Healing to Wellness Court awarded two-year title as National Mentor Court

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

At the start of 2017, the Tulalip Tribes and the Tulalip Justice Department introduced a new system to address the drug epidemic that was overtaking the entire nation at the time and claiming many lives of Indigenous people all across Native America. For a point of reference, that year over 70,000 deaths resulted from heroin, fentanyl or opioid overdose in the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The number of overdose related deaths did decrease, however, dropping to a recorded 67,000 deaths in 2018. Which is still alarmingly high. 

In an effort to help guide those wishing to get clean and escape the battle of addiction, as well as set them on the road to recovery, the Tribe took a chance by tailoring the standard state drug court to the needs of their Tribal people when developing the Healing to Wellness Court. This new approach originally drew skepticism from the community, perhaps due to failed drug court experiences in the past. But fast forward three years and the program has two prominent graduates who are actively inspiring from within the tribal society, and over twenty participants who have anywhere from a week to hundreds of days free from the grip of their addictions, as the program takes about 18-24 months to complete depending on the individual’s personal journey. 

The wellness court has often been attributed by many of its participants as a ‘lifesaver’. Dozens have shared about the healing they receive during local gatherings like the monthly Wellbriety celebration dinners sponsored the Tulalip Problem Gambling program, or at weekly meetings, cultural events and during ‘give back’ hours while working at the smokehouse or with the Tribal elders. Most importantly, wellness court creates a community-like environment amongst its participants, and in many ways a support system where the people hold each other accountable and offer encouragement and support while working on their own sobriety.  

Although their focus is the people of Tulalip, word about the work the wellness court is conducting has spread nationwide. On the afternoon of February 25, an official from the National Drug Court Institute, Karen Cowgill, flew across the country to hand-deliver a plaque recognizing the wellness court for their effective system. 

“The award we received today was the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) Mentor Court,” stated Interim Wellness Court Program Manager, Ashley Utz-Cook. “We were awarded to be a part of the Mentor Court Network, which means under the NADCP they’ve deemed us as one of the best of the best. So far, we are one of two tribal courts in the network and I believe there are nine other courts in the network.”

As an added bonus, Karen witnessed firsthand the inner-workings of wellness court. Such as how the judge interacts with the participants; how those who are in compliance are recognized for their accomplishments and challenged to continue striving forward. And those who aren’t in compliance are still offered encouragement in addition to a stern talking-to and the appropriate sanctions. 

“I came out today because the Healing to Wellness Court applied to become a mentor court,” said Karen. “For the next two years, when we have courts that are learning how to be a tribal drug court, we can send them here and they can observe the judge and meet the team and talk to them and actually see what this all about. This [system] is really going to be an example across the United States for tribal courts to see how to do the job. It’s a different way of doing drug court; we can help get people back on track and make sure they succeed in the long run.”

The wellness court has done a great job of turning the perception of their system around, so much so that drug court teams will be flying in from all around the nation to see the healing aspect of drug court take place in real life. 

“It feels awesome,” expressed Ashley after her team received the award. “It was a lot of work put in by every single team member, as well as the people before us and of course the participants. It feels great to see everything we do every day, the daily operations, recognized on such a high scale. We appreciate everyone’s hard work from the staff to the participants.”

Before concluding wellness court and the award celebration, the court team decided to pay it forward by extending love and recognition to a Tribal member who dedicated her life to assisting recovering addicts. Helen Gobin-Henson was gifted with a certificate of appreciation for the support and guidance she offers to the local recovery community. 

“This means so much to me because this is my calling,” Helen said with tears running down her cheek. “I’ve been doing this work for about thirty years, helping my people get into treatment and doing whatever I can. I sung for all the funerals for over fifty years and it really hits me hard when we lose our young ones, even our old ones, to this addiction, to this disease. I hope that I can be a blessing to my people and show them that recovery works if you work it.”

For additional details about the Healing to Wellness Court, please contact (360) 716-4773.

Teaching Lushootseed to future Tulalip

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“This is my third year with Lushootseed and I’m now realizing how much healing that the kids are getting from learning the language,” said Tulalip Lushootseed Language Instructor, Oceana Alday. “It’s beautiful to watch because I don’t think they realize that they are ones who are revitalizing the language that our ancestors once spoke.”

For nearly three generations, the Lushootseed Language department has been on a mission to reintroduce the ancestral Coast Salish language back into lifeways of modern day Tulalip. Recently the program made local headlines by helping bring back Lushootseed classes to Marysville-Pilchuck High School (MP) and also instructing those classes. This news is especially important for Tulalip students who wish to continue studying the vernacular of their people. Most present day Tulalip youth began their educational journey with Lushootseed many years ago, around the ages of 3 and 4-years-old at the Tulalip Montessori. 

During the early 1990’s, a seed was planted in the name of cultural revitalization when the development of the Lushootseed Language department came to fruition. With only two staff members initially, Toby Langen and Hank Gobin, the department set out to build a foundation by teaching their community the words, phrases and pronunciation of the language that Snohomish people spoke since the beginning of time. After colonization, forced assimilation and the years of generational trauma that followed, the cultural resurgence appeared to be much needed within the Tulalip community and ever since, the language has served as a great source of medicine for the people.

“To me, the language means that we are speaking what our ancestors used to speak. We are bringing it back,” said Tulalip Lushootseed Program Manager, Michele Balagot. “The program was developed in 1993 and we’ve taught it in schools since. It was one class when they first started teaching. We’ve grown from four teachers and six classes to fourteen language teachers and well over thirty classes; two at MP, two at Heritage, two college level classes. There are four or five classes at Quil Ceda Tulalip [Elementary], and  we teach fourteen, birth-to-three classrooms and ten preschool classrooms at the academy.”

When the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA) first opened in 2015, the Lushootseed Language classes resumed for most of the Montessori and ECEAP students. However, over time, as both programs continued to grow, the demand for more language within the classroom rose quickly and resulted in the hiring of new Lushootseed instructors, who are also commonly referred to as Language Warriors.

“We thought we should be teaching them young because this is when they are developing their brains,” Michele explained. “If they start hearing Lushootseed from the beginning of their education, they’ll learn the sounds and know some of the words. On the preschool side, we are focused on teaching them sentences so when they get to elementary school, they can work more on phrases. And in junior high and high school, they’ll be able to have full conversations.”

