A tradition of giving | Tulalip Tribes

We are a people of tradition and values.

As we navigate modern life we are guided by the teachings of our ancestors. From childhood, we are passed generational knowledge that tells us we should always offer our visitors a meal, always give of our hearts, and to always humbly give thanks to those who are working towards something bigger than themselves.

This core value is reinforced by our annual Raising Hands event. In Tulalip, it is traditional to “raise our hands” to applaud and express gratitude to those who have given to us. Through the program, we raise our hands to the numerous non-profit organizations, both locally and in the greater region, that contribute to a more healthy and sustainable community. “We have a lot to be thankful for and if we can help those who are less fortunate, then we feel compelled to do so,” said Quil Ceda Village’s General Manager Martin Napeahi.

In the spirit of Potlatch

We select organizations that work in several sectors— arts and culture, education and youth, the environment, health care, public safety and social services— and are equally committed to supporting good work and positive change in all of them. “Being able to share the goodwill that came our way from gaming helps people understand who we are as a people. We feel a moral obligation to give back,” said Chairman Mel Sheldon. This year alone we are celebrating nearly 420 charities that represent 7.6 million dollars in benefits that have been reinvested into our neighborhood. “In the spirit of Potlach – as we are able to accumulate things for a better way of life–there comes a time where it becomes possible to redistribute. The commitment to share our resources is carried deep in our cultural DNA,” continued Chairman Sheldon.

But the Raising Hands program isn’t all about dollars and cents. At our annual gala at the Tulalip Resort, we give our community’s change makers a chance to celebrate each other, to share their plans for the future, and to learn how others are striving to make a difference in our communities. This is an invaluable benefit for organizations who can sometimes struggle to get their message broadcast to the larger community. Additionally, there are traditional songs, speeches from tribal leaders, and videos that underscore the good work that is being done. The exchange of knowledge and understanding that takes place at the event is truly a sight to behold. “When you go there and see people having these amazing, positive conversations, that is when we see that we are making a difference. Giving people the opportunity to work together is worth its weight in gold,” said Marilyn Sheldon, manager of Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund. “We try to show respect and honor these charities that give so much of themselves for this community. Whatever we can do to give them the opportunity to do more, we will do. We want them to feel like the red carpet just got laid out, and that it’s just for them.”

As we move into a time of sustained prosperity, we are looking for ways to continue to build the program. “Each year, as soon as the event is over, we ask ourselves how we can help make the next one better,” Marilyn said. “Some days, I feel so blessed that this is my job. We are so fortunate to be able to work with these amazing organizations in Snohomish and King counties, and throughout the State, that do so much good in our communities.”

Visit www.TulalipCares.org to learn more about the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund.