Upper Skagit Tribe

Upper Skagit Tribe

The Upper Skagit people are descendants of a tribe that inhabited 10 villages on the Upper Skagit and Sauk rivers in western Washington state. Another 15 acres of undeveloped commercial land lie along Interstate 5 near Alger.Flowing more than 125 miles from glaciers in the Canadian Cascade Mountains, through old-growth forests and farmlands to Skagit Bay in the Puget Sound, the Skagit River is western Washington's largest stream. Outside of Canada and Alaska, it is one of the few rivers that sustains all of its original salmon species: Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink and Sockeye.The Skagit River Valley was home to a number of Native American tribes known as the Coastal Samish, which comprised two linguistic groups: the Straits, including the Clallam, Lummi, Samish and Semiahmoo tribes; and the Lushootseed, including the Skagit, Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Swinomish and Upper Skagit. The river sustained the culture that inhabited its valley and the tribes flourished, thanks to the bounty of such natural resources as salmon, shellfish, sea mammals, upland game, camus root and cedar trees.Cedar longhouses lay along the riverbanks from present-day Mount Vernon to Newhalem in northwest Washington, until the dwellers were compelled to resettle onto reservations in the mid-1800s. Archaeological digs have revealed evidence of human habitation in the Upper Skagit River basin dating to 8,500 years ago.Extended families or bands lived in the longhouses. Rafters served as drying racks for smoked salmon.Skagit River salmon shaped human subsistence patterns. When the salmon run began, fishermen took canoes to fish camps, down to the mouth of the river.The Skagit River's residents practiced basketweaving for untold generations. Some baskets were created for smoked salmon, others for dried meat or berries.Elders' stories were woven from the river and its surroundings. Spiritual ceremonies also were held, with smoke and fire as a medium.Beginning in the 17th century, Spanish, English, and American explorers came into contact with Puget Sound tribes. Like their Native American counterparts, they were attracted to the valley’s plentiful natural resources — especially the fertile soil.Following conflicts between land-hungry white settlers and Washington Indians in the 1850s, the territory's governor and Indian Agent, Isaac Stevens, drafted several peace treaties. The government said the Upper Skagit were not one distinct group; they would not be assigned a reservation.The Point Elliott Treaty signatories and their people were expected to move onto the new Lummi, Swinomish or Tulalip reservations within a year of Congressional ratification, but some tribes resisted, often fiercely. Rather than ensure peace, the treaties touched off an Indian war in eastern Washington when some tribal members refused to relocate.Following the U.S. government's acquisition of Native American land for settlers, it neglected for decades to fulfill its benefactor role as stipulated in the Point Elliott Treaty and others.In 1870, Northern Pacific Railroad surveyors traversed Upper Skagit land. They also suffered from diseases traceable to white contact.Spiritual activities were prohibited by the government after the treaties of the mid-1850s were signed. In the 1880s, Indian children were prevented from practicing their religion when taken from their families and communities to government-run boarding schools.Nearly 120 years following the Point Elliott Treaty and other treaties, the state of Washington attempted to regulate tribal fishing, but the tribes resisted on legal grounds: They already had the right to fish (and hunt) in their usual and accustomed places. The treaties had stipulated that the tribes were not giving up that right.Put in mind of its treaty obligation, the federal government took the state to court. The tribes then became fishery co-managers with the state.The 11 bands of Indians that comprised the Upper Skagit Tribe had historically inhabited the land between present-day Mount Vernon and Newhalem in northwest Washington — ceded by treaty, but without land reserved for them. Years without a reservation home caused some Upper Skagits to move to other states.Three hydroelectric dams were constructed on the Upper Skagit River, now in the North Cascades National Park:

  • Gorge Dam - wood (1923); masonry (1950); high concrete (1960)

  • Diablo Dam - (1927-30)

  • Ross Dam - first stage (1940); second and third stages (1949).
  • The resulting three reservoirs provide power for Seattle City Light. The three dams differ in height: Gorge - 300 feet, Diablo - 389 feet, and Ross - 540 feet. The nature of the river was changed forever.In January 1951, the tribe filed a claim with the federal government, stating that the monetary compensation for the lands ceded to the United States was negligently small. In September 1968, a final judgment ordered for the tribe to be awarded $385,471.42.The tribe gained formal federal recognition in the early 1970s. A tribal constitution and by-laws were approved by the Secretary of the Interior in 1974. In 1984, the Upper Skagit Tribe acquired a small reservation of federal trust* land east of Sedro-Woolley.The tribe's $28 million, Las Vegas style Skagit Valley Casino Resort opened in 1995 at Bow, halfway between Everett and Bellingham. The facility offers the members of the Upper Skagit Tribe an employment alternative to fishing and logging. In March 2001, an $11 million, 103-room hotel and conference center opened at the casino. In addition, the tribe bought into the Semiahmoo Resort on the northern Puget Sound shoreline in Blaine. Owned by the Trillium Corporation, Semiahmoo offers a number of resort activities, including two golf courses.Also in March 2001, the tribe received a $90,000 EPA grant to increase funding for the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe EPA General Assistance Program, which is used to reach compliance with tribal, state and federal environmental laws.In July 2004, the tribe was slated to receive $1,369,611 from HUD's Indian Housing Block Grant Program to promote affordable housing. The program provides funds for a full range of housing programs to tribes or tribally designated housing agencies.


    *Land owned by the federal government, but maintained by a tribe.
    See Indian Wars Time Table.
    Native American Cultural Regions map.


    Tribal and Other Communities

    The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community is a federally recognized Indian Tribe that occupies the Swinomish Indian Reservation on Puget Sound in Washington State. The Tribe is a community of Coast Salish peoples descended from groups and bands originating from the Skagit and Samish River valleys, coastal areas surrounding nearby bays and waters, and numerous islands including Fidalgo, Camano, Whidbey and the San Juan Islands.

    The Swinomish Tribe is committed to improving the lives and well being of its tribal members through social and cultural programs, education, economic development, and resource protection. While a number of tribal members still rely on salmon fishing and shellfish harvesting for at least a portion of their livelihood, such traditional subsistence methods are no longer the sole means of support for many tribal families. The Tribe owns and operates the Northern Lights Casino, the Swinomish Chevron Gas Station, which includes a tobacco, liquor and convenience store, the Swinomish Fish Company which processes salmon and shellfish for a global market that includes the United Kingdom and the European Union, and a Ramada Hotel in Ocean Shores on the Washington Coast. The Tribe has become one of the five largest employers in Skagit County, with over 250 employees in Tribal government and approximately 300 employees in its casino and other economic enterprises. The Tribe's Chevron Gas Station is the largest volume Chevron station on the West Coast.

    Samish Indian Nation

    The Samish Indian Nation is a federally recognized Tribe with a membership of about 2040. Samish is the successor to the large and powerful Samish Nation, a signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855. The Tribe&rsquos traditional territory stretches over a wide seven-county region of Northwest Washington. This area, which ranges from the mountain tops of the Cascades westerly along the hills, woodlands, and river deltas, arriving at the far western shores of the San Juan Islands, provides a backdrop for the Tribe's history and cultural traditions that remain strong today.

    Samish economic initiatives include the Samish-owned Fidalgo Bay Resort, a waterfront RV and cottage resort located in the heart of the Samish ancestral homeland on Fidalgo Island in Anacortes, Washington.

    Upper Skagit Indian Tribe

    The Upper Skagit Indian Tribe is a federally recognized Indian Tribe with a membership of 238. Its reservation includes lands located northeast of Sedro-Woolley, and between Burlington and the community of Alger. The Tribe's traditional lands extended along the Skagit River between present-day Mount Vernon in the west, and Newhalem in neighboring Whatcom County to the east, and along the Baker and Sauk Rivers. The Tribe owns and operates the Skagit Valley Casino and Bow Hill gas station.

    Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe

    The Sauk-Suiattle Tribe is a federally recognized tribe of about 200 members. The Tribe's reservation includes lands in Skagit County, where its government offices are located, and in the town of Darrington in neighboring Snohomish County. The original lands of the Sah-ku-mehu, as the tribe was historically known, were the entire drainage area of the Sauk, Suiattle and Cascade Rivers, and they had an important village at Sauk Prairie near the confluence of the Sauk and Suiattle Rivers. A signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855, the Tribe was re-recognized federally in 1973.


    HistoryLink.org

    Skagit County encompasses some of the most spectacular scenery in Washington state. From Rosario Strait and the flats (a riverine delta) to the forested gorges of the Skagit River to the craggy Cascades Mountains, it is an area rich in nature and human history. Home to native peoples for millennia, it attracted the attention of European and American explorers as early as the 1790s. Euro-American settlement began in earnest in the early 1860s. After the first dike was built on the LaConner flats in 1863, the county began to emerge as a major agricultural center. Throughout the twentieth century the area’s reputation as a world leader in seed production increased along with its importance as a fishery and lumber producer and as an international destination for recreational salmon and steelhead fishing. Today, the county boasts good schools, museums, performing arts theaters, Skagit Valley College, malls and specialty commercial districts as well as wonderful state and national parks. It is also the center of Washington state’s petroleum industry.

