Tribal plaintiffs win case against Treasury; Treasury enjoined by the D.C. District Court from diverting funds from Tribal Governments to Alaska Native Corporations

Treasury cannot distribute coronavirus relief funds meant for Indian tribal governments to for-profit Alaska Native Corporations because they are not Indian Tribes and do not have recognized governing bodies under federal law. 

Lead Plaintiffs the Tulalip Tribes, the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation in Washington state, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians in Maine and three federally recognized Indian tribes in the state of Alaska, won a major victory for all tribes today at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. District Judge Amit Mehta granted the Plaintiffs’ request and enjoined the Department of the Treasury from distributing funds Congress intended for Tribal governments to for-profit Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs). 

Plaintiffs filed suit on April 16, 2020 after the Secretary of Treasury indicated that he would use monies intended for Tribal governments to fund ANCs. The three Alaska co-plaintiffs are the Akiak Native Community, the Asa’carsarmiut Tribe, and the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island. The Plaintiffs subsequently filed an amended complaint to add the Navajo Nation, Quinault Indian Nation, Pueblo of Picuris, Elk Valley Rancheria, and San Carlos Apache Tribe. 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) became law on March 27, 2020, and provides $150 billion in direct payments specifically to states, Tribal governments, territories, and local governments for COVID-19 related expenses incurred through December 30, 2020. Of the $150 billion, Congress allocated $8 billion for direct payments to Tribal governments. In setting aside the funds for Tribal governments, numerous members of Congress noted the tremendous hardships that COVID-19 has caused for Tribal governments. 

In a 34 page opinion, Judge Mehta concluded that the Plaintiffs satisfied the four factors required to obtain equitable relief and noted that the Plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction because, among other reasons, the $8 billion of the COVID-19 Relief Funds Congress set aside for Tribal governments in the CARES will not be recoverable once they are disbursed. Turning to the Plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on the merits, Judge Mehta held that “presently, no ANC satisfies the definition of ‘Tribal government’ under the CARES Act and therefore no ANC is eligible for any share of the $8 billion allocated by Congress for Tribal governments.”  

Plaintiffs maintained that the only eligible recipients are the approximately 574 federally recognized Tribal governments that are recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians. Disbursement of funds to ANCs would have significantly diminished the funding available for Tribal governments, which are providing critical services across the country to tribal members and their communities in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Such diminishment would have occurred at a time when other programs under the CARES Act are either unavailable to Tribal governments or have exhausted available funds. 

Many Indian tribes, intertribal organizations, and members of Congress expressed written opposition to Treasury’s inclusion of ANCs because ANCs are state-chartered and state-regulated private business corporations, not Tribal governments as contemplated in the CARES Act. Other tribes later filed two similar lawsuits, and the Court consolidated these cases with the main case, Chehalis v. Mnuchin.

“The Chehalis tribe is pleased that the court saw what was obvious to many of us. Corporations have no place taking dollars that were allocated for tribal governments, period!”, said Harry Pickernell, Sr., Chairman of the Chehalis Tribe. “This ruling will ensure that tribes and tribal members will reap the intended benefits that Congress envisioned in the CARES Act. This ruling will help tribal governments to lead in the aid and recovery of their people.” 

“We are pleased that the Court found in our favor. There was no question for us that the intent of Congress was to distribute these funds to Indian tribal governments. ANCs are neither Indian tribes, nor do they have recognized governing bodies that are responsible for providing essential governmental services to a tribal community,” said Teri Gobin, Chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes. “It is extremely unfortunate that some are promoting ANCs to be something they are not, at the expenses of tribes, and it is disappointing that the administration is promoting a position that equates these for-profit corporations with Indian Tribal governments,” Gobin added. 

Treasury represented to the Court that they would not be distributing these CARES Act funds until April 28, 2020, at the earliest, due to reasons unrelated to Plaintiffs’ lawsuit. Congress had intended and required Treasury to distribute this funding to Tribal governments no later than April 26, 2020. Plaintiffs urge Treasury to follow the law and to disburse the desperately needed funds in full to tribal governments without further delay. 

