Culture in A Minor: Composed by Rachelle Armstead

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News; Photos courtesy of Rachelle Armstead

“I’m not exactly sure why it’s my passion,” pondered Tulalip tribal member Rachelle Armstead. “I just know that I have been in love with music since I was very young. I used to love going to powwows, listening to the music and hearing the drums. I just kind of feel like music is in my blood, I really don’t know how else to explain it.”

As is the case in many cultures around the globe, music has played a key role within the Indigenous communities of America. Dating back to pre-colonial times, our ancestors held music in high regard. Songs were viewed as a form of medicine utilized in traditional ceremonies to spread stories, as well as life lessons, healing prayers, love and joy during celebratory times, and of course, the knowledge and lifeways of our people. 

“I grew up near Tulalip,” she recalled. “We lived in Marysville for a while, I think we lived on the rez for a small amount of time, and then we moved up to Camano. In school, I participated in the choirs. Music is my passion and it’s something that I kind of always knew I loved and something that I gradually gravitated to.”

The steady drumbeats that reverberate from our elk and deer hide hand drums have helped the Coast Salish tribes keep time across the generations. The words sang in the tongue of our ancestors kept tradition alive and upheld the beliefs and values of each Washington State treaty tribe during the United States Government’s attempt at assimilation. And through our music, our people were able to heal wounds that were passed down through the recent decades following the destructive and hateful era of the Indian boarding schools. Whether at canoe journey, a community gathering, family potlatch or tribal ceremony, we sing loud, with prideful booming voices that resonate back to the ears of our elder’s elders as well as to our future generations. To us, music is resilience. Music is our medicine. 

“I feel like music is a way to connect with people,” Rachelle expressed. “It’s about human interaction and community. Even if you’re the only one playing, like a solo performance, you’re still exchanging with the audience in a good way.”

Modern day storytellers who are passionate about music are finding an abundance of inspiration, influence and direction in traditional songs. Musicians such as A Tribe Called Red are sampling and remixing songs that were originally composed by our ancestors and turning them into a contemporary bop, which rez kids throughout the nation bob their heads to. Throughout the years, a number of Indigenous rappers have carved a name for themselves in the music scene such as Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, Supaman, Litefoot, and several local favorites which include Tulalip’s own Deama (previously known as Nathan Kix) and Komplex Kai. 

Said Rachelle, “I’d say my biggest influence is the traditional music. My music isn’t very traditional, but I feel like in its heart, it has some of those same elements, just in my own language musically. I also really like the acoustic, folk-ey, indie type music. I think because my grandpa liked it a lot; it kind of grew on me. Hip hop too. My mom listened to a lot of hip hop.” 

Rachelle’s passion for music may just be in her blood as she suggested, embedded into her DNA from generations prior. Although she cannot pinpoint the exact moment she realized it, her love for the rhythm and harmony of music is everlasting and cannot be measured, it has been growing over time into a perfect crescendo. Rachelle is mapping out the music, hoping the future generations who share her passion can sight read her notes and learn from her cues while putting their own spin on things during their solo journey between the treble and bass clef, which is fitting as she is currently putting all her efforts into learning the ways of the composer. 

“When I grew older, my grandpa got me a guitar,” she stated. “I picked up the guitar and the violin, and a little bit of piano. But I feel like my passion is really writing the music and not so much practicing the instruments. Violin is probably my favorite instrument, it has a really wonderful, versatile tone – there’s so much you could do with it. The violin became my main instrument up through my sophomore year of college, before I really started to transfer more into composition.”

She continued, “I started at Presbyterian College actually, majoring in violin. But I got kind of tired of violin and moved on to composition and transferred to a different school, the University of South Carolina because I wanted to work with some of the teachers at the University. And then life got kind of hectic, so I had to drop out for a while. Later on, I found Full Sail University. I wanted to finish my degree and there weren’t a lot of online composition options, but Full Sail had the audio production degree and it seemed like a great idea. And it was, it was very useful. I learned a lot about making music on the computer. And as a part of program, they give you a full home studio setup so I’ve been able to make music from the comfort of my office. Now I’m back at University of South Carolina working on my master’s in composition.”

