For tribes, generosity is tradition

Ian Terry / The HeraldLeno Vela (center), 11, talks with JJ Gray (right), 5, at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club.
Ian Terry / The Herald
Leno Vela (center), 11, talks with JJ Gray (right), 5, at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club.


By: Chris Winters, The Herald


TULALIP — Chuck Thacker was working as the principal of Quil Ceda and Tulalip Elementary School when he was approached about starting a Boys and Girls Club on the reservation of the Tulalip Tribes.

The tribes, Thacker and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County all saw the need for a safe after-school program targeted at tribal youth. Thacker would contribute his leadership and experience working with kids, Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County would provide the model, and the tribes would provide the startup money and location, as well as the kids.

The Tulalip Boys and Girls Club opened in 1996, the first club located on an Indian reservation in Washington and one of the first in the United States. The Tulalip Tribes continue to support the club financially to this day.

Charitable contributions by tribes have become more visible in an era in which some tribes have become financially successful in their business undertakings. But giving has always been a part of Native American culture, even before the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act created a national legal framework in which tribes could operate casinos on their reservations.

In Washington state, tribes such as the Tulalips who run casinos are required to donate a certain percentage of the proceeds to charity. But the tribe routinely exceeds that amount, and even tribes without significant income give back to their communities.

“This rule is not new to Indian Country, as it has now been formalized,” said Marilyn Sheldon, who oversees the Tulalip Charitable Fund.

“We’ve always been givers,” she said.


Ian Terry / the heraldFrom left, Georgetta Reeves, 8; Ladainian Kicking-Woman, 6; Tristan Holmes, 11; and Isaiah Holmes, 6, hang out together in the gym at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club.
Ian Terry / the herald
From left, Georgetta Reeves, 8; Ladainian Kicking-Woman, 6; Tristan Holmes, 11; and Isaiah Holmes, 6, hang out together in the gym at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club.


The Tulalip Tribes

When Chuck Thacker sat down with Terry Freeman of the county Boys and Girls Clubs and Stan Jones, the former chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, they outlined a vision for the new club: It had to address needs of both the tribe and the surrounding community.

The goal was to create a safe after-school program that would accept both native and non-native kids; provide reading programs, other educational activities and sports activities; and remain open as many hours as possible. Most important, it would also provide a meal program.

Thacker recalled what Jones told him: “Feed our kids good, because a lot of them don’t get a good meal at home.”

The Tulalip Tribes backed up its support with financial assistance, and has provided the club with financial support every year since, allowing tribal kids to come to the club free of charge even while it has gradually expanded its services to include arts programs and a technology center.

The meal program now serves three meals a day to up to 250 youths.


Ian Terry / The HeraldDuring a Pacific Science Center demonstration at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club, Ashton Rude, 9, looks through animal furs and tries to identify them.
Ian Terry / The Herald
During a Pacific Science Center demonstration at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club, Ashton Rude, 9, looks through animal furs and tries to identify them.


Thacker, who has directed the club since its inception, said “99 percent of them come in for activities, and they know the food’s going to be there.”

The Tulalip Boys and Girls Club is just one organization that’s been on the receiving end of the tribes’ charitable giving.

Since 1993, shortly after the Tulalip Tribes opened its first casino, charitable giving from the Tulalips has risen from $273,000 then to $6.9 million in 2013.

In the first half of 2014, the Tulalip Tribes has given more than 160 grants to nonprofit organizations, groups or programs both on and off the reservation. They include community groups, the Boys and Girls Clubs, arts organizations, environmental groups, educational programs and specific events, such as the tribe’s annual Spee-Bi-Dah celebration and parade and an emergency grant of $150,000 to the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation and the American Red Cross to help victims of the Oso mudslide.

Marilyn Sheldon recalled that when she was growing up, her own mother and other tribal women in the ladies clubs would support their community with various fundraisers.

Tribal giving has been formalized since then, but it still draws on tradition. During the tribe’s annual Raising Hands gala, all attendees receive gifts as a way of honoring them. Children at the Montessori school also spread the table at the end of each year, Sheldon said, and gifts are traditionally given at funerals.

“That’s part of the healing of the family, to put all that love and energy into giving,” Sheldon said.

Since the Tulalip Resort Casino opened in 1992, a portion of all profits has been donated to charity.

