Tulalip community to hold Inter-tribal jam session to raise aid for victims of Oso mudslide.

Photo/ Francesca Hillary, Tulalip Tribes
Photo/ Francesca Hillary, Tulalip Tribes

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News 

TULALIP – On the heels of a large donation made by the Tulalip Tribes to aid victims of the Oso, Washington mudslide, the Tulalip community is organizing additional aid in the form of an Inter-tribal Jam session to raise money for Oso families as they recover from their losses.

Tulalip Tribal member Natosha Gobin, the event’s organizer, explained the proximity of the Oso community to Tulalip created a desire in community members to want to help.

“I had an idea that we could do an inter-tribal jam session where we invite other tribes to our reservation to share songs and prayers while raising money for donations. People have done these in the past, and it has been a positive gathering that uplifts people in a time of heartache. All it took was posting on Facebook to see who would be interested in volunteering for the event, and right away there was enough interest to make it happen.”

The jam session is scheduled for April 4 at 6:00 p.m. at 6700 Totem Beach Road on the Tulalip Reservation. A $5 donation will be accepted at the door and the event will feature a concession stand serving beverages, frybread, spaghetti and hamburger soup as well as baked goods. A raffle with items donated by local tribal artists will also be held during the event.

Proceeds from the event will be given to the victims of the mudslide with portions donated to a variety of local relief groups assisting with the mudslide such as search and rescue crews, fire stations, and animal shelters.

“This is all happening from the community uniting to make it a success. There are volunteers in planning, cooking and baking, as well as manning stations at the event, said Gobin. “This is not just for Tulalip tribal members, this is a community gathering to share in songs and prayers.”

The session will begin with a prayer and Amazing Grace sung by Tulalip artist Cerissa Gobin followed by traditional request for guests who traveled the farthest to sing first.

The donations and support from tribes has been incredible.  Many tribes citing personal experience with the tragedy of natural disasters.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with all the families that have been affected by this. One of those that was lost in the landslide was a close friend of mine. This affects everybody, no matter where you are or who you are, as tragedy strikes, we all share together,” said Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon, about the Tulalip Tribes donation.

To date Tulalip donated $100,000 to the Snohomish County Red Cross and $50,000 to the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation. The Colville Tribe dispatched teams of search and rescue volunteers. Just today, Snoqualmie announced a $275,000 donation to assist.

For more information, or to volunteer at the event, please contact Natosha Gobin at 425-319-4416 or at tagobin@yahoo.com.


Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Tribes Push To Restore Salmon To Upper Columbia River

 A pre-conference tour of Grand Coulee Dam on Monday kicked off a conversation about restoring salmon to the Upper Columbia Basin.Tom Banse, Northwest News Network
A pre-conference tour of Grand Coulee Dam on Monday kicked off a conversation about restoring salmon to the Upper Columbia Basin.
Tom Banse, Northwest News Network

By Tom Banse, Northwest News Network

Once upon a time, salmon and steelhead swam over a thousand miles upriver to the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River, at the foot of the Rockies in British Columbia.

Those epic migrations ended in 1938 with the construction of Grand Coulee Dam.

This week, tribes from both sides of the U.S.-Canada border along with scientists and policymakers are meeting in Spokane to figure out how Columbia River fish could be restored to their entire historical range. The idea draws passionate supporters, but has unknown costs that you might be asked to help pay.

Uncharted waters 

Salmon and steelhead have been absent from the upper Columbia River for 75 years. But tribes on both sides of border still miss the fish. Colville tribal member D.R. Michel senses an opportunity “to correct a lot of wrongs.”

“The tribes never surrendered to the loss of salmon,” he says. “You see old photos of the chiefs standing on the reservation side looking down on the project with all of those promises of, ‘We’ll take care of you. You’ll have your fish. We’ll put in hatcheries.’ None of that stuff ever really happened.”

Tribes are taking the lead to examine options for restoring migratory fish to the upper Columbia River. Five dams built without fish ladders now stand in the way — two in Washington and three in Canada.

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Lynne Brougher led a tour Monday of Grand Coulee Dam for tribal leaders and biologists from British Columbia and the U.S Northwest. She stopped the tour van in the center of the enormous concrete span so the group could peer over the edge at the torrents of water plummeting down the spillways.

“What you’re looking at here is a 350 foot difference between the water at the base of the dam and uplake in the reservoir,” Brougher explained over the din of rushing water.

