Tulalip transitional units near completion

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

In early May, tribal council officially broke ground on what was dubbed ‘emergency transitional living units. In the process they began a long requested service that will benefit Tulalip’s membership. It’s been two months since that ground breaking and the first of several planned sites intended to prevent homelessness is nearing completion. 

Located across the street from Tulalip Bay fire department, the inaugural site consists of five units that will be fully furnished when complete. Essential amenities include a bath tub with shower, kitchenette and washer and dryer. The living space is compact (240 square feet) and meant for emergency purposes and short term living only. 

“These transition units will be a blessing for our community,” stated Chief Operating Officer Wendy Fryberg. “We recognize that our people sometimes have transition requirements, and homelessness should not be a concern for our members who have find themselves in such challenging circumstances.

“We anticipate as soon as these units are complete we will find a location to build more,” she added. “These units are designed to assist tribal members to live independently on a short-term basis while they create relationships with various programs. Those programs will become their stepping stone, providing resources needed for long-term solutions in the prevention of homelessness.”

In addition to providing a sense of stability for families who will use the transitional units as a stepping stone to independent living, each unit will provide crucial comforts like water and sewer utilities, electricity, and the ability to have cable or a Wi-Fi connection.

Rent will be $300 per month to cover the water, sewer and Public Utility District (PUD) costs. There will be more information coming out about the policy, eligibility, and application process for Tulalip membership interested in temporarily residing in one of these transitional units.

By contrast, the Tulalip Tribes homeless shelter utilizes shared utilities, including a shared kitchen area. Many of the region’s tiny home villages that have become more and more common also lack running water and cooking facilities. 

“This is our first project of this type. Yes, we have the homeless shelter, but these units have their own bathroom and kitchenette,” explained Vice-Chairman Glen Gobin. “These transitional units will provide a foundation for tribal members to build upon and carry on in a good way. We pray this will be a success for individuals and families who find themselves in such circumstances. This project is intended to assist and help them build a good positive foundation and move forward in that good way.”

Tulalip’s committed construction team has been diligently putting in the necessary work for what is sure to be a game changer in our community. During the recent record-breaking heat wave, construction superintendent Bob Lapham was on-site for each unit’s roof completion. According to Bob the builder, his crew is well coordinated and excited to be working on such a meaningful project. For such a compact size, the units have a large bathroom setup and living quarters with all the necessities, plus they’ll be nice took at both inside and out, he said. 

C.O.O. Wendy Fryberg wants the community to know these initial transitional units are on schedule and expected to be complete by July 31st.  The procedures and application process will be announced soon. Stay tuned.

Cannabis supports war on COVID

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Seems like only yesterday both federal and state governments were raging the war on drugs. Now in a stunning turn of events, marijuana, the long hyped ‘gateway drug’, is being strategically used in a war against COVID.

Washington State’s Liquor and Cannabis Board announced earlier this month it would allow state-licensed cannabis retailers to provide one joint to adult consumers who receive COVID-19 vaccination at an in-store clinic. The weed-friendly program is the latest vaccination incentive in Washington, where an impressive 73.1% of all adults are already vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

When word reached Tulalip’s own Jennifer Ashman, manager of the Tribe’s cannabis store Remedy, she immediately contacted Tulalip Pharmacy staff to coordinate a Joints for Jabs event. It didn’t take long to work out the details and send out promotional materials to Remedy’s dedicated fan base. 

“We were fortunate that Tulalip declared our retail shop and employees as essential early on in the pandemic,” explained Jennifer, cannabis enthusiast and Remedy manager. “This is a poetic opportunity for us to not only give back, but to incentivize efforts to create a more vaccinated community. Plus, it’s truly a historic occasion being able to give out free cannabis. Who doesn’t love that idea?!”

On Tuesday, June 22, a red medical tent was setup outside Remedy where diligent Pharmacy staff awaited with both scheduled appointments and casual walk-ins who were eager for the sense of relief that typically accompanies the vaccine. 