Perhaps due to the success of the preschool age classes, or simply a desire to ensure the language is embedded into the young minds of future Tulalip leaders, TELA joined forces with the language department in 2017 to implement a new component into their curriculum known as language immersion. Today, every TELA student receives daily language lessons each morning, Monday through Thursday, and for the first time that includes the birth-to-three age group. 

“It’s pretty exciting working with the birth-to-three level,” said Language Warrior, Thomas Williams. “It’s amazing seeing them express what they’ve learned. I’ll hold up a flash card and they’ll quickly respond with the word in Lushootseed. The last couple of weeks we’ve been doing traditional stories. Usually, I go in and sing a handful of songs with them. But we tried something a little more progressive for their age group where we get them to listen to a story. We did a felt board story and for that age, it took two weeks introducing them to the characters with flash cards and mini games. They’ve already memorized the characters. And going through the stories, they are starting to express what the characters are doing and what’s going to happen to them by the end of the story, all in the language.”

While the youngest tribal members get more acquainted with the basics of the verb-based language, the big kids on the preschool side of the academy fine-tune what they’ve learned.  By participating in a language warm-up exercise at the start of each class, they use flashcards to identify a number of animals and marine life before starting their daily lesson complete with songs, stories and games conducted entirely in Lushootseed. 

“We did Lushootseed today,” exclaimed TELA Student, Anastasia Clower. “We learned the words for octopuses, crabs, clams, sea lions. My favorite Lushootseed word is bəsqʷ, which means crab. I don’t like to eat bəsqʷ, but they are still really cool. I’m going to the beach on my birthday and I’m going to look for some bəsqʷ and I’m going to try to catch a sʔuladxʷ (salmon) too. I can’t wait!”

“I know sup̓qs and bəsqʷ, those mean seal and crab!” enthusiastically added fellow TELA student, Elaina Luquin. “I also know Lushootseed songs, not all of them but a lot of them. I sing them at my home too. My mom has the story about the bəsqʷ and we sing it together. I really like it a lot.”

Although still early in the process of the language immersion project, hearing Lushootseed from tribal youth at such young age is incredible. Paired with the Academy’s monthly culture day, which the language department frequently assists with, tribal students are building up a strong sense of pride in their Coast Salish identity and heritage. 

“I’m just so grateful that our teachers and our children are so in love with the culture and the language; we just keep doing the work and it keeps growing,” said TELA Director Sheryl Fryberg at a recent culture day event.

By offering classes to the Academy, the language department is setting the stage for their next generation of Tribal leaders. By partnering with TELA and participating in the language immersion curriculum this is the first time, since perhaps the pre-colonial era, that Lushootseed will be present during multiple stages of a young sduhubš life’s journey, beginning at birth and ideally extending to their college years and beyond.

“We are building a foundation for future speakers,” expressed Lushootseed Language Warrior, Lois Landgrebe. “It makes me feel hopeful when we get them to reply first in Lushootseed instead of in English. It can be a slow process, but it’s bringing our Native language forward in their comprehension, when that happens its promising.”

  The ultimate goal for the department is to have a future generation of language warriors who can speak Lushootseed fluently, and will do their part to ensure the language never dies. Therefore, the Lushootseed department would like to send out a friendly challenge for all Tulalip community members to speak Lushootseed to the youth as often as possible.  

“It’s a very hard language to learn but it’s rewarding to hear the students speaking it,” Michele stated. “It’s very important not only for us adults, but for the kids to carry it on so we don’t lose it. We encourage everybody, when you see the kids, to speak to them in Lushootseed, so they know they can practice the language whenever they wish and that it’s not only meant to be used for school. Greet them in the language of our people and I know you’ll be surprised to hear their response.”

For more information, please contact the Tulalip Lushootseed Language department at (360) 716-4499 or visit their website www.TulalipLushootseed.com

Learning the medicine of Native plants

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“Each of these plants, they all have different purposes,” said Tulalip tribal member Shane McLean. “The sage is good for individual work, for personal prayers, and the cedar is good for clearing out bad energy. Understanding the medicine that these plants carry, and building that connection with those plants is important work. All of these medicines have an everyday use and now I have a deeper relationship with these plants and the healing that they can bring.”

For hundreds upon hundreds of years, the Salish tribes of the Northwest have thrived off of the land’s natural resources, always sincerely repaying Mother Earth for her generosity by nurturing and protecting those resources and ensuring they remain accessible to their people for years to come. In fact, many Native communities base their decisions of today by how it will affect their tribe seven generations in the future. Several of the teachings we learn and practice today are to preserve the Indigenous way of life, so our children’s children can experience the essence of the culture in its entirety and understand how everything is connected. 

Aside from fishing, hunting and partaking in cultural ceremonies, a large piece to the Coastal Native identity is the gathering aspect. Many Natives have perfectly encapsulated the feeling of that spiritual work through a number of creative mediums. The sensation of balance that occurs when you know you are serving your life’s purpose, i.e. the prayer before the harvest, the songs and stories that occur when filling your basket with various foliage, and the laughter, energy and good intentions you set while collecting those plants from the natural world, knowing your efforts will be of service to, and appreciated by, a member of your community.

In today’s world, however, it is becoming increasingly difficult to learn, feel and share that cultural experience of gathering. Due to the conveniences of supermarkets and pharmacies, it may seem easier to purchase cold medicine than it is delve into the science of ethnobotany when feeling ill. 

“It was an eye-opening experience, for sure,” expressed Tulalip member Bradley Althoff. “Now that I’ve come to the realization that these plants are all around me, all of these trees are literally surrounding my house, I’m definitely seeing the world a little differently now. I want to learn more so I can incorporate more of these traditional medicines into my life.”

A delightful outdoorsy aroma permeated the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) on the evening of February 10. Approximately fifty Tulalip tribal members showed up for some fun, hands-on learning during this year’s first Native Plants class led by the HCC and Natural History Preserve’s Rediscovery program. 

“The Rediscovery program has been providing first aid kits for a few years now, for participants who go and travel on Canoe Journey,” explained the Native Plants Instructor, Virginia Jones. “In some of these classes we’ll focus on building those kits to give people more exposure to Native plants so they can really get an understanding of how they work and begin to incorporate them into their lives. Hopefully they’ll be able to replace some of the other items that they typically buy, and find more natural methods to provide some healing. Some of that healing happens by just coming and getting your hands on the plants and spending a little time with them, learning what you can do with them and then going home to share that knowledge with your family.” 

