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.”

For more info, please visit https://www.tulalipresortcasino.com/Sportsbook

Youth Summit uplifts, inspires and empowers

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On a frigid December morning, close to one hundred Tulalip community members rose at the crack of dawn in order to attend a brilliantly designed event held in the Tulalip Resort’s Orca Ballroom. Created in collaboration by the tribe’s Problem Gambling Program and Youth Council, the 2021 Youth Summit created memories galore through a variety of team building workshops and a series of inspirational Native influencers offering a unique blend of unforgettable entertainment mixed with words of wisdom.

Envisioning Our Indigenized Future was the theme of this year’s Youth Summit, held on December 11.

“We are happy to provide the momentum to do this and co-host a gathering with you all here today,” said youth council chairman Kaiser Moses during the early bird breakfast. “We chose the theme ‘envisioning our indigenized future’ because essentially the youth are the future and today we want to envision what we are capable of with all the opportunities available to us by our tribe. A lot of these opportunities are only possible by educating ourselves in order to avoid the pitfalls that effect so many of our people. We want to help each other develop the tools necessary to stay on a good path and realize those opportunities.”

The “pitfalls” Kaiser spoke of include substance abuse, gambling addiction, and a general lack of responsibility for one’s own actions when repeatedly choosing short-term pleasures over long-term success. Academics, physicians, and all other manners of wellbeing experts have written and lectured at length over these pitfalls and most recently have come to refer to them as ‘diseases of despair’.

Instead of dwelling on these negative concepts and bringing everyone down emotionally, Youth Summit coordinator Sarah Sense-Wilson went with a more effective strategy to showcase endless possibility through groundbreaking Native role models whose stories emphasize sobriety, self-respect, and conviction of culture. This star-studded lineup of all-Native entertainers shared a common belief that as Native people we are not bound by despair, but by resiliency and the ability to overcome any obstacle, real or imagined.

Innovative hip hop artist Supaman stunned the crowd with his one-of-a-kind presentation combining Native culture, comedy and urban music. He dazzled onlookers with his vibrant fancy dance regalia before captivating them with his uplifting words full of compassion and encouragement. 

Supaman’s uncanny ability to connect with his audience was exemplified by his message, “Yes, this country was founded on the attempted genocide of our people. Yes, they employed all kinds of violent means and federal policies to eradicate us from the face of the Earth…But you know what this means don’t you? This means that you all come from families who defied the odds. As beautiful, young Native people in 2021, each breath you take is in defiance to a system that didn’t want you to exist. Each one of you is a blessing that our ancestor’s prayed for.

“That’s why it’s so important for us to embrace who we are,” he continued. “We must uphold our culture and pass it on like our ancestors did long before us. I challenge you to learn as much as you can, participate as often as you can, and share everything you know because one day you will be an elder. And when you’re an elder the younger people will look to you for traditional teachings and protocols for ceremony. They will look to you for that knowledge and you’ll want to be able to give them the knowledge and guidance they’re searching for. That is how we pass on our culture in a good way. I believe in you. Your ancestors believe in you.” 

After Supaman’s riveting performance and many good words shared, high schooler and Tulalip tribal member Image Enick shared his appreciation by gifting him a handmade drum. Many in attendance then waited their turn to take photos with the Native hip hop icon.

The full day’s Youth Summit was filled with uplifting messages echoing the sentiments shared by Supaman, exercises in compassion building and benefits of team work, and informative presentations regarding the energy drain that social media and unchecked video gaming can have on youth’s social and emotional development. There was also an informative breakout session with Tulalip’s own podcaster Dominick Joseph. He shared his educational journey and gave listeners a glimpse into his podcast world, while receiving a number of topic requests for future episodes.

Performances by DJ Element on the turntables and Swil Kanim with his serenading classical violin both received a huge round of applause. However, it may have been a pair of brothers standing a whopping 4 feet and 7 inches tall that made the biggest impression. Known for their roles in the Emmy nominated TV show Reservation Dogs, Lil Mike and Funny Bone captivated their multi-generational audience through comedy, hip hop lyrics, and motivational stories about not letting haters get in your way of excellence. They shared that they’ve been overlooked their whole lives. If they let what others think of them matter, then they’d have never made it to primetime actors on a hit TV series.

