Tulalip History Project shares stories of our people

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News

The Tulalip History Project (THP) is a video production unit within the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) that curates a variety of short films relaying important figures, events, and times of our people. The videos also provide an inside look at old photos and videos of our past that have been carefully collected throughout time by the Hibulb’s library. 

HCC staff have been producing historically and culturally-relevant videos since 2012. Many of the videos include interviews of tribal elders and leaders, discussing historical events like residential boarding schools, songs of our people, the Lushootseed language, tutorials on cultural arts, etc. The THP was formed in 2015 following multiple film presentations that HCC had created. One of the standout films was based on Tulalip cultural leader William Shelton titled “William Shelton & the Sklaletut Pole.” LJ Mowrer (Tulalip) and staff worked together to produce this short 11-minute documentary, which was accepted and screened at the American Indian Film Festival (AIFF) in 2013.

LJ spoke of this film and expressed the power visual image provides. “One time, I was with my father, who was 96, and his great-grandson, who was about 10, and we showed them this video. My dad could barely hear at the time, and the 10-year-old didn’t know who William was. They were both getting different things out of the video, but they were both exposed to this information about William. Information that they wouldn’t have normally gotten since neither one of them would have read Harriet Shelton’s autobiography,” she said. 

The current staff of THP includes LJ, Librarian, and John Altenhofen, Video Producer/Director. Together, they have produced over 81 videos, each uniquely displaying the different aspects of our culture. 

The THP’s goal is to continue producing quality films highlighting Tulalip’s irreplaceable cultural beauty and history. Natives are telling Native perspectives and stories. Without compromise or bias, the history of our people is shared through these films with transparency and veracity. 

“My definition of history is one person’s opinion of what’s important and what’s not,” LJ said. “For the main population of the US, it has been the Western expansion of Manifest Destiny, and that’s the perspective of history that most people get in school.”  

One example that LJ shared was the lack of access to information that Natives face. She used the Civil War as an example and the thousands of books about this historical event, and yet, there are only a handful of books about Tulalip’s history. Because of that, it breeds a difference between librarianship and the videography that they’re creating. Librarians deal with published material, while the biographies and stories being told by our people only have one source or one interview that exists. And videos like these are left to establish this source or interview as information for us. They hope that with access to these films, people can learn about Tulalip’s history and information about the Natives of this land more easily and quickly.  

“One of the THP objectives is to record elders’ autobiographies,” LJ said. “That is something that people outside of the reservation wouldn’t be interested in. To them, it’s just ordinary people living ordinary lives. But to us, they’re our family, and it is interesting,” 

LJ spoke about one of Sarah Sheldon’s descendants watching the Sarah Sheldon biography video, and how even though they had not known much about Sarah, they were proud to hear her story and were proud to say they were related to her. 

Projects that are in the pipeline include:

  • An educational video on the history of the Tulalip Indian School, aimed at middle school students, to support the “Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State” curriculum.
  • Biographical videos of leaders like Patkanim, William Shelton, Wilfred Steve, Charles Jules, Lawrence Williams, Edith Parks, Marya Moses, Elsie Price, George Williams Sr., Agnes James, Janet McCloud, Clarence Hatch, Delores Gobin, Leota Pablo, Kenny Moses Sr., Della Hill, Katie Berkeley, Jerry Jones, Ray Moses, Leroy Fryberg, etc.
  • Update the “2005 Directory of Tulalip Veterans” book.
  • Place “Hibulb Conversations” on First Nations Experience channel (FNX is the first national Native American channel in the U.S.).
  • A Ken Burns/Civil War-style documentary series on Tulalip history (as recommended by Herman Williams Sr. in 1990).
  • Create a Tulalip history book for children.
  • A reading program aimed at kids from pre-school to first grade, as read by community members.

Most videos can be found on the HCC Facebook page or the Tulalip History Project YouTube channel. Since many of the videos predate the use of social media, each video is being re-introduced to the public as the THP “Video of the Week” at www.youtube.com/@tulaliphistoryproject5649. If any tribal members have content ideas for future THP projects, please get in touch with LJ Mowrer at ljmowrer@hibulbculturalcenter.org. 