Multiple harvesting stations were setup throughout a HCC classroom and were designated by the type of plant that was being extracted including cedar, fir and lavender. The harvesters filled large bowls with leaves, flowers and nettles and exported them across the room where they were carefully measured and mixed into Ziploc baggies labeled ‘smudge blend’. In addition to the sacred potpourri, the students also worked on creating a concoction to cure headaches and provide relief from sinus pressure with oils extracted from assorted plants such as lavender, rosemary, peppermint and birch. 

“I’m just thankful that I can help those people going out on the water this summer for Canoe Journey,” stated Shane. “Working with the different plants, I know a little more about the medicine they contain and I know that it will be helpful for the people at Journey. The cedar alone has many, many functions that are beneficial to us as a people.”

For three hours, the group worked together in high spirits, knowing their energy and thoughts would be forever intertwined with the work they were conducting, all while gaining new skills and first-hand knowledge about local trees, flowers, shrubbery, and herbs, as well as the history of the plants indigenous to the Sduhubš territory. Whether by burning, extracting or consuming, natural plants like cedar, stinging nettles, sage, Nootka Rose, horsetail, blue camas, devil’s club and huckleberries, have long served as traditional remedies for ailments like the common cold, as well as provided relief from inflammation and numerous diseases for coastal Natives since time immemorial.  

“It feels good to see the people show up and want to do the work,” Virginia said. “It’s nice to see people from each family come together and pick up different parts of this knowledge. Some people will be drawn to learn from the cedar, others will be drawn to work with the fir. Whatever they’re drawn to, they’re picking up what they want to learn from the class, and collectively everyone has different knowledge that they walk away with. As a community, all of that knowledge together is powerful. One of the main teachings we want to emphasize this year is the importance of reciprocity within a tribal community. Although they come to spend a little bit of their time with us, a lot of the work they do is going to go a long way. And in turn, that work spreads through other communities while on Journey because they all receive those gifts [at each landing].”

After all their hard work, each harvester took home one smudge blend and one sinus and headache oil, in addition to their newly acquired knowledge of Native plants. The Rediscovery program plans on hosting at least one Native Plants class per month leading up to this year’s Tribal Canoe Journey: Paddle to Snuneymuxw 2020. For more information, please contact the Rediscovery program at (360) 716-2634.

TELA and Imagine Children’s Museum bring STEM to future leaders

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“I love science a lot because it makes me happy,” exclaimed young Taliah Bradford. “I like doing experiments at school with my friends.”

Every Friday the pre-school students of the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA) gather in the Deer classroom for Little Science Lab to learn about the wondrous world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Sitting crisscross applesauce, the students give their undivided attention to Ms. Pam, of the Imagine Children’s Museum, as she guides them through thirty minutes of hands-on activities where they learn how the universe operates.

On the morning of January 31, the kids hurried to their seats to learn about one of Mother Earth’s elements, air. As she began her lesson, Ms. Pam asked the students the name of the layer of air and gasses that encompasses the earth, hinting they learned about it during their last class. Once it clicked, the students all called out together, ‘the atmosphere’. 

“It’s amazing to see these young 3 and 4-year-olds use advanced science vocabulary,” stated Teddy Dillingham, Imagine Children’s Museum newly appointed Grants Manager and former Director of Education. “They are using that vocabulary correctly and are remembering everything. That’s really helping set them up for future success in school because it’s building their confidence and their love for STEM.”

The idea of the Little Science Labs began back in 2017 when Tulalip Charitable Fund Director, Marilyn Sheldon, encouraged the children’s museum to apply for funding through the Charitable Fund, and bring some of their experiments to the children of Tulalip. 

“We’re really grateful for the Tulalip Tribes, they’ve been a longtime supporter of the museum and it seemed like a really great fit,” Teddy expressed. “Because of the Charitable Fund, we now have weekly classes here. For the academy’s summer program, we bring out our Museum on-the-go programs and align our lesson with the topics the teachers are covering. For instance, when they had their dinosaur week last summer, we brought our dino class to them.

         “We also have quarterly family nights where the children can bring their families and do some of these similar activities and play at the museum. It’s really fun and the caregivers have shared they are doing some of our activities at home with their children. We have a unit on shells, and when they go to the beach, the kids are identifying the shells that they are seeing. They are finding applications in their daily life and using it, which is the ultimate goal.” 

The kids continued to learn about air by playing with pinwheels, participating in interactive story time, and experimenting with sailboats made of styrofoam bowls and laminated construction paper. Blowing air in all directions, the kids watched its effect take place right before their eyes. 

“I learned that air is everywhere around us,” said TELA student Cameron, as she moved her arms in big circles through the air. “We played with the boats and we blew on them to make wind and make them move. And if there’s no wind for the sail, the boat gets stuck in the same spot. I liked the story today too, it was really good. I was a butterfly!”

Last year, the established partnership between TELA and the Imagine Children’s Museum led to additional funding from the Tribe to offer free museum memberships to all enrolled Tulalip tribal members. This resulted in over 150 sign-ups and approximately 1,000 visits from Tulalip families so far. And due to more and more kids developing a love for STEM in today’s techy world, the Museum is now more popular than ever, and therefore, are working to expand their space by adding another level to their building and extending their base as far as their property line allows. 

“As these students go through school and learn about the atmosphere, they are going to have this memory,” Teddy stated. “I’m a former science teacher and taught junior high. When kids showed up, they already had a vision of themselves as non-scientists, or that science is scary or science is hard. A lot of the grown-ups in their lives also had negative experiences with science. We’re setting up children when they’re young to show them how fun STEM can be, so they feel confident with it. One day they will look back and say, ‘oh yeah we blew on the boats and experimented with the balloons and pinwheels’. And they’re going to feel like, ‘okay, I already know this and can totally do this’.”

For more information about the Imagine Children’s Museum, please visit www.imaginecm.org 

MSD asks you to vote yes

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Through a locked door and down a short flight of stairs is a room that is about twenty-degrees warmer than the rest of Liberty Elementary school. Signs that read, ‘Caution flammable!’ cover pumps and tanks that vary in both size and shape. The boiler room requires the school’s maintenance team to arrive hours early to ensure the school is warm enough for students in the morning. The heat from the boilers is carried throughout the school to several radiators that both retain and omit the heat. 

Not only are the hot radiators a first-degree burn accident waiting to happen, but the entire student body and faculty are in harm’s way of an explosion from pressure or chemical combustion, should someone untrained or curious try to regulate the facility’s temperature. 