With her schooling nearly complete, Rachelle is intentionally taking on projects where she can lend her expertise to help strengthen the relationship between the culture and modern-day music. And with more and more Indigenous youth showing an interest in the artform, she hopes sharing her story will inspire young creative Natives to follow their dreams as well as receive a well-rounded education on the fundamentals of music, to equip themselves will all the necessary tools and skills of music creation, so they have solid foundation that sets them up for success in whatever they wish to accomplish through their music. 

One of Rachelle’s first projects is a song partnership with the Tulalip Lushootseed Language Department. She explains, “When I was young, I loved language camp. Every summer we would sing and make our little paddle [clappers], that was always fun. I really love our language. I think it’s so joyful and beautiful. I want to promote it in any way that I can. The more people speak it, the more they enjoy it. Because COVID has been so discouraging for a lot of people, and since we can’t all get together and sing together, I thought people would enjoy this. Even though we aren’t physically singing together, this was a way to hear all of our voices together, in our own language.”

The idea behind the project was to create an opportunity for community members to collaborate on an original choir song, sang entirely in lushootseed. Rachelle reached out to Tulalip Lushootseed Warrior, Sarah Miller, who wrote the lyrics for the song and Rachelle arranged and composed all of the music. Rachelle then created a website, where the lyrics and music were posted, and asked Tulalip tribal members to record themselves singing one section of the song. When complete, the song would’ve featured a variety of Tribal voices on the track. However, due to pandemic, many people couldn’t fit time to record into their busy schedules by Rachelle’s deadline of March 1. Wanting to see the idea through, Rachelle intends to sing the original choral piece in its entirety and also hopes that it finds its way to the Tulalip Lushootseed website, featured alongside many traditional songs that are posted for educational purposes. 

Rachelle expressed that tying-in the cultural aspect into her music is important to her craft. She believes that music is a good way for Native America to spread awareness and bring attention to matters that are affecting us a community, including the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women campaign. 

 “Music is a great medium for sharing stories, sharing our lives and bringing awareness to important issues or problems that are happening in our lives. When I first saw the MMIW movement on social media, I felt really inspired by it. It reminded me of an older story that I read once called Dancing Outside. There’s a movie that is pretty interesting and the book is a short story – it’s really heart wrenching. So, I wrote a song about it. I feel like it was a way for me to express grief about the situation, and hopefully other people could feel that too, and understand. I think other people who also feel these emotions can express it through music in a safe way, lots of issues can be expressed and addressed through music. And we can also comfort each other through music and kind of let the world know what’s going on in our community.”

Rachelle encourages anybody with a love for music to continue to pursue their passion and hopes to collaborate with the Tribe in the near future to begin a music program for tribal youth. To stay updated on Rachelle’s musical career path, be sure to visit her professional website, https://www.rachellearmsteadmusic.com, and don’t forget to check out her tunes on her Soundcloud artist page at https://soundcloud.com/rachelle-armstead. 

“If you like something, go for it,” she said. “Really practice and find your personal style. Music, for Native communities specifically, I think it’s just that element of human interaction – our music brings people closer together, it’s something that makes us feel proud. When we sing it’s like, this is our music, this is what we do. This is how we express our joy and our love and our sorrow.”

Community-led cleanup crew removes over 2,000 pounds of litter from Tulalip streets

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

“The motivation is to bring our Tribe and community together for unity, while creating necessary awareness for a safe and clean environment,” shared Josh Fryberg as he walked along the embankment of a popular Tulalip road searching for litter. “Keeping our land beautiful benefits our youth, elders and greater community. It is up to each of us, as individuals, to have a safe environment, not only for us here today but for future generations as well. We are the land protectors.”

These words resonated with an estimated forty Tulalip residents who volunteered several hours out of their Sunday afternoon to help beautify a 2-mile stretch of Turk Drive. One of the most commuted roads on the Tulalip Reservation because of its accessibility to the Mission Highlands neighborhood, it’s also become a common spot to dump trash or casually toss out litter from passing vehicles.

Brothers Josh Fryberg and Rocky Harrison reside with their families near the end of Turk Drive and see the littered area on a daily basis. They decided to do something about it by coordinating a community cleanup. Calling on local residents who want to see a pristine Tulalip and any other volunteers who are eco-conscious, the brothers organized their first neighborhood cleanup on February 21.

