Fusing Traditions: Culture + Glass

Matriarch (Friday & Singletary)

By Micheal Rios; photos courtesy Stonington Gallery

As November ends, we wanted to offer one more in-depth article in recognition of Native American Heritage Month. Because our people span the color spectrum, it seemed fitting to close out this annual series with a topic that provides stunning, tradition-filled imagery that is as vibrant as our collective culture is. Enter the realm of glass art.

In the vast landscape of artistic expression, the continued evolution of Native artists compels the creative eye to imagine never-before-seen masterpieces that can only be achieved by embracing new technologies and new mediums. Within the realm of glass art, Native creatives are becoming increasingly recognized for their dynamic fusion of tradition and innovation.

Entuk (Skyriver)

Traditionally rooted in naturally harvested materials like cedar, seashell and leather hide, recent access into the glass realm represents not just a departure from the norm but a transformative journey that symbolizes cultural preservation and the collaborative spirit.

“I kind of came into glass by proxy of being in Seattle when I was a mechanic and tow truck driver. One day I walked into a glass factory and that was it for me. I just knew the course of my life would change after that,” shared artist Dan Friday (Lummi). “You kind of get lost in the process, and that’s what I like about glass is sometimes just going through the motions is what opens your eyes to what is possible. I feel like if you just spend enough time with the material, it will show you what’s available through it.

Elderberry basket (Singletary)
Anchor with rope (Friday)

“I’m a master of none, but I try and use all the techniques that I’ve learned,” he continued. “My great-grandfather Joseph Hillaire carved story poles that depicted a traditional story. [Carrying on that legacy], I tell stories that depict the resurgence of Coast Salish culture through my work with glass. As artists, we want to study the work of our ancestors and draw inspiration from them, not just replicate their work. I’m trying to tell my stories in glass, to tell my family stories in this modern medium so they can continue to be seen and appreciated.” 

For millennia, our art has served as an expressive storyteller, weaving tales of cultural heritage through mediums like story poles, basketry, and all forms of regalia making. However, a new chapter is unfolding before us as boundary-pushing artists explore the possibilities of fusing culture and glass with the help of a 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit furnace. 

Hold Fast (Skyriver)

This shift isn’t a rejection of tradition, instead, it’s a harmonious blend of the old and the new. Glass, with its flexibility and luminosity, provides an exciting canvas for artists to narrate their cultural stories with a modern twist.

One striking aspect of this evolution is the deliberate mixing of Salish symbols and Native iconography into the glass medium. Artists draw inspiration from their cultural roots, infusing their creations with symbols representing animals, spirits, and classic Coast Salish formline. The result is a visually captivating artwork that carries a thoughtful cultural significance, forming a bridge between the traditions of our ancestors and the present generation’s unrestricted freedom to express culture in most creative ways.

Two Ravens pole (Singletary)

“I always say that Native culture has a defining historical connection to glass because it came to us through trade beads,” explained artist Preston Singletary (Tlingit). “Glass was something that was special to our ancestors who traded for glass beads or glass shards. Eventually, it was adopted into the culture and used for ornamentation, trade, and other creative means.

“I like the idea of glass having a sense of permanence, but it’s also very fragile, “he continued. Preston is renowned for his unique style of carving glass through sandblasting, which he uses to reveal layers of color and meaning. “When I work with the material of glass, I feel like it brings this new dimension to Indigenous art. It really has an opportunity to draw people in and show them aspects of our culture previously unseen in the contemporary art world.”

Humpback whale (Singletary & Skyriver)

The journey into glass art has been made possible through educational programs, workshops, and collaborative initiatives. Exposure to glassblowing techniques and working with non-Native artists, like Dale Chihuly and his apprentices, has empowered Native American artists to explore new creative horizons. These collaborations serve as crucibles of molten ideas, where traditional knowledge converges with modern innovation.