TVTC enrollment open now; only 16-weeks, 455 hours to construct the new you

By Kalvin Valdillez, photos courtesy of Lisa Telford

With the turn of the year comes a time of reflection and reevaluation. Something about a fresh new calendar inspires many to make changes, set personal goals, and take on new challenges to become the best version of their selves. Now, we all know the old adage, ‘new year, new me.’ And while many overuse the phrase to trick themselves into a healthier lifestyle, the Tulalip TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC) is providing an opportunity for you to turn that expression into reality by offering their construction pre-apprenticeship course at the top of the first quarter. 

“The Native way is to take care of your people because that’s what we do, we take care of each other,” said TVTC Family Career Navigator, Lisa Telford. “Construction wages are livable wages that you can support your family on. I was a carpenter for twenty-three years and I only worked with about three or four Native carpenters, and two of them were my cousins. I’ve always been interested in helping Natives enter the construction industry, mainly because it is such a good wage.”

The TVTC construction course is the first of its kind, and to date, it remains the only Native pre-apprenticeship in the nation. The program is offered to tribal members enrolled in any of the 574 federally recognized tribes, as well as to their parents, spouses, and children. Throughout the years, TVTC has helped hundreds of Natives find their career path, some from as far away as Alaska and Wyoming. 

During the sixteen-week course, the students build a strong skillset that can be applied to a variety of well-paying jobs such as carpentry, cementing, and plumbing as well as electrical and mechanical work. Additionally, TVTC participants also earn a number of certifications while attending the hands-on program. 

“It is carpentry based, so they’re going to learn a lot about carpentry, but they’re also going to learn that construction is a physically demanding trade and they’re going to learn to meet that challenge,” Lisa explained. “They earn certifications in forklift, boom lift, scissor lift, first-aid, CPR, OSHA-10, 40-hour HAZWOPER class, and hopefully traffic control. They are going to be able to competitively enter a construction apprenticeship because our graduates get direct or preferred entry into the construction industry, and they get extra points for completing a pre-apprenticeship program. 

“We are a state-recognized pre-apprenticeship program and we have agreements with carpenters, cement masons, [etc.], and also preferred or direct entry in any trade, and direct entry in a TERO job. If there is a TERO job where they need to hire carpenters, or they’re looking for apprentices, they can call up our graduates. Every time a job posting comes in, I send it out to everybody who completed this program.”

As soon as the students complete their 455 hours of coursework, they are introduced to a world full of never-ending opportunities with their newly gained experience. As evidenced in the latest statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor, construction jobs are currently in high demand and are expected to grow exponentially over the next five years by an estimated 700,000. Equally important to note, all of those available positions pay much more than the state’s minimum wage of $15.74. And mind you, those wages are just entry-level positions, so the opportunity to grow both in experience and financial health is yours to seize. 

“It’s good if you have the skills to help your people out,” expressed Lisa “That helps build your confidence and your pride. The more you do it, the more comfortable you feel and then you’ll be ready to step into that construction work zone. A lot of people go to work for housing, the majority of our graduates go to work for the Tribe or the Resort [Tulalip Resort Casino].”

Not only does the TVTC course equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to help get your foot in the door in the construction industry, but TVTC also supports their students far beyond their graduation ceremony. 

Lisa shared, “To me, the graduation is not really the finale because no matter what, they belong to the TERO vocational training center. We’re always going to be supporting you and reaching out to you. We can work as an advocate, act as a liaison, whatever we have to do to make your transition into the construction industry smooth. Throughout the whole program, I have the opportunity to watch them grow and shine. My favorite part is when they realize that they enjoy what they are doing, you can hear their laughter and see the pride on their faces. I enjoy watching them grow into that person.” 

The upcoming construction course will look a bit different than it has in previous years. Currently, the program is down a key component, but Lisa and the TVTC crew are ready to take the challenge head-on, and with much enthusiasm.