Veteran homeschooler Angela Davis shares tips for parents during coronavirus closures

By Micheal Rios

Two quick stats. First, at least 124,000 public and private schools in the United States have closed due to coronavirus concerns. Second, approximately 55 million students are impacted by these widespread school closures. The stark reality for many families is they are left struggling to cope with an unprecedented global pandemic while being responsible for their now home-bound children’s education.

Tulalip tribal member Angela Davis understands the complexities involved with homeschooling children. Her three children 15-year-old Samara, 14-year-old Samuel and 12-year-old Abigail have been homeschooled their entire life. Together with her spouse, Angela and John Davis III have a system that is proven to be effective and successful. 

While residing on the Tulalip Reservation, their children attend school from the comforts of home. In fact, inside the Davis residence is a dedicated education room with three desks, a white board, projector, and a book shelf full of textbooks and miscellaneous reading material. 

Angela was gracious enough to do an interview with Tulalip News. What follows is a condensed transcription of that interview in which the veteran homeschooler offers a number of tips and insights for parents new to the homeschool scene. 

SYS: Your three children have only been homeschooled. What prompted you and your husband to opt for this?

Angela: Our number one priority is the safety of our children. The world has changed from when we were kids. We might have had our bullies at school, but for the most part we weren’t exposed to too much. Today, students are exposed to so many different situations that take away from enjoying life and learning. Unfortunately, when it comes to bullying at school (whether it is from another student or a teacher/staff) it seems like it is getting more and more difficult for the school to take action and rectify the situation. From many aspects, it is unfortunate our tribal kids have to deal with that.

SYS: From your experience, what are some of the best benefits to having your children learn from home?

Angela: A big benefit is allowing your children to learn more than what the public school curriculum provides. As we have seen, there is a lot of misinformation about history and so many other things being taught. By homeschooling we get to choose how information is given to our children, meaning there is just not one perspective given, but many. Our children take in multiple perspectives and then can make an educated decision on what they choose to believe.

SYS: Do you find this kind of learning flexible to more out of the classroom teaching? 

Angela: Yes, we do. Flexibility is another added benefit. For example, if we wanted to go on a field trip to learn about a particular subject we can go at any time. If we have appointments during the day, we can just catch up later or the following day. If we wanted to or needed to travel we could take homeschooling with us. Balancing life and learning for each family’s situation is doable once you find a comfortable structure.

SYS: Structure and adhering to a consistent schedule have to be critical to long-term success, right?  

Angela: Absolutely. Although the structure of a schedule is dependent on each family’s situation and what works best for them. We tend to believe getting up early and starting school at a regular time is most effective for consistency. Sticking to this kind of daily structure prepares children to become productive adults who enter the workforce or start their own business. 

SYS: For parents with multiple children, like yourself, there might be a tendency to feel like you have to divide up your time unequally. How do you deal with that?

Angela: We focus on the fact that our children at home receive more one-on-one attention than they would in a public school setting. If you have a class of 25 students versus a class of 3 students, the attention of the teacher is not divided nearly as much. Plus, we are able to spend more time with a child that is struggling, while the other two continue to do their work.

If a family has children that are more separated in age, they may need to get a little more creative on who gets the “teachers” attention and when. Also, the older children can help their siblings with subjects as needed, so it can become a family effort to educate each other. 

SYS: How do you decide which curriculum to teach? Is there a guide you follow day by day or week by week?

Angela: The good news is that it is up to the parents to choose. There are many options to choose from. I have learned that you have to consider two things: 1.) The parents’ teaching style and 2.) The child’s learning style. 

I suggest parents do some research to figure out what style works best for them and how they learn the best. Parents also need to go in with the understanding that what they first choose might not work the best for them or only certain parts of it might work and certain parts don’t. They can change to a different curriculum at any time. 

We’ve alternated between textbooks, online programs, using the school district’s K-12 program, and even mixing multiple sources. It really is up to the parent as long as they are teaching the core subjects.

SYS: When you get stuck or need assistance with a certain subject, either learning it yourself or teaching it, what do you do?