“It’s time to organize and get the job done,” said Rocky. “I want to see a clean Tulalip. I want to see a brighter future for my children. I come from dirty neighborhoods and even contributed to them in my younger years, but I’m mature enough now to realize the error of my ways and am committed to make positive change for our people.

“It’s time to organize and get the job done,” said Rocky. “I want to see a clean Tulalip. I want to see a brighter future for my children. I come from dirty neighborhoods and even contributed to them in my younger years, but I’m mature enough now to realize the error of my ways and am committed to make positive change for our people.

“This is a good turnout for today’s cleanup, almost forty people taking time out of their weekend, but I hope even more people come together for future cleanups,” he continued. “Together we can raise awareness about the amount of littering that happens on our Rez. Maybe people seeing our efforts as they drive by or on social media will help deter others from littering in the future. We can’t forget the true value of our Tribe isn’t money or businesses, our real wealth is our homeland and the strength of our people.”

A community cleanup brings reservation neighbors together to clean and improve public spaces that have been neglected and misused. Members of the Tulalip Youth Council helped restore the naturally green conditions alongside Turk Drive that had become plagued with trash of all sorts. Working with members of Sacred Riders motorcycle club, youth and adults worked side by side to remove litter by the bag load.

Cleanups show that people who use an area care about its appearance. According to the Department of Justice, crime is less likely to occur when a neighborhood is clean and used frequently by residents and their friends. By reclaiming residential areas, eliminating debris from vacant areas and roadsides, or sprucing up public spaces along the street, Tulalip citizens can make the reservation less attractive to criminals and more attractive to the community, which makes everyone safer. 

Promoting safety in all its forms is a priority for both Tulalip Bay Fire and Tulalip Police departments. United by a shared vision with the very community they protect, six of Tulalip’s first responders joined the volunteer cleanup crew. Several tribal members rejoiced at the fact they could count on Tulalip’s firefighters and police to participate in events that really benefit the community.

“It means a lot being able to participate in today’s cleanup,” said firefighter Ava Schweiger. “We love getting out into the community and support local events that make the area safer for everyone. I really enjoy being out with the community because everyone is so nice and thankful for what we do.”

“Tulalip has always done such a good job of making us feel appreciated, so any chance we have to give back and pay forward that mutual respect we’ll take advantage of, “ added firefighter John Carlson, 5-year veteran of Tulalip Bay. “We take a lot of pride in where we work. Tulalip is a beautiful place and is definitely worth the time to make sure it’s natural surroundings are clean and litter-free.”

Litter is more than just an eyesore on Tulalip’s landscape. Litter is costly to clean up, and it negatively impacts quality of life and economic development. Most of all, it has damaging environment impacts. Considering how the ocean waters border Tulalip, it’s an awful reality that local litter eventually ends up in our waterways and contaminates the ocean. 

“A lot of teachings were carried down by our ancestors that tell us we need to protect the earth Creator gave to us. That’s our responsibility,” reflected 14-year-old Image Enick. “For us to carry on those teachings and take care of Mother Earth means picking up garbage when we see it and not disrespecting the land by littering.”

After several hours working tirelessly on a Sunday afternoon to clean up their community, the forty volunteers had collected just over 2,000 pounds of trash. That’s nearly one metric ton!

“Today we are grateful for unity and being able to work together,” said Josh at the cleanup’s conclusion. “We are looking forward to many more cleanups in the months to come.

Our goal is to have a different cleanup site every two-weeks and work on passing a no littering ordinance, along with having signs put up. It will take all of us to create a bright future for our current and future generations. Together we can make this happen.”

The next community cleanup is planned for Sunday, March 7 at 11:30am. Meeting location will be outside Tulalip Data Services, across the street from Tulalip Bingo. Cleanup site will be 27th Avenue, locally referred to as ‘the Quil’. All environmentally conscious individuals are invited to participate. High visibility vests, garbage bags, latex gloves, hand sanitizer, and garbage picks will be provided.

For more information please contact co-coordinators Josh Fryberg at 206-665-5780 or Rocky Harrison at 360-454-6946.

