When Captain George Vancouver’s fleet worked its way through Puget Sound, it did not go unnoticed. The Duwamish tribe, among other groups indigenous to the area, watched carefully from the shore. Among them was a boy who would become one of the most famous Duwamish leaders, and a key player in the survival of the fledgling settlement.
Chief Si`ahl, known for his peaceful ways and strong leadership, met the second group of European-American settlers at Alki Point in 1851. The city bears his name, Seattle, while his descendants lack federal recognition.
The Duwamish, having lived in the region for over 8,000 years by the time the settlers arrived, offered a wealth of knowledge, acting as guides and instructing the settlers in skills necessary for surviving in the Pacific Northwest. In 1866, the same year Chief Seattle died, recommendations were made to the United States Government that a reservation be established for the tribe. Due to backlash from the city’s citizens and civic leadership however, a reservation never materialized.
After significant struggles, the Duwamish tribe was granted federal recognition in 2001, only to have the ruling reversed in 2002. In the absence of federal recognition, the tribe formed Duwamish Tribal Services, a 501(c)(3) providing services for over 600 enrolled members. They continue their fight for recognition today.
The Duwamish tribe is holding its Longhouse Gala and Auction on Saturday, June 4th at 4pm to benefit Duwamish Tribal Services and the Duwamish Longhouse Project . Festivities will include native entertainment, buffet-style dinner, wine reception, and art auctions. If you are interested in attending, or for more information, contact the tribal office at (206) 431-1582 or check out the tribe's official website: www.duwamishtribe.org