Marsh Life mural resides at Edmonds Historical Museum

By Kim Kalliber; Photos courtesy of Ty Juvenil

Edmonds Historical Museum is working to support local Indigenous people and culture. The latest Native art instillation to call Edmonds home is ‘Marsh Life’, a mural carved by Tulalip tribal member, Ty Juvenil. 

Using thick planks of cedar, Ty describes the piece as, “A carved depiction of what summer life may have looked like pre-contact, with various marsh animals, crane, frog, and humpy salmon, also some fishermen with some catch in their nets. At the top is the hills behind Edmonds with some spirits of the hills showing. On the sides of the main panel are two guardian posts, both finger-painted as it was done long ago. One female salmon and one male salmon. Finally watching over the marsh in glass is a frog design. Frogs are known across many native communities as powerful creatures, in the physical realm, as well as the spiritual.” 

Ty explained that the salmon are blue because his kids helped with the painting. “They kept saying they need to be blue so I listened to them and it worked out amazing.” 

The mural rests at the front of the museum in the Reflection Plaza. According to the Museum, ‘honoring the land and the Coast Salish tribes who came before, ‘Marsh Life’ is an artistic depiction and window into what life may have been like for Coast Salish communities living in the area. The piece demonstrates how the biodiversity and natural resources of the marsh were an important part of Coast Salish traditions and way of life.’

“The whole project should have taken less than a year, but due to Covid we had to wait,” Said Ty of the project’s journey. “This was a wonderful journey, and I’m happy we got it blessed before it left Tulalip; I gave it a tour through Tulalip in the bed of the truck.

He added, “I’m hoping one day I can do something like this at home for Tulalip. Just keep paddling I suppose!”

Also, keep an eye out for upcoming Youtube videos from Ty, on how to carve a paddle and other items.  

The Edmonds Historical Museum is located in downtown Edmonds at 118 5th Ave N., Edmonds WA  98020. You can also visit historicedmonds.org. 

Collin Hood shares how snowboarding helped him reconnect with cultural lifeways and recover from tragedy

The Fresh Powder Feels

By Kalvin Valdillez; Photos courtesy of Collin Hood 

As the original caretakers and citizenry of this local territory, the sduhubš people have an everlasting connection to the land, stretching from the Salish Sea to the mountainous regions. Thriving from the fish, deer, elk and berries, the tribe lived off the mountain’s plentiful resources year-round since time immemorial. Some tribal members would say that simply being high up in the mountains today, in their ancestral homeland, provides peace to their soul, a sense of spiritual solace that can be likened to what many experience when reflecting and pondering life near the ocean – a rejuvenated perspective on life itself. In fact, the Tulalip Tribes organized the annual summertime Tulalip Youth Mountain Camp, a week-long outing to the Skykomish mountains, just so their young membership can experience that connection to the land, the resources and their ancestors. 

Approximately eight years ago, the tribe debuted a similar idea where their youth could engage in outdoor fun while exploring areas their great-great-great relatives once roamed. This idea, however, occurred in the wintertime and was a tad bit more extreme. By participating in the First Nations Snowboarding Team of Tulalip at a young age, Collin Hood, a local 25-year-old tribal fisherman, discovered not only a passion and a newfound community, but also a connection to his cultural and spiritual lifeways. And perhaps most importantly, a form of medicine and healing that only being on a board and shredding through fresh powder can provide. 

Tulalip News: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Why don’t we begin with your background, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Collin Hood, I’m a Tulalip tribal member. My dad is Alonzo Hood and his mom is Rachel Moses. My family has always been super connected with the mountains. We have property in Darrington and back when all the boarding schools were going on, my great-great-grandma Mariah Moses took the family up there to the mountains. I’ve always felt like it’s so easy to get up to the mountains in the springtime and in the summertime, but when winter hit, I never felt like I was able to get up there as often as I’d like to, to really get the chance to be with the trees, the water, the fresh air. 

When did you first get into snowboarding?

I started snowboarding when I was young. I got introduced to it when I was doing the Tulalip snowboarding team that they had back in the day. The tribe had a team basically for us youth to connect with each other and the mountains, and just improve ourselves. But one of my buddies passed away while snowboarding and I hadn’t been up there since. It took a while for me to get back on the mountains. Last year, I got back into it; it felt so good. Snowboarding has so many challenges that you have to overcome and I feel like you’re able to bring those teachings from snowboarding back into your everyday life. 

