A Gathering of Coast Salish peoples


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Western Washington Tribes and British Columbia First Nations of the Salish Sea came together to speak with one voice at the Tulalip Resort Casino’s Orca Ballroom on February 27.

As one voice, the tribal leaders, activists, and caretakers of the environment spoke for the continued protection of the land and waters of our aboriginal homeland and the preservation of our culture. As brothers and sisters, they shared their culture and concerns for the endangered eco-region, and continued their dialogue on the need for strengthened environmental policies and practices in our ancestral homelands.

These Coast Salish ancestral homelands, the Salish Sea and its people continue to face detrimental damages to the environment and resources based on the pollution based economy, and they will continue to move on co-management and co-decision making on the Salish Sea. The agenda for the 2017 gathering was to discuss:

  • Aboriginal and Treaty Rights at Risk
  • Resource and Environmental Challenges
  • Laws, Policy and Regulation
  • Coast Salish 21st Century Nations and Tribes
  • Federal, State and Tribal Dispute Resolution
  • Decision making, uniform consent

Following the day’s seminars and presentations, attendees were treated to an evening filled with traditional song and dance. The next generation of Tulalip drummers, singers, and dancers opened, led by cultural specialist Chelsea Craig.


Tulalip drummers and singers


Succeeding the young and spirited Tulalip group was one of the top Native dance groups on the west coast, Git-Hoan.

“We are Git-Hoan, the People of the Salmon. We are a makeup of Tsimshian, Haida, and Tlingit people from southeast Alaska and are proud to be in your territory to sing and dance for you,” stated group creator David Boxley, a renowned Tsimshian artist and carver. “What a beautiful place to dance. Thank you for allowing us to be here.

“This dance group has been in existence since 1996. We use a lot of masks to tell our stories. All of our tribes, including [Tulalip], at one time danced with masks and this form of expression is coming back strong over the last decade. The songs and dances you are about to see are old in their origins, but relatively new in their make-up. Missionaries were very successful with our people. We are trying to change that by [revitalizing our culture] like how it was before the missionaries. We are proud of the fact we try really, really hard to look like the old days, with the masks and telling the stories like our people once did.”



Git-Hoan performed for nearly an hour to the marvel of gathering attendees. Included in their selection of dances was a brand new song debuted for the Coast Salish occasion.

“We are the People of the Salmon, and so are you. We are all People of the Salmon,” explained Boxley. “Historically, our ancestors’ lives depended on the salmon. The next song we are going to show is a brand new song that shows our pride in being People of the Salmon .We dedicate this song to all of you.”

With the conclusion of the day’s events, Board of Director Theresa Sheldon shared her amazement in watching the performances by several Coast Salish tribes.

“It’s always a blessing to see our young students singing our ancestors songs, especially for this Coast Salish Gathering. A gathering that’s all about our Mother Earth and how we can work together on protecting our waterways. It was truly a delight to witness the Alaskan group perform their traditional mask dances. They had the most amazing raven dance, with the mosquito ancestor dance, and the supernatural eagle dance. It’s truly an honor when our relatives bring out their masks to share with us. Sharing our songs and dances together is the way of our people. I’m so thankful to the parents and teachers who help our young ones embrace this.”

On a Wave: Tulalip artist Nathan Kix ‘holds it down’ for Native American and hip-hop culture

Nathan Kix.
Photo/Kalvin Validillez, Tulalip News


By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News


Cool, calm and collected is the demeanor of Tulalip hip-hop artist, Nathan Kix. Still in his early twenties he has his mind set on the future, looking to be the first Native artist to crossover to music mainstream. Many Indigenous rappers such as Litefoot and Red Cloud have seen success and have spread their voices throughout reservations nationwide. However, their fan base has been limited to the Native American community.

Nathan and his team have created a unique modern sound that emphasizes his clever wordplay. Until recently Nathan was releasing singles on Soundcloud, which revealed glimpses of his musical direction. He released his debut project this past December, on his birthday, in the form of a six-track EP titled Autumn which has received positive reviews across social media. And he is only beginning, stating his future projects will each contain a unique sound as he plans to build a strong catalog during the course of his music career.

With a fan base that continues to grow by the day, I have no doubt in my mind that Kix could be the first Native rapper to break down genre barriers. I personally met Nathan a few years back while we were both working as concierge’ for the T Spa at the Tulalip Resort and Casino. As an avid hip-hop enthusiast myself, I would often talk music, recite Jay Z lyrics and even drop the occasional freestyle with Nate during downtime at the spa (when no guests were around, of course). Which is why I was excited to sit down and talk with the young emcee about his new release, culture, and of course the genre of music that captivated us both at a young age: hip-hop.


Let’s start off by talking about your background. Has growing up on the reservation affected your writing?

For the most part I’ve kept my culture modest, up until this point. Solely for the fact I feel I don’t want to expose too much too early. I want to appeal to as many people as possible, strictly through human experience, without playing the culture card. I don’t want to use that to gain popularity. I want to build my skill level. So, at this point it hasn’t [affected the writing] but it does inspire why I want to do this.


What is your writing process?

When I first started, I used to write without a beat, which was a burden when it came time to record because I couldn’t stay on beat. But I stuck with it and kept writing. Once I figured out what bars were, it was a field day. With the writing process now, I am very punch line oriented. I studied Lil’ Wayne’s delivery and wittiness, and took those components and made it my own. When writing today, I will loop the beat and figure out the exact flow first, like how many syllables I can fit into particular verse or line and once I figure that out, I’ll pause the beat and keep flowing in my head, until I get it down, and then plop the words in.


