Lady Hawks rally late for emphatic Tri-District victory

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Coming off a stellar 2nd place finish at the Northwest 1B District tournament, the Heritage Lady Hawks (13-8) were riding a wave of success. They had won 6 of their past 7 and gotten hot at the perfect time late in the season. 

Because of their recent success and high finish at Districts they were rewarded with a 1st round home game to open the Tri-District tournament. They played the Mustangs of Rainier Christian (5-15) on Saturday, February 15.

The first half was flat out ugly for the home team Lady Hawks. They were sloppy with their passes and not executing their offense anywhere close to what’s been expected. The defense wasn’t much better, allowing the Mustangs to get easy looks close to the basket.

At halftime, Tulalip trailed 19-31.

In the 2nd half, the girls flipped a switch and all of a sudden it was the winning style Lady Hawk basketball being played. The guards were making crisp, on-point passes to forwards Jacynta Myles and Krislyn Parks who were bulldozing their way over the much smaller Mustang players. 

Defensively, the team was locked-in. They contested every shot, kept their hands active to force turnovers, and battled for every rebound. Down 12 at halftime, Tulalip quickly bounced back in the 3rd quarter to tie the game at 39-39.

In the decisive 4th quarter, Tulalip kept going to the well and getting the ball to their forwards who were taking full advantage of their overpowering presence. In fact, at one point in the 2nd half, Jacynta and Krislyn combined to shoot an impressive 16/21 from the field. That hot shooting combined with the team’s lockdown defense forcing the Mustangs to shoot contested, off-balance shots meant victory for the Lady Hawks.

The start may have been ugly, but the finish more than made up for it enroute to an emphatic 57-45 home win. 

“We were not playing well at all in the 1st half,” said sophomore standout Jacynta following the comeback. “Personally, I had to change my energy and play more aggressive because we deserved a win. Once we got going in the 2nd half, the whole team’s energy changed and we knew we had the W.”

“Our coaches emphasized to us at halftime that we needed to play our game and quit trying to adjust to our opponent’s defense,” added co-captain Krislyn. “We needed to get the ball inside, pound them with post play, and quit settling for 3-point shots. We wanted to be a cleanup crew by grabbing every rebound and getting putback baskets.”

A 1st round Tri-District win is good all on its own, but making it even more special was it came on Krislyn’s 17th birthday, which was celebrated after the game by the group of delighted hoopers.

“Two years ago we played a 1st round game, loser-out, on my birthday and we lost,” shared the newly minted 17-year-old. “So this was redemption for myself being a much better player and being able to do more to help the team win.”

The Lady Hawks hit the road for a crucial matchup with rival Lummi at Mt. Vernon Christian High School. They’ll play a late game on Thursday, February 20. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:45pm.

Hawks season comes to abrupt end at Tri-Districts

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

A season filled with much excitement and anticipation came to an abrupt end over the weekend, as the Tulalip Heritage boys basketball team (13-7) hosted Tacoma Baptist (16-7) in a 1st round matchup of the 1B Tri-District tournament.

The loser-out game was played on Saturday, February 15 at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium. The stakes were simple, win and be guaranteed two more Tri-District games or lose and be finished. 

Adoring fans filled the gym’s bleacher sitting prior to the game’s opening tip-off. 

Early in the game Tacoma Baptist was dictating tempo and shooting a high percentage of 3-point shots against the Hawks’ defense. Making matters worse, the Tulalip boys were struggling to find their rhythm offensively.

At the end of the 1st quarter, the home team trailed 7-21. That deficit grew to 18-35 at halftime. 

During the intermission, Tulalip coaches emphasized to their players to not scoreboard watch, but instead simply play their game: High energy on both ends and leave nothing for later because there might not be a later. 

In the 2nd half, trailing by 17 points, the boys kept their heads held high and came out determined to make a game of it. They came out hustling on defense, going all out to force turnovers, while routinely diving on the floor for loose balls. On offense, they finally found a rhythm and made a point of attacking the basket.

