Lady Hawks season ends with near miracle comeback

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

After narrowly losing to Orcas Island, 29-34, in a defensive battle in their opening game of the NW1B District playoffs, the Tulalip girls hosted their crosstown rival Grace Academy on Tuesday, February 6, in a loser-out game. In front of a horde of their devout fans, the Lady Hawks took to the Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium hardwood with full knowledge of the stakes: win and advance, lose and go home. 

In their two regular season matchups, Tulalip bested Grace 33-27 and 41-29, which gave the home team a boost of confidence seeing the same opponent a third time. That confidence showed on Tulalip’s opening possession when Audrielle McLean splashed a 3-pointer on her first touch and gave her team a 3-0 lead. It showed when moments later Lilly Jefferson shot a midrange jumper that banked in. Those 5 early points would be all the Lady Hawks could muster for a long while though, as Grace implemented a 3-2 zone that stifled Tulalip’s perimeter-oriented offense. 

Trailing 5-11 midway in the 2nd quarter, sophomore forward Raylee Lewis battled for an offensive rebound and was rewarded with a put-back bucket. The 5’5” Raylee again snatched a rebound away from Grace’s nearly 6-foot center, and put up a super quick layup off the glass before any defenders could contest. Her two buckets were the Lady Hawks only ones in the 2nd quarter.

Fast forward to early in the 3rd quarter, Tulalip trailed 11-25 and things began to look bleak. The transition game that the girls made their bread and butter on all season was nonexistent, and to make matters worse their senior guard Tieriana McLean was out for the remainder of the game with a wrist injury. They also had no answer for Grace’s center Candice Mugo who resembled Shaq with her dominating presence in the paint.

BUT, and it’s a big but, the beauty of sports is sometimes miracles happen. Epic comebacks. Catastrophic collapses. And whether or not any one thought they could actually come back against such undesirable circumstances, junior guard Audrielle did. At least her play conveyed that.

From late in the 3rd quarter to midway through the 4th, her teammates fought for every loose ball, did their best to corral every rebound and force turnovers, and each time they got another possession, they’d immediately look for Audrielle and pass her the ball. She turned into a true solo artist on offense. Splashing one deep 3-pointer after another. Each met with a louder and louder cheer from the home crowd. After her sixth made 3 ball, the Lady Hawks had clawed their way back to get within one possession of Grace, 28-30, with just under 2:00 left.

Comeback almost nearly complete, the Lady Hawks got a few quality looks in the games final seconds, but they would rim out. Grace would feed their post monster, who scored on their next two possessions, and that was a wrap. Tulalip lost on their home floor 28-35, ending their season.

Audrielle finished with 19 points, Raylee added 6 points, Lilly scored 2 points, and Isabelle score 1 point. 

“This season was my first time ever playing basketball,” shared 15-year-old Raylee after the game. “I’ve got a lot of cousins on the team and they were the ones who convinced me to play. My coaches and teammates kept telling me how much I was improving practice after practice and game after game. Looking back at how far I’ve come from the beginning to now, it really did mean so much to play on this team and in front of so many fans from the community. I’m not known as a scorer, so with this being our last game, it was actually real exciting to get some buckets with my parents and grandparents in the stands.”

Hawks get gigantic W over Mt. Vernon Christian

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Hawks hit the road and travelled north for a matchup with the Hurricanes of Mt. Vernon Christian. A 3rd round game of Districts with a chance to play in the 1st/2nd place game, Tulalip’s adoring fans hit the road, too, and actually outnumbered the Hurricanes fans in their own building.

A tense atmosphere in the early going as both teams traded buckets to notch it at 7-7. With chants of “Defense!”, the boys turned up their defensive intensity and forced the Hurricanes to play out of their comfort zone. Tulalip got their transition game going and continued to force the tempo to run up a 28-21 lead at halftime.

Midway in the 3rd quarter, freshman guard J.J. Gray caught fire from deep and swished in three straight 3’s to push his team’s 43-31. With 3:00 in the 3rd quarter, the Hurricane’s called timeout to attempt to settle their team, but instead were met with a devastating chant of “Tulalip Power!” from the unrelenting visiting fans. 

