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Sheldon presents State of the Tribes


Christopher Andersson

Tulalip Tribal chairman Mel Sheldon Jr. gives his State of the Tribes address at the Tulalip Resort Casino in front of the Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce on June 24.

Mel Sheldon Jr., Chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, talked about projects the Tribes have completed and the $150 million in future projects during his State of the Tribes address on June 24.

Sheldon gave his address to the Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

For the youth of the Tulalip Tribes, the Debra Barto Skateboard Park and the Gunny Jones Athletic Fields were completed, located right by the Don Hatch center.

"It really is a golden era for our kids. They have a place to go, they have adult supervision and they have things to do," said Sheldon.

The Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy was also dedicated last September.

"Currently we have 260 kids from birth to five [years old]. The Tribe understands the importance of getting kids ready for their journey. We want to do the best we can and so we put our money on the table," said Sheldon.

After 20 years of grants and planning, the Tribes dedicated the Qwuloolt Estuary project last fall, which they hope will restore a natural estuary habitat to southern Marysville.

"Now eagles, fish, natural vegetation and the entire ecosystem will flourish as the area moves back to a more natural state," said Sheldon.

Currently, the 116th Street interchange construction is going on and is about 60 percent done, said Sheldon. The project is meant to improve the safety and traffic flow and is important for Tulalip and surrounding areas, he said, because the street is a "vital artery that connects our communities and commerce centers."

They expect the construction to be done by fall.

The state legislature also funded improvements to the 88th Street interchange for the future.

The Tulalip Tribal Board recently approved three major construction projects for the future: a new Quil Ceda Creek Casino, a justice center and a community gathering hall.

Sheldon estimates the projects will cost $150 million.

The new Quil Ceda Creek Casino would be across the street next to the Roy Robinson Subaru and would have an expanded gaming floor and a parking garage.

"This is many locals' favorite place to play because of the ambience," said Sheldon, and they want to continue that feel.

A justice center would be built near Walmart and the Home Depot to serve the police department and Tribal Court.

"Currently they're in a very, very old building and it's also located where we want to move the Q [Quil Ceda Creek Casino]," said Sheldon.

The Tribal Court also may be developing more wellness alternatives to combat addiction, said Sheldon.

"We believe that developing a program like that allows for alternative sentencing. Rather than throwing them in jail and hoping they get well, we can work with them and hopefully return them to society in a good way," he said.

A community gathering hall near Tulalip Bay could potentially host many events, including funerals.

"At Tulalip our funerals, because we're such a small community and know each other, our funerals are 300 to 400 people attending and having a community gathering center for that would really help out," he said.

Other events like plays or community gatherings are possible, he said.

Finally, Sheldon said the Tribes' lawsuit for sales taxes from Quil Ceda Village continues.

The $40 million in sales tax that the village generates gets sent to Olympia with none returning directly to the village.

Sheldon said that Tulalip officials have worked with state governors and legislators to get an agreement in place, including get a bill passed in the House of Representatives, but that bill failed in the State Senate.

Because nothing could get done they moved forward with their lawsuit.


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