Agreements between the tribe and Washington state set a minimum percentage of proceeds that must be given to charity, but the Tulalips now regularly exceed that baseline, said Martin Napeahi, the general manager of Quil Ceda Village, the Tulalip Tribes’ business and development arm.

In 1993, the Tulalips donated $273,000 to charitable causes. That rose to $6.9 million in 2013, the 20th year in which the Tulalip Charitable Fund has operated.

A committee weighs grant applications, but the members are all anonymous. Each serves for a two-year term and oversees one subsection of the grant requests — for example, natural resources, education, arts or social services.

Then, at the end of every quarter, the committee members switch assignments, so no one member evaluates the same subset of applications.

“That way it adds to the fairness of deciding who gets funding,” Sheldon said.

In the end, the tribes’ board of directors reviews the committee’s recommendation and decides which applications are funded and to what extent.

The fall Raising Hands gala is not just a celebratory event, but an opportunity to create more lasting bonds within the larger community.

Dignitaries and community leaders are invited to mix and mingle with the recipients of the tribes’ giving.

“The beauty of putting that together is you can put other groups together at the same table,” Sheldon said.

That, coupled with presentations honoring the work the various grant recipients do, turns the gala into a educational event as well, which creates connections among the disparate groups and may lead to future collaboration.

“We are doing the best we can to make a difference in our communities,” Sheldon said.


The Stillaguamish Tribe

The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians has seen marked economic growth in the last decade.

When its Angel of the Winds Casino and Hotel opened in 2004, the tribe’s charitable giving evolved from a more casual undertaking to a formalized system.

“Prior to the casino we didn’t have a whole lot of money to give,” said Eric White, vice chairman of the Stillaguamish tribe.

“In fact, we were the ones out there asking for help,” he said.

Since instituting a formal giving program, the Stillaguamish convene a committee of tribal members and employees to evaluate grant requests.

The Stillaguamish gave $800,000 in donations during the tribe’s last fiscal year, which ended in October 2013, White said

So far this year, the Stillaguamish have donated about $1.9 million, with some of the larger recipients being relief agencies working in the aftermath of the mudslide. But recipients also have included community organizations, such as a $300,000 gift to local food banks that the tribe made before Christmas in response to an acute need.

“Basically our main mission would be to help the folks who are in need,” White said.

The Stillaguamish also make charitable donations to environmental organizations, animal rehabilitation services, recreation and health care, especially to the American Cancer Society, which White said the Stillaguamish has long supported.


The Sauk-Suiattle Tribe

Tucked up in the mountains near Darrington, the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe doesn’t have a casino, other large business enterprises or even easy access to the sea for fishing.

The tribe derives its revenue from running the gas station in Darrington and a smoke shop on its reservation, and from leasing its gambling licenses to other tribes that do operate casinos.

Nonetheless, the Sauk-Suiattle tribe makes a point of contributing to the community.

“We do, on a yearly basis, take $30,000, sometimes $40,000 if we have extra, and make small grants to the city of Darrington,” said Ronda Metcalf, the tribe’s general manager.

Beneficiaries include the local senior center, the grange, the school and some programs through the pharmacy to help people pay for medication.

“We’re not obligated to do that, but it’s something the tribe felt would be a good way to build community with the city,” Metcalf said.

When the Oso mudslide cut Darrington off from the rest of the county, Sauk-Suiattle members came together and donated about $5,000 to families affected by the slide, and then came to the Darrington Community Center to lay out a blanket in a traditional form of fundraising, bringing in about $1,100 more on the spot.

A committee looks at requests and decides where the need is greatest. If there are many needy causes, the tribe tries to give out something to most of them, Metcalf said.

“Tribes have been doing that for a long time, it’s part of who they are,” Metcalf said.

Coming soon

This story is part of Snohomish County Gives, a special section highlighting the spirit of philanthropy in the county. Look for more stories on HeraldNet throughout the week and the full section in the print edition of The Herald on Sunday, Aug. 31.

