During the evening of Saturday, October 29th, the Tulalip Tribes recognized and gave thanks to more than 375 Washington-based nonprofits and community groups who contributed to a sustainable and healthy community for all.
The typically annual Raising Hands celebration went on a temporary hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic before making its much anticipated 2022 return. Held in the Tulalip Resort Casino’s Orca Ballroom, the always stylish space hosted hundreds of representatives of these high-impacting organizations that came together to create an atmosphere of appreciation.
“In the Tulalip tradition, we raise our hands to show appreciation to the numerous organizations whose good works help to make our communities strong,” opened event emcee and board of director, Mel Sheldon. “This evening is an opportunity for Tulalip Tribes to honor and show respect to all the hard work each organization has contributed to the progress of all our communities.
“We are here to honor all 378 unique charities that Tulalip Cares has supported over the last year,” he continued. “During Covid, as we all hunkered down in our homes, many of you were out on the front lines working to help those in dire straits. Your work does not go unnoticed. Tulalip takes great pride in pulling together with all our community organizations, charities and members to support and provide guidance through this healing process.”
The exciting return of Raising Hands was bolstered by the significant community achievement stimulated by an astounding $7.2 million in tribal support to more than 375 nonprofits and community groups. Since 1992, the Tulalip Tribes charitable giving program has donated over $116 million in support to the community and, indirectly, to their own membership by supporting regional efforts to improve education, health and human services, cultural preservation, public services, and the environment.
But the Raising Hands event isn’t all about dollars and cents. It’s also a highly coordinated celebration where our community’s change makers are given a chance to share their plans for the future and learn how other like-minded charities are striving to make a difference. This is an invaluable benefit for organizations who can sometimes struggle to get their message broadcast to larger audiences.
During the 2022 rendition of Raising Hands, six standout nonprofits received special recognition for their exceptional creativity and effectiveness. Raven Rock Ranch, Museum of Glass, Sherwood Community Services, NOAH Center, Salmon Defense, and Innovative Services Northwest were each highlighted for their innovative work serving local communities.
“When you see people coming together to have these amazing, positive conversations, that is when we know we are helping make a difference,” asserted Marilyn Sheldon, manager of Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund. “We try to show respect and honor these charities that give so much of themselves for this community. We want them to feel like the red carpet got laid out just for them.
“Each year, as soon as the event is over, we ask ourselves how we can help make the next one even better,” she continued. “Giving people the opportunity to work together is priceless. We are so fortunate to be able to work with these amazing organizations throughout Washington State that do so much good in our communities.”
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 allows tribes to conduct certain types of gaming if they enter into a gaming compact with the state. Tulalip’s tribal-state gaming compact, like most, includes a provision to donate a percentage of gaming earnings to organizations impacted by gaming, as well as other charitable organizations. From this provision the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund was created.
The Charitable Fund, also known as Tulalip Cares, provides the opportunity for a sustainable and healthy community for all. The Tulalip Tribes strives to work together with the community to give benefits back to others to help build stronger connections to local neighborhoods. That’s why, in Tulalip, it is tradition to ‘raise our hands’ to applaud and give thanks to the numerous organizations in our region that strive to create a better world through positive action.
Nonprofits and community groups are encouraged to apply for quarterly awards through the Tulalip Cares program. For more information, visit the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Funds website at www.TulalipCares.org
The season has quickly changed here in the Pacific Northwest. Only a matter of days ago, on October 17 to be exact, we had the warmest October day in 45 years when the temperature soared to 89 degrees. Now though, a quick glance at the local weather forecast and we see only daily highs in the mid-50s and overnight lows in the 40s. Plus, a near constant barrage of much anticipated rainfall every single day.
With the wet and cold season upon us, many community families are quickly having to adjust and figure out ways to keep their kids healthy and active while remaining warm and dry indoors. Well, the leadership of our Tulalip Boys & Girls Club want to remind parents and guardians of school aged youth that ‘the Club’ is an ideal option.
The Club is open for new and returning members, and staff eagerly await that high-spirited energy to fill their complex once again.
“We can’t wait to have all our kids back again experiencing the large variety of fun and safe programs we offer. Whether that be activities like coloring or building with LEGOs for the real young kids who are learning their shapes and colors, playing bumper pool, or standard pool for the teenagers. These are simple, yet effective, activities that develop hand-eye coordination. Then there’s basketball and volleyball in the gymnasium that promote physical education and teamwork,” said office manager Diane Prouty.
During her 23 years of dedicated Boys & Girls Club service she’s proudly earned the title ‘Grandma Diane’ by the multiple generations of Tulalip youngsters who have called the Club a home away from home.
“Something we’ve always been proud to say is we keep our kids well fed with hot, nutritious meals,” she continued. “Since we’ve been back to our normal routine of cooking and serving a breakfast for the kids before school and late lunch after school, plus a snack or two, the kids have really been swamping back in. We have our own on-site nutritionist and cook, her name is Ariana, and she does an amazing job of whipping up tasty meals that our kids devour.
“We’re also proud to be part of the T.R.A.I.L. to diabetes prevention program, which guides our meal and snack making. This is why it was a big deal for us to go close to sugar-free by doing away with soda and high fructose juices. Instead we make fruit-infused water that the kids get a real woot out of. They drink barrels and barrels of water every day.”