Angela: There are Support Groups and Co-Ops located in each county that homeschoolers can be a part of that help each other with certain subjects and events. I recommend: https://washhomeschool.org/homeschooling/support-groups-co-ops/  and Homeschool Support Group 6

SYS: Besides the book schooling, do you make learning other skills like art, craft making or instruments part of the typical routine?

Angela: Yes, we do. It is important to balance book work with hands-on skills and activities to help keep the kids engaged. This way they are exposed to new skills that may turn into their passion. Our family stresses the need to learn hands-on skills so that they will always have something to fall back on if they are having difficulties in the workforce. We also explain that with these skills, they may be able to start their own businesses and be self-sufficient. 

SYS: What activities or skills have you found your kids most engage in?

Angela: All types really. We’ve had them dabble in piano lessons, singing, computer programming, and making clothes with a sewing machine. All three have developed their own personal style when it comes to traditional arts and crafts. They’ve made beaded hoop earrings, traditional hand drums, and look forward to submitting their creations in various categories at the Tribe’s annual art festival. 

SYS: What resources do you look to or recommend for families who are struggling with homeschooling?

Angela: There are so many resources available, but my first go to is researching online at the Washington Homeschool Organization (WHO). They provide a lot of information in one place, such as the laws for the state, training for the parents, and many other resources. https://washhomeschool.org/homeschooling/the-law/

Some other websites to help with determining what system works best for your family would be curriculum reviews and teaching methods:

https://www.homeschool.com/

https://thebestschools.org/magazine/homeschool-style-right/  and

https://homeschool-curriculum-reviews.com

SYS: Last question. Has the current Coronavirus crisis affected your kids’ ability to be educated in any way? And have you added the global impacts of COVID-19 into their curriculum?

Angela: The Coronavirus crisis has not affected my kids’ ability to be educated in any way. Our curriculum is mostly textbook based so we have all the items we need at home, and if we were completely online, that would not have affected us either. 

Our normal teachings include real world and current events in which my children are very aware of what is going on in our Tulalip community, state, country and even globally. This information is incorporated as part of our curriculum on a daily basis. 

The biggest impact that this crisis has had on my children is not being able to go out freely as before, whether if it was to a field trip or a community event, or simply visiting their grandparents and family. Fortunately, we have technology that still allows for us to connect and continue to learn. 

2020 Census update: Nearly 50% of Tulalip households have responded

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Every 10 years the United States Census Bureau attempts an astounding task to count each and every person in the country. The Constitution requires a census every 10 years to determine how many seats each state will have in the House of Representatives. More importantly, census data also helps guide how billions of dollars in federal, state, and tribal funding are distributed.

Accurate census data leads to fairer distributions of funds that support tribal programs in meeting community member needs, such as housing, education, elder programs, healthcare, childcare programs, and economic development. Put simply, having accurate representation means making sure you are counted, and by being counted you bring more federal money to Tulalip that benefits the entire reservation. Each person counted equals $3,000 of potential funding for our community.

As of Monday, April 20th, official numbers provided by the Census Bureau list Tulalip with a 47.3% response rate. That means a little less than half of all Tulalip households have responded to the 2020 Census via self-responses online, by phone, or by mail. 

To those households who responded to the census already, a huge thank you for being proactive. For the rest of you 52.7% of households yet to make yourselves counted, the good news is there’s still time. The U.S. Census Bureau has extended the census deadline to October 31 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The 2020 Census is our chance to be visible, to be heard, and for our tribal nations to be recognized,” stated Kevin Allis, CEO of the National Congress of American Indians. “Being counted means standing up for yourself, your family, and your tribal community. Our people, our nations, and our future depend on each one of us to complete the census form. This is our opportunity to make a difference – the time is now. Let us join together and make 2020 the year that Indian Country counts!”

Despite the lengthy history and expansive impact of the U.S. census, Native Americans have historically been undercounted. This history of inaccuracy costs millions of annual tax dollars to Indian Country that would otherwise be used to improve public programs such as schools, roads, and other forms of critical public infrastructure.

Not being counted hurts Indian Country and on the local level, hurts Tulalip. Tribal leaders and the Census Bureau hope that focusing on designated hard-to-count communities and improved technology will help produce a more accurate count this year. In 2020, for the first time ever, citizens are able to respond to the census online.

“I want to tell every [Native American] to be counted as an act of rebellion because this census is designed not to count you,” declared Natalie Landreth (Chickasaw), a senior attorney for the Native American Rights Fund, to Indian Country Today. “It is designed for you to not have congressional districts. It is designed for you to not have federal monies. Make yourself heard because they don’t want to hear from you.”

The easiest and most efficient method for participating in the census is to fill it out online at my2020census.gov All Tulalip households should have received an invitation in the mail to participate in the census with a unique 12-digit Census ID. If you don’t have the 12-digit ID handy, then there is an online tool at my2020census.gov/app/intro/state to assist you.

The average time for a household to complete the census form online is only about ten minutes. Taking those critical minutes to be counted means standing up and being visible for yourself, your family, and your tribal community.

Your responses to the 2020 Census are confidential and protected by law. Personal information is never shared with any other government agencies or law enforcement, including federal, local, and tribal authorities.

It cannot be understated that accurate census data is essential for policymaking and funding for public roads and many other types of essential infrastructure. A lot of our federal programs are dependent on the numbers generated from the census. It impacts education. It impacts economic development. It impacts tribal housing. It impacts health care. 

Now is the time to encourage family, friends, and neighbors to spread the work and participate in the 2020 Census. Don’t let the government short change Indian Country or Tulalip a single dollar of federal funding. Be visible and be counted!

For more information, visit www.census.gov OR for those intending to complete the census online please visit my2020census.gov/ to help shape our future.


How to be counted as Tulalip

For many reasons, it is important that Native households be counted in the 2020 Census. This depends on the race of “Person 1” or the first person listed on the census form. If that person says he or she is Native, then the household will be counted as one with a Native “householder”. 

Saying that you’re American Indian or Alaska Native on the 2020 Census form is a matter of self-identification. No proof is required. No one will ask you to show a tribal enrollment card or a certificate of Indian blood. 

To be counted as a Native citizen who is part of the Tulalip Tribes, you must complete two simple steps. Frist, check the box for American Indian or Alaska Native. Second, make sure to write in your enrolled tribe. For Tulalip tribal members this means writing in Tulalip Tribes.

As far as the Census Bureau is concerned, the listing of a person’s tribe is entirely a matter of what the person writes in. No proof of the person’s relationship to that tribe is required. It’s all a matter of self-identification. 

Tribe file lawsuit to stop Treasury Department from distributing tribal funds to corporations

Tulalip Tribes, Washington, DC Office 

In a joint effort, the Tulalip Tribes and the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation in Washington state, together with the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians in Maine and three federally recognized Indian tribes in the state of Alaska, have filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent the Department of the Treasury from distributing funds to corporations or other non-governmental entities that Congress intended to be distributed only to Tribal governments. The three Alaska co-plaintiffs are the Akiak Native Community, the Asa’carsarmiut Tribe, and the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island. The Parties will be asking the Court to issue an injunction against illegal disbursements of the Congressional appropriation. 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) became law on March 27, 2020, and provides $150 billion in direct aid specifically for COVID-19 related expenses to states, Tribal governments, territories and local governments. Of the $150 billion, Congress allocated $8 billion to Tribal governments. In setting aside the funds for Tribal governments, numerous members of Congress related the tremendous hardships that COVID-19 has caused for Tribal governments. 

During the past week, Indian country became aware that the Treasury Department was considering expanding the scope of entities that could receive direct payments under this provision beyond Tribal governments. On April 13, 2020, Treasury published on its website a certification form for eligible entities to complete that confirmed its intent to treat Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) as “Tribal governments” for purposes of making payments under Title V of the CARES Act. 

There are 574 federally recognized Tribal governments that maintain a government-to-government relationship with the United States, which include Indian tribes and nations in the lower-48 states and the state of Alaska. Treasury’s disbursement of funds to ANCs will diminish the funding available for Tribal governments, which are providing critical services across the country to tribal members and their communities in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Such diminishment will occur at a time when other programs under the CARES Act are either unavailable to Tribal governments or have expended available funds. 

