By Steve Powell / The Marysville Globe
TULALIP — The Tulalip Tribes already are a huge economic force in the region, and three projects in the works are only going to add to that.
Tribal Chairwoman Teri Gobin talked about the projects at her recent “State of the Tribes” address at the Marysville-Tulalip Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
Gobin said tribal organizations provide 3,700 jobs with $270 million in annual wages with a large majority of the workers being non-native.
The three projects under construction now are a new Quil Ceda Creek Casino, a Gathering Hall and a marina.
“All will generate more funds for the tribe,” Gobin said.
The most visible is the $125 million casino, on 15 acres just west of I-5 at Fourth Street. The entertainment destination is scheduled to be finished in early 2021. It was supposed to be done this spring, but a problem with a contractor led to the delay. It will include a parking structure, dining, entertainment and 500 more slots than the old “Q,” which will bring in millions more in gaming revenue each year. A 150-room hotel is also an option.
Construction on a 57,000 square foot Gathering Hall for up to 1,500 tribal members will start in a few months, with completion set for February 2020. The first of a three-phase expansion that will double the size of the marina is under way. Settlement funds from treaty rights will pay for some of the work. It will include a store and a memorial for lost fishermen.
Gobin also talked about how the tribes have helped in other areas — like donating $92 million since 1993 to 480 organizations, such as food banks, chambers of commerce, police and fire departments.
She also talked about work on the reservation, such as investing in education, like at the Early Learning Academy. She mentioned the Tribal Employment Rights Office, or TERO, “my baby,” which helps participants get their GEDs and 24 college credits, along with providing free apprentice-level construction training. Their most-famous project is building little homes for the homeless, used in Seattle and elsewhere.
She talked about the new teen center going in at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club, along with summer youth camps that help teach their culture to participants.
On the other end of the spectrum, she mentioned various programs in place that aid the elders of the tribe.
“We never look ahead without thanking our elders,” she said.
She said the tribal cannabis store, Tulalip Remedy, is doing very well. They are investing millions of dollars in research at Stanford University in the use of cannabis in wellness treatment for opioid addicts and Alzheimer’s patients.
A master plan is being developed for Quil Ceda Village, where the Tulalip Resort Casino-Hotel has an 87 percent occupancy rate.
Gobin talked about Stan Jones, her father, who was a tribal board of director for 44 years, 26 as chairman When he started the tribe had three employees.
“I grew up watching as he took on every challenge, his work ethic and integrity for generations,” she said. Before they got their treaty rights, she said the tribe had 70 percent unemployment. They faced racism, unable to get jobs outside of Quil Ceda Village. She has worked for the tribe for 31 years, helping to create jobs that are not just the seasonal fishing, logging and construction.
She ended the address by talking about the environment — the need to save salmon and whales. Statewide, the tribes are pushing for stream enhancement fixing culvert damage. Locally, they are expanding their hatchery to help salmon returns.
“The orca is crying out to us,” she said, adding the whales “saved us” by allowing seals to drive salmon to shore “so we could eat.”
“It’s a pivotal time in our history because if the salmon are gone and the whales are gone we’re next,” she said.
This story originally appeared in The Marysville Globe, a sibling paper to the Herald.