    First Peoples of Skagit

    People have lived in present-day Skagit County and its environs for nearly 10,000 years. Some time around 1300, a new group came down from the interior, possibly using the Skagit River. They came to be known as the Coast Salish. These tribal groups were largely extended families living in villages in cedar plank houses. They had active, viable communities that socialized and traded far beyond their villages and region. They fished for salmon, collected clams and mussels, and used fire to encourage bracken fern and camas to grow on natural prairies.

    John Work, a trader with Hudson’s Bay Company, came through the area in December 1824 and noted several "Scaadchet" villages as he crossed Skagit Bay and went up a winding Swinomish Channel. In 1850 there were 11 different tribal groups in Skagit County. As Work did, Euro-American settlers called them all Skagit Indians not seeing the differences.

    After signing the Point Elliot Treaty of 1855, many of these tribal groups moved to a reservation on the southeastern end of Fidalgo Island. Others chose not to sign or could not make the signing due to severe weather. Today, there are eight tribal communities in the county, among them the Swinomish, Upper Skagit, Sauk-Siuattle, and Samish.

    Euro-Americans

    Rosario Strait is on the most western edge of Skagit County. The Spaniard Juan Francisco de Eliza charted it in 1791, and named it Canal de Fidalgo. Thick forests lined its eastern coastline. A year later George Vancouver (1758-1798) discovered an inner waterway while exploring Rosario Strait. He named it Deception Pass, but the Wilkes Expedition of 1841 determined that the area north of the pass was actually an island. Charles Wilkes (1798-1877) called it Perry’s Island (present-day Fidalgo Island).

    The first Euro-American to live in the county, was Englishman William (Blanket Bill) Jarman (1827-1912) who came in 1852 with his Coast Salish wife, Alice, settling for a short time near present-day Edison. The earliest permanent Euro-American settlement began on the long, narrow peninsula on Fidalgo Island later known as March’s Point. Attracted by the prairies where the Swinomish cultivated camas and bracken fern, Enoch Compton planted potatoes there in 1853, then went back up to Bellingham Bay to work in the coal mines.

    Settlement progressed in fits and starts for the next few years, due in part to the 1855 Indian War and raids by northern Indians. By 1860 Compton returned to Fidalgo. Joining him were Hiram H. March, William Munks, and James Kavanaugh among others. Several of the men came with their Coast Salish wives. In 1870, Munks opened a store at his wharf.

    Settlement on the county’s mainland took hold when Michael Sullivan (1850?-1912) and Samuel Calhoun began diking the marshy flats near present day LaConner in 1863. At first ridiculed, they proved that with diking, agriculture was possible on what was thought to be useless wetland. Diking became an important part of settling the county.

    Throughout the 1860s and 1870s, new settlements and trading posts appeared on Guemes Island, Samish Island where Daniel Dingwall set up the first logging operation in 1867, Edison, and the south fork of the Skagit River. LaConner developed from a trading post across from the Swinomish Reservation under the watchful eye of John Conner and his wife Louisa for whom the town was named. Amos Bowman (1839-1894) dreamed of a Northern Pacific terminus on Fidalgo and in 1879 built a small store and post office in a place he called Anacortes, named for his wife.

    Meanwhile, enormous logjams blocked the Skagit River and prevented river traffic from passing through. In a three-year effort completed in 1879, workers finally removed the masses of logs around Mount Vernon. The removal of the logjams opened up access to the interior upriver. Mount Vernon began to grow with the arrival of sternwheelers and upriver towns took root. LaConner was for a time the leading town, but growth brought changes in 1883.

    Skagit County Comes Into Its Own

    Washington Territory formally came into being on March 2, 1853. At that time, Skagit County was a part of Island County, which included the present counties of Snohomish, Island, Whatcom, and San Juan as well. A year later, in March 1854, a small group of settlers broke away from Island County and formed Whatcom County. Skagit country went with it. For the next 30 years, many of the founding settlers did business up on Bellingham Bay or held territorial positions that kept them there while they proved up their claims down on Fidalgo and in other county settlements. In November 1883, a group of local legislators fed up with Whatcom’s dominance and convinced of their own future, successfully passed a bill in the territorial legislature that separated Skagit from Whatcom. LaConner was Skagit's new county seat, but only for a short time. Mount Vernon would claim that title a year later.

    The first order of business was roads, bridges, and ferries. The county built a bridge over the Sullivan Slough near La Conner and four ferries were set up on the Skagit River. A "horseman" went for 10 cents, a "footman" for five. Cattle and sheep went for 25 cents.

    Throughout the rest of the nineteenth century, the new county continued to grow. Tiny, hardscrabble communities established public schools. Logging camps abounded, providing steady employment and open space for more farming. In 1886, Mortimer Cook opened the first shingle mill near present day Sedro-Woolley. Mining camps up the Skagit River and on Ruby Creek in 1879 brought dubious results for gold, but they inspired new settlements when limestone, coal, iron, and talc was found: Hamilton, Birdsview, Baker (later Concrete) and Marblemount among others. The mining district became an important area for investment and growth.

    With new communities came the demand for roads and the railroad, which came to Sedro-Woolley in 1889 from Fairhaven up on Bellingham Bay. There was also a desire for better communication.

    The Western Union Telegraph Company had put in a line that ran through the Swinomish Indian reservation in 1864, but with better roads and logjams gone, the mails improved. Delivery between Seattle and Mount Vernon went to three times a week. In 1886, the Skagit River Telephone proposed a line from the mouth of the Skagit River to the Sauk River. It did not develop beyond incorporation, but three years later Anacortes was using this brand new technology. By 1894, Mount Vernon and Sedro-Woolley had their first telephones. Wheelock & Glover and the Independent Telephone helped bring long distance calling to communities around the county. A free local call could be made from general stores, charging long distance by the quarter-minute.

    County Industries Grow Up

    Fish canneries opened in Anacortes in the late 1890s amid anti-Chinese sentiment and a national Depression. The industry would be an economic mainstay up to the latter half of twentieth century.

    But agriculture continued to be the main industry. For a long time, oats and eventually peas were the mainstay, but new crops took on prominence just after World War I. One of these crops was the growing of seeds. A decade before forming the Puget Sound Seed Garden in 1883, A. G. Tillinghast had grown cabbage seed. Beets, flax, spinach, mustard, and cabbage were all attempted. Several other farmers joined him in the 1920s. At first the crops were harvested by hand, but eventually various combine machines were invented to help with the harvest. In the 1930s, the Charles H. Lilly Company developed seed production further. At one point Skagit County grew 95 percent of the cabbage seed produced in the United States. All seeds were grown under contract to one or another seed company.

    Tulip bulb production is an extension of the seed production industry. Mary Brown Stewart started growing tulips in 1906 with bulbs from Holland, but tulips were "only a small part of the crop and the whole operation was of modest size" (Barrett). In 1926 her son Sam Stewart started the Tulip Grange Bulb Farm near LaConner. Marinus Lefeber, a friend of Sam Stewart, moved their Whatcom County operation down to a farm along Memorial Highway near Mount Vernon. The farm was in business until 2002. Other bulb growers joined them after 1945. By 1997, 700 acres were used for bulb farming, with a value of $42 million.

    In the late 1920s, farmers began growing vegetables commercially for large packing outfits such as the Bozeman Canning Company of Montana, the San Juan island Company, the Skagit Valley Packing Corporation at Avon, and the MacMillian Canning Company at LaConner.

    They mainly packed peas, but also packed green beans, spinach, and several kinds of vegetables and fruits. S. A. Moffet, the second company in the nation to get into freezing vegetables, built a freezing plant in Mount Vernon in 1940 after successfully starting the precooling process of 50 tons of peas in a LaConner farmer’s barn in 1936.

    During World War II, there was a labor shortage while the men were away in the service. Braceros (farmworkers) were brought to Skagit County from Mexico in large numbers to help harvest the hay and pea crops, important to the dairy industry for fodder. The braceros camp at Burlington was the largest mobile camp in the United States.

    Cows Galore

    Skagit County was also known for its dairy industry. At the turn of the century there were as many as 900 dairies in the county. These dairy farms were small family operations where every cow had a name and mixed ancestry. These were called "grades" (Younquist). Changes came to the industry in the 1920s with pasteurization and purebred stock.

    The first cattle breeding programs began in the early 1930s. The Youngquists paid $12,000 for a Pontiac Segi purebred cow. A neighbor, Jim Hulbert had purebred Herefords. Milk production increased along with the quality of the stock. Butter was made at home for a long time. Milk was sold to a creamery such as the Mount Vernon Creamer, which began to take everything for milk and butter. The Youngquists hauled it in by horses until they got a truck. In 1907 a "Carnation" condensory plant came in and took 10-gallon cans.

    Increased production and breeding programs were expensive for farmers. To help them, co-ops were organized to ease the cost. Darigold was the first co-op in the area. During 1940s and 1950s, Darigold had 1,800 members. Each paid $10 a cow to get into the organization.