Many Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and members of Congress expressed written opposition to Treasury’s inclusion of ANCs inclusion because ANCs are state-chartered and state-regulated private business corporations, not Tribal governments as contemplated in the CARES Act. 

“We are opposed to any effort to consider Alaska Native Corporations or other entities not on the list of federally recognized Indian tribes as a ‘Tribal government’ under the CARES Act relief fund,” said Harry Pickernell, Sr., Chairman of the Chehalis Tribe. “We do, however, fully support the ability of Tribal governments to transfer any relief funds that they receive from Treasury to ANCs or other non-governmental entities if those Tribal governments determine that is in their best interest.” 

The federal government has a specific trust responsibility to federally recognized Indian tribes, not shareholders of corporations. The historic lack of federal funding for tribal programs has created a dramatic need in Indian Country. This portion of the CARES Act was intended for tribes that provide services to tribal members, not dividends to shareholders or any other non-governmental entity. 

“The notion that corporations incorporated under state law should be considered Tribal governments is shocking and will come at the expense of tribal governments, who are responsible for providing critical needs such as healthcare, housing, and education to their citizens,” said Teri Gobin, Chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes. “We are struggling right now because we have no revenue coming in, and it’s going to take years to recover,” Gobin added. 

The Tribes’ lawsuit does not seek any delay of Treasury’s statutory requirement to distribute funding to Tribal governments by the CARES Act deadline of April 27, 2020. Rather, the Tribes’ request that the Court order Treasury to disperse all $8 billion to Tribal governments, but not to ANCs, in accordance with the CARES Act. 

Tulalip debuts innovative program to combat Coronavirus

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The firefighters at Snohomish County Fire District #15, known as the Tulalip Bay Fire Department, serve an estimated 13,000 people living in an area of 22.5 square miles on the Tulalip Reservation. Their mission is to foster community relations through unwavering service and protection of life and property. 

This team of devoted first responders just received crucial reinforcements to fulfill that mission as part of a 90-day pilot program that secured a second emergency aid car and three additional staff members to help Tulalip Bay Fire combat the dreaded Coronavirus.

“[As of April 6] we’ve put a new ambulance in service. It is staffed Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm,” explained Chief Ryan Shaughnessy of Tulalip Bay Fire. “The purpose of this unit is to transport Tulalip tribal members residing on the reservation to the Karen I. Fryberg clinic.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is eliminate the need to take people to the Emergency Room,” continued Chief Shaughnessy. “One of our main goals is to be able to transport people here locally, as to avoid an unnecessary trip to an out of area E.R. that is experiencing long wait times. We want to keep you here, close to home, where we can transport you to the local clinic and then get you a ride back home.”

COVID-19 has changed life dramatically for the foreseeable future. However, with this new program now implemented, both tribal and non-tribal community members can benefit in a variety of ways.

For tribal members that live within the Tulalip boundaries, if you are experiencing COVID related symptoms and report them to the Health Clinic, you can now be transported directly from your residence to the reservation’s primary medical facility. This is the first time ever a service of this nature is being provided. No unnecessary travel to an Everett-based hospital, nor historically long wait to be seen at the Emergency Room. By using the Health Clinic’s services to be seen, tested, and treated for COVID-19, costs are only a fraction of what one could expect from an E.R. visit.

The new aid car and team will work directly with Tulalip’s Health Clinic to provide transport for tribal members to and from the clinic for standard care during clinic hours, reducing demand on surrounding health systems. This work is part of a collaborative effort to strengthen social distancing measures and reduce the potential spread of the novel coronavirus.

For non-tribal citizens on the reservation, the new aid car provides must-needed relief and shorter response times during an ongoing coronavirus crisis. The primary emergency medical services (EMS) unit is freed up to quickly respond to life threatening emergencies, while the backup unit can focus on situations that don’t require emergent care. Additionally, the new ambulance can be used to transport any Tulalip-based citizen to a local Emergency Room, if necessary. 