“I’ve been wanting to get vaccinated, but it never worked out with my hectic work schedule,” shared 24-year-old Bayley King after participating in Joints for Jabs. “When I found out about this event I was excited because it was on my day off and the process of making an appointment was so simple. Getting my shot means returning back to normal and regaining my freedom.”

With roughly 200,000 small businesses forced to shut their doors forever as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s quite the unanticipated accomplishment that retail cannabis shops like Remedy continue to thrive. Industry-wide cannabis sales continue to soar as a result of society doing its best to cope with the uncertain times brought on by COVID and the residual aftereffects of isolation, social distancing, and incessant mask wearing.

Remedy has benefited from an influx of new customers as it’s stellar reputation for customer service and product knowledge has spread via word of mouth advertising. While some cannabis enthusiasts look to relieve every day ailments associated with aches and pains, others desire to elevate their mental state in an effort to calm their nerves, diminish anxiety and lower tensions brought on by the new normal. 

“It’s a real stressful time right now and being able to just relax is a real luxury,” said Remedy regular and Marysville resident Michelle Moe after receiving her single dose vaccination. “Cannabis helps with pain and anxiety and depression, it’s an all-in-one therapeutic really.

“I’ve put off getting vaccinated for a long time now because I was really nervous about it. Ideas like if there’s been enough research or has it really been proven to be safe made me hesitant,” she added. “But at this point so many of my friends and family are vaccinated and doing just fine. Figured that was good enough for me to make this decision now and add the additional protection for myself and those I’m around socially by getting vaccinated. I’m definitely feeling a new sense of freedom already. Just in time for 4th of July celebrations.”

Participation in Remedy’s Jabs for Joints event reached the double digits. Although not allowed to spark up their free pre-rolled joint while getting vaccinated, one participant was witnessed lighting up that complimentary melon-flavored Stinger in his car. Imagine this community oriented citizen thinking to himself, “Merica! Boosting the vaccination rate one puff at a time.”

What a time to be alive.

Fire Precautions due to Excessive Heat

Nick Johnson, Forestry Program Manager

The Tulalip Tribes would like you to be aware that the current weather forecast for the next 10 days is for no rain and temperatures possibly getting into the 100s this weekend. Although the Tribes have not imposed a complete burn ban all burning permits issued by the Tulalip Tribes are suspended until further notice.  If the weather stays hot and dry a burn ban will be declared by the Tulalip Tribes. 

Please be extremely careful with fireworks, matches, smoking materials, catalytic converters, etc. Recreational campfires may be lighted in approved metal or concrete enclosures in designated areas within campgrounds or on private land with the owner’s permission and which: 

  • Are spread no larger than three (3) feet across;
  • Material being burned is dry 
  • Are located in a clear spot free from vegetation for at least 10 feet in a horizontal direction and having no overhanging branches; and
  • Wind isn’t strong enough to carry embers out of the approved enclosure. 
  • Are attended at all times by an adult with immediate access to a shovel and a charged water hose.

This Burn Ban does not affect ceremonial or cultural fires but they must be attended at all times by an individual with equipment capable of extinguishing the fire.

It’s lit: Boom City 2021 is here

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Rows upon rows of brightly-painted and uniquely named firework stands are now open for business at Boom City. The pyrotechnic mecca of Snohomish county, and arguably the state, has returned to the gravel lot located directly behind the Tulalip Resort Casino for the holiday season. When you think of Independence Day, you think of fireworks. And when you think of fireworks, you think of Boom City, at least for those who grew up at Tulalip or nearby communities.

Every summer, for the past forty some-odd years, vendors have set-up shop at Boom City, selling a large variety of fireworks that are not available for purchase off-rez. People travel from all around Washington hoping to score a good deal on their favorite cakes, firecrackers, bottle rockets, sparklers, Roman candles, fountains, smoke bombs, pop-it’s, among many other exuberant explosives. 

“I’ve been doing this since 1976,” said stand owner and Tulalip tribal member, Louie Pablo Jr. “We started by buying our fireworks out of Lummi, out of a fireworks stand, and we’d sell them at the end our driveway. That was back in ‘75 when I was still in high school. The following year there were so many people doing that, they opened up Boom City. There were nineteen stands and we were one of them. I have customers that have been coming to see me for 44 years. To have clientele like that, that’s what Boom City is about.” 

