MAPping an alternative journey: New Mental Health Alternatives Program celebrates first graduate

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

November 9 was a historic day for Tulalip’s court system. We will have more on this big news in a few paragraphs, but first we want to introduce you to the court’s new alternative program that was implemented in October of 2022, which aims to assist tribal members involved with the courts and are in need of mental health care. 

The Mental Health Alternatives Program (MAP) is designed to reduce recidivism in misdemeanor cases by providing those who qualify with a detailed 12-month plan that includes mental health treatment, community give back hours, as well as frequent court appearances, peer support group participation and phone check-ins. 

According to the program’s literature, “MAP is a problem-solving approach to pending non-felony criminal cases, designed to hold offenders accountable and address underlying issues. The participants are connected to services that already exist in our community with the ultimate goal of keeping them from future criminal conduct. Participants have the opportunity to obtain services to address particular issues that may have contributed to criminal conduct, assisting them to achieve long term stability, become law-abiding citizens, and become successful family/community members.”

The program is a joint partnership between three parties, the tribal court system of course, and also Tulalip Family Services which is where the participants go for both their mental health assessments and treatment throughout the duration of the program. The third party is a local manufacturing company called Bridgeways, a social enterprise that is dedicated to assisting people living with mental illnesses whether it’s in regard to gaining or maintaining employment, housing support, or through their therapeutic courts program. 

Bridgeways previously established two MAP programs at the Marysville and Everett municipal courts. And when the Tulalip court reached out to them about bringing a mental health focused program to the reservation, they were happy to lend their expertise. Now, with a trifecta of MAPs located in the heart of the Snohomish County region, Bridgeways is actively addressing an issue that may be the root of many reoffenders’ criminal behavior. 

Moreover, they are doing this work in a highly effective manner that is concurrent to their mission statement of ‘providing services that promote quality of life for individuals living with a mental health concern in a manner that facilitates growth, independence, and a sense of community.’ In fact, according to the Bridgeways website, and with data collected by their judges, 93% of their graduates have experienced a reduction of recidivism. 

Cathy Wheatcroft, Bridgeways Therapeutic Courts Program Manager, spoke about their partnership with the tribe, “Over a year and a half ago, Brian Kilgore, one of the prosecutors here, reached out to Bridgeways because we have Mental Health Alternatives Program courts in Marysville in Everett. And we’ve been doing MAP in those two courts – in Everett since 2014, and in Marysville since 2018. 

“A few similarities – they all have three phases and are designed to be about a year long. It’s always the same core team, not from court to court, but it is always the same defense attorney, same prosecutor, same judge. And our liaison Jessica Barker also [works closely with participants] so they know the participants pretty well, it’s not like new people always coming in and out. And all three have the peer support group that they are required to participate in. Some differences are Tulalip holds court weekly and Everett and Marysville hold court every other week. Tulalip also does random UAs, which I feel holds the participants more accountable. But we all do this to help people and to see all their successes, they’re doing the work and I get to witness it and I think that’s amazing.”

Bridgeways’ successful program served as the framework to Tulalip’s MAP program. Drawing inspiration from the Tulalip Healing to Wellness and Family Wellness Court programs, MAP also has a certain requirement of giveback hours where the participants must volunteer some of their time to working local events and gatherings. Community giveback hours has helped numerous people get reacclimated into the tribal community and reacquainted with the people over the years. 

With the MAP team supporting them along their 12-month journey, the participants set and define their life goals and immediately start working toward achieving them while in the program. Split into three, 4-month phases, the participants begin phase one with weekly court hearings, in phase two they attended bi-weekly court sessions, and in the final phase they meet with the judge on a monthly basis. If the participants follow their personalized plans that they put together with the MAP team, and remain in compliance each visit to the courthouse, they get to pick an item from a large basket of incentives to bring home. However, if they fall out of compliance, there are some sanctions that could range from an essay assigned by the judge to the termination from the program altogether. 

“MAP is specifically designed to help people who have special mental health needs,” explained Judge Joshua Heath. “As a part of the program, they have to take their meds, if they’re supposed to be taking medication. They have to go to their mental health appointments. If they’ve got a cooccurring substance abuse disorder, we’ll help with that also. The Mental Health Alternatives Program is less punitive, probably the least punitive out of our programs because we’re just trying to understand where people are coming from. And we want them to be able to live a lifestyle that’s crime-free. Ultimately, that’s the goal of the Mental Health Alternatives Program is to live a crime free lifestyle. We want to give them whatever the help it is that they need, whether it’s getting a job or finding certain kinds of skills, even life skills, how to do basic things around the house – laundry and cooking, and so on. We want people to be able to graduate from a program and be able to be successful.”

Now that you have an understanding about the MAP court program, we can get back to the headlining news. But first, we’d be remiss to mention that this is the only tribal court Mental Health Alternatives Program to ever exist, so far at least, throughout all of Native America. Alright, so with that being said, it’s time for the big news: this November, Tulalip tribal member Jason Joseph became the very first graduate of a tribal MAP court program in all of history!

After confirming that he remained compliant through the last leg of the program, Judge Heath handed Jason a certificate of completion before he wrapped him in an Eighth Generation blanket and embraced him in a hug. Jason wore a smile as he was cheered on by a packed courthouse. Tears filled his eyes as his parent’s beamed with pride and his mom graciously thanked the MAP team for assisting in her son’s life transformation. 

This was a momentous occasion for Jason, his family, the Tulalip MAP court program and its entire team, as it opens up a much-needed discussion about mental health within tribal nations. It also provides a new approach to addressing those mental health issues that many of our people are suffering from and have inherited from previous generations of trauma. Jason is the proof that cycles can be broken and that with the proper guidance and assistance, people living with a mental illness can turn their lives around and get set back on track in their own personal journey. 

Several tribal members opted into the program prior to Jason’s ceremony, and a handful of individuals who were already in the program shared their progress. Jason’s accomplishment was equally important for them to witness because they were able to see that the program does indeed work, and hopefully they were able to envision themselves in Jason’s moccs, receiving a certificate of their own in about a year or so. 

Jason shared, “It feels like it was a long time coming. It was like a yearlong process, but it was worthwhile. I learned a lot about myself and about people with mental health issues – what we need to do to get through the day, to get through life. This is important because tribal members with mental health issues have their own place to go to court now, and they can be represented openly and clearly in the right way.”

For additional details about the program, please contact the Tulalip tribal court system or MAP court liaison Jessica Barker. The following information was provided by the Tulalip Mental Health Alternatives Program: 

Mental Health Alternatives Program 


  • Only misdemeanor charges can be referred to MAP. Charges not eligible: DUI, sexual offense, serious violent offense, offense which defendant used a firearm 
  • Participant must be amenable to mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment as appropriate 
  • Participant must not have been deemed incompetent to assist in their own defense and must not pose a risk to the MAP team 
  • Willing to sign agreement to follow program requirements 

How to Refer:

Contact: MAP court liaison Jessica Barker 

  • Email: or 
  • Phone: 360-716-4718
  • Cell: 425-499-8051 

Contact: Wellness Court Manager 

  • Email: 
  • Phone: 360-716-4764 

Call of the Trumpeter: How a tribal veteran provides good, healing medicine to the community through Taps

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

There is a special moment that happens as Tulalip families say their goodbyes to their loved ones who served in the military. This moment is held as one of the highest honors that service men and women can receive when they are laid to rest. It’s both beautiful and bittersweet, and it’s the perfect way to send off tribal veterans to their next journey. Once a year, on the cusp of summer, all the families of those veterans who passed, including their brothers and sisters in arms, gather at the gravesites and once again recreate that moment of solace and honor to pay tribute to all of Tulalip’s fallen soldiers. 