An admirable aspect of this evolution is the commitment to cultural preservation. Native glass artists, while embracing the newness of glass as a medium, remain committed to celebrating and preserving their cultural heritage. Each stunning piece becomes a flame-cut canvas for storytelling and a luminescent tribute to our surroundings. 

Glass feather (Friday)

“I was born in a house with no water and no electricity on Lopez Island. My childhood was a lot of being out in the woods and playing near the water,” said artist Raven Skyriver (Tlingit). 

“I draw on those experiences as a young kid still to this day as inspiration. My work is almost exclusively derived from the marine ecosystem. I attempt to place the creatures back in their environment by capturing the fluid nature of molten glass and transferring it into the perceived weightlessness of a swimming creature. I always strive to imbue the work with a hint of life.”

As these glass creations find homes in galleries, museums, and the broader art market, a new chapter in the narrative of Indigenous artistry is written. Authored by Native American artists unafraid of accessing their skills of adaptability passed down from generations of cultural creatives who embraced the new to pass down the old. 

Festive finds and entrepreneurial spirit at Native bazaar

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News; photos courtesy of Tammy Taylor 

As the holiday season unfolds, the vibrant spirit of festive cheer found a welcoming home at the annual Tulalip Holiday Native Bazaar on November 17 and 18. Hosted by Tammy Taylor, this lively event provided a bustling marketplace for the talented artisans, crafters, and food vendors of the Tulalip community. 

Throughout the weekend, attendees perused an array of meticulously crafted products, including cozy wool hats and skirts, intricate cedar regalia and baskets, savory smoked salmon, resonant drums, and festive Christmas ornaments. 

Among the myriad of handmade treasures, the bazaar offered more than traditional crafts. For those seeking a glimpse into the mystical realm, tribal member Emmarie Davis, provided tarot readings, adding a touch of spiritual insight to the festive atmosphere. 

For those with a passion for fashion, tribal member Gio Sohappy showcased the latest Jordan sneakers, and Josh Fryberg introduced his distinctive clothing line, Skyn Style. 

Photo courtesy of Josh Fryberg

“We have been making our custom designs, and they have been selling out quickly,” said Josh. “We have some new customs coming out soon with all new styles available. Our family also makes smoked amazing salmon candy.” 

Josh continued, “It was great seeing all the vendors at the Bazaar. Let’s continue to grow and expand our businesses together and show our youth and community that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. I also want to thank Tammy, Lance Taylor, and all the staff who helped make the Bazaar happen. I look forward to seeing everyone at the next event.”

There will be another chance to do Christmas shopping at the Holiday Native Bazaar on December 8-9 at the Tulalip Gathering Hall, 7512 Totem Breach Rd. Contact Tammy Taylor at 425-501-4141 for more information. 

Spectacular Vernacular: Traditional Coast Salish languages are the highlight of Hibulb’s latest exhibit

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

With the sudden drop in temperature, many are looking for some fun indoor activities that they can enjoy with their friends and families as we approach winter. You are definitely going to want to add the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) to your list of places to visit soon. 

We understand that with its beautiful carvings of canoes and welcome poles, it’s informative main gallery that shares the rich history of the Tulalip people, the moving tribute to the tribe’s service men and women, the traditional cedar longhouse experience, and the impressive gift shop, the award-winning cultural center may already be on that list. If this is the case for you, we suggest circling it, hitting it with a double underline and exclamation point, or simply moving it higher on the list because you are not going to want to miss their new exhibit.  

Over the years, the HCC has built a reputation for putting together unique, informative, and interactive exhibits such as The Power of Words, Interwoven History: Coast Salish Wool, Tulalip Indian Fair, Vibrant Beauty: Colors of our Collection, Roots of Wisdom, and Coast Salish Canoes. The new exhibit, tabtabəb, follows their signature formula of culture and knowledge sharing and is guaranteed to engage everyone from youth to elders. tabtabəb is sure to have folks talking for days, not only in the traditional languages but also about the exquisite curation of the new exhibit. 

