Teri Gobin, Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman: For Tribes, Voting is Sovereignty in Action

My name is Teri Gobin, and I’ve had the honor of being your Chairwoman since 2019. As Chairwoman, I have represented this tribe and defended our rights and interest at all government levels. I thank you all for the opportunity to continue that work.

All elections are important, but this Presidential election will decide what kind of Nation we will have for many years to come. Are we a nation of greed, distrust, and selfishness, of lies and division? Or, are we a nation that comes together at a challenging time and shows a united fight for equality, justice, and the next seven generations? Those are the questions before us today. 

Donald Trump stands for weakening environmental protections like the Endangered Species Act, which helps us protect salmon vital to our culture, lifeways, and tribal economy. The Trump Administration has weakened water standards to allow more cancer-causing chemicals into our Salish Sea and our traditional foods. 

Trump approved the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, which threaten the water supply and treaty and trust resources for tribes and ignores tribal sovereignty and government-to-government relationships. This administration also removed the Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation land, which has threatened the security of all tribes.

Additionally, Trump has cozy relationships with white supremacists and total disregard for the murders of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) at the hands of police. His ignorance of the problem of systemic racism in our society has disproportionately left BIPOC out of the American dream. 

Since the beginning of time, our people have lived here. Our ancestors made great sacrifices to protect our tribal culture and lifeways. Joe Biden has a different vision for America, and it’s one where our values and our people are welcome.

Joe Biden authored the original Violence Against Women’s Act and in 2013 advocated for tribe’s rightful authority to protect native women through its reauthorization

As VP, Biden helped settle the Cobell settlement for $3.4 billion, creating the land buy-back program which restored millions of acres of land to tribal governments

The Affordable Healthcare Act helped provide health care coverage for over 110,000 Native Americans

As VP, the Obama administration made significant progress in strengthening the nation-to-nation relationship between the federal government and tribes and supported tribal sovereignty 

Biden will immediately reinstate and make permanent the White House Council on Native American Affairs and the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference. He will also nominate and appoint people who look like the country they serve, including Native Americans.

Biden will make it a priority to restore tribal lands and protect the natural and cultural resources within them while honoring the role of tribal governments in protecting those resources. Joe will work to take land-into-trust and support tribal water rights.

On day one of the Biden Administration, he will issue executive orders to protect biodiversity, slow extinction rates, and leverage natural climate solutions by conserving 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030. Biden will protect America’s natural treasures by permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas impacted by President Trump’s attack on federal lands and waters. Additionally, he plans to establish national parks and monuments that reflect America’s natural heritage. Including reversing President Trump’s proclamation on Bears Ears, which reduced two million acres of federally protected land at two national monuments in Utah.

As we look around at the smoky air, the diminishing salmon runs, and the loss of cultural places, we see that Indian Country and THIS country cannot afford four more years of Donald Trump’s corporate greed and divisive rhetoric. Let us set a new path toward healing the earth and ourselves.

For those of you who are not registered to vote, please do so now. It takes only a few minutes online. Indian country counts, your voice counts!

Go to www.vote.org/ OR votewa.gov 

It is so important to vote. Our future depends on it. 

Clyde Bernard WILLIAMS Sr.

JUNE 14, 1931 – SEPTEMBER 4, 2020

Clyde was surrounded at home by his family at his passing, along with his favorite caregiver, Terry “Pizano” (his nickname for her).

