Shakopee Mdewakanton gifts $60K to Duwamish longhouse

SEATTLE – The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Minnesota has gifted $60,000 to the Duwamish Tribe to equip the kitchen in its new longhouse.

The 6,000-square-foot Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center is the first longhouse to grace Seattle’s landscape since 1894. The interior will have ceremonial space, exhibits, a commercial kitchen, a gift shop and upstairs offices. The kitchen will be a revenue generator for the Duwamish; they intend to establish a line of smoked salmon and prepare traditional foods for longhouse visitors.

Construction of the longhouse was expected to be completed Sept. 15; the grand opening ceremony is Nov. 22.

Duwamish Chairwoman Cecile Hansen, a great-great-grandniece of Duwamish-Suquamish leader Sealth, said the longhouse helps reinstate the footprint of the Duwamish people on Seattle. Fifty-four Duwamish longhouses were destroyed by arson during the settlement era.

“This is such a glorious moment in our history,” Hansen said in a press release. “This has been our dream, our vision, our goal since 1976.” She said the longhouse is evidence that the Duwamish are still alive and thriving: “We’re still here.”

Although Sealth was the first signer of the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855, the Duwamish are still seeking federal recognition. Duwamish Tribal Services was established as a nonprofit organization to provide cultural and social services to its 600 enrolled members.

Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at rmwalker@rockisland.com.