The Marysville School District (MSD) is claiming that two of their elementary schools are outdated and well past the point of renovation and are asking for support from their community. Liberty Elementary was built in 1951 and has helped mold young, local minds for nearly seventy years, while Cascade Elementary was established only six years later in 1957. 

Aside from depending on the boiler system as a source of heat, both of the schools are facing a number of challenges due to the advancement of time and technology, which in many instances places their students at a learning disadvantage, including the capability to efficiently support the myriad of electronics of modern day. 

Another issue the schools must address is the lack of space. Students are often seen working on one side of the hallway while cabinets filled with files and supplies line the opposite side. While each school has numerous classrooms throughout their respective buildings, they are merely sectioned off by adjustable walls and contain no doors, leaving the students exposed to danger should there be a need for lockdown, as well as open to distraction from nearby classrooms and kids wandering the halls. 

And to make matters worse, the school nurse’s office at Liberty is located down an empty corridor with a large sheet covering the entryway for privacy.  

“I went to Liberty and I’m 62, so it’s been there for a long time,” said Tulalip tribal member and Chairman of Citizens for Marysville Schools, Ray Sheldon Jr. “The school district is wanting to replace Liberty and Cascade. I’m hoping we can get the amount of support up in the Tulalip area, so when the time comes for Heritage [High School] and Quil Ceda Tulalip [Elementary], it won’t be such a headache.” 

MSD is purposing a six-year capital levy of $1.93 per $1000 of assessed home value, equaling out to approximately $710 for taxpayers per year until 2026. The capital levy will not only provide the necessary funds to demolish and rebuild the two schools, it will increase safety for all schools within the district by paying for security cameras. 

“They used to build schools with bonds, but you had to have 60% plus one in order to get the money,” Ray explained. “So they chose to do the capital levy for the simple reason that you only need 50% plus one in order for it to pass. Of course, you have to wait a few years to start building any of the schools in order for some of the money to build up. It will be a long-term process.

“Tribal members are on trust land so the levy won’t hurt them. If you live on trust land, you don’t pay those taxes if you vote yes. If you don’t live on trust land, the levy averages out to just a little over $700 a per year. What people have to understand is, yes that can be considered a lot but not as bad compared to the bigger cities. When you go to the big school districts, they pay upwards of $3,000 to $4,000 every year.”

The School District assures the community that this is just the first assignment on a list to improve the learning environment at each one of their schools and build a stronger community. Ray believes the next schools to receive a rebuild or renovations will be either Shoultes or Totem middle school, they have also been operating for decades and are in dire need of modern updates. 

Recently, the capital levy has received push-back from families that live within the school district after the MSD school board announced a proposal to enforce feeder boundaries starting next year, which would limit the options of what school a child could attend based on where they live. Both the school district and the levy committee want to emphasize that this particular measure will have no effect on the boundary proposal and encourage you to make your voice heard at upcoming forums pertaining to that issue, whether you are for, or in opposition of, the school boundaries. 

Many young Tulalip tribal members and students from other sovereign nations attend the grade schools. In fact, at Liberty alone Tulalip students make up over 10% of their 426 enrolled kids. 

“The [school board] proposed boundaries for the next coming school year. A lot of people aren’t happy with it and are stating they’ll vote no for the levy, which will hurt overall,” expressed Ray. “The levy isn’t about the boundaries; the boundaries may never happen. The bottom line is these schools aren’t safe; it’s time to make a change. We’re really counting on our people out here. For our children, please vote yes for the Marysville School District capital levy.”

Tulalip Youth and Family Enrichment will be hosting a ballot party from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Don Hatch Youth Center on February 10, be sure to submit your ballot at the party for your chance to win a raffle prize.

EPA disregards science to rescind Clean Water Act regulation

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

You are water vapor rising high up to the atmosphere. With thick moisture in the air, other vapor molecules began to attach to you and you begin to grow. It’s mid-winter and the cold temperature causes you to freeze to ice crystal form and now nearby crystals also cling to you, all while attaching to particles like dust and pollen in the air. And as this process continues, a cloud is formed around you and shortly you’ll begin your descent back to the Earth’s surface. Once you are heavy enough, it happens; you fall quickly to the ground. Your voyage is short lived, however, as you fall to the top of a mountain and now you wait once again, but this time for warm weather while more snow gathers around you.

In what seemed like a few short months, you patiently stood the test of time and, due to the damaged ozone layer, the sun heats up the Earth sooner in the year and at a much faster pace. You leave your frozen state, slowly transforming to liquid and begin a journey through nature. Traveling down the mountainside, rushing through rivers, flowing through streams, passing through culverts and even trickling through underground soil corridors, you eventually find yourself at a standstill. With no wind and not nearly enough water to form a stream, you’re left to wait again either for rain or evaporation. 

A nearby farm just received the okay to utilize fertilizer and pesticide on their grounds, and unfortunately for you, they are no longer required to worry about any body of water that is located in close proximity of their agricultural business. When the rain comes, your journey will continue but this time you’ll be accompanied by new pollutants. Wherever your journey ends, whether it’s through consumption by humans, fish, bird, animal, insect or plant, those byproducts will be intertwined with you, and thereby can negatively impact the health of the consumer, and the Earth itself.

In 1972, the Clean Water Act was established to protect the waterways of the United States from harmful pollution. Since then, a political debate has taken place about the verbiage in the act, specifically the term ‘navigable waters’. The divide stems from the lack of a clear definition of which bodies of waters exactly are protected by the Clean Water Act. 

Many farmers, land developers and capitalists argue that small creeks, ditches and streams shouldn’t be considered navigable waters and have little to no impact on the environment since they are not directly or constantly flowing through the waterways and ecosystem.  Environmentalists and scientists have conducted countless studies, proving that all water eventually feeds back into the ocean, causing further disruption in the food chain and endangering the health of Mother Earth and all of her inhabitants if that water is contaminated. 

“Prior to a decision that was made during the Obama administration there was some confusion about what the ‘Waters of the United States’ are,” explains Ryan Miller Environmental Liaison Program Manager of the Tulalip Tribes Treaty Rights Office. “Those are the waters that are protected by the Clean Water Act, which in general terms states you can’t pollute waters of the United States. In 2015, the Obama administration defined the waters in a way that protects the environment, which was the intent of the Clean Water Act in the first place, protecting ephemeral streams or waterways, commonly referred to as seasonal waterways, or wetland that isn’t wet all year round that, during a wet season, feeds into a creek or stream. Essentially their definition stated that anything that feeds into these permanent waterways are considered Waters of the United States because it contributes to a stream or river that flows all year round.

