Tulalips mourn young radio host Johnny Enick

TULALIP — To Johnny Enick, a Tulalip tribal member, technology was a way to share American Indian culture.

A longtime member of the Tulalip Youth Multimedia Club, Enick’s natural journalism talent landed him on an American Indian-focused radio program based in La Conner. It was his chance to use high-tech equipment to highlight, among other things, ancient traditions.

Enick, 23, died this week. He was last seen on Sunday at the Stillaguamish River near Arlington. Divers from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office found his body in the water on Tuesday morning, sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said. There was no sign of foul play.

“Our community is in a state of shock,” tribal chairman Mel Sheldon said Wednesday. “Our prayers and thoughts are with his family and the community.”

Enick joined the Tulalip Boys &Girls Club as a pre-teen, said Diane Prouty, who works at the club. He was active in the club for years, then joined the staff as an adult, she said. He left that job less than a year ago, but planned to return soon, she said.

Enick was a mentor to the younger kids, and loved to encourage them, Prouty said.

The other major factor that drew Enick to the Boys &Girls Club was the multimedia opportunities. Robin Carneen, who led the Tulalip Youth Multimedia Club, offered Enick and other club members the chance to air their radio reports on her radio show, First People’s Radio in La Conner. Enick always was first in line to hop in a vehicle and travel to a powwow or a musical show to conduct interviews, Carneen said.

“You didn’t have to ask him twice,” she said. “He had so much confidence and natural ability toward media. It suited him really well.”

Enick’s interviews include one session with Mike Kuzma, an attorney for Leonard Peltier, an American Indian who was sent to prison in connection with a violent incident at South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975.

Enick was enthralled with the controversy over Peltier’s imprisonment, Carneen said, and the investigative angle of the case attracted him.

“You could just see the wheels turning as he was asking questions,” Carneen said. “He had big dreams. He wanted to stick with journalism.”

Enick was beloved among his friends and family. When he disappeared, family members and people from the Tulalip Boys &Girls Club helped the sheriff’s office look for him. When his body was found, sheriff’s deputies allowed Enick’s friends to carry it to a vehicle, to fulfill a tribal tradition, Hover said.

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

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