Day and night cannot dwell together. – Duwamish


Day and night cannot dwell together. – Duwamish

History of the Duwamish Tribe

The region now known as Seattle has been inhabited since the end of the last glacial period (c. 8,000 BCE.: 10,000 years ago). Archaeological excavations at West Point in Discovery Park, Magnolia confirm that the Seattle area has been inhabited by humans for at least 4,000 years and probably much longer.[1] West Point was called Oka-dz-elt-cu, Per-co-dus-chule, or Pka-dzEltcu. The village of tohl-AHL-too (“herring house”) had been inhabited at least since the 6th century CE, as had hah-AH-poos—”where there are horse clams“—at the then-mouth of the Duwamish River in what is now the Industrial District.[2] The Lushootseed (Skagit-Nisqually)-speaking Salish Dkhw‘Duw’Absh (“People of the Inside”) and Xacuabš (“People of the Large Lake”)—ancestors of today’s Duwamish Tribe—occupied at least 17 villages in the mid-1850s and lived in some 93 permanent longhouses (khwaac’ál’al) along the lower Duwamish River, Elliott Bay, Salmon Bay, Portage Bay, Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish, and the Duwamish River tributaries, the Black and Cedar Rivers.[3]

Tens of people lived in each longhouse; forerunners of cohousing, they were cooperatives of extended families that were quite unlike the single or single family cabins of White American settlements.[4] The villages were traditionally larger than they might have first appeared to White settlers, since Coast Salish people had, in recent decades before extensive White settlement (c. 1774–1864), experienced some 62% losses due to introduced diseases. For comparison, the catastrophic Spanish flu Pandemic of 1918–19 took an estimated 2.5%–5% mortality worldwide; about 28% of the U.S. population contracted the Spanish flu.[5]

Like many Northwest Coast natives, the Dkhw‘Duw’Absh and Xacuabš relied heavily on fishing for their well-being and their livelihood: the Pacific Northwest fisheries were once one of the richest in the world, second only to the Grand Banks. Remnants of Dkhw‘Duw’Absh fishing gear were found near the abundant tide pools of sbuh-KWAH-buks (“shaped like a bear’s head”, the West Seattle peninsula). The site is in what is now called Me-Kwa-Mooks Park, where dense trees provide habitat for many birds including screech owls.[citation needed][6] Me-Kwa-Mooks Park is about 1 mi. (1.6 km) west of Camp Long in the south of the Alki neighborhood of West Seattle, (map [1]).[7] Up the hill, a 50-acre (20 hectare) stand of massive, old-growth Douglas fir and western red cedar—many towering more than 200 feet (61 m), their roots carpeted by sword ferns and salal—survived the clear cutting of Seattle. The fragment of forest in Schmitz Park (1908–1912) is a living reminder of what much of Seattle looked like before the City of Seattle.[8]

From the 1800s the Maritime Fur Trade opened access to European goods for rival northern tribes from Vancouver Island and the Georgia Strait). Having guns prompted their more effective raiding south, deep into recently named Puget Sound, in turn prompting social and organizational change. The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) established Fort Langley (1827), then Fort Nisqually (1833) near present-day Dupont, within easy range and prompting keen interest in trade. As a young man, Si’ahl (later called Chief Seattle) made himself both well-known and notorious around Fort Nisqually. Catholic missionaries began arriving in 1839, settlers in earnest from 1845. In 19th century maneuvering with European Great Powers, the United States assumed regional sovereignty in 1846.[9] White settlements at sbuh-KWAH-buks (Alki) and what is now Pioneer Square in Downtown Seattle were established in 1851 and 1852. The latter settlement was right upon and between prominent villages on Elliott Bay and villages on the Duwamish River estuary.[10]



Posted on August 15, 2019, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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