Keeping children fed with freshly prepared meals and nutritious snacks is something that’s always separated the Tulalip’s Club from thousands of other Boys & Girls Clubs in the country. Those meals are especially important when it comes to the ever-growing minds and bodies of our youth who need all the vitamins, minerals, and proteins they can get.
Then there’s the 4000-square-foot, multimedia filled expansion that was added to the Club right before Covid hit. This tech hub is intended for the Club’s teenage membership and offers all the digital goodies this current era of teen yearns for. There’s Xbox One gaming stations complete with 4k televisions, a dedicated high-speed internet server, and a sound system that rivals most music studios. Cyber Café functions as a self-serve snack bar. There’s even a makeshift graffiti wall available for those artsy types who can create masterpieces with just chalk and their imagination.
There are conventional games as well for those who prefer their games of skill without computer assistance, like a pool, foosball and chess. A dedicated homework area consists of several computer stations equipped with all the necessary programs to meet the modern coursework demands, while also aiming to shrink the Reservation’s homework gap.
In the spirit of providing programs that promote growth through education, Club director Shawn Sanchey recently debuted ‘power hour’. The Tulalip tribal member and graduate of Heritage high school routinely shares his story of being a Club kid, including how having caring adults in the community to help guide him had a significant impact. Power hour is one example of how the 27-year-old Club director strives to pay that guidance forward.
“Power hour focuses on our kids’ education and is intended to help develop positive mental health as it relates to learning,” explained Shawn. “Instilling a work ethic and positive view on education is huge in our youth. How it works is when our kids get to the Club, they have to earn their screen time or gym time or any other recreation by completing their power hour first.
“It’s one hour, just 60-minutes, where they focus on their education. It could be completing math packets or other homework, reading a book, or could even be for the older kids to read to the younger kids or play UNO with them to help teach shapes and colors. It’s a small step that can have a big impact. We’re always talking about creating future leaders, that requires taking accountability over learning and instilling our values at a young age.
“It’s been awesome for me, personally, to witness kids go from being resistant to reading and doing school work to being excited to complete their power hour,” he added. “It’s also had a big social influence on our kids. We know that they watch and learn behavior from each other, so the more they see their peers getting excited to read to others or even form groups to review multiplication tables, it goes a long way in making a motivation difference.”
Since the new school year started, the average attendance at Tulalip’s Boys and Girls Club has increased to about 125 kids per day. With the increased capacity of the Teen Center expansion and recently added staff, the Club is able to serve 300 kids a day.
Over the next month or so, special events and activities are being planned so the kids can celebrate Halloween, Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving in a culturally appropriate way. Also, with basketball season right around the corner, there are plenty of opportunities to get eligible kids signed up so they can take to the court to get buckets.
Current Club hours are 6:00am – 7:00pm, Monday – Friday. Plus, every other Saturday for teen night. For all questions and inquiries about membership eligibility or day to day operations, please contact 360-716-3400 or email director Shawn Sanchey directly at email@example.com
The lights in room 162 of the Tulalip Administration Building were switched off on the evening of September 20. All eyes were watching a large projection screen at the front of the conference room as a movie was cast from the Panasonic overhead projector. There were over twenty ladies seated throughout the room. And although only visible by silhouette, they could not hold back some of the emotions brought on by the film, and were seen wiping tears from their eyes, shaking their heads in astonishment, and audibly gasping in shock as six Indigenous women shared their story in an 84-minute documentary titled, Sisters Rising.
The 2020 film is a moving, heartbreaking, and empowering watch that details the abuse and domestic violence (DV) that Native women face in today’s society. The film exposed the frustrating roadblock that those individuals experienced when they attempted to report the crimes committed against them and their loved ones.
A Supreme Court ruling in the late ‘70’s ruled that tribal courts do not have the jurisdiction to try and prosecute non-tribal members who commit crimes against their membership. For decades, non-Natives targeted Native women, children and men on reservations throughout the country and got away with child abuse, sexual abuse, DV and much more, resulting from that ruling.
The women featured in Sisters Rising retold their stories and showed how survived those horrific experiences of abuse and DV. More importantly, it showcased their resilience as each of the six women went on to help their communities, whether through prevention and awareness work or taking the initiative to change legislation in their respective homelands. All of the women are making a big impact in their tribal communities.
The film’s synopsis leads with some eye-opening statistics: “Sisters Rising is a powerful feature documentary about six Native American women reclaiming personal & tribal sovereignty. Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault than all other American women. 1 in 3 Native women report having been raped during her lifetime and 86% of the offenses are committed by non-Native men. These perpetrators exploit gaps in tribal jurisdictional authority and target Native women as ‘safe victims’. Their stories shine an unflinching light on righting injustice on both an individual and systemic level.”
Following the film screening, Tulalip Prosecutor Brian Kilgore was on-hand for a quick Q&A and to talk about how the film relates to the Tulalip Court and community. He shared, “The Supreme Court took away the jurisdiction of tribes to prosecute non-Indians. In 2013 we got back the ability to prosecute domestic violence crimes with Indian victims, with a couple of exceptions. One of those exceptions was there had to be a tie to this reservation. If you had people that were just passing through, we didn’t have jurisdiction. In October of this year, it was expanded again. Now we have jurisdiction over everybody.”
