We Are Rightful Descendants of the Duwamish People

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Statement on the duwamish tribal organization lawsuit

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Our Heritage is Not Anyone's to Take

After 1855, the Duwamish people were forced to leave their ancestral villages around Seattle and move to designated reservations to preserve their heritage and culture.

Today, the vast majority of Duwamish descendants are members of the Muckleshoot, Puyallup, Tulalip, Suquamish, and Lummi Tribes.

But a small group calling itself the Duwamish Tribal Organization is deceptively using the name of our ancestors in an effort to appropriate our history and our culture.

They persist despite numerous federal court and Interior Department rulings that the Duwamish Organization is not an Indian Tribe, but rather a small group descending from a handful of early marriages with non-Indian settlers who chose to assimilate rather than move to the reservations established for the Duwamish people.

The Muckleshoot, Tulalip, and Puyallup Indian Tribes stand together in opposition to granting the Duwamish Organization federal recognition. They are not an Indian Tribe, and support for their effort is an affront to our sovereignty and the culture we have fought so long to preserve.

*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

7 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

Pictured: The Muckleshoot Canoe Family, pulling on our ancestral waterways in Elliott Bay.