She said, “We lost our instructor, and we are currently looking for a new instructor. Hopefully we’ll find one mid-program so we can mentor them into our dream instructor. Billy [Burchett] a sheet metal worker, and the teacher’s assistant, is now the Client Services Coordinator of this program. And Jerad Eastman worked for Quil Ceda Village as a Project Manager, he knows a lot about blueprint reading and construction. We’re all going to do it together. I know about carpentry, Jerad knows about blueprints, Billy knows about math, plumbing, and electrical. We’re going to put it all together to make one exceptional instructor.”

Lisa also mentioned that she will more than likely have some additional help throughout the course from the likes of TVTC alumni. She shared, “That’s what I enjoy the most is when they come back and talk to the class about their work and what it’s like, because I think it’s important to see someone who looks like them be successful out in the construction workforce.”

The next TVTC course begins on February 13. Classes are held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a few exceptions such as days when the class travels for a job site tour or when participants take part in a hands-on experience known as an ‘apprenticeship for a day’. Please feel free to reach out to Lisa at (360) 716-4760 for additional information and an application. Applications are available online, however, the e-mail link is broken. If you do fill out an application online, please download it first and then e-mail it to Lisa. You can also send it to her via fax (360) 716-0144 or in person at the training center. 

And since we started with an expression, we’ll end with another for good measure. As the late Kurt Cobain once said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”.

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Human Trafficking. Torn pieces of paper with the words Human Trafficking. Concept Image. Black and White. Closeup.

By Marisa Chavez, Tulalip Children’s Advocacy Center and Legacy of Healing 

Human Trafficking is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 24.9 million people around the world.  Every year millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide, and Washington State has the 11th highest rate of trafficking in the United States. It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. 

40% of women who are human trafficking victims or survivors identify as Native American or Alaska Native according to a 2015 study by the National Congress of American Indians. 

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the business of stealing freedom for profit. It has also been known as “trafficking in persons” or “modern slavery”. In some cases, traffickers trick, defraud or physically force victims into providing commercial sex. In others, victims are lied to, assaulted, threatened or manipulated into working under inhumane, illegal or otherwise unacceptable conditions. 

Traffickers will use violence, manipulation, false promises of well-paying jobs, and romantic relationships to target their victims. 

Traffickers also look for people who are easy targets for a variety of reasons which include psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, and lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, and political instability. 

Sex Trafficking vs Labor Trafficking

There are many misconceptions of what sex trafficking is. Trafficking rarely looks like what we see in the movies.  We all have a picture in our minds of someone lost in a back alley, suddenly grabbed, suffocated with chloroform, and thrown in the back of a van, only to wake up bound by straps or duct tape or handcuffs. 

Sex Trafficking can occur in any context, such as hotel-based commercial sex, fake massage businesses, street-based commercial sex, residential brothels, truck stops, or escort services.

Labor Trafficking can occur in any industry, including domestic work, agriculture, traveling sales, health and beauty services, restaurants, or construction.

Traffickers use a variety of methods to lure victims into trafficking situations. Language barriers, fear of their traffickers, and fear of law enforcement frequently keep victims from seeking help, often making human trafficking a hidden crime.

The trauma caused by trafficking can be so impactful that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.

Who are the Traffickers?

Traffickers usually employ a much less risky and more effective method: grooming.  Grooming involves building trust and taking exploiting vulnerabilities. A trafficker might be a family member, or try to take the place of one, gaining the victim’s trust while brainwashing her or him to see the world in a certain way.

Perpetrators of human trafficking are just as diverse as their victims, and span all racial, ethnic, and gender demographics. Some use their privilege, wealth, and power as a means of control while others experience the same socio-economic oppression as their victims. They include individuals, business owners, gang members, parents or family members of victims, intimate partners, owners of farms or restaurants, and powerful corporate executives and government representatives.   

How do traffickers control victims?

Traffickers employ a variety of control tactics, the most commonly include physical and emotional abuse and threats, isolation from friends and family, and economic abuse. They make promises aimed at addressing the needs of their target in order to impose control. As a result, victims become trapped and fear leaving for myriad reasons, including psychological trauma, shame, emotional attachment, or physical threats to themselves or their family.