Any examples come to mind where lessons learned on the slopes can be applied to real-life situations?

Falling down and getting back up – that’s one of the biggest ones honestly. Falling down when snowboarding, when you see everyone around you succeeding and doing so good, you want to be like them you want to be able to do all these cool tricks and get a sponsorship, but you keep falling. You just feel like, ‘ugh, I’m never going to get good and I want to give up.’ But you keep going no matter what because you have that love and drive for it. I feel like you can bring that into your daily life. When you feel like life is kicking you and you keep falling down, you got to keep your head up. Especially after this past year of 2020.

When did you know that snowboarding was the sport you wanted to practice and dedicate your time to?

I knew I wanted to stick to this and keep practicing when I first felt that sense of accomplishment. I didn’t feel like I had to be the best right away, just knowing that I was making progress was all that really mattered.

How has your skill-level advanced over the years since you first strapped-up to a board?

No one has talked to me about a sponsorship just yet, it’s something that I want to keep progressing toward. I’ve been practicing my 360’s, getting my back ones down, and I’ve also been trying to do back flips this year. The tricks are cool. I love doing tricks, but hitting the steep lines, the ones where you’re looking straight down and it’s like ‘alright, there’s no room for mistakes here’, that’s something that I’ve been really pushing myself towards lately. Those deep uncomfortable moments. 

There’s a quote that I like that talks about living outside your comfort zone. I’ve been trying to do that a lot lately because I feel like life’s going to be a lot better for me if I keep doing that. My skill-level has progressed a lot over this past year. I definitely wasn’t comfortable enough to hit some of the steep lines. I have another family member, Greg Moses, he’s an awesome snowboarder he used to do the snowboarding team with me back in the day as well. He’s been really helping me, pushing me to excel outside of my comfort zone. 

As a Tribal member, what does it feel like to be up in the mountains, admiring that scenery in the natural world that your ancestors and people took care of and thrived off of since the beginning of time?

It’s a feeling that is super hard to explain. You’re worry-free, you’re in your own zone. You feel like you’re floating on air, you’re literally flying through the trees. I have a ritual every single time I go up there. I like to pray and spread a little tobacco out before I hit the slopes. It’s important to me because I want to give thanks for everything that is given to me and for everything that is around me, with the fresh air from the trees and the snow that keeps falling, which will melt and return to the ocean to help the salmon return. 

When I come back from snowboarding, my whole spirit is refreshed. When I’m up there, I feel like all my worries and fears disappear. I feel a lot closer to my relatives and friends who I’ve lost as well. 

Are there any areas of your life where snowboarding has helped you through difficult times?

Charlie Cortez was one of my friends who passed away. It was really hard on me this year. The mountains were one of his favorite places to be as well. This whole winter time, I kept thinking how can I feel closer to him? Being on the water has been so hard for me. The mountains have been my getaway and my way to feel closer to him and everyone I’ve lost this past year. The fresh powder feels, man, it feels like nothing else. 

Is there a certain vibe you have to set while you’re up there? Any specific music you need to listen to, any gear that you need to wear? 

Yeah, I do like listening to music while I’m up there. Mostly reggae and rock, keeping the vibes flowing, stuff that makes you feel alive. 

I would say don’t go cheap on gear. You want high quality gear to keep you warm and your vision clear. Your whole experience will be that much better.

Do you have a favorite spot you like to go to?

[Mt.] Baker is definitely my home run. I usually don’t like to tell people that only because Baker is super low-key. It’s definitely so much fun, even if you’re not the best snowboarder, just to be up there having a good time, enjoying the vibes and energy the mountains brings. 

Where do you see snowboarding taking you in your future?

I see it taking me around the world. I plan on making more videos and traveling to different mountains, hitting steeper slopes and doing cooler tricks. I see it taking me pretty far and I love that because it’s during the off-season of fishing. I get to go fishing and once fishing’s done, it’s snowboarding season baby! I feel like I’m living the dream, hunting, fishing and snowboarding; enjoying all the seasons.

Any advice on how to get started and involved in snowboarding for young tribal members?

