Marjorie James

Marjorie James

Marjorie James’ own struggle informs her advocacy for tribes

She tried the Ivy League but returned to Tulalip to help spread the teaching of tribal history.

This is one of 12 finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s Emerging Leaders award, which seeks to highlight and celebrate people who are doing good work in Snohomish County. The winner will be named at an event on April 12.

Name: Marjorie James

Age: 35

Profession: Historical education coordinator, Tulalip Tribes

Marjorie James counts resiliency among the traits that define her as a person.

It’s part of her identity. And it’s part of how she’s overcome disappointment.

“My existence is proof of my ancestors’ resilience and another chapter of our narrative as indigenous people thriving in a dominant culture that is not ours,” James wrote. “The moments I relied on my resiliency the most were all of loss including the loss of a dream.”

The historical education coordinator for the Tulalip Tribes points to her pursuit of a law degree from Harvard University. She graduated from the University of Washington and worked at two law firms that were supportive of an “entry-level idealist.”

She was accepted into several law schools including Harvard’s. She was drawn to the Ivy League.

“Unfortunately, what I found in my choice were two parties, myself and Harvard Law School, who were ill equipped to support or understand each other,” James wrote. “My experience presented adversities I had not anticipated and culture shock that shook me to the core of my identity.”

She said she left without obtaining her law degree. Instead, she did make her way back to the Tulalip Tribes where she’s an enrolled member and where she now works.

At her job, James has helped create partnerships between the tribes and five school districts to provide curriculum to meet state requirements while also delivering the history of the Tulalip Tribes on a region-wide level.

She still intends to get her degree from Harvard. In the meantime, she’s happy working at an organization that has helped so many people in the community, county and state as the Tulalip Tribes.

“The privilege to make my passion my profession while working for my tribal government is one I am grateful to take full advantage of,” James wrote.

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