Tulalip Transit: Getting you where you need to go

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Need a lift in a pinch? Did your ride bail on you at the last second? Too young for a license but you need transportation to a local Tulalip event or family gathering? Or are you in need of the vaccine but have no wheels to the scene? Tulalip Transit has your back! From 8:50 a.m. to 4:33 p.m., Monday through Friday, you can catch the transit at any one of their various stops throughout the village including the neighborhoods of Silver Village and Mission Highlands as well as at the Admin building and the Tulalip Health Clinic. 

“Tulalip Transit has been operating since January 2011 and we have provided nearly 69,000 rides,” explained Tulalip Transit Supervisor Mary Hargrove.

Celebrating a decades-worth of providing rides to the Tulalip citizenship this year, the Transit department has been an important facet of the Tribe, helping elders, youth, and everyone in-between reach the destination of their choosing around the reservation. 

“The Transit is public transportation, meaning it’s for everybody in the community,” Mary stated. “There’s only one route. It’s primarily in the Tulalip Bay area, and it circulates the main human services; the Administration building, Health Clinic, the Boys & Girls club, the gym, Family Services, beda?chelh.”

After nearly ten years in service, the two transit buses that are known throughout the community, with the blue and white tribal graphics, are getting a well-deserved rest with the introduction of a brand-spanking new bus that is loaded with features to accommodate the needs of the local populous. 

“We have three buses total including the new bus,” Mary stated. “They’re called cutaways, or 12+2’s, seating twelve ambulatory passengers and two wheelchairs. We were trying for about five years for a new bus. When we finally got it, it was ready to be picked up right as we got the stay-at-home order. So, it didn’t actually get delivered to us until August. It took me a good length of time to get all of the protective equipment installed, and we started operating at the end of October.”

She continued, “The new bus features front boarding and seating for wheelchair passengers, destination signs, pull cord stop requests, onboard cameras, StabiliTrak system, Telma transmission retarder, and engine fire suppression system. 80% of the money came from a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) competitive grant opportunity. Everybody that has seen it loves it. Even people who aren’t getting on to ride; people driving about the community have actually stopped the driver to take a look at the bus.”

Lead Transit Operator Darlene Pittman, a driver for Tulalip Transit from the very start, is at the helm of the new bus, navigating the streets of Tulalip while also connecting with her riders on a personal level, learning each person’s first name and their story, upon entry to the bus. Darlene admitted her excitement for the new vehicle, stating the bus’s new toys have already come in handy. 

“I haven’t had a rider that is in a wheelchair yet, but I have had people who are handicapped who needed to use the ramp,” Darlene stated. “The seatbelts strap in and we have these little black bags on the side by the wheelchair spaces, those are wheelchair tie-downs. They tie down at four points, so you don’t put any stress on it or break it if you stop suddenly. Another new feature that we didn’t have before, and I think people will really like, is the bike rack located at the front of the bus. I also have the marquee board up in the front and on the side, it says ‘Tulalip Bay’ and ‘Masks Required’. When I have to go get fuel, it will read ‘Out of Service’ and if there is an emergency on the bus and I don’t want somebody to know I’m calling 9-1-1, I can change the marquee board to flash ‘Emergency, call 9-1-1’.”

Initially, when the pandemic hit, the transit services came to a complete halt. But as months went by and more information was learned about the virus, the department was able to open operations, with a great amount of emphasis on safety for the driver and the rider alike. The Transit department took several precautions and set forth new rules to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. The department also received access to funding through the CARES Act, funding granted to help the Tribe withstand the global outbreak. 

Said Mary, “The buses are equipped with a protective driver shield, sanitation supplies, reduced seating with availability to socially-distance, and we are requiring that masks be worn. All of this is for us to do everything we can to reduce the spread of COVID-19. I would also like to mention that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that if you have COVID-19 to avoid public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis. Our driver is masked, the passengers are required to wear masks, we have signage posted on the bus, we disinfect the bus, and we have masks on board in the event somebody wants to board but doesn’t have a mask.”

Mary explained that the Transit adheres to a strict, set route but the driver is able to deviate from the route up to 3/4 of a mile, depending on the drivers schedule and if proper arrangements are made at least one day in advance. 

“We have a fixed route but we also provide route deviation for registered passengers,” she stated. “We will do deviation upon request. We’re making efforts to provide more personalized services to the community. For instance, we had an elder who was at her friend’s house and she needed to get home. Her friend didn’t want her to walk down to the bus stop. The bus stop was just down the street from where she was, so we picked her up at her friend’s door and took her directly to her home. But like I mentioned, we can only deviate up to 3/4 of a mile off the route.”

The Tulalip Transit is currently running on a reduced schedule due to COVID-19, operating with one driver throughout the business week. The Transit does not offer services on the major holidays, so please keep that in mind when planning your travels.  Please refer to their current schedule and the map provided to determine the closest bus stop in your area. For more information please visit their webpage at www.tulaliptribes-nsn.gov/Home/Community/ TulalipTransit.aspx or dial 360-716-4206.

Darlene reflected, “I’ve been here for eleven years and it’s exciting to see how we grew in everything that we do, and how we can make it better. I’m glad we finally got a new bus. The Tulalip Transit is important because what if you were stuck at home and needed to get to the Tulalip pharmacy but you didn’t drive, how would you get there? We’re here to serve the public and I think we’re hitting it on the mark pretty well. We just want to continue to let people know we’re here and we’d be happy to get them where they need to go.”

New Quil Ceda Creek Casino offers ‘more to love’

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

“What a beautiful day!” marveled Chairwoman Teri Gobin to hundreds of Tulalip citizens, elders, and anxiously awaiting gamblers who attended the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino’s grand opening on February 3.

“I’d like to thank everyone for being here today. This has been a long project. It’s been four years since we broke ground, but what an awesome finished product we have now,” she continued. “There really is so much more to love with this new facility.

“Tulalip’s gaming revenue funds our tribal government and tribal services, so for us and many other Native communities gaming is an essential business. Our gaming organization brings economic development to not only us, but to our surrounding communities and local businesses that benefit from our visitor overflow.”

The highly anticipated new casino spans 126,000 square feet – nearly twice the size of the property it replaced across the street. The new “Q” will spotlight a beautifully designed and greatly expanded main casino, a contemporary food hall and additional dining options, an innovative entertainment venue and a six-story parking garage. The $125 million casino and parking garage is situated on 15 acres of Tulalip land located directly off I-5 at exit 199.

Following a traditional Tulalip prayer and ceremonial blessing, each Tulalip Board of Director offered words of encouragement for the future and reflection for past leaders and ancestors whose vision and sacrifice made present day accomplishments possible.

“It’s been a long journey for Tulalip to get to where we are today,” said Board of Director Glen Gobin. “From our humble teachings to our humble beginnings to being an economic powerhouse in Snohomish County, we hope this continues to strengthen us as we go forward in a positive way and provide for the needs of our growing membership. We’ve got a lot to be thankful for.”

“I want to acknowledge everyone who participated in this project,” added Board of Director Marie Zackuse. “It was our ancestors and elders before us who had the vision to set aside land for their future generations. All [the success] of Quil Ceda Village and our casinos is thanks to them. We thank our ancestors for this opportunity and our elders who are here in attendance today to support us.”

The new “Q” features a radiant gaming floor with 1,500 gaming machines and 16 table games. Millions of high definition pixels span the walls for patrons to view rivalry weeks galore and competitive matchups across the sporting spectrum. A state of the line air filtration system combined with vaulted ceilings keeps the air fresh and atmosphere desirable. Just as it was previously, the new casino will operate as a 100% smoke-free, vape-free property. 

For thousands of Tulalip Reservation residents, the prospect of having more local dining options, especially top notch quality meals at reasonable prices, is the real jackpot. Inside the new “Q” is a food lover’s dream – a food hall dubbed The Kitchen offers seven cooked-to-order food venues. Menu items will spotlight fresh, local ingredients from Northwest suppliers prepared with the latest green cooking techniques. The Kitchen provides a tasty lineup including freshly prepared pizza and pasta, steaks, seafood, breakfast all-day, sandwiches/soups, global cuisine, frybread and more. 

