Save the Date! Annual Community Wellness Conference is May 14-15

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

For its seventh consecutive year, the popular Community Wellness Conference returns to the Tulalip Resort Casino once again on May 14 and May 15. Sponsored by the Tulalip Tribes Problem Gambling Program, the two-day event invites local citizens to focus on their healing journey by providing them with tools, education and resources on how to improve overall health and wellbeing through a number of interactive workshops, professional panel discussions and community talking circles. 

Approximately 200 participants attended each day of the conference in previous years, and Problem Gambling is anticipating about the same number of attendees this year. Both the Tulalip Tribes and the Marysville School District agree that self-care is of the utmost importance, especially in today’s social media led society. For this reason, the school district is allowing their students the opportunity to attend the Wellness Conference during the school day; middle school students on the first day and high schoolers on the second day. Tribal government employees are also often allotted two-hours of paid administration leave to participate in the workshops, upon supervisor approval. 

“What to expect from this year’s Wellness Conference is a great gathering for the community and also for the youth,” says Community Wellness Conference Emcee and Youth Education Advocate, Deyamonta Diaz. “There’s middle and high school days where the students get a chance to be exposed to some great keynote speakers and also some helpful educational workshops that will teach them a lot of things that maybe are too hard to talk about, as far as wellness or self-care, as well as other issues we face in the community. The theme is ‘champions for life’ so it’s a positive message, something that can go a lot farther than just the conference.” 

Each workshop presenter knows about the issues we face in Native America, and specifically in Tulalip, as the conference is a collaborative effort with local departments such as the Child Advocacy Center, Family Haven, Youth Services, the Education Department and Family Services. The conference aims to equip those carrying emotional, spiritual and mental baggage with the tools of how to get through their toughest days and several resources for when they’re in need of a helping hand or an ear to listen. 

Since we are living in a new era, many youths now deal with cyber-bullying, stalking and harassment on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. The Child Advocacy Center is debuting a workshop during the Wellness Conference addressing these issues and teaching the community about the dangers occurring on social media sites. 

“I’m doing a social media health and safety workshop,” says Child Advocate and Wellness Conference presenter, Megan Boyer. “I think it’s important for families of youth, and youth themselves, to learn about what the dangers are when online and how they can keep themselves safe and what parents can do to keep their kids safe. They are going to learn about some of the policies and laws about how law enforcement uses social media as evidence. They’ll learn to identify red flags, what bullying is, what consent is, how social media can be harmful and how it can be helpful, because education is key.”

Sarah Sense-Wilson, Problem Gambling Coordinator, briefly explains the topics the keynote speakers will be touching upon during the Community Wellness Conference.

She states, “Our keynote speaker for day one, Frank Grijalva, is going to be talking about resiliency, and health and wellness, as it relates to overcoming trauma and overcoming various barriers that are experienced within tribal communities, that interfere with individual health and wellness and thereby affects the family unit and the community as well. The idea is that there’s hopefully going to be some stronger, more in-depth awareness and understanding about trauma responses and how trauma responses negatively affect relationships. 

“Day two is Jerry Moomaw.” Sarah continues. “She’s nationally known within the movement addressing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Children. We’re hoping people take away prevention strategies and also awareness and understanding about how to keep our communities safer, our women safer and our children safer. And that interweaves with all the rest of the workshops in learning about red flags and warning signs around commercial and sex trafficking.”

And the Wellness Conference committee added a special surprise for those who are fans of Native humor by adding the talents of Toni Jo Hall to the mix. Known nationwide within tribal communities, the Native American comedian will be performing at both conference days as her beloved, yet hilariously inappropriate, character Auntie Beachress. 

“In acknowledging and recognizing that much of the workshop topics are heavy and can stir and bring up trauma and negative experiences and feelings, we felt it was really important to have balance and that we also include comedy relief and have a good time with laughter.  We know that laughter is good medicine and helps us heal,” says Sarah.

Both of the conference days will end with gender specific talking circles where the attendees are welcome to open up, be vulnerable and begin their healing process without judgement. The ladies talking circle will be led by Tulalip tribal member, Deborah Parker, while the fellas circle will be guided by community elder, Jim Hillaire. 

The Problem Gambling program and the Wellness Conference committee invites everyone to the 7th annual Community Wellness Conference. The event is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14 and Wednesday, May 15, in the Orca Ballrooms of the Tulalip Resort Casino. They would also like to encourage local elders to attend the second morning of the conference (May 15) for the Tulalip Youth Council special honoring for all of the wisdom keepers in attendance. 

“We’re hoping participants take away a stronger understanding on how to support their youth,” expresses Sarah. “We’re looking at building tools, building skills, providing resources and education on some of those issues, but also aim to have fun and hopefully build stronger connections amongst each other and with the community. It’s about healing, it’s about wellness, it’s about health. We want people to walk away with a good experience that is valuable for them, that they could apply to their life. The champions for life theme really embodies that idea. We want people to leave feeling empowered and feeling that they are part of that champions for life message.”