If you’re interested in the sport, try it out. Ask your parents to help you get involved, reach out to anybody in the community who can help you learn. There’s a lot of people. There’s an entire snowboarding community within the tribe who are willing to help teach people, teach kids. I know it might be a little scary at first, but if you stick with it, you’re going to have fun and it’s something that you’re going to love for the rest of your life.

Where can people check out your work and find out more about snowboarding? 

I have a YouTube channel, just under Collin Hood. I only have two videos right now. I’m just getting started and involved in making videos, so I’m super excited about it and can’t wait to make more videos. 

Linda Lee Marie Zackuse

April 1, 1956 – March 14, 2021

Linda Lee Marie Zackuse was born April 1st,1956 in St. Iqnatius Montana to Steve and Mary Lou (McDonald) Howlett She went to join her relative’s on March 14th, 2021. Linda enjoyed playing bingo, calling bingo, cooking, holidays, traveling to Montana and La Conner to see her brothers,sister and other relative’s, She was also a stay at home mom and raised her children and her grandchildren, also baptize in the Catholic church, Graduated from the Chilocco boarding School.
She is survived by her husband Billy Zackuse, her children Lanada and BillyJo Howlett and Willie Zackuse. Brother Kevin and Sister Jamie and Her grandchildren Alex (Rachelle), Caitlin, Brandie, Brandon, Briana, Steven, Antonio, Aaliyah, Lola, Roico, Oscar, Paula, Hillary and numerous Nieces,Nephews and cousins. She is Preceded in Death by her Parents, Brothers Jack, Danny and Mathew, Daughters Lydia and Ruth.

A graveside service will be held Monday, March 22, 2021 at 12:00 Noon at Mission Beach Cemetery. Arrangements entrusted to Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home.

Community unites to honor our ancestors, pledges to get drugs off our rez

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Nearly 200 hopeful community members united on March 13, the last Saturday of winter, to raise awareness about an insidious enemy that continues to rage through so many Native American reservations: drugs.

“Getting drugs off our rez is such an important issue for our people because its affected every one of our lives,” explained Tulalip Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “Every one of us has had someone in our family that’s suffered from addiction or passed away too soon because of drugs. We’ve had more than fifty deaths in the past year and the highest percentage of the deaths was from overdose, specifically due to fentanyl.”

While coronavirus continues to top headlines nationally, the drug epidemic has only gotten worse. Forced into isolation from family and friends due to COVID cautions, some have turned to drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with the stress, anxiety and uncertainty of today’s times. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 83,000 people lost their lives to drug-related overdoses in the 12-month period ending in July 2020. Making matters even more worrisome closer to home, the Drug Enforcement Agency ‘s Seattle division said earlier this month there was a 92% increase in fentanyl seizures last year and that trend is only going up. 

What is Tulalip to do? Chairwoman Gobin offered an optimistic outlook when she expressed, “It is so difficult to combat this drug epidemic, but we can do it together as a community. We’re looking at new ways to help with our medical assisted treatment facility, that should be ready by this fall, and additional clean living housing for our people. It does take that extra effort when you see someone falling to give them a hand up. Yet, we know our people are not disposable. We have to keep our hands out for them, welcoming them back to a brighter future.”

Uniting the community together under a common cause and bringing people together under the banner of a brighter future is what the Honor Our Ancestors, Get Drugs Off Our Rez rally intended. Based on the overwhelmingly positive vibes that were created and outpouring of support for loved ones battling addiction, it’s safe to say that goal was accomplished. 

On the Saturday afternoon, the clouds broke and the incessant rain stayed away allowing for three hours of radiant sunshine to beam down on the hundreds of participants proudly wearing their affectionately messaged t-shirts. After meeting at the Youth Center, 65+ vehicles formed a caravan that traversed through Tulalip’s residential neighborhoods. 

The parade of cars was led by Tulalip police and fire departments, utilities staff and Sacred Riders MC. Tulalip citizens of all ages were seen running from their homes to greet the caravan with a loving smile and friendly wave. 

Following the caravan’s excursion through the neighborhoods, participants reconvened outside the Gathering Hall to share heartfelt message and uplift spirits with a coastal jam. Tulalip’s honor guard presented the colors prior to Thomas Williams blessing the occasion with a Lushootseed prayer.

With positivity and an emphasis on honoring the ancestors, the Get Drugs Off Our Rez rally offered everyone in the Tulalip community must-needed support and a connection to culture through traditional songs, prayer, and not taken for granted notion of togetherness. 

