Squaxin Island Tribe

Mailing Address

SE 10 Squaxin Lane
Shelton, WA 98584

Contact Information

360-426-9781

Website

http://www.squaxinisland.org/

Casino(s)

Cultural History

The Squaxin Island Tribe is a Native American tribe who belong to the the Noo-She-Chatl of the Henderson Inlet, the Steh Chass of the Budd Inlet, the Squi-Aitl of the Eld Inlet, the Sa-Heh-Wa-Mish from the Hammersely Inlet, the Sawamish/T'Peeksin of the Trotten Inlet, the S'Hotle-Ma-Mish from the Carr Inlet, the Squawksin of Case Inlet, as well as the other surrounding watersheds. They live in the county that surrounds the narrow inlet of the Big Skookum more popularly known as the Hammersely Inlet. The traditional name of this inlet is the Sa-He-Wa-Mish which was used to honor their ancestors who were the first settlers in the area. However, in 1864, in honor of Charles Mason, its name was changed into County Mason.

The Treaty of Medicine Creek became the subject of arguments when it was discussed on December 25, 1854. The treaty was negotiated in Chinook Jargon which is actually a trade language that was not enough to express the compound issues of treaty making. Nevertheless, it was signed the next day, December 26 and was the first in Washington.

The area granted to the tribe as stated in the treaty included 2,560,000 acres of land with the Cascades on the east Black Hills on the west, Mt. St. Helens and Chehalis Rivers to the south as well as Wilke’s Portage Vashon Island. There were three small reserved areas which served as the main area for the tribe. Later on, the area became known to the public as the Squaxin Island.

Because of the isolation from the city, several tribesmen decided to leave the island and opted for more accessible homes. BY 1862, the residents were only up to 50 which forced the Indian agency to be moved to Puyallup instead. Today, nobody lives year-round on the island.

Despite being abandoned, the island remains to be one of the priorities of the tribesmen for it was the place where they fought for their rights and gained victory. They use it now for fishing, hunting and shellfish picking. Their tribal headquarters is now located in Kamilche where a community has been established. The tribe was also one of the first thirty tribes to adopt the Self Governance Demonstration Project. Thanks to its Bureau of Indian Affairs, it now stands string as one of the leading Native American Tribes. 

The tribe has entered several business enterprises including the Island Enterprises, Incorporated. The company runs the Salish Seafoods, Kamilche Trading Post and the Skookum Creek Tobacco. On the other hand, the Little Creek Casino serves as the tribe’s flagship with its Tribal Gaming services and even a casino website. There are currently 405 members according the 2000 census data, 22 of which live in the Harstine Island while the other 383 settled in the southeast of Kamilche.

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