Traffickers target vulnerable people who have needs that the traffickers can fill. Sometimes they offer material support – a place to live, clothing, and a chance to “get rich quick.” Other times they offer love, emotional support or a sense of belonging. Kidnapping victims and forcing them into the sex trade through violence is rare.

Where to Get Help

For urgent situations, notify local law enforcement immediately by calling 911. You may also want to alert the National Human Trafficking Hotline described below so that they can ensure response by law enforcement officials knowledgeable about human trafficking.

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline, a national 24-hour, toll-free, multilingual anti-trafficking hotline. Call 1-888-373-7888 to report a tip; connect with anti-trafficking services in your area.

Legacy of Healing is also available to support victims of sex trafficking. To speak with an advocate, call (360) 716-4100.

Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan breaks glass ceilings for Natives

By Shaelyn Smead, Tulalip News

The critically acclaimed Yellowstone ‘trilogy’ [Yelowstone, 1883, 1923] broke the 2022 season premiere record, with the fifth Yellowstone season carrying over 12.5 million viewers. Of course, many viewers have loved watching the action-packed imagery, captivating storyline, and incredible cast. But for some viewers, what catches their attention is the trilogy’s storyline connections to Native Americans’ dark history and the social injustices that they suffer.  

Taylor Sheridan, speaks about the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, at the NIWRC Fundraiser and Honoring at the Montana Club in Helena, MT. Photo: NIWCR.org

The series was written and created by actor and American filmmaker Taylor Sheridan. The last seven years of his career have focused on or highlighted Native American issues. Some of his work also includes Hell or High Water, Wind River, and Tulsa King. The various storylines have Native issues like Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, addiction, interactions and betrayal between early English settlers and Native Americans, illegal pipelines built on Native land, social bounds on interracial Native relationships, forced placement onto reservations, residential boarding schools, racism, etc. 

While addressing Native struggles has been an important theme through the various shows and films, Taylor has also chosen to spotlight our culture’s irreplaceable beauty. How our people have used cultural traditions to care for our mental health, the strength and alliance within our community, the ability to persevere, and fight for our voices to be heard. In Yellowstone, being the husband to Native Monica Long-Dutton, several tribal members lead Kayce Dutton through an Indigenous ritual to be accepted into the tribe. Later in the series, Monica is seen participating in Indigenous traditions and cutting her hair to overcome the loss of her unborn child. 

In 2022, Taylor Sheridan was quoted by the Whiskey Riff western website saying, “I don’t think that there is a more misrepresented group in American cinema than the Native American. And what little I can do to correct that historical perspective in fiction, I’m gonna do.”

The statement couldn’t be more accurate, as the UCLA 2022 Hollywood Diversity Report showed that Native representation in film and television averages less than 0.9%. 

In a New York Times (NYT) article, Taylor Sheridan disclosed that he made it clear to his casting team that they needed to hire Native American actors for Native American roles. “I wasn’t going to sit here and tell a story about very real issues [sexual violence against women in Indian Country] and cast people to portray characters in that world suffering those burdens and not have some connection,” Taylor said. “Don’t even read them unless you can vet the authentic nature of their ancestry.” 

That misrepresentation carries over into how Native culture and history have been portrayed in cinema and textbooks. In the same NYT article, Bird Runningwater, director of the Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Film Program, explained, “Most Americans consume media, and then you have our representation within that. They consumed what has been created by the system.” As many Natives know, throughout American history, our stories have consistently been hidden from the general public, misconstrued, watered-down, and blatantly lied about. We know that our truth hasn’t been publicized for so long, and it lacks complete transparency when it is shared. Having a ‘seat at the table’ in popular cinema helps change that narrative. 

Tulalip tribal chairwoman Teri Gobin with Native actor Mo Brings Plenty, who plays ‘Mo’ in Yellowstone. They met at the National Congress for American Indian Conference in Sacramento.
Photo courtesy of Teri Gobin. 

