Suquamish Tribe

Mailing Address




Cultural History

The Suquamish Tribe's name literally means "Place of clear salt water". The name comes from the Southern Lushootseed language. They used to live in the Kitsap Peninsula which included Bainbridge and Blake Islands across the Puget Sound. Their name was the ancient name of the Agate Passage. The Agate Passage used to be the Old-Man-House village where their Chief Seattle and most of the citizens live.

They have thrived on the lands that were the first dwellings of their ancestors. They have been in their natural habitat for 10,000 years before today. Their primary food were salmon, clams, berries, roots, ducks, deer and other waterfowls. The tribe is fond of celebrations. They use their food for festivals, family use and trading. The tribe trades their goods with other neighboring tribes who do not have access to harvesting Salmon. 

Their homes were characterized by cedar plank houses on winter season. They had winter villages in the Point Bolin, Poulsbo, Silverdale, Chico, Colby, Olalla, Eagle Harbor, Lynwood Center and Port Madison. Of these villages, the most popular was the Old Man house. 
Their artistic capabilities paved way to the production of ingenious tools and other materials needed for easier harvest of goods and fish. More often than not, they are still best notable for their basket making abilities. Their so called “hard baskets” are made from twisting cedar roots. These hard baskets are ideal both for gathering berries and for cooking delicacies. 

Their main transportation facility is the use of cedar canoes. From s single cedar log, a canoe maker will be able to carve out a canoe by using several techniques such as steaming and spreading to make the canoe wider and more ideal for use. The tribe also had good trails which prevented them from being lost in the wilderness.
Upon their first contact with non-native such as the Britis explorer CaptainGeorge Vancouver, they have started to adapt the changes brought about by this encounter. Fur traders soon arrived to exchange items while others stayed in the area permanently. The Donation Land Claim Act opened their territory to non-natives. Soon enough, several entrepreneurs took the opportunity and started building their empires in the Suquamish settlement.

In the Treaty of 1855, also known as the Point Elliot Treaty, their political body was established thus also paving way for the ceding of parts of their original indigenous lands to the Washington Territory to the United States. It was also during this year that the Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens arrived in Puget Sound with the intention of clearing the land for permanent settlement use.

Today, the Suquamish Tribe still thrives in the Port Madison Indian Reservation. There are 950 known members of the tribe and half of this number is in the reservation area. Upon the destruction of the Old Man House in1904, the Suquamish tribe was forced to put their children in Indian Boarding Schools. They are currently planning to restore the Old Man House because of its significance in their heritage.

The tribe is the main operator of the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort which includes as spa, video slots, poker rooms and many game tables. It is one of the most loved casinos in the United States. Aside from this, the tribe is also busy with maintaining their museums which is frequently visited by tourists all year round.

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