Leading the comeback charge was junior forward Alonzo Jones. He connected on five straight shots at one point, capitalizing on the steals his fellow backcourt players were coming up with. The crowd was fully engaged and back into it, cheering madly for their squad to come up with a miracle comeback. 

The Hawks trimmed the Tacoma Baptist lead from 17 points all the way down to just 4, when they trailed 56-60 with just over a minute remaining in the 4th quarter. Forced to foul to preserve precious seconds of game play, they boys hoped their opponent would miss critical free-throws. Instead, Tacoma Baptist clutch free-throw shooting iced the game. 

Tulalip lost 59-67. Alonzo led his team with 25 points and 18 rebounds. Senior guard Leno Velo added 16 points and 3 steals in his final high school game. 

Heritage finished the season with a (13-8) record overall and, most impressively, continued the school’s streak of eight consecutive years making it to at least the Tri-District phase of postseason play.

Teaching Lushootseed to future Tulalip

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning the medicine of Native plants

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hawks bounce back at Districts with 3rd place finish

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Heritage Hawks boys basketball team entered the Northwest 1B district playoffs as a #3 seed and as such had to play on the road on February 6 versus the #2 seeded Cedar Park Christian. These two teams matched up twice in the regular season, with both teams winning on the other’s home court. 

A 3rd matchup made for a highly entertaining game. It was a back and forth affair with both teams determined to execute game plans. Heritage wanted to push the tempo and run at every opportunity, while Cedar Park wanted to be more methodical and slow the game down. Cedar Park’s strategy won out on this day because Tulalip’s shooting went cold in the game’s final minutes and resulted in a 57-65 loss.

“Looking back, we played too conservative and that’s what cost us,” explained Coach Cyrus ‘Bubba’ Fryberg. “The style that best suits us is playing fast, fast, and more fast. That’s what our focus has to be.”

In a 2nd round matchup with Lopez, Tulalip lived up to the coach’s expectation of playing fast. From the opening seconds they came out firing on all cylinders. The defense was forcing turnovers and making everything difficult for Lopez shooters, while the Hawks offense caught fire from field. A double-digit halftime lead continued to grow in the 2nd half. Lopez was unable to limit the Hawks’ high flying attack and the boys went on to make quick work of their opponent, 75-51.

Tulalip matched up with Mount Vernon Christian on February 11 in a battle for 3rd place at Districts. The atmosphere was heated as the gym was at maximum capacity with fans cheering loudly for both teams. 

The Hawks aggressive style was on full display from the game’s opening tip. The boys took a 19-4 lead by coming up with one steal after another and converting those into transition buckets. Their opponent refused to go down quietly however, as the Hurricanes adjusted and took advantage of their size and mismatches down low. The Hawks lead was trimmed to just four points, 29-25 at halftime.

In the 2nd half, the Hurricanes continue to play to their strength and cut the Hawks lead to just a single point, 33-32. Tulalip felt the pressure and used it to bounce back with an amazing 20-4 scoring run. They were once again feasting on forced turnovers and everyone was getting quality looks at the basket. Their relentless attack of the basket eventually wore down the Hurricanes. Now leading 53-36, the Hawks could coast to victory.

Heritage won out 65-49 to claim 3rd place at Districts. They were led by a trio of eye popping stat lines, including Alonzo Jones’ 16 points – 9 rebounds – 5 steals, Leno Vela’s 15 points – 5 assist – 8 steals, and Josh Miranda’s 13 points – 8 rebounds. 

What’s not visible in the box score is the high energy and contagious competitive spirt role players Daron Fryberg and Tarel Gonzales brought from beginning to end.

“They bring so much energy to our team and by giving them more playing time their aggressiveness is infectious…it ignites the rest of our team,” said Coach Bubba after the 3rd place showing. “We’ll look to continue playing our style of play at Tri-Districts, taking good shots, and playing an aggressive defense. I like our chances vs. anybody.”

