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.]


"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.

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