Clyde Williams was a member of the Tulalip Tribes and the son of Lawrence and Christina Williams. He served in the United States Army in the 1950s, and was stationed in Germany where he was chosen to play on the Army baseball team, the Flaks. Clyde was an excellent baseball player and a great pitcher. (He had an arsenal of nine pitches!) He was drafted into Major League Baseball by the Philadelphia Phillies, requiring him to go straight to training camp after being discharged from his service in the army. Ultimately, he decided not to join the Phillies and so returned home to his family. Clyde was a fisherman by trade as well as a self taught master carver, with many of his carvings still displayed in the Tulalip Casino, Hotel, and Health Clinic. Clyde is survived by his beloved wife of 63 years, Maxine Williams, three sons; Clyde Jr., (Monica), Alan (Arnel), and Gene Sr. (Julie), along with 13 grandchildren; Alicia, Tatiana, Christina, Alan, Bruce, Tiffany, Dane, Jason, Casey, Gene Jr., Evan, Brandon, Tanessa, and honorary grandson, Art. Clyde is also remembered by 25 great grandchildren whom he loved dearly and enjoyed their company always. He is also survived by his brothers Herman and Arley Williams, several nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his mother and father, Christina and Lawrence Williams, sisters Jane Wright and Dorraine Jones, his grandfather, Andrew Fryberg and grandmother, Louise, and great grandmother, Elizabeth “Kiya”. 

Graveside service will be held Friday, September 11, 2020 at 11:00 AM at Mission Beach Cemetery.

Don’t let summer slip away without a family outing to Garden Treasures u-pick farm

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Have you been desperately wanting to have a family outing before summer is over, but haven’t found the opportunity to do so yet? There’s still time to make it happen and an ideal destination is an organic u-pick farm located just over 20 minutes from the heart of Tulalip. Conveniently located off exit 208, Garden Treasures is an everyday, local farm stand, farmers market and garden center.

Going out to a farm to pick your own produce gives children a sense of where food comes from, demonstrates the satisfaction of seeing how seeds grow into fresh produce that nourish your body, provides a great opportunity to get some fresh air and sunshine while social distancing, and it’s just a fun way to spend a summer day together as a family.

“I really enjoy having elders and kids visit the farm,” said elder advocate Dale Jones. “They have big smiles on their faces while enjoying the opportunity to be out in the farm and eat the fresh foods. Our elders are happy to visit with each other again and sit and work with the plants or watch us make tea and lavender bundles. The kids can see how the food grows and they learn how it is better for them than fast food and candy.”

Spending time outdoors while wandering the vast fields and green houses at Garden Treasurers is the perfect opportunity to get back to nature, both physically and spiritually. Their seasonal u-pick garden is full of berries, vegetables and an assortment of flowers. They don’t use any synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, so your u-pick experience is safe, clean, and natural.

All Tulalip tribal members, their families, and any patients of the Tulalip Health Clinic are encouraged to take full advantage of a unique partnership between Garden Treasures and Tulalip’s own Diabetes Care and Prevention Program. From 9am to 5pm on Wednesday, September 16th and 30th, those listed above can visit the farm, enjoy a healthy bite to eat, and get a tour by Diabetes Care staff. Most importantly, every Tulalip household is allowed to pick up to $30 worth of nutritious produce from the garden.

Unlike overly priced grocery stores and organic shops, $30 worth of fruits and vegetables at Garden Treasures goes a long way. You can easily pick an assortment of sweet and spicy peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, zucchini, strawberries, huckleberries, edible flowers, carrots, celery, and some herbs with the $30 credit. Numerous Tulalip individuals and families have done just that, and for many it was their first time ever picking veggies. 

Donna and Jim Furchert brought their daughters, Joy and Patience, to Garden Treasures and came away with quite the colorful harvest. “We’ve never picked fresh fruit or fresh veggies before, so I wanted us to experience this as a family,” explained Donna. “We’re going to incorporate everything we picked into our dinners over the next few days.”

Six-year-old Patience said she liked digging for carrots and peppers the most and was super excited to stumble upon the strawberry patch. Of all the foods though, she was seen devouring cherry tomatoes straight off the vine at every opportunity.

Catrina Cultee was another first timer to the local, organic farm. She brought her 5-year-old daughter, Nevaeh, and niece Manaia. “It’s out first time out here and we absolutely love it!” marveled Catrina while perusing the fields. “Never knew we had a u-pick farm this close to the reservation. This seems like the perfect way to get fresh vegetables and fruit. It’s a way to get the young ones excited to eat more vegetables, too, because they can pick them themselves.”

