In this month's newsletter: tribal education programs, Meet and Greet with Nisqually Tribal Chairman Willie Frank III, new tribal facilities combatting the opioid epidemic, and more.

Tribal Education Enriches Learning

As students of all ages head back to school, we wanted to take some time to recognize the many tribal education programs across Washington that enrich student learning by teaching and honoring the histories and cultures of tribes. Here are just a few of their stories:

Nisqually Tribe and North Thurston Public Schools Integrate Tribal Studies into Curriculum
Since 2019, the Nisqually Tribe has partnered with North Thurston Public Schools on a successful effort to incorporate tribal education into the K-12 curriculum. What began as a collaboration between Nisqually Tribal Chairman Willie Frank III and principal Michael Smith has grown significantly over the past four years. High school students can now take a Nisqually civics class; fourth graders are enrolled in a program that teaches them Lushootseed words, Nisqually history and how to weave Nisqually patterns; the entire school district celebrates Billy Frank Jr. Day on March 9; and classes create care packages for native elders. Students have even built underwater drones to clean out the bottom of the Nisqually River without harming natural habitat—a project funded by a grant aimed at supporting and sustaining native communities.

Learn more in this newsletter’s Meet and Greet with Willie Frank III and this recent article in The Olympian. 

Squaxin Island Tribe and Kalispel Tribe of Indians Bring Tribal Teachings to Early Childhood Education
The Squaxin Island Tribe’s Child Development Center serves Native and non-Native children from four weeks of age through their first day of Kindergarten. The Center incorporates tribal culture and traditions throughout its curriculum and partners with tribal elders and Squaxin Island community members to incorporate Native knowledge, culture, and tribal practices into its programming. Drumming with Kaya Vicki on Fridays (Kaya means Grandma in the Lushootseed language) and the annual Salmon Ceremony are highlights. The school also runs a popular outdoor preschool program, which teaches Native knowledge and culture about the land and helps children gain more confidence.

Read more about the Center in this spotlight article from the Natural Start Alliance

The Kalispel Tribe of Indians’ Camas Early Learning Center (CELC) is located within the Tribe’s Camas Center for Community Wellness. The CELC, open to Native and non-Native students, focuses on individual child development and culturally responsive activities for young children. They believe that sharing the language and culture of the Kalispel Tribe with their neighbors helps strengthen the entire community. The program features Salish-speaking teachers who teach the language to children, staff, parents and the community, including a daily Salish lesson for all students and staff members.

Find more information about CELC on their website

Both of these early childhood education programs participate in the state-funded Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, an income-based program that prepares 3- and 4-year-old children from underresourced families for success in school and in life.
Tulalip Tribes Partner with Local Schools to Revitalize Native Language
The Tulalip Tribes’ Lushootseed Language Department is revitalizing the language amongst tribal members through many learning opportunities, including the annual Lushootseed Language Camp, Family Night Classes, and in-school language learning from Pre-K through college. Natasha Gobin, a Lushootseed Language teacher with the department, also teaches the language at Everett Community College, where educators can enroll in classes to learn a brief history of Lushootseed, expand their cultural knowledge of the region, and gain strategies for how to use the Lushootseed in their own classrooms.

The Our Table app, a collaboration between the Tulalip Lushootseed Language Department and the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy, was developed to teach Tulalip’s youngest generation the dialect of Lushootseed.
Lushootseed is taught at Marysville’s Totem Middle School, as well as Marysville Pilchuck and Heritage High Schools, where classes fulfill core course requirements and qualify as a foreign language for admission to colleges and universities. It is also taught at the early learning level—10 teachers at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy speak and teach Lushootseed. Educating kids from birth to age five, is exciting because they are so eager and able to build their language skills.

Learn more about the Lushootseed Language Department and its school and community collaborations on the department’s website.

Meet and Greet: Willie Frank III

Willie Frank III is the chairman of the Nisqually Tribal Council and son of the late environmental leader and treaty rights activist Billy Frank Jr. Like his father, Frank is dedicated to defending tribal sovereignty and treaty rights and protecting habitat and the environment. He also advocates for incorporating tribal curriculum into public schools. Since 2018, Frank has been collaborating with North Thurston Public Schools and other schools in the area to educate students on the culture and history of the Nisqually people, who have lived in the region for 10,000 years. In this Meet and Greet, he discusses the importance of incorporating tribal culture and history into school curriculum, shares some of his history, and reflects on his father’s legacy:

Q: How did you first get involved with North Thurston Schools?

A: I grew up in North Thurston schools—graduated from North Thurston High School in 2000. But I reconnected in 2018, on my niece’s first day of high school. I met Michael Smith, now Rochester High School's principal, and we established a friendship. Smith had been learning about the tribes in the area and working to better understand the experience of native students. I invited him to tribal events to see what it was like for tribe members to live in two different communities at once, and he invited me to talk to students about living as a tribal member in modern-day America.