In the 4th quarter, the game tightened up and the usual shots for the Hawks weren’t falling. The Hurricanes finally started to execute their offense and flipped the turnover script by getting Tulalip to force errant pass after errant pass. The boys watched their 12 point lead vanish and were suddenly trailing 43-44 with three minutes to go. 

Freshman guard Amare Hatch finally put an end to his team’s scoring drought by coming up with a steal and scoring a contested layup. Moments later he’d splash a 3 that put his team up for good, 48-45. Just for good measure, senior forward Hazen Shopbell, instead of holding the ball and waiting for the Hurricanes to foul him, opted to shoot a 3 of his own and join in on the long ball party. Fortunately, it went in to the delight and uproar of his teammates and all the Tulalip fans who knew the W was secured. 

The Hawks 52-46 win means no less than 2nd place in Districts. They’ll again hit the road, this time for Lummi Nation, for a matchup with the Blackhawks on February 8. 

Hawks soar over Concrete Lions

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Heritage boys basketball team finished a hard fought regular season with a (12-6) record. Having won seven of their final eight games, the Hawks earned a high seed in the NW1B District playoffs and the right to host a playoff game.

            On Saturday, February 3, family and friends lined the bleachers of Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium to cheer on their local teenage hoopers as they hosted the (7-14) Concrete Lions. This would be the third meeting between Tulalip and Concrete, with both getting a W on their home court previously.

It was a pressure-filled 1st quarter as the Hawks came out tight in the opening minutes of their first playoff game. Senior guard Chano Guzman did his best to set the tone offensively with his usual attacking style. He knocked down two 3-pointers and three middy’s to score 12 points in the 1st. With 2:15 to play in the 1st quarter, the score was tied 14-14. The Lions were able to keep pace by hitting 3-pointers of their own and capitalizing on their bigger front-line players securing offensive rebounds and put back buckets.

Concrete continued their overachieving play to take their first lead of the game 20-18 early in the 2nd quarter. It would be a super short-lived lead though as it seemed to spark Tulalip’s competitive fire. Fueled by their unrelenting pressure defensively, the boys forced Concrete into one turnover after another. Each seemingly leading to transition layup or high percentage shot. Six Hawks players scored down the stretch before halftime, then freshman guard J.J. Gray caught fire in the 2nd half. 

After the Hawks went down 18-20 early in the 2nd quarter, they used stifling defense and a diverse offensive attack to go an incredible 38-8 run that spanned to late in the 3rd quarter. Now up big 56-28, head coach Shawn Sanchey used the comfortable lead to insert his bench to the cheer of the crowd. 

Nearly every shot by a reserve player received a little roar of anticipation from the crowd and benched starters, who were more than eager to see their brethren get a playoff bucket. Final score was a whopping 72-49 win. The Hawks were led in scoring by J.J.’s 25 points and Chano’s 22 points, while seven of their teammates also got into the box score. 

After the game, Coach Shawn shared his thoughts on the playoff W. “Having played Concrete twice before, we had a good idea on what we’d see from them and which areas we really needed to prioritize. The first two games, we weren’t at full strength either, so that was a benefit this time around knowing we were at full strength.

“It was impressive to see one of our senior leaders on the team, Chano, rise to the occasion early with his on-ball defense and timely buckets. He’s been a part of our Heritage program for a few years now and has the experience needed to keep our team together in tough moments and set the tone for us.”

Lastly, Coach Shawn added the significance of his starters taking control of the game and building the big lead so that their teammates could get some court time. “I tell the boys every game that they owe to the game and their team to work hard each quarter so the whole team gets a chance to play. Everyone, starters and bench players, works super hard and grinds every practice to get us here, so it’s only fair that we work hard in games like this to get our whole team some court time.”

Lynne Sheryl Selam

MARCH 23, 1966 – JANUARY 31, 2024

Lynne Sheryl (Moses) Selam was born March 23, 1966 to Maryann “Cookie” and Louie Moses and passed away January 31, 2024. Lynne lived in Yakama and Tulalip throughout her life and enjoyed crabbing and fishing as a young woman. She traveled a lot on the stick game road and had friends and family everywhere she went. She loved cooking for her people and watching canoe races. Lynne loved going to Bingo and to the Casino anywhere she visited. Lynne would always take her grandchildren during Spring break and Winter breaks when she lived in Wapato. 