    Skagit County Today

    The county continued to be a rural area well into the twentieth century, with pockets of light industry in Mount Vernon, Burlington, and other towns. These towns and some of the outlying districts had electricity, but as late as 1940, many of the older houses were still not wired. The logging industry still provided important income to many families.

    Many of its roads were graveled, though the Pacific Highway built by the Federal Government in 1915 had a "hard-surfaced" road. It came up from the Mexican border in Calexico, California via Seattle. The name changed to US Highway 99 in 1926. In those days it took several hours to come and see the sights of Skagit County and the flats. In the 1960s Interstate-5 replaced 99, sometimes going over the old road, other times paralleling it. The new freeway brought more people to the valley.

    Today, Skagit County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state with a population of approximately 106,000. Mount Vernon, its seat, has a population of 26,670, but Burlington across the Skagit River has grown a whopping 6.4 percent in just a few years. New developments in Anacortes and west of Mount Vernon and the arrival of golf-course communities and homes above the $300,000 range have begun to change the face of the county.

    Such increase in urban areas has put pressure on the county’s agriculture. Although farming remains one of the most important activities in the Valley, since 1987 the number of farms has declined from 806 farms to fewer than 710. Nine out of 10 farm couples depend on off-farm income to keep their farms going. Despite this, old and new crops continue to bring substantial dollar numbers to the county.

    Skagit County is a major producer of cabbage, table beet, and spinach seed for the world. About half of the world’s beet and Brussels sprout seed are grown in the Valley. Fifty percent of the U.S. supply of parsley, cabbage, and parsnip seed and 90 to 100 percent of the U.S. supply of Chinese kale, Chinese cabbage, Chinese mustard, and Brussels sprout seed are also grown in Skagit County. A new development has been in the growth of nurseries, greenhouses, and organic farming. And although peas have declined dramatically, the potato is enjoying status as the number one crop in the county.

    Today, Skagit County is a vibrant place to live in. It balances its historic roots and the influx of new cultures and faces, while enjoying the benefits of its growing cities and the peace and beauty of its spectacular mountains, rivers, forests, and farmland.

    LaConner, ca. 1970s

    Skagit County, Washington

    Courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture

    Oxen and steam donkey logging operation, Blanchard, Skagit County, ca. 1885


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    Bibliography

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    Arthur Ballard, editor, Mythology of Southern Puget Sound: Legends Shared by Tribal Elders (North Bend: Snoqualmie Valley History Museum, 1999).

    Dawn Bates, Thom Hess, and Vi Hilbert, Lushootseed Dictionary (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994).

    Crisca Bierwert, Brushed by Cedar, Living by the River: Coast Salish Figures of Power (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1999).

    Crisca Bierwert, Lushootseed Texts: An Introduction to Puget Salish Narrative Aesthetics (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996).

    Cecilia Svinth Carpenter, Where the Waters Begin: The Traditional Nisqually Indian History of Mount Rainier (Seattle: Northwest Interpretive Association, 1994).

    George Pierre Castile, editor, The Indians of Puget Sound: The Notebooks of Myron Eels (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1985).

    J. A. Eckrom, Remembered Drums: A History of the Puget Sound Indian War (Walla Walla, WA: Pioneer Press Books, 1989).

    Erna Gunther, Ethnobotany of Western Washington: The Knowledge and Use of Indigenous Plants by Native Americans (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1981).

    Hermann Haeberlin and Erna Gunther, The Indians of Puget Sound (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1985).

    Alexandra Harmon, Indians in the Making: Ethnic Relations and Indian Identities around Puget Sound (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998).

    Vi Hilbert, Coyote and Rock and Other Lushootseed Stories (audio cassette) (New York: HarperCollins, 1992).

    Vi Hilbert, editor, Haboo: Native American Stories from Puget Sound (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1985).

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    We Belong Here

    When Scott Schuyler was a kid, he learned to love summers in the Skagit the hard way. Early on, he learned that to be successful at fishing you had to be committed, so on the night before opening day of every salmon fishing season, he would take his boat to the river to try to secure his place at the front of the line. The hope was to be the first boat down the river in the morning to get the first pick of the choicest fishing spots. As night fell, he would curl up in his boat with a tarp for a blanket and try in vain to get some sleep, his head full of visions of flashing silver in the green waters of the Skagit River.

    “You would spend the night waiting in your cold boat trying to sleep, but you never slept,” recalls Schuyler, who is now a tribal elder. “It wasn’t so bad in the summer even though it was cold. But in the winter, it was miserable because it would usually rain.” He laughs. “So, I love fishing in the summer.”

    Over the years, Schuyler has seen Skagit salmon runs decline, and that has fueled a passion for his work as the Natural Resources Policy Representative for the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe. “We inherited the salmon from our ancestors and we owe an obligation to protect those resources for our children and our children’s children,” says Schuyler, whose 96-year-old grandmother is the oldest member of the tribe. “It’s important that we leave the resource in a better place than when we received it from our ancestors.”

    The stakes for the Upper Skagit Tribe are especially high because salmon – a dietary and economic necessity – are also a central part of their culture, and have been for millennia. A recent archaeological dig of an ancestral village site above the town of Hamilton found artifacts for cedar fishing nets like a doughnut-shaped cobble estimated to be roughly 2,300 years old. Every year, the tribe performs the age-old salmon ceremony where they “feed the river” by returning plates of cooked salmon to the water to bless the river and their fishers to have a safe and prosperous year. Keeping a healthy Skagit watershed to continue supporting all five salmon species in the in the face of today’s environmental challenges is essential for the tribe. As Executive Director of Economic Development and Treaty Entitlement, Doreen Maloney says, “The investment for Indian people is generational because we have nowhere to go. Where else can we go?”

    “We belong here,” says Schuyler. “I don’t know how else to say it.”

    The Tribe’s history in the Skagit spans geologic time: Evidence of human settlement goes back 8,500 years. Ancestors lived in ten villages spread throughout the Skagit and Sauk River Valleys. At the large site above Hamilton, archaeologists have found some 60,000 artifacts that are now stored in the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle.

    The oral tradition of storytelling also keeps the Tribe’s history alive today, says Marilyn Scott, Vice Tribal Chair, and those stories are tied to specific places around Skagit Valley. “It’s just so special when you hear some of the stories that are passed down from generation to generation” she says. “You can bring your family out to a creek and go fishing and have that experience that is shared as part of a story. That’s part of the tradition.”

    Scott also teaches traditional spiritual ways of the tribe that are linked to natural resources and sacred places. “[Those traditions have] now been shared with our younger generation,” says Scott. “They were almost lost because our people didn’t know that they could use natural plants in their everyday life, but a lot of that is coming back now.” Keeping the traditional lifestyle of fishing, hunting, and gathering alive and well is essential to improving tribal health as well, says Scott.

    Over the years, the Upper Skagit Tribe has faced many hardships. A few decades ago, the tribe was down to 350 members. “Many tribal members had to go to seek sources of income elsewhere because it was basically illegal for us to fish,” says Schuyler. “My grandmother was part of that era when people were forced to go out and assimilate.” With the Boldt court decision in the 1970s, which affirmed treaty fishing rights for tribes, members started coming home. More recent economic development spurred by the Skagit Casino Resort, has helped improve quality of life as well. Today, there are roughly 1,300 members of the tribe.

    With culture, health, and nature bound together, new threats to salmon cause concern. Climate change is causing glaciers in the North Cascades to diminish, which threatens salmon runs dependent on cold water. Schuyler points to the nearby Muckleshoot Tribe whose sockeye fishery has been closed since 2006 due to population declines. In 2014 and 2015, warm temperatures in the Cedar River killed many fish before they could spawn, harming future runs. “If this warming trend continues, who is to say where we are going to be in 15 years without that cold water?” Schuyler asks. “We may be like our Muckleshoot cousins and learning to live without salmon. It goes back to the quality of life that we expect for our future generations. What are they going to have if we can’t reverse or stop or at least to try to mitigate these effects?… What can we do to change what’s going on?”

    Facing these questions, the tribe has turned toward the Skagit community. “We realized we need to be a part of the broader picture with all of the community here because it takes all of us to maintain this quality of life,” says Schuyler. “We have to cooperate. But people do have to accept that the tribe is going to continue to be the hunter-gatherers and the fishermen, and we also advocate for that resource. We look for the pathway together where the community around us can continue to grow while preserving the quality of life and the natural resources.”

    Scott agrees. “We do have so many resources in this valley, but if we are not working together – the agricultural, the tribal, and citizens in general – we are all going to be impacted,” she says.

    Elk is another important resource for the tribe, one that causes controversy when private property is damaged by the herd. “I hear people complaining about the elk or wildlife in general but they have the wrong perspective,” says Schuyler. “I’m thankful that there’s wildlife here that is a product of a healthy environment – the fact that there is salmon here right now with elk, deer, and bear. People seem to forget that we’re also encroaching on their land. As native people we used to share this land with the wildlife, with the salmon. And that’s not the mentality anymore.”

    Schuyler hopes to pass that wisdom on to his daughter, Janelle, who will turn 18 this year. He hopes she will enjoy the fishing life as much as he has.

    “I’ve been fishing since I was a kid and I hope to continue fishing until the end,” Schuyler says. “And I hope that the salmon will be there.”