Special Olympian Bruce Williams brings home gold

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Since 1968, the Special Olympics have been a global movement used to unleash the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports. They empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all.

In Washington State, year-round sports training and athletic competition are provided in a variety of Olympic-type sports for more than 18,000 children and adults who refuse to believe a disability is a limitation. These inspiring individuals are given continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in the sharing of friendship with their fellow athletes.

Thirty-seven-year-old Bruce Williams is a proud Tulalip tribal member who has competed in numerous sporting events at the Special Olympics for over a decade. Previously showcasing his skills at soccer, basketball and volleyball in years past, Bruce is now focused on track and field. He’s had a long-time passion with running, so it was only a matter of time before he transitioned to track.

Bruce’s collection of previously won medals.

On Sunday, April 28 the Cascade Area Regionals were hosted at Mariner High School in Everett. After months of preparation and sporting his brand new pair of Nike Free running shoes, Bruce was ready to race. His first competition was the 100-meter sprint. In a highly contested dash, Bruce took 2nd place, finishing less than a tenth of a second behind the 1st place runner. For his effort he was awarded a silver medal.

A short while later, Bruce again took to the starting line, this time for the 200-meter sprint. This time he wouldn’t be denied the gold. From the start he jumped out in front of the pack and maintained his momentum all the through the finish line. A huge smile on his face after finishing 1st, Bruce was beaming when he received a gold medal.

The Special Olympian proudly wore his two medals every day the following week. He made time to sit down with Tulalip News staff and share his thoughts about winning gold and silver in his two athletic events. Here are some of the highlights from that conversation:

Q: How does it feel to be a gold-winning Olympian?

A: “Feels great! Very proud of winning. Want to show everybody my medals.”

Q: What was your training routine like? 

A: “Train on the treadmill, do laps at the Marysville YMCA, and lots of track stretches. Very important to stretch.”

Q: Any special foods you like to have on race day?

A: “Strawberry yogurt is my favorite and lots of water.”

Q: You raced in a pair of Nike Free shoes. What do you like about them?

A: “They make me run fast!”

Q: Were you nervous going into your races?

A: “A little. Lots of people racing, but I’m the fastest one around.”

Q: You’ll be competing at the Spring State Games next month. What are your expectations?

A: “Win more gold, the big one this time.”

Bruce will be prepping over the next several weeks to compete against the best Special Olympians in the state. The 2019 Spring State Games will be held May 31 – June 2 at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. Bruce asks that anyone who isn’t busy those days to come out and cheer him on to victory. 

B-I-N-G-O celebration!

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Local Tulalip citizens were joined by their fellow tribal members that journeyed from as far north as Vancouver, B.C. and as far south as Olympia to fill the seats of Tulalip Bingo on Monday, April 29. The occasion? The highly anticipated 18th annual Tribal Bingo Celebration. 

Bingo Director Tammy Taylor (left) and Board of Director Mel Sheldon (center) were all smiles during the day-long bingo celebration.

“Who is ready to win some money?!” resounded Board of Director Mel Sheldon. Like he has done in years past, Mel reigned supreme on the mic as M.C. for the specialty 10:00a.m., 2:00p.m. and 6:00p.m. sessions. He kept the atmosphere lively and upbeat with plenty of jokes and his witty banter.

Nearly one-thousand tribal members turned into dauber enthusiasts while enjoying the festivities and trying their luck to win high-end prizes or line their pockets with cold, hard cash.

“We are honored to host our tribal bingo while bringing fun and excitement to the membership for 18 wonderful years now,” said Tammy Taylor, Tulalip Bingo Director. “The beautiful part of our celebration is bringing the membership together for a fun time, free of politics and drama. Today really is all about our people enjoying each other’s company, sharing stories, and catching up with friends and family you don’t see often enough.”

Bingo staff did their best to make the 18th annual celebration move along as smoothly as possible. Like the last couple years, the event was split into three separate sessions instead of only two. Keeping the extra third session makes seating more comfortable and gives a slight bump to everyone’s chance of winning cash and door prizes, such as a 75” TV, matching recliner set, and vacation voucher. 

Toneena Gobin (center) celebrated her 20th birthday with a $1,199 cash door prize

The day was especially exciting for Toneena Gobin who kicked-off her 20th birthday by attending the morning bingo session. Fortune favored the birthday girl as she won a whopping $1,199 cash prize.

“I almost fainted from being so excited,” beemed Toneena after collecting her winnings.

Spanning each session were 15 separate games of bingo, including hit favorites like Large Crazy Kite, Indian Star, and Blackout. During each session an estimated $33,000 in total prizes were awarded to bingo and door-prize raffle winners. 