“That benefited tribes because it helped protect the trust resources that are guaranteed to tribes in their treaties,” he continued. “It helped protect water quality for all the different salmon species. It helped protect against the release of toxins which build up in southern killer whales as they consume fish species, it helped protect Native people and all citizens against toxins that build up in shellfish and finfish that we consume. Obviously that’s important for Native people because we consume higher rates of shellfish and finfish than non-Indian people do.” 

On January 23, the Trump administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the repeal of the Waters of the United States rule, the evidence-based amendment to the Clean Water Act made by the Obama administration. The EPA rule, also known as the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, not only removes protection from ephemeral streams and wetlands, it also allows landowners to deconstruct and build over ponds, wetlands and watersheds, which in turn can lead to polluted waterways. 

But there’s more. Since the start of his campaign to presidency, Trump has promised the removal of the Waters of the United States rule. He took it a step further by lifting restrictions for landowners and farmers which prohibited them from dumping hazardous chemicals directly into the waterways. 

The removal of federal protection from these streams and wetlands could have some serious effects on our health and our drinking water. And the water that is consumed by the food we eat, i.e. animals, plants and fish, is now more than ever susceptible to pollution. 

“The repeal was proposed last year and of course the way that these types of processes legally have to take place, they had a public comment period,” Ryan said. “Lots of tribes, environmental groups, states, counties, submitted comments and expressed their concern about what this would do to the protection of waterways and the natural resources that depend on them. The reality is that this administration places a significantly higher priority on making it easy for businesses to make as much money as possible, to extract resources, to damage natural resources. Their priority is that over the protection of the environment, watersheds and even human health.”

With the salmon population already irrevocably damaged by pollution and an endangered southern killer whale population as a result, the Salish Sea cannot afford any setbacks or any more pollution. Unfortunately, this new rule sets the stage for years of struggle as we prepare for a long fight against the government and EPA to protect our natural resources. That fight began when the repeal of the Waters of the United Stated was put in motion last Fall, and fourteen states took initiative by filing lawsuits against the EPA. 

It is important to note that at the end of 2019, the Scientific Advisory Board of the EPA, comprised of many officials handpicked by President Trump himself, stated that the regulation repeal and its replacement ‘neglects established science’, is ‘failing to acknowledge watershed systems’, and also there was ‘no scientific justification’ for stripping the protection from the smaller bodies of water. And still, even with those findings, the final decision was made by ‘political management’ within the EPA. 

“I believe that there are numerous states who already filed suit over this issue,” Ryan stated. “Washington, I’m sure is one of them. We had conversations with the department of ecology, which regulates toxins in the waters in Washington State, and I’m pretty sure they already filed suit against the federal government over this. It’s probably going to play out in court like many of these things do and hopefully we’re going to have a better outcome. In the long run, this could end up being a good thing if we can get a clear court decision that defines the Waters of the United States in a favorable way, which we really didn’t have before. But, for right now it limits the protection that these ephemeral streams and seasonal wetlands have under the Clean Water Act. Essentially, they no longer have any protection.”

So what can you do to help ensure the waterways are protected and clean? In addition of limiting your single-use plastic products and recycling your plastics and metals, you can also safely dispose of any harmful chemicals including paint thinner, pesticides and fertilizer at the Snohomish County Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Station in Everett. They are open Wednesday-Saturday between 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. You can participate at local beach clean-ups and utilize your voice to help raise awareness about the fading salmon and orca populations at rallies and gatherings that occur regularly throughout the year. 

“My recommendation on anything like this is always, call your representatives; state, county, federal and let them know that you don’t like this and you want them to do something about it. The reality is, for elected officials, there are only two things they respond to; money and pressure from the people who vote for them. And as regular citizens, most of us don’t have the money to influence political outcomes or political campaigns, so what we can do is vote with our voice and tell our elected officials that this is an issue that matters to us and that we want them to do something about it.”

Breaking the silence on sexual violence against men and boys

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Many people continue to find it frightening when they realize just how widespread sexual abuse and violence is in our society. What was long a taboo subject and could only be discussed in whispers is now spoken aloud at rallies and public gatherings, and is turned to the loudest possible volume on social media. 

According to Time Magazine, the groundbreaking anti-sexual assault and women’s empowerment movements #MeToo of 2017 and 2018’s Time’s Up upended the public conversation about women’s issues around the world, and elevated the global consciousness surrounding the obstacles women encounter in their daily lives, both personal and professional. The success of these two social movements continues to be the liberation of public discourse to include subjects and stories that were for far too long kept quiet.

Yet, as the terms sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual violence have permeated into national dialogue and every day conversations, there continues to be a veil of ignorance and denial to the fact that men and boys are victims as well. Often men are the neglected victims of all forms of sexual violence, including being abused as children.

Lenny Hayes, a tribal citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, is a therapy practitioner with extensive training in mental and chemical health issues that impact the Two-Spirit and Native community.

Organized by Tulalip Tribes Children’s Advocacy Center and Northwest Indian Health Board, the Tulalip community was invited to a January 13th training hosted by Lenny Hayes to offer insight while shedding light on such a dark topic. The training’s title: A silent epidemic – sexual violence against men and boys.

Lenny, a citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in northeastern South Dakota, is a therapy practitioner with extensive training in mental and chemical health issues that impact the Two-Spirit and Native community. He has travelled nationally and locally presenting on issues that include historical and intergenerational trauma, violence of all forms, child welfare issues, and the rarely discussed topic that is the impact of sexual violence on men and boys.  

“There is a general misconception that men are immune from sexual violence, owing to gender stereotypes of women as delicate and therefore victims, while men are either the powerful protector or perpetrators of violence,” explained Lenny during the one-of-a-kind training seminar. “Traditional masculinity is inconsistent with the position of victimhood, leading many to believe a man simply cannot be a victim of sexual abuse.

“A boy or man sexually abused by a woman is often greeted by disbelief, denial, or trivializing. Society tells us that if any part of his experience felt good, then he was not abused. Or if he did not enjoy it, then he must be gay. While a boy or man sexually abused by another male is even more reluctant to come forward because of the stigma and extreme shame faced, both internally and externally, by admitting to being victimized.” 