Walking their talk. Voices from the rally:

Family enrichment manager Josh Fryberg: “What’s been said throughout the day is its going to take each and every one of us to fight for our people, fight for the current generation, and fight for our future generations. At the same time we want to honor our ancestors. They fought so hard and sacrificed so much for all that we have today. It’s our responsibility to fulfill the vision our ancestors had by doing our best to live our lives in a good way.”

Youth council chairmam Kaiser Moses: “It means so much and warms my heart to see you all here today showing how much you care about our community. Drugs are unnatural to our way of life. Drugs were absent from our people’s history until only recently and they’ve become so taxing on our spirits since their unwelcomed arrival.

We need to look out for our youth and we need to look out for our future generations. It’s not just certain people that must take up this responsibility, its every single one of us. Reach out to people who you wouldn’t talk to and open up to them. By opening up to others, you create opportunities for them to open up to you. That’s how we deepen our bond to one another as a Tribe.”

Drummer, singer, and PowWow dancer extraordinaire Jobey Williams: “Our ancestors fought for us. They fought for us to have what we have today, and to see so many gather here today to get our people clean means a lot. It shows we’re still willing to fight for one another and get our people together on the right path so we can walk as one. This is just the start, only the beginning, but we are going to get our people back. We are going to help the ones suffering and get them back in the sacred circle.”

Lushootseed teacher Natosha Gobin: “While driving in the caravan I was crying tears of joy for us being here together. I’ve missed us being together as a community so much. I also cried tears of loss while thinking of my brother because I knew I was driving for him and with him. I think of my niece who is lost in the struggle. Reaching out to her every day, begging her to choose life. I pray that at some point our loves ones who are struggling realize how much they are loved, realize that we have not lost hope, and realize they are not alone. We drove around today honking our horns, waving our flags, and saying ‘I love you’, creating so much positive energy all for them.”

Tulalip elder Donald ‘Penoke’ Hatch: “We lost another young tribal member. She was only 22 years old. We need to take care of our young people a little bit more. That’s why we paraded around; to show we’re here to uplift those who are down and pray for protection for who need it. It’s so important we continue to help each other a little bit more than we did yesterday, and help a little bit more tomorrow than we did today. That’s the path to fighting this drug epidemic that takes the lives of so many of our young people; togetherness.”

Successful meal planning strategies

Submitted by AnneCherise Jensen

Cooking healthy, affordable meals can often feel overwhelming, especially for working parents and caregivers. Many people feel overworked with little time or motivation to cook, some feel they don’t have the cooking skills or knowledge on what a healthy meal should look like and simply don’t know where to start. Though it may seem overwhelming, there are plenty of tools and strategies you can apply to help make healthy meal planning fit into  your household routine. Here are six tips to help you create successful meal planning strategies at home. 

Create a Family Friendly Menu with the 5 Basic Food Groups: 

Start slowly – aim to eat meals that contain fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low fat dairy or calcium fortified foods. There are a lot of great free, online resources that provide a plethora of healthy recipes – from bloggers, to foodies to Dieticians, the list is endless. Cookbooks are also a great resource of healthy recipes – you can buy these online, at the used bookstore and even at your local Goodwill or Value Village. Trying new recipes can be a bit out of our comfort zone – but is a great way to introduce new flavors, fruits, vegetables and a variety of health benefits into the home. Take an evening to sit down with your family and look through cookbooks together. Have children place sticky notes on the recipes they would be willing to try. Make a menu for the meals you plan on cooking at home Monday – Sunday. Incorporate both some of your favorite recipes as well as some new recipes to keep the menu interesting.  If you can’t plan out recipes for an entire week, that’s ok. Attempt to plan at least 2-3  days’ meals in advance.  Some great online recipe resources for affordable and healthy meals are found below! 

  • Eatfresh.org 
  • wasnap-ed.org/live-well/recipes
  • EatRight.Org

Make a Running Grocery List: 

Keep a running grocery list throughout the week. Write down the things you run out of, ingredients for a new recipe, and staple items you may be running low on. Refer back to your weekly menu that you planned for you and your household. Look for coupons at the grocery store in the weekly ads to help save money. Make sure all of the ingredients are on the list – this will help prevent unwanted trips to the grocery store throughout the week. Be sure you aren’t hungry before going grocery shopping. This can help prevent buying excess food, while also helping us stay away from processed foods that have little nutrients and health benefits.  