She is survived by her children Ramona (Albert), Nicholas (Jasmine), and Sarah. Grandchildren Dakaota, Desmond, Dahawnee, Maryann, Samantha, David, and George. Brothers John and Gene Enick. Uncle Bill Williams and aunt Irene Daniels-Moses. Many family members as well. 

She is preceded in death by her husband John C. Selam, her parents, brothers Clifford and Michael Enick and sister Deloris Moses, niece Leann Enick, nephew Johnny Enick, and Moses/Enick family. 

An evening service will be held Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024 at 6 PM at Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home. The funeral will be held Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024 at 10 AM at the Tulalip Gathering Hall with burial to follow at Mission Beach Cemetery.

Byron Lee Sheldon

MARCH 4, 1950 – JANUARY 29, 2024

Byron Lee Sheldon was born on March 4th 1950, born to Thelma Townsend and Charles “Red” Sheldon, and passed away on January 29th 2024. Born in Everett, WA, lived on in Tulalip until a young age, then grew up in Everett and graduated from Everett high school in 1968. After graduation Byron attended Western University for a brief period, after he returned to Tulalip where he lived for the remainder of his life. He spent decades working for the Tulalip Tribes as a courier and his favorite term for himself was a “gopher” go for this, go for that. He would often stop for his favorite snack a corn dog from the teriyaki store while on the run. Byron was known for his goofy sense of humor. He was an avid car collector, enjoyed wood working in his younger years, had big kind heart. He loved animals and kept many dogs and a few cats as pets over the years. 

He was proceeded in death by his parents along with nephews Leon Bitsie, Dareth Beltran, Richard Darren Powell & Brandon Bryant was survived by his siblings: Marlene Beltran William Sheldon, Lita Sheldon, Karen Sheldon along with his nieces and nephews, Steve Beltran III, Rachel Mowrer, Morgan Bryant, J.D. Mowrer, Julie Wilson, Max Mowerer, Emily Wilson and Angie Rodriguez

Hawks and Lady Hawks enter playoff mode

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

It’s been a roller coaster like season for the Lady Hawks. This up and down, twist and turn filled ride is most evident by their final two home games.

On Saturday, January 27, Tulalip hosted fellow tribal school Taholah at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium. We’ll save the disastrous details and simply refer to this one as a game to forget as the Lady Hawks found themselves on the wrong end of an 83-11 thumping. 

Forty-eight hours later, the girls rebounded in a huge way when Shoreline Christian came to town on Monday, January 29.  A slow-paced opening quarter yielded buckets by Tieriana, Audrielle, Raylee, and Kendra who combined to put their team ahead, 9-4.

Over the 2nd and 3rd quarters, the Lady Hawks found their groove in an emphatic way. With the McLean sisters spearheading the attack, the home team got the crowd into a frenzy by forcing Shoreline to turn the ball over and over again. Each time resulted in a transition opportunity for either an Audrielle layup or a Tieriana 3-pointer.

Entering the 4th quarter, Tulalip led 37-17. Kendra, a senior forward, continued to battle multiple Shoreline players to secure rebounds which opened up uncontested shot attempts for her teammates. When only being single covered, she’d use her size advantage to shoot over the smaller defender. 

To the delight of all the friends and family who turned out for senior night, the Lady Hawks bounced back the Taholah loss with a 52-24 W. Audrielle led all scorers with 22 points, her big sister scored 18 points, and Kendra added 8 points.

After the game, senior guard Tieriana shared, “Being senior night, there was a lot of pressure to perform and get the win. Usually when I miss shots early in the game, I quit shooting late, but that didn’t happen today. I kept shooting and, especially in that 3rd quarter, I got hot. [Steph Curry hot]. After our tough loss to Taholah, we really needed this game and we got it.”

When was asked how much it meant to get this W for her sister on senior night, junior guard Audrielle quipped, “I don’t know. A lot!” Fair enough. She then added, “This win boosts our confidence with playoffs coming up. That’s for sure.”

As of January 31, the WIAA website showed the Tulalip Lady Hawks earning a play-in bye, which sets them up with a Saturday, February 3, showdown with Orcas Island at Orcas Island high school. Tip scheduled for 12:30pm.