“The goal of the exhibit is to make the language accessible,” explained Mytyl Hernandez, HCC Museum Manger. “We use the language as much as we can, in all the videos, displays and visually too, so people can see it. And even with the name tabtabəb, which the Lushootseed department helped us find. We wanted a word that anybody could look at and give it a go at saying it. Because our languages have so many different characters, more than any other language that we speak, we wanted to make sure people could look at it and get a good sense of how to say it.” 

Upon stepping into the featured gallery, your eyes are immediately drawn to a circular wall that is covered in Salishan words and phrases. All around the exhibit you will see words with various diacritics, letters, and symbols that are specific to the languages of the original caretakers of this region. Very early in the tabtabəb journey, museum guests are informed that there are 23 total languages across all of the Coast Salish tribes. This exhibit focuses on six of those dialects – Klallam, Twana, Nooksack, Northern Straits, Northern Lushootseed, and Southern Lushootseed. 

The idea behind tabtabəb was originally concepted this past July by Mytyl and her team at HCC. After contacting several other tribes, the cultural center quickly gathered information, resources, and artifacts that highlight the languages of each tribe. The result is a collaborative educational and entertaining effort that showcases the words, stories, and the history of those local languages that were once outlawed and almost lost during this country’s era of assimilation.

Said Mytyl, “We are featuring six Coast Salish language groups; because we all really spoke different languages and the most common was Northern and Southern Lushootseed. We were able to form really nice relationships with S’Klallam Jamestown, Nooksack, Upper Skagit, and Puyallup. We worked with all of the tribes, sharing information, letting them know what we wanted to display and how we wanted to display it. We requested pictures and information. We wanted to make sure that their information was portrayed in the most respectful and accurate way possible.”

In addition to the intertribal partnerships, HCC also worked closely with the Tulalip Lushootseed department and the tribe’s TDS crew. When making your way through the exhibit, you will notice that there are a number of digital kiosks in between each section of tabtabəb. These interactive screens include numerous games and stories. They also provide the proper pronunciation of several of the items that are on display including the words for skirts, baskets, beads, canoes, and blankets. 

The exhibit pays homage to the Tulalip Lushootseed department as well and features a dedicated display case that highlights all the work they have done throughout the years. In this case you will find t-shirts from past summertime Lushootseed Camps, and the various tools they utilize to teach kids about the ancestral language such as shawls, slahal game pieces, and a Nintendo DS filled with games and lessons geared toward the children.  

At the center of the circular wall, a video of Lushootseed Language Warrior Lois Landgrebe is on a loop where she shares the traditional story, Star Child and Diaper Child. Along the opposite wall are multiple other traditional stories in print like Bear and Ant and Basket Ogress. These stories and their artwork were developed by the Lushootseed department, and they contain important lessons and explanations about the world around us. 

Mytyl provided an exclusive tour of tabtabəb for Tulalip News. During the walkthrough she shared, “All of the panel displays feature the languages of the tribes that are using them, and what they are doing in terms of language and cultural revitalization. In our cases, we have items on display that are specific to those tribes and those language groups. It could be anything – clothing, books, canoes, you name it. We also have an artifact wall with different items from our community; items that we’ve had in collection and that we secured specifically for this exhibit. And then with the accompanying digital displays, you can hear the word for each of the items in both English and Lushootseed.”

If you were to tour tabtabəb in a clockwise fashion, you will end the exhibit looking at a wall of black and white portraits. Each individual in the photographs played a major role in keeping the Salishan languages alive for the next generations to come. And through their life’s work, like the languages they fought to preserve and revitalize, the legacy of each of those elders who have now passed on will live long into the future. 

“One of my favorite parts of the exhibit is our Warrior Wall,” expressed Mytyl. “We are displaying the pillars of language communities, some of those early elders and ancestors who worked really hard for language revitalization when others weren’t. A lot of these people are responsible for the dictionaries of their languages, and books, and keeping traditional stories and storytelling going.”