A new study funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and published in May 2016 looked at the extent and impact of sexual and intimate partner violence against Native American victims. The study clearly shows that Native American men and boys suffer violence at alarmingly high rates. 

According to the NIJ study, more than 1.4 million Native American men have experienced violence in their lifetime. This includes:  

  • More than 1 in 4 (27.5%) who have experienced sexual violence
  • Roughly 2 in 5 (43.2%) who have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner
  • About 1 in 5 (18.6%) who have experienced stalking, and
  • Nearly 3 in 4 (73%) who have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner

These are startling and heartbreaking statistics that were reviewed and discussed in great detail during the training. Illustrating the depth and scope of this rampant issue, especially in Native communities and on reservations, the PBS documentary Predator on the Reservation was shown. The film details a Frontline and Wall Street Journal investigation into the decades-long failure to stop an Indian Health Service (IHS) doctor accused of sexually abusing Native boys for years, and examines how he moved from reservation to reservation despite warnings. 

A National Institute of Justice funded study shows that Native American men suffer violence at alarmingly high rates.

Training participants, many of whom were professional advocates and social workers employed by community engagement entities throughout Snohomish County, were offered plenty of time to properly process and ask questions for further understanding about the heavy subject matter.

“You all took a huge first step just by being here today and being open to education about  sexual violence against men and boys, the many mental health issues that impact them thereafter, and how healing is possible by breaking the silence,” offered Lenny at the conclusion of the training. “I hope that when you all leave here you remember that failure to address the suffering of male victims has profound consequences for the survivor, his family and his community. By breaking the silence and creating safe spaces for these stories to be told, healing can begin.”

Following the training, Tulalip tribal member and Community Health employee Rocio Hatch offered her thoughts. “In this community we don’t really talk about sexual abuse at all, let alone abuse towards men and boys,” she shared. “I was very uneducated in this topic and am just thankful to have participated here today. I’m excited to bring this knowledge back to my coworkers and, hopefully, start to have these necessary conversations and expand our outreach.”

Megan Boyer, lead family advocate for Legacy of Healing, added, “There’s an absolute need of education around the victimization of men and boys. It’s very prevalent, and in my job I’ve become aware of just how big an issue this is, but nobody talks about it. We all have a responsibility to let our boys and men know we believe them, it’s not their fault, and we appreciate them for having the strength to tell their story.”

Sexual violence is just as much a men’s issue as it is women’s, but the current structure for speaking about violence in any form often comes at the exclusion of men as victims. This constrained dialogue limits the opportunity for survivors to tell their stories and be included as critical resources and advocates. Fully recognizing male victims will not only bring much needed support and assistance, but create safe spaces for men to address the lifelong impacts of sexual violence as a whole, which benefits everyone.

Offered resources for further understanding:

To view the PBS film Predator on the Reservation documenting how an IHS doctor preyed on Native boys for decades, please visit:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/predator-on-the-reservation/

To view the NIJ-funded study showing that Native American women and men suffer violence at alarmingly high rates, please visit:

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/249822.pdf

Festival of Trees unites community for ‘Season of Miracles’

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Extravagantly festive Christmas trees and wreaths, each decorated with its own unique theme and style, brightened the Orca Ballroom at the Tulalip Resort Casino during the 34th annual Festival of Trees. The week-long celebration kicked off December 3rd with opening night festivities, continued with the excitement-filled Gala Dinner and Live Auction on December 6th, and concluded December 7th with the family friendly Teddy Bear Breakfast.

Each year, thousands of community members take part in the Festival of Trees – including volunteers, sponsors, and attendees – to raise funds for Children’s Services at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. For more than three decades, Providence Children’s Center has been providing comprehensive, family-oriented care and highly specialized therapies – such as physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy – for children with a wide variety of special needs.

“Knowing this is one of the largest charitable events for Snohomish County, it is appropriate for us to host and participate with goodwill and sharing the opportunity to help all children in need,” explained Marilyn Sheldon, manager of Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, on the importance of hosting the Festival and being the title sponsor. “We recognize that over 50% of Tulalip’s population is 0-24 years of age and Providence is our local hospital for care most tribal members use for emergency situations and other needs. Also, this event brings many people to our facilities for the week and encourages them to come back and host their own business/charity event at our venue.”

A highlight of the holiday season, the Festival of Trees provides entertainment for countless families and children. Whether it’s a black-tie evening with a three-course dinner or a free afternoon with cookies and Santa, the Festival’s variety of events offer holiday cheer for all kinds of crowds. The stunningly decorated Christmas trees won’t soon be forgotten as their specialized themes like ‘Merry Christmas from Mickey Mouse’ and ‘Christmas Under the Sea’ to ‘Arctic Winter Dreams’ and ‘A Celebration of Tulalip Culture’ capture the imagination.

During the elegant gala dinner and live auction, the dazzling Christmas trees and wreaths were sold to the highest bidders, with proceeds going to Providence Children’s Services. Several of the trees were reserved to be put on display throughout the Children’s Center as a special treat for hospitalized kids this holiday season.

“For more than three decades, this fun-filled, weeklong series of events has raised more than $12 million dollars to support the healthcare needs of children in our community,” stated Festival Chairs, Scott and Kippy Murphy. “Over the years, we have been in awe of the generosity shown at this event and it is that spirit of generosity and collective effort of our community that inspired us to choose this year’s theme – Season of Miracles.”

The generosity of countless donors and Festival attendees supports Providence in growing and expanding specialized therapies, equipment and educational classes that really does make miracles happen for children and families at Providence every day. Total monies raised this year topped $1.2 million, with all funds going directly to Providence programs and services such as Pediatrics, the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, the Children’s Center, the Autism Center, and Camp Prov, a summer camp for children with special needs. 

For nearly two decades, Tulalip Tribes has been an important partner to Providence in the Northwest Washington Region, by helping provide the funding and support needs to care for the health of our growing community. Contributions made by Tulalip to Providence General Foundation since 2002 have totaled more than $750,000. For their dedication to the Festival of Trees, the Tulalip Tribes were honored with the Spirit of Festival Award at last year’s Gala and live-auction.

“The lives of thousands of children, that includes Tulalip tribal children, will be helped thanks to the generosity received from the Festival of Trees fundraising efforts,” said Board of Director Mel Sheldon, fourteen-year member of the Providence General Foundation. “We are very fortunate to have a relationship with Providence Medical Center and to support such an amazing opportunity that really looks at the bigger picture. We all want to do our part to create a sustainable and healthy community.”