The 1B Tri-District tournament begins this weekend. The Hawks will host their opening round matchup. Opponent is to be determined, but game time will be 1:30pm on Saturday, February 15.

Lady Hawks late season surge results in Top 2 showing at Districts

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News  

Just three short weeks ago, the Tulalip Heritage Lady Hawks basketball team had a (7-7) record and were looking to solidify their identity on the hardwood. The Lady Hawk coaching staff reviewed game footage and box scores to determine what they needed to focus on was defense.

In their seven wins, they held their opponents to a miniscule 31 points per game. But in their seven losses, they were giving up 46 points per game. The game plan was simple then, according to coaches, if the team locked in defensively they gave themselves the best chance to win.

“We decided we are going to control what our opponents do offensively by playing a box-and-1 style defense,” explained head coach Marc Robinson. “By taking away our opponents’ biggest threat and funneling everyone else towards our bigger and more physical interior defenders, we force a style that better suits us. If we play with those defensive principles we are difficult to beat.”

During their next four games vs. Grace Academy, Chief Kitsap, Cedar Park and Shoreline Christian, the Lady Hawks found a renewed sense of purpose and team identity anchored by their defense. The girls won each of those games by holding their opponents to 31 points or less, and rode the momentum of a 4-game winning streak into the Northwest 1B District playoffs. 

Kicking off on February 6, Tulalip earned the right to host a 1st round game at home in Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium. Led by their sophomore center Jacynta Myles dominating on both ends of the court, the Lady Hawks routed Lopez, 46-30. Jacynta scored a game-high 25 points. 

Next up, the girls hit the road to play the District’s #1 seed Grace Academy on February 8. In the regular season the two teams matched up twice and both times Tulalip was victorious. Before the game started it was obvious the Lady Hawks’ confidence was high and their defense was locked-in. They started the game riding their post-advantage by feeding the ball to Jacynta over and over. To her credit, Jacynta responded to her teammates trust by scoring one big bucket after another. 

The defense was impressive yet again as they held the top seeded Grace team to only 34 points, led by senior guard Deachae Jones and junior forward Krislyn Parks’ active hands and physical play. Tulalip game up big with an upset victory, 40-34, over rival Grace Academy to move on and play for the District championship. 

The District title game was held at Mt. Vernon Christian on February 11. The game pitted the Lady Hawks, who were on a 6-game winning streak, against the hosting Hurricanes, who had won eight of their last nine. Fans from both teams turned out and filled the gym with eager onlookers.

In the battle for 1st place, the intensity was turned up to the max. The Lady Hawks scouted their opponent and were determined to limit the Hurricanes best player. Unfortunately, Mt. Vernon had a team full of shooters who were ready to step up. Mt. Vernon’s role players showcased a 3-point touch that Tulalip was unable to shutdown. Meanwhile, Jacynta was seeing routine double-teams and even triple-teams to prevent her from scoring and the rest of her Lady Hawk teammates were having difficulty scoring the ball. 

Tulalip trailed 15-32 at halftime. They battled back early in the 3rd quarter with an 8-3 scoring run, but the Hurricanes continued to pile on with timely 3-pointers. The Lady Hawks daunting defense let them down this game, resulting in a 29-53 loss. Disappointed at the game’s results but still very much aware of the big picture, the Lady Hawks rejoiced in their 2nd place showing at Districts. 

“Throughout these playoffs we’ve really just had fun and enjoyed playing as a team,” shared co-captain Krislyn. “Our defense had been so good lately and our offense will continue to get better. We know we missed a lot of shots vs. this Mt. Vernon Christian team, but credit to them for playing as well as they did. 

“We will recoup and look forward to hosting a Tri-District game. At the end of the day, by finishing #2 here, we are super excited because we placed higher than the boys!”

The 1B Tri-District tournament begins this weekend. The Lady Hawks will host their opening round matchup. Opponent is to be determined, but game time will be 12pm on Saturday, February 15. Be sure to support your local hoopers on their quest for State.