Delegates from the Port Madison Reservation (Suquamish) celebrate Christmas at Tulalip on December 25, 1876.

  • By Margaret Riddle
  • Posted 11/01/2008
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8827

On December 25, 1876, delegates from the Suquamish Tribe's Port Madison Reservation celebrate Christmas at Tulalip. On Christmas Eve, a delegation from the Suquamish Tribe had arrived to speak to the new Indian agent at Tulalip, Edward Mallett. They had heard that their tribe would be moved to another reservation.  Mallett greeted them and assured them the rumor was without truth. He invited them to camp at Tulalip and join Christmas Day celebrations hosted by retiring agent Father Eugene Casimir Chirouse (1821-1892) and the Mission school teachers, students, family, and friends of St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church.

A Joyous Christmas Day 

A rumor had circulated among the Suquamish Tribe of the Port Madison Reservation that they were to be moved to a different location.  Since the Tulalip Reservation was the regional Indian agency, the delegation traveled there to learn of their fate. They arrived on Christmas Eve 1876 and were greeted by both Father Eugene Casimir Chirouse and the new Indian agent, Edward Mallett, who assured them that no such move was planned.  Mallett invited them to join their Christmas celebrations.

Both a midnight mass and Christmas Day service were held in the Mission church. On Christmas Eve, children of the Mission school sang and gave recitations. Father Chirouse delivered his service in the Snohomish dialect and also served as translator for agent Mallett. A gift exchange followed, each student, teacher, and guest receiving a gift as well as candy or fruit. Christmas songs were sung and the occasion concluded with a Benediction. It is recorded that the Port Madison Indians were able to return to their own reservation with anxieties replaced with the warmth of the Christmas spirit.

Sources: Mary B. Koch, "Christmas at Tulalip, 1876," The Catholic Northwest Progress, December 12, 1958, p. 19.
Note: This essay was corrected on September 24, 2015.

Related Topics:   Northwest Indians

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