This year, as a result of the worldwide pandemic, there is a nationwide shortage on fireworks as manufacturers from overseas are facing a number of challenges exporting their goods. If you are an explosion enthusiast, vendors are urging you to visit Boom City sooner than later for all your Fourth of July needs, before they are all gone. 

Louie explained, “The fireworks are at a limitation this year, you only get so much per stand. If you go to the wholesalers, they’re only going to give you a case, maybe two. It’s all because of the shipment. The containers coming-in are getting pushed back because they are putting Costco, and all the other stores, all that stuff that gets shipped-in from out-of-country, that goes out first. The fireworks got pushed back. That’s why there’s a shortage.”

One might wonder why the sale of certain fireworks are illegal and not offered on the non-Native marketplace and the answer is tribal sovereignty. By permitting their membership the right to buy and sell federally-legal fireworks at Boom City, Tulalip has provided an opportunity for tribal entrepreneurs to earn another source of income for their families, and not to mention gain some experience in commerce and business ownership. 

“I always say that our kids, they get to have three Christmases a year out here,” joked Louie. “I figure there’s Christmas, New Year’s fireworks and then Boom City fireworks in the Summer. And because of Boom City, we get everything we need for our homes, for our elders.”

Boom City is open daily, 8am-Midnight, until July 4th.

Graduation banquet celebrates Class of 2021, honors the dream chasers

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

“Welcome to our 2021 ceremony to celebrate our graduates,” said Chief Administrative Officer Rochelle Lubbers as she greeted the hundreds of family and friends who ventured to the Tulalip Resort on June 15. “We’re so excited to have you all here and our hearts are beyond full to be in the same room with our community.

“Reflecting on all our beautiful students today, I thought about all the different journeys they have taken to get here, and how each journey is unique and special. Not a single one had the same walk, but there are some commonalities that they experienced being seniors during a global pandemic. They experienced distance learning and all the challenges with technology that came with that. However, what I’m most impressed with is they exemplified perseverance. Our students overcome these challenges and pushed through in whatever way they had to in order graduate. For that, their entire Tribe is proud of them and that’s why we’re here to celebrate this wonderful accomplishment.”

The celebratory atmosphere was palpable in the Orca Ballroom, where a last minute venue change from the outdoor Amphitheatre meant the hopes and dreams aplenty from the Class of 2021 could be properly presented with a stylish graduation banquet. 

A whopping seventy-four high school seniors, accompanied by their loved ones, convened to commemorate the rite of passage. There were traditional songs sang and drummed, opportunities to immortalize the occasion with a visit to the extra-large photo booth, a decadent buffet-style dinner, and plenty of motivational words offered from Tulalip’s next generation of leaders.

One emphatic message that was repeated throughout the night from graduates, parents and elders alike was a reminder to the praise worthy 18-year-olds that receiving a high school diploma is only the first major milestone on their journey to manifest their dreams into reality. For some the dream may be finding a convenient job to establish independence via a one bedroom apartment, or joining the Tribe’s next TERO vocational training center class in order to enter the construction trades. There are those newly minted adults who are far too eager to start a family of their own, and there are a few who never thought they’d graduate high school and having achieved the seemingly impossible are in search of what the next step is. 

Then there are the awe-inspiring dream chasers. The type of high school grads who aren’t satisfied with just the one diploma. They want more; more education, more diplomas, and more experiences than what can be found within the boundaries of Snohomish County or the Tulalip Reservation. These individuals intend to redefine the expectations of success as it pertains to Native Americans and the education system. 

Like, homegrown Tulalip tribal members Keyondra Horne, graduate of Marysville Getchell, and Desmond Valencia, graduate of Marysville Pilchuck. They were chosen as Class of 2021 student speakers and shared heartfelt words to the Ballroom crowd.