Taylor’s mentality with hiring Native American actors and sharing Native stories has only added to the director’s creative ability. The way he can capture the raw and intense emotions of Native issues commands your attention. 

Tulalip tribal member Nina Gobin Scott is a big fan of the Yellowstone trilogy and said, “I started them when it had already become popular. I was shocked at the amount of recognition of our people’s issues. You hardly ever see that level of truth in popular shows like this. When watching 1923 [the scenes where a Native girl is being sexually assaulted by a nun at a residential boarding school], I cried. We often hear about the physical and emotional abuse that our people endured at these schools, but rarely ever is the sexual abuse talked about. Even then, watching the sexual abuse acted out on screen is completely different. It was heartbreaking. I just sat and cried for our people.”

The many horrific truths of Native American history shared in these cinematic films have expanded the exposure of these issues. “I know Native issues are regularly discussed in our communities, but I don’t think it is mainstream enough. I hope that Native issues being on such a popular series opens the eyes of more people,” Nina said. 

While the trilogy brings awareness to our past, it also addresses current issues like state and federal governments respecting (or not respecting) treaty rights. In the most recent season of Yellowstone, the character Chairman Thomas Rainwater, played by Native actor Gil Birmingham (Camanche), was told that a federally proposed gas pipeline would be built through his reservation. And even though the state Governor and Senator were against this and supported the tribe, they were told it would be a fight they wouldn’t win. Sound similar? Many viewers compared it to the 2016 Dakota Access Pipeline that was built. It gained national and international attention as the Standing Rock Sioux and several protesting organizations said it violated Article 2 of the Fort Laramie Treaty and would be an environmental catastrophe. Rather than respecting treaty rights, the Federal government moved forward with the project, and protesters suffered the use of water cannons in freezing weather and were arrested by a militarized police force. 

Even though Taylor is not of Native descent, along with hiring Native actors, he made it his mission to consult with the Natives of the land on which each of his cinemas was based. In 2017, in a public statement captured by the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC), Taylor spoke about being welcomed into the Oglala Sioux tribal community, working with members of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Tribes of the Wind River Reservation, tribal leadership in Crow and Standing Rock, and worked with Native journalist Lailani Upham, and Executive Director of NIWRC Lucy Simpson. These are just a few of the many Native liaisons and trial leaders he has been associated with. 

Along with his efforts to work with and acquire a Native perspective in everything he did, he took his experience to politics. In 2017, he gave written testimony in support of S. 1942, Savanna’s Act, to the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs. In the testimony, he shared the experiences he had with working alongside Native Americans, the research he had done to understand Native issues, and his shock when no government agency tracked information or statistics on murdered and missing Indigenous women.

Taylor was quoted by the NIWRC saying, “Of all responsibilities our government assumes, none is more urgent, more dire, and more necessary than the protection of the most vulnerable of our society. I am testifying to a segment of our society that couldn’t be in more desperate need of that protection,” he said. 

Taylor’s efforts to support Native voices have not gone unnoticed, and many Natives have felt empowered. Yellowstone, 1883, 1923, and Tulsa King can be streamed on Paramount+ or watched on the Paramount Network. The films Wind River and Hell or High Water can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video. 

Life of the Salmon cemented on UW campus

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

In constructing a brand new building as part of a Foster School of Business expansion, the University of Washington sought to honor its commitment to respect the Coast Salish lands upon which the school resides. The planning committee was tasked with seeking art installations reflective of the thriving Native culture found on the reservations of present-day tribes of Western Washington.

The privately funded 85,000-square-foot building is now known as Founders Hall and debuted to much excitement among University staff, students and several guests of honor to kick off the 2022-2023 academic year.

According to Foster Business Magazine, the facility is a model of sustainable construction, collaborative learning and community building. A cathedral of collaboration. An incubator of innovation, an accelerator of ideas, a convergence of team projects, case solutions and business plans. It is a forum, a gathering spot, a hangout. A place to learn, express, engage, brainstorm, formulate, ideate, implement, celebrate. A place to honor the past and create the future.

