**This page is in progress! We will continue to add more links and information about more local tribes over time.
Learn more about the descendants of the maritime people who lived and prospered along the shores of the southernmost inlets of the Salish Sea for untold centuries. Because of their strong cultural connection with water, they are also known as the People of the Water.
The Nisqually - People of the river, people of the grass - have lived in the watershed of the Nisqually River for thousands of years in relative peace and prosperity. The Nisqually have always been a fishing people, with salmon as a foundational part of their culture as well as diet, and are actively working with their neighbors to restore salmon habitat.
For many centuries, two large groups of Salish-speaking people lived along the Chehalis River. They lived in cedar longhouses with one end open to the water from which they received a bounty of salmon and other river-based sustenance. These two groups were the Upper and Lower Chehalis, known as People of the Sands. During treaty-making time, the Chehalis rejected the unacceptable terms of the treaties offered by the US Government, and were considered a “non-treaty” tribe. Despite limited and unpredictable aid from the government, the Chehalis people have endured through self-reliance and determination. Their vision is to be a thriving, self-sufficient, sovereign people, honoring the past and serving current and future generations.
A cohesive culture spanning centuries, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe was not federally recognized until 2000. Without the cover of Federal status, tribal members overcame tremendous obstacles and held firm to their remembered past as one of the largest and richest tribes in what is now Washington State. Today, the legacy of this ancient people is rich with descendants who manage a growing portfolio of health, education, scientific research, housing, transportation, elder care, conservation and legal issues.
The Duwamish people have lived in the Seattle/Greater King County area since time immemorial. They were the first signatories on the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855, signed by Chief Si'ahl, who was chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes. Their longhouse today stands across the street from where one of their largest villages was located before it was burned down by settlers in 1895. The Duwamish are the host tribe for Seattle, the area’s only indigenous tribe. Many of enrolled members still live on Duwamish aboriginal territory, which includes Seattle, Burien, Tukwila, Renton, and Redmond.
The Puyallup Tribe, Generous and welcoming to all people, lived for thousands of years in villages from the foothills of Mount Tacoma, along the rivers and creeks to the shores of Puget Sound, as part of the Salish speaking people of the Pacific Northwest. The Puyallup are currently actively fighting against the LNG facility under construction on the Puyallup River Tideflats.
The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe is a federally recognized Indian tribe whose membership is composed of descendants of the Duwamish and Upper Puyallup people who inhabited Central Puget Sound for thousands of years before non-Indian settlement. The Tribe’s name is derived from the native name for the prairie on which the Muckleshoot Reservation was established.
“What is now known as the Skokomish Tribe actually was primarily composed of Twana Indians, a Salishan people whose aboriginal territory encompassed the Hood Canal drainage basin in western Washington State…. There were nine Twana communities, the largest being known as the Skokomish, or “big river people”…. Twana descendants live on the Skokomish Reservation, and all have become known as the Skokomish Tribe.” (http://www.skokomish.org/culture-and-history/)
Suquamish has been the primary home of the Suquamish people since time immemorial. It is the ancient place on Agate Passage, the site of Old-Man-House Village, the winter home of Chief Seattle and the heart of the Suquamish people. Taking their name from the traditional Lushootseed phrase for “people of the clear salt water”, these expert fisherman, canoe builders and basket weavers have lived in harmony with the lands and waterways along Washington’s Central Puget Sound Region for thousands of years.