Was there a defining moment when you knew this is what you’re supposed to do?

I started writing raps around seven or eight, but they were trash and I was one of those people who want to be good at something right away. I realized [at that time] I wasn’t good, so I held off until I was about sixteen, and then I gave it another shot.

At the beginning of my sophomore year, there was this one girl who I was trying to, you know, holler at. She actually asked me to have a rap battle on paper. I was like ‘oh okay,’ you know whatever it takes to keep the conversation going. Ever since then I’ve enjoyed the process [of writing], so that was the defining moment for me. Whenever I get the chance to talk to her, I still let her know she was the one who got the ball rolling.


What’s the story behind the name Nathan Kix?

Roughly around that same time [in high school], I started getting into personal style. The one thing I enjoyed the most about an outfit were the shoes, that’s switched up now, but I was known in high school for having all the Jordan’s and all the fly shoes. People identified me as the dude who had forty different pairs of shoes. Every day, for at least a month and a half, I wore a different pair. That’s basically where the name came from.


How important is originality?

Originality is everything. I can’t emphasize that enough. If you want to progress a genre and make your stamp, originality is going to take you there. There are artists out there who cut and paste styles from already established artists and [by doing so] they make it well known that they aren’t on their own wave. Originality should be the focal point when becoming an artist.


Who is your biggest musical inspiration?

It’s a toss-up between two or three people. I really fell in love with Kanye West’s music when he came out with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I liked Kanye [before] but that album really sparked my interest and made me want to become a better artist. Drake always had a huge impact on the way I approach the phycology of writing. And, Jim Morrison for the creativity and the depth he brings to writing music.


If you could collaborate with one artist who would it be? Producer?

A$AP Rocky. For producer, I have to go with ’Ye (Kanye West).


How do you feel about the local hip-hop scene?

I don’t feel like there really is one, but we definitely need it. I feel like it would create a lot of creative ventures for people. If you have all these creative minds such as videographers, photographers, and graphic designers coming together, who can contribute to improve the image of an artist, the scene can essentially build everybody up.


Where do you see your art taking you? 

Representing all the First Nations people. Like, the Shoni Schimmel of music. Basically what I am trying to do is bring Natives into the mainstream. Shoni Schimmel dipped her finger in the water; I want to be the person to create the biggest wave out of [the water]. When I do, I want to look back at my people and help them find a way to creatively express themselves, because there are passionate Natives out here and I want to help create a market for them.


What separates you from your competition?

The awareness of how to be different; I like to incorporate the modern sound with my own textures. I have a producer who I work with, Paul Koshak. He produced Autumn, well ninety-eight percent of it. Mason Gobin, who is also a tribal member, produced half of [the song] 100 Thousand.

I think a lot of rappers aren’t giving it their all, as far as song content. I feel like that is my sole focus and I am able to deliver that in a very witty way.



Why did you decide to go with the Moon, in traditional Native artwork, for your album cover?

The moon is representing that something new is about to happen. The moon comes every night and provides you with a new day. So in a way, it is the same concept of Autumn. You see the leaves falling every autumn, signifying new change.

Most people go with a summer vibe with their music because everyone likes to feel good. My favorite season is autumn because the gloominess it has. When the leaves fall, there is a gap of time where it feels like nothing is happening. That’s the overall vibe: transition.

I feel like I made a huge change in my life, within this last year, mentally. It felt like I was dropping as many leaves as possible, I still feel like I’m in that phase, but I know they are going to grow back and blossom as beautiful as ever. That’s the metaphor behind [the artwork and concept].


Prior to the release of Autumn, you dropped a documentary that showed you in the studio as well as in the community. Shortly after the EP came out, you released a music video for your song Gravity. How important were those videos to your overall presentation?

They were very crucial, especially the documentary because it gave people a taste of what exactly I am about. A lot of people may perceive me as bashful; when in reality I’m just introverted. The documentary allowed me to show what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, without having to spoon-feed it to you.

The [music] video was not a calculated move. We shot it back in the summertime and we didn’t actually have anything planned for it. People were responding and saying they really appreciated Autumn so director Luis Perez – a phenomenal photographer/videographer – sent me a text and wanted to release the video. We picked the date and dropped it on Christmas Eve.


The EP has received a lot of love – what has been the best feedback you received?

I enjoy any type of feedback I get, but the best feedback has been from people I didn’t even expect to give it a listen. Sometimes when walking around, people will stop me and tell me they’ve been listening to my songs. When they tell me they like my music in person, that’s what I appreciate the most.


You’ve talked about your collective a lot, the group of creative minds that you work with. How important is it to have your group with you, as you gain more exposure going forward?

I feel like it’s necessary to have a team because you’re not going to always be the one with the right idea. There are decisions that have to be made, that have nothing to do with the craft itself. Having a team behind you to take things on, such as business ventures, that is something that an artist can benefit from.

Having your own team is basically like having your own label. I feel like I would rather give a percentage [of profits] to the people I know. I think most artists are taking this route because they realized that record labels will rip your soul apart. When it’s with people you know, you feel a more genuine connection.


Do you plan on staying on the independent grind or would you sign the right deal?

If they had my agenda in mind, and allowed me to operate at the speed that I’m comfortable working at, I might consider it. Even then, I don’t believe I would fully commit to a label. If anything, I would like to do a publishing deal to handle all the business ventures such as marketing.


What is one record label you would consider?

