Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, left, speaks Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, looks on at the Capitol in Olympia, Washington. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, left, speaks Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, looks on at the Capitol in Olympia, Washington. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Curriculum on state tribes to be renamed after late Tulalip legislator

On Tuesday, John McCoy’s former colleagues in the Senate honored the late lawmaker by passing House Bill 1879.

OLYMPIA — The curriculum teaching students about Pacific Northwest tribes passed another hurdle on its journey to being renamed in honor of late Tulalip lawmaker Sen. John McCoy.

On Tuesday, the state Senate unanimously passed House Bill 1879, officially renaming the “Since Time Immemorial” curriculum to the “The John McCoy (lulilaš) Since Time Immemorial curriculum.” The bill passed the House unanimously earlier this month.

Now, the bill is on its way to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.

“The governor really admired the senator’s record of public service,” Inslee spokesperson Mike Faulk wrote in an email.

While serving in the Legislature, McCoy spearheaded the effort in 2005 to implement the curriculum educating students across the state on Washington tribal governments, cultures and histories. He served in the state House of Representatives for 10 years, then was elected to the state Senate in 2013 where he served for 7 years until his retirement.

McCoy died last year at the age of 79.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-Anacortes, said the renaming would make state history by including McCoy’s traditional Lushootseed name, lulilaš. It would be the first time a Lushootseed word is enshrined in to Washington law, she said.

“I’m really pleased that we are able to put John’s name in statute in English and Lushootseed,” Sen. June Robinson, D-Everett, said Tuesday.

Robinson succeeded McCoy both after he moved from the House to the Senate and when he retired from office.

“He was a great friend and mentor,” she said on the Senate floor.

McCoy’s family wasn’t able to make it to Olympia on Tuesday to see the bill pass the Senate, but they are “incredibly honored by this bill,” Robinson said.

“I hope that (McCoy’s wife) is watching on TVW now,” she said, referring to the state’s public affairs broadcasting service.

The bill passed with bipartisan support through a vote of 49-0. Many of the legislators who voted worked alongside McCoy before his retirement in 2020.

“This is a small but meaningful step,” said Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee.

While in the Legislature, McCoy pushed to strengthen tribal sovereignty and education in the state.

In 2015, for example, he led an effort to revise the curriculum to mandate it in schools, rather than just recommend it.

In 2019, McCoy and Lekanoff worked to pass the Native American Voting Rights Act, making it easier for tribal members living on reservations to vote by increasing access to ballot drop boxes.

“It has been the greatest honor to serve the people of Washington alongside you,” McCoy wrote in a letter to his fellow senators upon his retirement. “It has been a gift to advocate for marginalized and disenfranchised Washingtonians, to lift up the voices of our sovereign tribal communities, to expand access to – and quality of – education and health care, and to do so with a team of dedicated public servants.”

Jenelle Baumbach: 360-352-8623;; Twitter:@jenelleclar.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

Snohomish City Hall on Friday, April 12, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish may sell off old City Hall, water treatment plant, more

That’s because, as soon as 2027, Snohomish City Hall and the police and public works departments could move to a brand-new campus.

Lewis the cat weaves his way through a row of participants during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Downward cat? At kitten yoga in Everett, it’s all paw-sitive vibes

It wasn’t a stretch for furry felines to distract participants. Some cats left with new families — including a reporter.

FILE - In this Friday, March 31, 2017, file photo, Boeing employees walk the new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner down towards the delivery ramp area at the company's facility in South Carolina after conducting its first test flight at Charleston International Airport in North Charleston, S.C. Federal safety officials aren't ready to give back authority for approving new planes to Boeing when it comes to the large 787 jet, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. The plane has been plagued by production flaws for more than a year.(AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)
Boeing pushes back on Everett whistleblower’s allegations

Two Boeing engineering executives on Monday described in detail how panels are fitted together, particularly on the 787 Dreamliner.

Ferry workers wait for cars to start loading onto the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Struggling state ferry system finds its way into WA governor’s race

Bob Ferguson backs new diesel ferries if it means getting boats sooner. Dave Reichert said he took the idea from Republicans.

Traffic camera footage shows a crash on northbound I-5 near Arlington that closed all lanes of the highway Monday afternoon. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
Woman dies almost 2 weeks after wrong-way I-5 crash near Arlington

On April 1, Jason Lee was driving south on northbound I-5 near the Stillaguamish River bridge when he crashed into a car. Sharon Heeringa later died.

Owner Fatou Dibba prepares food at the African Heritage Restaurant on Saturday, April 6, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Oxtail stew and fufu: Heritage African Restaurant in Everett dishes it up

“Most of the people who walk in through the door don’t know our food,” said Fatou Dibba, co-owner of the new restaurant at Hewitt and Broadway.

A pig and her piglets munch on some leftover food from the Darrington School District’s cafeteria at the Guerzan homestead on Friday, March 15, 2024, in Darrington, Washington. Eileen Guerzan, a special education teacher with the district, frequently brings home food scraps from the cafeteria to feed to her pigs, chickens and goats. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
‘A slopportunity’: Darrington school calls in pigs to reduce food waste

Washingtonians waste over 1 million tons of food every year. Darrington found a win-win way to divert scraps from landfills.

Foamy brown water, emanating a smell similar to sewage, runs along the property line of Lisa Jansson’s home after spilling off from the DTG Enterprises property on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Snohomish, Washington. Jansson said the water in the small stream had been flowing clean and clear only a few weeks earlier. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Neighbors of Maltby recycling facility assert polluted runoff, noise

For years, the DTG facility has operated without proper permits. Residents feel a heavy burden as “watchdogs” holding the company accountable.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.