He continued, “This year I have gotten a felony DV referral every week, on average. It’s a lot. The other overlay here is that it’s not just jurisdiction over people. Tribes until very recently didn’t have any jurisdiction, we could only charge the not serious stuff. And what often happened is that the serious stuff got charged as not serious stuff. So, there might have been felony conduct but they still got a misdemeanor. Felony is anything greater than a year, misdemeanor is up to a year. The Tulalip Tribes had felony jurisdiction since 2012. We had two felony cases in 2015, and we had 70 this last year. It’s increasing; it’s not a good thing, right? But my sense is that there isn’t more crime, we’re just catching more of it, and we’re able to prosecute more of it. I think it is a good thing. I think the numbers we’re seeing are more realistic, and it doesn’t really represent more violence.”
The film screening was hosted by the Tulalip Legacy of Healing (LOH) and the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in observance of National DV Awareness Month. Throughout October, the two programs have held a number of events to help bring attention to the DV that occurs within Native America and more specifically, here at Tulalip. In addition to the Sisters Rising screening, they have also hosted a Resolving Trauma workshop with the Director/Consultant of the Midwest Trauma Services Network, Frank Grijalva MSCC, MSPH, as well as a self-defense class led by the Tulalip Police Department.
“One of the core focuses with DV Awareness Month is the importance of breaking the silence,” expressed Sydney Gilbert, CAC/LOH Coordinator and Forensic Interviewer. “If people are not talking about and it’s not coming to light, it lives in the shadow. The more we can talk about it, the more we can bring it to attention, the more we can normalize the conversation around it. We know that there’s higher rates of intimate partner violence in communities that have experienced trauma. Another focus we have for this month is addressing that trauma, and not only bringing attention to intimate partner violence, but bringing attention on how we can heal from that as a community.”
After the documentary’s credits finished rolling, Tulalip tribal member Lena Hammons, who sat attentively in the front row, expressed, “I loved that they were in front of tribal council proposing new codes to protect their women. I think that we need more people doing that, and if not go to General Council because it is a serious issue. I didn’t know there was 70 cases already this year and I’m out in the community a lot so that was kind of scary for me. I love the strong women who were standing up, helping each other and helping themselves. I’m a DV survivor myself, and had to fight for myself and my kids. It was nice to see they weren’t presenting themselves as victims, they were presenting themselves as survivors and supporters. Women need to know that they’re not alone and we need to support each other. Whether you know someone or not, if you know something is happening you need to report it.
“And for men and our women who are violators, it’s important for them to know that it won’t be tolerated. It’s not our way. It’s not traditional. It’s not cultural. It’s colonized behavior. It’s important for everybody to know that. You don’t have to tolerate DV. If you’re a perpetrator of DV, there’s help for you. Go get the help. Because we love everybody, and we don’t give up on anybody.”
If you or anybody you know is experiencing an abusive relationship, please do not hesitate to call the LOH at (360) 716-4100 for assistance. And if you are in a crisis or an emergency situation, the LOH provided a list of three additional hotline numbers that you can utilize during your time of need:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Strong Hearts Native Helpline: 1-844-762-8483
Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County 425-25-ABUSE (22873).
On October 24-25, Tulalip Tribes hosted the 33rd annual Centennial Accord at the Tulalip Resort Casino and the Tulalip Gathering Hall. Washington Tribal leaders, State legislators, Governor Jay Inslee, and numerous government agencies were in attendance to discuss policies and issues regarding tribal sovereignty, humanitarian efforts, and other tribal concerns.
The Centennial Accord was developed in 1989 by the federally recognized Indian tribes of Washington State and the State of Washington to build trust and confidence among the parties in the government-to-government relationship. Meetings like the Accord help strengthen the foundation for the future of tribes in Washington and how our people operate. Having a Native voice to discuss, change, and implement state policies significantly affects how Washington handles Native issues in the future.
Chairwoman Teri Gobin began the meeting by saying, “Thank everyone for all your efforts and being here today. My dad Stan Jones was a part of history and participated when the first Centennial Accord was passed. I remember praying that we would reach a point where our people would be treated as equals, our rights would be respected, and our sovereignty would be protected. Years of hard work have gone into this, and we are at a pivotal point in history where so many issues require us to take action now. Our ancestors are here with us and watching over us as we make these changes.”
Throughout the day, the parties discussed specific issues involving education, health, the Climate Commitment Act, the HEAL Act, environmental justice, Social Services, and Natural Resources. The first day of the Accord is used to finalize details and answer concerns before presenting these agendas to the state Governor on the second day.
This year’s Centennial Accord was the first gathering that Higher Education acquired its own roundtable discussion. One of the many topics discussed was the lack of Native employee and counselor representation within colleges, funding towards Native students, and hardships that first-generation Native college students face. And though many of the public colleges are willing and able to work with tribes, establishing the foundation of these efforts is what many tribal leaders are trying to develop.
Representative Debra Lekanoff, D-Bow, was in attendance for the Accord and spoke about the actions that she is taking for Higher Education, “I’m proposing a Bill this year that provides free tuition, housing, and a stipend for food. This will apply to Native Americans of all federally recognized tribes across the nation attending (public) universities and colleges in Washington. If you are a Native from a federally recognized tribe from Montana and enroll in a university or college in Washington, then you can receive funding.”