The tabtabəb exhibit is on display for the foreseeable future and it’s a wonderful way to expand your knowledge about the Coast Salish people and their spectacular vernacular. The Hibulb Cultural Center is open Tuesday – Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and also Saturday – Sunday from Noon to 5:00 p.m. For more information, please visit their website www.HibulbCulturalCenter.org or contact 360-716-2600. 

“Representation is important,” stated Mytyl. “And representation of language, in outside communities, is not available to our people. We want to make sure that we can put as much as we can on display here and make it accessible to our own people, and also make it accessible for the people on the outside, so they can see that it is still a live language and that we’re still using it.”

Spirit of Giving:  $260,000 raised at end-of-year gala

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News; photos courtesy Potlatch Fund 

‘Tis the season of giving. Whether it be Thanksgiving, Christmas, or a family-specific tradition newly created, Tulalip families will gather in celebration over the coming weeks to give thanks, share food, and strengthen kinship bonds with those they hold dearest. 

These end-of-year gatherings typically involve gift-giving, which is a modern twist of traditional teachings that can be traced back to potlatches. Potlach gift-giving feasts were held by many Northwest Coast tribes pre-contact, and their legacy continues to be celebrated today.

A perfect example of enduring potlatch principles is the aptly named Potlatch Fund. It’s a native-led nonprofit that provides grants and leadership development to tribal nations in the Pacific Northwest region. They recently held their much-anticipated annual gala at the Tulalip Gathering Hall. 

“November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the rich and diverse histories and cultures of the 7+ million Native American people. While many celebrate Natives during this month only, Potlatch Fund celebrates Native communities every day through the cultural tradition of giving in our four-state region of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.

“Our organization measures wealth in shared abundance. We provide leadership development services to tribes and Native nonprofits; educate the non-Native and funding communities about the needs, issues, and structures that exist within Indian Country; run grant programs that support emerging and innovative initiatives; and advocate for our communities. We have graduated over 100 emerging leaders through our capacity-building program cohorts, distributed over $8 million through our grantmaking program, and recognized over 80 individuals and organizations through our many awards,” detailed the Fund’s board of directors in a press release. 

The memorable evening was full of Native culture bearers proudly flaunting their vibrant, handmade regalia and all manner of Salish swag. Announced as the Fund’s 20th anniversary gala, attendees did their best to be swept away in the spirit of giving. Compelled by the spirit, a whopping $260,000 was raised!

Beyond gifting of material possessions and cold hard currency, traditional teachings of giving extend to the sharing of knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual insights. Elders, who are highly revered within our community, play a crucial role in passing down these teachings to younger generations.

During the eventful gala, Sheryl Fryberg, a Tulalip elder and Early Learning Academy director, was announced as the Spirit of Reciprocity award recipient. She was described as a longtime supporter of the Potlatch Fund, fostering a genuine sense of outreach and inclusion, creating change with a vision towards the future, and demonstrating significant promise of leadership.

“I think Sheryl has a very innovative way of giving,” said Director of Philanthropic Partnerships, Brian Tanner. “It’s one that we wish to offer to donors for Potlatch Fund. Sheryl is able to calculate how much she would have paid in federal tax and give that portion to Potlatch Fund. The way Sheryl gives is intentional. She gets to decide where her hard-earned money is spent, and she chooses Potlatch Fund.”

After receiving the award, Sheryl said, “I look at this money as an investment. An investment in my community, and yours. A way to support the future generations. I believe that language, culture, song, and dance are part of what is going to heal our communities. It is by having the opportunity to participate in Tribal Journey and other community-driven activities that are funded by Potlatch Fund that our children and families reconnect with their traditional ways of being.”

During this season of giving, there are quite a few Tulalip-based events that are open to the greater community and offer plenty of opportunities to support local artisans. Most notable is the upcoming Holiday Bazaar happening November 17 and 18 at the Gathering Hall. Followed by Lights & Ice’s holiday market hosted near the Quil Ceda Village amphitheater November 24-26. And then the annual holiday Pow Wow hosted at the Marysville-Tulalip campus gym on December 16.

Remembering a legend: Jerry Jones, master carver

By Wade Sheldon; photos courtesy of Linda Smith

In the serene embrace of Tulalip Bay, the legacy of Tulalip tribal member Jerry Jones, a master carver, teacher, and king of home runs, is revealed with time and grace. Since his passing in 2003, the echoes of his artistic brilliance, passionate instruction, and unwavering commitment to the cultural tapestry of the Tulalip Tribes continue to resonate.

Jerry Jones, a luminary figure in the heart of Tulalip, carved more than just wood; he cut a legacy that embraced the essence of his people. His skilled hands breathed life into the timber, creating masterpieces that became living artifacts of cultural heritage. The classrooms under his guidance transformed into sanctuaries of wisdom, where the art of carving transcended mere technique, delving into the spiritual and historical dimensions embedded in each creation.

In an article by Cathy Logg titled “Tulalip Master Carver Dies at 62,” published in The Everett Herald on November 19, 2003, the author recounts the significance of Jerry Jones within the Tulalip community. Logg notes that in 1984, as Washington tribes geared up for the state centennial in 1989, a group of Indian tribes orchestrated the “Paddle to Seattle” to revive interest in ocean canoes and their traditional journeys. The article reflects on Jerry Jones’ pivotal role in leading this effort and highlights his contributions as a master carver and teacher within the Tulalip Tribes.

Guiding the efforts to create the tribe’s two canoes, Big Sister and Lil’ Sis, and constructing a third from cedar strips, Jerry Jones left an indelible mark on the Salish Sea. The lines of these canoes, crafted with precision and beauty, became a testament to Jerry’s artistry. His role expanded beyond a mere craftsman; he became a teacher, sharing not only the technicalities of carving, but also the cultural significance embedded in every stroke of the carving knife.

In the summer of ‘69, the Tulalip Chiefs, a championship baseball team led by Tulalip tribal member Cy Fryberg, featured the remarkable presence of Jerry Jones, known as the Babe Ruth of Indian Baseball. With Jerry Jones among their standout players, the Chiefs secured victories at Native tournaments, earning a spot in the final tournament in Tacoma. Overcoming challenges, the Chiefs emerged triumphant in the championship game.

Beyond Tulalip, Jerry Jones traveled the Northwest, lending his expertise to other tribal carvers working on their canoes. His craftsmanship became renowned from Oregon to Canada, and his legacy as a teacher and mentor expanded with each journey. Whether it was hats, baskets, drums, wooden paddles, masks, bowls, or totem poles, Jerry Jones left a lasting imprint on the artistic landscape, enriching the cultural heritage of the Tulalip Tribes.

“He worked for the Tulalip tribes for several years. He was in the military and was tasked with being the lead carver on the canoes for Paddle to Seattle,” said Linda Smith, younger sister to Jerry Jones. “Because my brother was always willing to share, he would teach other tribes how to carve canoes. Recently, the Suquamish tribe honored him this year during the canoe journey for helping teach their carvers. I want people to know how sharing he was.”

Linda continued, “In the summers, he would have youth assigned to him at the carving shed. He would also participate in culture nights and share his knowledge and the stories he had learned in his life. He contributed a lot to Tulalip and other tribes, and when he had students learning from him, he expected a lot from them. Sometimes, we need that discipline; we must do our best. It’s something he believed.” 

Jerry Jones, who shared his artistry, wisdom, and discipline, will forever be remembered for his contributions to preserving indigenous traditions and nurturing generations to come. In the embrace of Tulalip Bay, his spirit lives on, an enduring beacon guiding the canoe of tradition into the limitless waters of the future.