In between performances and leadership sessions, Summit participants had many opportunities to fill up on event swag designed by Native artists and businesses. From t-shirts and backpacks to hoodies and essential school supplies, many could be seen leaving the Resort with their hands, bags, and hearts full of newly acquired swag and renewed confidence for their Indigenized future. 

After the exhilarating eight-hour Youth Summit, event coordinator Sarah Sense-Wilson shared, “We are thrilled with amount of participation and engagement we had today by such a special group of Indigenous youth. Our goal was to provide valuable and meaningful workshops that centered on our youth, while promoting health, well-being and resilience. Our workshops and presentations ranged from QPR (Suicide Prevention Certification), to a wide range of motivational speakers, to teambuilding and ropes course activities. We hope all the local Native youth who joined us for a full day of energizing, fun-filled edutainment will remember the messages shared today and use them as fuel for empowerment whenever needed. Their future is our future.”

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. 

A remarkable achievement! Moderna Vaccine welcomed with open arms in Tulalip

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On January 19, 2020, a 35-year-old man presented to an urgent care clinic in Snohomish County with a four-day history of cough and subjective fever. He disclosed he returned to Washington only days prior after traveling to visit family in Wuhan, China. After multiple days of examination and a litany of tests, it was revealed that the man was positive with a severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by a novel coronavirus. This was the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States. 

Nearly one year later, the COVID pandemic continues to rage on. According to the Department of Health, there have been 246,000 confirmed cases and 3,482 deaths in Washington State attributed to the virus at the time this article was published. A whopping 91% of those deaths are individuals at least 60-years-old.

On the Tulalip Reservation, those who are 60+ are revered as elders. They are a living history, a source for cultural and spiritual knowledge whose wisdom is irreplaceable. Protecting them from COVID is of utmost importance, which is why the Tulalip Health Clinic was full of hope and excitement on December 23 as the first doses of the much heralded Moderna Vaccine were administered to Tulalip’s most vulnerable. 

“Today is a great day for Tulalip! We have received the COVID-19 vaccine,” marveled Tulalip tribal member and Patient Care Director, Jennie Fryberg. “My hands go up to everyone who comes to our health clinic to get vaccinated and help save lives, save our community, and save our elders. The 2020 year was a tough one for us because we lost some loved ones to the pandemic. I’m getting vaccinated for my parents, so I can protect them and avoid possibly spreading COVID to them. My advice to our community is come and get vaccinated so we can have a much more hopeful 2021.”

After months of battling the pandemic at the reservation’s go-to health care facility, Tulalip’s emergency management team’s latest update states four Tulalip elders have died with COVID-19. Two were in their 70s and two were in their 80s. Their memories live on in the younger generations who carry on their cultural traditions with pride.

In order to protect as many remaining elders and high-risk tribal members, Tulalip’s medical personnel promptly rolled out phase one of COVID vaccinations after receiving 400 initial doses from Moderna. The immediate recipients were Tulalip’s elders, most high-risk citizens, first responders, and frontline healthcare workers. 

“This is an amazing event taking place and I feel so fortunate to play a role in offering protection and hope to such a beautiful community,” said medical assistant Kristina Bartek while filling syringes with the potential lifesaving Moderna Vaccine. “My grandfather is 84-years-old and it scares me to think of what could happen if he gets COVID. I’ll be getting vaccinated to protect him, myself, and anyone I come into contact with.”

History was made as the first administered vaccination went to Tulalip elder Dale Jones. “We are fighting a very dangerous virus and have already lost some of our people because of it,” shared Dale moments after getting vaccinated. “This vaccine means we finally have protection for our people, especially our elders.”

Real life heroes who put their lives on the line every day to keep the community safe were eager to get a literal shot in the arm to ensure they can carry out their duties while preventing COVID exposure to others. 