During the Social Services meeting conversation focused on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the possibility of it being overturned by the Supreme Court on November 9. Ross Hunter, Secretary of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, and Honorable Loni Greninger, Vice-Chair of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, assured that they are working to prepare an argument for November 9 to preserve ICWA, and have been diligently working with other states in the US to do the same.
When speaking about the health struggles that Native people face, a State of Emergency was discussed, as Native Americans accounted for 63% of the suicide attempts in Washington in 2020. It was also noted that in 2001 the Native American mortality rate increased by 58%. To help mitigate this issue, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) set up a 24/7 emergency hotline dedicated to mental health crises called the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. When a Native is suffering a mental health crisis, they can dial 988, explain that they are Native, and be transferred to a Native mental health and substance use disorder professional in their territory and seek specific cultural and spiritual guidance. It is a new program that SAMHSA hopes to have operational soon.
The opioid crisis was also heavily discussed at the Accord. Lummi Chairman William Jones Sr was transparent about their declaration of emergency, their struggles, and concerns about fentanyl, saying, “We keep talking about how it’s a crisis, and how devastating it is for our people, but why isn’t the government attacking this issue like they did Covid? I’m sure everyone in this room can say they have been affected by fentanyl. We’re becoming almost numb to hearing about overdoses, but we must figure out a solution and need real help from the state.”
Many other tribes shared their problems with fentanyl and how the lack of law enforcement and healthcare on reservations only continues to play into the crisis. The Chair of the American Indian Health Commission, Steve Kutz, responded by saying there is a need for a summit dedicated towards fentanyl, to which Governor Inslee agreed.
Another concern for many tribes is the Salmon crisis. Some tribes explained a severe decline in the salmon population in their area and an urge for government involvement and funding towards rehabilitation.
Senior Policy Advisor for Natural Resources for Washington, Ruth Musgrave, responded, “Although the Lorraine Loomis Act was not successful, this process is still ongoing, the two provisos were put into place. One was finding all the voluntary and regulatory programs agencies have for riparian restoration and protection. The other was to interview many of you [tribal leaders] and stakeholders about what would work for riparian restoration.”
She continued to speak on the 3.2 billion dollars that have been used towards salmon recovery, the Lower Snake River Dam initiative, erecting fish passage barriers, seeking tribal consultation, and the various ways departments continue to work together to try and institute change.
A historical moment occurred at the Accord as the Tulalip Tribes and the Department of Corrections held an additional signing ceremony for Senate Bill 5694, which Governor Inslee initially signed in March. The Bill recognizes tribes’ sovereign nations, equitable with any other state, state agency, county, or federal jurisdiction in decisions regarding the Department of Corrections. It also authorizes the Washington State Department of Corrections to negotiate agreements with Washington tribes to allow tribal court inmates to serve their felony sentences in an appropriate facility with access to Native rehabilitative services.
Throughout American history, our ancestors have struggled to protect our culture and way of life. With so many adversaries, the Accord continues to hold a place where tribal leaders get direct face time with Washington legislation, the state Governor, and government department leads. And though discussions can sometimes get heated, Governor Inslee stated, “Native Americans have a voice, and it is powerful.”
The state and tribes continue to work together, hold meaningful dialogue, and fight for our peoples’ voices and generations to come.
In anticipation of their second annual community gathering to recognize Residential Boarding School Awareness Day, the Tulalip Education Division once again planned to hand out orange t-shirts on September 30th.
Last year, the Education Division reached out to Tulalip artist, Marysa Sylvester for the very first t-shirt design, which featured a hummingbird and a flower in traditional formline. Keeping true to their theme of supporting and promoting Tulalip artists, the Education Division commissioned this year’s design from Ty Juvinel.
Leading up to the gathering, the design was kept under wraps and was set to be unveiled the day of the event. Hours prior to the ceremony, Tulalip News got an exclusive sneak peek at the design, which displayed the words truth, justice, healing in the traditional Lushootseed language. The design was leaked on the Tulalip News Facebook page and received a lot of heartfelt reactions and comments, and hopefully prompted many to take part in the annual gathering.
Said Ty, “The design represents a thunderbird and the creator watching over the community, with two warrior drummers watching over the children, and the children have their dance paddles showing they still have their heritage.”
Hundreds of t-shirts were handed out at the start of the ceremony, and together as a community, the people brought some truth, justice, and healing through traditional song and dance while proudly donning Ty’s design.
In recognition of Residential Boarding School Awareness Day, the Hibulb Cultural Center held a pop-up exhibit on Friday September 30 to help their visitors gain an understanding about the Indian Boarding Schools. The exhibit gave insight to what occurred at the terrible institutes of assimilation from the point of view of the Indigenous children who attended the Tulalip boarding school.
A heart-wrenching and tear-jerking screening of ‘The Faces of the Tulalip Boarding School’ played on a loop throughout the day inside the cultural center’s longhouse. The HCC giftshop also had a handful of orange t-shirts available for purchase in honor of the day of awareness. And a large double-sided panel was stationed at the center of the museum, which depicted black and white photos of the Tulalip boarding school and its students. Through letters sent home and a number of recorded interviews, the Hibulb Cultural Center compiled several testimonies from the Tulalip boarding school students, which painfully details what they experienced at the school.
Those dreadful recountings are positioned throughout the panel as captions to various photos. Below are some of those statements.