That’s how it began. Since then, we’ve been working with Nisqually Tribe councilmember Hanford McCloud and Bill Kallapa, another Nisqually tribal member and member of the State Board of Education, to integrate tribal curriculum into the schools in a meaningful way. And North Thurston Public Schools has really embraced it. We’re continually improving the curriculum and piloting new programs. Right now, we’re working on a Nisqually language program that will be worth dual credit for high school and college. We aim to have that program up and running by 2023.

Q: Why is it important to incorporate tribal culture and history into the public school curriculum?

A: Tribes have been treated poorly for so long, we’ve been worn down over the years. My grandfather was the last native speaker of Lushootseed. He didn’t teach it to my father, because he didn’t want my father to be treated the way he’d been treated.

Teaching our tribe’s culture and history is about bringing a sense of pride back to our people. It’s the right time to do it. The younger generation—native and non-native—is ready and eager to learn.

Q: At 27, you became one of the youngest tribal members elected to the Nisqually Tribal Council. Since then, you’ve become a highly respected leader. Did you always know you’d play a leadership role in your tribe and in the greater community?

A: Hard work and dedication were instilled in me at a young age by my parents. Both were in strong leadership roles. I learned a lot from them about being a good leader. My father could have been so angry towards non-Native people for all the times he was arrested. Instead, he went the other direction and became one of the most respected tribal leaders in the country. I knew from a young age that I wanted to carry on that legacy. I enjoy being an advocate on behalf of our tribe and making sure the state and federal government understand that we have a Treaty Right that is the supreme law of the land. We have to keep educating people about our history. We’ve been here for 10,000 years, and our tribe is not going anywhere.

Q: Your father spent his life advocating for salmon, the environment and treaty rights of tribes throughout the United States.  As you carry on his legacy, what is one important message or reminder from him that you hope people continue to remember?

A: There are so many. He made me and countless others realize how sacred the salmon are to our people. We cannot forget that. It’s our job to defend them. Salmon have continued to deplete in the last 15 years. I don’t want to be the generation that catches the last fish. Our tribes in the State of Washington are managers of the resource.

Q: Any final thoughts for students as the 2022-23 school year gets started?

A: Work hard, stay positive, and know that we support you. And go North Thurston Rams!

Tribes Open Facilities to Help Combat the Opioid Epidemic

The opioid epidemic is one of the most significant public health threats in recent history and has been particularly damaging in Indian Country. American Indian and Alaska Native communities have suffered disproportionately high addiction and death rates.

Tribes across Washington state are dedicating extensive resources and expertise to combat the opioid crisis and save lives, including opening new facilities and evidence-based programs where community members—native and non-native alike – can find help for substance use disorders. Here’s a look at three of them:

Jamestown Healing Clinic
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s new Healing Clinic, opened this summer, is a new integrated care clinic with comprehensive patient care including an opioid treatment program, primary care, dental, substance abuse disorder counseling, and behavioral health. Like the Quinault Wellness Center, this $17 million clinic is also based on the Swinomish Tribe’s Wellness Center model. The Jamestown Healing Clinic believes a holistic service delivery approach is most effective at providing sustained recovery for those struggling with addiction. That’s why in addition to offering chemical dependency treatment, they will also offer wrap-around services such as childcare, transportation and individualized care coordination to best address the total needs of their patient population. The clinic is open to anyone who lives in Clallam or Jefferson County.

Quinault Wellness Center
The Quinault Indian Nation’s new Wellness Center, slated to open this fall, is a $20 million gift to the community from tribe, whose reservation rests along Washington’s central coast. The Center’s programming will be based on the successful holistic service model first introduced by the Swinomish Tribe when it opened the didgʷálič Wellness Center in 2017. Services will include addiction and mental health services along with treatment, primary medical, and dental care. They will also provide childcare, a necessity for parents struggling with addiction. The center will be open to any member of the community, tribal member or not, improving access to care in an underserved rural area.

Tulalip Medication-Assisted Treatment Facility
The Tulalip Tribes are set to open a medication-assisted treatment facility to help address the opioid crisis and the growing use of fentanyl in the community. Fentanyl is particularly potent and deadly – it is 100 times more potent than morphine and heroin and just two milligrams is lethal. Abstinence-based treatment rarely works in battling this addiction. The Tulalip clinic intends to care for the whole person, with services that include methadone treatment, mental health care and primary care. A social worker will be onsite to help develop a recovery plan for patients, including housing, mental health care and parenting plans. The clinic will be open to anyone, not just tribal members.

WIGA’s 1st Annual Charity Gala & Auction 

Register today for the Washington Indian Gaming Association's Gala & Auction on November 19, 2022 at the Tulalip Resort Casino!

Proceeds from the event will go to the WIGA Scholarship Program, which awards scholarships to Native American and Alaska Native students pursuing bachelor’s and graduate college or university degrees, as well as degrees from community and technical colleges.

Social Media Highlight

Here’s one of our favorite and most popular recent Facebook posts (visit Washington Tribes on Facebook to read the whole post and see what else we’ve shared lately).

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