Descendants of pioneers reverse the stand of their ancestors and support federal recognition of the Duwamish Tribe on June 18, 1988.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 1/29/2001
  • Essay 2956
On June 18, 1988, 72 descendants of Washington settlers reverse their ancestors and petition the Bureau of Indian Affairs in support of federal recognition of the Duwamish Tribe.

The signers were members of the Pioneer Association of the State of Washington. The Pioneer Association maintains Pioneer Hall in Seattle's Madison Park as a meeting hall and archive of pioneer records.

The Petition



The Duwamish Indians, along with numerous other Indians, signed the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855, which provided for land allotments on Indian reservations. Congress appropriated an inadequate amount of land for the number of reservations needed and the Duwamish Indians failed to receive their land allotments. In an effort to correct this deficiency, in the mid-1860's, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) proposed a Duwamish Indian Reservation along the White and Green River Valleys. However, some 170 early settlers of Seattle and King County signed a petition in 1866 to opposed the Duwamish reservation, hence the BIA withdrew the proposal. One hundred thirty three years later, the Duwamish Indians still have not been granted their reservation provided for in the Point Elliott Treaty.

Recently, the BIA has concluded that since the Duwamish Indians have no land, they cannot be recognized as a "tribe". Individually, the Duwamish people will continue to be recognized by the BIA as legal American Indians. However, corporately, they will no longer have recognition as a tribe". This will deprive them of the benefits granted to Indian Tribes throughout the country.

We, the undersigned descendants of the pioneers of Washington State, in an effort to reverse previous long-term injustices, grant our support for federal recognition of the Duwamish Indian people as a "tribe". 18 June 1988

[Here follow the signatures of 72 members.]

Sources: "Petition: To the Honorable Arthur A. Denny, Delegate to Congress from Washington Territory," n.d., National Archives Roll 909, "Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-81"; Pioneer Association of the State of Washington, "A Petition to Support Recognition of The Duwamish Indians as a 'Tribe', June 18, 1988, in possession of Ken Tollefson, Seattle, Washington.

Related Topics:   Northwest Indians | Pioneers | Roots

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You