    This is one of many stories in a series about members of the community and what the Skagit means to them, we are calling this series of interviews This Skagit Life.

    Skagit is a very special place, with healthy communities and spectacular natural resources. So much of what makes Skagit remarkable is the people who live, work, and play here. We realize that the health of the watershed depends on people seeking to protect that which they hold close to their hearts – without identifying what is special to each of us and then finding common areas of agreement, we will be less likely to succeed.

    This Skagit Life is a partnership project between the Skagit Watershed Council and the Skagit County Historical Museum. This Skagit Life is a culmination of multiple oral histories from community members displayed as articles, events, and an exhibit at the Skagit County Historical Museum running April through September 2019.


    Skagit River - History

    The river takes its name from the Skagit tribe, the name used for two distinct Native American peoples, the Upper Skagit and Lower Skagit. Native people have lived along the Skagit for many centuries. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Upper Skagit tribe lived in the area now called Ross Lake National Recreation Area at least 8,000 years ago, and were quarrying chert from Hozomeen Mountain for blades used across a wide area. The Upper Skagit tribe occupied the land along the Skagit from what is now Newhalem to the mouth of the river. The Lower Skagit tribe lived on northern Whidbey Island and are also known as the Whidbey Island Skagit. Archaeological evidence reveals that these people lived from the land through fishing, hunting, and gathering.

    The first written description we have of the upper Skagit was written by Henry Custer, the topographer for the US Boundary Commission in 1859. With two other government men and ten locals from the Nooksack and Chilliwack bands, he canoed and portaged from the Canada – United States border down to Ruby Creek. They found no native people inhabiting the Upper Skagit at the time, but an elder Samona Chief named Chinsoloc drew, from memory, a detailed map which Custer found to be accurate. (The "Report of Henry Custer, Assistant of Reconnaissances, Made in 1859 over the routes in the Cascades Mountains in the vicinity of the 49th parallel" belongs to the National Park Service.)

    Settlement along the river by European Americans in the late 1800s was inhibited by two ancient logjams that blocked navigation, forcing them to live nearly on the tip of the delta at a settlement called Skagit City. The first was located about 10 miles (16 km) upstream from the mouth of the river. Attempts to remove it began in 1874 by a team of loggers who salvaged the logs. After three years of work a 5-acre (20,000 m2) section of the jam broke free and scattered downriver. Soon thereafter the river was navigable. Mount Vernon was founded at the approximate site of the logjam.

    In November 1897 the Skagit River experienced a major flood, resulting in two new logjams forming, again blocking navigation. The largest was near the mouth and filled the river from bank to bank for about 800 yards (730 m). A recently built logjam removal boat named Skagit was able to clear this jam in about a month.

    Read more about this topic: Skagit River

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    &ldquo The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present. History is a hill or high point of vantage, from which alone men see the town in which they live or the age in which they are living. &rdquo
    &mdashGilbert Keith Chesterton (1874�)

    &ldquo When the history of guilt is written, parents who refuse their children money will be right up there in the Top Ten. &rdquo
    &mdashErma Brombeck (20th century)

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    &mdashTacitus (c. 55–c. 120)


    Uncovering History: The Life of a Seattle City Light Archaeologist

    Uncovering a pond in the town of Diablo

    Seattle City Light’s more than 1,800 employees hold a bevy of positions from engineer, to lineworker, to fish biologist to fudge master (although that last one is more of a moniker). Here’s another enviable position to add to the list: archaeologist. Since assuming her role in 2016, Senior Archaeologist Andrea Weiser has played a critical role in preserving and discovering the history of City Light and the areas it affects.

    Before any projects, from replacing a pole to building a large piece of infrastructure, Andrea and members of a team of consulting archaeologists research and test the area for potential historical archaeological significance that could be disturbed. Once the evaluation is complete, the utility can move forward or adjust their plans. This protocol complies with City Light’s obligations to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as compliance with state and federal laws and Seattle municipal code regarding cultural resources and coordination with Tribes who retain treaty rights in their usual and accustomed areas.

    While not very common, Andrea and her team may uncover an artifact that harkens back to the origins of the Skagit Hydroelectric Project’s existence. One day while conducting archaeological monitoring for a water meter project in Newhalem, a town owned and operated by City Light within the project, they made a discovery–an Old Taylor Bourbon bottle from the 1940s found nestled among the roots of a stump. The find alone was a surprise and the fact that the bottle was still intact was rare for the team to uncover.

    The recovered Old Taylor Bourbon bottle

    “In the 1940s, the company town of Newhalem had memorable ups and downs. At this time, Diablo and Gorge Powerhouses were in production, Ross Dam was under construction, and tourists who accessed the project by train were treated to meals and scenes that caused a buzz of excitement,” Andrea explained. “Evening activities included dances and cocktail parties. In September 1940, the Selective Training and Service Act required men between the ages of 21 and 45 to register for the draft, and in 1941, U.S. military personnel were deployed for World War II. Construction of Ross Dam was put on hold until the war ended in 1945 and Ross Dam was completed in 1949. During this era, there were many reasons to drain a bottle of bourbon.”

    Construction of Ross Dam, Jan. 1940

    The team has found numerous relics of City Light’s past buried within the Project. A few years ago, while Andrea served as a consultant for the utility, her team even discovered a human-made pond buried a foot below the ground in the town of Diablo. Through historical photos and old City Light newsletters, they deduced that the pond was built between 1950 and 1955, serving as a tourist attraction in the summer for project visitors and as an ice rink in the winter for the employees and their families.

    Andrea and her team have also found essential artifacts that recognize the significance of the land for native people, primarily the Upper Skagit Tribe. Before a large-scale project at the Skagit Hydroelectric Project, or for any City Light property, the utility confers with the local tribes to ensure that work doesn’t disrupt culturally-significant sites. Following one such project, City Light partnered with the Upper Skagit Tribe to create interpretive signage that recognized the importance of this land in the Tribe’s history. The sign represents a collaborative effort with the Upper Skagit Tribe to raise public awareness about ancient human history in the Skagit Project and highlight modern coordination on resource stewardship to protect and enhance fish and animal populations and habitat. Upper Skagit Tribal Council members Marilyn Scott and Edmond Mathias commemorated the sign dedication with a traditional song and honored 40 families who lived year-round in longhouses in Newhalem for generations before European settlement. Upper Skagit Tribal Policy Advisor, Scott Schuyler, spoke about a long-standing history of connections to the Skagit watershed and Newhalem, as well as treaty rights, and resources that are important to their Tribe’s culture and future.

    “The council wanted to reach the public and create awareness of their history in this area,” Andrea said. “It was important to them that we recognize that the Tribe has been stewards of the land we operate in for thousands of years. We were proud to partner with them to help tell their story.”

    Interpretive signage near SR 20 in Newhalem

    The interpretive signage is located in Newhalem near the Skagit General Store and includes facts about how ancient archaeological evidence corroborates the oral history the Upper Skagit Tribe teaches about their connections with the area. It also consists of a polymer replica of an artifact found at the Skagit Hydroelectric Project. The original artifact, estimated to be between 4,000 and 9,000 years old, is formed from a type of stone unique to the North Cascades mountains and was recently analyzed for biological residues revealing the presence of ancient goat blood on the artifact. Which is apropos since the word Newhalem comes from the Lushootseed word “dawáylib” translates to the thread or rope used for snaring goats.

    But this line of work is rife with challenges. Archaeological sites are heavily protected in Washington, and by law, all land in the state is protected from unpermitted digging in archaeological sites. Projects even on private lands that involve a lot of digging like installing a pool or septic tank, require contacting the Washington Department of Archaeology first (for more information, visit: dahp.wa.gov). When it comes to City Light projects, Weiser or other archaeologists carry out this coordination with the state and affected tribes. Because the Skagit Hydroelectric Project lies within the North Cascades National Park and Ross National Recreation Area, the archaeological sites are protected by federal law. To put it bluntly: you can’t go all Indiana Jones when you’re in the park or anywhere else. Even a trained professional archaeologist must have a permit to dig or collect artifacts.

    “We do this work under federal and state laws, along with obtaining the proper permits. One of the risks of talking about archaeology is it can pique someone’s interest,” Andrea described. ” but you cannot go out and dig up areas on your own. You will be fined heavily and could even end up in jail, not to mention you could lose the trust of tribes who hold federal rights. In the state of Washington, if you knowingly disturb or dig up at a site, it’s illegal. There are also protections for keeping archeological sites, burials, and traditional cultural place locations confidential to protect them from looting and vandalism. It’s really serious stuff, especially with cultures where these areas are personally significant.”

    While some people do dig or excavate without realizing the current laws, others are more nefarious. Last summer, someone had illegally dug and vandalized the Newhalem Rock Shelter archeological site near the Newhalem campground which is clearly marked as a protected site. According to a Facebook post by the National Park Service, the illegal excavation has caused “irretrievable damage” to the site and the Upper Skagit Tribe’s heritage. The Tribe is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of those involved.


