Port Gamble S'klallam Tribe

Mailing Address

31912 Little Boston Road NE
Kingston, WA 98346

Contact Information





Cultural History

The S'klallam Tribe is also known as the Nux Sklai Yem which means Strong People. The tribe hails from the Salish speaking people who used to live in the areas of the Central British Columbia Coast up to the northwestern portion of Oregon and in the interior Fraser and the Columbia River Basins. The tribe was doing well in the Puget Sound Basin during in the 1400 A.D. They arrived in the Basin from the Skagit and the Fraser rivers. The tribe occupied the shores along the Straits of the Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet and the Puget Sound while trying to adapt in the life of natural bounty of the land, rivers and the sea. The tribe built permanent villages of plank and pole houses which provided for the housing units of the other members who were homeless. The homes sheltered the families and their extensions during the winter months which were also the times of the traditional and religious ceremonies. The families sought for living during spring by means of hunting, fishing and gathering berries throughout their territories. It was also during the spring time when the tribe engaged in camping and looking for other root crops. They temporary shelter, on the other hand, was made from rush mats and notched cedar poles. The tribe is known fro their friendliness with the other neighboring tribes as well as their hospitality. They even shared their fishing territories with the other tribes thus preventing intertribal conflicts. 

On the late eighteenth century, the tribe made their first contact with the Europeans, when the English and the Spanish explorers discovered their communities upon penetration of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The explorers were seeking the legendary Northwest Passage when they discovered the tribal communities. The Europeans were fur traders, missionaries, gold seekers and settlers who made a dramatic impact on the lives of the tribe. 

When the Europeans made their first contact with the tribe, their culture was likewise adapted changing the traditional lifestyle of the tribe. The Europeans brought with them the smallpox virus, which triggered the extinction of the tribe. There was ninety percent mortality rate and in the year 1845, there were only one thousand five hundred S’Klallams left. In the year 1853, there were only not more than four hundred tribal members that survived.

The tirbe was then outnumbered by the invaders whose number rose up to four thousand. Most of the White settlers inhabited the areas in the Puget Sound because of its natural resources. Soon, bloody clashes increased and the territories were regained.

Decades later, the tribe is now on the brink of success. The tribal members enrolled in the community as of the year 2004 is up to 1,045. Of these tribal members, more than six hundred are residing in the reservation and one hundred fifty are residing adjacent to the reservation. The major employers in the community are the Tribal Council and the business enterprises. The community is also proud of their Wellness Center, their ceremonial Longhouse as well as a Career and Education Center.

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