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Meet the mother-daughter team making powerful and educational jewelry
By Kim Kalliber, photos courtesy of
Well known around Tulalip for teaching Lushootseed, the traditional Coast Salish language, tribal member Michelle Myles is also recognized for her beautiful artwork. Some of her hand-crafted paddles have been hot ticket items at the Annual Tulalip Boys & Girls Club Auction, where she often donates them to benefit the younger generation.
Lately, Michelle and her teenage daughter Jacynta have been honing their artistic skills on a new craft; Native earrings. Constructed from wood and hand painted, many of the earrings feature Lushootseed words.
The mother-daughter duo has created a bright space in what many consider a gloomy time. During the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, their colorful designs shared on social media give local and non-local residents something exciting to view and even purchase. As Michelle says, “We’re not going to be cooped up forever, get your sexy ready now,”
Michelle agreed to an interview with syeceb staff. The following is an inside look to their craft and how to purchase their earrings.
SYS: What are your artistic backgrounds?
MM: My artistic background stems back to Jerry Jones and his training in 2001. He taught our [Language] department how to carve paddles and I’ve been dabbling ever since. Jacynta has expressed an interest in the artwork and she has always been willing to learn. She has a better eye for what might work and her youth brings a creativity that transcends traditional boundaries.
SYS: What inspired you to make earrings?
MM: To be honest, Covid-19 inspired me to make earrings. When the shutdown started, I was looking for something simple to do with the kids. I have been experimenting in different mediums and shaved cedar was something that I had dabbled in. When we first did it, we hadn’t thought about earrings as much as just doing small crafts. We finished the first couple, Jacynta got our jewelry kit and suggested we make earrings and pendants.
SYS: How long does each pair of earrings take to make?
MM: The earrings that I’ve started promoting take about an hour each. Some of the other mediums were experimenting with take a couple of days each.
SYS: Do most of the people buying your earrings understand the language? Are some learning first-hand from you?
MM: So far, all of our earrings have been sold to tribal members. Most of these women recognize the symbology and language that we’re using. For example, the Missing Murdered Indigenous Women campaign has grown in strength thanks to women like [activist] Debbie Parker, who has passionately championed on behalf of our sisters who have been neglected or forgotten. We wanted to follow her lead in the promotion of strong Indigenous women.
SYS: How has art helped you through the stay-at-home situation? How has your culture helped?
MM: The time at home has allowed me to actively participate in my kids’ life, which I appreciate. As a teacher, I’m typically busy during their education, so it’s nice to be around for their curriculum.
My culture has always kept me grounded. We’re so westernized as Tulalips that we treat this hiatus as an intrusion. I think of it as our ancestors giving us a hiatus to reflect. That’s why I appreciate my colleagues like Thomas Williams, who are using this time to educate our people on traditional remedies and healing.
SYS: Have you noticed an upswing on artistic and interactive posts on social media?
MM: I don’t really see a difference online in artwork. Most of the people I’m following are full-time artists who are simply continuing to promote their craft. The difference that I see is in my own time to try out things that I spend the day thinking about, but never have the time to pursue.
SYS: What advice can you offer to those that may be going stir crazy?
MM: For people who may be going stir crazy, I encourage them to set life goals and explore ways to accomplish them. I want to be a better artist and historian, so I’ve been spending my time learning about our history, and experimenting in different mediums. I have to listen to [my partner] Lee constantly complaining about the stock market and politics, which takes up way more time than I’d care to admit.
SYS: How do we purchase your earrings and pendants?
MM: All of my art business has been conducted through Facebook. I’ve been so successful through word of mouth that it’s never made sense to run a website. I have my hands in so many different things, art wise, that I would not have even got to this if it wasn’t for the hiatus from work.
You can find Michelle on Facebook at Michelle Myles, where she posts items for sale and how to purchase them. She also wishes everyone to stay safe and healthy.
If you have artwork, stories, article ideas or photos you’d like to share with us, please email Kim Kalliber at firstname.lastname@example.org or Micheal Rios at email@example.com.
April 1, 2020
We are often asked about numbers. How many people have been tested? How many tested positive? How many masks, gowns, and gloves do we have? Do we have sanitizer? We do have a reasonable amount of supplies. Part of our job as Emergency Management is to track our burn rate and make sure supplies are on order before we need them. Most of this work happens behind the scenes, so today, we’re going to introduce you to the team doing the work. There are many more working on the COVID-19 response, but this is our core workgroup.