“The first night away from home seemed like a long, long night. At home, my mother would always go to the bedroom with me and lift me up. Sometimes my father would come to the door and tell me that I was a good girl. At school everyone put themselves to bed. The dormitories were always so cold. They had the windows wide open because they didn’t want us to get tuberculosis. Even in the winter they were wide open, and the cold wind blows over the bay.”
– Harriette Shelton-Dover, Snohomish
“I remember one of those majors, when there was an infraction of the rules, made the girls who went outside the boundaries line up and march in front of everyone in all three companies and get the back of their legs slapped with a ruler. And those girls couldn’t walk. It put scars on them.”
– Vi Hilbert, Upper Skagit
“At Tulalip you had to wear uniforms. They had a celluloid collar. I have a short neck and that thing would stick into my neck, so I’d always have to hold my head way up.”
– Ronomous ‘Toddy’ Lear, Lummi
“It was always meat and potatoes and ugly gravy. One doctor came along, and he changed things. He seen that a lot of us were getting sores around the neck, and he thought it was the diet.”
– Marya Moses, Snohomish
“We had to march from our rooms to the kitchen to eat and back again to get ready for school. And we’d march to the school building. Everywhere we went we’d march, march, march.”
– Ham Green, Makah
“I went to Tulalip. I was six years old. Mother didn’t like it very well, but she said it just had to be done. I felt bad when we was going., heck, along come a boat, a big motorboat, and picked us up. Like little cows, we got in and away we went. We didn’t even know where Tulalip was.”
– Woody Loughtey, Suquamish
“When the flu first came in 1917-1918m they were making coffins, but they couldn’t make them fast enough, so many people died. So, they wrapped them in tule mats, five or six in one grave.”
– Alfred Sam, Snohomish
The cultural center’s pop-up exhibit was a great introductory for those who wished to learn more about the boarding school era. Upon sharing the news about the exhibit on social media, many people who live out of the vicinity of Tulalip requested another pop-up so they can plan a visit in the near future. Several of those individuals expressed that they actually had relatives who attended the Tulalip boarding school and inquired how they could receive additional information and/or photos of their loved ones.
The Hibulb Cultural Center is open Tuesday – Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday – Sunday Noon to 5:00 p.m. For more information, including their exhibits and events, please visit their website www.HibulbCulturalCenter.org or contact (360) 716-2600.
The Tulalip Education Division hosted their second annual Residential Boarding School Awareness Day. The evening commemorated the lost lives from residential boarding schools, and acknowledged the pain that the survivors carry with them every day. Some of the survivors shared their stories, family members spoke about the generational trauma that came from this era, and tribal leaders expressed how our community can move forward together.
Board of Directors Secretary, Debra Posey, spoke about how her grandmother was the first woman ever on the Tulalip tribal council in 1936. Long ago, they would pull their money together for gas, travel and to write letters to Washington DC, urging politicians and legislators to help our people. She spoke about how that same spirit and unity still lives in our people today through events like Residential Boarding School Awareness Day.
The emotional and heartfelt event was full of song and prayer to instigate healing and spiritual restoration. Tribal and community members wore orange to symbolize the day and show unity in efforts to raise awareness about these issues. And the phrase “Every Child Matters” was seen printed on items like earrings, t-shirts, and bags to remind those around us of the horrific acts that our families and ancestors once endured.
Throughout history our people have been silenced, demonized, and violated. Residential Boarding Schools are just another example of this horrific past and the grounds in which this country was built. The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition has identified more than 350 boarding schools that were operated by the US Federal government and the churches, from 1869 to the 1960s. Their philosophy being, “Kill the Indian, save the man.”
Native American children were forcibly taken from their homes and placed into these boarding schools intended to implement cultural genocide. Native children suffered various amounts of emotional, physical, sexual, mental and spiritual abuse. And in many cases, death. Children were no longer allowed to speak their native language, wear their traditional clothing, sing or dance, and partake in any of their cultural practices.
The US Interior Department has so far recognized 53 boarding school burial sites, both marked and unmarked. While the remains of our ancestors continually are found, the Interior Department acknowledged that these numbers will continue to grow as research continues. Today, 75 of the remaining boarding schools are still open, and 15 of them are still boarding.
This heartbreak is nothing new to our people, it is something that Indigenous people across the continent continue to feel and strive to overcome. Native Americans continue to fight and spread the word on this horrific era, and make the tragedies of our people known.
When speaking about the intentions behind Residential Boarding School Awareness Day, Youth and Family Enrichment Manager Josh Fryberg said “We come together to raise awareness about boarding schools, and to bring our people healing in the best way that we know how.”
For our people to be able to gather like we once did, to sing and dance, and honor our ancestors, it speaks to the level of perseverance that our people have and will continue to portray.
Youth-led. A common catch-all term used to describe events, efforts, or movements where youth are the face and first point of contact. However, it’s become rarer and rarer for such a thing to actually be true. More often than not, its adults pulling the strings from the background and projecting their virtues onto youth who are unable to describe the enormity of such grandiose concepts that their string bearers have bestowed upon them.
That isn’t to say youth-led efforts, in the truest sense of the term, don’t happen. Because they do. And when they occur they are usually noteworthy stories full of inspiration. Such is the case with 13-year-old Audrina Bumgarner and her commitment to seeing her school, Our Lady of Hope, recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
More commonly known as Orange Shirt Day, September 30th has propelled itself into the mainstream because of Indigenous efforts all across North America. As Indigenous lore tells it, the day was created by Phyllis Webstad (Canadian First Nation) who tells the powerful story of having her orange shirt taken away when she attended a residential school, as well as being stripped of her language, culture and childhood joy.
