For possibly the first time the Tulalip Tribes flag was be flown with the U.S. flag and the Washington state flag at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.
In a ceremony on June 7, Marysville school officials and Tulalip Tribal members gathered to raise the flag at the school.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said Chelsea Craig, cultural specialist at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary school. “By raising this flag we are healing the story of education for our community, Marysville and Tulalip."
M-PHS principal Christine Bell has worked throughout this year to put the flag up at the school.
“This is the first time ever, as far as I know, that a Tulalip flag has been risen on a Marysville School District property,” she said.
The school will display one flag at the entrance of the school and have two more that will be displayed during events at the school.
“The commitment is not just a flag, but it really is a partnership,” said Bell.
The Marysville School District is working on procuring and displaying the flag at other schools as well, according to Jodi Runyon, director of communications, engagement and outreach at the district.
Native staff at the school district were glad the step was taken.
Doug Salinas, a Native student advocate at Marysville Getchell High School and Spokane Tribal member, was a graduate of M-PHS.
“I’m the class of ’91 and I’d never thought we’d see this day … it was definitely worth the wait,” he said.
Craig also graduated from the school.
“Thirty years ago I graduated here when it wasn’t so safe to be Indian on this campus, at a time when our numbers were low,” she said.
There were only seven Native students who graduated in her class, she said.
“That says a lot about who we were at that time,” said Craig.
Bell said she hopes this is one step in reconciliation and representing all students at the school.
“This is a great moment for us, a healing moment for us, where we get to bring together the communities of Marysville and Tulalip,” she said.
Schools need to show that all of their students are celebrated and respected, said Bell.
“It’s very important to me as a principal that all of our students see themselves in this school,” she said. “For as long as I’ve been here, we’ve worked hard to make it that way."
Seeing Native representation in more parts of the school will be good for students, said Craig.
“Sometimes the only thing we see is the mascots, and that didn’t bring pride to me at that time [when Craig was in high school],” she said.
Bell will be leaving M-PHS as principal this summer and Tulalip community members also presented her with a blanket as a going away gift.