“One of the added benefits of our new program is that when this unit is not being utilized to transport COVID patients from their homes to the clinic or to the emergency room, its available for 911 calls, to assist on structural fires, motor vehicle accidents, and all other call types we respond to,” said Chief Shaughnessy. “The individuals who work this unit are trained firefighters and EMTs. They are experienced and trained to respond to any call type.”

The 90-day program officially launched on April 6th. While it’s additional resources and manpower will undoubtedly bring relief and critical assistance to combat the Coronavirus here on the Tulalip Reservation, its impacts will be even more long-lasting. The new ambulance will be a permanent fixture at Tulalip Bay Fire and provide necessary back-up.

Last year, Tulalip Bay Fire received over 1,300 EMS calls. An estimated 100 of those calls required a backup unit, which meant depending on other agencies lending support and required losing potential life-saving time waiting on that back-up. Now, those type of situations will be mitigated by having a second aid car at the fire house permanently. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge for Tulalip,” said Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “We’ve had to adapt quickly to protect our people. We are grateful for our partnership with Tulalip Bay Fire. Together, we are doing what we can to make sure that the entire Tulalip community remains healthy and safe.”

Tulalip Bay Fire provides fire suppression, emergency medical services with transport, water rescue, public education, hazardous material cleanup and a basic level of technical rescue services. For more information, visit tulalipbayfire.org 

For concerned citizens who are beginning to experience COVID-19 related symptoms, please call the Tulalip Health Clinic’s main line at (360) 716-4511 to speak to their medical professionals. 

Homemade mask maker Georgina Medina is hustling and bustling… and potentially saving lives

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, unemployment is quickly approaching historic levels, and some economists are forecasting we may be heading to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Welcome to April 2020 in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  

While countless people are scrambling to find paying jobs or anxiously awaiting unemployment benefits to kick in, one Tulalip citizen’s ingenuity and craftsmanship has allowed her to carve out a critical position in a very niche, yet suddenly surging, market place. Georgina Medina, tribal member and devoted mother of five, is creating stylish, protective face masks to combat the coronavirus.

First, we must interrupt this article with an important message from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“The CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. We now know the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). 

“It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.”

That message comes directly from the CDC’s own website in an April 3rd announcement ending the weeks’ long debate about whether a non-medical grade face mask can minimize the transmission of coronavirus. The answer is a resounding ‘Yes, it can.’

Now, back to Tulalip tribal member Georgina and her homemade mask making. It was in early March, back before COVID-19 had really entered the everyday lexicon and long before the CDC recommendation, that she had the foresight to hone her craft making skills. A high-risk family member had started to wear a mask as a preventative measure and Georgina thought to herself, “I wonder how difficult those are to make?”

The inquisitive 36-year-old then took to YouTube and watched a video tutorial on cloth mask making.

“It seemed easy enough, so I tried a few different methods on my sewing machine that my boyfriend bought me for Christmas,” recalled Georgina. “It was quite an experience. I messed up a few times until finally finding a way that worked for me.”

When she perfected her fabrication method, she made a mask using an eye-catching fabric design and posted it on Facebook. The response was incredible. Immediately, she received comments and messages from prevention-minded individuals offering to purchase one of her homemade creations. 

“I learned quickly that there was a definite need for these types of masks. After I posted that picture the requests just kept coming,” said Georgina. “Because I purchase all the materials and do all the necessary cutting, sewing and ironing by hand, I decided to charge $10.00 per mask. It’s been one journey after another to my favorite store (Jo-Anne’s Fabric in Smokey Point) to pick out fabrics ever since.”

From the time when she made that initial Facebook post in March, the terms ‘coronavirus’, ‘COVID-19’ and ‘high-risk groups’ have dominated the media landscape. COVID-induced fear and panic has spread like wildfire across not just the nation, but the entire planet. Globally, there are now 1.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 85,000+ deaths attributed to the pandemic. The statistics continue to grow at an exponential rate, resulting in health experts no longer simply urging preventive measures, instead they are demanding the use of social distancing and mask wearing when in public.

As a result, Georgina’s 100% double-layered cotton fabric masks are Earth-friendly not only because they are washable and reusable, but they also potentially save lives by mitigating risk of coronavirus transmission.