Stock up on Staple Items: 

To help get started with meal planning, try stocking up on the basics, like produce, shelf stable and freezer foods. Having healthy ingredients in your home is the key to successful meal planning!  Invest in ingredients you know will get eaten in your household, and will get used in your favorite recipes. This will ensure you have the ingredients you need to get through the week without having to make unnecessary trips to the grocery store, saving both time, money and energy.  The lists below provide healthy ingredient ideas for both pantry and freezer items from the main food groups. Personalize the list – adding or omitting ingredients that work for you and your household. 

Food Groups Pantry List (eatright.org)

  • Fruits: Raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots and other dried fruits are loaded with dietary fiber. They add flavor and texture to your morning breakfast, midday salad and dinner grains. Canned fruits like pineapple, peaches, and pears are a great addition to meals and snacks -these are a great addition to yogurt and salads. Apples, oranges, bananas are great to have on hand for quick, easy and healthy snacks around the house!
  • Vegetables: Keep a variety of canned tomatoes in stock (diced, crushed, whole, stewed). Use them in soups, stews, sauces, casseroles and more! Also, pick up a bottle of your favorite spaghetti sauce. Look for low-sodium canned vegetables such as mushrooms, artichokes, corn, green beans, chilies, and beets – these are great pantry items because they can add depth of flavor to your meals. Fresh onions, potatoes, garlic, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower and celery are great vegetable basics to have on hand that tend to have a longer shelf life if stored properly. These are great for soups and side dishes any day of the week. 
  • Protein Foods: Stock up on canned or dried lentils, black, pinto, cannellini, garbanzo and kidney beans. These legumes are a great source of protein and fiber. Toss cooked beans in salads, soups, stews and other dishes. Nut varieties are also a great protein source to have on hand, packed with vitamins and minerals. Canned tuna, oysters, anchovies and sardines are a pantry must — they are a quick way to add protein, healthy fats and flavor to meals. Canned chicken is a great addition to the pantry – great when you’re in a pinch for time and don’t have time to thaw out and cook frozen chicken. Last but not least are hard boiled eggs – these make easy, healthy protein packed snacks that help keep you fueled throughout the day. 
  • Grains: Keep a stash of oatmeal, and other whole-grain cereals in the pantry. Barley, faro, quinoa and other grains provide staples for healthy meals. Also, keep a variety of brown rice on hand — long grain, short grain, and basmati are flavorful options. Spaghetti, penne and other pastas are great for an easy, quick and filling family meal. Give yourself an extra nutrition boost by buying whole-grain pasta or trying pasta made from legumes (eatright.org). 
  • Condiments to Consider
  • Oil and vinegar: Extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil are versatile, heart-healthy options. Other oils, such as peanut, walnut and sesame add a burst of flavor to meals. Pick up different types of vinegar, such as cider, white and balsamic. Each imparts a unique flavor to your recipes. They also make great homemade salad dressings and add great flavor to stir frys. 
  • Stock: Vegetable, chicken and beef stock are the basics of many recipes. Opt for those that are low-sodium or contain no added salt. These are great for soups, stews, roasts, and even cooking rice. 
  • Herbs and spices: Pick up small containers of ground herbs and spices. That way they are as fresh as possible when you use them. These often add extra health benefits and flavor to any dish. Popular herbs and spices include rosemary, cumin, basil, turmeric, pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves, thyme, dill and paprika. 

Food Groups Freezer List (eatright.org) 

To help make sure you don’t store food beyond freshness, put dates on the packages before storing in the freezer. Use the oldest first to keep a rotation on freshness. 