Ashlynn Danielson, the Emergency Preparedness Manager, coordinates the team response, bringing together staff from throughout the Tulalip Tribes. Ashlynn creates strategic plans, provides guidance, and best practices to leadership. Vanessa Kelsey, from Contract Compliance, has been detailed into the effort. She is keeping tabs on our inventory and helping to draft protocols and SOPs.
Jim Steinruck from the Health Clinic is leveraging his health care networks to keep us connected with local health systems. He is heading the effort to create a quarantine site for Tulalip, and he also recently secured 100 test kits for Tulalip.
Kelvin Lee from our Pharmacy has been diligent about protecting his team, so they can continue serving the Tulalip community through the Pharmacy. He has also been invaluable in securing supplies of masks, gloves, and sanitizer.
Media and Marketing has been assisting us with getting our message out to the community. Niki Cleary has been actively answering questions on social media, and her team have been sharing information on social media, in the Syeceb, Tulalip TV and their other channels.
Chris Wright from our GIS (Geographic Information Systems) team has been instrumental helping us track all of our information. He is currently working with Media and Marketing to launch a Tulalip COVID-19 response website.
Kevin Jones from TDS and Dr. Okemah from the Health Clinic are working on tele-medicine in order to continue serving our people who still need routine medical care. We are hoping to see video appointments launch soon.
Community Health has been working around the clock. Verna Hill and her team have been tracking all of the self-disclosed COVID-19 cases, providing guidance to patients and working with Snohomish Health District to map COVID-19 on the reservation.
Chenoa Henry, with our Grants department, continues to research funding opportunities and provide guidance, so we are eligible for current and future grants.
Tulalip Bay Fire and the Tulalip Police Department are still interacting with the community on a daily basis. The fire department is working with Community Health on patient transport services, and the community paramedic Jim Reinhardt is helping diagnose and interface with community members who are worried about their immediate health. The Tulalip Police have continued to protect and serve our community, and have also offered to assist in any requested efforts.
We know that it’s frustrating when we don’t have new information to share but, we wanted to give you a snapshot of what we are doing and let you know that there is a team working hard to keep Tulalip healthy and safe.
By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
On March 23rd, Governor Jay Inslee announced his order for Washingtonians to stay at home. The rationale was simple: by staying home the chances of spreading coronavirus is minimized and, in effect, everyone abiding would be doing their part to ‘lower the curve’. Hours later, the Tulalip Tribes issued an emergency proclamation for all citizens on the Tulalip Reservation to ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’.
“We’ve been very clear on the need for everyone to stay home. The less time we spend in public, the more lives we will save,” explained Governor Inslee. “We know [this] announcement affects millions of our livelihoods and means life will look different in Washington. But these necessary restrictions will protect us and our loved ones so that we have a livelihood to come back to.”
Fast forward two-weeks and while most Washingtonians are doing their part, some still don’t grasp the seriousness of this global pandemic. The numbers boggle the mind. As of April 1st, there have been at least 905,000 total confirmed cases in 192 countries, with the most alarming number, the death toll, continuing to rise at an exponential rate. Globally, more than 45,200 deaths are now attributed to COVID-19.
Yet, locally on the reservation it was still a common occurrence to see children, teenagers, and adults casually out and about, partaking in leisurely activities. Gathering at Mission Beach? Yup. Games of pick-up hoops at the outdoor courts? Sure. Energetic youth roaming free on the ball field and neighborhood parks? Of course.
Social disobedience is nothing new. Ask any parent and they’ll attest to the fact that once you tell a child they can’t do something, regardless of what it is, that something becomes the only thing they want to do. That is until the consequences become severe enough that it’s no longer in their best interest to be disobedient.
And no, this type of behavior isn’t only on the reservation. The entire state is witnessing social disobedience from individuals and businesses, alike.
“Since I announced the ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order for our state, we have seen social distancing and other compliance from businesses and residents across Washington for the good of the public health,” Governor Inslee recently said. “But thousands of calls are also pouring in to state and local agencies from concerned residents, with reports that some individuals and businesses are not in compliance.
“The actions of those who willfully violate this order may ultimately drag out the COVID-19 crisis even longer.”
