Wilfred Steve's High School Years

  • By J. D. Mowrer
  • Posted 10/29/2019
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 20889
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In 1855, Puget Sound Indian tribes signed the Point Elliott Treaty, which called for the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, and other tribes to give up their ancestral lands and move to a small reservation near Tulalip Bay north of Everett. The federal government tried to "civilize" the Indians through education -- children were taken from their families and put in the Tulalip Indian School, which forbade the speaking of their native language, Lushootseed, and participation in cultural events. It was through the extraordinary efforts of several Indian leaders that the tribes did not lose their identity. One of those leaders was a man named Wilfred Steve. The accompanying video tells the story of his years at Marysville High School, where Steve excelled in sports, drama, music, debate, and leadership. He was the student body president and the first Tulalip tribal member to graduate from the school. His leadership in high school carried into his life as a leader in Native American affairs. He was the first chairman of the Tulalip Tribal board of directors, fighting for Indian rights in the 1920s Court of Claims cases, and was involved in the organization that eventually became known as the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. 

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