    Upper Skagit Indian Tribe

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    Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

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    Formerly known as Upper Skagit Indian Tribe of Washington

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    Confederacy:Salish

    Reservation: Upper Skagit Reservation

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    Tribal Enrollment Requirements:

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    Upper Skagit Tribe - History

    The North Cascades present a barrier to moisture-laden winds from the Pacific Ocean. Consequently the western side of the range has a high rainfall and dense vegetation (up to 190 inches of rainfall annually on the slopes). When whites first came to the area, the level land along the coast, particularly the delta of Skagit River and the lower river itself, was covered with forest. Along the shore of Puget Sound and the banks of the river the Indians erected their villages in scattered clearings. They traveled mostly by water because of the thick vegetation. The sea provided an abundance of food, the climate was moderate, and the Skagit Indians lived a life of relative wealth and ease.

    Across the mountains, on the semi-arid plateaus of the Columbia Basin, the Indians knew a somewhat harder life. The Thompson, Okanogan, Methow, Wenatchee, and other groups worked harder for their subsistence. Influenced by the open grasslands and the horse (acquired in the eighteenth century), they evolved a way of life somewhat different from that of the coastal tribes.

    Yet from times unknown the interior Indians made contact with the coastal tribes. Each influenced the other. They exchanged ideas and trade goods. Each too felt the influence of other neighbors. The Puget Sound Indians had had many grim experiences at the hands of the powerful, war-like Haidas from the northern coast of British Columbia. The plateau tribes knew their neighbors to the east: the Yakimas, Nez Perces, Sanpoils, Kalispels, etc., and were influenced by the Indians of the buffalo country still farther east.

    The shores and islands of Puget Sound and the many rivers that drain into it contained a large number of small tribes or groups. Most of them belonged to the coastal branch of the Salishan linguistic stock. However, it was not uncommon that the various groups found it difficult to understand one another, so different were their dialects. Along the east side of the Sound lived such tribes as the Semiahmoo, Swinomish, Nooksack, Lummi, Samish, Snohomish, and Skagit.

    Different students have described the small Skagit tribe in different ways. Edward S. Curtis wrote that these Indians lived on the lowlands of the Skagit delta, along the wash in that vicinity, on the northern half of Camano island, on the upper eastern shore of Whidbey island, and on the eastern part of Swinomish island. [2] John B. Swanton described their locations as being on the Skagit and Stillaguamish Rivers, "except about their mouths." At the mouth of the Skagit he placed the Swinomish group, which he said was sometimes considered to be a subdivision of the Skagits. [3]

    This seeming confusion is due possibly to the Skagits' possessing only vague concepts of being a tribe. They referred to themselves as "the people" (Hum-a-luh). More properly they were a collection of bands or villages by no means united into one political system. Only rarely, such as in the face of an enemy, did they ally to serve a common interest. Swanton has identified ten subdivisions of the group:

    Baseleltsed , on the Skagit, from present Van Horn to three miles above Rockport and Sauk river, almost to the mouth of Suiattle Creek, including the village of Tcagwalk at the mouth of the Sauk river.

    Baskadsadsiuk , on the south bank of the Skagit, from Hamilton to Birdsview, including a village opposite Hamilton.

    Basekwiuk , on the Skagit, above Rockport, including a village at Marblemount (presently a district ranger station, but outside the park boundary) at the mouth of the Cascade.

    Basohalok , on the north bank of the Skagit, from Hamilton to Birdsview, including a settlement at Hamilton.

    Nookachamps , on the Skagit, from Mount Vernon to Sedro Woolley and Nookachamps river drainage, including Tslatlabsh on Big Lake, and a village back of Mount Vernon.

    Sauk , on the Sauk, above confluence of Suiattle, including a settlement on Sauk prairie above Darrington.

    Sbaleuk , on the Skagit, from above Birdsview to above Concrete, including a village at Concrete.

    Sikwigwilts . on the Skagit, from Sedro Woolley to below Lyman, including a village on the flats near Sedro Woolley.

    Suiattle , on the Suiattle, including a village near its mouth.

    Tcubaabish , on the Skagit, from Lyman to below Hamilton, including Day Creek drainage and a village at the mouth of Day.

    Accurate census figures of the Skagits are difficult to find. When the first white explorers arrived toward the end of the eighteenth century, perhaps as many as 1,000 Indians occupied this area. Gov. I.I. Stevens reported in 1855 that there were then only 300 Skagits. In 1877, the same number had survived the rigors of civilization. The 1910 census could account for only 56, the lowest number in modern times. Since then the number has increased, as with other Indians throughout the nation. The population of the group today, on and off the reservations, is probably more than 250. [4]

    The Puget Sound Indians, including the Skagits, lived in permanent villages. But the people themselves were inveterate travelers. By canoes, where possible, and by foot trails, where necessary, they visited neighboring tribes along the sound and climbed into the Cascades to hunt and to collect berries and root foods at the appropriate seasons. They used the abundant and easily-split cedar to construct their homes in the permanent villages. Each of these large structures held a number of families, each family having its own partitioned room and separate entrance. Occasionally these houses were square, but more commonly they were rectangular buildings, 30 to 40 feet wide and up to 100 feet long. Sleeping platforms ran around the room while reed mats covered the floor. A rich man might also line his walls with mats. The roofs of the Skagits' houses are said to have had a single pitch, that is, a shed roof. This type of construction differed from the houses of many other Sound tribes which had a gable roof. During their summer trips into the mountains, the Skagits erected temporary shelters of poles and mats made of bullrushes. [5]

    Politically, the Skagits were but loosely organized as a group or tribe. Each band or village was independent of the others, allying only when threatened by external dangers or, rarely, when intent on some common cause such as an offensive against another tribe. Internally the organization of a band was complex. Every man had his place in the social structure, acquired through inheritance, and no two men were exactly equal. Although houses, canoes, and so forth were held in common, the concept of wealth played an important role. Gained through inheritance or in warfare, one's wealth reflected one's social status. The "privileged ones," the chiefs and nobles, possessed the greater share of wealth, be it copper, furs, or rare shells. These leaders maintained their positions through such things as ostentatious potlatches or a large number of slaves.

    The Sound Indians acquired their slaves by warring on neighboring groups or by kidnapping. A slave possessed no status whatever. An owner might decide to kill a number of them for the purpose of displaying his nobility by giving up his property so readily. Adult males captured in warfare were usually promptly butchered anyway otherwise these captives would try to escape eventually. [6]

    Like other Indians of the Northern Pacific coast, the Skagits erected memorial (totem) poles, carved wooden masks, decorated house timbers, made wooden boxes, bowls, and household utensils. In all these activities, however, they were much less active than the Indians farther north, along the British Columbia coast. They also indulged in the potlatch, a feast whereat the host proved his wealth and generosity by giving away his possessions. In some of the larger villages along the Sound stood large potlatch houses, one of which was said to be over 500 feet long. A round or oval hole covered by a suspended board marked the entrance to these cedar structures often too the timbers were carved and painted. The Skagit News , in 1885, described a late-day potlatch:

    Last Sunday the Skagit Indians inaugurated a great "potlatch" on the upper river above Sauk. The maker of the potlatch gathers up his wealth and treasures of blankets, horses, guns, etc., and when he has sufficient wealth he announces a grand potlatch (gift), to which all the allied tribes may come. . . . as the day approaches, hundreds of canoes are seen going to the potlatch house. Here there is a general making of presents. The potlatch, is given to aid an aspirant to political honors or on general principles. When one Indian becomes too wealthy, a potlatch is obligatory.

    Another issue of the paper referred to an "old potlatch house," saying that the Indians had painted the image of "the old serpent" on its posts. [7]

    Physically the Skagits were short but thick-set, their limbs strong but bow-legged. They had broad faces, widely spaced eyes, and prominent noses. They wore their hair long and usually loose. Along the Sound, the Indians wore ear ornaments, rings, and necklaces, but probably did not pierce their noses. They tattooed their bodies, but not to the extent of some other coastal tribes. One of the best known customs of these people was that of flattening their foreheads. It was this custom, mistakenly attributed to the misnamed Flathead tribe of Idaho and western Montana (who did not flatten their heads), that lead to the Protestant missionary endeavor in the Pacific Northwest in the 1830s and 1840s.

