Duwamish Chair: Tribe struggles for federal recognition
"Our tribe is the Duwamish Nation, indigenous people of Seattle, Wash., who signed the Point Elliott Treaty in 1855, ceded 54,000 acres, was promised a reservation and hunting and fishing rights. Presently, we are still here but with no status.

During the Fish Wars that ended in 1974, U.S. District Judge George Boldt, affirmed Indian fishing rights, but this great battle ended with the Duwamish, Snohomish, Steilacoom, Snoqualmie and the Samish tribes being shut out, dismissing them as political non-entities with no treaty rights. The Duwamish, “the people of the inside,” have been suffering like all landless tribes who in good faith listened to the Indian agents and politicians when in reality should have enjoyed the rightful benefits that all Indian tribes have today.

These tribes entered the recognition process that was set up to help all tribes to prove their existence since treaty times. It was a nasty travesty! The Duwamish started doing active research in 1978, hiring consultants, enlisting volunteers. During this time, we endured countless delays from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Then in 1996, it denied our petition, finding we failed to prove three of the seven tests for recognition.

We continued on with our endless battle to prove our existence, documenting our people from Chief Sealth to the present, our participation in potlatches, and other traditional gatherings, and most importantly preparing genealogy charts to rebut the finding that today’s Duwamish are not a continuation of Seattle’s tribe and then documenting the hierarchy of chiefdoms that governed the Duwamish and other Puget Sound Indian groups."

Get the Story:
Cecile A. Hansen: Duwamish plea (Indian Country Today 4/19)

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