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Hawks secure #2 seed with back-to-back Ws at home

The Tulalip Heritage Hawks were riding a 4-game winning streak when they faced off with Taholah on Saturday, January 27. The gym was near full capacity with some people going so far as to bring in chairs from staff offices in order to sit down. Playing another tribal school always adds some extra juice to players on the court and fans sitting courtside.

The boys mauled their opponent from the get go, jumping out to a 20-9 after one quarter of play. Playing their patented style of run-and-gun offense, fueled by forcing turnovers, would wear on Taholah’s starters as the game went along. 

While Heritage dictated tempo, freshman guard J.J. Gray carved up the Taholah defense at every opportunity. At halftime, J.J. had 19 points and nearly outscored the visitors by himself as the home team led 37-19.

In the second half, Chano Guzman, Tokala BlackTomahawk, and Amare Hatch would score an array of buckets from within the painted area and along the perimeter to put the game away.

The Hawk’s extended their winning streak to 5 with a 67-45 win. Tulalip was led by J.J.’s 22 points, while Tokala scored 13 points, and both Chano and Amare had 11 points each.

“Our practices have been improving, our team energy is going up, and our mentality is getting right,” remarked senior guard Chano of the team’s win streak.

“All the fans filling the gym and their energy we definitely feed off,” added freshman guard J.J.

Tulalip thrived in their home court advantage, once again, just two days later when they hosted Shoreline Christian. Head coach Shawn Sanchey, a Heritage alum and four-year hooper, understood the importance of senior night for his squad and trotted out an all-senior lineup.

Senior forward Hazen Shopbell Jr. responded to the starting nod by knocking down a midrange jumper and then swishing a 3-pointer. Up 5-0 in the early going, Coach Sanchey called timeout to get his normal starters into the game and his seniors a rousing ovation as they hit the bench. Shoreline responded by going on a run of their own and took a short-lived lead, 5-6.

Once Tulalip’s offense found its normal tempo, it was a wrap. At the end of the 1st quarter, the boys led 16-11. By the end 2nd quarter, that lead was pushed to 29-19. There was some contentious moments, fueled by physical play by both teams and the heightened tension from a packed house, but it proved to only fuel contributions from Tokala BlackTomahawk and Amare Hatch.

Tokala scored 12 points, including two 3-pointers, and Amare scored 18 points, including three 3-pointers, that kept the Hawks rowdy fanbase in classic form while the home team secured another W, 59-34.

With the winning streak now at 6 in a row, Coach Sanchey described how much the big night meant to his boys.

“Senior night is really important to the kids. I still remember my senior night and how much it meant to have all the support in the stands, rooting us on,” he said. “Staring five seniors allowed for them take in the moment and hopefully share in an experience they’ll never forget. And they responded, too, by helping us to the early lead. 

“Of course, there were some moments of adversity late in the 1st half, but my coaching staff has prepared them for moments like that. We emphasize fighting through adversity, keeping the motor going, and not letting anything dictate what we know we’re capable of achieving on the court. They really showed that resilient mindset tonight. I’m really proud of all our players.” 

As of January 31, the WIAA website showed the Tulalip Hawks earning the right to host a home playoff game in the opening round of Districts. Game time and opponent yet to be determined. However, it will be played at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium on Saturday, February 3.

I stand with Palestine and I hope you will, too

By Lilly Jefferson, Heritage student & SYS intern

Have you ever heard the phrase “Free Palestine”? Do you know what it means? If you don’t, I will inform you. From October 7, 2023 to today, Palestine and Israel have been in an ongoing war. If your active on social media, then you’re aware it’s been 103+ days of words like occupation, genocide, bombing, and ethnic cleansing being associated with what’s happening in Palestine.

Palestine is located geographically in West Asia. Palestinian territory is the West bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

In 2017 there were 590,481 people in Gaza. This year there are currently 2 million, and a large percentage of these people in Gaza were pushed away from other parts of Israel. In other words, in Gaza there are currently 2 million displaced people. The most recent and ongoing attacks by Israel have resulted in 26,000 dead and over 64,000 wounded Palestinians civilians, according to the latest Al Jazeera update. 

What is happening to Palestinians now, is what has happened to our ancestors. 

“If social media was around back then, then people could actually witness firsthand the abuse that took place towards our people, and as Indigenous people we look at all these other Indigenous groups as being our relatives,” said Tulalip educator Natosha Gobin. “So for me it’s like those are our relatives, we need to speak up for them, we need to stand up for them, we need to figure out what we can do to support their livelihood. They just want to live.”