  Tulalip tribal member and Marine veteran, David ‘Chip’ Fryberg Jr., plays a significant role in providing that moment of closure for families at the funerals for tribal veterans, and also at the tribe’s Memorial Day services. When the order is given, seven rifles, an eagle head staff, as well as the POW, Tulalip Tribes, Tulalip veterans, and the US flags are raised in the air for the 21-gun salute. At the same moment, Chip raises his brass horn up into the air, consisting of three valves and as shiny as ever. And as the second shot rings through the air, he begins to play Taps on the trumpet. 

“I really love what our Honor Guard does, and I enjoy being a part of the tribute,” Chip stated. “The firing – bangs, the pops, and the smoke, it’s a great feeling and I feel it’s a good thing to do for the community, for Memorial Day. I went into the Marines in 1982 and got out in ’89. When I came home to the reservation, I got asked by my aunt Cookie to play Taps on Memorial Day. They borrowed a trumpet from somebody and asked me to play, and I’ve been doing it ever since.” 

Chip explained that originally, he didn’t know if he would be asked to return to perform during the Memorial Day services, but he continued to graciously except the call year after year. They say musicians are their own toughest critics, and throughout the ‘90’s, David claimed he wasn’t that good and thought somebody would eventually replace him. But he vividly remembers the moment he decided to take on the title with authority and dedicate more time to perfecting his craft.

He shared, “Every now and then, we volunteer to play for (non-tribal) spouses and some of our good friends who we were in the military force with. We don’t do as many as we used to, but I’m always more than happy to get my trumpet out and perform for our veterans. A highlight for me was the first time I played in Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home. Shipman himself came up and said, ‘I’ve heard a lot of people play Taps and I have something to say to you’. I was listening and I thought he was going to yell at me or something. But he goes, ‘I just got one thing to say, you are the greatest in the nation’. That lit a fire under me – about how well I have to play and take care of that song. I’m glad to take care of it and honored to bring it out with the guys in the Honor Guard.”

That line of thinking, taking care of the song, exposes Chip’s Indigenous roots in a substantial way. Just like a traditional song passed down through the generations, Chip is responsible for practicing the ceremonial song and performing it with a good mind, heart, and spirit, as well as with honor, pride and respect for those veterans who transitioned to the other side. David does this not only with a tribal mindset, but also that of a vet who knows what these men and women may have encountered or been exposed to while stationed at bases all throughout the world, what they witnessed and experienced on the battlefield, the vigorous trainings they went through and the multiple sacrifices they made while defending the nation’s freedom. 

Said David, “Growing up, my grandmother Rose Fryberg had three pictures mounted on the wall, my two aunts and my dad. My dad was in his Marine Corps. uniform. When your dad is a Marine, you are kind of born a Marine. I just followed the tradition. After high school, I really didn’t want to go to college or deal with money issues – so I joined the Marines. I talked to the Army and the Navy, but I didn’t see myself as anything but a Marine. I chose to sign-up in November of ’81 and shipped out on January 27 of 1982.

“I went to San Diego, and I was a communications electronics tech. I fixed telephones and switchboards. I went to school for it for about nine months at Twentynine Palms. And then I went to Okinawa for two and a half years. I had a successful tour over there, went out into the field a lot. I reenlisted in Okinawa and did my last three and a half years at Camp Lejeune where I was a shipping and receiving NCO for communications electronics, which was a big deal.”

Early in his journey in the military, the Marines discovered that Chip had a background in music, and they encouraged him to try out for the Drum and Bugle Corps. at Twentynine Palms. And after playing the trombone all throughout middle school and high school, David was happy to learn he could continue to study and express his passion for music during his time spent at the southern California Marine base. 

“That was a really hard thing for me,” he recalled. “Not going to college meant giving up my trombone. I started playing trombone in the sixth grade in Vancouver, Washington at Jason Lee Junior High School, we were a stage band. We were also a marching band, and we did parades all the time. On top of that, I was actually a member of the Spartans Drum and Bugle Corps. through seventh, eighth, and ninth grade. In high school I joined the Columbia River High School band, and we were the show band of southwest Washington. I marched in – I don’t even know how many parades. Even though I grew up in Vancouver, I got to march in the Strawberry Festival because our Drum and Bugle Corps. would get invited – and that was always neat, seeing family.”

He continued, “I was quite the horn player when I was a kid, I could pick up a trumpet and play some crazy stuff. But I’ve always been able to pick up any brass instrument. I was able to pick it right back up when I was down at Twentynine Palms. I made the Drum and Bugle Corps., and they were like, ‘we know you’re going to be in comm. tech, but in case you rock out, you can come with us and be a lead soprano for the Marine Corps. Drum and Bugle Corps. So, if I didn’t pass my electronics course, I would’ve been a Drum and Bugle Corps. member at Twentynine Palms and could’ve switched over immediately to the Marine Corps. Drum and Bugle Corps., which is a big honor. But needless to say, I became an electronics tech and went overseas.”

Since returning to Tulalip, and after agreeing to play Taps on Memorial Day in ’89, Chip has created lifelong bonds with his fellow veterans as the official trumpeter of the Tulalip Honor Guard. And as a member of the Honor Guard, there have been many opportunities that David has received, that he wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. For example, last Veterans Day, Chip packed up his trumpet and jumped on an airplane to Washington D.C. with the Honor Guard to participate in a march with thousands of other Native American military veterans during the unveiling of the new monument at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. During this trip, Chip was able to reunite with some of his friends, fellow comrades who he served alongside with during the ‘80’s, and they spent the day catching up and reminiscing on their time in the service.

There have also been a handful of times when David’s fellow veterans and members of his family wondered if he would be able to perform Taps, or if he even felt up to the task, when the funeral services were held for one of his loved ones, his close friends and relatives. But in each of those instances, Chip felt that it was his responsibility to ensure they were sent off in a proper manner and in high honor, so he equipped his horn with the metal mouthpiece and took up his position with the Honor Guard during those final goodbyes. This was also the case with the man who inspired Chip to join the Marines in the first place, his father. 

“He was my inspiration,” he emotionally shared. “All I know is that lived by his picture and to me, he was the greatest Marine ever. That’s why I did everything I did, because I wanted to be like my dad. Last year, we lost my dad, last February 14. And a lot of people didn’t know if I’d be able to play. But it’s a lot different when your dad is not only your dad, but he’s also your brother, he’s also your best friend, and he knew everything what you went through. So, playing Taps at my dad’s funeral was something I had to do.”

After contracting the coronavirus, Chip was hospitalized and put on a respirator for a number of weeks. When he woke, he was faced with a hard decision of either giving up the trumpet after years of playing for tribal veterans, or restart from scratch and dedicate even more time to the instrument to rebuild the endurance of his lungs back up following the near-death respiratory infection. 

Chip withstood it all and came back determined as all hell to continue on as the Honor Guard’s trumpeter. Chip says he owed it all to his wife and daughter who not only encouraged him through the process but also kept him on schedule, waking him early everyday so he could practice his instrument following his late-night shifts in the table games department of the Tulalip Resort Casino. 

Although Chip was happy to share his story and to be featured in the syəcəb, he was quick to share the glory with his fellow Honor Guard members. He stated that it’s the comradery that he shares with those men and women of the Tulalip Honor Guard that keeps him coming back year after year. 

He exclaimed, “The song I play, I have a lot of respect for it and it’s an honor to play it. The Honor Guard is a team, and I’m really glad when we get together. It’s an honor to play Taps during the 21-gun salute. When we put it all together – that’s one pretty good package. I like to focus on being a part of the Honor Guard, it’s special and I like being a part of that special tribute. We all pitch-in and what we convey is what’s on our hearts – and we really mean that. We pay tribute to our fallen comrades and we’re glad to do it.”

Upon reading the first few paragraphs of this feature, you may have thought this story was about a local bugler, a trumpeter who plays at the funerals of Tulalip veterans and at the Tribe’s Memorial Day services. And sure, that is a large aspect of Chip’s journey and the services he provides today. However, this story is much bigger. It is the story about a man of dedication – whether it’s to his instrument, his community, his family, his fellow veterans, his culture, his country, Chip has laid it all on the line multiple times throughout his life for the values he believes in and for the people he loves. 

Through the ups and downs, Chip always returned to his love for music. And through the performance of his trumpet, he has been able to spread love and good healing medicine to those in need from the community as their loved ones enter the spirit world. 

Chip shared, “To my fellow veterans and the Tulalip Honor Guard, I’d like to thank everyone for answering the call and carrying yourselves the way you do. It’s heartwarming to see us come together to pay tribute to our veterans, we recently did a couple of funerals together for David Spencer and Pat Elliott. We love doing this for our fallen comrades and I love doing my part in what we do. I couldn’t do it without you guys. I’ve heard a lot of great stories over the years, and I can’t emphasize how grateful I am to each and every one of you for your service. Happy Veterans Day.”

Everett Municipal Building receives Coast Salish makeover

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tulalip’s neighboring city to the south, Everett, is the seventh-largest city in all of Washington State by population, and it’s by far the largest city in Snohomish County. Established in 1890, the city of Everett is situated on a peninsula. Its city boundaries are designated by the Snohomish River to the east and the Salish Sea to the west.

In precolonial times, long before imaginary map borders, the land Everett was built upon was home to our Tulalip ancestors. As a sustenance people who lived off the land and natural environment, they flourished in the ideal fishing location. But that was then. And this is now.

To live in the now is to recognize and embrace the many ways modern Tulalip people have adapted while continuing to flourish well into the 21st century. One such way is evident through our boundary-redefining, limit-pushing artists who refuse to placate a binary system that deems their work traditional or non-traditional. Instead, they embrace challenges to create visionary works of art as they routinely use the latest technologies available in order to manifest their inspired visions via a multitude of mediums.

The latest example comes from a truly vibrant collaborative effort between the city of Everett and Tulalip master carver, James Madison. The Everett Mayor’s office desired an artist’s touch to remake the outside of the Everett Municipal Building, located at the intersection of Wetmore Avenue and Wall Street. After a call went out for artists, James was rewarded with the job.

His vision for the project, titled Save Our Salish Sea, was unveiled in late October. Taken together, this enormous metal fabrication installation made up of bold red, yellow, and black colors is impossible to miss for pedestrians and commuters alike. But forged into the durable aluminum and medicine wheel colored pallet is a traditional teaching that has been passed down from one Tulalip generation to the next.

“With this project, I wanted to pay respect to our culture as this region’s first people,” explained James. “I tried to showcase our culture and who our people are, while paying respect to the Salish Sea through the blackfish, salmon, and our stories that have been passed on for generations.

“The salmon run that wraps around the building represents Sockeye,” he continued. “They used to be so abundant in our local waters, but now their runs are really short and even desolate in some places. It’s important that we continue to raise awareness of the dwindling salmon runs because their well-being is interconnected with the well-being of both blackfish and human populations. My grandpa always told me that it’s up to us to keep the blackfish and salmon alive because if they go away, then humans will go away as well.”

At the heart of this latest collaboration between a local city and one of our artists is a respect for the cultural heritage that pre-dates the urban landscapes that have taken over Coast Salish territory. 

By adorning municipal buildings, ferry terminals, college campuses, and other widely visited public spaces with Tulalip art embedded with iconic cultural imagery, local municipalitiesare finally moving in a positive direction to help preserve the vibrant traditions, intricate artistry, and spiritual symbolism that define our Native culture.

Tulalip gathers to recognize and remember lost loved ones on MMIWP National Day of Awareness

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“When we gather and do this work together, we protect each other,” said Tulalip elder, Don ‘Penoke’ Hatch. “We need to care for each other a little bit more today than we did yesterday. We got to take care of each other, take care of ourselves, take care of our children, and make sure we don’t lose anybody again. I want us all to be more dedicated in how we take care of each other. We are a cultured people and we got to carry it on that way, carry on the love that we have for each other. We don’t want to lose anyone else, because one is one too many.”

The parking lot of the Tulalip Gathering Hall was packed full on the evening of May 5. So much so, that people were parking along Totem Beach Road and the Tulalip Health Clinic to attend an immensely important gathering. As community members walked into the entrance of the hall, they received a black t-shirt that featured a Native designed logo on the front that read ‘Tulalip MMIWP Healing’. The back of the shirts, in large capitalized red font, displayed the message ‘SAY THEIR NAMES’. 

A collaboration between the Tribe, the Tulalip Police Department (TPD), and the Tulalip Education Division, the MMIWP Day of Recognition and Healing event brought together hundreds of Tulalip citizens, as well as a number of Indigenous people from surrounding tribes including Lummi and Lower Elwha. After collecting their t-shirts, each person received a candle and were invited to indulge in a buffet-style dinner while the open remarks and prayers took place. 

Nationally, May 5 is dedicated to raising awareness about the Missing Indigenous Women and People (MMIW/P) epidemic that continues to spread throughout Native America. Every day, more of our relatives are reported missing, and many of those individuals have yet to be found. Additionally, the rate at which Native people are murdered in the US is higher than any other ethnicity.

Addressing the packed room of the Gathering Hall, TPD Program Manager and local MMIWP Liaison, Anita Matta, shared a few statistics, “Indigenous people make up 17% of missing people in Washington state, but we only are 1.6% of the state’s population. At 84.3%, more than 4 out 5 Indigenous women have experienced violence.”

Overwhelmed by that information, Anita could not hold back tears as she informed the people she could not continue reading the statistics. 

Tulalip Events Manager, Malory Simpson, presented the rest of the statistics while standing by Anita’s side. She said, “55.5% of Indigenous women have been physically abused by their intimate partners. 40% of sex trafficking victims are American Indian/Alaskan Native women. 56.1% of Indigenous women experience sexual violence. 48.8% of Indigenous women have been stalked in their lifetime. Murder is the third leading cause of death for Indigenous women – ten times higher than all other ethnicities. As compared to Caucasian women, Indigenous women are 1.7 times more likely to experience violence, two times more likely to be raped, and have a three times higher murder rate. Out of the reported cases [for MMIW], 4,089 were 0-17 years old, and 1,398 were over 18 years old. There have been 5,487 incidences, and 658 cases are still open from the end of 2022. Washington state has one of the highest numbers of reported cases, with 57 open cases.” 

