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Jeromy Sullivan: History of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: jeromy sullivan, port gamble skallam, treaties, washington

Jeromy Sullivan, the chairman of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, shares history and culture of the S'Klallam people in Washington:
Prior to non-Native people making their way to the Pacific Northwest, there were many S’Klallam communities throughout the Strait of Juan de Fuca and into the Hood Canal at Port Gamble Bay. Other groups, such as the Twana (Skokomish), Chemakum, and Suquamish, also made use of the lower Hood Canal.

S’Klallam settlements were not stagnant, as families and communities followed a seasonal round of resource harvesting activities that took people across the S’Klallam landscape. People hunted elk in the Olympic Mountatins, harvested fall chum salmon in Hood Canal rivers, and fished for halibut in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

As settlers began to arrive in the area, they did not recognize S’Klallam natural and resource management and land tenure practices. Euro-American ideas of land ownership differed significantly from S’Klallam concepts of ownership, which emphasized stewardship, resource management, and making resources available across community and kinship networks.

In 1853, President Franklin Pierce appointed Isaac Stevens the first governor of the Washington Territory. One of Stevens’ first and most arduous tasks was settling land claims in order to open the territory for settlement. Stevens did this by signing a series of treaties with territory Tribes in 1854 and 1855. These were known as the Stevens Treaties.

Get the Story:
Jeromy Sullivan: Understanding S’Klallam’s government, culture (Kingston Community News 2/11)

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