Many of the 2 million in Gaza are right now deprived of food, water, gas, medical supplies, and medicine, and more than 80% of Gaza live in poverty. Making it even worse is the fact that 9 out of 10 people don’t eat every day. The reason being is because Israel has been bombing Gaza’s citizens, churches, 340 schools, apartments, hospitals, refugee camps, and the city. 

Israel has occupied Gaza for over 75 years now, meaning they are trying to take control over Gaza. Palestinians in Gaza have resisted for over 75 years and continue to this day. This isn’t the first time either. 

78% and more of historic Palestine has been taken by Zionist forces. Zionism is a nationalist, political view that called for the creation of a Jew state, and now supports the continued existence of Israel as such a state. In 1948, the night of the Declaration of the State of Israel, 1.5 million Palestinians were moved overnight. Also, from 1947-1949, the Palestinian population was at 1.9 million, 750,000 Palestinians were made to be refugees beyond the borders of the state. 

You may be wondering why our elected leaders aren’t speaking up, or taking a stand to support Palestine. “I’m going to start out saying what I have observed from state leaders, and federal leaders. Politicians are influenced by those who donate money to their campaigns, and the fear of losing that funding is what keeps them silent, the fear of losing that funding is what keeps them walking the fine line of ‘this is pretty horrible, what’s going on,’” Natosha pointed out. “But also choosing their words wisely to not affect their funding that comes their way. That is what I have learned from [elected] leaders.” 

Palestine has elements of Arab, Islamic, and Christian traditions. Palestine uses fresh herbs, spices, and olive oil; those are elements of Palestine cuisine. Fishing is also an important factor in Palestinian culture. Palestine also has 1,000-year-old olive trees that are sacred, Israel has allowed settlers to steal olives, and destroy their trees. They have burned, destroyed or uprooted 800,000 Palestinian owned olive trees*. This year marks 70+ years of dispossession, and loss of homeland for the Palestinians. 

Indigenous people such as Tulalip should care because we have experienced firsthand what it’s like for our rights, food and water, people, land, and culture to be taken from us. We know what it is like to lose mass people from our nation and no one does anything about it. We know what it’s like to resist attempted genocide and heal in the aftermath. Because we have experienced all of this, we as Indigenous people need to stand with Palestine. 

Supporting Palestine can be done in a variety of ways. You can start off by boycotting Starbucks and McDonalds because in October 2023, Starbucks filed a lawsuit against their Worker union, because they made a post saying they stand with Palestine. McDonald boycotts are because the McDonald’s location in Israel donated free meals to Israeli soldiers. Some people say Starbucks and McDonalds maintain corporate support for Israel. 

“Another reason to boycott is to not only show solidarity with Palestinians but to raise awareness!” said Tulalip Heritage student Raylee Lewis. 

You can also buy keffiyehs and wear them as a mark of solidarity. Wearing keffiyehs shows you are with Palestine, and you support them. The keffiyeh is a traditional type of scarf worn in many ways. The designs on the keffiyeh symbolize aspects about Palestinian life. Every detail, and every design on the keffiyeh means something. The fishnet pattern represents Gaza’s connection to the sea, the leaves represent economic and cultural significance to olives, and the Bold lines represent historical trade routes. 

Indigenous people across the world show solidary in a bunch of social movements they want to raise awareness for, like boarding schools (orange shirt day), wearing red for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and by wearing ribbon skirts, coming together to sing, dance, and heal. These are all ways we can speak up and give attention to things we think are important.

Finally, the last way you can show that you stand with Palestine is to keep up on social media about what’s happening, where are protests, and when are global shut down days. The latest shut down days have been; November 29, and January 21-28. You can also call for a ceasefire now. Ceasefire means to stop fighting, it means to stop genocide, ceasefire means Free Palestine. 



*Source: Time Magazine. https://time.com/5714146/olive-harvest-west-bank/

The artistry of knitting maven, Anita Sheldon

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

In the gentle rhythm of needles and the soft embrace of yarn, Tulalip tribal member Anita “Keeta” Sheldon’s craft unfolds like a rich tapestry of tradition and enduring artistry. Born and raised in Tulalip, Anita, turning 84 this year, has been wielding knitting needles and crochet hooks for nearly six decades, crafting not just hats and sweaters but a legacy of warmth that spans generations. From the tender beginnings of making tiny garments for her babies, Anita’s hands have spun tales of love and comfort through her creations’ intricate loops and stitches. In her words, knitting and crocheting are not merely crafts; they are therapeutic, good for the soul, and a timeless art passed down through familial threads.

