Rename Ebey Slough for local leader

My Tribal name is “Scho Hallem” which means number one warrior. I’m from the Tuk tuk wa los (owl clan) and a descendent of the Snohomish, Skykomish, Squaxin, Snoqualmie, Skallum and Sk-tah-le-jum Tribes. I’m a proud World War II veteran, Marine Corps Tank Division who served in the South Pacific. I just recently retired from being on our Tulalip Council for 44 years, 26 as Chairman.

On April 16 there was letter from Marily Olin about place names, “’Slough’ OK, but ‘Ebey’ must go.” I would like to thank Ms. Olin for her letter and reminding people of the true history. I agree Ebey Slough should be changed. Col. Issac Ebey was a tyrant who slaughtered Native men, women and children; fighting with guns against bow and arrows for the greed of land.

Just imagine your family living on the same land forever, not bothering anyone. We had plenty of game, fish and everything we needed to survive. The tribes had their relationships with each other for trading and ceremonies. Then the first settlers came and the tribal people greeted them and fed them.

Then the troops came in and there were many battles with the Natives trying to protect their homes. Their houses were burned; they were pushed off their land and moved them onto reservations; resisters were killed or fled to different territories.

The Point Elliott Treaty was signed Jan. 22, 1855; this gave up our land from the water to the Cascades, so they could lay claim on it and we could live in peace. It guaranteed us 50 percent of the fish, health care, education, job skills training and small sections of land called reservations.

At Tulalip, the missionaries came in and built a school, church, hospital and jail. They took every child five and older from all over the Northwest to the boarding schools; where a lot of children died. They were punished for speaking their language and they didn’t get to see their families. Imagine having your children taken from you or being that young child removed from your family.

We were jailed for practicing our religion and singing our songs. All this was done to try to assimilate Natives into the white society, make them farmers, carpenters and blacksmiths.

During this time the government gave tribal people tainted food and disease blankets that killed many people; some tribes where almost wiped out. The boarding schools received government funds for each child they had in their school.

Finally, when the boarding schools closed down; Cushman School in Tacoma became Cushman Hospital and they still took the children. My sister, two brothers and I were all taken to Cushman; where I was for three years. There were four dormitories, two for the girls and two for the boys; one of each was for the sick kids and one for the well kids. This was just like the boarding school, as we had classes, other activities; including boxing matches.

Medical experiments were done on children; even two of our members had a lung removed. They claimed most of the kids had TB and the only cure was cod liver oil and rest. A lot of those kids were checked for TB when they were adults, and they never had it.

I was locked in a closet for being bad, when I overheard the nurses say that my older brother that was in the sick ward passed away; they didn’t know he was my brother. After being there for three years I was being rambunctious and when another kid was sleeping I threw some water in his face. He jumped up screaming and they said you are well and you are going home. If I would have know that, I would have done that right away. I joke, saying I discovered the “healing water.”

There was so much historical trauma for our people, but we have evolved and we survived.

Regarding the suggestion to name the slough after Chief Joseph: It is all about protocol and respect, we are the local tribe and we should be the ones that give permission, after all … this is our territory.

Yes, Chief Joseph was a great leader, but he is from Nez Perce. We should look at the chief leaders from this direct area that promoted peace and signed the Point Elliott Treaty; such as Chief Pat-ka-nam of the Snoqualmoo and Snohomish or Chief See-alla-pa-han who was sub-Chief of the Sk-tah-le-jum that I’m a direct descendant of. For more information on our local history I have written a book that tells about Tulalip history that is sold at the Tulalip Museum and Tulalip Resort Gift Shop called “Our Way” Hoy yud dud; along with other books written by local authors.

You can go to our museum and find information on Great Chief leaders. We have bridged the gaps and have healed our communitees, let us respect one another.

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