“This is a big moment for our community and our fire department by ensuring the health and safety of our first responders,” said Fire Chief Ryan Shaughnessy while joining his team in getting vaccinated. “We’re really excited and grateful for the Tulalip Tribes generosity to vaccinate our team. Moving forward, we can fulfill our duties with more confidence knowing we’re vaccinated against this deadly virus.” 

It’s been two weeks since Tulalip received the vaccine and the health clinic has administered 407 vaccinations as of January 4. Phase two of vaccinations is now underway. Tulalip tribal members ages 50+ and who have chronic health conditions may now stop by the clinic for a vaccination visit. 

If you are a Tulalip elder and not yet received the vaccine, please visit the clinic as soon as possible to do so. You do not need to make an appointment nor call.

“The Moderna Vaccine is a remarkable tool that helps us to decrease the spread of COVID and mitigate life threatening concerns associated with COVID,” said Dr. John Okemah, Chief Medical Officer. “Finally having a vaccine available to our people brings about a new sense of hope to our people throughout Indian Country. We’ve been dealing with this global pandemic for close to a year now. By getting vaccinated we, as a community, are now fighting back and doing what we can to protect our loved ones.”

Community-led parade honors Officer Cortez

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“I’m so thankful that all these people came out for my grandson today,” tearfully expressed Sandra Grenier. “He is so loved. I very much appreciate it.”

On the twenty-fifth day into the search for fallen Tulalip Police Officer Charlie Cortez, the Tulalip community held a special honoring parade in his remembrance. Thin Blue Line flags waved in the air, attached to hundreds of vehicles ranging from sports cars, motorcycles, pickup trucks, vans, police squad cars, fire trucks and ORVs, extending from the Tulalip Youth Center to Marine Drive. 

Tulalip hero Charlie Cortez, a father, son, cousin, motocross rider, protector and exerciser of treaty rights, and man of the Tulalip people dedicated his life to serving his community. Weeks after the announcement that the Fish & Wildlife officer presumably died in the line of duty, the Tulalip Police Department and a multitude of volunteers continue to scour the Salish waters in hopes to recover and return the 29-year-old officer home after he went missing at sea on the night of November 17. 

“I want to express my heartfelt condolences and thoughts and prayers for the entire Cortez family and all who loved and knew Charlie. It’s such a tragic loss for our community and for our police department and of course for his family and loved ones,” said Tulalip Chief of Police, Chris Sutter.

For generations, Indigenous families have relied on the strength of their tribe to both get through and understand trying times. Tribal communities often ban together to hold gatherings and ceremonies as well as raise funds for grieving families, providing medicine in the form of song, dance, stories, hot food and presence. Unable to host such a gathering due to COVID-19 restrictions, Torry and Christina Parker organized the parade to bring a bit of healing to the family.

At 3:00 p.m. on December 12, dozens of police vehicles hailing from departments all across the state, signaled the start of the parade when their sirens began to flash and wail simultaneously. As each vehicle made their way down Totem Beach Road, they displayed posters, signs, and décor in honor of Charlie. Some of the more moving posters were carried by Tulalip tribal youth with messages such as, “I love you” and “I’m riding for my hero Charlie Cortez”. 

Teri Nelson, Charlie’s aunt, emotionally shared, “We’re beyond grateful for everybody in the community, for their love and support.”

An overwhelming surprise to many, the parade’s caravan consisted of at least two-hundred vehicles and lasted for over 30 minutes as Charlie’s colleagues, friends, family and fellow hunters and motocross riders joined-in to pay their respects. Charlie’s family watched the entire moving display of community from the Tulalip Marina, waving as each car passed by. Prior to the parade, the family asked participants to wrap their vehicles in holiday fashion as this was Charlie’s favorite time of year, celebrating not only Christmas but his mother’s, brother’s and son’s birthday each December.

“Just to see everyone put that time aside today and come together in a safe way for Charlie, and make it fun and decorate their cars, it was powerful,” said Charlie’s first-cousin Kayla Scheiber. “Starting with all the police officers making their sirens go off, and the fire trucks after them, then all the Harley’s and cars, it was really meaningful and I know my family appreciates it a lot, as well as Charlie in spirit.”

