Lummi Nation

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Cultural History

The Lummi Indian Nation is used to speaking the Songish dialect hailing from the Salish Language. This characteristic of the tribe is still widely used today. Their ancestral villages were named Hutatchl, Lemaltcha, Statshum and the Tomwhisken. The tribe has long resided in the area for twelve thousand years now. They are used to living in mountainous and seashores. The tribe has established their houses known as longhouses, which they live for more periods of time until the time when they have to travel to places where food can be found. Despite the diversity of travel, the tribe still returns to their longhouses on seasonal occasions. Their longhouses are still vividly pictures up to this day in their reservation area located in the Whatcom County and the San Juan Islands of the State of Washington. Their food preference is usually protein-rich, most of the time thriving on salmon, trout, shellfish, elk, deer, camas bulbs and some sun-dried berries.

Their culture was known to center to family practices, and they were known to be sociable people often interacting to nearby tribal communities. They were also known to be good artists, creating crafts such as boats, seine nets, houses and other artifacts which are still very much recognized today. Their villages were also very much intact, and their leaders performed the duties well.

The tribe was independent until the invasion of the foreigners in the eighteenth century. By this time, most of the intruders were composed of Russians, Spaniards, Japanese and Englishmen. These invaders disguised themselves as fur traders with business interests in the Lummi Nation Tribe. The transactions were held prior to the contact with the American traders. The American traders did not want to develop the economical stability of the tribe but wanted to use the resources instead. This then led to the fall down of the Indians because of the lack of power within their territory.

Most of the Lummi Nation was converted to the Christian religion because of the efforts of Catholic Casimir Chirouse followed by the Oblate Fathers. The mission launched is now the tribe’s current reservation. The tribe signed the Treaty of Point Elliot with the United States government in 1855. The treaty provided the tribe with more than 15,000 acres of reserved land in exchange of their homelands. The reservation granted to them was not owned by the tribe alone. Instead, the Nooksacks, the Samishes and some other local tribes also lived in the reservation. The size of their reservation has now diminished to about half of its original size.

Nowadays, the tribe is settled in the Lummi Indian Reservation located in the inland northwest corner of Washington which is 8 miles west of the Bellingham and 20 miles to the south of the Canadian border in the western Whatcom County. There are 4,219 enrolled tribal members in the area, of which 49.6% is female while 50.4% is male. They are engaged in several business enterprises as well as farming.

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