    Paul Kane described the process:

    The Indian mothers all carry their infants strapped to a piece of board covered with moss or loose fibres of cedar bark, and in order to flatten the head they place a pad on the infants' forehead, on the top of which is laid a piece of smooth bark, bound on by a leathern band passing through holes in the board on either side, and kept tightly pressed across the front of the head. . . . The process commences with the birth of the infant, and is continued for a period of from eight to twelve months, by which time the head has . . . acquired [the shape] of a wedge. [8]

    Both men and women wore little clothing. In contrast to the elaborate dress of the interior tribes, the men wore simply a blanket made of dog hair, sometimes mixed with bird's down and bark fiber, animal skins, or goat wool. They fastened this at the neck with a wooden pin. The women were a little more modest, wearing a bark "apron" under their blanket. Both sexes wore cone-shaped, waterproof hats made of colored grasses as protection against the ever-lasting rains. Both went barefooted. Some of them traded for the tailored skin clothing made by the interior tribes these they reserved for winter use. [9]

    Originally the Skagits' weapons consisted of the bow and arrow and war clubs, made of wood, bone, or stone. Captain George Vancouver, RN, described a bow of very fine workmanship that he saw. It was 2-1/2ש feet long, made from a naturally curved yew, and backed with a strip of elastic hide or snake skin firmly cemented. [10]

    Myron Eells, a missionary among the Puget Sound Indians, described at length the canoes of these people. Before turning to Eells' account one should note that the Puget Sound Indians did not build nor use the fabled ocean-going war canoes of the Haidas of northern British Columbia. However, they did employ three different kinds: 1. The large or Chinook canoe, 2. The Twana fishing canoe, and 3. The shovel canoe. All were dugouts made from the cedar. The Indians burned the log out, then finished the interior and exterior with stone hand adzes. Next they steamed the log by filling it with water and hot stones. This caused the hollowed log to spread at which time the maker fastened in cross-pieces, or thwarts, about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Cedar rope passed through the ends of the crosspieces and the sides of the canoe holding the crosspiece in place. A one-inch rim of fir ran around the edge of the canoe as protection against wear from paddling. In the early historic period, the Indians charred and polished the outside of canoes and painted them red.

    The Chinook canoes generally came from British Columbia through trade. They could carry large loads and were used for travel on open seas. These canoes were about 35 feet long, five feet wide at the center, three feet high at the stern, and about four and one-half feet high at the bow. In the middle and near the bow were places for masts. A steersman sat near the stern.

    The Twana Fishing canoes plied all the rivers in the Sound area. They too had an added rim that could be replaced when worn. They ranged from 12 to 30 feet in length, 20 to 48 inches in width, and were from 9 to 20 inches deep in the center. The shovel canoe, also very common on the Skagit, was the same as the Twana except that its ends were blunt (1 to 1-1/2 feet wide) instead of coming to a point.

    Canoe equipment included locally made paddles of maple wood, a man's paddle being about 4-1/2 feet long, with a 2-1/2-foot blade that was five inches wide at its widest point. The woman's paddle was both broader and shorter. The Sound Indians also imported the Makah paddles, 5 feet long, 3-foot blade, and 7 inches wide, made of yew. A variation on paddles was called the Chelalis or river paddle. Its blade ended in an inverted U, which was used to push against logs. To travel upriver, the Indians used simple poles about 12 to 15 feet in length. They bailed by means of a wooden dipper, alder being the preferred wood. They made anchors by simply grooving a rock or drilling a hole through it. [11]

    The sea provided the Skagits with abundant food, especially salmon and shellfish. The men also hunted deer and other animals. Women picked berries and dug edible roots. They boiled fish and game in baskets or wooden troughs heated by hot rocks, roasted the same on open fires, baked roots and acorns in pits, and dried both fish and berries. So abundant was food, particularly salmon, that a family could obtain several months' supply in just a few days' work. As a result, the Skagits had considerably more time for leisure than the interior tribes. [12]

    A description of one of the more common types of fish weirs employed records that these were built across a stream where it was shallow, narrow, and not too rapid. The Indians drove a series of stakes into the stream bed in sets of three, each set forming a tripod. Two of them slanted upstream, the third (slightly longer) leaned downstream and was braced against the other two, the set being lashed together at the tops. They then lashed three horizontal poles (one on the stream bed, one at the surface, and the third halfway between) to the upstream side. They laid latticework against this frame, the lattice work being cedar laths bound together. The current held this in place. Salmon congregated against the lattice and the Indians caught them with dip net, harpoon (spear), or gaff. [13]

    Besides houses, canoes, and fish weirs, the early whites were impressed too with the "dead places" or burial sites they saw along Puget Sound. The Skagits and their neighbors placed their dead in canoes or elaborate boxes which in turn rested some three feet off the ground on stake frames. The deceased's relatives wrapped the body in reed mats and placed wood and bone utensils, dishes, cloth, and other objects in the canoe to accompany the spirit of the dead one. All these objects were broken or mutilated in some manner. It apparently was not unusual for slaves to be sacrificed at the death of a wealthy person. Wary of the ghosts of the departed, the Skagits took good care of the burial sites. [14]

    The Skagits shared with other groups a belief in supernatural beings who lived in the physical world around them: the mountains, the sky, and the forests. These spirits included both guardians and monsters. Those who lived in physical objects could assume the form of animals those who dwelt in animals, such as in the salmon, could just as readily take the form of man. One of the best collections of the folk tales of the coastal Salish is Thelma Adamson, Folk-Tales of the Coast Salish . A less scientific but interesting gathering was done by Ella E. Clark, Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest . One of the Clark legends came from a Skagit named Andrew Joe. In the tale Joe told of Doquebuth, the Creator and the Transformer of the land of the Skagits. His story imparts the concepts that the Skagits had of the world about them. It also illustrates that the Skagits were not insulated from other tribes, both coastal and interior there is great similarity between it and the stories of creation told by other groups:

    In the beginning, Raven and Mink and Coyote helped the Creator plan the world. They were in on all the arguments. They helped the Creator decide to have all the rivers flow only one way they first thought that the water should flow up one side of the river and down on the other. They decided that there should be bends in the rivers, so that there would be eddies where the fish could stop and rest. They decided that beasts should be placed in the forests. Human beings would have to keep out of their way.

    Human beings will not live on this earth forever, agreed Raven and Mink, Coyote, and Old Creator. They will stay only for a short time. Then the body will go back to the earth and the spirit to the spirit world. All living things, they said, will be male and female--animals and plants, fish and birds. And everything will get its food from the earth, the soil.

    The Creator gave four names for the earth. He said that only a few people should know the names those few should have special preparation for that knowledge, to receive that special spirit power. If many people should know the names the world would change too soon and too suddenly. One of the names is for the sun, which rises in the east and brings warmth and light. Another is for the rivers, streams, and salt water. The third is for the soil our bodies go back to it. The fourth is for the forest the forest is older than human beings, and is for everyone on the earth.

    After the world had been created for a while, everyone learned the four names for the earth. Everyone and everything spoke the Skagit language. When the people began to talk to the trees, then the change came. The change was a flood. Water covered everything but two high mountains--Kobah and Takobah. Those two mountains--Mount Baker and Mount Rainier--did not go under.

    When the people saw the flood coming, they made a great big canoe. They loaded it with two of everything living on earth, with the male and female of every animal and plant. When the flood was over, the canoe landed on the prairie in the Skagit country. Five people were in the canoe. After the flood, when the land was dry again, they made their way back here.

    A child was born to the man and his wife who had been in the canoe. He became Doquebuth. the new Creator. He created after the flood, after the world changed.

    When he was old enough, Doquebuth was told to go to the lake--Lake Campbell it is called now--to swim and fast and get his spirit power. But the boy played around and did not obey orders. Coyote fed him, and the boy did not try to get his spirit power. So his family deserted him. When he came home, no one was there. His family had gone and had taken everything with them except what belonged to the boy. They left his dog behind and the hides of the chipmunks and squirrels the boy had shot when hunting. His grandmother left fire for him in a clamshell. From the skin which he had dried, the boy made a blanket.

    When he found that his family had deserted him, he realized that he had done wrong. So he began to swim and to fast. For many, many days he swam and fasted. No one can get spirit power unless he is clean and his stomach is empty.

    One day the boy dreamed that Old Creator came.

    "Take my blanket," said Old Creator. "It is the blanket of the whole earth. Wave it over the waters, and name the four names of the earth. Then there will be food for everyone."

    That is how the boy got his spirit power from Old Creator. He waved the blanket over the water and over the forest. Then there was food for everyone. But there were no people yet. The boy swam some more and kept on fasting.

    Old Creator came to him again in a dream.

    "Gather together all the bones of the people who lived here before the flood. Gather all the bones and pile them into a big pile. Then wave my blanket over them, and name the four names of the earth."

    The young man did as he was told in his dream, and people were created from the bones. But they could not talk. They moved about but were not quite completed.

    The young Creator swam some more. A third time Old Creator came to him in a dream. This time he told the young man that he should make brains for the new people. So he waved the blanket over the earth and named the four names of the earth. That is how brains were made, from the soil of the earth.

    Then the people could talk. They spoke many different languages. But where they should live the young Creator did not know. So he swam some more. In his dream, Old Creator told him to step over the big island, from ocean to ocean, and blow the people back where they belonged. So Doquebuth blew the people back to the place where they had lived before the flood. Some he placed in the buffalo country, some by the salt water, some by fresh water, some in the forests. That is why the people in the different places speak different languages.

    The people created after the flood prophesied that a new language would be introduced into our country. It will be the only language spoken, when the next change comes. When we can understand animals we will know that the change is halfway. When we can talk to the forest we will know that the change has come.

    The flood was one change. Another is yet to come. The world will change again. When it will change, we do not know. [15]

    As a result of Gov. I. I. Stevens' efforts to place all of Washington Territory's Indians on reservations in 1855, most of the Skagits eventually ended up in one or the other of two small reserves. These were the Swinomish Reservation near La Conner, Skagit County (Suiattle, Kikiallus, Swinomish, and Skagit Indians), and the Tulalip Reservation near Everett, Snohomish County (Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Suiattle, Samish, Skagit, and others). [16]

    Despite this attempt to concentrate the Indians within specific areas, a number of Skagits continued to visit the mountains of the upper Skagit each summer and even to maintain homes along the lower reaches of the river. This was particularly true to those who had not signed the treaty and who did not believe themselves obligated by their fellow-tribesmen's marks. Not until whites began settling on clearings at the mouth of the Skagit and making tentative reaches up the river did the two cultures come into contact. As American settlement expanded, an increasing number of Indians married into and were absorbed by the white community. Others moved reluctantly to the reservations. A few continued to take advantage of the rugged upper country in order to hold on to their freedoms.

    As the logging industry expanded and even after the first gold "rush" of the late 1870s, a few Skagits were still to be found along the river. As in other places throughout the west, incidents occurred. But the decimated Skagits were never a real threat to the invading whites--they were simply too few in number.

    The most important contribution the Skagits, and the interior tribes, made to the exploration and opening of the North Cascades was the trails they developed over the centuries. Relatively few passes and canyons lend themselves to tramontane communication within the limits of today's park. Those that do exist had long been known and used by the Indians. When Alexander Ross, North West Company, attempted to cross the North Cascades from east to west in 1814 (see Fur Trade, below), he took with him an Indian guide who knew the country. Unfortunately the guide became ill before completing the journey yet it is significant that Ross was able to find a person, in this case an interior Indian, acquainted with the mountains. [17]

    In 1853, Capt. George McClellan, USA, looking for potential routes through the North Cascades, learned at Fort Okanogan that a trail led across the mountains from the Methow River on the east side to Puget Sound. With his characteristic hesitancy, McClellan did not investigate the trail he assumed it would be unsatisfactory for a railway. [18] Possibly, but beyond proof, this trail lay through the Stehekin Valley, Cascade Pass, and along the Cascade River, the same route that most students believe Ross traveled.

    In 1877, a group of would-be prospectors traveled this same route from west to east. Both when traveling up the Cascade Valley and when going down the Stehekin these men said that they followed Indian trails. When they reached the head of Lake Chelan they found two canoes that the Skagit Indians kept there for travel down the lake when trading with the interior Indians. Otto Klement, one of these travelers, noted that the Indians tended to keep their trails to the high country where possible, rather than through the thick growth of the valley bottoms. Klement also noted seeing a band of 30 Indian horses in the Cascade valley. This was a rare occurrence, for the coastal Indians, unlike those on the plateau, had very little need for horses in their forest environment. [19]

    The American and British International Boundary Commissioners, 1858-59, made extensive use of Indian guides (both coastal and interior) for that section of the 49° north latitude that now marks the northern boundary of the park. One of these guides, Thiusoloc, a chief of "Samonas" (not listed by Swanton), drew an accurate map for the American commission showing the main rivers and routes of travel for the wilderness between the Fraser and Skagit rivers. One of the American surveyors, Henry Custer, wrote:

    Part of these reconaissances, in fact all those on the western slope of the Cascade Mts and in the Cascade Mts itself were made on Foot, with the help of Indians belonging to the various tribes of the vicinity, as the Semiamoos, the Loomis, the Sumas, the Chiloweyuks, the Somanos, ect. ect. [sic], the services of these Indians were very valuable. . . . By employing them, we secured the good will of these tribes, so necessary to our success. Most all the First information of the topographical features (of the country), was also obtained by & from Indians, who all may be said to have a geographical Range, some small, some larger . . . & the most minute topographical knowledge, of a certain portion of the country generally well defined. Outside of these limits, the country is perfect terra incognita to them, which they neither need nor care, or have the curiosity to explore. [20]

    White invasions caused a brief flurry of excitement about 1876 at the junction of the Skagit and Baker (Nahcullum) rivers. Five whites took out claims at that site. The Skagit Indians still living there objected. Both sides remained calm, but the whites sent to the Tulalip Indian Agency for assistance. An employee, John P. McGlinn, arrived, transported in a shovel-nosed canoe manned by two Skagits. When McGlinn requested that the Indians gather for a council, they arrived under their local chief, John Wha-wit-can. McGlinn informed the Skagits that they had ceded these lands by the Treaty of 1855 and should move to the reservations. The Indians demurred, saying that none of them had personally signed the treaty. They repeated their demands that whites remain below this point on the river. The council settled nothing. [21]

    Four years later, 1880, near the same location, a settler named Amasa Everett got into an argument with an Indian. Everett shot the Indian in the mouth, but not fatally. The Skagit's friends became aroused and Everett fled down the river. A party of troops arrived their brief visit quieted the turmoil peacefully. The next summer, some Skagits interfered with the work of government surveyors on the upper river. Again troops arrived, from Fort Townsend. Some firing occurred but no casualties resulted. In 1882, troops visited the Sauk river to impress the Indians of that area. These incidents seem to have caused the Skagits to realize that their way of life was forever doomed. No more trouble occurred. Down through the present century a few Skagits have continued to live on public domain lands in the vicinity of the river that bears their name. [22]

    Within the park today little trace of the Skagit's wanderings exists. Hikers still cross Cascade Pass, but now on a trail that has been rerouted in large part. Reflector Bar, on Stetattle Creek, just above its junction with the Skagit and immediately below the town of Diablo, was, according to the Skagits, the Spirit Boundary. The Indians, at the time they were concerned about whites entering the upper country, explained that the "country ghosts" would inflict harm on any hunters or miners who entered the high country. According to the story, a huge forest fire swept down upon the miners' cabins about 1880, as if the country ghosts were inflicting their vengeance. The story is probably apocryphal, yet it symbolizes the last effort of the small Skagit tribe to preserve itself against the waves of change. [23]

    A final Skagit story, beyond challenge by modern historiography, also occurred within the park boundaries. A Skagit family was camped on the river above present Newhalem. A daughter, who had married a Thompson Indian of British Columbia, came there to visit. With her was her husband and two of his brothers. An argument occurred and a Skagit killed one of the brothers. The Thompsons left for their northern home by way of Stetattle Creek. The next summer the Skagit family returned to the same camp. A daughter-in law, who was a prophet, warned the group that the Thompsons would return seeking revenge. She and her husband fled downstream to Bacon Creek (today's boundary). The Thompsons returned, attacked the cedar-plank shelter and destroyed all the family but one son. This young man fled to tell his brother at Bacon Creek of the disaster.

    The next summer these two brothers and several of their friends again went up the river where they found the Thompsons camped at the mouth of Goodell Creek. The Skagits attacked, destroying most of the enemy.

    According to Skagit memory, this type of behavior was typical of the Thompsons whom they regarded as thieves and worse. A common saying in the tribe, when something was missing, was "The Stetattles [Thompsons] must have been around." [24]

    Between the Skagit River and the Canadian boundary at least four other groups of the Salishan linguistic family lived down into the historic period: Samish, Lummi, Nooksack, and Semiahmoo tribes. Of the four, the Nooksacks probably had the most intimate knowledge of the mountains. This group lived along the Nooksack River which rises at the base of Mt. Shuksan. Their name means "mountain men." Today the Lummis live in a reservation (population 827) named after themselves in northwestern Washington the Samish and Semiahmoo Indians have almost disappeared as identifiable groups while the Nooksacks (population 300) live on public domain allotments along the Nooksack River in Whatcom County. The culture of these groups was similar to the Skagits', thus the various subjects discussed in the preceding pages are equally applicable to them. [25]

    The tribes living along the eastern base of the North Cascades were also members of the Salishan linguistic family, sometimes being referred to as the "interior division." From north to south, those groups who felt the mountains' influence were the Thompsons, Okanogans, Methows, Chelans, and Wenatchees.

    To the north of the North Cascades, along the Thompson and Fraser rivers in British Columbia, lived the (Ntlakyapamuks), popularly called the Thompsons. First visited by Simon Fraser, North West Company, in 1799, the Thompsons experienced the effects of a great influx of miners in their homelands during the gold rush of 1858. They hunted in the North Cascades during the summers, especially along the upper Nooksack and Skagit rivers. As noted above, they traded and sometimes fought with their coastal cousins. Although influenced by the coastal culture, the Thompsons' way of life more closely resembled that of the numerous tribes living in the great Columbia Basin.

    Before coming into contact with whites, the Thompsons were a considerable tribe, their population around 1780 being estimated at 5,000. Like so many tribes they suffered from smallpox and other diseases introduced by fur traders and gold miners until, by 1900, they numbered less than 2,000. [26]

    To the south of the Thompsons, the next large group was the Okanogan tribe, located principally on the Similkameen, Okanogan and Columbia rivers, and around Okanogan Lake, and on both sides of the international boundary. Those living south of the 49th parallel also went by the name of Sinkaieth ("people of the water that does not freeze"). They numbered approximately 2,200 in 1780, but by 1906 had dwindled to little more than 500 in the American band. The remnants of the tribe live today on the Colville Reservation in northeastern Washington as part of the Confederated Tribes. [27]

    The Methows were a small group that lived on the Methow and Okanogan rivers, and on the Columbia between the two. Hardly large enough to be recognized as a separate tribe, these Indians were closely related to the Okanogans. Farther south, around the outlet of Lake Chelan, was another very small group, the Chelan Indians. Citizens of that area often refer to them today as the Wapatoes. The Chelans spoke the Wenatchee dialect and were closely related to that tribe as well as with the Methows. [28]

    The Wenatchees (also spelled Wenatchi) lived along the lower Methow and Wenatchee rivers and at the confluences of these streams with the Columbia. Their descendants today live on both the Yakima and Colville Reservations. Numbering at least 1,400 in 1780, they had almost disappeared by 1906, there being only 52 accounted for by that time. [29]

    All these groups shared the characteristics of the Columbia basin culture, along with such Shahaptian tribes as the Yakimas, Walla Wallas, and Nez Perces. In contrast to the wet forests of the coast, miles of grasses covered the great rolling plain, which was slashed by gaunt coulees. Basaltic rock outcroppings, semi-desert vegetation in the rain shadows, and exceedingly hot summers created a harsh environment in which the plateau tribes lived a more Spartan life than their coastal relatives. Living along the eastern base of the Cascades, they had the most contact of the plateau people with the coast. They acted as middlemen in trading goods and ideas between the two areas.

    The interior Salish lived in semi-permanent villages located along the Columbia and its tributaries. In contrast to the coast, houses, or lodges, in the interior were easily transported. The entire village could pack up and move according to the season. However, each band usually reestablished itself at the same sites year after year, such as at its favorite fishing area along a river in early summer.

    The lodges, like those along the Sound, sometimes reached great lengths, well beyond 200 feet. A number of families, sometimes an entire village, each with its own fire, would occupy a lodge. They did not partition the interior, however. Lacking cedar, they built the lodge of finely-woven reed mats hung on a log frame. The sides sloped, almost reaching at the top, but leaving an opening along the ridge so that smoke might escape. In the winter they often sunk their shelters into the ground by excavating a few feet, then cover in the exterior with grass and earth. About the beginning of the 19th century, after acquiring the horse, these tribes borrowed the concept of the skin lodge, popularly called the tipi, from the Great Plains Indians who lived among the great buffalo herds.

    The introduction of the horse from the Southwest in the 18th century revolutionized the life of the plateau tribes. Greatly increasing their mobility, they traveled far and wide, picking up particularly the ideas of the Great Plains and its buffalo-centered life. The horse represented wealth, and the leaders of these eastern Cascades groups strove to acquire large herds. The grasslands of the Columbia proved to be nutritious and they were easily traveled, in contrast to the dense forests along the coast. However, as important as the horse became, the groups along the foothills of the North Cascades did not acquire horse herds nearly as large as did the Indians farther east, such as the Cayuses and Nez Perces.

    Again, the band or village was the important element in the political organization of the tribes. Larger groups might come together at the fishing places, but no central governmental organization would emerge. In warfare, a number of bands might unite, but each remained independent with regard to tactics and leadership. Leaders might inherit their positions, but they would have to prove themselves in order to retain it. It was common to center around a proven warrior in time of war, then to look to different leaders for the hunt or at fishing time. Extremely independent, each man was a law unto himself and to his family. They did not observe the potlatch to any important degree, although gatherings for great feasts occurred in times of plenty. They rarely practiced slavery, although they retained women and children captured in battle.

    The plateau people were more modest than those on the coast. During the hot summers, the men wore little more than breechclouts and moccasins. The women usually covered themselves with a skin dress. In colder weather, both sexes wore the elaborately tailored, soft, skin clothing, so popularly associated with Indians by today's public. Shirts, leggings, and moccasins were decorated with porcupine quills, shells, and dyes (later, with beads). They illustrated a degree of sophistication about clothing lacking in the more casual coastal tribes. After whites began trading in the country, no Indian would be seen without a wool blanket during the cooler seasons.

    Canoes of course were much less important a means of transportation in the interior, especially after the introduction of the horse. Nonetheless, these Indians were skilled at hollowing out logs and small dugouts plied Lake Chelan, the Columbia, and the other rivers.

    Their diet differed little from the groups along the Sound. They did not have access to much shellfish but, in June each year, salmon began running the rivers. Then a great flurry of fishing activity took place. They caught and prepared fish in the same manner as those on the coast. A difference in emphasis, perhaps, was that these people along the Columbia were extremely skilled at spearing salmon from wooden platforms at such great fishing centers as The Dalles and Kettle Falls, both on the Columbia. They too climbed into the higher country at the appropriate seasons to collect berries and dig roots, especially camas, a root food that has a strikingly handsome flower in early summer. Skilled in the use of bow and arrow, the plateau Indians were great hunters. Deer, antelope, and smaller animals provided both food and clothing.

    The first white to visit the Okanogans, etc., was the North West Company's great explorer, David Thompson. He crossed the Canadian Rockies and, in 1811, traveled down the Columbia, visiting each tribe enroute to the mouth of the "River of the West." He traded for food with the Okanogans. He described a Wenatchee lodge that was 240 feet long. He said that the Wenatchees were well dressed, wearing skins of antelope, mountain sheep, and mountain goat.

    Later that same year, David Stuart and Alexander Ross, members of John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company, came up the Columbia and established Fort Okanogan, a mere thirty miles by the river from present Chelan. During the War of 1812, the North West Company acquired the post. It was from Fort Okanogan that Alexander Ross, who had transferred to the North West Company, set out in 1814 to become the first white to cross the North Cascades. The post introduced many new ideas and products to the tribes along this portion of the Columbia. Such items as guns, blankets, and steel traps quickly became necessities. Just as quickly, liquor and diseases became the scourges of the tribes.

    In the early 1850s, the railroad surveyors passed by. Later in the same decade, a stream of miners moved up the Columbia toward the supposed riches of gold in northeastern Washington. Territorial then state governments came into being. Steamboats plied the Columbia. White settlements sprang up, especially after whites discovered in the 1870s that this semi-arid land would grow wheat, cattle, and apples. Chinese miners panned the gravel bars--and occasionally the Chelans and others attacked them. For a brief time in 1880, the Army occupied Camp Chelan at the outlet of the great lake that flows from the heart of the North Cascades.

    All this time the Chelans, Wenatchees, Methows, and Okanogans constantly decreased in numbers. They did not offer resistance to white encroachments as did the Yakimas, Cayuses, and Nez Perces. Today, the Thompsons still live on their homelands. The others have left their river valleys and mountains. In 1879 and 1880, reservations were created west of the Okanogan and Columbia rivers as far as Lake Chelan and the eastern slope of the Cascades. In succeeding years, these reserves were reduced in size as white settlement increased. Today nearly all the American Okanogans, Methows, Chelans, and Wenatchees are parts of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in northeastern Washington. (Some of the Wenatchees have gone their separate way and live on the Yakima Reservation.) Of the total population of 3,000 on the Colville Reserve, less than 400 are Okanogans about 140 call themselves Methow and a little over 150 are from the Wenatchee tribe. The Chelans are small enough and integrated enough to escape most censuses. [30]

    As on the western side, few traces of the eastern Indians are to be found in the park today. The Thompsons' trail down the Skagit is now under water. Other trails that originated with the Indians are still to be found, although often greatly changed. An example of this latter may be illustrated by the Stehekin valley where the lower part of the trail was converted into a road in the early mining days. Their names are still on the land: Chelan, (deep water), and Stehekin (the way through the mountains). At the head of Lake Chelan, across the lake from Stehekin Landing. pictographs still stick to the sheer granite walls. Although damaged beyond recall by vandals, this record of occupation, possibly predating the Chelan Indians, testifies that the Indians have been acquainted with this land since long before the historic period. [31]

    Evaluation and Recommendations, Both Coastal and Inland Indians

    Relatively little trace of the Indians' travels and occupation of the present park complex is to be found. Yet a knowledge of the Indians' familiarity with and ability to penetrate this mighty range is essential to an understanding of man in this magnificent environment. Also important is a knowledge of how the mountains influenced the two different ways of life: the coastal, damp, and forested world of the Indians along Puget Sound and the grass-covered, dry land of the Interior Indians.

    The stories of these two differing ways of life may best be told in visitor centers, through museum exhibits, audio-visual programs, and perhaps demonstrations where feasible.

    The few specific sites known, such as the pictographs at the head of Lake Chelan, already badly damaged, should be preserved. Until protection can be guaranteed, this particular site should be interpreted with care, if at all.

    Residents of the Stehekin Valley, and undoubtedly elsewhere, have recovered several excellent examples of Indian stonework. One expects that equally valuable finds will be made. These artifacts should be collected where possible, catalogued, studied, and exhibited.

    In connection with the above, an archeological survey should be made of the park with particular attention being given to the river valleys that have not been flooded, such as the Stehekin, the middle Skagit, Big and Little Beaver Creeks, Chilliwack River, the North Fork of Cascade River, Bridge Creek, and elsewhere. Plans exist for flooding the lower portions of Big Beaver and Thunder Creeks. These two should be surveyed well in advance of any dam construction.