“I hope the Tulalip membership is proud of the new facility because this is our future,” said Belinda Hegnes, the Q’s interim executive VP. “I’ve had the opportunity for 28 years now to be a part of the Tulalip Gaming Organization family. We’ll continue to provide the friendly, casual guest experience we’re known for, but now in a larger casino with more room to enjoy all that we offer. We mean it when we say there will be more to love in gaming, dining and entertainment. More slots, more jackpots, more food venues, more fun, and more exciting times to celebrate as we move forward together.”

The Quil Ceda Creek Casino will continue to safeguard the health and safety of guests and team members with multiple programs: limited capacity, guests and team members are required to wear properly fitting masks, no-touch temperature checks performed upon entry, social distancing, aggressive deep cleaning procedures, and entertainment areas closed based on COVID-19 guidelines. For more information on sanitation, health and safety measures visit the casino’s website: www.quilcedacreekcasino.com

Marysville School District staff made a high priority, given Covid-19 vaccine by Tulalip Tribes

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip Tribes

During the week of January 27, an incredible act of graciousness occurred as the Tulalip Tribes leadership chose to offer every single teacher and support staff of Marysville School District (MSD) an opportunity to circumvent Governor Inslee’s priority list and receive the potentially lifesaving Covid-19 vaccine. Tulalip understands the invaluable role educators play in the lives of our youth and as such exercised tribal sovereignty in deeming all MSD staff a high priority.

“After taking care of our own tribal members, we thought it was appropriate to take care of our teachers because they take care of our kids,” explained Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “We know the value of taking care of the community, especially those entrusted to educate our youth. This is awesome being able to help out local communities and Marysville School District. 

“To offer the vaccine to the teachers is phenomenal because it means our students will be able to get back to school and their teachers will remain safe,” she added. “By offering the vaccine to our teachers and other [essential service workers], we’re making our entire Tulalip community safer. It’s a means to get through this time together, so that we can again gather normally, have our traditional ceremonies and celebrate life again, together instead of apart.”

It’s been over a month since Tulalip received the much heralded Moderna vaccine. Over that time resources were directed at getting as many Tulalip tribal member households vaccinated as possible. Then emphasis was put on employees of Tulalip’s essential businesses. Now, the tribe is committed to its local educators as they prepare to reopen select grade levels in the coming weeks and hold in-person learning once again. 

When the tribe reached out to MSD and informed them of the vaccination opportunity, the school district surveyed every staff member asking if they wanted the vaccine. Nearly 90% responded with ‘yes’. 

From Wednesday, January 27, thru the following Friday, school district personnel travelled into the heart of the reservation to visit the makeshift vaccination distribution center that was the Tulalip Youth Complex. Highly excited and appreciative teachers formed a socially distanced line that wrapped around the building and went down Totem Beach road while waiting to be vaccinated.

“Today exemplifies the amazing partnership that Marysville School District and the Tulalip Tribes have,” said school district superintendent Jason Thompson shortly after receiving his Covid-19 vaccination. “It’s difficult to not get emotional because I’ve personally witnessed so many teachers come into our offices to fill out their necessary medical forms for today and they were in tears. They couldn’t believe they were getting this opportunity. We’re so fortunate and it’s simply amazing the tribe is doing this.”

A majority of MSD faculty would have been forced to wait weeks, if not months, to be eligible for a vaccination at city, county, and state hospitals under Governor Inslee’s guidelines. Being a sovereign nation, Tulalip does not have to adhere to the Governor’s office and has sole discretion over how and to whom it distributes the vaccine. This critical distinction is viewed as a timely miracle that helps protect loved ones within the community.

“I live at home with my father who is high-risk and having this opportunity to get vaccinated to protect him means so much. This means the world to me,” described 27-year-old Tanner Edenholm, a para-educator for Quil Ceda Elementary. “We’re all a family within the Tulalip community, and I appreciate so much how the tribe is protecting its community and saving lives through its vaccine distribution.”

A huge sense of relief and hope for the future was shared by the hundreds of teachers and support staff, from bus drivers to cafeteria workers, who together make it possible to have a safe and instructive learning space for the school district’s young students. Many of whom are eagerly awaiting a return to the class room where they can be reunited with friends and entrusted educators who are viewed as family.

