Tribal Sovereignty

Muckleshoot Tribal Lands & Acknowledgement

The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe are the Descendants of the Native People of the Duwamish and Upper Puyallup Watersheds

Why is this Tribe, whose ancestral homelands consisted of such a broad-use area — including what is now the City of Seattle — today located primarily on a reservation near Auburn?

The Duwamish peoples were displaced from their villages along the Duwamish, White, Black, Green, and Cedar Rivers, Lake Washington, and the Seattle waterfront when settlers arrived in the area and pushed them out through oppression, land acquisitions, and treaties. In 1857, a small portion of land was set aside for Native peoples on a prairie in South King County that was called “Muckleshoot,” an anglicized version of the Lushootseed word, “bəqəlšuɫ.” This small portion of land would later become the Muckleshoot Reservation where many Duwamish ancestors moved to over time.

By the 1870s, Native peoples associated with the Muckleshoot Reservation started being referred to as “Muckleshoot” by the federal Indian agents — named for the upland prairie they now call home rather than the historic names of their Duwamish, St’Kamish, Green River, Upper White River, and Upper Puyallup villages. Though known as Muckleshoot, the Tribe retains the treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather throughout the region its Duwamish and Upper Puyallup ancestors inhabited for thousands of years.

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The Shaping of the Muckleshoot Reservation & Tribal Lands

The Muckleshoot Indian Reservation was established by Executive Orders issued in 1857 and 1874, under the authority of the Treaties of Medicine Creek (10 Stat. 1132) and Point Ellot (12 Stat. 927). Under the authority of the Treaty of Medicine Creek, the Secretary of the Interior established a new reservation at "Muckleshoot Prarie, where there is a military reservation that is about to be abandoned." Executive Order of January 19, 1857, 1 Kappler, Indian Affairs Laws and Treaties 919 (1904).

This new Muckleshoot Reservation encompassed lands within Section 1 and 12 of Township 20 North, Range 5 East, Willamette Meridian in King County, WA. By a further Executive Order in 1857, the Reservation was enlarged by the addition of Sections 2 and 12, Township 20 North, Range 5 East; and Sections 20, 28, and 34 of Township 21 North, Range 5 East.

The 1874 Executive Order provided that these additional sections were to be "set apart as the Muckelshoot Indian Reservation, for the exclusive use of the Indians in that locality, the same being supplemental to the action of the Department approved by the President, January 20, 1857." Executive Order of April 9, 1874, 1 Kappler, Indian Affairs Laws and Treaties 918-19 (1904).

United States policy around the turn of the 20th century sought to break up Tribal communal land holdings by allotting reservation lands to individual Indian families via restricted fee patents (see Article 6 of the Treaty of Medicine Creek and Article 7 of the Treaty of Point Elliot). In subsequent years, Muckleshoot Tribal members suffering from poverty, discrimination, and sub-standard housing were often forced to sell their "surplus" lands to non-Indians in order to survive.

The State of Washington also increasingly sought to restrict off-reservation fishing, hunting, and gathering activities upon which Tribal members depended for their sustenance and livelihood. By the 1960s, the Muckleshoot Reservation was a "checkerboard pattern" of restricted Indian lands and unrestricted non-Indian lands.

Interactive Map: Muckleshoot Trust & Fee Lands

This interactive map depicts the trust and fee lands of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. Land boundaries are derived from a variety of sources including official surveys, BIA documents, historical records, and state and county records.

Land Acknowledgements:
Giving Thanks and Recognition

Land acknowledgment is a traditional custom that has been historically used by many Native communities. Today, land acknowledgments are used by Indigenous and nonIndigenous people to recognize the original stewards of the land we now live upon.

The land acknowledgement examples below have been approved by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe for use in local meetings, events, and other gatherings.

"I/we acknowledge we are gathered upon the ancestral lands of the Seattle area’s Federally Recognized Indian Tribe – the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, who historically lived throughout the areas between the Cascade Mountains and Puget Sound, what is also known as the Salish Sea."

"I would like to acknowledge the Muckleshoot People who are the Traditional Stewards of this Land and the Federally Recognized Treaty Tribe of King County. I offer my respect to the ancestors and elders of the Muckleshoot Tribe and extend that respect to other elders present."

"We would like to acknowledge the Federally Recognized Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, the ancestral keepers of the land we are gathered on today. We thank them for their immense contributions to our state and local, history, culture, economy, and identity as Washingtonians."

"I would like to express our gratitude and acknowledgement of the Federally Recognized Muckleshoot People, as we gather on their traditional lands. We recognize Muckleshoot’s continued presence as a strong sovereign nation and their invaluable contributions to our state history, economy, and culture."

"I would like to show my respect and acknowledge the Traditional Lands of the Muckleshoot People, past and present, on which this meeting takes place.

The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, located in South King County, is the Seattle area's Federally Recognized Indian Tribe and successor to Duwamish and Upper Puyallup Peoples who were party to the Treaties of Point Elliott and Medicine Creek."

"Muckleshoot is party to both the Medicine Creek and Point Elliot Treaties. These treaties reserve governmental rights to the Muckleshoot People and recognize their “Usual and Accustomed Territory”, where they hunt, fish, gather, trade, govern, and live. These areas include Dzidzilalich, (Dz-zah-lah-luch), what is now known as the city of Seattle and surrounding region."

* Dzidzilalich was the largest Duwamish village in what is now Seattle, and means “a little place where one crosses over.” In the early 1850s, the Indians and non-Indians in the area used that name to refer to the town that later came to be called Seattle.