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The Suquamish are a Lushootseed-speaking Native American people, located in present-day Washington in the United States They are a southern Coast Salish people Today, most Suquamish people are enrolled in the federally recognized Suquamish Tribe,1 a signatory to the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott Chief Seattle, the famous leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Tribes for which the City of Seattle is named, signed the Point Elliot Treaty on behalf of both Tribes The Suquamish Tribe owns the Port Madison Indian Reservation


  • 1 Language
  • 2 Culture
  • 3 Early history
  • 4 19th century
  • 5 Later leaders
  • 6 Recent history
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links


Suquamish people traditionally speak a dialect of Lushootseed, which belongs to the Salishan language family


Like many Northwest Coast indigenous peoples, the Suquamish enjoyed the rich bounty of land and sea west of the Cascade Mountains They fished for salmon and harvested shellfish in local waters and Puget Sound The cedar tree provided fiber used to weave waterproof clothing and beautiful utilitarian items, and provided wood for longhouses, seagoing canoes and ceremonial items Today, the Suquamish fish and harvest within their historical territory, and a new generation of local artists — among them Ed Carriere,2 Betty Pasco,3 and Andrea Wilbur-Sigo4 — carry on the ways of their ancestors in creating beautiful carved or woven items that help tell the story of the Suquamish people

The Suquamish traditionally lived on the western shores of Puget Sound, from Apple Tree Cove in the north to Gig Harbor in the south, including Bainbridge Island and Blake Island They had villages throughout the region, the largest centered on Old Man House, the largest winter longhouse in the Salish Sea

Early historyedit

The first contact between Suquamish and European peoples came in 1792 when George Vancouver explored Puget Sound and met members of the Suquamish Tribe, possibly including Schweabe and Kitsap More regular contact with non-Natives came with the establishment of British trading posts in Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia in the early 19th century

19th centuryedit

Once the Washington Territory was established in 1853, the US government began signing treaties with area indigenous leaders to extinguish aboriginal claims and make land available for non-Native settlement In the Point Elliott Treaty signed on January 22, 1855, the Suquamish agreed to cede land to the United States in exchange for certain payments and obligations They reserved for themselves the land that became designated as the Port Madison Indian Reservation, near their winter village on Agate Pass They also reserved the right to fish and harvest shellfish in their Usual and Accustomed Areas, and reserved certain cultural and natural resource rights within their historical territory Today, the Suquamish Tribe is a co-manager with the State of Washington of the state's salmon fishery

Two members of the Suquamish came to be recognized across the region as great leaders One was Kitsap, who led a coalition of Puget Sound Tribes against the Cowichan Tribes of Vancouver Island around 1825 Another was Seattle also spelled Si-ahl, Sealth, See-ahth, and Seathl, pronounced ˈsiʔaːɬ, son of Schweabe, who was a peacekeeper during the turbulent times of the mid-19th century1

Later leadersedit

Martha George served as chairwoman of the Suquamish Tribe from the late 1920s to the early 1940s5

Lawrence Webster 1899-1991 served as chairman of the Suquamish Tribe from 1979-1985 In 1979, he traveled to Washington, DC, to represent Native Americans at an event commemorating the 15th anniversary of the government program, VISTA In 1983, he helped establish the Suquamish Museum Earlier in his life, he was a noted baseball catcher, playing on a Suquamish team in 1921 that was sent by a national sporting-goods company on a goodwill tour of Japan6

Leonard Forsman, an anthropologist and archeologist who has served as the Suquamish Tribe’s chairman since 2005, is a governor-appointed member of the state Board on Geographic Names and an Obama appointee to the US Advisory Council on Historic Preservation7

Cindy Webster-Martinson, a former Suquamish Tribal Council member, is vice president of the North Kitsap School Board elected in 2013 to a four-year term and is believed to be the first Native American elected to non-Tribal public office in Kitsap County7 She is a granddaughter of Lawrence Webster

The Suquamish Tribe is governed by a seven-member council, elected by citizens of the Suquamish Tribe Government departments include administration, child support enforcement, community development, court, early learning center, education, fisheries, human services, legal, natural resources, police The Tribe contracts with local fire districts for fire protection service

Economic contributions in 2012: $522 million in wages and benefits paid to employees; $468 million in goods and services purchased; $186 million in capital project investment Community contributions in 2012: $694,033 awarded to 201 organizations7

Recent historyedit

Port Madison Enterprises, the Tribe’s economic development arm, is the second-largest private-sector employer in Kitsap County with 752 employees, surpassed only by Harrison Medical Center8

Port Madison Enterprises is governed by a seven-member board of directors, which includes a Tribal Council liaison Ventures: Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, White Horse Golf Club, Kiana Lodge, PME Retail, Property Management Subsidiaries: Port Madison Enterprises Construction Corporation The PME Fund sets aside non-gaming funds for distribution as grants to organizations that “improve the lives of community members” and “support worthy programs in the region”

The Tribe has reacquired land lost during the allotment era, and “the Tribe and Tribal members now own more than half of the land on the reservation for the first time in recent history,” Suquamish Tribe communications director April Leigh said7 Major acquisitions include White Horse Golf Club in 2010, placed into trust in March 2014; and 200 acres known as the Place of the Bear, in the Cowling Creek watershed, in November

As of 2014, the reservation area consists of 7,657 acres, of which 1,475 acres are owned by the Suquamish Tribe, 2,601 acres are owned by individual citizens of the Suquamish Tribe, and 3,581 acres are owned by non-Indians7

In 2011, the Suquamish Tribal Council voted unanimously to approve same-sex marriage9


  1. ^ a b Suquamishnsnus
  2. ^ Burkemuseumorg
  3. ^ Stoningtongallerycom
  4. ^ Cedarhilllonghouseca
  5. ^ "Notable Native American Women" Retrieved 2013-04-20 
  6. ^ Seattle Times
  7. ^ a b c d e Walker, Richard January 30, 2015 "Suquamish Tribe’s economic boom ‘breathtaking’" North Kitsap Herald 
  8. ^ Kitsapedaorg
  9. ^ Yardley, William August 12, 2011 "A Washington State Indian Tribe Approves Same-Sex Marriage" The New York Times Retrieved August 12, 2011 

External linksedit

  • Suquamish Tribe Port Madison Indian Reservation homepage
  • Suquamish Museum
  • Tulalip Tribes v Suquamish Indian Tribe, 794 F3d 1129 9th Cir 2015 — decision of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a treaty fishing rights case

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