Recently, on January 27, Tulalip News sat down with Keeta and talked about knitting/crocheting and what that means to her. 

When did you first start learning to knit and crochet?

I started knitting and crocheting about 58 years ago. I started making hats and sweaters for my babies. Then, I began making Afghans by crocheting. When I’m not knitting, I am crocheting them.

Who was a significant influence in learning how to knit/crochet?

I would watch the renowned Sarah Sheldon knit. When one of my relatives was in the hospital with a broken back for six months, Grandma Sarah was there with a knitting needle and yarn and showed me how to knit. I watched her knit; she didn’t even have to look at her work while talking to you. She could knit nine pairs of socks a day and would sell them in Seattle. She would also raise her own sheep to create her own wool. She had her own spinning wheel and would make her own yarn. She was good. 

What is the difference between knitting and crocheting?

The difference between crocheting and knitting is one has a straight needle, and the other has a hook at the end. You go one knot at a time when crocheting and use the whole needle when knitting. It’s faster to crochet, and the stitches are slightly looser. I like knitting, and it is more relaxing than crocheting. 

Recently, you had a bad fall. How has it been getting back into knitting/crocheting?

It keeps my hands busy, it’s good therapy, and it’s also good for your mental health. Recently I fell and broke my wrist and couldn’t do anything for a few months. Now, I am doing therapy to help heal my hand. My doctor agreed to keep knitting; when I get tired, I put it down and rest, and I can do more each day. 

How long have you been selling your hats?

I just recently started selling my hats when I learned about the bazaar that happens around the year’s end. Before that, I made them as gifts for Christmas, birthdays, and when it gets cold out. They are well made, comfortable, and will last. My husky hat is over 40 years old and still keeps me warm. 

What are some fond memories you have from making hats?

I made the husky hat because I am a Washington husky fan, and I made my husband a cougar one because he likes Washington State. But his was stolen from the boat dock the first time he wore it out. Then I made another, and it was stolen, so I never made him another one and instead made a blanket that he used to keep on his work chair. And when he passed, it was sent with him onto the other side. 

Where did you get the canoe design from on your recent hats?

The design I used on some of my most recent hats was from the canoe that used to be at the old entrance to the reservation. I liked that design and feel like it represents our people.  It can take two days to make a hat like that if you have the right tools and some suitable yarn. 

If you are interested in purchasing or learning more about Anita’s hats or other products she creates, you can give her a call at (360) 653-8163. 

Caring Warriors extend the season of giving

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

It’s been a cold winter in the Pacific Northwest. Although we’ve seen just a limited amount of snow so far, we recently braved an arctic front that dropped the temperature to single-digit degrees on several nights during a near two-week span this January. And while many of us experienced a number of troublesome annoyances that come with the cold weather, such as burst pipes, frozen windshields, and icy roadways, at the end of the day, we could count ourselves fortunate to have a warm home to reside at during the extreme cold. 

Unfortunately, there were over a thousand unhoused locals who had to tough out the freezing temperatures in the streets, out in wilderness, and anywhere they could find shelter. According to Snohomish County’s 2023 Point-in-Time Count of Homelessness, there was an 8.5 percent increase of unhoused citizens since 2022. The yearly count identified an additional 101 unhoused citizens, bringing the total count to 1,285, the highest it’s been in over a decade. 

What started out as an idea to give back to their community during the holiday season has blossomed into a monthly donation drive organized by a local group known as the Tulalip Caring Warriors. After hosting two successful ‘warmth drives’ around Thanksgiving and Christmastime, the group decided to extend the season of giving for the foreseeable future.

The Tulalip Caring Warrior’s donation drives are for the community, by the community. Upon seeing the impact of their first drive, in which they delivered homecooked meals to the homeless population of Tulalip, Marysville, and Everett, the Caring Warriors expanded their donation drive to include warm winter wear and blankets for their holiday drive in December. The ladies reached out to their community, asking for donations of gently used scarves, hats, coats, blankets, gloves, and snacks. 