I’m not sure if I would necessarily fit at any of the labels. But I would maybe consider [signing a deal with] G.O.O.D. Music (Kanye’s record label) because they have a lot of diversity going on over there. I love OVO (Drake’s record label) and what they are doing; they have a certain aesthetic they are keeping. I don’t feel like I sound anything like them, so I don’t think I would mesh well, in that aspect, same with T.D.E. (Top Dawg Entertainment, record label associated with Kendrick Lamar)



A top to bottom Autumn performance would be lit! Do you plan on performing in the near future?

Yeah, like I mentioned before, the [local hip hop] scene needs to be more prominent. I would like to work with the right promoters to make sure that our shows are the best they can be for us, and for the people as well. I also have a lot more songs than the six-track EP, so we’re looking at possible set lists and looking at other local acts as well. There’s a lot of talent around here and we want to do multiple shows. There are definitely plans for live performances; we’re just ironing out the details.


Who are you currently listening to and who is on your top-three emcee list?

Most of the time what I like to listen to is the polar opposite of what I make. Right now it’s a lot of Lil Uzi Vert, this artist named 6lack he made that song PRBLMS, I love that joint. I’ve also been bumping a lot of Frank Ocean. Syd, from [the music group] The Internet, just dropped a solo project that is amazing. I also go back in time too; I love The Doors.

And for top three, these are not in order and they all have reasons for being on here: Kanye West, Drake, and Travis Scott. I would say they are the most influential to me.


If you could change a common misconception about the hip-hop culture what would it be?

I want people to respect how artistic and influential this genre is. Because, agree with it or not, rap is the new rock and roll.


How about in Native culture?

The stereotypes. Also, that we are unexposed to the world outside of the reservation.


What do you want tribal members to take away from your music?

That there is somebody out here looking to expose our culture to the world.

And my advice for young aspiring Native artists is to go with your gut instinct on what exactly you want to portray yourself as, and make sure that everything you’re doing stays true to yourself and is original as well.


Autumn is currently available on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify and Soundcloud with plans of a physical release in the near future. To view the documentary, the music video for Gravity, and for additional information visit the Nathan Kix Facebook page.

Tulalip students learn traditional language


By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

In the late 1800s, the U.S. Government deemed it necessary to forcibly remove Native American children from their families and send them to boarding schools. Among the many atrocities that occurred in the boarding schools, Native children were punished whenever they spoke their language. This practice resulted in many tribal nations losing their language completely. After the horrific boarding school practice ended many tribes immediately began to restore and preserve their language.

Lushootseed is the Coast Salish language of the Native Peoples in the Northwest. Primarily spoken in the greater Seattle area of Washington, Lushootseed is the language of the peoples of Puyallup, Swinomish, and of course Snohomish.

In Tulalip, Lushootseed is taught to children early between the ages of three and five at the Tulaip Early Learning Academy. The children learn songs, stories, numbers and animals in Lushootseed. Tulalip also offers their employees and community members Lushootseed classes, showing how important the language is to the tribe.

The Northwest Indian College (NWIC) offers Lushootseed classes to college students in which the student receives five college credits towards a foreign language. In collaboration with NWIC and Heritage High School, the Tulalip Tribes is now offering Lushootseed 101 to the students at Heritage.

In the Lushootseed class students revisit vocabulary learned at a young age and use that as a starting point. Lushootseed 101 has ten enrolled students who have been learning phrases and introductions. After three months into the curriculum students are able to state their name, where they are from, and who their families are. In solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, students even created a Water Is Life video in Lushootseed.

“It is a great way to get back to our traditions and it makes me feel connected to my ancestors.”

– Myrna Red Leaf, Heritage H.S. student


Lushootseed Language Instructor, Michelle Myles states, “They are learning the 101 college level so this will be one of their fulfillments for college. They’re learning right alongside the Northwest Indian College [students]. Our goal this quarter is to have the college students come and speak with the high schoolers, and have our students greet them, so they can see that others are learning as well, and it’s not isolated to the classrooms.”

Tulalip’s effort in preserving their language is outstanding and it is reflected through the fun, respect, and appreciation the students show during class. During an entire class period, the only English spoken was when students needed assistance with a Lushootseed word. And as student Myrna Red Leaf states, “It is a great way to get back to our traditions and it makes me feel connected to my ancestors.”

Promoting Men’s Health


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Early detection is key for the treatment of heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, and many other diseases that disproportionately affect men. However, men are less likely to seek preventative care than women. Despite growing awareness, men usually take a back seat approach to maintaining their health. We will shy away from seeking advice, delaying possible treatment and/or waiting until symptoms become so bad we have no other option but to seek medical attention. To make matters worse, we refuse to participate in the simple and harmless pursuit of undergoing annual screenings.

Enter the Annual Men’s Health Fair held at the Karen I. Fryberg Tulalip Health Clinic on Friday, December 16. This year’s health fair provided us men the opportunity to become more aware of our own health. With various health screenings being offered for the low, low price of FREE, we were able to get in the driver’s seat and take charge of our own health. Blood sugar, cholesterol, and prostate screenings were among the options for men to participate in. Along with all the preventative health benefits of participating in these screenings, as if that was not reason enough, they gave out numerous goodies and a complimentary “Indian taco” lunch to every man who showed up to take charge of his health.

At 16.1 percent, Native Americans have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among all U.S. racial and ethnic groups. Also, Native Americans are 2.2 times more likely to have diabetes compared with non-Hispanic whites (per Diabetes.org). Clearly we are at a greater risk when it comes to diabetes, making it all more crucial to have glucose testing and diabetes screenings performed on an annual basis. For those men who attended the health fair, they were able to quickly have their glucose (blood sugar) tested with just a prick of the finger.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the first and stroke the sixth leading cause of death among Native Americans. High blood pressure is a precursor to possible heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure is also very easily detected by having routine checks of your blood pressure taken periodically.



Representatives from Health First Chiropractic, the Marysville branch, were on hand as well to offer a free posture analysis. Using a spinal analysis machine, the patient advocate conducted postural exams on a number of men and reviewed the results with each participant. Good posture can help you exercise more safely and achieve better general health. When you sit or stand correctly, your organs will be better aligned, which reduces indigestion and helps your lungs to function at full capacity. Your core muscles will be strengthened and your back and shoulders will feel more comfortable.

Along with the various health screenings being offered there were information booths available that ranged from alternative health care options in the local area, ways to have cleaner air in your home, and methods to change eating habits to live a heathier lifestyle. There was a booth where we could have our grip tested, a method used for assessing joint and muscle fatigue. Another booth offered us the opportunity to have our BMI (body mass index) and body fat percentage measured. Wondered if you need to cut back on those weekend treats? Or if you need to start leading a more active lifestyle? Well if that BMI was too high and you didn’t like what your body fat percentage was, now you know the answer.



Face it, as we get older, we all need to become more aware of the inevitable health concerns that may one day affect us. The possibility of having to deal with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or the possibility of prostate cancer looms over us all. The only way to avoid such health concerns to heighten our awareness of these preventable conditions. Health educators empower us to be more proactive about our health by getting annual screenings, detecting issues early, as well as seeking medical treatment before a simple, treatable issue becomes life altering.

At the conclusion of the Men’s Health Fair, Jennie Fryberg, Health Information Manager, said the following, “I’d like to personally thank all the men that came out and participated in the men’s health fair today! Way to come and take care of your health, men.”


“What a time to be alive and in education!”

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 


Certified STI instructor, Dr. Laura Lynn.

Certified STI instructor, Dr. Laura Lynn.

Since Time Immemorial (STI) is a curriculum created to educate Washington State elementary through high school students on the history, culture, traditions and sovereignty of the Northwest coastal tribes. The school districts will meet frequently with local tribes so their students can learn first-hand about the resilient people of Native America and the unfortunate journey we have experienced since Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the new world.

In the early 2000’s, Tulalip tribal member and Washington State Senator, John McCoy wrote House Bill 1495 that encouraged Washington school districts to teach students about local tribes. Since the bill was passed less than 30% of the school districts participated in teaching the history of neighboring Native communities. In 2014, Senator McCoy presented a new bill, Senate Bill 5433. House Bill 1495 and Senate Bill 5433 were essentially the same, however, the slight alteration of verbiage changed Native American education from being encouraged to a requirement.

During the time period between the two bills, STI was created and made available for the schools that chose to participate. Since then the creators have been able to fine-tune the curriculum by trial and error of participating school districts. The end result is a free, easy accessible curriculum that includes full lesson plans, videos, reading material, and activities that will potentially put an end to stereotypes and misconceptions of Native People that many non-natives possess.

Certified STI instructor, Dr. Laura Lynn, recently spoke to educators, administrators, and parents from the nearby school districts of Edmonds, Mukilteo, Monroe and Arlington at the Hibulb Cultural Center to discuss the background, and to present an in-depth view of the curriculum.

“What a time to be alive and in education!” Dr. Lynn exclaimed. “The intent of this meeting is not to shame but to give a clear understanding of the Native communities. By sharing the curriculum with our students, it is going to help them become informed citizens. As our youth step up into leadership roles they will be deeply connected with the community. As educators we aren’t teaching our students so they can leave, but so they can grow. We need to assist them as they perfect their talents and give them the tools they need to enrich our communities.”

Dr. Lynn expressed that the youth need to understand the true history of local tribes. She explained that America often tries to downplay the tragedies that occurred to Natives and make it feel like it took place a long time ago. When in reality the elders of today’s tribes were taken from their families and placed into boarding schools where they were forced to learn the white culture and lose their traditional cultural teachings.

Before STI, the story of the birth of America often leaves out the fact the U.S. Government stole its land by murdering Native Americans. That is only the beginning of the countless atrocities the government committed against the Indigenous community.  Dr. Lynn stated, “We are not fulfilling our duties if we are not being honest about the genocide, the assimilation, and the boarding schools. It is important that you know the history because you can teach a curriculum, but if you don’t understand the spirit and the intent behind it, you will tend to make the same mistakes repeatedly.”

Dr. Lynn quickly went through a lesson plan with the educators titled ‘The 600 Memorial Lesson Plan’ she said, “Since [House Bill 1495] was signed, over 87% of school districts did not participate in teaching the history of Native People. The only native history we have been teaching is in a post 1900 context. Think about it. Close your eyes and envision the image of a Native American tribal member. Because of what is portrayed in our history books, in our minds we are living with a stereotype. The image is usually in a post 1900 context and its usually of a tribal member who is not from this region. The 600 Memorial Lesson Plan addresses the stereotype issue. During this lesson, students will learn about contemporary issues that local tribal communities are facing today. It will give our students a chance to meet with and understand contemporary Native People, giving us a chance to finally dissolve those stereotypes that often lead to racism and barriers.”