Seven Tulalip tribal members were recognized throughout the gathering including the one open case of Mary Johnson-Davis, as well as individuals who were murdered, and whose family has yet to receive justice, such as Kyle Van Jones Tran and Cecil Lacy Jr. Family photos of each of those tribal members were highlighted in a slideshow that was displayed on five large projector screens and played on a loop throughout the evening. 

Tribal members Sarah Hart and Monie Ordonia were honored and recognized for their work during the event. Sarah and Monie dedicated their time to raise awareness for the MMIWP epidemic by placing red dresses and shirts in highly visible areas throughout the reservation. Red dresses are used as the national symbol to raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Each dress is hung upright to give the illusion that someone is wearing it, but the woman whom it belongs to is missing. Sarah and Monie painted the names of those Tribal members who fell victim to the epidemic on each article of clothing that they hung up. 

Said Sarah, “It’s been a busy, heavy week hanging up dresses. A few years ago, I knew that I had to do something. I felt there wasn’t enough being done. I had to get the attention of people. I wanted to advocate for our community and for our families. I wanted to educate. Congratulations Tulalip for making the first step in acknowledging our missing women, brothers, sisters, and our girls. Our next step is being proactive – how do we teach our young girls how to protect themselves? We need to put things in motion to protect our women, our girls, and our young boys. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Monie added, “MMIWP is not to just honor our fallen loved ones, but also to be the protectors of them. If one of my cousins, one of my nieces, or one of my nephews are being abused, am I going to be quiet or am I going to be the strength, the voice for them when they have no voice? You have the power and strength to be the change you want to see in this epidemic of losing our loved ones. The more we make people aware, the more they can’t get away with it. It takes one person to make a difference.”

To follow up those powerful messages, Sarah and Monie conjured up another powerful moment by inviting all the ladies in attendance up to the floor. After forming a circle at the center of the Gathering Hall, they sang the Women’s Warrior song and on the last verse, they all put a fist in the air to honor those lives lost and those who are missing. 

If you follow Tulalip News on Facebook, you may have recently noticed that as soon as person is reported missing from Tulalip, a detailed flyer with that person’s picture, age, height, weight and their last known location is immediately posted. That quick response has helped locate several people over the past few months. And the reason for this expediate release of information is thanks to a Tribal Community Response plan, in which Tulalip is the first tribe in the state of Washington to implement into their community. 

TPD Chief of Police, Chris Sutter, explained, “The purpose of that plan is to bring together, in our coordinated way, all the resources to help families through victim services. To get the word out timely through media, to use community resources effectively, and also to coordinate with law enforcement. We’re proud to work with our US Attorney’s Office on this important mission of bringing our loved ones and missing and murdered people home. We also want to recognize the FBI, and our partnership in working closely with investigators, analysts, victim services and advocates, we’re in this all together. We work very closely with the Attorney General’s office in Washington State to coordinate our efforts, we’re on a taskforce with them. We want to emphasize that we’re working really hard to try to bring justice and to bring in our current open case, Mary Davis-Johnson, home to her loved ones. We won’t give up until that job is done, until that mission’s complete. Through the coordinated Tribal Community Response plan, when we do have a missing person, I want you to know that we take it very seriously. We activate our team very quickly and we have been highly successful in getting the word out and locating people very quickly.”

Families of those missing or murdered bravely paid tribute by sharing their loved one’s stories and recounting happy memories spent together. The tears were flowing as the people listened and shared the pain, grief, anger, and heartbreak with the families. 

Gerry Davis, sister of missing Tribal member Mary Davis-Johnson, shared, “We want to send love to the families of Sophia Solomon, Jessica Jones, Cecil Lacy Jr., Kyle Van Jones Tran, and Bridgette Simpson. You are all our family. We know all of your pain. We accept you as our family because we are going through the same thing. Some may be murdered, but there’s a lot of people missing, and our sister is one who is missing. Our hearts go out to all of you. And I wish that everybody out there gets peace. We love you all.”

Through tears and sorrow, Nona Davis also shared, “I’m Mary’s older sister, we thank you all for coming out here and being with us. It will be three years in November since our sister’s been gone. I love seeing all the pictures of Mary, you can see how much she loved her family and loved life. If you have any information at all, please call it in. Our family is hurting really bad.”

After each family and a number of guest speakers shared a few words, the tables placed at the center of the Gathering Hall were removed. The people created a big circle and were asked to light their candles. As they raised their candles in the air and shared silent prayers, the sound of drums reverberated through the hall as the West Shore Canoe Family led the people in a song dedicated to all the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. The song is composed by Antone George (Lummi) and contains the lyrics:

Every night and every day I pray, pray for you, I love and miss you. Sister, come home

The night ended with a coastal jam as the sduhubš people engaged in song and dance and utilized the medicine of their culture to uplift the people and start the healing process after a heavy night of raw emotion.

TPD has a dedicated tip line for any information on Mary Davis-Johnson’s disappearance or whereabouts. That number is (360) 716-5918. The FBI and the Tulalip Tribes have offered a $10,000 and a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Mary’s disappearance. 

Festival of Trees raises a record $1.6 million for Providence Children’s Services

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Extravagantly festive Christmas trees and wreaths adorned the Orca Ballroom at the Tulalip Resort Casino during the 37th annual Festival of Trees. The multi-day holiday fundraiser kicked off November 3rd with a free community day and teddy bear celebration. Opportunities to give generously via an online auction accompanied the much anticipated, excitement-filled Holiday Gala and Live Auction held in-person on December 2nd

Each year, thousands of community members take part in the Festival of Trees – including volunteers, sponsors, and attendees – to raise funds for Children’s Services at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. For more than three decades, Providence Children’s Center has been providing comprehensive, family-oriented care and highly specialized therapies; such as physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy for children with a wide variety of special needs.

“Knowing this is one of the largest charitable events for Snohomish County, it is appropriate for us to host and participate with good will and sharing the opportunity to help all children in need,” explained Marilyn Sheldon, manager of Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, on the importance of hosting the Festival and being the presenting sponsor. “We recognize that over 50% of Tulalip’s population is 0-24 years of age and Providence is our local hospital for care most tribal members use for emergency situations and other needs. Also, this event brings many people to our facilities for the week and encourages them to come back and host their own business/charity event at our venue.”

A highlight of the holiday season, the Festival of Trees provides opportunities for local families and organizations to make a significant contribution to benefit their community neighbors. Not to mention the festive, memory making opportunities for those seeking a post-Covid experience in a heart-warming atmosphere. Whether it’s a decadent black-tie gala or afternoon with cookies and Santa, the Festival’s variety of events offer holiday cheer for all.

The tremendously decorated Christmas trees won’t soon be forgotten as their specialized themes like ‘Gnomes for the Holidays’ and ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland’ to ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ and ‘Reindeer Games’ capture the imagination.

During an elegant gala, the dazzling Christmas trees and wreaths were sold to the highest bidders during a frenetic live auction that saw auctioneer Mark Schenfeld’s contagious energy get table after table to lift bidding paddles. Of course, all proceeds raised at Festival of Trees goes directly to Providence to aid, invest in, and expand programs and infrastructure related to Children’s Services. 

The Children’s Services Fund is designed to provide a full spectrum of support for services that benefit children at Providence. Funding supports programs and services such as Pediatrics, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Children’s Center, Boyden Family Autism Center, and Camp Prov, a summer camp for children with special needs. Several of the trees lining the Orca Ballroom were reserved to be put on display throughout the Children’s Center as a special treat for hospitalized kids this holiday season.

“For nearly four decades, funds raised from this annual event have touched countless lives and spanned generations,” stated Festival Chairs, Tom and Kiersti Lane. “Tonight, while we are all celebrating and reigniting Festival traditions, let us pause to reflect and remember the reason we are all here. Your gift tonight will help provide health, hope and happiness for the babies and children in our community who need it most.”

Because of the great generosity of various donors, sponsors and an estimated 530 gala attendees, this year’s Festival of Trees raised a record-breaking $1.6 million. This enormous amount of financial support allows Providence to continue growing and expanding specialized therapies, equipment and educational classes that make miracles happen for children and families every day.

In attendance at the history making fundraiser were two first time Tulalip attendees, Vanessa Flores and Amaya Hernandez. 

  “It was nice to dress up and wear my fancy Air Force Ones,” shared 14-year-old Amaya. “I had a lot of fun being here and listening to all the conversations. I think it’s important for us to host events like this because our Resort is really nice and it’s good for people not from here to see just how nice it is.”

“It’s so important for Tulalip Tribes to give back to the greater community and local charities,” added Vanessa, Quil Ceda Village operations manager. “Providence could host their Festival anywhere, but they choose Tulalip because it’s centrally located in Snohomish County and guarantees a great, friendly staffed event that everyone can feel safe at. Everyone was so kind and giving for a cause close to all our hearts. This is probably the best event I’ve ever attended at our Resort.”

For two decades now, Tulalip has been an important partner to Providence in the Northwest Washington Region by helping provide critical funding and support needed to care for the health of our growing community. Contributions made by Tulalip to Providence General Foundation since 2002 have totaled close to one million dollars. For their dedication to the Festival of Trees, the Tulalip Tribes were honored with the Spirit of Festival Award during 2018’s Festival.

“The lives of thousands of children, that includes Tulalip tribal children, will be helped thanks to the generosity received from the Festival of Trees fundraising efforts,” said Board of Director Mel Sheldon, seventeen-year member of the Providence General Foundation. “We are very fortunate to have a relationship with Providence Medical Center and to support such an amazing opportunity that really looks at the bigger picture. We all want to do our part to create a sustainable and healthy community.”

One of Snohomish County’s largest and most well attended holiday events, the Festival of Trees has been a beloved community tradition for 37 years. The annual outpouring of community spirit, combined with such a magical setting, delivers a wonderful event that unites so many during the holiday season.

Bolt Creek Fire takes over Tulalip owned parcels

By Shaelyn Smead; photos courtesy of Natosha Gobin, John Carlson, and Lindsay Ross

All over Washington state, people have heard about the devastating Bolt Creek Fire that started on September 10 at 5:00 a.m. in Skykomish. As of September 13 at 5:15 a.m., a devastating 9,440 acres have been burned, with only a 5% containment on the fire. The fire stretches from Skykomish to Halford, and is leaving people in surrounding cities to evacuate their homes. With wildfires being so scarce in Western Washington, it is leaving plenty of Washington residents alarmed, and scared about the outcome of such a large fire. 

Within the same area as the fire, there are two properties that Tulalip owns. These properties are typically called the Grotto Lake parcel and the Eagle Creek parcel. The properties were originally bought by Tulalip back in October 2019 in efforts to allow a safe and sacred area for tribal members to harvest berries, pull cedar, camp, hike, hunt, collect resources for cultural arts, and hold cultural practices. It was an enticing piece of land because of its proximity to Tulalip and its relation to our Coast Salish ancestors. Along with that, because of the drastic levels of elevations, the parcels’ vegetation grew many different variations of natural resources that tribal members could collect and utilize. 

Director of Treaty Rights and Government Affairs, Ryan Miller, described the properties stretching to about 1000 acres. He said approximately 50% of each property has already succumbed to the devastation of the fire. 

When news broke out about the fire, and the threat it does to our cultural practices, it left some tribal members is disarray. The thought of this land not being accessible for any sacred works anymore is heartbreaking for Tulalip and many are left wondering what will become of it. 

Natosha Gobin and family were harvesting berries at one of the Tulalip properties the night before the fire.

The night before the start of the fire, Tulalip Tribal member Natosha Gobin and her family just happened to be on one of the Tulalip properties harvesting berries. “We went about four or five times this year. This time around, we left the peak at 7:30 p.m. Our hopes were to get up early and head back the next morning because the berries were plentiful. We were so excited to finally be introduced to the space, it felt so healing to be up there. This fire is so heartbreaking,” Natosha said. Luckily her family had a change of plans, and did not go back up the mountain the next morning and none of her family risked any danger of the fire.  

One major change that some tribal members have noticed and attested to is the abundance of trees that have grown over the years. Along with that, the road is really rough making the properties difficult to get to. Something that is later found to be a difficult realization for the firefighters involved. 

The Tulalip Fire Department has been one of the many resources that has been supporting efforts towards battling wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. Currently the department has two task forces stationed out. One of which consists of three members that are located in Oregon taking on the Cedar Creek Fire, just a mere three days before the start of the Bolt Creek Fire. One of the members is John Carlson, who has been with the department for six years. Cedar Creek Fire makes for his first experience with a wildfire.

John spoke about the wildfires and how they are so different in perspective to structure fires in the Tulalip area, “With structure fires, we’re usually well-trained and know the area very well, versus on a landscape, we’re fighting the larger grassland, sagebrush, larger timber, and heavy terrain. We also mainly work off brush trucks when dealing with wildfires, and a problem we face is water supply. We do have a water tender in our strike team, but if it runs out, we have to get resourceful with our water supply. Being up in the terrain we can’t directly connect to a fire hydrant, so sometimes we find ourselves syphoning from pools, streams, lakes, etc. Anything with 100 gallons of water can make a huge difference,” he said. 

When news broke out about the Bolt Creek Fire, the three-man crew had already gotten settled in with the team in Oregon. “This is the first time I’ve been deployed and there was a fire of this magnitude near our home,” John said.  “A lot of us we wondering if we would get redirected back. But with the resources that we have sent up to Bolt Creek, we felt confident in the team’s ability. Much like a lot of fire departments, every summer during peak season our department gets stretched in different directions. But as much we appreciate and are glad to be helping take care of members down here, it is hard when we know our home isn’t safe.” 

Tulalip Bay Firefighter Austin Panek and Tender 60.

Of course with the Bolt Creek Fire being a prominent fire in our area, and the risk it brings to the Tulalip owned properties, an additional two Tulalip firefighters have been sent to Skykomish, Paramedic Lindsay Ross and firefighter Austin Panek left early this week to help Sky Valley Fire Department. Amongst them are the other 20+ fire departments and private fire companies that include North Ridge Fire, American Fire, Zigzag Hotshots, and Patrick Environmental, making up for more than 317 personnel that have opted in for fighting this fire.  

Lindsay has been with the fire department for six years, but has an extensive 10-year  career working as a wildland firefighter. This is her first time working as a line medic, and her role is to help work with the crews onsite to ensure their safety, help with any medical care, and help with the falling rocks in the area.

Tulalip Bay Fire Paramedic Lindsay Ross.

Lindsay explained that even though wildfires of this magnitude are rare in Western Washington, it is something that should be expected for the future. “When fires do take off over here, there’s usually a lot of old debris and old trees that are likely dried up and when it builds up over time, a fire is able to take off easier. There is definitely some prescribe burns that the state will do to try and thin out the forest a little so it doesn’t happen as often. But with the summers getting hotter every year and with having lower humidity, I think a fire like this in our area has been overdue for a while.” 

Hearing from wildfire experts like Lindsay, we learned that even though wet and rainy springs and early summers seem like they would help decrease the risk of wildfires, that isn’t always the case. 

“Rain during that time of the year does make fire danger go lower, but it also will make more sagebrush and longer grasses, that eventually will dry up in the summer and turn into fuel for the fires,” said John. “The more that grows in the spring and early summer, the heavier potential fire fuel load it creates, and the bigger the fire can get. Something we noticed this year was that we had a lot more fire fuels from Spring than I think in years’ past.” 

What is most difficult about Bolt Creek Fire is the heavy terrain that exists in the area. “With the heavy forestry and it being hillside, we have a more difficult time accessing the spots that are burning hot,” said Lindsay. “And with no accessible roads in most spots, heavy equipment cannot be easily moved around.” 

Between hot summers, lower humidity, and lots of drier vegetation and debris, another factor for this fire is the amount of wind that picked up in the area. Local fire departments refer to the ‘Witching Hour’ that falls between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. During this time, wind begins to pick up and is at its heaviest, making this the most dangerous part of any day. Knowing that wind can be so unpredictable with how fast it goes and in which direction, can lead to a lot of variations of disaster. The Bolt Creek Fire had around 30-40 mph winds, which ultimately made for its drastic escalation.

“The reality of this fire is that its burning really close to our backyard”, said Tulalip Fire Chief Ryan Shaughnessy. “There’s people that have family and friends in the area and that we’re concerned about. But we’re working hard and wish for the best outcome by everyone.” 

The Bolt Creek Fire did receive some water and fire retardant dropping from planes flying above. A typical resource used for fires in heavy terrain. Along with that, many firefighters have been working to diminish the terrain and have been putting a dirt dozer line bordering the fire in hopes to create a stopping point. Any houses around the area have also received some treatment and precautionary actions in case the fire continues to spread. 

Ryan spoke about the awareness of the risk of wildfires and the new potential for them in our area, “This is our first time dealing with a westside fire, but with that being said, we did understand that there was a risk of one in our future. We preemptively have been working with other tribes, and collected burn plan ideas to help mitigate future fires. That’s why, if you went up to the properties, you’d see some of the trees had already been cut. We also applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant of 1.3 million dollars earlier this year. This funding will help us work with partners in the Snohomish Basin and understand more of the interaction between climate change and water and it’s impacts on forestry and likeliness of fire in the basin,” he stated.

With the powerfulness of the fire, it’s easy to see that these thoughts and actions taken by Tulalip were in the right direction in understanding the risks of westside fires. “Now that the fire has happened, it’s even more of a reason for us to understand and gain a better grasp on our forestry, and the FEMA grant will help inform us for the future,” Ryan said.  

Understanding fires in our area and the reality of potential for them, there are definitely steps that can be taken by citizens to help mitigate it. 

“First is knowing that fires have the potential to happen anywhere,” said Lindsay. “People have to be cautious about having fires outside, lighting off fireworks, making sure you have water and mostly listening and respecting burn bans when they are in effect. People never think it’s going to happen to them until it does.” 

As terrifying and devastating as wildfires can be, they do have the opportunity to act as a natural rebirthing for wildlife and vegetation. So far, Ryan has stated that there are plans for replantation in the affected area, and that they plan to work with the Forest Service and Department of Natural Resources in order to create a better plan of action, and get as much fuel load off the forest.

Along with that, he said that tribal members should expect some berry regrowth by next spring, and even though trees take a much longer time to grow to their mature state, Ryan said that we should expect tree shoots by next year. He also spoke about the hunting opportunities that the area will bring. “Deer love to eat young shoots and with the area being more open, hunters will be able to spot deer a little easier,” he said. 

At the moment, the fire is still unpredictable, but firefighters are hoping to button everything up soon. The good news is that the fire doesn’t contain large flames at the moment, making the likeliness for it to spread, lower. 

Thank you to the Tulalip Fire Department and all participating fire departments for your efforts.

BOD members place first bets at Sportsbook

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Gaming Organization held the soft opening for their new sports betting venue, Sportsbook, on the afternoon of September 6. In partnership with Draft Kings, Tulalip is bringing Sportsbook to both of their gambling establishments at the Tulalip Resort Casino and the Quil Ceda Creek Casino. 

“Sports betting is new to Washington,” explained Sportsbook Supervisor Paola Hurtado. “I know there are several casinos that have opened but we are with Draft Kings. Draft Kings have different odds and there are different options of wagering. With us, you are able to bet on a lot of type of sports. Right now, we have MLB, NBA, WNBA, MLS, MMA, fights, and many more. Our guests are really excited for sports betting, now they don’t have to drive all the way out to Angels of the Wind or Snoqualmie, all they have to do is drive up the road.”

Sportsbook features a ginormous tv screen that can play multiple games, matches, and competitions in real time. Bettors can grab a seat in one of the venues comfy recliners and follow the results of their wagers live. 

Placing the very first bets at Sportsbook were none other than Tulalip BOD members Hazen Shopbell and Marie Zackuse, as well as Chairwoman Teri Gobin. 

Said Teri, “I bet on the Seahawks for $10, the Mariners for $100, and the Storm for $100. It’s really exciting that we are finally opening up our sports betting venue, both here (TRC) and at the Q. We have this big screen, it’s one of the largest in Washington State at this time, and we’re really excited. This has been a long time coming and it’s with one of the premier sports betting organizations in the United States. Our partnership with Draft Kings is really good and is what is really key to what is going to make this a success.”

The kiosks at Sportbook will be available 24/7 following the venue’s grand opening, which is tentatively scheduled for September 20. And according to Chairwoman Gobin there may or may not be some big stars in attendance to help celebrate the grand opening with the people. 

“We were a little slow to get ours up and running, but we wanted to do it the Tulalip way and make it a grand event,” Teri expressed. “I’m so excited and can’t wait for everybody to try it out.”

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Kanoe Williams is latest homegrown tribal member to join local police force

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

It’s a common occurrence for American children, especially young boys, to dream of one day becoming a police officer, fire firefighter or army soldier. Whether its socialization from Saturday morning cartoons or play fighting with their prized action figures, there typically comes a point where a child’s hero worship manifests itself into visualizing a future self where they are the actual hero. That may look like a brave police officer catching bad guys, a fearless firefighter running into a blazing fire to save people, or a valiant soldier fighting to defend freedom and democracy.

For some, this calling to be a hero who protects and serves their community never fades. Such is the case with homegrown Tulalip tribal member Kanoe Williams. He recently returned from a lengthy stay in New Mexico where he attended and graduated from the U.S. Indian Police Academy. 

The 29-year-old Kanoe becomes the latest in a long, proud history of tribal members who chose to wear the Tulalip Police Department shield. He sat down with Tulalip News staff to reflect on his journey to this point and what he hopes the future holds for him in law enforcement.

What inspired you to join TPD?

“My inspiration to become a Tulalip police officer is a passion to serve my community. The thought first came to me when I was 24, but I knew I wasn’t ready then to take on this role. Now, I’m a little older, more mature, and willing to take on this responsibility to protect and serve our people.”

Describe the process to become a tribal police officer.

“First things first, you gotta have the courage to apply and put yourself through a series of tests. A polygraph to test your honesty and integrity, a medical to test physical capableness and general fitness, and a series of interviews to make sure you’re a good fit to join Tulalip police.

After passing those required tests, then it’s on to police academy where you learn the basics of the law and other essential skills for successful police work. Attending academy was the longest I’d ever been off the Reservation, so there was an adjustment period, but I knew it was all part of the process to create a better future for myself, my family, and my Tribe.”

What kind of impact do you hope to make in the community?

“A positive one, that’s for sure. What that may look like will vary from person to person and family to family. But in general, I want our people to feel safe and confident that when they need police assistance that we have their best interest at heart, always. By giving our people the respect and empathy they deserve, I hope to earn their trust as an officer who knows what they are doing and is fair in enforcing the law to everyone. 

Looking even further in the future, I hope to become a training sergeant who is able to recruit more of our tribal members into joining and give them the confidence to do this job well.”

It’s a fascinating political and social climate to become a cop, especially when considering social media. Did any of this play a role in your decision?

“It’s funny because if you just looked at the news and social media you might wonder why anyone would want to become a cop today. However, most the time, when you see first responders around large groups of kids like a school, the Boys and Girls Club, or the Youth Center, the interactions are always positive. The younger kids will often share how they want to become a police officer or firefighter. That’s empowering.

To pursue and accept a role to serve your community is empowering as well. And something I want do so that our next generation continues to dream of becoming heroes and choosing careers where they serve others instead of only themselves. Deterring and preventing crime may not be glamorous to everyone, but knowing those we love and care about are safe is the ultimate reward.”

Why is it important for Tulalip to have representation in its police force?

“There are many tribes that don’t have their own police force. They are instead policed by outside agencies and county police who don’t understand what its like for our people who live on a reservation. When we have Tulalip tribal members hear the call to serve their own people by becoming officers, we are not only embracing our sovereignty but creating a better community. 

Growing up on the reservation, we see and hear things that are very different from outside communities. Our experiences make us more compassionate and understanding because we know there all different kinds of traumas at work and those traumas can be healed in a variety of ways. Through community outreach and creating networks with all the departments that want to make our people healthy, our police department actively works with our people, not against them.

In my short time in the department I’ve witnessed firsthand how much our officers, tribal and non-tribal, respect and care for our Tulalip community. I’ve also been hearing the stories of past tribal members who built the police department into what it is today. That’s a legacy I intend to build upon for all of us.”

From walk-on to scholarship recipient, Zues Echevarria latest Tulalip athlete to compete on collegiate level

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tulalip history is filled with stories of athletic achievement. Ranging from grandiose tales told by elders reminiscing about their glory days, to standout high schoolers showcasing their skills in front of adoring families, to proud parents posting on social media about how amazing their child’s latest bitty ball performance was.

Sports have become as valuable to passing on traditional teachings as any other element of Tulalip culture. Think about it. Passing down knowledge and insight from one generation to the next, check. Learning invaluable lessons about patience, determination and hard work, check. Teaching the importance of mind/body connection with an emphasis on balancing nutritious foods with physical activity, check. Each generation of Tulalip youth being able to connect and participate regardless of family ties, check. An entire community being able to unite and root for the success of an inspiring tribal member, check. 

It should be no surprise then as to why recent success stories of homegrown athletes like Tysen and Bradley Fryberg (Salish Kootenai College basketball), Adiya Jones (Skagit Valley Community College basketball), Collin Montez (Washington State University baseball), RaeQuan Battle (University of Washington basketball), and Mikail Montez (Everett Community College basketball) have spread like wildfire on the Tulalip Reservation. Their stories stretch the imagination of what’s possible for a rez kid with a sports dream, while also giving parents a clear cut example that all the long practices, tournament-filled weekends, and substantial financial investment is worth it. 

Enter 6-foot-2, 290 pound Jesus “Zues” Echevarria Jr. The latest Tulalip athlete to compete on the coveted D1 collegiate level. A former team captain of the 2016 state championship winning Archbishop Murphy, Zues made the bold decision to attend Washington State University the following fall and endeavored to make their football team as a true walk-on. His prowess on the grid iron, focus during film study and tenacity in the training room earned him a spot as a redshirt freshman.

“The key is to be patient because every athlete that goes to the college level learns that you have to start all over. No matter how big of a high school star you were or how many programs were recruiting, once you get to college you have to earn your spot every day and work for every opportunity,” said Zues. “Gotta keep your head down and keep working, knowing that the patience will pay off when given the opportunity. A lot of times it comes down to the simple things like eating the right foods, getting enough sleep so your body can recover, and having the discipline to do the little things every single day knowing that you gotta stay ready for whenever opportunity presents itself.”

Unfortunately, injuries derailed his college career before he had opportunity to shine under the bright lights. He suffered a gruesome leg injury that forced him to miss most of the 2019 season and made it difficult to regain a top position on the depth chart in 2020. Instead, of taking the easy road and quitting on his football dream, the headstrong defenseman shifted his focus on rehabbing his body and conditioning in a way to minimize future injuries.

“Injuries are always gonna be a part of sports, especially at the higher competition levels, and I’ll admit the recovery process is more a mental challenge than anything else, but at no point did I think of giving up,” reflected Zues of his near 15-month recovery and rehab from a devastating leg injury. “I’ve worked way too hard to get to this point. My dream of playing football at the highest level is something I’ve had since being a little guy. My support system of my mom, my grandparents, and my teammates kept me up when I was down. The whole process just fueled me to want to get back on the field even more.”

The determination that fuels him as a defensive tackle combined with the mental strength to preserve over injury, to not give up, and to keep on working at his craft was something his coaches took notice of.

“Even when he was unable to practice with the team because of injury, Zues was coming out of the training room just as sweaty as our players who had gone through a two-and-a-half-hour practice,” explained WSU D-line coach Ricky Logo. “That’s how he showed us his commitment to coming back and getting healthy. When he finally got his chance to step back on the field and see game action, it was like he didn’t miss a beat. That’s what I love about him most. His will to fight through adversity and overcome separates him on and off the field.”

All the countless hours of rehabbing through injury, conditioning to keep his body at peak performance, and film study to ensure when his opportunity presented itself he’d be ready came to fruition on Saturday, October 9. It was WSU’s homecoming game and the stakes couldn’t have been higher as the Cougars hosted the Pac-12 North’s leading team, Oregon State.

On the field pre-game, the now 5th year senior and recent scholarship recipient warmed up with the same tenacity and vigor that his coaches had anxiously been waiting to unleash on their opponents. With a near packed house cheering on their home team at Martin Stadium, Zues got his chance to seize a meaningful role in the Cougar defense. He was on the field for twenty defensive snaps and came up with two crucial solo tackles that were met with a thunderous roar from the WSU faithful. His impactful play helped his team secure a huge 31-24 upset win over a Pac-12 rival. 

In what may have been his most extensive playing time in any game of his collegiate career thus far, his head coach offered praise for the 22-year-old Tulalip tribal member. 

“It’s good to see [success from] young people who have gone through some adversity and worked hard to get something,” said WSU head coach Nick Rolovich postgame. “[Zues] was really productive before getting hurt. He’s a hard worker and attacked rehab the same way, and we knew he was going to add to our defensive-tackle play as he got healthier. If he didn’t get hurt, I think he would have had a big part in all of our games this year.”

Zues intends to climb the depth chart further and become a fulltime defensive stalwart for the Cougars, whether that happens this year or next is of no concern because he understands the process is part of a much larger picture.

When asked if he still dreams of playing in the NFL, Zues responded without hesitation, “Absolutely! That’s my number one dream. Everything I do in practice, film study, and in games is geared towards continuing to get better, developing my skills to dominate on the college level. Then maybe NFL scouts will take notice. That’s the dream anyway.”

In the meantime, the student-athlete understands that he has to prepare for a career outside of football. Zues is close to earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Tenchology that will allow him to continue his family’s longline of tribal artistry in the digital realm. 

Zues’ grandmother, Judy Gobin.

Zues’s grandmother Judy Gobin is his self-described #1 fan. She and her husband Tony make the five-hour drive from Tulalip to Pullman every home game to cheer on their grandson. Their support has proved to be instrumental, as has the support Zues receives from his Tribe in assisting with college related expenses.

“We are so fortunate as Tulalip because our kids have the opportunity to go to any school in the nation and excel,” said Judy at a postgame dinner, where her grandson was approached by random WSU fans applauding him for his efforts. “They can study to become whatever they want knowing our Tribe will pay for the vast majority of costs. We have so many great success stories because of the resources our tribal gaming allows us to access. Yet, so many of our children don’t do it. Stories like Zues show them what’s possible and can incentivize the next generation to take their education seriously. When they see Tulalips succeeding at college it breaks the stereotypes and lets them know they can accomplish great things in academics and sports.”

Because of the pandemic, Zues has gained two extra years of eligibility to play college football. The WSU football program hopes to see him accomplish great things with the extra years and awarded him with a scholarship as a sign of further commitment in his potential. Two extra years is plenty of time for him to become a Cougar legend. To this point, he’s already a Tulalip legend. 

Careers in the construction industry are booming, TVTC can be your entry point to a better tomorrow

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Educators, parents and others often place strong emphasis on college preparation and earning an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree by traditional means. But that lengthy and expensive route often means accruing a ton of debt just to enter a highly competitive job market. College degrees may be the preferred goal for many, however there are a growing number of students who see a more hands-on future for themselves. For these individuals, unafraid of getting their hands dirty and learning the true meaning behind a hard day’s work, there is an abundance of opportunity within the construction industry.

Whether it be laborer, carpenter, ironworker, electrician or heavy equipment operator, there are countless positions available for work and advancement within the trades, especially for sought after minorities like Native Americans and women. A major access point for entry into these desirable career paths for tribal citizens and their families continues to be Tulalip’s own TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC).

“Not everybody wants to be a doctor or lawyer. Not everybody wants a desk job. I’m a lifetime fisherman that started a construction company when it became apparent we could no longer sustain ourselves simply by living off the land,” said Tulalip Vice-Chairman Glen Gobin. “Some want to be outside working with their hands. That’s what brings people to our training program, it gives them an opportunity to get exposure to all the different trades, learn how to function on a job site and how to get work. Graduates of TVTC enter a section of the workforce that is in high demand.”

In fact, a quick glance around the greater Seattle area and onlookers are sure to see more cranes than they can count. Along the I-5 corridor, from Tacoma to Everett, construction projects are booming and many on-site jobs continue to go unfilled. While other career pathways may be oversaturated and hard to come by, those within construction trades are thriving. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, open construction positions are expected to increase by more than 700,000 jobs nationally through 2028, a faster growth than any other occupation. In Washington State alone, there are nearly 3,000 unfilled construction jobs that pay much more than the average state wage. 

Brighter horizons and prospects galore were among the reasons so many gathered to celebrate the TVTC autumn cohort’s achievement on a December morning at the Tulalip Resort’s orca ballroom. Fifteen students (including eight Tulalip tribal members and three women) were honored with a graduation banquet for their commitment to building a better future. Nearly 200 guests attended, including trade union representatives, several construction employers, and many cheerful family members.

“Our TVTC program is 100% supported by grant funds,” explained TERO director Summer Hammons. “Our TVTC graduates earned various certifications and college credits, while learning many skills that will undoubtedly make an impact on their future. We thank the Tulalip Tribes, Washington State Department of Transportation, Sound Transit, and the Tulalip Cares charitable fund for always supporting us. These organizations and community partners are ensuring our future leaders have viable career paths.”

TVTC is the first and only state and nationally recognized Native American pre-apprenticeship program in the entire country. The program is accredited through South Seattle Community College and Renton Technical College, while all the in-class, hands-on curriculum has been formally approved by the Washington State Apprentice and Training Council.

The sixteen-week program provides 501-hours of hands-on instruction, strength building exercises, and construction skills that can last a lifetime. In addition, students are trained and awarded certifications in flagging, first aid/CPR, industrial fork lift and scissor lift, 40-hour HAZWOPER, and OSHA 10-hour safety. 

Homegrown Tulalip citizen Demitri Jones opted to retake the class after not being able to complete it his first time around.  To jumpstart an all-new career path as a carpenter, he had to grit and grind. He maintained his full-time position as a security officer working the dreaded graveyard shift, while sacrificing convenience and lots of sleep to take the TVTC class during the day.

“My biggest takeaway is learning the benefits of hard work and dedication,” reflected Demitri. “My advice to those who already have a job but are interested in taking the class, if you really want it then make it happen. Creating a routine was so important, but knowing in the end it’ll all be worth it kept me going.” 

His instructors noted he was the first in his class to gain employment. “I’m a carpenter’s apprentice right now and looking forward to journeying out, becoming a foreman or even superintendent,” added the ambitious 26-year-old.

Along with gaining a wide-range of new employment opportunities via the trades, seven diligent students took advantage of the educational aspect and earned their high school diploma.

Three hardworking ladies were among the graduates, Carla Yates (Haida), Cheyenne Frye (Arikara) and Shelbi Strom (Quinault). Each wanted to acquire a new skillset while creating a pathway to a better and brighter future.

“I really liked the class. I met some really cool people and learned so many new skills that I would have never been exposed to if I didn’t try it out,” said 20-year-old Cheyenne. Originally from North Dakota, her family relocated to the area so her mom could take the TVTC program. After graduating and seeing all the opportunity now available to her, she convinced her daughter to follow suit.

“I had zero experience with construction tools, like the nail gun and different saws. All of that was pretty intimidating at first, but after I learned to use them properly it became a lot of fun using them to complete projects,” admitted Cheyenne. “Both my parents have jobs as plumbers on the new casino project now. Hopefully I can join an electricians’ or sheet metal union and get work on that project, too.”

With hundreds of skilled-trade workers retiring every day across the state, the construction industry is in need of the next generation workforce to help build an ever-growing Snohomish County and surrounding Puget Sound communities. In the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area alone, construction employment increased by 6,400 jobs between March 2018 and March 2019, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. These are well-paying jobs that are available to people straight out of high school. It takes some grit for sure, but for those folks with a strong work ethic and can-do attitude, they can find themselves running a construction company of their own someday.

“When our student graduates go out into the world of construction, they can compete on equal footing with anybody,” declared TVTC instructor Mark Newland during the graduation ceremony. “We’re gaining traction with union companies and construction employers all over the region. 

“I just can’t say enough about this class,” he continued. “From day one, they were engaged, helping each other out, and understood what they had to gain by putting their nose to the grindstone. Really amazing stuff! They’ve given me so much as their instructor and I wish them all the best.”

Those interested in being among the next available TVTC cohort or would like more information about the program, please call (360) 716-4760 or email