Nobody has built a fish ladder on a dam this high according to Canadian Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Commission biologist Will Warnock of Cranbrook, British Columbia.

“It would be going into uncharted waters to build that kind of passage facility. There’s other things you can do to get salmon past dams this high, though. You can trap them and manually truck them around the dam.”

That’s one idea. An elevator actually is another. A long fish ladder would be very expensive and a last resort, if tried at all.

A separate suite of technologies would be needed to help juvenile salmon migrating downstream get past the hydropower turbines and long stretches of slack water behind the upper Columbia dams.

Who would pay?

Who would pay for this? Nearly all of us, as D.R. Michel sees it. He directs the Upper Columbia United Tribes of North Idaho and Eastern Washington.

“It’s potentially a shared cost between ratepayers, the federal government, farmers and irrigators,” says Michel. “Some of the folks who benefit directly from use of this water and what comes out of this dam should help pay for this also.”

The unknown costs of reintroduction could add up, and that worries the Public Power Council’s Scott Corwin. He represents public utilities who get electricity from Columbia River dams.

“There are just a lot of questions about whether that is even possible and how it would impact other species. Yeah, we have a lot of questions.”

The U.S. and Canada are about to open negotiations to renew the 50-year-old Columbia River Treaty. That is the forum chosen by fish advocates to advance their idea. But last week, British Columbia’s government declared it doesn’t want to discuss it at the treaty talks.

A position paper forwarded to Ottawa reads, “British Columbia’s perspective is that the management of… salmon populations is the responsibility of the Government of Canada and that restoration of fish passage and habitat, if feasible, should be the responsibility of each country regarding their respective infrastructure.”

“We are very respectful of the importance of salmon to First Nations,” said provincial Energy Minister Bill Bennett, using the Canadian term for native tribes. But during an interview, Bennett also maintained that ratepayers of BC Hydro should not have to pay more for fish passage. “Our (electricity) rates are already going up in B.C.,” Bennett noted.

Tim Personius, deputy regional director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, says Canada’s position could be a problem.

“The position of the United States is that we should not move forward without Canada participating. I think that’s a good idea.”

Personius says it looks like a lot of the spawning habitat for upper Columbia River fish is in Canada. He says it would not make a lot of sense “for the United States to spend millions or billions of dollars on fish passage” only to have the salmon run to British Columbia and “stub their noses” on a Canadian dam.

The U.S. government is taking an open-minded position in Personius’ telling. But given the many unknowns, “We should kind of approach this cautiously and probably in small steps.”

The Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps think say they are willing to investigate, but unknown costs could be a problem later.

In the Red $8M in 2009, Colville Tribal Federal Corp. Grossed $86M in 2013


Courtesy Colville Tribal Federal Corp.Left to right: CEO Joe Pakootas, Pearline Kirk, Butch Stanger, Lynn Palmanteer-Holder, Susie Marchand, Sneena Brooks, John Sirois, Randy Williams, Debi Condon, Debbie Atuk
Courtesy Colville Tribal Federal Corp.
Left to right: CEO Joe Pakootas, Pearline Kirk, Butch Stanger, Lynn Palmanteer-Holder, Susie Marchand, Sneena Brooks, John Sirois, Randy Williams, Debi Condon, Debbie Atuk

Lynn Armitage


1/15/14 ICTMN.com

By the end of 2009, the tribal business for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in North Central Washington—Colville Tribal Enterprise Corp.—was nearly bankrupt.

Then tribal member Joe Pakootas, the newly hired CEO, took charge, and within a year, he turned an $8.1 million loss into a $2.3 million profit. If you’re doing the math, that’s a turnaround of copy0.4 million in just nine months—a remarkable accomplishment for the tribe’s 25th CEO in 29 years. 

According to Pakootas, he did it by cutting costs, eliminating wasteful spending and most significantly, restructuring the business as a federally chartered corporation—the Colville Tribal Federal Corp., or CTFC—under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

He explained the economic advantages: “When we do business within the boundaries of the reservation on trust property, we are exempt from federal and state taxes.”

CEO Joe Pakootas
CEO Joe Pakootas

But Pakootas hasn’t rested on his laurels one bit. Since his last interview with Indian Country Today Media Network, “Big Turnaround for Colville Tribal Enterprises,” Pakootas and his management team have been busy controlling expenses, diversifying CTFC’s business portfolio and investing in profitable ventures—including two smoke shops, two convenience stores (which generate one-quarter of total revenues) and another casino (the tribe now runs three)—and it has all paid off handsomely, once again.

“The very first year we were in operation, our gross revenues were about $49 million from all of our businesses. This year, our gross revenues were at $86 million, so we almost doubled that in two to three years,” Pakootas explained with great pride. “And our projections for this next year are about copy20 to copy40 million in gross revenues.” 

Understandably, the business community has taken notice. CTFC recently won the 2013 William D. Bradford Minority Business of the Year Award. It’s the granddaddy of seven awards given annually by the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business that recognizes a company “that has demonstrated success in areas of revenue, size, superior management practices and commitment to the community.”

“What is most impressive to me is how the tribe and the enterprise leadership have been able to transform their operations following the economic collapse of 2007-2008,” said Michael Verchot, one of the judges and director of the Consulting and Business Development Center at the university’s business school. “They also received high marks for their community impact by employing many tribal members.”

In fact, laying off so many employees during the reorganization was the most difficult part of the job, claimed Pakootas. “It was heart-wrenching to let so many people go—85 percent were tribal members—but it was necessary to improve the business.”

Initially, there was some backlash from the tribe from all the layoffs, according to Pakootas. “But after a while, they understood the reason behind it. Basically, it was the future health of the tribe that we were looking at and the future of our children and grandchildren.”

“Joe has provided invaluable leadership and vision in this transformation and has built a solid and unified vision for CTFC’s future,” said Verchot.

Currently, CTFC employs about 500 people  in 13 different businesses that include gaming (the biggest revenue generator), recreation and tourism, retail, construction and wood products—12 which are profitable, and the 13th one, a small electrical company, will be closing this spring.

However, more business development is in the works. “We are looking at developing our own fuel distribution,” because, Pakootas said, CTFC  pays a hefty cost right now to have fuel delivered, and there is a lot of money to be saved by doing it themselves.

While the 56-year-old CEO has a lot to be proud of in his four years as head of CFTC, he is quick to share credit with his Board of Directors and managers for the enterprise’s overall success. “We are all Native American, and that makes a real difference because there’s more understanding of our tribe’s cultures and traditions. In the past, many of our policies have been put together by non-Indians.”

As much as Pakootas enjoys working for his tribe, very soon he could be heading down a different path entirely. “I haven’t made a formal announcement yet, but I have filed—and I am a certified candidate—for Congress for the 5th Congressional District here in Washington.”

Running for Congress, he said, will allow him to be a voice for the Native American community and middle-class America, as well—segments of the country that he says face the same difficult issues: poverty, unemployment and poor health care.

Depending upon how the election goes, Pakootas said he may or may not continue with his duties as CEO. “I would like to stay here until some of these operations are going that we are working on right now. I want to make sure that we continue to grow and continue to diversify.”

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation is a federally recognized tribe located in the state of Washington, and is comprised of 8,700 descendants from 12 aboriginal tribes.

Lynn Armitage is a freelance writer and enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. She writes the “Spirit of Enterprise” column for ICTMN.

Tribal court to hear complaint over US settlement

Source: Native American Times

NESPELEM, Wash. (AP) – A tribal court will hear a civil complaint Wednesday claiming the Colville Confederated Tribes should have distributed to tribal members all of a $193 million settlement with the U.S. government.

The Wenatchee World reports that tribal member Yvonne L. Swan filed the complaint in May on behalf of herself and 2,700 tribal members who had petitioned to have the entire settlement distributed to tribal members.

The money is part of a $1 billion settlement from the U.S. government with American Indian tribes whose trust lands were mismanaged by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The tribe’s Business Council pledged to spend half of the settlement on senior centers, health clinics, and other programs. The council distributed the rest in two separate payments, giving about $10,000 to each of about 9,500 members.

Fishing For Compliments: Chief Joseph Hatchery Opens 70 Years Late

Jack McNeelMore than 100 sockeye salmon were smoked to serve at the official opening of the Chief Joseph Hatchery of the Colville Confederated Tribes, on June 20, 2013. Chinook is what the hatchery will breed.
Jack McNeel
More than 100 sockeye salmon were smoked to serve at the official opening of the Chief Joseph Hatchery of the Colville Confederated Tribes, on June 20, 2013. Chinook is what the hatchery will breed.

Jack McNeel

ICTMN.COM July 22, 2013

The salmon once swam freely throughout the upper Columbia River, and plucking them from the waters represented an opportunity to benefit all the Colville Tribes by sharing the bounty.

“What a beautiful experience it was,” said Mel Taulou, an elder of the Colville Confederated Tribes, at a recent ceremony celebrating the first fish to be taken from the Chief Joseph Hatchery. He and others spoke of the sharing associated with fishing, of the exchange of fishing gear if someone was lacking something, and of sharing their catch with elders, friends and family.

“You gave freely. Everybody did. That’s the way it was,” said tribal member and longtime fisherman Lionel Orr, who sang in honor of the first fish as it was lifted from the river in the First Salmon ceremony. “That’s the way I was taught by the older fishermen.”

The salmon was then filleted, smoked, and later everyone present at the pre-opening ceremony was offered a taste of the first salmon.

About 800 people gathered near Chief Joseph Dam for the grand opening of the brand new Chief Joseph Hatchery on a rainy, overcast June 20. The water did not dampen their enthusiasm. Rather, since rain fills the rivers for salmon and is the lifeblood of the region, it was welcomed on this day in particular.

Although the day included a ribbon cutting and other opening celebrations, it was also an opportunity to honor the fishermen and their contributions to keeping this part of tribal custom alive and in passing their knowledge on to younger tribal members. The crowd gathered around tables under a huge tent to listen as representatives from tribal, state and federal agencies spoke about the history leading to this moment and what the hatchery would mean for the future.

The celebration concluded with tours of the hatchery, a full lunch featuring salmon, and the traditional ribbon cutting signifying the opening of the hatchery and completion of a promise made seven decades earlier.

The salmon’s freedom was first cut off by a series of dams that impeded their return to the spawning grounds. In the 1930s a number of dams throughout the Columbia basin were being planned, and tribes in the region were bracing themselves for the disastrous effect these constructs would have on fish runs and thus on tribal members’ lives. Four hatcheries were promised to help mitigate those effects on the Entiat, Wenatchee, Methow and Okanogan watersheds.

“Three of the four hatcheries were constructed between 1939 and 1942,” said Jim Brown, with the Washington Department of Fisheries and Game. Then came World War II. The hatchery plans were put on hold. Chief Joseph Hatchery, the fourth, had to wait. The wait is now over.

“Today’s event gives us the chance to celebrate the fulfillment of the 70-year old commitment,” Brown said at the opening. “Chief Joseph Hatchery is a tremendous accomplishment.”

The hatchery sits on 15 acres of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property within the Colville Indian Reservation. It will be managed by the Colville Tribes under guidelines recommended by scientists as requested by Congress. It includes 40 raceways, each measuring 10 feet by 40 feet, plus three rearing ponds and three acclimation ponds, some onsite and some offsite.

“This is a modern hatchery built to the highest modern standards of science,” said Lorri Bodi of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). “It represents 30 years or more of progress in trying to meet the commitments by the federal government to tribes and the region. It represents a major step in our efforts to get fish back into the rivers of the Northwest.”

It was a collaborative effort involving the Colville Tribe, BPA, US Army Corps of Engineers, several Public Utility Districts and the NW Power & ‘Conservation Council. Funding came from the BPA and area public utility districts, Bodi said.

Colville Tribal Chairman John Sirois, center, cuts the ribbon for the long-awaited Chief Joseph Hatchery on the Colville Reservation, June 20, 2013. He is flanked by representatives of partner groups from the federal and tribal governments. (Photo: Jack McNeel)
Colville Tribal Chairman John Sirois, center, cuts the ribbon for the long-awaited Chief Joseph Hatchery on the Colville Reservation, June 20, 2013. He is flanked by representatives of partner groups from the federal and tribal governments. (Photo: Jack McNeel)

The $50 million hatchery will annually release up to 2.9 million chinook salmon.

“We’re going to see natural spawning of fall and summer chinook in the Okanogan River and we’re going to see spring chinook in the Okanogan basin for the first time in many, many years,” said Tom Karier from the Northwest Power & Conservation Council.

“It’s been a historic day,” said Tribal Chairman John Sirois, who was the day’s emcee. “It really touched my heart hearing stories from our elders about our history. We are salmon people. The salmon sacrifice for us in a sacred way. We also make that sacred commitment to them, to provide their water. I am so grateful, thankful and humbled by all the work that went into making this hatchery possible.”

Colville headquarters collapse after fire

Kaitlin Gillespie, The Spokesman Review

NESPELEM, Wash. – Though black plumes of smoke unfurled from the charred remains of the Colville Reservation’s Headquarters on Monday, tribal members just across the street from the ruins lifted a symbol of hope.

Shawnee BearCub and her family built a teepee in honor of their lost history, providing a place of prayer and safety for members of the tribe.

“It’s resilience in the face of adversity,” BearCub said, hoisting the teepee sticks in the air Monday afternoon.

Fire razed the tribe’s headquarters at 1:15 a.m. Monday. It was the second fire in the past year that leveled an important cultural center. The tribe’s longhouse burned in December when a heater malfunctioned. Religious and cultural items including beaded regalia were lost.

Matt Haney, deputy director for public safety for the tribe, said even though firefighters arrived within minutes, fire had engulfed and destroyed the headquarters.

Investigators have not identified the cause of the blaze yet. The fire continued to smolder Monday afternoon. Colville Tribes Fire Cmdr. Chris McCuen said the entire structure dropped into the basement of the building, making it difficult for investigators to determine an origin or a cause.

Arson crews and tribal police were at the scene, but Haney said it’s too early to determine whether the fire was intentionally lit. Firefighters were able to stop the fire from reaching the nearby U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Firefighters worked to keep the blaze contained well into Monday afternoon and evening. All that remained of the three-story structure was a blackened pit in the ground.

This is the first time since 1975 the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are without a central government office, according to a news release. The building housed the Colville Business Council and other administrative offices, leaving about 40 tribal employees without an office. No one was in the building at the time.

The fire destroyed important documents, as well as many cultural and historical items, Haney said.

“There was so much history stored in the building,” he said.

Ricky Gabriel, a member of the Colville Business Council, said the loss of government documents and computers will impede their ability to operate efficiently and administer services.

“The tribe really feels this right now,” Gabriel said.

Fortunately, many documents were backed up and can be accessed.

The tribe has already found a temporary office at the tribal legal offices.

“We’ve lost two very important structures within the community,” BearCub said.

In spite of the recent losses, BearCub said she’s doing her part, however small, to help the community move on from the tragedies. The teepee has been in her family for generations, and she said it will serve as a place of hope and prayer for those mourning the building.

The teepee represents the cycle of life, she said. Just like the administrative building, it can be taken down, but rebuilt, she said.

“My spirit guides me to do these things,” she said.

The building is a tremendous loss to the community, and council members are upset that the building is gone, Gabriel said. He adds, though, that there’s only one way to move from here: forward.

“The building isn’t alive and doesn’t love,” Gabriel said. “People do.”

Tribes celebrate opening of $50M fish hatchery

From staff reports
 June 19, 2013


The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation will celebrate the opening of a $50 million salmon hatchery Thursday on the Columbia River.


The Chief Joseph Hatchery will raise chinook salmon for subsistence tribal fishing and non-native sport fishing in the nearby towns of Bridgeport and Brewster. The hatchery is adjacent to Chief Joseph Dam, which is as far north as salmon can swim up the main stem Columbia.


Each year, the hatchery will release up to 2.9 million salmon smolts, which will swim 500 miles downstream to the ocean. A certain percentage will return as adult fish that can be harvested.


John Sirois, chairman of the Colville Tribes, hailed the hatchery as a testimony to the “meaningful work” that can occur when federal, tribal and state governments cooperate on river restoration. In 2008, federal agencies responsible for salmon in the Columbia Basin signed agreements with the tribes and the states, pledging greater cooperation as well as additional funding for salmon projects over 10 years. The completed hatchery is due in part to that accord.


The hatchery will help mitigate for the construction of Grand Coulee Dam, which was built without fish ladders. When the dam opened in 1941, it cut off salmon runs to the upper third of the Columbia Basin. Grand Coulee also flooded Kettle Falls, where one of the Northwest’s most prolific salmon fisheries had flourished for 10,000 years.


The day’s events are open to the public. The celebration begins with an 8 a.m. first salmon ceremony at the hatchery administration building and concludes at 3 p.m. after tours of the hatchery. The hatchery is located on State Park Golf Course Road east of State Route 17.


Click here so view a PDF of Fish Accord Projects of The Confederated Tribes of The Colville Reservation