The sun broke through the clouds Tuesday morning, Aug. 2, as Tulalip chairman Mel Sheldon welcomed tribal members and guests to a groundbreaking ceremony at a vacant lot in Quil Ceda Village that will soon become the site of a new Cabela's sporting goods store.
Promising to use his longhouse voice, Sheldon gave credit to Tulalip leaders who laid the groundwork for the Tribes' business successes, and predicted that "other businesses will look at the Cabela's project as proof that you can do business with the Tulalip Tribes."
The national sporting goods store, known for its upscale inventory and museum-quality natural history displays, has been negotiating with the Tribes for six years, off and on, with conversations ramping up about a year ago.
"Even in this tough economy, Cabela's recognized the strength of our potential partnership," said Sheldon. "The store will be a great fit, helping us to make Quil Ceda Village a destination. Anytime Cabela's comes to your neighborhood, it should be a national holiday."
Glen Gobin, the Tribes' vice-chairman and head of the business committee, added, "This is a great day. We finally get to put something on this bare ground, which is great for our Tribe, Quil Ceda Village and the entire surrounding community."
"I've gotten in trouble before for calling the casino our 'cash cow'," admitted tribal treasurer Chuck James, "but we have to think about how to feed that cow. We tried to figure out what would bring people here, from Seattle and beyond, even from Canada, to shop and stay overnight-maybe two nights."
"Having Cabela's come aboard is a big deal," he added.
Operation of the store, which will encompass 110,000 square feet of indoor space, is expected to mean the creation of 200 local jobs. The anticipated date of completion is April 2013.
Sheldon noted that this marks the first Cabela's to be located on an Indian reservation.
"I expect to get calls from other tribes about this deal," he said with a smile.
After remarks from the current Tulalip Board of Directors, members of the Canoe and Salmon Family offered two songs for the gathering. The second, a canoe song created by Ray Fryberg, represented paddling together to reach a common goal. As the song progressed, younger Tulalip leaders Tony Hatch and Jake Gobin took the lead on several verses, underscoring the transition of responsibility that is passed down from generation to generation within the Tribes.