One of Snohomish County’s largest and most well attended holiday events, the Festival of Trees has been a beloved community tradition for 34 years. The annual outpouring of community spirit, combined with a magical setting, delivered a wonderful event that united many during the holiday season. 

Seattle gets first Native American historical landmark

By Cullen Salinas-Zackuse, Tulalip News

In 2013, a historically Native American based school, Indian Heritage, was torn down in the northern Seattle area it devastated the urban Native community. Those who remember Indian Heritage and know the significance of Licton Springs wanted to make sure it was protected from development and possible desecration because Licton Springs is located directly across the street.  

For most of America’s history, the interactions with Native people have been about destroying our culture, removing our ties to land and forcing us to assimilate. That’s why the recognition of Licton Springs as a National Historic Landmark is so important. It protects one of the few sacred sites that still exists in an urban landscape. It protects and brings our history to life for both our people and the non-Native people of the area. It reminds modern America that we were here long before the modern government, and we are still here.

If you’ve never heard of Licton Springs you’re not alone. In a small park in Northgate overshadowed by condos and high rises, after walking through a network of trails, you’ll see a small hole in the ground. This hole is called Licton Spring. Licton is derived from the Lushootseed word “liq’təd” which means red mud. Licton Springs in particular is rich with iron oxide, magnesium sulfide. Coast Salish elder and historian Tom Speer said, “liq’təd, the red ochre, was used since time immemorial.” It was used before European colonization for religious ceremonies such as baby namings, weddings, and even buried with people during funerals”.

According to Tom, Licton Springs is, “the last sacred site in the ancestral homeland of Seattle. Due to development around Lake Washington other springs were capped off and destroyed”. Although this landmark has huge significance to the first people of the Puget Sound there is little recognition of its Indigenous value. 

This issue was addressed by local Seattle Native American youth program, Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA). The youth program teamed up with Seattle public libraries and coordinated an extensive amount of community workshops to make this project happen. The initiative to protect the spring was started by Oglala Sioux member Sarah Sense-Wilson, executive director of UNEA.

Local Activist Matt Remle first heard of Licton Springs’ historic significance from elders such as Chief Andy Delos Angeles of Snoqualmie and Ken Workman descendant, of Chief Seattle himself. Matt described being able to feel “the energy” when being at the site. Matt and his team then brought the importance of preserving the spring to Seattle’s Historic Landmark Committee.

One story in particular about the healing powers of Licton Springs not only involves Native history but also non-Native history. It follows two Coast Salish leaders,  Chief Lake John and Dr. James Zackuse, who met and befriended one of Seattle’s founders, David Denny. David’s daughter Emily had an incurable skin ailment that white doctors could not fix. She met the Chiefs, who gave her a drink from the spring, which eventually cured her. She ended up writing about this experience as an adult in 1909, about being helped by these first nation doctors. Many of Doctor Zackuse’s descendants have been spread across Indian reservations in the Pacific Northwest including Tulalip, Muckleshoot, and Snoqualmie.

This story was one of the key components in having Licton Springs made into a historic landmark. The historic landmark status passed, but still has to go to Seattle City Council before being approved. Getting this status means that what remains of Licton Springs will be untouched. 

A common rhetoric when developers want to destroy a sacred place to Native Americans is, “If it was sacred to you, then why are you just bringing it up now?” said Matt. He explained that Native Americans have an obligation to protect the lands and what is sacred. “If we don’t get there before developers come it will be too late,”

This sacred place is unique due to it being in a highly urban area, “You don’t really hear about sacred sites that are left in urban cities,” said Matt. Learning about sacred sites and Indigenous knowledge brings more awareness and closeness to our natural environment, and reawakens how important tribal people are to the history of lands here. Hopefully the Licton Springs project and landmark recognition brings more awareness to sacred Native American sites all over the U.S.

Tulalip poles preserve and continue ancestral teachings

William Shelton pole in Everett, Wa. Photo courtesy of Hibulb Cultural Center.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

On display in public buildings throughout the Tulalip Reservation are beautiful works of traditional Tulalip art. Paintings, drums, paddles, masks and carvings created by Tribal artists cover the walls of government offices and local schools. Some of those establishments are also home to large wooden sculptures carved from cedar that depict insightful stories passed through the generations, many welcoming guests to their space of business, healing or learning. At certain places, such as the Tulalip longhouse, you may even spot a carving with a family crest or symbol in the design. 

Kelly Moses Story Pole at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary opens a conversation for Tulalip youth and provides an opportunity to learn about the culture while attending school.

“There are several different types of poles,” said Tulalip Carver, Tony Hatch. “Story poles, house posts, spirit poles, family crest poles. There’s clan poles; if you belong to a bear, wolf, seal, otter clan, they all have their own symbol and that’s what they put on their house posts. The house posts are the ones you see if you went into our longhouse, on the inside. Each one of those poles mean something different.”

Kaya, an Elder Salish woman holds a cedar basket filled with clams, welcomes guests to the Hibulb Cultural Center by James Madison.

The Tulalip people have a long, rich history with the cedar tree. For centuries, the Tribe’s ancestors utilized the tree’s resources by carving canoes, paddles, rattles and masks as well as weaving baskets, headbands and clothing from the sacred cedar. Although today Indigenous art is admired for its beauty from an outsider’s perspective, most pieces were intentionally created as tools for everyday necessity and for cultural and spiritual work. 

 Family and clan crests have been carved into house posts since time immemorial, specifying designated areas at the longhouses. An easy-to-spot indicator of a house post is the grooved indent at the top, intended to support the beams of the longhouse as house posts were initially apart of the building’s infrastructure. House posts are a common carving amongst Northwest tribes and can be viewed in person at a number of locations on the reservation such the Hibulb Cultural Center, the Don Hatch Youth Center and the Tulalip Longhouse. 

Also widely constructed by the tribes of this region are welcome poles. These sculptures are generally placed at the entrance of buildings, extending a friendly invite to visitors. They typically feature an Indigenous person in the design, highlighting a certain aspect to the tribal way of life. Welcome poles are prominent throughout Tulalip, with pieces at the entrance of the Tulalip Administration Building and the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy. 

The Storytelling Poles at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning  Academy was a collective project by the Tulalip Carvers and tells the story of the salmon people.