They recevied heartwarming responses from the community as countless bags of clothes and several boxes of non-perishable foods, as well as numerous monetary donations, were collected for the group’s second donation drive. Over 100 unhoused individuals received blankets, warm clothing, winter care kits, and hot meal resulting from the community’s generous donations and the hard work put in by the Caring Warriors. 

The successful donation drives inspired other Tulalip locals to join in on the Warrior’s give-back efforts. Consisting of both Tulalip tribal members and citizens, the group originally began with Angelica Trinidad, Kayla Joseph, Odessa Flores, Melissa Young, Kylee Sohappy, and Janae Zackuse, and now additional members include Mahayla Flores and Chena Joseph as well. 

The distribution for their third donation drive took place on January 14. In the freezing cold, on a day that had a high of 33 degrees and a low of 12 degrees, the Tulalip Caring Warriors loaded up their vehicles with donations and freshly prepared meals and hit the streets of Tulalip and its surrounding municipalities to bring a little warmth to those most in need. 

Tulalip Caring Warrior, Odessa Flores, stated “We united once again for our give back event, extending support to the unhoused community during this harsh winter. We served 100 unhoused community members in Snohomish County. We provided warm bags, distributed donations, and served stew with rolls and waters. Our group is expanding and growing in numbers. Together, we organized the generous donations from our community, recreating a heartfelt family recipe from Melissa Young’s mother, Evangelina McGill (Angie). Angie shared her homemade stew recipe, and we worked collaboratively to prepare it.”

She continued, “Due to dropping temperatures, we extended our efforts to locate individuals seeking cold shelters. The gratitude from those we encountered was overwhelming – appreciating not just a warm meal but also blankets and coats for the chilly nights. They also eagerly provided leads on where more donations and meals could make a difference.”

Over the years, we’ve heard time and time again from Tulalip artists that you must have a good mind and heart when conducting cultural, spiritual, or community work, and that it’s all about the energy you put into your craft or project. These traditional values and that cultural mentality seeped into the Tulalip Caring Warriors’ donation drives. 

Now, of course one of the main highlights for the Caring Warriors is bringing smiles to those in need on distribution day. However, another major aspect of this work is the environment in which it’s conducted. Since the Tulalip Caring Warriors’ foundation was originally built on a close-knit friendship, the ever-growing group puts in a vast amount of good vibes and love into their work. And in the weeks of preparation leading up into distribution day, you can bet that Caring Warriors are having a blast, filling the room up with laughter each and every time they gather to discuss planning efforts, sort through donations, and cook meals on a large scale for their monthly events. 

Tulalip Caring Warrior Kayla Joseph shared a quote by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Potawatomi Nation) from the book ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’: “Wealth among traditional people is measured by having enough to give away”. 

Said Kayla, “When asked why we do this, this [quote] sums it up completely. Having the ability to give back to those that are in need, in the best ways that we know how – food is a universal way of saying we care about you. Next month we are doing spaghetti, it’s my turn to bring the recipe. In between sorting the donations and cooking the meal, we got a few laps around the track to get in our daily steps. We work to build each other up in all ways of life.”

The Warriors also encourage youth participation and often recruit their own kids and young relatives to help out with the donation drives. Tulalip Caring Warrior Angelica Trinidad expressed, “I love this opportunity to teach my son about the importance of giving back, because we’re all struggling. In this day and age our economy sucks. We all have different battles and struggles. We don’t know what’s going on in people’s daily lives. I firmly believe that if you want to see change in the world, be the change you want to see. It’s awesome to be able to set that example for my son.”

The next distribution day will be held in mid-February. The Tulalip Caring Warriors are now accepting donations for their next drive until February 17. They are asking for your help to make this another successful drive for the unhoused citizens of our community. If you have any gently used warm winter gear you would like to donate, you can make your contribution at their new drop-off location at the Tulalip teen center. 

The Caring Warriors are also taking donations for their next homecooked meal and are accepting snacks, spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce, rolls, and bottled waters. If you would like to take it a step further and donate your time and efforts to the cause, they would like to extend an invite for you to join their team. Please reach out to Odessa Flores at (425) 319-4868, or Angelica Trinidad at (425) 404-1211 for further details.