“I went to the Mission for one school year in 1973-1974. I had just turned 6-years-old,” explained Phyllis. “I lived with my grandmother on the Dog Creek reserve. We never had very much money, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school. I remember going to the store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It was so bright and exciting…just like I felt to be going to school.
“When I got to the Mission, they stripped me and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt. I never wore it again. [Since then] the color orange has always reminded me that my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I worthless. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”
Phyllis’s words put literal truth to power as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation has since been adopted by both Canadian and U.S. governments to support the stories and memories of the children and generations lost during the Boarding School Era.
With this powerful sentiment in mind, young Tulalip citizen Audrina approached her catholic school’s leadership staff several weeks ago with a simple request: formally recognize Orange Shirt Day by allowing the school’s Tulalip students and their fellow student allies to be exempted from the school’s uniform dress code in order to proudly wear orange. After consideration, the school honored the request.
“Our student council has been focused on several projects this year. One of those projects was created by Audrina who wanted us to recognize Orange Shirt Day in a bigger way than we have ever done in the past,” said Our Lady of Hope principal Kathy Wartelle. “She came with a complete plan that felt empowering to her and her community, while also being beneficial to teaching others about the day’s significance.
“It’s incredibly important that we, as a school, support our students of multicultural backgrounds,” she added. “We love the diversity that our school has and have develop a great relationship with the Tulalip Tribes. We have close to 50 Tulalip students attending this year, so it’s important that we continue to learn from one another and our families. This means recognizing the impacts of past discretions have had on all cultures and using our faith to lift each other up.”
With the support of Our Lady of Hope’s leadership, Audrina elevated Orange Shirt Day to new heights and led her fellow Tulalip peers in proudly wearing their culture on their impossible to miss, bright orange shirts. For students who wanted to support the movement but didn’t own an orange shirt, the administrative staff hand crafted orange ribbons that could be pinned to the students’ uniform.
As students took to their seats in preparation of the school day, Audrina took to the school-wide microphone with a heartfelt message intended to educate those within the private catholic school who may have been unaware of day’s significance.
“Orange Shirt Day is in recognition of the lasting trauma these Indian Residential Schools caused to survivors and their families and Native Americans to this day. This is a day for healing and to remember the children who didn’t come home. On this day we pray for healing,” declared the inspirational Tulalip youth.
While her words resounded throughout the classrooms and hallways of the Everett-based school, her well-intentional effort came to fruition in the hearts and minds of her peers and teachers who not only took in her message, but also weren’t afraid to showcase their support by wearing orange.
“Last year, only me and a handful of other students wore orange. The awareness wasn’t really there, so I wanted to make it more recognized and bring more awareness to the day this year,” explained the 13-year-old while. “Orange Shirt Day is a day of remembrance to honor the children who didn’t come home and also the children who did come home because the survivors and their families are still affected to this day.”
Following Audrina’s school-wide announcement, Dion Joseph, father of Our Lady of Hope students Gia and Kingston Joseph who rocked their Every Child Matters orange swag to school, summed up the day’s youth-led development perfectly. “It means a lot because not only are our kids honoring their ancestors by going to school to get an education, but they also are educating and bringing awareness to others about the true history of our people and the true history of European people. It makes me proud to know those truths are no longer being swept under the rug.”
“When we decided to go down this path of sports betting, we knew it was going to be a long and grueling process in Olympia. Our lawyers worked hard finding the right legislation and gaming compact language so we could bring our goal to fruition,” explained Tulalip Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “With all the Washington tribes working together, we earned our legislative victory a year ago. It did take a while to make our vision a reality, but in the end we did it the Tulalip way. And as you can see, it’s a grand way.”
Moments later, Chairwoman Gobin beamed with excitement as she stood next to fellow board member Hazen Shopbell, Seattle Mariners legend Randy Johnson, and DraftKings representative Johnny Avello for a ceremonial ribbon cutting. While the red ribbon fluttered to the floor, a sweeping thrill of energy radiated through the largely Tulalip crowd, announcing Tulalip’s sportsbooks are officially open for business.
A large contingent of Tulalip culture bearers were on-hand to open the event in a traditional way. The voices and thumping drum beats of adults and children echoed through the casino gaming floor, reminding everyone they are guests on Indigenous land.
“I’ve opened a number of casinos and sportsbooks in my career and want to thank the tribal members for their songs and prayers because I’ve never encountered that before. That was fabulous,” said Johnny Avello, DraftKings director of race and sportsbook operations.
Tulalip Resort Casino and Quil Ceda Creek Casino both celebrated their grand openings simultaneously on Tuesday, September 20. The much-anticipated events featured celebrity guests – former Mariners pitcher, the towering 6’10” baseball hall of famer Randy Johnson at the Resort and Seattle Seahawks former wide receiver and hall of famer Steve Largent at the Q.
The retail sportsbooks feature live in-game sports betting and other engaging wagering options, with viewing of a multitude of sporting events at the same time possible via jumbotron-like LED screens. The Resort’s sportsbook is over 5,000 square feet and offers sporting enthusiasts the opportunity to watch up to 10 live sporting events while placing bets at 20 touch screen kiosks and 4 over-the-counter ticket windows. Another ten sports betting kiosks are located throughout the Resort’s gaming floor.