“I didn’t write an elaborate speech, instead wanted to share from the heart,” said Keyondra from the podium. “High school was really hard in the beginning. Getting used to the pace and how teachers don’t wait on individual students to catch up. Instead, they teach the lessons and it’s expected for us to learn quickly and complete our homework the same day. But after a while, I found a rhythm that worked for me and started looking forward to learning new things.

“Now that’s my inspiration moving forward, to travel around, explore the world and continue learning new things. Tulalip will always be our home. It’s okay to leave home for a while and travel new places to experience what the world has to offer,” she added. Keyondra plans to do just that as she will be attending Hult International Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts this fall.

 Meanwhile, Desmond shared how he really struggled his first two years of high school because of a bad mindset. He admitted to being stubborn, not prioritizing his school work, and only doing the bare minimum because college wasn’t an option. Then everything changed during his junior year after taking up his Native Advocates Doug Salinas and Matt Remle on their offer to tour Washington State University.  

“I remember meeting Native college students there. They spoke so passionately about their educational pursuits and how by improving themselves they could eventually return to their reservations and improve their tribal communities,” Desmond recalled. “They sparked something in me that day, a burning desire to be better. When I returned home from that trip I made my education the highest priority. My grades improved dramatically and by the end of the year was getting all A’s. I participated in multiple clubs at school including JROTC and DECA to bolster my high school resume. I’m proud to say that my hard work has paid off and I’ll be attending W.S.U. next year.”

Becoming leaders of the present may seem like a daunting task to most 18-year-olds who have grown accustomed to a daily consistency and a comfortable support system provided by a public K-12 education. However, for Native youth, they’ve been bucking the trend and blazing new paths to academic success for years now without even realizing it. They’ve overcome long odds that said they wouldn’t earn a high school diploma and broken down barriers that prevented previous generations from attending college.

For some students, their ability to thrive in the public school system and graduate high school with top honors meant not only proving the doubters wrong, but also proving their ancestors right. The right for future generations to be educated and have the ability to pursue a Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate Degree was something previous tribal leaders fought and sacrificed for. Their vision comes true every time a Tulalip citizen boldly ventures off to a University armed with strength of culture and a tribe’s worth of support. 

Kanum Parker doesn’t reside in Tulalip, nor anywhere even close. He lives all the way in San Antonio, Texas. Half a country away and yet he’s always felt the pull of his people. In fact, he had a diamond studded necklace made featuring the Tulalip orca and his family name ‘Parker’ so that wherever he goes, his tribe does too. Kanum graduated at the top of his class at Central Catholic High School. Described by his educators as an ambitious and determined young man that demonstrates self-awareness while unselfishly giving back to his community, Kanum was awarded one of the two coveted Tulalip Senior Student of the Year scholarships.

“I’m happy beyond belief to be here today with my Tulalip family because we’re all brothers and sisters connected through culture,” declared the Texas resident and soon-to-be Baylor University undergrad after being awarded the scholarship. “My education is everything because my dream is to be a doctor. I want to become an Anesthesiologist, and that means another 8-12 years of school. It’s important for us [as Native Americans] to get educated because it’s something that can never be taken away, no matter where you go.”

The second Tulalip Senior Student of the Year scholarship winner is the instrument toting, A.P. class tutoring, Associates Degree earning, and proud Tulalip Youth Council member, Evelyn Vega-Simpson. The typical high school class load wasn’t enough for Evelyn, so she participated in Running Start and earned two full years of college credit as well as her diploma. She’s mentored classmates, fellow Tulalip youth, and other Native students in her role with Urban Native Education Alliance. Her educators say she’s provided an abundance of examples of her stellar leadership, work ethic, brilliance, compassion, patience, and exceptional commitment to improving both herself and the world around her. Evelyn has earned many accolades and scholarly achievements, but what stands out most is her humility and willingness to embrace challenges and new learning opportunities.

She’ll have plenty of challenges to embrace and opportunities to learn as she is taking her talents across the pond to pursue a career as a medical professional at the University of Nottingham, located in England. 