When 14-year-old Manaia came across the greenhouse full of sweet, spicy and Pablano peppers she was instantly in heaven. Turns out the teenager loves spicy food and got some ambitious ideas while picking to her heart’s desire.

“I definitely want to make a sauce from the tomatoes and peppers,” beamed Manaia with two handfuls of peppers. “I love spicy food! I’m looking forward to making burritos with all these veggies, some meat, and peppers, of course. Being out here, all the different flowers, seeing sunflowers taller than me, is so cool. The giant zucchini is crazy. I didn’t know what it was at first because I’ve never seen a vegetable like that before.”

For Tulalip citizens desiring to eat healthier and want to add a variety of vitamins and nutrients to their everyday meals that will naturally boost immune systems, fruits and vegetables is the answer. People who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases. Plus, eating fresh produce is vital for health and preventative maintenance that will make you just feel better and have more energy.

In addition to all the health benefits is the wisdom and positive encouragement the Diabetes Care and Prevention Program staff have to offer while visiting the farm on September 16th and 30th. They will be there to answer all questions about the nutritious foods and offer advice about healthy meal making and dietary requirements for those managing diabetes.  

“I am getting to an age in life when it’s important to pass down knowledge and share my gifting with others, especially the younger generation,” explained Roni Leahy, Diabetes Program coordinator. “I love being with all the people and listening to them talk about their experiences in the garden or the kids discovering how the plants they eat grow. It is such a precious opportunity to talk about the plants and how important they are in health of our bodies. This truly is prevention of diabetes and other chronic diseases.”

“My favorite part is seeing the community members and their families out at the farm enjoying the vegetables and knowing they are going to go home and prepare a meal they will all remember and enjoy,” added Brooke Morrison, Diabetes Program assistant.

Visiting Gardening Treasures u-pick farm to harvest the freshest foods will boost your health without creating a dent in your wallet. Bringing the kids can only help them create a lasting relationship with nature and plant seeds of curiosity and excitement for eating a variety of vegetables. Maybe even, this will be the inspiration your family needs to plant a garden at home.

“I couldn’t believe how big their fields are and how many different kind of vegetables they offer. It was really, really nice being able to pick whatever I wanted,” said Tulalip elder Virginia Carpenter. “I haven’t picked strawberries since I was a teenager, some 70 years ago.

“I’d tell anyone in Tulalip, whether an elder, youth or anything in between, the trip to this farm is worth it and you’ll really enjoy it,” she added. “To walk around outside and be around all the fresh flowers and see all their goods, it really puts your mind at ease and makes you feel better with everything else going on in the world right now.”

For more information about the two upcoming Garden Treasures community days brought to you by the Tulalip Health Clinic’s Diabetes Care and Prevention Program, please call 360-716-5642. 

The coming weeks are the perfect time to still find ripe strawberries and garden-fresh produce at your local, organic u-pick farm. Spending time outdoors, the most natural form of social distancing, beats waiting in line at the grocery store and will help support your local farmers.

Hazy Skies at Tulalip

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

A thick, smokey haze is currently lingering in the air above Tulalip Bay. Outside, it smells as though the entire community is engaging in a reservation-wide bonfire. That can only mean that wildfire season is back, and unfortunately it has been reported that this season is one of the worst the state has ever seen. In fact, on the afternoon of September 8th, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee reported that in just 24 hours, 330,000 acres of land burned throughout the entire state due to wildfires – more than the past twelve wildfire seasons combined. That’s 2020 for you.

“There are fires burning all over the state of Washington,” explained Jim Reinhardt, Tulalip Bay Fire Deputy Chief.  “There are fires that are involving thousands of acres, there have been mass evacuations in small towns that are in high-risk areas, particularly in Okanogan and Douglas counties. We have two of our fire apparatuses dedicated on the other side of the mountains, protecting homes and fighting fires, and that would be our wildland brush truck and our water tender.”

The Deputy Fire Chief stated that four Tulalip Bay Firefighters have been deployed across state where they are currently assisting other fire departments, in their respective counties, battling wildfires that are threatening their towns and people. Although wildfires have been occurring since the start of the season back in May, Labor Day alone recorded over 80 fires due to high winds, high heat and low-humidity. Deputy Chief Reinhardt said, “when those three factors combine, it makes our state a tinderbox.”

This is also the first year we are seeing a lot of wildfires happen so close to home, as we mostly hear about large fires happening in Eastern Washington. Stanwood has reported at least two fires this season and a wildfire in Skagit, that spread on September 8, burned approximately two acres of land. But the fire in the Sumner-Bonney Lake area has been receiving the most coverage, engulfing over 150 acres, burning down homes, causing power outages, shutting down roads and prompting a level-3 evacuation for the citizens who live in communities along the fire’s destructive path, namely Bonnie Lake and Graham. 

About two years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) program, Tribal Healthy Homes, and the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy (TELA) teamed up to bring the EPA’s Flag Program to Tulalip, helping their students learn about and identify the colors of the Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI is a tool used nationally to inform people about pollutants in the air. The index uses both colors and numbers to quantify the quality of the air; Green (0 to 50) indicates good, Yellow (51 to 100) means moderate, Orange (101 to 150) indicates unhealthy for sensitive groups, Red (151-200) is unhealthy for all, Purple (201 to 300) is very unhealthy, and finally Maroon (301 & up) indicates that the air is hazardous. 

Each morning, TELA staff members and a handful of students check the AQI for the day. The kids then select the flag, with the corresponding color of the daily AQI reading, and raise it on a post located at the entrance of the academy. 

“We changed the color of the flag to red today,” said TELA Education Disabilities Administrator, Taylor Burdett. “We changed it to red a couple years ago when the fires were really bad, but fortunately most of the time it’s green. We usually change colors anytime there are wildfires happening to update our families. Stephanie Arnesen started this program at TELA and has since retired. We like the Flag Program because it serves as a visual lesson for the children, so they can learn what each color is. We promote outdoor play, so when they see a green flag they know they can play outside. And when they see the red flag, that gives us the opportunity to have a conversation about why they aren’t going outside to play that day, and to discuss the air quality. We also have a book, [Why Is Coco Orange?] and it’s connected to the Flag Program, it allows the kiddos to have an age appropriate lesson about the flags and what they mean.”

With temperatures anticipated to rise over the next coming days and fires that are projected to continue to spread through the remainder of wildfire season, it’s important to check-in and protect those who are especially sensitive to smoke, including people living with respiratory issues and heart conditions. Children five and under, as well as elders, are also at risk of dealing with health complications due to all the haze and pollutants in the air from burned down buildings and forest fires. And with COVID-19 still lurking in the shadows, one might find it in their best interest to stay inside until the smoke clears, if they are among the vulnerable population. 

“There are red flag conditions going on all over the state,” said the Deputy Fire Chief. “The biggest danger is for those with respiratory problems; people that have issues with bronchitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, this kind of weather can aggravate those conditions. We recommend staying indoors if you are very sensitive or susceptible to having those types of irritations. If you think that you have COVID, one of the big components of the coronavirus disease is respiratory problems, so try to stay indoors if you can help it, keep your windows closed, stay cool in the heat but try to limit your exposure to the smoke. We’re expecting that later, within a few days, we’re going to get winds coming off of the Pacific Ocean and hopefully that’s going to blow much of this out of our area in Western Washington, but it’s here to stay for a couple days.”

To stay updated on the latest information about air quality for the Tulalip area, please visit TulalipAir.weebly.com, follow Tulalip Bay Fire Department on Facebook, and be sure to check the color of the flag at the TELA Early Learning Center.

Yes, there are Native American republicans. Navajo VP speaks on their behalf during Republican National Convention

Navajo Nation vice-president, Myron Lizer, gave the opening remarks on day two of Republican National Convention.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Following night two of the Republican National Convention, many across Coast Salish territory were vexed, truly vexed, when they witnessed vice-president of Navajo Nation, Myron Lizer, address a largely conservative audience and endorse President Donald Trump for the 2020 election.