The event concluded with a story, exclusively for the educators, by Master Carver/Storyteller Kenny Moses. As more schools are starting to implement the STI curriculum, the hope of a better tomorrow emerges. An opportunity for a future without harmful stereotypes and offensive mascots is presented. Coast Salish tribes will finally get to share our similar yet unique story as Native Peoples.

For more information about STI and for upcoming classes and seminars, visit www.indian-ed.org

‘Since Time Immemorial’ Training Gets a $600K Boost


Richard Walker, Indian Country Today


A state law requires schools in Washington to teach students the history of the state’s 29 federally recognized indigenous nations, just as they teach U.S. and state history.

School districts that have adopted the “Since Time Immemorial” curriculum, which was formerly “encouraged” but is now mandatory, say the curriculum is an easy tool to use. But the curriculum encourages participation with local Native nations. “Our goal is to teach WITH tribes, rather than about them,” the curriculum states—and one of the challenges school districts report is developing the partnerships to make that happen.

RELATED: From ‘Encouraged’ to Mandatory’: Schools Must Teach Native History in Washington

Training now underway is helping to build those associations.

“Our [curriculum] trainings have doubled in both size and frequency” since the law made implementation of the curriculum mandatory, Michael Vendiola texted on July 27 from a conference in Omak on the Colville reservation. Vendiola, Swinomish, is program supervisor for the state education department’s Office of Native Education. “We are training more dynamically as well. For example, we are training more curriculum teams, administrators, and education associations.”

The training is getting a boost from Western Washington University’s Woodring College of Education, which received two grants totaling $600,000 from the Washington Student Achievement Council, a cabinet-level state agency.

“These two grants not only advance our professional development work in schools but, most significantly, forge important new efforts with Native American communities in our region,” Woodring College of Education Dean Francisco Rios said in an announcement of the grant. “It capitalizes on the strengths of our faculty while also honoring the important cultural knowledge of local indigenous communities.”

Of the funding, $400,000 is being invested in “Implementation of Since Time Immemorial: Higher Education and K-12 School Partnership Pilot Project,” a collaboration of Woodring College, The University of Washington, Western Washington University, and the state Office of Native Education.

The project will assist schools and districts that have a high number of Native American students, including Chief Kitsap Academy, which is owned and operated by the Suquamish Tribe and serves Native and non-Native students; Lummi Nation School; Marysville School District, which serves students from the Tulalip Tribes; Muckleshoot Tribal School; Shelton School District, which serves students from Skokomish and Squaxin; Taholah School District, which serves students from the Quinault Nation; and Wellpinit School District, which serves students from the Spokane Tribe.

State Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, who authored the curriculum law, said it’s important that Native nations be involved because the curriculum is “only a baseline curriculum.” The curriculum includes such topics as “Exploring Washington State —Tribal Homelands,” “Washington Territory and Treaty Making,” “Being Citizens in Washington: The Boldt Decision,” and “Encounter, Colonization and Devastation.” But those courses are not localized; the involvement of local indigenous nations can help students understand those subjects on the local level.

The project is providing training workshops, professional development and coaching to teachers, administrators and paraprofessionals.

“Our entire team of diverse partners is dedicated to providing professional development that teaches regional tribal government, culture and history through the STI curriculum,” said Kristen French, associate professor of elementary education at Western Washington University.

“We are thrilled to have this grant because we can contribute and build on the good work that [the state Office of Native Education] and state Sen. John McCoy have done to improve Indian education,” she said, adding that six of seven team members are Native women trained in education.

Vendiola’s wife, Michelle, is “Since Time Immemorial” grant coordinator at Woodring College.

“With an emphasis on culture and identity, we expect this work to have long-term impact on the academic achievement of Native students, as well as all Washington state students,” she said in the grant announcement. “Ultimately, we are honored to participate in the improvement of future relationships between tribal communities and mainstream Washington state citizens.”

An example of how the involvement of local Native nations can bolster knowledge of Native culture and the environment Native and non-Native students share is “Science and the Swinomish,” a collaboration of Western Washington University, the Shannon Point Marine Center and the Swinomish Tribe.

The project received $200,000 in funding to train teachers and administrators in the La Conner and Concrete school districts, two districts serving Swinomish students.

The partnership will “personalize the STI curriculum and develop hands-on science lessons focused on the restoration and care of the environment essential to maintaining the traditional Swinomish way of living,” said Tim Bruce, an instructor at Woodring College.

Teachers and principals will receive training in the basics of the curriculum and then will dig deeper into the aspects that relate to science, focusing on locally relevant, culturally important topics such as salmon recovery, tideland impacts and water use—topics that affect everyone.

Organizers say teachers and principals will have a strong working knowledge of the curriculum by spring 2017, and will have multiple lesson plans ready for submission to a digital library where they can be shared with a wider audience.

Vendiola said feedback received from curriculum partners is helping educators innovate the curriculum in new ways.

A pre-K/early learning curriculum, titled “STI Tribal Sovereignty Early Learning Curriculum,” is a partnership of Thrive Washington—First Peoples, First Steps Alliance, and the Puget Sound ESD Native American Early Learning Project. “There are currently three pilot lessons availablefor the early learning community,” he said.

Giving Balance to History Instruction

Thirty percent of school districts in Washington are using “Since Time Immemorial,” which was developed by the state in consultation with indigenous nations in Washington.

The legislation that established STI seeks to give balance to history instruction, which has often ignored the state’s indigenous history. It also seeks to improve student knowledge of indigenous history and culture; foster cross-cultural respect and understanding; and bolster cultural sensitivity in all students.