MAPping an alternative journey: New Mental Health Alternatives Program celebrates first graduate

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

November 9 was a historic day for Tulalip’s court system. We will have more on this big news in a few paragraphs, but first we want to introduce you to the court’s new alternative program that was implemented in October of 2022, which aims to assist tribal members involved with the courts and are in need of mental health care. 

The Mental Health Alternatives Program (MAP) is designed to reduce recidivism in misdemeanor cases by providing those who qualify with a detailed 12-month plan that includes mental health treatment, community give back hours, as well as frequent court appearances, peer support group participation and phone check-ins. 

According to the program’s literature, “MAP is a problem-solving approach to pending non-felony criminal cases, designed to hold offenders accountable and address underlying issues. The participants are connected to services that already exist in our community with the ultimate goal of keeping them from future criminal conduct. Participants have the opportunity to obtain services to address particular issues that may have contributed to criminal conduct, assisting them to achieve long term stability, become law-abiding citizens, and become successful family/community members.”

The program is a joint partnership between three parties, the tribal court system of course, and also Tulalip Family Services which is where the participants go for both their mental health assessments and treatment throughout the duration of the program. The third party is a local manufacturing company called Bridgeways, a social enterprise that is dedicated to assisting people living with mental illnesses whether it’s in regard to gaining or maintaining employment, housing support, or through their therapeutic courts program. 

Bridgeways previously established two MAP programs at the Marysville and Everett municipal courts. And when the Tulalip court reached out to them about bringing a mental health focused program to the reservation, they were happy to lend their expertise. Now, with a trifecta of MAPs located in the heart of the Snohomish County region, Bridgeways is actively addressing an issue that may be the root of many reoffenders’ criminal behavior. 

Moreover, they are doing this work in a highly effective manner that is concurrent to their mission statement of ‘providing services that promote quality of life for individuals living with a mental health concern in a manner that facilitates growth, independence, and a sense of community.’ In fact, according to the Bridgeways website, and with data collected by their judges, 93% of their graduates have experienced a reduction of recidivism. 

Cathy Wheatcroft, Bridgeways Therapeutic Courts Program Manager, spoke about their partnership with the tribe, “Over a year and a half ago, Brian Kilgore, one of the prosecutors here, reached out to Bridgeways because we have Mental Health Alternatives Program courts in Marysville in Everett. And we’ve been doing MAP in those two courts – in Everett since 2014, and in Marysville since 2018. 

“A few similarities – they all have three phases and are designed to be about a year long. It’s always the same core team, not from court to court, but it is always the same defense attorney, same prosecutor, same judge. And our liaison Jessica Barker also [works closely with participants] so they know the participants pretty well, it’s not like new people always coming in and out. And all three have the peer support group that they are required to participate in. Some differences are Tulalip holds court weekly and Everett and Marysville hold court every other week. Tulalip also does random UAs, which I feel holds the participants more accountable. But we all do this to help people and to see all their successes, they’re doing the work and I get to witness it and I think that’s amazing.”

Bridgeways’ successful program served as the framework to Tulalip’s MAP program. Drawing inspiration from the Tulalip Healing to Wellness and Family Wellness Court programs, MAP also has a certain requirement of giveback hours where the participants must volunteer some of their time to working local events and gatherings. Community giveback hours has helped numerous people get reacclimated into the tribal community and reacquainted with the people over the years. 

With the MAP team supporting them along their 12-month journey, the participants set and define their life goals and immediately start working toward achieving them while in the program. Split into three, 4-month phases, the participants begin phase one with weekly court hearings, in phase two they attended bi-weekly court sessions, and in the final phase they meet with the judge on a monthly basis. If the participants follow their personalized plans that they put together with the MAP team, and remain in compliance each visit to the courthouse, they get to pick an item from a large basket of incentives to bring home. However, if they fall out of compliance, there are some sanctions that could range from an essay assigned by the judge to the termination from the program altogether. 