“Those are storytelling poles at Early Learning,” stated Tulalip Carver, Steve Madison. “We put those there for a purpose, for the little kids. The poles are carved in the shape of a salmon. On the salmon there’s a woman and a man and they are both storytellers. That’s why they were carved, so our kids will always know the stories about our people, the salmon. Because the salmon encompasses the spirit of our people.”

Perhaps the most recognizable welcome pole is the monumental post, created by Joe Gobin, which stands in the lobby of the Tulalip Resort Casino. With arms reaching out to the people, the pole welcomes newly arrived guests to the elegant hotel; a great photo opportunity for those receiving the Tulalip experience for the first time. Located directly at each side of the welcome pole are two story poles; a gambling pole representing the traditional game of slahal, also created by Joe Gobin, and a story pole that features an eagle and a seawolf designed by James Madison. 

The Tulalip Story Pole, by James Madison, located at the entrance of the Tulalip Resort Casino, features spiritual Northwest animal figures such as the bear, sea wolf, half-man half-wolf, and the eagle.

“There’s differences between house posts and story poles,” explains James. “A lot of people don’t know where a totem pole came from, or a story pole. They don’t know that we didn’t do that here, traditionally. But we continue it because William Shelton created it for our people, to keep our culture alive. They’re the stories of our families, about our people, and they hold the information of who we are and what our people went through; the history, knowledge and spiritual side of it. Joe Gobin and I decided to follow that William Shelton look but modernize it, refine the carvings and bring it up to date. You’ll see that high relief in our carvings. It’s a unique style and something that Shelton created, he was a pioneer in that way. It’s our way to pay respect to him as a carver.”

At a time when the Indigenous population was enduring assimilation efforts by the U.S. government, the last chief of Tulalip, William Shelton, made it his mission to preserve the traditional Salish way of life. By cunningly requesting approval to formally honor the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot, Shelton received permission to construct the Tulalip Longhouse on the shore of the bay. Due to his dedication, the people were able to gather once a year at the longhouse to take part in a night of culture as well as reflect and continue the teachings of those ancestors who came before them. 

Drawing inspiration from Alaskan Natives, as well as incorporating his own heritage, Shelton created the very first story pole in 1912 that was later erected at the Tulalip boarding school in 1913. The unique pole caught the attention of the masses and Shelton story poles began to pop up in local communities. The city of Everett, Seattle Yacht Club, Washington State Capitol, Woodland Park Zoo, and a number of parks throughout the nation commissioned his story poles and as time moved forward, colonizers eventually switched from condemning Native artwork to collecting it and his work was in high-demand.

William Shelton’s gas station and Totem Pole Camp. Photo courtesy of Hibulb Cultural Center.

 In 2013, a William Shelton story pole returned to the Pacific Northwest after standing at Krape Park in Freeport, Illinois for almost seventy years. The pole was taken down due to damage from weather over the years and the thirty-seven foot pole was sent to the Burke Museum. Today, the pole is in possession of the Burke and contained in storage off-site with plans of restoration in the near future.

“The William Shelton story pole is an important piece of Salish, and more specifically, Tulalip history,” explained Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, Burke Museum Curator of Northwest Native Art. “Shelton’s story poles brought oral histories and valued stories into monumental form, anchoring Tulalip history into these permanent markers. He did this during the years in which governmental and educational policies were aimed at erasing Indigenous languages, customs, and knowledge.”

William Shelton and family. Photo courtesy of Hibulb Cultural Center.

In his lifetime, Shelton constructed a total of sixteen story poles that were raised at various locations to help educate newcomers about Tulalip culture. His efforts helped bridge the gap between Natives and non-Natives. Shelton found ways to feed the non-Indigenous population knowledge about the heritage of his people in small doses, subtly squeezing in traditional stories, language and songs through his art. In addition to the story poles, Shelton gifted the world two publications and a better understanding of the Coast Salish lifeways. 

Tessa Campbell, Lead Curator of the Hibulb Cultural Center has been on the search for Shelton poles since the museum’s opening. Tessa and her team have recovered and restored, or are in the process of restoring, several poles after successfully tracking them down through Shelton’s correspondence letters. Unfortunately, due to decades passing by, a few poles were taken down, only to never be seen again. However, she intends to continue pursuing the poles until all sixteen are accounted for. 

“We credit William Shelton for coming up with the idea of the story pole,” Tessa expressed. “There weren’t story poles around before William Shelton, but there were welcome poles and house posts. He saw the story pole as a way to preserve our history. I compare it to a book; people preserve their family history by writing, he did it through carving. For his first pole, he went to the elders and got their stories, and he carved each story into the pole. So, each figure is like a chapter of a book.”

 Another set of carvings that held significant value to the people of Tulalip were the gateway poles. Over forty years ago, the entryways to the reservation were marked by two story poles and connected by a canoe carving overhead. Now fondly missed by the older generations of the community, the carvings were cut down by non-Natives of neighboring towns who were upset with the Boldt Decision in 1974.  

“I remember my grandpa (Frank Madison) used to talk about the poles that were out here, the two upright poles and a canoe over the top and everyone used to drive underneath it,” James reflects. “That was an identifiable icon for our tribe way back when. A long time ago, something happened between the people of Marysville and some people of Tulalip. The Marysville people came over and chopped it down with a chainsaw. It’s a harsh story but its history – it’s what happened. I always had that story in the back of my mind. My grandpa always wanted to recreate it. I’m on that same path, so hopefully some day they let me recreate that out of a different material, out of bronze or cement. That way our people can have that to be proud of because we were all raised knowing that arch was there back in the day, the two of them one at the beginning of the rez and the one at the end.”

William Shelton and every Tulalip artist since his time have excelled at preserving and continuing their ancestral teachings. By passing on the tradition and the knowledge that comes with it, they have carved quite the story for the future generations of Tulalip as well as the history of the generations who came prior. 

Tulalip Pole at Tulalip Heritage H.S., by Kelly Moses.

“Starting the little ones out while they’re young is important,” said James. “People like me; we don’t know any different. I was doing this before I can remember. Starting the youth early is important to keeping this part of our culture alive. Anybody can just pick it up and learn, but the knowledge of the work to go along with the skill is important. I was very fortunate to have my grandpa and my dad there to teach me that information. Honestly, you can teach anybody to carve or draw, but it’s the information that goes with it, putting your spirit and soul into it, making it come alive, making it Indian – that’s what I think is important.”