“We do have a rich, solid history in the state, and it should be taught,” McCoy said in an earlier interview. Doing so would help students understand sovereignty and the work that indigenous nations do in their historical territories—authority that many elected officials don’t understand, McCoy said.

In addition to the above projects, regional training will be hosted in October by the Toppenish School District, on the Yakama Nation reservation; Education Service District 113, in the state capital of Olympia; the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, whose students attend schools in the North Kitsap School District; and the Lummi Nation, whose students attend Lummi schools or schools in the Ferndale School District.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/08/03/time-immemorial-training-gets-600k-boost-165325

Honoring the past, Impacting the future: 21st Annual Lushootseed Day Camp




By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

During the pleasantly warm and sunny summer days of July 18-22, the old Tulalip Elementary gymnasium was home to the 21st Annual Lushootseed Day Camp. The camp was open to children age five to twelve who wanted to learn about their culture and Lushootseed language through art, songs, games, weaving and storytelling. Each year the Lushootseed Department teams up with the Cultural Resources Department, along with a select number of very vital community volunteers, to hold two one-week camps. Each camp has openings for up to 50 participants, but this year the demand was so high that 64 kids were signed up and participated in Language Camp week 1.

“We are dedicating the 21st Annual Lushootseed Language Camp to Morris Dan and Harriette Shelton-Dover, for their guidance and teachings bringing back the Salmon Ceremony, as well as honoring Stan Jones Sr. “Scho-Hallem” for his decades of leadership and determination to keep the ceremony going,” said Lushootseed language teacher and co-coordinator of the camp, Natosha Gobin. “This year we are recreating the Salmon Ceremony to pass on the teachings to our youth.  With the generosity of the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Table, we have received a grant to make regalia for each youth who is signed up for camp.  This is exciting, as we will be able to ensure that all the youth who sign up for camp will have the ability to stand up and sing at every opportunity. Vests and drums will be the regalia for the boys, while the girls’ regalia will be shawls and clappers.”

Using the 1979 Salmon Ceremony video to help pass on the earliest teaching of what is still practiced today, the young campers learned a selection of highlighted songs and dances.  The lessons learned each day during Language Camp were based on the teachings of the Salmon Ceremony by way of songs and dances, traditional teachings, language, art, weaving, and technology. The goal this year was to provide our youth with some basic regalia along with the knowledge and ability to sing and dance. Staffers hope the youth that have participated have the teachings and experience needed so they will stand up and sing at every opportunity.




With the emphasis of honoring the past and impacting the future with education and practice of Salmon Ceremony, there was a renewed sense of excitement and vigor to both the teachers and bright, young minds who participated. There was so much to do and prepare for that the parents of each camper were also called upon to participate in create long-lasting memories while working with their kids and fellow community members to help make regalia.

During the evening of Tuesday, July 19 the parents came through in a big way. The parents and guardians joined their kids in the gymnasium and were guided on how to make the drums and clappers. There were lots of laughs and stories shared as the evening went on and slowly, but surely every camper was assured of hand-made regalia.

“This is what we wanted to bring back; families coming together to spend some time working on the drums and clappers, lots of smiles, and most importantly lots of happy kids,” stated Natosha after the evening of regalia making concluded. “A huge thank you to the parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents, siblings and cousins who come out tonight to make sure every child would have a drum or clapper. I know our ancestors are watching over us all and proud the teachers are still being passed on.”




Throughout the duration of camp, the children participated in seven different daily activities. The following list is what each child accomplished throughout the week:

  • Art – Salmon bracelets, Salmon hands, paddle necklaces.
  • Weaving – Pony Bead loom beading, small raffia baskets.
  • Songs and Dances – Welcome Song, Eagle Owl BlueJay Song, Snohomish Warrior Song.
  • Traditional Teachings – Salmon Ceremony videos, traditional stories, realia experience in traditional story and science face of how Salmon migrate.
  • Games – Various games and playground time.
  • Language – letter sounds, Salmon Ceremony key words, Lushootseed workbook.
  • Technology – children learned and practiced Lushootseed materials related to Salmon Ceremony using the Nintendo DSi handheld games created by Dave Sienko.

The closing ceremony for week one’s camp was held on Friday, July 22 in the Kenny Moses Building. The joyous, young play-performers made their debut to a large community attendance, as family and friends came out in droves to show their support.

“The young ones continue to honor our ancestors by learning their songs and words. It fills my heart with so much joy to watch them speak our language and perform the dances of Salmon Ceremony,” marveled ceremonial witness Denise Sheldon.




After the youth performed their rendition of Salmon Ceremony and the ceremonial witnesses had shared a few words, there was a giveaway. The camp participants gave handmade crafts to the audience members, which preceded a salmon lunch that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

Reflecting on the conclusion of this year’s 21st Annual Language Camp week one, Natosha Gobin beamed with pride, “Week one has come to an end, but it is truly just the beginning of our youth rising up! The fire has been lit and they will be the ones to keep it burning. I can’t say it enough, how thankful we are for the parents that sign their youth up to participate. Shout out to the volunteers who mentored our young Language Warriors and to the staff who prepped and taught the lessons, and those who did all the behind the scenes work. Thank you to each and every person who made this week’s camp a success.”

For any questions, comments or to request Lushootseed language materials to use in the home, please contact the Lushootseed Department at 360-716-4499 or visit www.TulalipLushootseed.com





National wildlife refuge renamed to honor Billy Frank Jr.

A national wildlife refuge near Olympia, Washington, has been renamed in honor of Native American civil rights leader Billy Frank Jr.

