Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 817
11404 Moorage Way
LaConner, WA 98257

Contact Information

360-466-7200

Website

http://www.swinomish.org/

Casino(s)

Cultural History

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community is ideally located in the peninsula of the Fidalgo Island in the upper Puget Sound, just across the Swinomish Channel. The tribe is a amalgamation of several other tribes and bands coming from the Coastal Salish. Unified as one, they are more commonly known as the Swinomish tribe dwelling on their Swinomish Reservation home. The tribes within this tribe include those of Swinomish, the Samish, Kikyalus, Lower Skagit all bound by the laws of the federal government.
The whole of the reservation area encompasses 8,155 acres which are either owned in trust or owned by the non-natives. 

Their native tongue is the Lushutseed which was coined from the Salish language. Like most of the other Northwestern Tribes, the Swinomish are known for their expertise in Salmon fishing, canoe making and longhouses made out of cedar. However, they are fishing people because of the wide salmon fishing. Many folklores state that the place where they lived were generally blessed with a good number of Salmon. The Swinomish Indian Tribe did not consume all their salmon catches until winter. Aside from fishing, they are well known to be hunters and berry hunters.

The longhouse served as a channel for the passageway of the Swinimish spiritually towards the development of its culture. The use of longhouses was handed down to generations as part of their original way of living. They were fond of ceremonies using fire and smoke to express the ongoing celebrations some of which can last half day. Later on, the carving became more useful as they regarded the longhouses for spirit dancing and other rituals. 

During the nineteenth century, the tribe faced several invaders who were hungry for land. To keep their indigenous dwellings, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community became one with the other tribes who signed the Point Elliot Treaty of 1855 which paved way for the creation of the Swinomish Reservation. In the Presidential Executive Order in 1873, they were given an additional 60 acres totaling their area to 7,449 acres.

It was in the 1850ís when the Swinomish Indian Tribe was influenced by the Roman Catholic faith thanks to the mission led by Father Casimir Chirouse and his group of Oblate fathers.

The tribe felt deprived of their rights when the Bureau of Indian Affairs prohibited them from performing their rituals. Epidemics also threatened the loss of many lives as longhouses were burned for health purposes. During the 1960ís, the Swinomish Indian Tribe sent a petition to the Indian Claims Commission for its reservation. This was filed so that they could get their allotment as stated in the Point Elliot Treaty of 1855. The petition was dismissed on June 21, 1971.

The tribe was awarded a $1,200,000 research money to investigate on the tribeís ingest contaminants when they consumed shellfish that they gathered from regular places. This is to ensure that the epidemics that killed hundreds will not affect the other non-native and the natives of today.

In 1999, the tribe decided to purchase their lost lands and has now reoccupied the 1,100 acres of their reservation land. Today, the tribe is engaged in businesses like the Swinomish Northern Lights Casino and the Swinomish RV Park and Camping site.

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