In addition to paying tribute to Charlie’s life, the tribe is also using the parade as an opportunity to let the people know that recovery efforts will continue until Charlie is brought home, welcoming any volunteers to the cause. 

“It was a great show of love and support,” said Chief Sutter. “Thanks to our entire community for all that they’re doing and continue to do in our search and recovery efforts. It was inspiring to see all the law enforcement agencies, fish and wildlife agencies, fire departments and numerous organizations, groups and families who came out to show their support and love for the entire Cortez family and in honor of our beloved officer Charlie.”

If you have any information in relation to the search for Officer Cortez, please contact  (360) 926-5059 or email BringOfficerCortezHome@gmail.com

“I’m glad that we took this time to honor Charlie,” Kayla expressed. “We needed this as Native people, it’s really important for us. And the fact that Charlie is still missing – I believe this is something that will help him get found at some point. I know that coming together in this way is healing and will help bring him home.”

Remedy is thriving as cannabis sales skyrocket during coronavirus pandemic

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Twenty-one months ago, the Tulalip Tribes took a major risk by venturing into the cannabis industry and opening one of the very first recreational dispensaries operated in Indian Country. After a rocky start, including switching up multiple management styles and sputtering for its place in local consumer loyalty, Remedy has course corrected under Quil Ceda Village leadership and a new manager truly in tune with cannabis culture.

The timing couldn’t have come at a more opportune time either. With so many businesses still shutdown nationally because of the coronavirus pandemic, Remedy is thriving. Industry-wide cannabis sales continue to skyrocket as a result of society doing its best to cope with the uncertain times brought on by COVID-19 and the residual aftereffects of seemingly endless quarantines, isolation, and social distancing.

“As a store, we adapted quickly to meet the needs of our customers. Practically the same day the casinos were shut down under coronavirus restrictions we launched our online menu and ordering system,” explained Remedy manager and Tulalip tribal member, Jennifer Ashman-Bontempo. 

“People love our online system,” she continued. “You can scroll through our entire menu, view the variety of cannabis products we offer, and order based on your personal preferences. After a few short minutes, our staff fills the order and it’s ready for curbside pickup. With this system in place we’ve seen our average ticket price more than double, from an average sale of $30 to now $60-$70.”

Instituting a safe and effective sales system definitely helped Remedy reach new heights as a business. The fact that so many people are left without their usual forms of recreation and entertainment during COVID-19 crisis hasn’t hurt either. It’s become common place to see a line of individuals spaced out 6-feet apart, in accordance with CDC guidelines, wrapping around the store’s front entrance while patiently waiting to pick up their cannabis essentials. 

Remedy has benefited from a huge influx of new customers, too. The Tribe’s flagship cannabis store is averaging 500 customers a day with nearly 60% of them new or first-time patrons. Some customers look to relieve every day ailments associated with aches and pains, some search to simply elevate their mental state, while others hope to calm their nerves and diminish anxiety and tensions brought on by the new normal.

“We are becoming people’s favorite store,” boasted Jennifer about the routine compliments her and fellow staff hear on a daily basis. “The combination of our increasing reputation, COVID and online shopping continues to boost our sales. In fact, April 2020 was our best month ever. We had over $750,000 in total sales, with 4/20 being our #1 sales day on record.

“All of us here at Remedy are so grateful to be deemed essential employees and feel fortunate to come to work every day to a place we love,” added Jennifer while proudly wearing a ‘Plant Manager’ t-shirt. “I have the best staff the Tribe could have hired. Everyone loves what they do and are passionate about our products.”

Remedy has 29 total employees, of which 7 are Tulalip tribal members. Most of the budtenders are self-dubbed “pot nerds”. They take much pride in staying up to date with the latest trends and products in an ever-changing cannabis industry. 

Tribal member Carmen Miller has worked at Remedy since the very beginning and worked his way up the ranks to become a Buyer. He’s in a pressure-filled position to influence sales, ensure the store is keeping up with or exceeding the completion, and most importantly keeping his finger on the pulse of the consumers. 