  • Fruits: Stash frozen berries and other fruits in the freezer. They are a great way to add nutrition to a morning smoothie. If you have any fruit that is starting to go bad, store it in a safe seal bag and throw it in the freezer. This will help prevent food waste and a great way to save money. 
  • Vegetables:Pick up some of your favorite frozen veggies. These are a great source of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients because the flash-freezing process locks in the nutrition. Look for packages low in sodium. Frozen peas, corn, cauliflower, broccoli, and mixed vegetable bags are perfect or adding into soups, stews and stir fries! 
  • Protein Foods: Stock up on salmon and other fatty fishes to ensure you have ready access to healthy fats. Frozen lean meats, poultry, shellfish, and wild game also store well in the freezer. One tip: make sure you move it to the refrigerator one day before cooking to give adequate time for defrosting. 
  • Grains: Whole-grain corn tortillas freeze well and can be used for quick breakfasts, lunches or dinners. Can’t eat that loaf of bread fast enough while it is fresh? Make it a habit to freeze part of the loaf and defrost slices as you need them. Breads will keep their freshness for up to six months in the freezer.
  • Milk and Dairy Products:Freeze Parmesan and other pre-shredded cheeses — toss them into soups, stews and pasta dishes. Low fat Greek yogurt with fruit or in smoothies is a great addition to your weekly menu.  Low fat, frozen yogurt can be a quick dessert for a special occasion (eatright.org).

Choose 1 or 2 days throughout the week to meal prep: 

Choose a day that works best in your schedule to meal prep throughout the week. Take a few hours to wash, prep and cut your fruits and vegetables in ready to go containers. Cook desired grains like rice and quinoa in advance and store them in the fridge. Know what protein sources you are going to cook the night before, and have it defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Having lots of the ingredients prepped in advance will  help save time in the kitchen throughout the week. 

Cook Enough for Leftovers: 

If you can master the beauty of leftovers, take advantage of it! In the long run, it will end up saving you a lot of time and money. Some meals are easier to re-cook than others, but try experimenting in the kitchen with what works for you and your family.  

Invite Kids into the Kitchen to Help Cook and Clean: 

Preparing and maintaining 3 meals a day, especially for a large family, can be a huge chore. Try inviting kids and other family members to help lighten the load of kitchen / food responsibilities. This is a  great way to have some bonding time, as well as teaching opportunities to those who may not feel as confident in the kitchen as others. Parents – have children help with setting the table, washing the dishes, meal prepping and kitchen clean up. This is a great way to get them comfortable and familiar with cooking and kitchen responsibilities. 

**This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP.  This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Sources: 

https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/smart-shopping/3-strategies-for-successful-meal-planning

https://eatfresh.org/recipe/main-dish-side-dish/three-sisters-succotash#.YEvWlRNKh0s

Main Image: CDC website 

Family Wellness Court now in session

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The impact of the opioid and heroin epidemic is felt especially hard within Indigenous communities. When researching this disheartening topic, you may get caught up in the alarming statistics as it pertains to overdose and death by overdose in Native America. One might overlook the efforts and the resiliency of tribes across the nation who are refusing to give up on their loved ones, whose lives are in the clutches of addiction. Children are largely affected by the drug crisis and many are subject to face the system, often placed in the care of a family or community member when the parent has fallen to their addiction. Of course, most parents want to regain custody of their children, but where do they begin?

There’s a cynical-leaning expression that is often voiced when speaking of recovery, along the lines of ‘you can’t help those who aren’t willing to accept help,’ which is arguably true, but what of those who are actively seeking help but don’t know where to turn? Those who want to get clean and reclaim guardianship of their kids but need guidance and support? Those who have went through treatment and mandated drug court and have yet to find a solution?

The Tulalip Tribal Justice Department believes they’ve developed a system that will not only help their tribal members start their journey in recovery, but also reunite them with their children. They also strongly believe that, if followed properly, their system can help their participants regain custody sooner than the standard state drug court, and will be more effective in the long-term, helping their clients maintain sobriety by equipping the individual with the necessary tools and support to fight their addictions. Of course, the timeline will vary as each person who opts to participate in the voluntary program will receive a personalized plan to follow. 

On the afternoon of March 10, a group of approximately fifteen gathered in the courtroom at the Tulalip Justice Center for the first of many court hearings. The assembly, who wore masks and followed social distance protocols, consisted of a handful of courthouse officials, attorneys, beda?chelh representatives, counselors and recovery specialists. This team is dedicated to reuniting Tulalip families by helping the parents attain and maintain sobriety, tackling the epidemic that has driven a wedge between numerous families head-on.

Known officially as Family Wellness Court, the new system was originally inspired by the amount of success stories that came out of the Tulalip Healing to Wellness Court. Those participants showed a great response to the program which features a plan-to-recovery that is tailored to each client’s individual needs. Additionally, the Healing to Wellness Court requires weekly meetings, cultural give-back hours, and a strong desire to get clean. Another aspect that has proved helpful for the Healing to Wellness Court participants is the new sense of community that is gained from engaging with their fellow participants in the program. Each participant is involved throughout the entire duration of the weekly hearings and shows their support to others in the program in both the good and trying times. Drawing from the Healing to Wellness Court model, the Tulalip Justice Department hopes to mirror those success results while also reuniting tribal parents with their children by helping them overcome their battle with addiction. 

Said Tulalip Tribal Court Director, Alicia Horne, “The Family Wellness Court is very similar to the Healing to Wellness Court. It’s an alternative program to help parents with addiction and it’s an evidence-based program to help parents with addiction sustain sobriety. This is something that is different from your traditional beda?chelh case management. The Family Wellness program has wrap-around, intensive family case management to help the family as a whole, so the parents can maintain stable sobriety.”

The very first Family Wellness Court hearing featured a ceremonial blessing by Tulalip tribal member Whaa-Ka-Dup Monger, who also offered encouraging words of support to each participating parent. Tulalip’s Chief Judge, Michelle Demmert presided over the hearing, which included a total of five individual cases, three of which were held over Zoom as those participants were registered and receiving care at local treatment facilities.

“Today was the very first day of Family Wellness Court which is something that I fully embrace because I feel that restoration and healing are components of justice. Too often our justice models are based on the Anglo system which believes in punishment more than it does healing,” explained Judge Demmert. “I’m Tlingit and I come from a lot of healers and traditional folks and this just means a lot to me because we are a community-based people, we support each other, we have families. Those relationships are important to nurture, so we need to do things differently as a Native court.”

  Each client begins by sharing how long they have been sober. And whether that’s days, weeks or months, the courtroom erupts with applause, showing genuine encouragement and support for the parent and what they’ve accomplished. Then together, as one team, they review the participant’s week, ensuring they are on par with their plan while also discussing their trials and tribulations they encountered since their last hearing. If the parent is in compliance and on-track, the team will discuss the next phase of the personalized plan and the participant will get to pick an incentive of their choosing out of a basket that includes Native-designed houseware, tasty snacks and a variety of trinkets and gift cards. If the parent is non-compliant with the Family Wellness Court, the team will re-evaluate that parent’s plan, provide intervention services and resources and discuss areas to improve. 

“We want people to understand it’s different than the standard dependency proceeding that parents involved with beda?chelh go through,”  stated Family Wellness Court Coordinator, Melissa Johnson. “With more frequent review hearings, they get a chance to show their progress in real-time. They tend to get their kids back faster in this type of program because of the intensive case management and the added support. We assist parents with medical care if they need it, as well as referrals to housing, helping with job placement, job training, so they can live a healthy and sober life and maintain it on their own. 

“We want to give them the skills, the foundation to maintain that healthy lifestyle once they’re finished with our program. Family Wellness Court is important because it’s strengthening families, it will help families get healthy and allow us to display our support as a Tribal Court and a community. We have a really good team. I think the team approach is going to be so important for us going forward.”

After a productive and successful first hearing, the Family Wellness Court has high hopes that their new system will bring healing, reunification, and a new beginning for parents in recovery. Judge Demmert reassured each new client that relapse is a part of one’s journey to sobriety and it is important to learn and grow if a relapse occurs while on the road to recovery. The important thing to remember is to pick yourself back up after a relapse and continue striving for a healthy, clean and sober life. 

“To me, personally, I’m 33 years in recovery,” shared Judge Demmert.  “I think it’s really important for people to know that about me so that they don’t think I’m judging them like I’ve never been in their situation, when most likely I have. I want them to know that there’s hope, that I believe in them and that I love them. I really do.”

Judge Demmert also shared a special message to the recovering parents in Family Wellness Court stating, “We’re proud of the choices you’re making and we’re here to support you. These are not easy choices and we recognize that. We’re here for you and here to serve you.”

To qualify for the Family Wellness Court, you must be the parent of a Tulalip tribal member who currently has an open child dependency case with the Tribal Court system. Please contact your attorney, beda?chelh social worker or call (360) 716-4764 if you believe the Family Wellness Court can benefit you and your family.