Brandi N. Montreuil/Tulalip News
Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon presents a donation for $100,000 to Chuck Morrison, regional executive director of the Snohomish County chapter of the American Red Cross. The donation will help assist with shelter, food and basic needs for the survivors and families devastated by the landslide in Oso, Washington. Tulalip also donated $50,000 to a victims assistance fund administered by a local hospital foundation.

Tribes Assist Landslide Relief Effort With Personnel, Donations and Prayers

Richard Walker

As the death toll from last Saturday’s devastating landslide in Oso, Washington climbed to 16 and a heartbreaking 90 people remained unaccounted for, Northwest tribes stepped forward with donations, personnel assistance and steady prayer.

The fatalities were expected to rise, as more bodies had been found but not yet included in the total. Local, state and federal search and rescue teams, assisted by volunteers and specially trained dogs, continued to comb through a square mile of a slide-swept neighborhood on the Stillaguamish River, hoping to find survivors.

Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon, returning from a March 25 press conference at which emergency management officials updated the public on the rescue and recovery efforts 23 miles away in Oso, did the only thing left to do. He prayed—prayed that survivors would be found, prayed for healing for the families.

Others at Tulalip are praying too. They know this tragedy. The Tulalip people know the stories about the landslide at the ancestral village of WHESH-ud, at the time of the grandparents’ grandparents’ grandparents, when a large portion of the southern tip of Camano Island slid into the sea, sweeping away a village and causing a tidal wave that killed family members on another island.

“That slide took away a lot of our people. We have never forgotten that,” said Sheldon, who lost a childhood friend in this latest slide.

On March 26, the Tulalip Tribes presented a check for $100,000 to the American Red Cross of Snohomish County and $50,000 to the Cascade Valley Health Foundation to assist with the relief effort in Oso. It was a gift of love, a statement that the Tulalip people understand Oso’s pain.

The Stillaguamish Tribe, too, gave $100,000 to relief efforts, as did the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe, donating $5,000.

“The main message is, we’re all in this world together,” Sheldon told ICTMN. “We’ve all shared that same suffering.”

As he presented the donations, Sheldon told those in attendance, “We share our deep condolences with everyone affected by this tragedy, which is heartfelt throughout our community. We hope this donation will aid people as they grieve and work to rebuild their lives.”

The American Red Cross will use the $100,000 to assist with shelter, food and basic needs for the survivors and families. The $50,000 will go into the hospital foundation’s victims assistance fund.

“This generous gift from the Tulalips will help us serve the families of the missing victims of this catastrophic mudslide, who remain our primary focus,” said Chuck Morrison, regional executive director of the Snohomish County chapter of the American Red Cross. “We appreciate the donations from organizations and individuals across the region and the country to help meet the continuing needs.”

Then, the evening of March 26, people met in area churches and prayed. And the rescue effort continued.


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