Quite the description, right? Intentionally built upon bedrock principles of sustainability and collaboration is the key take-away here. Because imbedded within the bedrock of Founders Hall is an unmistakable essence of Tulalip. 

Tulalip master carver and contemporary sculptor, James Madison, sitting with tribal youth in Founders Hall.  

Dubbed “Life of the Salmon”, Tulalip artist James Madison traces the epic upstream run of sacred king, sockeye, silver, humpy and chum. In the form of polished bronze cases embedded into concrete floor, the fish grow and mature as they swim from the ground floor to the 5th floor Founders Gallery.

Known largely as a master carver who specializes in creating stunning, one-of-a-kind pieces of art from cedar wood, James is far from an amateur when it comes to working with metal. In fact, a large part of his education that earned him a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from UW in 2000 was bronze casting.

“In discussing idea concepts with the planning committee, it was clear they and the Dean wanted to pay respect to the local tribes of this area, and wanted to combine that respect with a core teaching we have to protect the salmon,” explained James. “It only made sense then that creating bronze salmon in the actual concrete of the building would serve as an irremovable reminder that our people are here and we will always be here.

“For me, this kind of work is all about keeping our culture alive,” he added. Commemorating the opening of UW’s latest building and the cultural artwork within, the hundreds of college students in attendance stood respectfully as a group of Tulalip culture bearers offered traditional song. “UW honored not just my art, but our people, our traditions and our protocols by giving us space to share our songs. It meant a lot to hear those drums and those words shared by proud Tulalip youth who aren’t afraid to get up in front of hundreds of strangers and share their culture.”

Younger generations of Native students who visit Seattle’s prestigious UW campus and spot the bronzed salmon may feel a part of their spirit soar and even begin to ponder life as a Husky. Such was the experience shared by 13-year-old Kyla Fryberg after taking part in the opening ceremony.

“I do dream of being a UW student one day,” said the ribbon skirt wearing 8th grader. “When I grow up, I want to be a veterinarian. I know education plays an important role in the veterinary field, and where better to attend college than here, especially knowing it’s important to the school to acknowledge Native Americans. I have people in my family who are fishermen, and I hear them say we are the salmon people. Seeing this salmon art all over the building means we are connected here and maybe gets more people to understand just how important the salmon are to all of us.”

Frank Hodge serves as the Dean of the Foster School of Business and led the building’s opening celebration. He boasted how on a campus with predominantly stone buildings, one of the most impressive facts about Founders Hall is that the shell of the building is entirely mass timber, sourced sustainable from managed forests. Resulting in the greenest building at the UW by achieving a 76% reduction in carbon emissions and using 70% less energy to operate in comparison to facilities of equal size built with conventional methods.

“The purpose of the Foster School is to bring communities together to better humanity through business,” said Dean Hodge. “Founders Hall, with its connections to the Pacific Northwest forest products industry, its Native art, its significantly reduced carbon footprint and its intentional design fostering community and collaboration, is an example of how we are living our purpose as a forward-thinking business school.”

To honor the heritage of the land on which it stands, UW’s Founders Hall is a showcase for original Native artwork representing modern Coast Salish styles. The University commissioned installations by two prominent local Native artists, Tulalip’s own James Madison and Puyallup tribal member Shaun Peterson. 

Join the 2023 Tulalip Youth Council

Tulalip Youth Council members at the 2022 UNITY Conference in Minneapolis.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“We want our youth to set positive examples and be good role models for their peers and future generations,” shared Tulalip Youth Council Advisor, Shane McLean. “We value our youth’s insight, expertise, experiences, and contributions. Youth know what issues are important to them and what solutions will work.”

Since its revival in 2015, the Tulalip Youth Council has helped shape the up-and-coming generations into strong young leaders who are prepared to take on the world. Comprised of a senior and junior council, fourteen Tulalip tribal youth who wish to make a positive impact for their tribe and community, are sworn-in to the council every year. 

Through the Tulalip Youth Council, the elected officials gain real-life experience and serve as the voice of the young people during official Tulalip Board meetings. They also address a number of topics that affect both tribal youth and the tribe as a whole, by organizing events throughout the year that help support and/or raise awareness of those issues. In the past, such events included the Get Drugs Off Our Rez Prevention Walk, the PRIDE Walk, coastal jams, healing circles, and fitness camps. 

Said Shane, “Supporting and including young people in the development processes is critical for several reasons. Youth have the experience, knowledge, and ideas that are unique to their situation, which enables them to offer key insights and perspectives on development. Our young people want and deserve a voice in their community.”

Not only do the council members host events, but they also help organize and actively participate in other community gatherings and culture-focused events as well. Most importantly, the Youth Council works closely with the Tulalip Board of Directors during their one-year term, and therefore they have the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of tribal government operations first-hand. Those young council members will be all the more prepared when it’s their time to serve on the Tribe’s BOD, if they choose to do so in the not-so-distant future. 

The 2022 Youth Council elected officials are currently wrapping up a strong term in which they proudly represented the Tulalip youth at each local event this past year. They traveled to Minneapolis in July and met hundreds of other tribal youth from across the nation, while also gaining invaluable knowledge and life skills through a number of workshops geared towards Native youth at the annual UNITY conference.

  “It felt heartwarming seeing everyone gathering in a place where we all felt comfortable with each other, knowing that we all struggle with the same things because our people went through a genocide,” said Tulalip Youth Council member, Arielle Valencia at the 2022 UNITY Conference. “I felt comfortable being around people who understand me. Just knowing that everyone here will be there for you felt good. It was awesome.”

Although each member approaches their duties in a serious manner, there is plenty of room to have fun with the rest of the council members. More often than not, members of the Youth Council can be spotted at local happenings, throwing their heads back in laughter and joining in on the fun with their fellow Tulalip community members. And each year, as the council members settle into their positions, they naturally grow together over their term and thus create bonds and connections that will last a lifetime.

If you are between the 6th and 12th grades and are looking to hone in on those leadership skills, then you are in luck. As mentioned earlier, 14 total positions are up for grabs on the Tulalip Youth Council – seven on the senior council (9th-12th grade) and seven on the junior council (6th-8th grade). 

“We are coming up on Tulalip Youth Council elections for 2023,” shared Shane. “Some of the Youth Council’s purposes are to provide a collective voice and represent the Tribal youth in all matters that concern them, work towards positive goals, and create opportunities for our youth and our communities. If you are a youth or if you know any youth who would be interested in being a part of Tulalip Youth Council, please apply or reach out.”

Shane can be reached at SMclean@TulalipTribes-nsn.gov or at (360) 501-1778. Be sure to contact him for your application for candidacy on the Tulalip Youth Council, and for any additional details as well. The application deadline is 4:00 p.m. on February 3rd. Eligibility rules are as follows; must be an enrolled Tulalip tribal member, must be in-between the 6th-12th grade, must be enrolled in school, and must have good grades and attendance. 

“Engaging young people in their community and governance activities, such as youth councils, encourages them to learn peaceful means of impacting their communities and the world,” Shane expressed. “It’s our mission to create opportunities of awareness, healing, and growth through collaborative community outreach while sustaining our Native teachings.”

Commemorating the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The scenic town of Mukilteo is home to the new Washington State ferry terminal and whether rain or shine, the views of Possession Sound, which the ferries travel, are quite captivating. During a quick walk around the ferry terminal, one can take in all the beautiful artwork, traditional language, and rich history of the original people of this land. As the signage indicates, that particular area of the Washington State ferry terminal is where close to 5,000 Salish People met with US government officials to negotiate the terms of the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott. 

“This land is so important to us,” expressed Tulalip Chairwoman Teri Gobin while at a recent gathering at Mukilteo. “It’s where our ancestors had longhouses. We signed the Point Elliott Treaty here. All of our tribes used these waterways like our freeways to go from one place to another, and we have many relatives at all these different tribes. Our people met here together, and all agreed to sign the treaty. By ceding that land, from the water to the mountains, they guaranteed us our treaty rights for future generations. I’m so glad that our ancestors thought about that when they did that, because they were trying to protect our tribes.”

On January 21st, many tribal members from across the Puget Sound region, including Tulalip, Swinomish, and Lummi, will be taking time to commemorate the signing of the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott in an annual tradition known as Treaty Days. This year marks 168 years since the treaty was signed and 111 years since William Shelton organized the first potlatch under the guise of celebrating the treaty. 

Through Treaty Days, William Shelton preserved his culture during the era of boarding schools and assimilation efforts. Following the burning of longhouses and the relocation of tribes, William convinced the Tulalip Superintendent and the U.S. Secretary of Interior to allow the construction of a longhouse on the shore of Tulalip Bay, where the descendants of the signatories of the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott could gather and celebrate the treaty once a year.

“It’s spiritual healing,” explained Tribal member, Celum Hatch. “When I go, it’s because of the strength of everybody’s songs. The strength within those four walls gets me through the next couple of months. When I go in there I go with a good head, because I know what I’m going in with, I’m not walking out with. I go for healing, and I go to help everyone else and support them.”

Treaty Days is an event that tribal members across the region look forward to attending every year. Although the original longhouse, which William Shelton convinced the government to build, was replaced in the sixties, people continue to meet at the historical location every January for the commemoration of the treaty. Within the walls of the longhouse, innumerable teachings of the culture and traditions are passed along and kept alive. Many of those songs, dances, spiritual practices, and stories made it through the passage of time and are still practiced 111 years later.

“Treaty Days is really important to me because all of us, as sduhubš people, come from that longhouse way of life. That’s just who we are,” expressed Tribal member, Roselle Fryberg. “That’s the way our ancestors prayed, that was their healing, that’s how they protected their families. And it was also a way for our people to celebrate our treaty at a time when practicing our culture was outlawed, and we were thrown in jail for singing and dancing.”

For a little historical background, the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott was signed by those tribal leaders with their future generations in mind. Altogether, the tribes ceded upwards of 5 million acres of their ancestral lands to the United States government for white settlement. That vast amount of land presently makes up Washington State’s King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. 

The treaty established current day reservations including the Tulalip, Port Madison, Swinomish and Lummi reservations. Through the signing of the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, the US government acknowledged each tribe as a sovereign nation. And in exchange for ceding such large portions of their ancestral homelands, the tribes reserved the right to fish at usual and accustomed grounds and stations, as well as the right to hunt and gather on open and unclaimed lands.

Said Tulalip Elder, Virginia Carpenter, “The treaty is important to me because it gives us a permanent place to live and because it gives us all of our rights. If we didn’t have the treaty, we really wouldn’t have anything, they would’ve kicked us off of our land. It’s an umbrella for us to live safely and the way we want to live.”

Ever since the treaties were signed in the late 1800’s, tribal nations across America have worked diligently to protect and defend their treaty rights when the US government attempted to ignore or defy the supreme law of the land for its own agenda. Because of those rights that the tribal ancestors fought to include in the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, each Tribe has grown and persevered over the years, with the ability to govern their own affairs while also continuing their traditional way of life. 

If you wish to view the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott in its entirety, a  copy is currently on display at the Hibulb Cultural Center as a part of their The Power of Words: A History of Tulalip Literacy exhibit. For further details including pricing and hours of operation, please contact the museum at (360) 716-2600 or visit their website, www.HibulbCulturalCenter.org.

This year’s Treaty Days Potlatch will be held at the Tulalip Longhouse on January 21st. This event is intended for tribal members only. For more information, please refer to your tribal leadership or, if available, check out your Tribe’s tribal member-only Facebook group. 

“Our treaties are everything as Native American people,” stated Tribal member, Josh Fryberg. “We need to protect our treaties as much as possible and thank our ancestors for fighting for what we have today. Without everything they suffered for, we wouldn’t have a lot of things we have today as far as our fishing and hunting rights, and also being Native American in general – to be able to sing our songs, carry our culture and preserve that for our future generations.”