The story of Native American history in Puget Sound is one of trauma, transformation, and tradition. The Duwamish tribe was one of the first tribes to sign the Treaty of Point Elliot in 1855 with Chief Sealth being the first to place his mark upon the document.
The Treaty of Point Elliot too quickly showed itself to be a ledger of broken promises. The Duwamish ceded title to 54,000 acres of what’s now prime Seattle real estate understanding that they were to receive a reservation, money to help them adjust to their new surroundings, schooling, and guaranteed fishing rights.
The Duwamish never received a reservation or adequate compensation for their land as promised it by the 1855 Treaty. In fact, they have been fighting for Federal Recognition every since.
In 2001, the tribe was finally given Federal Recognition at the end of the Clinton Administration only to have the positive determination overturned days later by the incoming Bush administration.
In 2013, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour vacated the September 2001 denial by Bush administration. Stating, “Plaintiffs should not be left to wonder why on administration thought their petition should be considered under both sets of rules, but a second did not”. Despite this, the Duwamish still have not recieved recognition and continue the legal fight.