“I feel really proud of myself because I’ve been working so hard over the past four years. Whether it was taking advanced high school classes or college courses through Running Start, my goal has always been to do better than I did last quarter,” shared Evelyn, a rare dual graduate of both Marysville Pilchuck and Everett Community College. “Even when I was much younger my dream was to travel abroad and use my education to get me places that most people wouldn’t consider possible. Now it’s coming true. My education will be taking me to the University of Nottingham. I want to thank my support system of family, friends, and teachers who motivated and supported me. Their support made it possible for me to keep challenging myself and embrace new experiences even when I felt I lacked the courage.” 

The graduation banquet culminated in a ballroom’s worth of support hooting and hollering as each graduation strutted down a red carpet to a podium where education staff and school district representatives awaited. All seventy-four graduates were wrapped in a stunning wool blanket titled ‘Tribute’ from Native owned company, Eighth Generation.

Congratulations to all those Tulalip students who put in the hard work and dedication to earn their high school diploma. The hard work isn’t over now that you have graduated. This is just the beginning as you all prepare for new opportunities and unanticipated challenges waiting in life’s next chapter.

iLocalbox makes prescription pick-up easier at Tulalip Pharmacy

By Kalvin Valdillez

“When the pandemic first hit, we were very concerned about what would happen if our staff members became ill,” expressed Tulalip Clinical Pharmacy Director, Kelvin Lee. “What if we could not continue face-to-face service, what were we going to do? This is basically a solution to that question.”

The iLocalbox is a new and safe option for Tulalip Pharmacy patients who need to pick up their prescriptions after the pharmacy’s standard hours of operations. While utilizing the technology’s large touch screen, patients will be required to verify a number of credentials before receiving their medication from the new distribution system. 

Kelvin said, “This is a new concept. And it is also the very first dispensing kiosk in Washington state. A similar product to this would be the Amazon lockers, which most people are familiar with. When you go to a Whole Foods store, you see those lockers where you can pick up your Amazon orders, and this is kind of equivalent to that. We wanted to have a mechanism to dispense prescriptions to patients after hours and this machine can definitely do that. When they order their prescriptions, they can ask us to put it in the kiosk and they’ll be able to pick it up after hours.”

The kiosk is located right outside the pharmacy’s doors. With over fifty storage units, the iLocalbox can hold any type of medication, including refrigerated items. This was an important feature that the pharmacy sought out, as many of the pharmacy’s patients are being treated for diabetes, and medication such as insulin needs to be stored at a specific temperature in order to be effective. 

“The bigger units are actually refrigerated units,” said Kelvin. “We need those because a lot of our members are diabetic and they need insulin and have medication that needs to be refrigerated. We don’t want to limit this service to just regular prescriptions, and we are happy to have the refrigerated units, so we can store all those items and our diabetic patients can pick-up insulin after hours.” 

The contactless self-service system allows the patients to engage in a fully-digital pharmacy experience, where they can order, pick-up and even pay for their prescriptions with their smart phones. 

“When the prescriptions are ready, they will be getting an e-mail notification from us as well as a text message notification,” Kelvin explained. “On the notification, there is a QR code and they can bring their phone to the kiosk and scan the QR code on the machine. After they sign their names on the screen, the corresponding locker will open-up and they can pick-up their prescription. Safe and secure, because we want to make sure the prescription goes to the right person. Our patients also have the option to pay for their prescription right when they receive the e-mail or text notification, or they can choose to pay for it on location. It’s very convenient.”

Kelvin explained that there are some restrictions to the kiosk’s services and they are listed as follows: 

  • Prescriptions will only stay in kiosk for seven days.
  • No controlled substances will be allowed in the kiosk.
  •  Patient must receive consultation before they are allowed to pick up new prescriptions.
  • No pick up from 12am – 7am.
  • This service is straightly for patients who cannot make it to the pharmacy during regular business hours. Please refrain from ordering kiosk service if you can pick up during regular hours as there are only limited number of lockers available.

To learn more about the iLocalbox, please contact the Tulalip Clinical Pharmacy at (360) 716-2600.