Nooksack Indian Tribe

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 157
5016 Deming Road
Deming, WA 98244

Contact Information




Cultural History

The Nooksack Indian Tribe has been given two versions of definitions. The first version given to define the tribe is that the name Nooksack means "mountain men". This name was given to them by the Indians who were on the coast to this unnamed Salish tribe. Another story aiming to define the name of this tribe states that the tribe was named after noot-sa-ack which is one of the native bracken ferns which were part of the dietary habits of the tribe and other indigenous people. No matter what the real definition of the name is, the tribe remains to be the same tribe who has resided in the Whatcom County located on the northwest corner of the Washington State.
The tribe's reservation area is situated seventeen miles on the eastern portion of the Bellingham. The tribe's reservation is centered at a small town called Deming. The tribe, like most of the other indigenous tribes, has thrived into fishing salmon, hunting, gathering berries and trading with the neighboring tribes. This lifestyle was prior to their contact with the Europeans.
The tribe has long resided in the village along the river banks of the Nooksack and the Sumas. However, when the trappers, other fur traders, lumbermen, homesteaders and gold seekers started invading their tribal land, the tribe was forced to seek for other forms of settlings. The tribe then started building semi-subterranean dwelling which were up to a dozen feet deep. These dwellings were then capped with pitched bark roofs. The generation that followed, however, learned the art of constructing dwellings which were above the ground and were longhouses made of cedar boards.
The tribe's fishing territories extended up to the Bellingham Bay up to the British Columbia. The tribe, since then, has already been using fish nets and traps in order to trap the fishes from the rivers and the bays. The tribe's favorite was salmon and all its various types. Salmon was their primary food especially during the winter season. They have mastered the art of drying salmon or smoking it to preserve the freshness of the fish. The tribe also ate wild carrots, ferns and other roots.
The dilemma of the tribe started in the middle of the twentieth century when the Nooksack and other neighboring tribes have to be taken off from their homelands as part of the provisions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The children were sent to boarding schools away from their family. This was done in order for the children to be exposed to a wider society. A century later, the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs named Kevin Gover apologized for the manner of taking the children. He then realized that the best way to expose the tribe to a bigger society was to allow them to do it by themselves through livelihood projects. In the middle of the thirties, the Nooksack tribe signed the acceptance of the provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 which protected them against the non-Natives who were out to get their lands. It was in the year 1971 when the tribe was recognized fully by the federal government and was given an allotment for their reservation. Today, they are in their reservation and are operating various enterprises.

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