“It’s a time we all come together to celebrate,” reflected Mel following the afternoon session. “Bingo has been a pastime for generations now. Seeing all the first time 18-year-olds who participated today, adding to our tribal family, really makes it worthwhile.” 

 “Bingo started us [in the gaming industry] back in 1983,” added Tammy. “It’s been an amazing journey to where we are now. You could see so many big smiles, hugs being given, and loud laughs shared throughout today. From our Bingo team members to the Enrollment team members, everyone did a fantastic job start to finish.”

Smiles and laughs were had by many of the 970 tribal members who eagerly daubed away at their bingo cards during the two-hour sessions. Some even made the most of a fifteen-minute break to try their luck at the newly installed slot machines. The games of chance paid off big time for a lucky few, especially those who had the golden opportunity to yell out an ecstatic, “BINGO!”

Garden Day promotes overall health and wellness

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The beautiful and peaceful Wellness Garden Trail, located behind the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic, officially opened on the morning of April 27, as the community of Tulalip gathered to celebrate the first Garden Day of 2019. After a long, cold winter, the plant beds were ready for a new beginning and approximately seventy-five volunteers arrived bright and early to prune and replenish the garden boxes with fresh soil and new plants. 

Garden Day is hosted by the Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention program and is held periodically throughout the year. Participants of all ages learn how to grow and maintain a garden by cultivating a variety of produce, fruit trees and traditional medicinal plants. The crew, equipped with gardening tools, gloves and trash bags, as well as piles of fresh soil, worked hard while enjoying good company and a view of Tulalip Bay on a gorgeous spring day. 

“We’ve been doing Garden Day since February 2011,” explained Diabetes Program Coordinator, Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy. “It started at the Hibulb Cultural Center and then it moved to the health clinic in 2014. Diabetes prevention is really what it’s all about. To prevent diabetes, we’re looking to promote exercise and healthy foods. If we can achieve 5-7% weight loss by exercise or nutrition, we reduce our risk of developing diabetes by 57%, by just making little tiny changes. The prevalence of diabetes within Native American communities is higher than non-Native communities. For us, the foods we would’ve traditionally eaten are not readily available to us.”

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Indigenous Peoples are at a substantially higher risk to develop diabetes than any other race nationwide. Previous records show that for decades, Native diabetics experienced kidney failure due to complications from diabetes. But because of programs like Diabetes Care and Prevention, individuals are now learning how to properly manage their blood glucose and sugar levels, and therefore the amount of kidney failures amongst Native diabetics dropped by a whopping 54% since 2013. 

During the event, the health clinic provides free screenings for both blood pressure and blood sugar levels as hypertension and diabetes are widespread amongst tribal members. Based on the results, the clinic can offer advice and refer them to the appropriate specialist. Throughout the day, about thirty volunteers took the time to participate in the screening to get an update on their health.

In addition to learning about diabetes and growing plentiful green gardens, participants are also treated to a delicious and nutritious breakfast, snack and lunch prepared by the Tulalip SNAP-Ed program. Traditional foods were incorporated into the meal, including nettles in tasty brownie deserts, as well as fruit-infused water. The event also included a giveaway where prizes were raffled off such as gardening tools, watering cans, children’s gardening kits and seedlings of strawberries, cabbage, peas, broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, and cucumber plants. 

“I came out today because Roni inspired me to start my own garden,” expressed Tulalip tribal member, Tempest Dawson. “This is my third year working on my own garden, and I like to come to Garden Day and follow her around because she knows a lot about gardening and I pick up whatever she has to teach me. It’s important to continue to teach our people about the land and that there are natural foods that we can live off of, instead of relying on the grocery store or processed foods.”

Roni explained that five years ago, tribal member Walt Campbell purchased a shovel, painted the tool gold and brought it to Garden Day to gift to the hardest working green thumb of the day. Since then, gifting golden shovels became quite the tradition, adding a bit more fun at the end of each Garden Day. This time around, two golden shovels were gifted; one to Tulalip youth, Cohen Ramsey, the other to Marisol Raza and her children.

“We won the golden shovel award,” Marisol exclaimed. “It’s for being a hard working person, taking part in Garden Day. We’ve been coming for about three years or so and we absolutely love it. Today we cleaned up the plant beds, removed old plants and pulled weeds, as well as added new soil and compost. We planted cabbage and broccoli. Enjoying that final product is going to be awesome.”

Because the gardeners meet up four to five times annually, they’ve developed close friendships over the years. Young Tulalip tribal member, Kaiser Moses, has attended every Garden Day with his mother since its inception and looks forward to helping out at each event as well as visiting with his fellow gardeners. 