“From high-THC flower to CBD capsules, from concentrates to an assortment of edibles, we literally have close to everything available in the industry at our store,” said Carmen. “What most people don’t understand is cannabis really is an ever-changing industry. In Washington alone, there are 70 different vendors who each specialize in different products and intake methods.

“From strictly flower to hydroponics to edibles, there are so many types of strains, flavors, and potency levels that can hit the market and become the next best thing,” continued Carmen. “Whatever’s the newest or most popular thing in cannabis, that’s what the people want to try. The newest product we just got in is a super discrete method of intaking cannabis through a micro-dosing inhaler. They have no visual smoke or any smell, so it’s perfect and easy to use for those wanting to maintain their privacy.”

The Tulalip Tribes’ long-term vision with cannabis is bold. Tribal leaders see the promise of cannabis outside of recreational retail, including therapeutic applications of CBDs for the relief of seizures and PTSD, as well as promising research into the possibility of treating many of the health conditions that most affect Native communities, including addiction and diabetes.

Balancing traditional values with the realities of the 21st century means embracing a changing culture that views marijuana and cannabinoids as natural medicines, especially when compared to prescription pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals with countless side-effects and man-made chemicals that receive FDA approval, only to come out later those same chemicals cause a litany of damaging health concerns with possible fatal consequences.

Longtime cannabis connoisseur and Budtender supervisor for Remedy, Juan Martinez has had lots of experience assisting customers who are looking to alleviate a variety of common ailments, from headaches and insomnia to much more life threatening forms of cancer.

“Migraines and cluster headaches are the most common illness our customers want help with, followed by insomnia, those who have trouble sleeping, and pains associated with arthritis,” shared Juan. “There’s even a regular we look forward to seeing every few weeks. He’s an 80-year-old with lung cancer and comes to us for his cannabis treatment plan. According to him, high-dose cannabis intake helps offset his chemo and makes his quality of life much better. Customer stories like this is why I love my job; being able to sell the best products and changing people’s lives for the better.”

There’s a mountain of anecdotal evidence to suggest soothing THC/CBD oils, tinctures, and Indica-based flower can offer tremendous health benefits as an alternative treatments for common physical and neurological disorders. Tulalip’s partnership with the brightest minds at Stanford University resulted in a one-of-kind medical cannabis research project with the ultimate goal being to cure opioid-based addiction. Preliminary results have been encouraging. 

So whether it’s to find a Remedy for a pre-existing medical condition or simply to find rest and relaxation through the COVID crisis, the knowledgeable staff of Tulalip’s own dispensary is here to guide novice and experts cannabis users alike through their wide-range of convenient products. 

Remedy’s current hours of operation are Monday – Saturday, 9:00am – 9:00pm and Sundays 10:00am – 8:00pm. Products can be viewed and orders placed online at menu.remedytulalip.com Tulalip tribal members receive a 30% discount every Thursday. 

2020 Native Vote tour visits Tulalip

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Native Vote is a nonpartisan campaign initiated by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). It is designed to encourage Native Americans throughout the nation to exercise their inherent right to vote. With the heightened political participation of Native people, Indian Country has become an increasingly powerful voting bloc. In recent years, the Native vote has been publicly acknowledged as making a pivotal difference in national, state, and local elections.

The ability to make such a pivotal difference is 100% reliant on you, the voter. Historically, the turnout rate of registered Native voters is 5 to 14 percentage points lower than the rate of many other racial and ethnic groups. Add in the fact that nationwide a whopping 34% of eligible Native voters are not registered to vote, according to the NCAI, and the need to empower the entire electorate to register and cast their ballot is a clear priority.

Native Vote’s admirable Rez-to-Rez tour intends to fulfill that priority in Washington State by going directly to Native voters on their reservations, speaking truth to power on issues that impact our people, while encouraging each tribal citizen to vote. The Rez-to-Rez tour visited Tulalip on Tuesday, March 3.

“I’m honored to be here with you all on Tulalip land,” said Larry Cordier (Lakota), coordinated campaign tribal organizer. “It is critical that we get together, register to vote, and let our voice be heard by casting our ballot. Your vote is guaranteed to you by the U.S. Constitution. As treaty tribes, we have joined the United States in citizenship. Our men and women have defended this country. No one has to set that table for us. We did that with our veterans.

“The chiefs negotiated those treaties and it’s our responsibility to make sure those Treaty Rights endure,” continued Larry. “In all my travels I’ve heard so many people say, ‘Why should I vote? My vote doesn’t count.’ But if all those people got out and registered, and cast their ballot, we would have this country exactly where it needs to be. We need everyone because everyone counts. So let’s mobilize and make them feel our united power.”

Larry Cordier, coordinated campaign tribal organizer.

During the two-hour visit, engaged citizens were welcome to ask questions about candidates, register if they weren’t already, shown how to update their mailing address to insure arrival of voting documents, speak with 2020 Census representatives, and, if they were ready, cast their Washington State primary ballot.

“I saw the advertisement for this event in the Tulalip newsletter and was interested in finding out more about the presidential candidates,” shared tribal elder Joyce Alexander (Haida). “I haven’t decided who I will be voting for yet, but leaning between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

“As a Native American citizen, I’m always curious about how any politician or political candidate feels about Native Americans. [Their platform] affects us and our issues should matter to them.”

According to the U.S. Census, Native Americans have one of the youngest populations of any racial/ethnic group in the United States, with those under the age of 25 making up about 40% of the total Native population. Every four years, about half a million Native young people turn 18-years-old and become eligible to vote. This provides an opportunity to engage almost one in ten Native people as new voters.

In order to maximize the Native vote, it is critical that Native citizens become educated in the political process in order to actively participate in tribal, local, state, and national elections. It’s not only the U.S. President and Congress, but state governors and county and local elected officials who make important policy decisions that affect the everyday lives of Native peoples. Increasing the Native vote and in turn our electorate’s participation in non-tribal elections will lead to better responsiveness to the needs of tribal communities across the nation.

“One of the beautiful things about voting is it is open and accessible to everyone. And every vote matters,” explained Theresa Sheldon (Tulalip), Native American political director for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). “Please know that it’s not too late for people to register to vote. There is a great online resource iWillVote.com 

“Anyone can visit that site to register, check if you are registered, and/or update your mailing address. It’s so important to know that if we want to take back the white house, then we have to show up and vote. Please talk to your friends, your family and encourage them to get their ballot in. Sooner is better. Don’t wait until the last minute,” encouraged Theresa.

EPA disregards science to rescind Clean Water Act regulation

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

You are water vapor rising high up to the atmosphere. With thick moisture in the air, other vapor molecules began to attach to you and you begin to grow. It’s mid-winter and the cold temperature causes you to freeze to ice crystal form and now nearby crystals also cling to you, all while attaching to particles like dust and pollen in the air. And as this process continues, a cloud is formed around you and shortly you’ll begin your descent back to the Earth’s surface. Once you are heavy enough, it happens; you fall quickly to the ground. Your voyage is short lived, however, as you fall to the top of a mountain and now you wait once again, but this time for warm weather while more snow gathers around you.

In what seemed like a few short months, you patiently stood the test of time and, due to the damaged ozone layer, the sun heats up the Earth sooner in the year and at a much faster pace. You leave your frozen state, slowly transforming to liquid and begin a journey through nature. Traveling down the mountainside, rushing through rivers, flowing through streams, passing through culverts and even trickling through underground soil corridors, you eventually find yourself at a standstill. With no wind and not nearly enough water to form a stream, you’re left to wait again either for rain or evaporation. 

A nearby farm just received the okay to utilize fertilizer and pesticide on their grounds, and unfortunately for you, they are no longer required to worry about any body of water that is located in close proximity of their agricultural business. When the rain comes, your journey will continue but this time you’ll be accompanied by new pollutants. Wherever your journey ends, whether it’s through consumption by humans, fish, bird, animal, insect or plant, those byproducts will be intertwined with you, and thereby can negatively impact the health of the consumer, and the Earth itself.

In 1972, the Clean Water Act was established to protect the waterways of the United States from harmful pollution. Since then, a political debate has taken place about the verbiage in the act, specifically the term ‘navigable waters’. The divide stems from the lack of a clear definition of which bodies of waters exactly are protected by the Clean Water Act. 

