s history as well as murals, such as the ones that will be displayed shortly in Skykomish and the San Juan Islands. 

“You don’t have to tell the intimate story of the Stu-hubs people,” she stated. “You can simply begin with the most general knowledge, that there are Indian tribes in the area and we will respect their treaty rights.”

At the end of the presentations, Ryan handed out a list of principals to the recreationalists and conservationists, stating that the tribe wants to be included in any project proposals and to build strong relationships with each organization. He urged them to bring the principals back to their team and discuss and modify the list to meet their mission and values. 

“Protection of treaty rights protects endangered species and habitat for all of Washington citizens, not just for tribes,” he said. “All the places that you love, all the species you care about, the orca, the salmon; our treaties are the last line of defense. When our state’s governor was telling the Trump administration that they couldn’t drill for oil off of our coast, he said it would be a violation of tribal treaty rights. We’re the last vanguard, help us protect it. Treaties are the supreme law of the land. They’re living documents and they have as much importance today, to us as Indian People, and they should to you as Washington citizens, as they did the day they were signed.”

The Tulalip Natural Resources Department plans on hosting several more Treaty Rights events like this throughout the year, tailoring their presentations to groups such as environmentalists and governmental entities. For more information, please contact Natural Resources at (360) 716-4480. 

Related Articles: 

The Treaty of Point Elliott: A living document

Tulalip prepares for Treaty Days

Tulalip youth exercise treaty rights, learn hunting safety

New colonizer in chief, same fight to protect our treaty rights

Tulalip educates community on habitat restoration and treaty rights

Point Elliott Treaty, 159 years later

Tulalip Tribes stewardship recognized by the Harvard Project

Pacific Northwest Tribes unite to protect and defend salmon

 

 

Tulalip Tribes first in state to introduce Aristocrat gaming machines

Tulalip tribal members and Slot Shift Managers, Andrew Flores and Erin Reyna showcasing one of several Aristocrat gaming banks.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Aristocrat has installed its first Tribal Lottery System (TLS) games in the State of Washington at the Tulalip Resort Casino and Quil Ceda Creek Casino. The new games – Birds of Pay™, Buffalo Gold Collection™, Wild Lepre’Coins™, and Wild Panda™ Gold – are the first games in the state provided by Aristocrat on the TLS platform. 

“Aristocrat is an Australian based slot manufacturer and one of the largest in the world,” explained Jason Woodall, TRC Slots Engineer. “It’s been close to ten years now that we’ve been working with them to bring their product to the Washington State market. Aristocrat is well-known for making games with big payouts and sought after jackpots.” 

While the Aristocrat games have only been installed for a few weeks at both Tulalip gaming properties, they already have a committed player base. Dale Horton of Arlington is one such player. Dale has been playing the new machines diligently since their arrival and his commitment paid off big time on the morning of January 7 when he hit a whopping $72,000 jackpot.

Dale Horton of Arlington hit a $72,000 jackpot
playing the newly installed Aristocrat machines.

“I’ve been playing Buffalo Gold quite a bit since it’s been put in,” shared Dale. “I frequent the Tulalip Casino nearly every day. I enjoy the mornings when it’s quieter and not as smoky, that allows me to socialize with the friendly staff who have always treated me well. It feels pretty good to have hit a jackpot, it’s my first in a long while.”

The games come to Tulalip and Quil Ceda by means of the Tulalip Tribe of Washington’s sponsoring Aristocrat’s entrance into the TLS market. That sponsorship allowed the company to sell its cabinets and games in the State. 

“We are excited for the Tulalip/Aristocrat partnership and what it means to the Washington market. Aristocrat has established solid product performance and will bring a superior library of content for our guests’ enjoyment,” said Don Hegnes, Tulalip Resort Casino Slots Director. 

“Tulalip Resort Casino and Quil Ceda Creek Casino are excited to be the first properties to introduce Aristocrat cabinets and games into the Washington market. Since the first install, our guests continue to embrace the product,” added Quil Ceda Creek Casino Slots Director, Belinda Hegnes.

The games are the first in a series of titles Aristocrat plans to bring to the State over the next year. “We are very excited to bring these new games to Tulalip, Quil Ceda, and Washington State,” said Siobhan Lane, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Gaming Operations. “We have worked diligently to create new games based on player-favorite titles that fully comply with TLS regulations, and we are grateful to The Tulalip Tribe of Washington for their sponsorship and encouragement throughout this process.” 

Aristocrat Technologies Inc. is a subsidiary of Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL), a leading global provider of land-based and online gaming solutions. The Company is licensed by more than 200 regulators and its products and services are available in more than 90 countries around the world. Aristocrat offers a diverse range of products and services including electronic gaming machines and casino management systems.*

*Source: Aristocrat press release (1/2/2019)