“I’ve been participating in Garden Day since I was about four,” Kaiser said. “It feels like old friends reuniting every year. It’s really fun and great for rebooting for your mental stability. As a group, we all work together to make the garden better and plant some new plants in the garden beds. There’s a bunch of friendly, kind-hearted happy souls who come out every time we have a Garden Day.” 

The Diabetes Care and Prevention Program will continue its busy year, promoting overall health and wellness with a number of classes, programs and Garden Days including the new 26-week Diabetes Prevention class, for those who’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. More details will come before the start of the program in June. For more information, please contact the Tulalip Diabetes Care and Prevention Program at (360) 716-5642.

Warm Beach to launch trauma-informed, equine therapy for Tulalip youth

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Warm Beach is well-known as the home of The Lights of Christmas, a popular holiday festival featuring dazzling light displays. Not as commonly known, however, is the fact Warm Beach has one of Snohomish County’s largest horse herds offering year-long equestrian programs. The dedicated staff of Warm Beach’s equestrian program are currently developing a trauma-informed therapy course designed specifically for Tulalip foster children. The first-of-its-kind course is anticipated to debut in September.

The inspiration for a tribal specific version of equine therapy came about after Rebecca Black (Quinault), who’s been raising two Tulalip children for four years now, participated in a parent/child camp with horses at Warm Beach. While there she couldn’t help but wonder how much more impactful the camp could be if it were designed for tribal youth and geared towards healing historical traumas.

“I grew up around horses and, being in an abusive foster care system as a young teen myself, there were literally times where the horses saved my life,” shared Rebecca, now a licensed foster care provider. “I wanted my two boys and other tribal youth to experience the healing that horses make possible. It’s so important that we intercede at a younger age because the health outcomes in our communities, especially for our kids in foster care, can really change.”

Rebecca met with Warm Beach executive staff and engaged in a series of productive meetings regarding a camp that not only establishes a working relationship with Tulalip, but also would break down barriers of opportunity for tribal youth. Months’ worth of meetings and cultural education led to an application to the Tulalip Charitable Table and a subsequent grant award to develop a prototype version of equine therapy for Tulalip foster children. 

Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman, Teri Gobin

On the morning of April 25, representatives from Warm Beach Horsemanship met with Chairwoman Teri Gobin, Board of Director Mel Sheldon, and Charitable Contributions Director Marilyn Sheldon to thank them all in culturally appropriate way for the grant funds making the innovative therapy course possible. A brief introduction of what’s to come and how the children will benefit was also detailed.

“Our intent is to use the grant to run a three day trauma-informed, therapeutic program that will cater to serving eight Tulalip children currently in foster care,” explained Lisa Tremain, Horsemanship Director at Warm Beach Camp. “Through the use of horses we’ll be doing activities both mounted and on the ground that help walk the children through various stages of their healing journey. Building relationships, trust and confidence are critical pieces to the healing process that equine therapy offers.” 

“In a therapeutic and safe environment, horses provide unique nonverbal feedback that can facilitate social, physical and cognitive skill development in people of all ages,” added Ginger Reitz, Therapeutic Horsemanship Coordinator.

Tulalip Tribes Board of Director, Mel Sheldon

Two therapeutic horses, Mirage and Cameo, wore ‘Lightening Horse’ blankets courtesy of Eighth Generation. After making their introductions with everyone in attendance, the horses’ blankets were used to wrap Board members Teri and Mel. 

“Our hands go up to you all for your good work,” stated Chairwoman Gobin. “We understand how important work like this is to help people, especially our children, heal from their own personal traumas. It’s often not easy to speak about, but it’s essential if we’re to move forward in a good way.”

Tulalip Police Respond to Stabbing at McDonalds

On April 25th, at approximately 8:30 p.m. the Tulalip Police Department (TPD) responded to a call about an assault with a weapon at the McDonalds, 6322 33rd Avenue NE, in Tulalip. Upon arrival, officers made contact with the victim and administered first aid for stab wounds on the top of his scalp. The individual was later transported to an area hospital. TPD coordinated with Snohomish County and Marysville for dog teams to search for the assailants. The area was contained, statements were taken from witnesses, and the crime scene processed for evidence. TPD Detectives were deployed and conducted the investigation.

After a K-9 track, two suspects were captured and identified. Both suspects, one a Tulalip citizen and one a non-Tulalip, were then booked into Snohomish County Jail for aggravated assault and robbery. We learned that the victim and the suspects knew each other and this appears to be a drug related incident that turned into assault/robbery. There is no outstanding threat to the community. TPD is in contact with the FBI to evaluate if this case will be prosecuted federally or in Tribal Court.

The Tulalip Police Department takes seriously the calls and concerns we receive from the community. We are committed to addressing crime when it happens and working to reduce crime in the future. I commend our officers and detectives for their quick response and dedication to the safety of our community. This is an active investigation, anyone with information about the incident is asked to call our tip line at 360-716-5990.