“It’s really important for us to get our students back safely, and part of that is protecting our staff. Getting vaccinated adds that layer of protection so that we can get our students back sooner rather than later,” shared Principal Kelli Miller of Heritage High School. “It’s important for our kids to know that we are doing this for them because we miss them so, so much and can’t wait to see their beautiful faces in real life again. I’m hoping that when we are able to share the same physical spaces again that we all lean in and support each other. Creating that healthy environment where we can all continue learning and growing together is just around the corner, hopefully.”

From inspiration to artistic reimagining, Seahawks logo embraced in Coast Salish territory

This indigenouscreated transformation mask is what inspired the Seattle Seahawks logo.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tampa Bay’s football team is heading to the Super Bowl. And with their participation in what is typically the most watched American television broadcast of the year, an estimated 115 million households will tune in February 7th to see a squad of Buccaneers compete against the Kansas City Chiefs. Not any specific Chief mind you, like say one representing any of Native America’s 574 federally recognized tribes. More like the stereotypical kind of Chiefs that a certain segment of American culture just won’t let go of. 

However, instead of lambasting yet another professional sports team’s name and mascot for clearly misrepresenting Native culture, let’s instead focus on our local football franchise. The Seattle Seahawks; a team that has been embraced by Coast Salish culture and whose logo is directly inspired from an Indigenous masterpiece.

In case you weren’t aware already, there is no such thing as a seahawk. Ornithology experts, people who study birds, theorize the term ‘seahawk’ refers to a combination of an osprey, which is a bird of prey native to coastal North America, and a skua, which in our area we normally call a seagull. So if there isn’t an actual ‘seahawk’ found in nature, then where did the inspiration for the Seattle Seahawks’ logo come from?

The general consensus is that in 1976 the NFL commissioned a logo for the newly-formed Seattle football team. Then-general manager Ted Thompson wanted the Seahawks’ logo to reflect “Northwest Indian culture.” He and his team of concept designers must have been Native culture enthusiasts who stumbled across a truly remarkable piece of Indigenous Northwest Coastal art. That artwork in question was a Kwakwaka’wakw (pronounced: KWA-kwuh-kyuh-wakw) transformation mask from northeastern Vancouver Island. 

Exquisitely hand carved in the finest local wood, it’s easy to imagine the team of contracted designers becoming infatuated with the ceremonial mask depicting a mighty eagle with bold black and red formline accents unique to the traditional Coast Salish region. In its closed form, the eagle appears to be in motion with its wings spread, as if it’s ready to soar. 

According to curators at Seattle’s Burke Museum, long before the Seahawks took the field at the old Kingdome, this hand-carved mask played an important role among the Kwakwaka’wakw people. Transformation masks represented rights owned by individual leaders, often depicting family origin stories or an ancestor’s super-natural encounters. When this mask is danced in ceremony, a pivotal moment in the song calls for the mask to be opened, revealing a stunning human face inside.

Carved in the late 19th century, the mask was purchased by the Fred Harvey Company before 1910 and later came into the collection of Max Ernst. Ernst, Picasso, and other Surrealist artists were fascinated by the aesthetic power of Northwest Coast masks, which they saw as direct expressions of human instinct and unconscious thought. After Ernst’s death in 1976, the mask was acquired by a private collector. Eventually the privately held art collection came to be displayed publically, but always in its open position…meaning its likeness to the Seahawks logo was hidden from view. 

In September 2014, the Burke Museum, located on the University of Washington campus, learned of the mask’s whereabouts and launched an online fundraising campaign to bring the mask back to the Northwest Coast. It didn’t take long to raise the money needed to conserve, insure and ship the mask across the country. Within weeks of arrival the hidden history of the mask was unveiled and the origin story of the Seahawks logo went public.

While the details behind the origin story of the Seahawks’ logo remained a mystery for decades, what has always been transparent and secure is a positive celebration by local Coast Salish tribes. All along the Salish Sea, tribal people have embraced the Seahawks logo and re-appropriated it into our culture.