The state-of-the-art sports betting venue is managed by Tulalip citizen Brandon Jones. Impressively, the 35-year-old has 17 years of gaming experience. He started his gaming career in the cage at just 18-years-old and hasn’t looked back since.
“Gaming and the casino life are all I know, it’s all I’ve ever done,” shared Brandon, sportsbook manager. “It means so much to be a Tulalip tribal member and be able to build something all-new from scratch that adds so much value to the reservation, from both a business and community perspective.
“We’ve designed this sportsbook for the new generation. A lot of people my age and younger aren’t interested in bingo or keno, but are super engaged in all forms of sports entertainment, whether it be professional or college level,” he continued. “We’ll continue to evolve our sports betting and are already working towards facilitating e-gaming betting in the near future. To my fellow tribal members, this venue offers a new place to gather and enjoy the Seahawks, Mariners, or Huskies and Cougs games with all the high energy of a local crowd.”
Meanwhile, the Q’s new sportsbook features 20 sports betting kiosks and 3 over-the-counter ticket windows located on the gaming floor. The four video walls in The Stage, the Q’s entertainment venue and nightclub, span nearly 900 square feet, comprised of 13 million pixels that can also display up to ten different games simultaneously. Both of the sportsbooks are outfitted with a variety of betting resources, including odds boards, scrolling tickers with live-score updates, statistics, and player information.
In development with Tulalip’s newest partner, DraftKings, a digital app is in the works that will allow gamers of either casino sportsbooks to place bets from their mobile devices while on casino property. Future announcements are planned when the app is ready for launch.
After the grand opening ceremony ended, several tribal members eagerly waited for a picture opportunity with former Mariners, the Big Unit and Bucky Jacobsen. Others quickly took to one of the new sports-based kiosks to place their first-ever sports bet. Father/son duo Cyrus Fryberg Sr. and Jr. were spotted putting their combined sports knowledge together for a wager or two.
“As an avid sports bettor, I know this is going to be huge for Tulalip. The atmosphere around sports is different than our other revenue streams because the younger generation is so involved with sports,” said Bubba Fryberg. “We can definitely anticipate many new people coming to Tulalip on Saturday for college football, Sundays for NFL games, and throughout the weeks for marquee matchups and primetime games. Also, it’s cool for everybody to have a new spot where family and friends can come together to root for their favorite teams.”
Both of Tulalip’s sportsbook offerings are open 24/7. All sports bets are cash only, so there’s complete anonymity. Unless, you were one of those attending the grand opening and wanted to share your sports bet ticket, like councilwoman Marie Zackuse who placed a $10 wager on the Mariners money line.
If you recently made a trip up north to Smokey Point, you may have noticed that the small district of Arlington is going through some major changes. A behemoth building was constructed at the lot adjacent to the Walmart Supercenter that will soon become the home of a new Amazon facility. And it seems that once the news broke that Amazon was coming to the area, several other companies gained interest in opening up shop in the vicinity.
“This area is really growing a lot,” said Tulalip tribal member and local business owner, Marvin Velazquez. “Amazon is about to open up with 10,000 employees. Microsoft, Google, Space X are all building up here. Smokey Point is about to really boom, and so we’re in a great location.”
Across the way from Safeway, and visible from the drive-thru line of McDonalds, is a 7,000 sq. ft. commercial space where bonds between colleagues will flourish, romantic relationships between lovers young and old are sure to strengthen, everlasting memories will be made amongst family members, and fun will be shared amongst friends while taking part in an exhilarating and competitive activity.
“We held our ribbon cutting ceremony on March 12th, and our grand opening was St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th,” said Marvin about his latest venture, Tomahawk Axe. “It’s been pretty amazing. We’ve been open five months and had over 5,000 people come in and throw axes. I’m really proud of what we built here. I think we have a lot of potential to grow.”
Upon entry to Tomahawk Axe, there are a number of throwback arcade games including Mortal Kombat, Batman, Ms. Pacman, Galaga, and Big Buck Hunter. A quick survey of the place will prove that the business is jampacked with fun as two pool tables, a foosball table, and dart machines are scattered throughout the outer perimeter of the space. All that fun entertainment, and we have yet to mention their main attraction.
Twelve impressive throwing stations line the back wall of the facility, all personally built by Marvin who also owns the well-known local business, Affordable General Contractor LLC.
“I built all these lanes,” he proudly exclaimed. “The lanes are 6×15 feet long and we have an anti-bounce curtain. If you throw the axe at the end grain target and miss, and hit the black curtain, the axe will fall to the ground. We spray all of our targets to help the axe stick, and it also maintains the target.”
The end grain targets are a big difference between Tomahawk Axe and other axe throwing businesses around the country. Most axe throwing targets are constructed of 2×12 planks. And after building those targets, the business owners will typically paint bullseye vectors for their patronage to take aim. Those targets are then utilized until they are completely destroyed, which doesn’t take very long, and owners find themselves going through many targets on a weekly basis. Marvin’s targets however last months on end.
