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News Release

The Duwamish Tribe

The Duwamish Tribe appealed the Seattle School Board's June 26, 2019 adoption of a curriculum that omits the Duwamish Tribe on July 25,2019 (Notice of Appeal of School District Decision Pursuant to RCW 28A.645.010) in Superior Court of the State of Washington, for the county of King.

The Duwamish Tribe, its officers or members, parents of enrolled Students in Seattle School District No. 1 and taxpayers paying state taxes and local levy taxes are the effected parties and maintain that the Seattle School Board needs to ensure that its curriculum include proper respectful reference to the Duwamish Tribe as the First People of Seattle and reverse its motion to exclude the Duwamish Tribe.  

For more information regarding the Duwamish Tribe's appeal and requested relief, please contact Chris Jackens at numbers listed above.  

The Broader Community 

The broader community and the citizens of greater Seattle should be encouraged to learn about, and to even experience aspects of Duwamish culture. Whether school children who visit the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center as part of a field trip, patrons who buy art in the gallery, visitors to the Duwamish exhibit, a considerable amount of education and cultural enrichment has taken place in the last 10 years provided by the existing Duwamish Tribe. The Duwamish Tribe still exists. 

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Although Chief Seattle was the first signator to the Treaty of Point Elliot which ceded 54,000 acres of their aboriginal homeland which is now Seattle, his descendants and descendants of the numerous Duwamish Sub-Chiefs, and tribal members as a whole, are landless and were dropped from the rolls of federally recognized tribes. 

95 Duwamish longhouses in 28 villages were all burned to the ground, dismantled or abandoned during settlement and relocation. The land base the Duwamish were promised was never granted, and the City of Seattle passed among its first 12 city ordinances in 1865 on entitled “The Removal of Indians” which made it illegal for the Duwamish to reside within City limits. In March 1883, a headline from the Seattle Star read, “ Last Red Man Driven from West Seattle”. Destroying the buildings didn’t destroy the tribal identity of the Duwamish. 

Over 150 years later, the Duwamish are still here and with the help of the community supporters, have purchased land adjacent to the ancient village site where Chief Seattle grew up along the Duwamish River in Seattle. 

As Chief Seattle is an internationally recognized figure, it is the hope of the Duwamish that Washington State's Time Immemorial curriculum that excludes the Duwamish Tribe has intentionally created a disadvantage and discriminatory platform to continue the current and historical erasure of the Duwamish people.  

Supplementing the Seattle Public Schools curriculum is the right thing to do. It will significantly raise the level of awareness and support for indigenous peoples and issues common to our mutual survival both locally and at the national level. In the last 50 years of operations, the local community including the City of Seattle, King County, the State of Washington, large local and national private foundations, Indigenous communities and tribes from Washington and across the nation, and many generous concerned and invested individual Seattle donors have given and donated over 5 million dollars to the Duwamish Tribe to continue being a collaborative partner in this City. However, education of our collective history is more valuable than money as we look the future of inclusiveness and equity in the City of Seattle.  

The mission of the Duwamish Tribe and its non-profit, Duwamish Tribal Services, is to promote the social, cultural, political and economic survival of the Duwamsih Tribe, to revitalize Duwamish culture and to share our history and living culture with all peoples. In January 2009, the Duwamish Tribe opened the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center to promote and share the heritage of Chief Seattle’s Duwamish Tribe, Seattle’s First People and only indigenouos native tribe. The longhouse serves as a cultural center for the tribe and an educational center for the community, YOUR Community, OUR Community! 

Supplemental Curriculum addresses an essential and significant educational need in the greater Seattle region for people to learn about the early history and culture of the first people of Puget Sound, the Duwamish. A longhouse structure has not existed within the City of Seattle for the last 150 years. Although there are several cultural institutions and museums in the area, no other tribe or facility other than the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center currently exists that represents the Duwamish today and tells the story of the Duwamish. Consequently, the Duwamish are an important regional and cultural resource that will provide education about this important part of Seattle's history for the broader community. 

Cecile A. Hansen, Chairwoman, Duwamish Tribe