“Many of our ancestral leaders sought to govern and lead a nation within a nation,” Lizer said. “They sought to lead their people into the promises of a better way of life for their children’s children. It is also where they have not been as successful as the rest of America. 

“Our first nation’s people – the host people of the land – we are still here. Our creator placed us here and he knew that for such a time as this we would have the opportunity for an appeal to heaven. You see our people have never been invited into the America Dream. We for years fought past battles with congressmen and senators that were part of a broken system that ignored us. That is until President Trump took office.

“President Trump delivered the largest funding package ever to Indian Country. The $8 billion dollars in CARES Act funding was a great start in alleviated the devastating effects that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected on our tribes because of health disparities that previous administration failed to improve,” he continued. “I’m excited to endorse President Trump’s reelection.”

During Lizer’s eye-opening, two-and-a-half minute speech he praised the President for a number of policies instituted in the last few months that benefit Native American communities. Among them are the $8 billion dollars in CARES Act funding, $273 million to improve public safety and support victims of crimes on Native lands, and, most recently, the creation of a task force to address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis. Dubbed ‘Operation Lady Justice’, this task force intends to dedicate more crucial monies and man power to the MMIW movement by establishing an interagency task force charged with developing an aggressive, government-wide strategy to address the crisis.

Surrounded by Native leaders, President Trump signs an executive order establishing ‘Operation Lady Justice’ to address MMIW crisis. (Official White House photo)

“Our Native American people experience violence at a higher rate than any other nationality in the country,” explained Lizer when President Trump signed the executive order creating ‘Operation Lady Justice’. “The lack of reporting and investigation of missing and murdered Indigenous peoples needs to be taken seriously. The executive order gives hope to our tribal nations that justice is being sought and that there is a path for healing of our families, victims, and survivors.”

Without a doubt, self-identifying liberal, progressive, or Democrat tribal citizens may very well disagree with Lizer’s political allegiance and endorsement of President Trump for re-election. They may even go as far to call the recent legislative policies aimed at benefitting Native communities nothing more than political hogwash and moves only intended to garner political support. Even if that’s true, shouldn’t the mere spotlight on tribal issues and voices be considered a win? Regardless of which political party wrote or passed a particular policy, shouldn’t every resource gained by Indian Country be viewed as a step forward? 

When legislative policies are deemed good or bad, right or wrong, favorable or unfavorable simply based on whether they were created by team blue (Democrats) or team red (Republicans) then it only succeeds in dismissing the actions of half the voting electorate. In doing so, the voices of Native conservatives go unheard by Native progressives and vice-versa.

In 1929, after becoming Vice President, Native Republican Charles Curtis receives a peace pipe from Chief Red Tomahawk. (Library of Congress photo)

Quick piece of history trivia: Did you know a Native American has served as the Vice President of the United States? If you’re in disbelief, don’t be. It’s a super cool part of history that is often neglected or forgotten altogether because Charles Curtis (Kaw), the 31st VP who served from 1929-1933 under President Herbert Hoover, was a Republican.

Currently, there are only four Native Americans members in Congress. Representatives Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk) and Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) both made history in 2018 when they won their seats and became the first Native women to reach the House of Representatives. They both are Democrats. They joined their fellow Native politicians Representative Tom Cole (Chickasaw) and Representative Markwayne Mullin (Cherokee), both Republicans, to bring the Native voice to each major political party. 

“If you look at our people nationally, there is no party who universally supports us,” explained O.J. Semans (Rosebud Sioux), executive director of the Native voter engagement organization Four Directions. “It really is dependent on region and the particulars of local state governments. I can guarantee you that you can have Democrats within your area and if the local Native interests are different from theirs, then you won’t have their support.

“I think we should support Native candidates running for both parties. There needs to be Native republicans and Native democrats in order to work together in advancing Native issues,” he added. “It’s never going to be about a particular party issue, it’s always going to be about our peoples’ issues. As Native Americans, let us not look at a party above our own issues, above our treaties and above our sovereignty.”