National Park Service Announces Grants to Help Native Americans Identify and Repatriate Human Remains, Cultural Objects

Source: Office of Public Affairs-Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior


Washington – The National Park Service today announced more than $1.5 million in grants under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) to assist museums, Indian tribes, and Alaska native villages to document and return human remains and cultural objects to their native people. 
Grants were awarded both to support the efforts of museums, Indian tribes, Alaska native villages and Native Hawaiian organizations in the documentation of NAGPRA-related objects (consultation/documentation grants), and to pay for the costs associated with the return of the remains and objects to their native people (repatriation grants). This year, 29 grants totaling $1,471,625.00 are going to 24 recipients for consultation/documentation projects, and $95,423.40 is going to eight repatriation projects.
“NAGPRA provides an opportunity to correct the mistreatment of native peoples’ ancestral dead by returning the sacred objects and cultural heritage that have been removed from their communities,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.  “These grants will continue the process by which more than 10,000 Native American human remains and one million sacred objects that have been returned to tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations.
Projects funded by the grant program includes consultations to identify and affiliate individuals and cultural items, training for both museum and tribal staff on NAGPRA, digitizing collection records for consultation, consultations regarding culturally unaffiliated individuals, as well as the preparation and transport of items back to their native people.
Enacted in 1990, NAGPRA requires museums and federal agencies to inventory and identify Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections, and to consult with federally recognized Indian tribes, including Alaska Native villages, and Native Hawaiian organizations regarding the return of these objects to descendants or tribes and organizations.  The Act also authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to award grants to assist in implement provisions of the Act.
For additional information regarding these awards, contact Sherry Hutt, National NAGPRA Program Manager, at 202-354-1479 or via e-mail at
FY2014 NAGPRA Consultation Grant Recipients
Arkansas Archaeological Society
Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
University of Alaska Museum of the North
California State University – Sacramento, University Enterprises, Inc.
Elk Valley Rancheria
Greenville Rancheria
Greenville Rancheria
Ione Band of Miwok Indians
Koi Nation of California
Koi Nation of California
Marin Museum of the American Indian
Table Mountain Rancheria
Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians
Wiyot Tribe
History Colorado
The Field Museum – Hopi Collection
The Field Museum – Quinault Collection
Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas
Crow Tribe of Indians
Crow Tribe of Indians
Western New Mexico University Museum
Fallon Paiute Shoshone
Delaware Nation
Pawnee Nation
Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation
Texas Archeological Research Laboratory
Nooksack Indian Tribe
Nooksack Indian Tribe
Wisconsin Historical Society
Subtotal – consultation grants                                                                                 $1,471,625.00
FY2014 NAGPRA Repatriation Grant Recipients
White Mountain Apache
Regents University of Colorado
Ball State University
Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi
Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribe of Michigan
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe
University of Wisconsin
Wisconsin Historical Society
Subtotal – repatriation grants                                                                                       $95,423.40
TOTAL FOR ALL GRANTS                                                                $1,567,048.40

First Nations Development Institute Awards $400K to 12 Native Food-System Projects


Kristin ButlerGeorge Toya, farm program manager at the Pueblo of Nambe
Kristin Butler
George Toya, farm program manager at the Pueblo of Nambe


Indian Country Today



First Nations Development Institute announced June 3 that it is divying up $400,000 in grant awards to 12 Native organizations. The grants, made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan, were awarded under First Nations’ Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative.

The NAFSI grant program is intended to help tribes and Native communities build sustainable food systems, increase healthy food access and awareness, and stimulate tribal economic growth and development. The 12 grants range between $20,300 and $37,500 to the following tribes and Native organizations:

Bay Mills Community College, Brimley, Michigan, $37,500

The grant will support the Waishkey Bay Farm 4-H Club and Youth Farm Stand. Waishkey Bay Farm is a sustainable farm and orchard located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The club’s purpose is to recruit tribal youth to help grow, harvest and market fruits and vegetables.

Choctaw Fresh Produce, Choctaw, Mississippi, $37,500

The grant will be used to expand a small community garden. Food from the garden will be sold at the casino restaurant.  Additionally, project organizers plan to sell surplus fruits and vegetables throughout the community via a mobile farmers’ market.  The project aims to increase access to healthy food on the reservation while creating jobs and stimulating economic development.

Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Portland, Oregon, $28,125

The grant will assist tribal fishers as they build new relationships with tribes to develop and expand market opportunities for salmon products. The project aims to increase opportunities for the fishers of the Columbia River tribes.

Diné Community Advocacy Alliance, Gallup, New Mexico, $20,300

The funds will be used to help the alliance support the Healthy Diné Nation Act and Junk Food Tax, which was vetoed by the Navajo Nation president in February 2014.  The act seeks to impose a 2 percent sales tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and junk food, and eliminate sales tax on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, Hayward, Wisconsin, $37,500

The grant will be used to build capacity and expand the college’s Sustainable Agriculture Research Station (LSARS). LSARS will increase healthy food access by providing a mobile farmers’ market, online and telephone food-ordering service, and EBT-SNAP purchases.

Lakota Ranch Beginning Farmer/Rancher Program, Kyle, South Dakota, $37,500

The grant will be used to establish an active gardening club on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  Fruits and vegetables harvested will be sold at a local farmers’ market to promote healthier food choices.

Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, Ponca City, Oklahoma, $28,125

The funding will build capacity and expand the local community greenhouse.  The goal is to produce twice as many fruits and vegetables in the expanded greenhouse.  Additionally, the funds will be used to host weekly diabetes health education and cooking classes.

Pueblo of Nambe, Nambe Pueblo, New Mexico, $28,125

The Community Farm Project will focus on expanding to create more traditional meals with locally grown, highly nutritious food items. Nambe Pueblo is a food desert with issues of access and affordability of fresh, local produce. The farm can expand with eventual creation of a marketplace on pueblo land, instituting practices such as composting and seed saving, and working to revitalize Indigenous crops, harvesting wild plants, and raising hormone-free, locally slaughtered meats.

Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, Tama, Iowa, $37,500

The grant will build capacity and expand the Meskwaki Grower’s Cooperative. The food co-op launched in 2013 and needs to expand to include a greenhouse, seed-saving program and food-preservation workshops, as well as increasing co-op membership.

Sust’ainable Molokai, Kaunakakai, Hawaii, $37,500

The grant will be used to launch the Molokai Food Hub, which will give the Native Hawaiian farming community better access and control over its local food system. The Food Hub will help accurately manage orders and monitor product quality.

Taos County Economic Development Corporation, Taos, New Mexico, $37, 500

The organization will lead and coordinate the Native Food Sovereignty Alliance (NAFSA), including coordinating board meetings, proactively recruiting and growing the membership base, and moving the organization toward achieving its 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt status. The organization will also coordinate development of a three-year strategic plan and a priority list of policy areas to be addressed.

Waimea Hawaiian Homesteaders’ Association, Kamuela, Hawaii, $32,825

The grant will continue to fund the “Farming for the Working class” project and will enable another 10 Native Hawaiian homestead families to start actively farming their fallow land. The program consists of hands-on farm training, paired with classroom-based learning and business training.



United Way announces $7.9 million in targeted community grants

North County Outlook

United Way of Snohomish County will be investing $7.9 million over three years toward 107 programs in Snohomish County addressing a set of priorities identified by three panels of volunteers. These targeted investments represent an increase of more than $300,000 over the last three-year cycle.

Six north Snohomish County programs will receive $370,000 over the next three years.

Two of the programs are local to Marysville. One provides early childhood education and intervention to children living on the Tulalip Indian Reservation and is managed by Little Red School House. The other program supports the expansion of English language learner classes organized by YMCA of Snohomish County. The programs will receive $30,000 and $90,000 respectively from United Way over the next three years.

Four of the programs are based in Arlington. Village Community Services will receive almost $160,000 over three years for three different programs: a career planning and placement services program, a residential services program to help people with developmental disabilities live with dignity and respect in their own homes and a community access program to provide adults with significant disabilities learn essential life and job skills. The Stillaguamish Senior Center will receive $90,000 over three years for their Comprehensive Senior Social Services program.

Volunteers who serve on United Way’s Kids Matter, Families Matter and Community Matters Vision Councils spent more than 2,500 hours over the past year in a three-step process that included reviewing community conditions, establishing priority investment areas and evaluating grant applications.

“This was the first time I’d participated in the grants review process,” said Karen Madsen, former president of the Everett School Board. “As a donor, I saw firsthand how much time and effort goes into these decisions. Every program, whether or not they were funded last year, was reviewed very closely.”

Madsen and the 52 other volunteers who reviewed proposals work for a range of Snohomish County-based companies, educational institutions, nonprofits and local government agencies. They represent a broad cross-section of our community.

The 107 programs will serve people living in 23 communities throughout Snohomish County from Stanwood and Darrington in the north, Sultan and Gold Bar in the east and the larger cities along Interstate 5. Volunteers gave careful consideration to vulnerable populations, geographic diversity and programs that address critical service gaps in our community.

A complete list of funded programs is available on United Way’s website,