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Tulalip Tribes Tour

HistoryLink.org Essay 9151

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This tour combines a look at both the history and present-day enterprise of the Tulalip Tribes.  It was written by Margaret Riddle, curated by Priscilla Long, with maps by Marie McCaffrey. It was funded by Tulalip Charitable Contributions.

“We respect the community of our elders past and present, and pay attention to their good words.” --Tulalip Tribes Value Statement. 

The history of the Tulalip Tribes is the story of people and place, its ancient past remaining today in stories, language and art.  For generations, the region’s natural resources—marine waters, tidelands, rich forests, freshwater creeks, lakes and rivers—sustained the tribes of Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish and related bands.  But early explorers, trappers, soldiers and missionaries brought diseases that quickly decimated the native population.  By the early 1800s, the tribes were in flux, likely rebuilding and restructuring communities.      

Reservation boundaries set by the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855 confined these tribes to a permanent place, the Tulalip Reservation, abruptly changing an ancient lifestyle.  The reservation is located north of Everett and west of Marysville, bordered on the east by Interstate 5, on the south by the Snohomish River, on the north by Fire Trail Road (146th) and on the west by the waters of Puget Sound.

Those who remained on the reservation have shared experiences -- for good and bad—and today are recognized as a sovereign nation called the Tulalip Tribes.  “Dxwlilep,” the Coast Salish word for the place, means small-mouthed bay.

Since 1936 the Tulalip Tribes has had its own tribal council and is self governing with a 7 member elected Board of Directors.  Each year a board member is elected to serve as Tribal Chairman.    

Drawing on its wealth of natural resources and its location, the Tulalips have worked to achieve economic independence.  For years fishing was the main cultural and commercial enterprise but the Tulalips have profited greatly in recent years from success in real estate and the gaming industry, which provides many jobs for tribal members.  At the same time, the Tulalip Tribes have worked to preserve their fishing heritage and to save endangered species of salmon and have initiated programs to preserve their native language of Lushootseed. 

 Today the Tulalip Reservation has a population of 9,000 (3,600 tribal members) and a land base of 22,086 acres.  The Tulalip Tribes have extended their economic enterprises through the Quil Ceda Village Business Park, Quil Ceda Creek Casino, the Tulalip Amphitreatre, the Tulalip Casino and the Tulalip Resort Casino with its new hotel, which are located just off of Interstate 5.


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Related Topics: Northwest Indians |

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This essay made possible by:
Tulalip Charitable Contributions

Sus-chol-cho-lit-so Whea kadim (born at Hibulb), mother of chief William Shelton, 1905
Photo by Norman Edson, Courtesy Everett Public Library (Image No. 070)

Indians with canoe, Tulalip, 1907
Photo by Norman Edson, Courtesy UW Special Collections (Neg. #NA729)

House pole by Joe Gobin, hotel lobby, Tulalip Resort Casino, Tulalip Reservation, October 8, 2008
HistoryLink.org Photo by Margaret Riddle

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