“MAP is specifically designed to help people who have special mental health needs,” explained Judge Joshua Heath. “As a part of the program, they have to take their meds, if they’re supposed to be taking medication. They have to go to their mental health appointments. If they’ve got a cooccurring substance abuse disorder, we’ll help with that also. The Mental Health Alternatives Program is less punitive, probably the least punitive out of our programs because we’re just trying to understand where people are coming from. And we want them to be able to live a lifestyle that’s crime-free. Ultimately, that’s the goal of the Mental Health Alternatives Program is to live a crime free lifestyle. We want to give them whatever the help it is that they need, whether it’s getting a job or finding certain kinds of skills, even life skills, how to do basic things around the house – laundry and cooking, and so on. We want people to be able to graduate from a program and be able to be successful.”

Now that you have an understanding about the MAP court program, we can get back to the headlining news. But first, we’d be remiss to mention that this is the only tribal court Mental Health Alternatives Program to ever exist, so far at least, throughout all of Native America. Alright, so with that being said, it’s time for the big news: this November, Tulalip tribal member Jason Joseph became the very first graduate of a tribal MAP court program in all of history!

After confirming that he remained compliant through the last leg of the program, Judge Heath handed Jason a certificate of completion before he wrapped him in an Eighth Generation blanket and embraced him in a hug. Jason wore a smile as he was cheered on by a packed courthouse. Tears filled his eyes as his parent’s beamed with pride and his mom graciously thanked the MAP team for assisting in her son’s life transformation. 

This was a momentous occasion for Jason, his family, the Tulalip MAP court program and its entire team, as it opens up a much-needed discussion about mental health within tribal nations. It also provides a new approach to addressing those mental health issues that many of our people are suffering from and have inherited from previous generations of trauma. Jason is the proof that cycles can be broken and that with the proper guidance and assistance, people living with a mental illness can turn their lives around and get set back on track in their own personal journey. 

Several tribal members opted into the program prior to Jason’s ceremony, and a handful of individuals who were already in the program shared their progress. Jason’s accomplishment was equally important for them to witness because they were able to see that the program does indeed work, and hopefully they were able to envision themselves in Jason’s moccs, receiving a certificate of their own in about a year or so. 

Jason shared, “It feels like it was a long time coming. It was like a yearlong process, but it was worthwhile. I learned a lot about myself and about people with mental health issues – what we need to do to get through the day, to get through life. This is important because tribal members with mental health issues have their own place to go to court now, and they can be represented openly and clearly in the right way.”

For additional details about the program, please contact the Tulalip tribal court system or MAP court liaison Jessica Barker. The following information was provided by the Tulalip Mental Health Alternatives Program: 

Mental Health Alternatives Program 


  • Only misdemeanor charges can be referred to MAP. Charges not eligible: DUI, sexual offense, serious violent offense, offense which defendant used a firearm 
  • Participant must be amenable to mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment as appropriate 
  • Participant must not have been deemed incompetent to assist in their own defense and must not pose a risk to the MAP team 
  • Willing to sign agreement to follow program requirements 

How to Refer:

Contact: MAP court liaison Jessica Barker 

  • Email: j.barker@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov or j.barker@bridgeways.org 
  • Phone: 360-716-4718
  • Cell: 425-499-8051 

Contact: Wellness Court Manager 

  • Email: Wellnesscourt@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov 
  • Phone: 360-716-4764 

Respecting the warrior spirit

Aztec. Mixed media. George Amiotte (Oglala Lakota).

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

A stunning art exhibit curated by George Amiotte (Oglala Lakota), a decorated United States Marine Corps veteran, recently held its grand opening within the Evergreen State College’s main gallery. Showcasing a wide variety of Indigenous talents and open to the general public through December 30, this exhibit is proudly dedicated to all military veterans, past and present.

Moon. Cedar. Pete Peterson, Sr. (Skokomish).

“Art is a living, breathing connection to our ancestors of the past, those living in the present with us, and our future generations. That’s why the title of this exhibit is Past, Present & Future,” explained George while proudly beholding the finished product. “What’s on display here is much more than 2- or 3-dimensional material; there’s a great depth of tradition and shared history told through a method of storytelling that’s been passed on since our people’s beginning.”

4 Baskets. Wool, beads, leather. Kathleen Thompson (Saskatchewan Cree).
“I’ve always had an interest in learning about healing plants, as well as natural materials used in basket weaving. These specific bags on display were made by the mid-Columbia River and Plateau tribes of the Northwest and have always been used for gathering roots, plants, and berries. Because they are a soft bag, they can be folded and stored to be carried from gathering site to gathering site.” – Kathleen

George is a former marine who served two combat tours in the Vietnam War. He’s been immersed in the art realm since returning from Vietnam, from creating art therapy classes in South Dakota for Native children to developing art-based healing workshops that help veterans overcome post-traumatic stress disorder. 

George Amiotte (Oglala Lakota), decorated United States Marine Corps veteran and Past, Present & Future exhibit curator. 
May A Calm Breeze Soothe Your Aching Heart. Mixed media. Megan McDermott.

“One of my favorite workshops combined mask making and emotional processing that healed the spirit of our traumatized warriors,” recalled George. “You see it’s really hard to take a combat veteran, someone that really experienced the shit, and have them acknowledge what they experienced. By having them create a mask out of wood, clay, or papier mâché that described themselves, similar to a self-portrait, we could then begin to process the emotions and trauma they conveyed through their self-imagery.

Cedar Wing. Western Red Cedar, Plum limbs, oscillated Turkey feather, NW Sweet Grass.
Melinda West.

“The creative process itself acts as therapeutic while giving our warriors a safe place to manifest their emotions because in order for them to heal, they can’t be stripped of their spirit,” he continued. “It’s important for our families and our people to understand that as veterans, we are modern-day warriors, and that warrior spirit has to be respected.”

Necklaces and earrings by Bobbie Bush (Chehalis).

Through Past, Present & Future, the warrior spirit is respected and showcased as a means to empower Tribes and their vibrant culture during Native American Heritage Month.

The exhibit serves as a powerful educational tool. Through the presence of contemporary Native American art, Evergreen State College transformed its main gallery into an immersive learning space. Students and visitors alike are provided with opportunities to delve into the intricate narratives behind each piece of artwork – stories of creation, spirituality, and resilience. This education raises awareness, dispels stereotypes, and nurtures a deeper understanding of the Indigenous peoples who have called these lands home for millennia.

Eagle and Owl. Cedar. Pete Peterson, Sr. (Skokomish).

“I am honored to be invited to share my work with this community of artists,” shared exhibit artist Melinda West. “Born and raised in Seattle, I have lived my whole life on traditional Suquamish Territory. I hope the art I am inspired to make reflects my relationship with the place I live, the plants that grow here, and my respect for Indigenous Peoples living today who are caring for this land as their ancestors have done since time immemorial.

Photography display. Denny Hurtado (Skokomish).
“Since I was a little boy, photographs have intrigued me. Seeing pictures of different cultures and countries is magical. I feel that the importance of documenting Native Americans in the 20th and 21st centuries is of the utmost importance as we continue to protect our sovereignty, our traditions, and our culture. The cultural revitalization of our Nations is tremendous and deserves to be captured and collected via photographs, so that our future generations can look back and be proud of what their ancestors worked so diligently to protect.” – Denny

Evergreen State College is located in Olympia, on the ancestral homelands of the Nisqually people. By implementing another Native-led exhibit, college administrators are furthering their mission to acknowledge the land’s original inhabitants. Incorporating Native American art is both a nod to history and a meaningful way to honor the enduring connection between the land and its Native peoples.

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Like the impossible-to-miss welcome figure that stands permanently fixed outside the college’s main entrance, artists of Past, Present & Future strive for their welcomed gallery guests to further their understanding of Native culture, which continues to thrive in the 21st century.