Today, Native voters represent an influential and unique population of voters in the United States. The Native vote influences outcomes of presidential and congressional elections, as well as state and local elections. While Native issues are complex and vary by region, tribe, and culture, most tribal citizens agree supporting tribal sovereignty and self-determination is the foundation to any successful Native platform, regardless of political affiliation.

$350 school readiness stipend available to Tulalip’s K-12 students

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

It’s barely been two weeks since the Tulalip Tribes announced the availability of COVID impact funding for its K-12 students, and nearly 800 applications have been submitted already. The $350 school readiness stipend is made available as part of the CARES Act, which was signed into law back in March, and is intended to provide critical relief for students as they prepare to start the new school year learning remotely.

“Our tribes are feeling significant strain,” said Senator Martha McSally. “This legislation provides immediate cash relief and strong assistance to tribal communities impacted by this so workers and families can pay their bills. I will continue to work with the Trump Administration to ensure this relief is administered quickly, efficiently and in a manner that works best for tribal communities.”

With all Washington State school districts either recently starting or set to start the 2020-2021 academic year, the uncertainty of resuming education is no more. It’s certain that the routine of daily education is back, but the details of that routine have changed immensely. As a result of COVID-19, Governor Inslee mandated all K-12 public and private schools remain closed to in-person learning and instead institute distance learning solutions. For the vast majority of Tulalip students this means going all digital, all the time from the comforts of home.

For students and their families lacking in the necessary resources to provide an effective learning environment for distance learning, the unexpected opportunity to receive $350 per Tulalip student can be a significant morale boost. 

“Nobody was expecting this money. We’re fortunate the tribe applied for relief funds from a grant to help out our students and it was accepted,” explained Lisa Fryberg, positive youth development advocate. “These funds are intended to go towards school supplies and digital resources to make our children’s learning experience better.”

“Hopefully, all our kids will see this money be used to facilitate a functioning learning environment at their home,” added fellow youth advocate Deyamonta Diaz. “What we hope not to see is this money being viewed as supplemental income and used to purchase items that really don’t prioritize our kids’ education.” 

To create a highly effective learning environment at home, here are some basic essentials local school districts suggest purchasing: a desk or mini table dedicated for an individual student, a reliable internet or WiFi connection to support multiple devices, a comfortable desk chair, personal headphones, a printer with a decent supply of paper and ink, and a white board to be used as a student planner to manage class schedule, homework assignments, and any broader academic goals. Two items left off this essential list are a cheap laptop and webcam because Marysville School District and local private schools issued their students Chomebooks with built-in webcam and internet access.

“As a mother of two students, one in 5th grade and the other in 10th grade, I plan on using their stipends to make sure they each have their own work stations,” said Lisa. “The $350 can purchase a lot if used sensibly. There’s no need to buy everything brand new, at full retail price. I’ve been searching Facebook Marketplace and other reselling apps to find work station essentials.”

With so many applications turned in thus far, and many hundreds more expected in the coming weeks, Youth Services staff request patience and understanding that it takes about two weeks from application processing to stipend mail out. Each check is made out to the individual student and no receipts are required to be submitted after the fact. The deadline to submit a stipend application is October 31.

“I always felt like we took our public school system for granted. Like, there are those who are consistently critical of what public school doesn’t offer or what they lack, but now we get to experience what it’s like not to have this resource and already a lot of people miss what they took for granted, ” reflected Deyamonta, who serves Totem Middle School as a student advocate. “We need the school districts as much as they need us. At least for the next several months, we’ll see how our families and students are able to adapt to a more independent learning environment.”

With many schools across the country closed and operating under remote learning or a hybrid model to prevent the spread of COVID-19, students and their families alike are bracing themselves for a fall semester unlike any other. This makes for quite the back-to-school shopping shakeup. Fortunately, the school readiness stipend can help curb costs and ease the transition to an all-digital, distance learning landscape.

The school readiness stipend application can be found at: https://www.tulalipyouthservices.com/uploads/3/9/0/8/39080369/application-_350-stipend.pdf

Additional applications can be picked up at the Tulalip Teen Center front desk.