“If my masks help people and allow some to feel safe going in public like on essential trips for supplies and groceries, then I’m glad I can be a part of that,” said Georgina when considering her masks’ positive impacts. “A mask is not a cure, but it is a preventative measure and that’s better than nothing at all. The CDC has recommended everyone to start wearing them, so I’ll keep making them until we are virus free.”

To date Georgina’s surging sales have led to a customer base spanning the entire west coast. She has shipped her masks to consumers from Alaska to California, the Dakotas and throughout Canada. There’s even been repeat business from a customer in Texas.

“I have an impaired immune system and was terrified to leave the house,” shared customer Callisto. “Now, with this mask and an added filter on the inside of it, I can go get groceries and not be so afraid. [The mask] is beautiful, fits well, and is so needed. And a bargain for the price!”

She delivers locally, offers shipping to those who require it, and even takes custom orders for customers desiring a specific fabric design.

“A huge thank you to those willing to support me and my 5 children at this time,” said the diligent mask maker before hustling back to her sewing machine. She just received another order to fill. 

Anyone interested in buying a stylish, protective mask to aid in lowering the coronavirus curve can do so by contacting Georgina Medina on Facebook.

Once a suggestion, ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ now a full on directive

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On March 23rd, Governor Jay Inslee announced his order for Washingtonians to stay at home. The rationale was simple: by staying home the chances of spreading coronavirus is minimized and, in effect, everyone abiding would be doing their part to ‘lower the curve’. Hours later, the Tulalip Tribes issued an emergency proclamation for all citizens on the Tulalip Reservation to ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’.

“We’ve been very clear on the need for everyone to stay home. The less time we spend in public, the more lives we will save,” explained Governor Inslee. “We know [this] announcement affects millions of our livelihoods and means life will look different in Washington. But these necessary restrictions will protect us and our loved ones so that we have a livelihood to come back to.”

Fast forward two-weeks and while most Washingtonians are doing their part, some still don’t grasp the seriousness of this global pandemic. The numbers boggle the mind. As of April 1st, there have been at least 905,000 total confirmed cases in 192 countries, with the most alarming number, the death toll, continuing to rise at an exponential rate. Globally, more than 45,200 deaths are now attributed to COVID-19.

Yet, locally on the reservation it was still a common occurrence to see children, teenagers, and adults casually out and about, partaking in leisurely activities. Gathering at Mission Beach? Yup. Games of pick-up hoops at the outdoor courts? Sure. Energetic youth roaming free on the ball field and neighborhood parks? Of course.

Social disobedience is nothing new. Ask any parent and they’ll attest to the fact that once you tell a child they can’t do something, regardless of what it is, that something becomes the only thing they want to do. That is until the consequences become severe enough that it’s no longer in their best interest to be disobedient.

And no, this type of behavior isn’t only on the reservation. The entire state is witnessing social disobedience from individuals and businesses, alike. 

“Since I announced the ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order for our state, we have seen social distancing and other compliance from businesses and residents across Washington for the good of the public health,” Governor Inslee recently said. “But thousands of calls are also pouring in to state and local agencies from concerned residents, with reports that some individuals and businesses are not in compliance.

“The actions of those who willfully violate this order may ultimately drag out the COVID-19 crisis even longer.”

Tulalip leadership has responded to this woeful behavior by implementing a new tribal code authorizing the enforcement of stay at home quarantine orders. To further reinforce the ‘stay home, stay healthy’ directive, all reservation parks, outdoor basketball courts, Youth Center skate park and ball field, and Mission Beach public access points have been permanently closed until further notice. 

Once a welcomed sight to all, now these recreational areas are sealed off with bright yellow CAUTION tape. Impossible to miss, the message is loud and clear. Similar to the Tribe’s adult playgrounds – Tulalip Resort, Quil Ceda Casino and Bingo – the outdoor community areas are officially closed for business, pending a must needed flattening of the curve when it comes to COVID-19 cases.

“The safety of our community is of the utmost importance,” said Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “We want people to stay home. [By doing so] it is slowing the curve and lowering the number of deaths. The Board of Directors will continue to adapt and make the best decisions we can for our community and our Tribe.”