And at Tomahawk Axe, there’s not a painted target in sight. Instead of taking aim at a fixed bullseye each turn, customers are treated to fun and challenging targets that change position every time a thrower approaches the lane. The targets are computer generated and casted onto the end grain wood via an overhead projector. You also have the opportunity to switch it up from the traditional vector bullseye and play several other games such as blackjack, tic tac toe, connect four, as well as zombie and duck hunt.
Marvin is quick to mention that he did not build the axe throwing business by himself. He credits his life and business partner, Dana Higgins, for a lot of the behind the scenes work and day-to-day operations.
“I always say that I do everything you can’t see, and he does everything you can see,” Dana said. “That’s what makes us a good team because we bring-in two different skillsets.”
Marvin added, “Her and I built this on our own. She runs a lot of the ins-and-outs as far as the software, booking, website, and advertisement.”
The duo decided that they wanted to create something interactive that would engage the people of their community. They were inspired to take on the endeavor when visiting other axe throwing locations, but their goal was to take the up-and-coming sport to the next level in a way that everybody could enjoy throughout the course of an evening.
“We were throwing axes at other places. And they all draw their targets on their boards,” Dana explained. “It’s something that we’d spend twenty-five minutes on, and we’d be done because it wasn’t something that kept us entertained and interactive with everybody else. Here, we provide something different and something more for our customers. So, when people come in and play, they stay longer because they have different choices of games to play. Right now, there are six different games, and we’ll release another one here in the next couple of weeks. It’s nice to have something different and to bring-in something new every four to five months, so when people come in it’s not always the same thing.”
Marvin agreed, “Our idea was to bring in something that ties in technology with physical activity. We wanted to get those kids to be interactive. We allow kids 8-years and older, and that makes it a great family activity. And we can show 8-year old’s how to throw axes all day.”
Not only does Marvin, Dana, and their staff teach kids how to throw, but they also offer their expertise to all ages. Each session that is booked at Tomahawk Axe comes with an axe throwing coach who will provide you with the proper technique and necessary training, with safety as priority, to begin throwing axes and hitting targets on your first visit. So, rest assured, you will learn all the basics if you are a newcomer to the sport.
“Our axe coaches will show you how to hold the axe, show you how to stand, how to throw the axe, and we’ll coach you until you stick that axe. We’ll be on standby and give you some pointers as you go on, if we see that you’re struggling. That’s crucial to having clientele because it’s not about throwing axes; it’s about sticking axes. If you can stick that axe and have a great time, you’re going to come back. If you’re throwing bricks all night, you’re not going to have any fun,” stated Marvin.
After taking time to demonstrate the proper way to throw an axe, Marvin smiled and said, “once you get a little bit better at throwing axes, you can do all kinds of stuff,” before showcasing a few trick shots including underhanded, two-handed, through the legs, and even a no-looker.
Coming from Tulalip, Marvin wanted to incorporate his heritage and culture into the new business. He called upon cultural leader Tony Hatch to bless the facility during the ribbon cutting ceremony. And as the business grows, Marvin has a strong desire to hire tribal members onto his team. He also asked Lower Elwha artist, Al Charles Jr., to design the logo for the company.
“Isn’t that badass?” exclaimed Marvin. “Al Charles did an amazing job on the logo, the Tomahawk bear. I graduated from Marysville Pilchuck, so I’ve always been a Tomahawk. Tomahawks are a traditional Native hunting type weapon and being a tribal member, we wanted to have a Native theme. We thought tomahawk would fit really well up here. This is a lumberjack community here in Arlington and there’s a lot of Native Americans who log or use the axe seasonally, cutting firewood and whatnot. This used to be our hunting ground here and we lost it over time. Tony made a very good point – he said this is the first tribal member owned business back on our land.”
Marvin and Dana have big plans on the horizon in addition to bringing on new target games for local axe throwers. Such plans include a sports bar, outdoor beer garden, darts and cornhole tournaments, an official axe throwing league, individual tomahawks for purchase, and a restaurant.
“We’ll open up the sports bar and the restaurant by the first of the year, that’s a nice goal,” said Marvin. “We named the restaurant Mel’s Kitchen – my dad died during COVID. He was retired state patrol and a chef. He had many restaurants in California, the Bay Area. So, we decided to keep it cooking for him up here by naming it Mel’s Kitchen. I’m stoked to get it up and running.”
Tomahawk Axe also hosts private events outside of normal business hours. And as their flyer states, axe throwing is perfect for all occasions including date night, birthday parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, engagement and wedding parties, employee appreciation parties, corporate events, and team building events.
Tomahawk Axe has already held private events for the Stillaguamish Youth Center and the Tulalip Education Division. And with the rainy season coming up, they will be extending their hours so that locals can enjoy some great indoor fun. For more information, including their pricing, hours of operation, or to book a lane online, please visit their website at www.TomahawkAxeThrow.com
Said Dana, “People think that they’re just coming in to throw an axe, but it’s great to see their reaction when they walk in and see our technology that goes with it. It’s more interactive and a fun family activity.”
“We consider ourselves to be the Top Golf of axe throwing,” Marvin stated. “With twelve lanes, we are the largest facility in the state. Most people don’t realize how fun axe throwing is and are intimidated, but it’s a really safe sport. Axe throwing is a stress reliver and we consider it to be axe counseling. We all have built-up frustration or rage and stuff, and we need to get out. You come here and throw out all your frustration and take it out on this target. It’s good to get it out physically, so you can release it mentally.”