Tulalip leadership has responded to this woeful behavior by implementing a new tribal code authorizing the enforcement of stay at home quarantine orders. To further reinforce the ‘stay home, stay healthy’ directive, all reservation parks, outdoor basketball courts, Youth Center skate park and ball field, and Mission Beach public access points have been permanently closed until further notice.
Once a welcomed sight to all, now these recreational areas are sealed off with bright yellow CAUTION tape. Impossible to miss, the message is loud and clear. Similar to the Tribe’s adult playgrounds – Tulalip Resort, Quil Ceda Casino and Bingo – the outdoor community areas are officially closed for business, pending a must needed flattening of the curve when it comes to COVID-19 cases.
“The safety of our community is of the utmost importance,” said Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “We want people to stay home. [By doing so] it is slowing the curve and lowering the number of deaths. The Board of Directors will continue to adapt and make the best decisions we can for our community and our Tribe.”
By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
All schools are closed in Washington State for at least another month, as part of a state-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s been over three weeks since students in the Marysville School District (MSD) have been in their classrooms and received formal education from their teachers.
While schools will remain closed for the foreseeable future, education must continue. That is why the dedicated staff and educators of MSD are doing their part to bring learning opportunities into the home of every MSD student household.
“Our main purpose is to make sure our students receive a Chromebook to continue their education even though they aren’t attending school right now,” explained MSD Superintendent Jason Thompson. “We also have an assortment of school supplies, hygiene kits and grade-level activity packets for kids to work on. It’s so important to make sure our kids are still learning every day.”
During the fourth week of March, the District held two drive-up, K-5 Chromebook checkouts for its elementary students. Because sixth graders on up to high school seniors were already assigned Chromebooks earlier in the school year, these drive-up style distributions were only for households with Kindergarten through fifth grade students.
“These two distribution events took a lot of work to put together, but knowing our students will benefit immensely makes it all worth it,” said assistant superintendent Scott Beebe. “With these Chromebooks our students will now be able to video chat with their teachers and fellow students. It’s a big undertaking, but the results will be amazing.”
Each Chromebook was individually inspected by tech-savvy personnel to ensure they were updated with the right software and programs to meet students’ needs for the new normal: distance-learning.
On Thursday, March 26 the second Chromebook checkout occurred at the MSD’s Service Center. Originally slated to begin at 2:00 p.m., vehicles started to line-up much earlier with concerned parents who worried about a limited supply and wanted to make sure their student received a coveted Chromebook. As cars continued to show, the line got longer and longer. At one point the line of vehicles spanned multiple city blocks, running down both State and Cedar Streets.
From young Kindergartners to veteran 5th graders, many students were ecstatic to see their teachers and school staff as their parents drove them through the checkout process. In their excitement, several kids were witnessed unbuckling themselves and nearly climbing out their backseat window to wave and say hello to their favorite teacher.
The majority of Tulalip K-12 students attend schools within Maryville School District. Tribal member parents and kids were among those who waited upwards of 90-minutes to checkout a Chromebook. They could also take advantage of the additional school supplies and in-demand hygiene kits being offered.
“We waited in line for a strong hour-and-a-half to get our boys a Chromebook,” said Carlos Ancheta. “Stores are low on supplies right now, so getting these basic essentials for school and hygiene will come in handy.”
Not every household has a home computer, setup for video chatting, and access to the internet or WIFI. During checkout if a parent submitted paperwork for their student saying they did not have internet access at home, then they received a Chromebook with built in cellular data provided by Sprint. By dispersing these specific Chromebooks to MSD students the opportunity gap normally created by lack of internet access has been filled.
“We’re really blessed to have a school district that cares so much about our kids,” shared Sheena Robinson after her two sons got their Chromebook and supplies. “We don’t have a computer or the internet at home, so this makes a world of difference for them. They’ll be able to get online for classes through Zoom, conferences with their teachers, and websites they can practice their reading and math. I’m looking forward to them getting back to learning.”
After completion of both drive-up checkouts, Marysville School District staff distributed over 1,000 Chromebooks to their elementary-aged families. Students also received an assortment of school supplies and hygiene kits to reduce the financial burden their families may be going through during this unprecedented school closure. Getting back to a daily routine of these cheerful kids continuing their education can provide a critical sense of stability in these uncertain times.