Dion Joseph (Tulalip) has remixed the Seahawks logo, giving it a more prominent Coast Salish design

“Great things inspire imitations. In the same way that so many Native people and white people and Asians areinspired by hip-hop, an artform created by black people, many people are inspired by our beautiful art,” wrote attorney and Seattle resident, Gyasi Ross (Blackfeet). “Native people have some beautiful artwork, and of course it inspires people to want a piece of it. The Seahawks logo is a perfect example of that. And we love it.

“But also, the Seahawks are actually active and respectful of the huge Native community here in the Pacific Northwest,” he added. “From speaking at graduations to speaking out against the Redskins mascot, the Seahawks have a great relationship with the Native community here, both urban and Reservation-based.”

Their commitment to Native communities is what distinguishes the Seahawks from so many other organizations that claim to honor Native culture with their logos and mascots, yet contribute little or nothing to their local tribes. The Seahawks have a history of making significant impact to the Tulalip Tribes in particular.

Back in 2008, Seahawk Bobby Engram collaborated with Home Depot, the Kaboom! Program, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County to build a 50-foot by 50-foot playground at the reservation’s ‘Club’. In 2014, following the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting, the Seahawks hosted tribal member Nate Hatch and his family at CenturyLink Field, where they received the VIP treatment from players and coaching staff.

“It was great to meet Nate,” said Coach Pete Carroll to the Seattle Times. “We’ve communicated a little bit, and we’ve been connected to the whole Marysville-Pilchuck school and the kids. He was really excited to be [on the field]. His mom was there too, so it was really special to have them. I’m sure he had a big day.”

Then in June 2019, Seattle Seahawks legend Michael Bennett hosted a once-in-a-lifetime football camp for Tulalip community youth. Nearly 250 participants from ages 7-18 had an opportunity to catch a pass from and do drills with the Super Bowl champion. Afterwards, Bennett stuck around to sign autographs and take photos with every single one of his adoring fans. Most recently, in October 2019, former Seahawks Cooper Helfet and Jermaine Kearse landed a seaplane right here in Tulalip Bay before spending an afternoon with thirty Tulalip youth. 

A history of positive impact. Countless moments to uplift Tulalip youth and inspire them to always dream big. Promoting healthy lifestyle choices and physical fitness as a means of self-discipline to achieve long-term goals. The reciprocal nature of Seahawk respect and appreciation for local tribes and the proud Native fandom they’ve received in return continues to manifest itself in truly imaginative ways.

For starters, its common place to see the Seahawks’ logo reimagined via Coast Salish designs in all possible mediums. Authentically produced by Native artisans, they’ve created blankets, clothing, beaded jewelry, eye-capturing medallions, wooden panels, furniture, flags, face masks, and even 6-foot tall, chainsaw carvings that celebrate the Seahawks’ Native roots. These items and more can routinely be found at powwows, all-Native basketball tournaments, and other Native vendor-friendly events around the region.

Josh Fryberg (Tulalip) fitted with all Seahawks everything, including a beaded Medallion and face covering.

“The Seahawks have given back to our community in so many ways and really made a difference in the lives of our youth,” said lifelong fan and tribal member Josh Fryberg. His family of eight have a tradition once a year to get new Seahawks jerseys so they’re always repping their favorite player. “I’ve been fortunate to experience most of their events held in Tulalip and witnessed firsthand our youth just light up being able to hang out with and throw around a football with their football heroes. It’s encouraging for a lot of young athletes to know it’s possible to become a professional athlete or future Seahawk through hard work and dedication. 

“As for the connection between the Seahawks and Coast Salish art, the roots definitely run deep,” he continued. “For my family, we have a lot of Seahawks themed artwork created by very talented Native artists, both from Tulalip and other tribes. More than the art thought, the Seahawks mean family togetherness. Every Blue Friday we rock our jerseys and every game day we gather as a family to cheer on our Seahawks.”

So yeah, the Seattle Seahawks aren’t playing in this year’s Super Bowl. Yet, in the hearts and minds of thousands of Coast Salish tribal members, the Seahawks will always be champions. Not because of a Vince Lombardi Trophy, but because our football team respects their local Native communities off the field. Where it matters most.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Mukilteo ferry terminal features Tulalip artwork and shares rich history

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edmonds mural honors Coast Salish culture

By Kim Kalliber, Tulalip News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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