Stephanie Fryberg: Living in aftermath of a tragedy at Tulalip

Stephanie Fryberg testifies at a 2011 hearing. Photo from Senate Indian Affairs Committee / Flickr

Stephanie Fryberg, a
professor and member of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, discusses the tragedy that struck her community last October:
These days when I shop in Marysville, I pay cash. My last name on my credit card attracts so many odd looks and awkward questions that I would rather save us all the discomfort.

As an American Indian social psychologist who studies how culture and race influence how people relate to one another, I am used to uncomfortable questions. But the school shooting on Oct. 24 changed everything. On that day, a member of my family, who also carried the Fryberg name, killed four of his Marysville-Pilchuck High School classmates, one of whom was my cousin, and seriously wounded another, who was also my cousin, before turning the gun on himself.

This is one of the worst school shootings since Sandy Hook in 2012, and so the first question many people ask is: Why did this young man commit such a horrific act?

While research suggests that teenagers who engage in acts of violence toward others and themselves are dealing with a deep level of emotional pain, the reality is that we may never fully understand the complex set of factors that coalesced in this horrific event. What we do know is that this tragedy has devastated the families of the victims, the students who survived the incident, and the communities of Marysville and Tulalip.

We have been forever changed.

As a member of the Tulalip crisis-response team, a Fryberg, and a Tulalip tribal member, I have spent nearly every waking minute since the tragedy thinking about what it means that this shooting happened in our communities, what we can learn from it and how we can move forward.

Such a tragedy is unspeakable wherever it occurs. But, in this case, the dynamics of the Tulalip Tribes, the Fryberg family and the Marysville-Tulalip communities are intricately tied to the heavy silence that ensued.

Get the Story:
Stephanie A. Fryberg: Living in the aftermath of tragedy (The North County Outlook 1/14)

Related Stories:
Opinion: Tulalip Tribes confront racism after school shooting (11/11)
Young member of Tulalip Tribes dies after school shooting (11/10)
Tulalip Tribes to meet Red Lake Nation delegation after tragedy (11/3)
Tulalip Tribes grieving after school shooting leaves three dead (10/27)

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