Tulalip Tribes share wealth

TULALIP – The Tulalip Tribes announced $2.2 million in gifts to 150 local organizations Friday in a ceremony that featured traditional songs and dances and a salmon dinner for the grant recipients.

Since the tribes began giving 14 years ago, more than $22 million has been distributed to organizations around the region.

“I never had any idea that we’d be able to do this,” tribal Chairman Stan Jones Sr. said.

The tribes opened a small bingo hall in 1983, when tribal members were struggling with overwhelming poverty.

In 1992, the tribes built a casino off I-5. Nine years later, a second casino opened that was three times the size of the first.

Last year, rows of retailers at the Seattle Premium Outlets began to draw thousands of shoppers within walking distance of the casino. And crews are poised to break ground at a four-star hotel near the casino later this year.

As the tribes’ wealth has grown, they began to give back to the area residents who made a success out of Quil Ceda Village, home to the casino and the outlet mall.

“We’ve always been here,” Quil Ceda Village General Manager John McCoy said. “You came to join us, and nobody is going anywhere. We need to work and play together.”

The tribes gave nearly $300,000 in 1993, the first year of the tribes’ charity program. The grants have increased steadily over the years, and broke $1 million in 2002.

This year, grants ranging from $500 to more than $160,000 were awarded to a range of local groups, including the Imagine Children’s Museum, the American Red Cross’ Snohomish County chapter and a host of fire and police departments that serve portions of the Tulalip Reservation.

The tribes have made gifts averaging about $10,000 each year to the local American Red Cross, said Chuck Morrison, Snohomish County Chapter director.

The group will receive a $100,000 grant from the tribes later this year to double the number of emergency shelter start-up kits placed strategically around the county.

“Our major disaster will most likely be an earthquake, and I mean, Katrina-scale,” Morrison said. “The kits consist of cots, sleeping mats, blankets, pillows, everything you need to make people comfortable, warm, secure and nourish them in the hours after a major disaster.”

The tribes gave $100,000 to the chapter after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and again after Hurricane Katrina, Morrison said. Both gifts were transferred to national American Red Cross officials.

The Sauk-Suiattle and Stillaguamish tribes received grants of more than $2,500 each. The Tulalip Tribes salmon parade, cultural department, grounds maintenance and other departments received grants of more than $10,000 each.

Reporter Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422 or kkapralos@heraldnet.com.

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