We Are Rightful Descendants of The Duwamish People

It's Time to Set the Record Straight

Now is the time for an honest accounting of the history of our people and the real harm that would result from reversing half a century of legal rulings that unambiguously reject the claims of a small group seeking recognition as the Duwamish Tribe.

The press, well-meaning individuals, and some politicians seem to ignore the facts and our objections to the legal and cultural appropriation inherent in granting recognition to this group.  

Their uninformed support overlooks our rights, the criteria for federal recognition, and the true history of the Native people of this region.

Our Heritage is Not Anyone's to Take

In 1855, Chief Seattle signed the Treaty of Point Elliott.

In exchange for thousands of acres of land, the Duwamish People left their ancestral villages in the watersheds around Seattle and moved to reservations expressly established for them at Port Madison and the Muckleshoot Prairie, as well as other reservations.  

Though it came at terrible cost in hardship and suffering, our ancestors persevered to preserve their heritage, sovereignty and treaty rights.

Today, more than 95 percent of Muckleshoot Tribal members are descendants of the Duwamish People including Chief Seattle, as are many members of the Suquamish, Puyallup, Tulalip and Lummi Tribes.

Together, we continue the sacred endeavor of our ancestors. But a small group calling itself the Duwamish Tribal Organization is deceptively using the name of our ancestors in an effort to appropriate everything we have fought so hard to preserve.

They continue to do so despite multiple federal court and Interior Department rulings that the group is not a Tribe, and not a legal successor to the Duwamish Tribe that signed the Treaty of Point Elliott.*

The group, headquartered in a longhouse built on our traditional territory, has even convinced many well-intentioned people in Seattle to call for their recognition.

This kind of uncritical support by individuals with little knowledge of local Native history undermines our sovereignty and devalues the Tribal identity we have given so much to protect and preserve.

Image: Chief Seattle, whose mother was from a Duwamish village near present day Kent ancestral to the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, and whose father was Suquamish.

*For details about the U.S. Interior Department's most recent determination about the Duwamish Tribal Organization's request for recognition visit: bia.gov/as-ia/ofa/025-duwami-wa

Seven Things To Know About Duwamish Heritage

  1. The United States recognizes the Muckleshoot Tribe as a political successor to several groups of Duwamish Indians that were party to the Treaty of Point Elliott, including the band to which Chief Seattle belonged.
  2. More than 95 percent of the Muckleshoot Tribal members descend from the Duwamish People who inhabited the Seattle King County area for thousands of years before non-Indian settlement. The Muckleshoot Tribe represents far more Duwamish descendants than the group now seeking federal recognition as the “Duwamish Tribe.”
  3. Two reservations were established specifically for the Duwamish. The United States established both the Muckleshoot and Port Madison Reservations as homelands for Duwamish People. In addition to Muckleshoot, Duwamish descendants are members of the federally recognized Suquamish, Lummi, Tulalip, and Puyallup Tribes.
  4. The Duwamish group is not a Tribe or successor to the historic Duwamish Tribe that signed the Treaty of Point Elliott. This was the determination of George Boldt, the Federal District Court Judge who defied prevailing public opinion at the time, and ruled in favor of the Western Washington Treaty Tribes with the landmark decision confirming Tribal fishing rights.
  5. The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe’s name is derived from the Native name for the prairie on which the reservation was established. Following the reservation’s establishment in 1857, the Tribe and its members came to be known as Muckleshoot, rather than by the historic Tribal names of their Duwamish and Upper Puyallup ancestors.
  6. The Duwamish group was not denied federal recognition based on a “technicality.” In July 2015, after full reconsideration of the record, the Obama Administration definitively rejected federal acknowledgment of the Duwamish group. It concluded the group is not a continuation of the historic Duwamish Tribe and has never constituted the social community or exercised political authority over its members necessary for federal recognition.
  7. Recognized Indian Tribes are more than ethnic heritage groups, they are defined as political entities with governmental authority over their people and territory.

We Are Muckleshoot

For more than 164 years, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe has fought to uphold our sovereignty and heritage. Our identity, our legacy, and our treaty rights are unique to our name and Tribe.

about the Muckleshoot Tribe