The Associated Press
OLYMPIA, WASH. – A national wildlife refuge near Olympia, Washington, has been renamed in honor of Native American civil rights leader Billy Frank Jr.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewel, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, U.S. Rep. Denny Heck and Nisqually Tribal Council chairman Farron McCloud are among those attending Tuesday’s celebration at the renamed Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.

Frank, who died in 2014, was a Nisqually tribal fisherman who led the “fish wars” of the 1960s and 70s that restored fishing rights and helped preserve a way of life for Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest.

He and others were repeatedly arrested for fishing in the Nisqually River as they staged “fish-ins,” or acts of civil disobedience similar to sit-ins, to demand the right to fish in their traditional places. His activism paved the way for the landmark “Boldt” court decision, which affirmed the rights of Western Washington treaty tribes to half the fish harvest in the state.

Tuesday’s ceremony also celebrates the newly established Medicine Creek Treaty National Memorial, which commemorates the spot in 1854 where tribes signed the Medicine Creek Treaty with the U.S. government. The tribes include the Nisqually, Squaxin Island Tribe, Puyallup Tribe of Indians and Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.

The treaty was signed in a grove of trees near what is now McAllister Creek in the refuge. The tribes ceded land to the U.S. government but reserved their rights to fish, hunt and gather in their traditional places. For decades, Frank fought to hold the federal government to those treaty obligations.

In November, Frank was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. A month later, Obama signed into law the “Billy Frank Jr. Tell Your Story Act,” which renamed the wildlife refuge.

The 2,925-acre preserve was created in 1974 and protects one of the few relatively undeveloped large estuaries left in Puget Sound. It’s an important stop for migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway. It’s managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/state/washington/article90499542.html#storylink=cpy

Tulalip Welcomes Inaugural Jr NBA Native American Youth Camp

Source: NBA 


TULALIP, Washington and PINE RIDGE, South Dakota, July.1, 2016 – The Jr. NBA next week tips off the first of two summer camps focused on engaging Native American youth.  As part of the NBA’s youth basketball participation program for boys and girls ages 6-14, Jr. NBA camps are set for July 8-10 in Tulalip, Washington, and from July 29-31 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

The camps are designed to teach the game’s fundamental skills and core values at this grassroots level to help grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents.

NBA legend Detlef Schrempf and Spencer Hawes of the Charlotte Hornets – both alumni of the University of Washington – will headline the Jr. NBA camps at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club about an hour north of Seattle.  Sacramento Kings head coach David Joerger, who began his professional coaching career in the Dakotas, will work with youngsters at Jr. NBA camps hosted by the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation outside of Rapid City.

“The Jr. NBA is always looking to engage different communities that love basketball,” said David Krichavsky, the NBA’s vice president of youth basketball development.  “Working with Tulalip and Pine Ridge provides us a unique opportunity to connect with our young fans and their coaches alongside some of the NBA’s best ambassadors.”

“Our Native community loves Basketball and the NBA,” said National Indian Athletic Association Basketball Hall of Famer Marlin Fryberg Jr., a longtime Tulalip Tribal Council member currently serving as executive director for the Tulalip Tribes Boys & Girls Club.  “The Jr. NBA camps acknowledge our Native American passion for the game and will help make NBA fans for life while teaching basketball’s important values.”

“Skills like teamwork, passion, accountability and responsibility are at the core of these communities and the core of our game,” said Brooks Meek, NBA vice president of International Basketball Operations and 1994 graduate of Washington’s Marysville-Pilchuck High School.  “I am especially excited to help bring the NBA to my home community, having grown up with so many friends from Tulalip.  We are very fortunate to work with such committed partners as we bring our League to these passionate fans.”

“As a young basketball player on the reservation, the values of the game helped me succeed in the classroom and in life,” said Christian McGhee, a 2008 graduate of Red Cloud and the school’s current athletic director. “Bringing the Jr. NBA to Pine Ridge is a dream come true and will expose a large number of our boys and girls to the lessons only basketball can teach.”

The Jr. NBA will reach five million youth in the U.S. and Canada over the next two years through a series of basketball clinics, skills challenges and tournaments.  As part of this effort, the NBA has developed a Jr. NBA partnership network that includes youth basketball programs of all NBA, WNBA and NBA Development League teams, elementary and middle schools, military installations and longstanding community partners, including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Jewish Community Centers of North America, National Association of Police Athletic Leagues, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wheelchair Basketball Association, Special Olympics, and YMCA of the USA.



For additional information on the Tulalip camp, contact Marlin Fryberg at the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club: mfryberg@bgcsc.org

Native films ‘Mekko’ and ‘Before the Streets’ premiere at Seattle Film Festival

Siff-Mekko poster art


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News


The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), the largest and most highly attended film festival in the United States, had a massive lineup in its 42nd annual 25-day run from May 19 through June 12. This year SIFF screened 421 films representing 85 countries: 181 features, 75 documentaries, 8 archival films, and 153 shorts. The films included 54 World premieres and 27 U.S. premieres.

Among those hundreds of films, two (Mekko and Before the Streets) were made with North American indigenous issues central to their theme. Prior to their Seattle premieres, SIFF publicists and media relations staff reached out to local tribal media about covering the films and meeting the directors for potential publications. According to festival publicist Sophia Perez, the staff of Tulalip News were the only tribal media who responded to the SIFF invitation.


Mekko director Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Creek) at his film’s SIFF premiere.

