The present-day Tulalip Tribe is a confederation of tribes from
the northern Puget
Sound, Washington, area.
The 22,000 acre reservation, more than half of which is held in
federal trust*, is adjacent to the city of Everett.
The tract includes land suitable for development, forests, creeks
and lakes, wetlands, tidelands and marine waters.
As of 2004, 3,611 tribal members resided on the
A brief history
The aboriginal Tulalip band was one of three clans of the
Twana, a Salish tribe that inhabited the west side of Hood
Canal. The ancestral tongue was Lushootseed, a variant of
the Salish language. The Tulalip Tribe's ancestral home,
Hebolb, lay at the mouth of the
In similar fashion to numerous neighboring Northwest tribes, the
Tulalip followed a fishing, hunting and gathering way of life
based on the seasons. They harvested salmon during the spring
and summer runs, then preserved and stored it for the winter.
They rounded out their diet by game hunting, and gathering
berries and roots. The Tulalip moved from place to place to
subsist, and the cedar canoe was a principal means of
transportation. They also used cedar to build durable longhouses
in which they lived during the cold months.
Inherent in Tulalip
lifeways was a profound reverence for their environment; they
shared a spiritual kinship with living things. For example, a
ceremony was held to honor the first-caught salmon of the
The Tulalip also traded with neighboring tribes.
By the time of European settlement in the early 19th century,
members of the tribe pursued trading and fishing opportunities
throughout Puget Sound and as far north as the Fraser
River of present-day British Columbia.
Overwhelmed by the force and numbers of non-Indian settlers in
the Puget Sound region, the Tulalip and others eventually gave
up the land their forebears had dwelt upon for millennia, in
exchange for a nominal monetary pay-out and permanent
protection provided by the federal government. The leaders of
22 local tribes signed the historic Point Elliott Treaty at
Mukilteo on January 22, 1855.
Among other reservations, the treaty established the Tulalip
Reservation, which was enlarged by a presidential executive order in 1873. It became a permanent home for
the Tulalip as well as members of the Samish, Skagit,
Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Stillaguamish and Suiattle tribes.
Relegation to the so-called reserve radically changed their lives
and sense of self-identity by removing their autonomy. They
were forced to abandon much of their traditional culture and
their native tongues.
In 1857, Roman Catholic missionary Father Chirouse came to
the Tulalip Reservation to found a church and a school for boys.
In 1858, he was joined by several Sisters of Charity of the
House of Providence of Montreal to teach the girls.
As part of an effort in the 1880s to assimilate native people into
American society, the federal government sent Indian children to
off-reservation boarding schools. The schools were first opened
by missionaries with government consent, then by the
government. Parents were threatened with incarceration if their
children did not attend. Classrooms and dormitories were
organized on a quasi-military format, including discipline and
uniforms. Children were compelled to speak English. They
could not observe native spiritual practices, and were not
permitted to go home until the end of the school year.
Traditional teaching by elders and growing up within the family and
community were disrupted.
Along with English, students were taught reading, writing,
arithmetic, and such occupational skills as farming, sewing and
blacksmithing. Automobile repair was added later. The
boarding school practice persisted into the 1920s, when Indian
children began to attend reservation and public schools.
Another example of social engineering occurred when the
federal government started an allotment program intended to
induce an agrarian way of life among Native Americans. It
was conducted on the Tulalip Reservation between 1883 and
1909. The tribe did not adjust to farming quickly, preferring
rather to continue in the old ways. But many had to seek
off-reservation jobs to make do.
The Tulalip tribe was organized under the Indian Reorganization
Act of 1934, which promoted greater Indian autonomy. The
Tulalips drafted a constitution and bylaws, which were
approved on January 24, 1936, and a charter was ratified on
October 3, 1936.
By the 1970s, more than half of the reservation, some 13,995
acres, had been sold to non-Indians. Indians owned 4,571-acres;
3,845 acres of that land was tribally owned in trust.
By 1992, only 17 elders of the Tulalip tribe spoke Lushootseed.
Around that time, the tribe established the Tribal Cultural
Resources Department to preserve the tribe's language and
culture. In addition, the tribe and the
Marysville School District
began a program that provides linguistic and cultural learning
activities in the classrooom and community.
In May 2004, Puget Sound area Native Americans and local
government officials met in Mukilteo to sign a pledge to
collaborate on a number of social, health, educative and
economic issues. Tulalip tribal leaders were in attendance. The
signing ceremony was held at the site of the monument
commemorating the Treaty of Point Elliot, inked near the
location on Jan. 22, 1855.
The Tulalip today
The Tulalip Tribes is a federally recognized, sovereign Indian
nation. Its governing unit is the seven-member Tulalip Board of
Directors. The tribe maintains more than 60 departments and
services, among them a preschool, higher education assistance,
health and dental clinics, a pharmacy, state-licensed chemical
dependency recovery program, senior retirement home, and
In addition to two Marysville School District elementary
schools, the tribes collaborate with the district in providing
on-reservation middle school and high school alternative
The Tulalip Housing Authority provides nearly 300 housing
units for tribal members, and the Tulalip Utilities District is the
primary provider of water/sewer services.
The Treaty of Point Elliot stipulated that the the signatory tribes
be endowed with fishing and hunting rights. The federal court
ruled that the tribes and the State of Washington share
responsibility for the management of fish and wildlife resources.
The mission of the Tulalip Natural Resources program is to
carry out the tribes' co-management responsibilites according to
treaty rights as well as the preservation of reservation
The Tulalip Health Center is a 4,500-square foot outpatient
clinic in Marysville. Clinic functions include outpatient primary
and public health care services, a dental program, chemical
dependency program, recovery house, and acupuncture
Museum houses tribal artifacts and helps to preserve the
Of the 1,200 employees working for Tulalip Tribes, more than
two thirds are involved in business enterprises: A sampler of
Quil Ceda Village Business Park is a commercial
center located near Marysville.
The Tulalip Casino opened in June 2003 and is 227,000
square feet with complete gaming facilities. Quil Ceda Creek
Casino is a nightclub and medium-sized casino.
The Consolidated Borough of Quil Ceda Village, located
on the reservation, is a corporate and municipal body of the
The Tulalip tribes enjoy a number of regular cultural activities.
Treaty Days, an evening of traditional spirit songs
and dancing that takes place at the Tulalip Longhouse in late
The Veterans Pow Wow, three days of competition dancing
held the first week of June.
During July, the annual First Salmon Ceremony and dinner,
held in honor of the first salmon caught.
*Land owned by the federal government, but maintained by a