Many farmers, land developers and capitalists argue that small creeks, ditches and streams shouldn’t be considered navigable waters and have little to no impact on the environment since they are not directly or constantly flowing through the waterways and ecosystem.  Environmentalists and scientists have conducted countless studies, proving that all water eventually feeds back into the ocean, causing further disruption in the food chain and endangering the health of Mother Earth and all of her inhabitants if that water is contaminated. 

“Prior to a decision that was made during the Obama administration there was some confusion about what the ‘Waters of the United States’ are,” explains Ryan Miller Environmental Liaison Program Manager of the Tulalip Tribes Treaty Rights Office. “Those are the waters that are protected by the Clean Water Act, which in general terms states you can’t pollute waters of the United States. In 2015, the Obama administration defined the waters in a way that protects the environment, which was the intent of the Clean Water Act in the first place, protecting ephemeral streams or waterways, commonly referred to as seasonal waterways, or wetland that isn’t wet all year round that, during a wet season, feeds into a creek or stream. Essentially their definition stated that anything that feeds into these permanent waterways are considered Waters of the United States because it contributes to a stream or river that flows all year round.

“That benefited tribes because it helped protect the trust resources that are guaranteed to tribes in their treaties,” he continued. “It helped protect water quality for all the different salmon species. It helped protect against the release of toxins which build up in southern killer whales as they consume fish species, it helped protect Native people and all citizens against toxins that build up in shellfish and finfish that we consume. Obviously that’s important for Native people because we consume higher rates of shellfish and finfish than non-Indian people do.” 

On January 23, the Trump administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the repeal of the Waters of the United States rule, the evidence-based amendment to the Clean Water Act made by the Obama administration. The EPA rule, also known as the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, not only removes protection from ephemeral streams and wetlands, it also allows landowners to deconstruct and build over ponds, wetlands and watersheds, which in turn can lead to polluted waterways. 

But there’s more. Since the start of his campaign to presidency, Trump has promised the removal of the Waters of the United States rule. He took it a step further by lifting restrictions for landowners and farmers which prohibited them from dumping hazardous chemicals directly into the waterways. 

The removal of federal protection from these streams and wetlands could have some serious effects on our health and our drinking water. And the water that is consumed by the food we eat, i.e. animals, plants and fish, is now more than ever susceptible to pollution. 

“The repeal was proposed last year and of course the way that these types of processes legally have to take place, they had a public comment period,” Ryan said. “Lots of tribes, environmental groups, states, counties, submitted comments and expressed their concern about what this would do to the protection of waterways and the natural resources that depend on them. The reality is that this administration places a significantly higher priority on making it easy for businesses to make as much money as possible, to extract resources, to damage natural resources. Their priority is that over the protection of the environment, watersheds and even human health.”

With the salmon population already irrevocably damaged by pollution and an endangered southern killer whale population as a result, the Salish Sea cannot afford any setbacks or any more pollution. Unfortunately, this new rule sets the stage for years of struggle as we prepare for a long fight against the government and EPA to protect our natural resources. That fight began when the repeal of the Waters of the United Stated was put in motion last Fall, and fourteen states took initiative by filing lawsuits against the EPA. 

It is important to note that at the end of 2019, the Scientific Advisory Board of the EPA, comprised of many officials handpicked by President Trump himself, stated that the regulation repeal and its replacement ‘neglects established science’, is ‘failing to acknowledge watershed systems’, and also there was ‘no scientific justification’ for stripping the protection from the smaller bodies of water. And still, even with those findings, the final decision was made by ‘political management’ within the EPA. 

“I believe that there are numerous states who already filed suit over this issue,” Ryan stated. “Washington, I’m sure is one of them. We had conversations with the department of ecology, which regulates toxins in the waters in Washington State, and I’m pretty sure they already filed suit against the federal government over this. It’s probably going to play out in court like many of these things do and hopefully we’re going to have a better outcome. In the long run, this could end up being a good thing if we can get a clear court decision that defines the Waters of the United States in a favorable way, which we really didn’t have before. But, for right now it limits the protection that these ephemeral streams and seasonal wetlands have under the Clean Water Act. Essentially, they no longer have any protection.”

So what can you do to help ensure the waterways are protected and clean? In addition of limiting your single-use plastic products and recycling your plastics and metals, you can also safely dispose of any harmful chemicals including paint thinner, pesticides and fertilizer at the Snohomish County Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Station in Everett. They are open Wednesday-Saturday between 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. You can participate at local beach clean-ups and utilize your voice to help raise awareness about the fading salmon and orca populations at rallies and gatherings that occur regularly throughout the year. 

“My recommendation on anything like this is always, call your representatives; state, county, federal and let them know that you don’t like this and you want them to do something about it. The reality is, for elected officials, there are only two things they respond to; money and pressure from the people who vote for them. And as regular citizens, most of us don’t have the money to influence political outcomes or political campaigns, so what we can do is vote with our voice and tell our elected officials that this is an issue that matters to us and that we want them to do something about it.”

Hawks get routed by Darrington, then blowout Providence by 50+

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Heritage boys basketball program is coming off of back-to-back years in which the team won at least 20 games and made it past District, Tri-District and Regional playoffs, all the way to State. An historic achievement for any program. 

Now, entering the 2019-2020 season, the Hawks look to repeat past success with its current roster of rez ball hoopers. Gone are four seniors from last season, but in their place are five current seniors including standout guards Leno Vela, Josh Miranda and Isaac Comenote. They took to the court on Saturday, December 7 in their season opener. A home game versus the Darrington Loggers.

Tulalip struggled mightily from the jump. Shots weren’t falling, no one was rebounding and meanwhile Darrington took advantage of every opportunity afforded to them with a taller, heftier lineup.  The score was 4-19 after the opening quarter, and that deficit ballooned to 11-40 at halftime. 

In the 2nd half, the home crowd was anxious for some kind of spark to ignite their team’s offense. It never happened. Instead, the lack of shot making and rebounding continued. Tulalip ended up on the wrong side of a lopsided 32-68 loss. It was the lowest scoring output from a Tulalip Hawks team in nearly 3 years; a December 28, 2016 defeat to Lummi, 31-65.

With only two days between games, the boys had to make use of some selective amnesia and quickly forget about everything that went wrong vs. Darrington and focus on their next opponent. Tulalip hosted the Highlanders from Providence Classical Christian on Monday, December 9.

What a difference a game makes. The Hawks came out firing on all cylinders offensively, while relentlessly locking up Providence defensively. Jumping out to a 25-9 lead at the end of the 1st quarter, the boys kept the pedal to the metal and took a 39 point lead into halftime, up 52-13. 

During one stretch, senior point guard Leno Vela went on a 16-0 run all by himself. He caught fire from downtown hitting four consecutive 3-pointers and then came up with back-to-back steals that he converted into layups. His scoring barrage fired up the home crowd and his fellow teammates who cheered him on.

“My shooting felt really good and my teammates found me when I got hot,” said Leno afterwards. “They trusted me and I was able to come up with buckets.”

The Hawks defense continued to feast on a Providence team that struggled with ball handling and routinely coughed up the ball via steal or bad pass. And with every turnover forced came the accustomed run-and-gun offense Tulalip is known for. All the starters scored multiple buckets in transition and hit a 3-pointer. 

At the end of the 3rd quarter, Tulalip led 73-18. With the result no longer in doubt the bench came in to finish the game. The final score was 81-27. Leno led all scorers with 33 points, while Josh Miranda added 13 points.

A 54 point victory over Providence is a good way to wash away the stain from their opening loss to Darrington. 

“We played our style of basketball tonight. I wanted them to be aggressive and attack the basket because we really didn’t do that in our last game,” explained Coach Fryberg after the blowout win. “Their aggressiveness resulted in lots of looks close to the basket and got them to the free-throw line. Defensively, we locked in early and pressed the issue throughout.”

Tulalip basketball is on the road for their next 3 games. They’ll return home on Thursday, December 19 for a matchup with Grace Academy.