Mekko director Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Creek) at his film’s SIFF premiere. Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News


Mekko is the product of director/writer Sterlin Harjo who is a member of the Seminole nation with Muskogee heritage. Born and raised in the small town of Holdenville, Oklahoma, Sterlin studied film and art at the University of Oklahoma. Sterlin is a founding member of the Native American comedy troupe, the 1491s, whose bold stylings have garnered millions of views on YouTube.

Mekko is a film that explores the rarely seen slice of life about marginalized homeless Native Americans. Mekko is an uncompromising thriller set against the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma wherein a Muscogee Native is released from prison and falls in with the homeless “street chiefs” at the edge of the city, struggling to find shelter, hope, and redemption among the local Native population.

“People walk past or drive past the homeless all the time and never think about where they came from and how they ended up where they are. In making this film I wanted to humanize the Native homeless population in Tulsa while giving them a voice,” says Director Sterlin. In writing the film Sterlin spent a lot of time among the Native homeless population in order to ensure his story line was an accurate portrayal of their struggle. “While doing my research I was also recruiting them to be in my film. They were very open to the idea and I could tell how excited they were to have someone tell a story about them.

“For those you watch the film, I hope they come to realize that we are all just a few decisions away from ending up on the streets,” adds Sterlin. “Whether it’s through alcohol or drugs or anything else that alienates you from your family, once you lose that support it’s easy to end up on the streets.”



Award winning film and television actor Zahn McClarnon plays the character Bill in Mekko. Photo courtesy of Sterlin Harjo.



Mekko paints the portrait of a homeless Native American parolee in Tulsa. As he struggles to find his way in the outside world after two decades behind bars, the titular Mekko discovers a chaotic yet occasionally profound and beautiful community of impoverished natives which now includes Bunnie, one of his old carousing buddies from his wilder youth. Though Mekko finds some peace in this society that exists on the fringes of our modern world, he also uncovers a darkness that threatens to destroy it from within. After a tragic series of events, Mekko dedicates himself to a quest for revenge which he believes will cleanse the sickness from this collective of marginalized individuals and perhaps atone for the sins that landed him in jail so many years ago.





Making its United States premiere, Before the Streets is a gripping and spiritual film set among the Atikamekw communities of Quebec, Canada. Featuring an indigenous cast speaking in their native tongue, it’s a redemptive story of a young man who returns to his Native traditions after a robbery ends in tragedy.

The lead character, young Shawnouk kills a man during a robbery and flees into the forest. Deciding to return to his Atikamekw village in Quebec, he tries to return to his everyday life, but is haunted by his past. Covering gritty, everyday issues of Native life on reservations from hunger and poverty to less talked about social issues of teen suicide and struggling family dynamics, Shawnouk must overcome his despair and redeem himself using traditional cleansing rituals.

Before the Streets celebrates a revival of the Native culture and its traditions, as embodied by the very actors who participated in the film. The first dramatic feature shot in the native language of Atikamekw, the film boasts a cast composed almost entirely of non-professionals living and working in the villages where the film was shot. The story takes place in Manawan, while a forest fire closes in on the nearby village of Wemotaci.


Director, producer and writer Chloe Leriche set out to highlight First Nations resilience and how it manifests itself.

Director, producer and writer Chloe Leriche set out to highlight First Nations resilience and how it manifests itself. Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News


First-time feature director Chloe Leriche made Before the Streets with the collaboration of Quebec’s three Atikamekw communities, in drawing on all the vitality they embody. By following the pacing of her non-professional actors, she created a distinct style that goes beyond notions of the North American indie genre and recent media reports on the dismal conditions in Canada’s Native communities.

“I was working for Wapikoni Mobile, a project that involved traveling to Native communities in a trailer equipped with video cameras and editing tables. The idea was to encourage young people to express themselves through cinema,” says Director Chloe of how the inspiration for her film came about. “The first time I went to Obedjiwan, an Atikamekw community in northern Mauricie, I met a young man in the street and suggested he make a documentary on whatever subject he wanted. We went to look for two of his friends to hold the camera and record sound. I told his friends to ask him questions, and we filmed in different places around the village. Speaking to the camera, he talked about friends and relatives of his who had taken their own lives. The longer we shot, the longer the list of names grew. It was harrowing. After that, of the different scripts I was developing, Before the Streets forced itself on me like a scream. I felt compelled to make it, it became a necessity. The project grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go.


Lead character Shawnouk undergoes traditional cleansing ceremonies in order to move forward with his life.

Lead character Shawnouk undergoes traditional cleansing ceremonies in order to move forward with his life. Image courtesy of Chloe Leriche


I spent a lot of time in different native communities. I visited Obedjiwan several times; in all I must have spent six months there,” continues Chloe. “I took part in many traditional ceremonies and pow wows, I lived with different families and made many friends. I also did research and read about the Native concept of restorative justice. I attended councils of elders, where village elders meet to discuss different issues and question solutions. In my film, the resolution, with the return to tradition, grew out of these exchanges.”

We know that there is a large group of people in America that are going unnoticed and often, unappreciated. Filmmakers like Sterlin and Chloe, bringing Native films to the table, are allowing their audience to be exposed to Native culture and see that the marginalized have something important to say. While installing themselves in a genre often thought reserved only for the rich and upper-class, whether it’s Native filmmakers breaking out onto the circuit or just films in general portraying Native life in today’s modern times, the presentation of Native films is a significant shock to the system. They help to shed an accurate light on so many Native issues, like homelessness and teen suicide on reservations, commonly hidden in the shadows.



Contact Micheal Rios, mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov