Frequently Asked Questions
What is tribal sovereignty? ....................2
What is the Treaty of Point Elliott? .............2
Where did the tribe reside prior to contact? ......3
Does the Tulalip Tribes own all of the land
on the Tulalip Reservation? ....................3
What is an enrolled Tulalip tribal member? ......4
Do you have to live on the reservation to be
an enrolled Tulalip tribal member? .............4
What traditional foods did Tulalip people eat?.... 4
What is the traditional Tulalip language? . . . . . . . . 5
What is the traditional Tulalip home? ...........5
What is the traditional Tulalip mode of
Why is cedar so important to the tribe? .........6
Why is your logo a killer whale? ................ 6
What is a boarding school? ....................7
When did you become a modern society? ........7
What is Quil Ceda Village?..................... 8
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The Tulalip TribesFrequently Asked Questions
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What is tribal
Sovereignty is the authority of
a people to govern themselves.
Our sovereignty guarantees our
inherent right as a government
to raise revenue for our
community. In fact, 92% of our
government services, family
and senior housing, education,
health and dental services, law
enforcement, fire protection,
infrastructure improvements,
and economic growth are funded
from within.
Treaties, court cases, and
the U.S. Constitution have
upheld Tulalip’s status as a self-
governing nation.
Today, tribal government
and the people of the Tulalip
Tribes continue to exercise our
sovereignty through a number
of initiatives:
Administering a strong
tribal government
Providing tribal citizens
opportunities for education,
jobs, land, and housing
Improving our tribal
community to promote
physical, emotional, and
spiritual wellbeing and
perpetuating cultural and
environmental sensitivity
Building infrastructure on
and off the reservation
Developing the tribe’s
economic base that provides
the primary support for a
growing population of young
tribal members
Treaty rights, preservation,
access to government to
government relationships
What is the Treaty of
Point Elliott?
e 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott
reserved specific tribal rights,
which were not ceded to the
United States. An important
provision tribal leaders insisted
upon was the right to continue to
fish in all usual and accustomed
grounds and to hunt and gather
on all open and unclaimed
lands. ese “reserved rights”
are rights which were essential
to tribal culture, subsistence,
and commerce. ese rights
were not granted in the treaty,
rather they were rights that
tribes have always possessed
and which were protected by
the treaty. e Treaty of Point
Elliott contains 15 articles. In
addition to reserving reservation
homelands and tribal rights,
the treaty promised education,
medical assistance and housing
to thetribe.
Since the signing of the
treaty, the Tulalip Tribes and
other local tribes have fought
continually to uphold our treaty
In 1974, tribes in the region
won a major fishing battle in
the “Boldt” case (e United
States v
is case
reaffirmed the tribe’s treaty-
protected fishing rights in all
our usual and accustomed places
and established the tribe as
co-managers of the fisheries
Later cases affirmed
treaty rights to shellfish and
treaty protection against
destruction of habitat necessary
to support the salmon runs
ince the turn of the century,
many commemorations of the
treaty have been held on the
Tulalip Reservation.
reaty Days
occur in our longhouse on or
around January 22 every year
and always includes speeches on
the importance of upholding the
In spite of the hardships
brought on by the reservation
system and the cession of
millions of acres of land, the
Tulalip Tribes celebrate the Point
Elliott Treaty of 1855 as formal
recognition by the United States
of the tribe’s inherent right to
self-determination as a sovereign
and distinct people
Under the
United States constitution, the
treaty is the supreme law of the
land and it is as legally binding
today as it was the day it was
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The Tulalip TribesFrequently Asked Questions
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signed. e treaty continues to
support the tribe’s sovereign
right of self-governance, and
the protection of fish, animals,
lands and waters on which tribal
Where did the tribe
reside prior to contact?
From the Cascades Mountains
to the east, the islands of the
Puget Sound to the west, as
far as Canada to the north and
south almost to Tacoma. ere
were permanent villages along
the shores of the salt water at
Port Susan, Possession Sound,
Saratoga Passage, the Straits,
Whidbey Island, Hat Island,
and Camano Island and along
the banks of the rivers among
them—Snohomish, Skykomish,
Stillaguamish, Snoqualmie,
Goldbar, and Sultan. Our
main villages were at Hibulb,
Speebidah, Quil Ceda, and
around Tulalip Bay.
Trade protected friendships
with our neighbors and provided
the opportunity to arrange
marriage partners between
villages. Our ancestors’ trade
routes went north to Canada,
east into the Rockies and south
to California. ere was a great
deal of trade between our
ancestors and our neighbors.
Does the Tulalip Tribes
own all of the land on
the Tulalip Reservation?
No. e Dawes Act of 1887 (also
known as the General Allotment
Act or the Dawes Severalty Act
of 1887), adopted by Congress in
1887, authorized the President
of the United States to survey
American Indian tribal land
and divide it into allotments for
individual Indians. e Dawes
Act is responsible for enacting
the division of the American
native reserves into plots of
land for individual households,
and was created by reformers to
achieve six goals:
Breaking up of tribes as a
social unit,
Encouraging individual
Furthering the progress of
native farmers,
Reducing the cost of native
Securing parts of the
reservations as Indian land,
Opening the remainder of
the land to white settlers for
In 1883, the Tulalip Indian
Agency superintendent began
to allot the reservation land in
40-, 80-, and 160-acre panels
to Tulalip heads of household.
In 1906, the Burke Act allowed
the issuance of patents in fee
to Indian landowners, allowing
them to sell their allotments.
Due to poverty and outside
pressures, much land on the
Tulalip Reservation was sold.
At this time, about 60% of the
Tulalip reservation is Indian
owned. In the last few years, the
tribe has bought back several
thousand of the lost acres
and expects to buy more in
In 1936, with money from
their own pockets, the first
Traditionally our ancestors
resided throughout Western
Western Washington
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The Tulalip TribesFrequently Asked Questions
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Tulalip Board of Directors
sought ways to support our
people. A sustainable cash flow
was necessary to start our own
businesses. Land leasing along
Tulalip Bay was our first venture
and it turned out to be profitable.
To lease land meant we
also needed to provide basic
water and sewer services, which
became our next two business
projects. is developed a
home-based economy that
helped draw our people back
to the reservation, but hard
times were still ahead. A
traditional mainstay, logging,
was in decline and farming was
unsuccessful. Smoke shops and
other small businesses provided
some income.
What is an enrolled
Tulalip tribal member?
All Tulalip tribal members
are descendants of tribes that
signed the Point Elliott Treaty.
Do you have to live on
the reservation to be an
enrolled Tulalip tribal
e tribal member parent
has to have resided on the
Tulalip Reservation for at least
12continuous months at any
time prior to the birth of the
applicant and be able to prove it
What traditional foods
did Tulalip people eat?
Our ancestors knew what the
Puget Sound offered. ey would
gather shellsh, spear fish,
and catch ducks at night. ey
would set torches on the beach
and the bow of the canoes and
spear for flounder, skate, and
other bottom fish. At night, they
would also set flyaway nets for
catching ducks and other birds.
One of the most healthy and
nutritious ways to prepare a
meal was to boil and steam the
food. e Coast Salish people
made the finest watertight
baskets that could be used
for cooking. Our people were
excellent weavers. Our ancestors
used their watertight baskets
to boil salmon and their eggs,
all types of shellsh, a variety
of fresh and dried meats
Steamers clams and mussels
would be cooked on the hot
rocks covered with seaweed to
trap in the steam. ese foods
were complimented with nettles,
seaweed, wild carrots, and
Dried berries were also
added to enhance the flavor
ey would fill their baskets
with water, then add heated
rocks from the fire pit to create
a gentle boil that cooked the
different foods to perfection
Fish: five kinds of salmon
(spring, humpback, silver,
dog, sockeye), steelhead,
sturgeon, smelts, herring,
flounder, trout, cod, rock
cod, and skate
Shellfish: clams, oysters,
barnacles, and crabs
Our culture and survival depended on the salmon’s annual return.
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Eggs: fish eggs from salmon
and herring, bird eggs from
pheasant, lark, and duck
Meat: deer and elk meat
Berries: salmonberries,
huckleberries, elderberries,
salal berries, blackcaps,
blackberries, wild
strawberries, and wild
Roots and bulbs: brake
fern, wood fern, dandelion,
cattail, camas, and tiger lily
What is the traditional
Tulalip language?
Lushootseed—our sacred
first language. To preserve
the traditional training and
teaching of the people of Tulalip,
we aspire to protect its records
and become “living records”
ourselves who, by speaking,
teaching, and involvement in
living culture, pass on to the
tribal community what we
e Tulalip Lushootseed
Department seeks to preserve
records of the language; to
promote awareness of and
respect for the entire language
heritage; to teach the language
to tribal members, both in a
school setting and in community
classes; and, to create a core
group of new speakers so that
the sound of Lushootseed can
continue to be heard in a chain
that goes unbroken back to the
very beginning of the language
What is the traditional
Tulalip home?
Approximately 100 to 200
feet long
Cedar planks split from tree
trunks and smoothed with
an adze
Shed roof, sloping from one
side of house to the other;
roof boards located over fires
were loose so they could be
pushed aside to control the
smoke escape
Some groups divided across
into rooms with doors that
opened directly outside
Platforms ran along the side
for seating
Shelves for storage of
baskets, tools, clothing,
dried foods and other
goods were located above
platforms, reached by
Carved house posts
Cattail mats hung on
walls for insulation, put
on floors for seating, hung
as partitions and used for
padded mattresses
Open place down the middle
of the house for walking
Fires along the sides near
seating platforms, shared by
two to three families, used
for heat and cooking
Building traditional
longhouses involved the
community. e head of
the family would ask gifted
William Shelton and George Jones Sr. standing in front
of the Tulalip longhouse they built, 1913.
Everett Public Library or University of Washington photo.
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The Tulalip TribesFrequently Asked Questions
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and experienced people to
help build their longhouse.
Our people always built
their houses on the shores
of Puget Sound, along the
rivers, and creeks. e main
entrance of the houses
always faced the water.
e size of the longhouse
depended on the family’s wealth,
their prestige, their extended
families, and the number of
their friends. All would live
in one house. e longhouse
had sleeping platforms along
We used cedar planks to
build our houses. e largest
big house or cedar plank
house of the Snohomish was
at Hibulb. It was 115 feet long
and 43 feet wide with a single
pitch roof. e planks could be
adjusted depending on weather
conditions. Our ancestors were
very skilled at splitting planks
from the old growth cedars.
Our ancestors understood
migratory patterns like a
calendar. Spring and summer
gatherings brought families
out of their winter villages to
travel to their family camping
grounds. ey built cattail mat
houses along the shorelines,
islands, rivers, and creeks. Many
families joined houses, having a
mat house up to thirty feet long.
emporary mat houses:
Primarily used in the
summers when traveling
on hunting or fishing
Made from cattail mats over
pole supports
Mats made to be waterproof
and overlapped to shed rain
Mats provided quick way to
make a house
What is the traditional
Tulalip mode of
Canoes connected our ancestors
to our lands for travel, fishing,
gathering shellfish, hunting,
trade, and transport. ere
were large ocean-going canoes
and small hunting canoes.
Women used canoes for hauling
possessions, gathering tules, and
many other daily tasks.
Why is cedar so
important to the tribe?
e Creator gave our people
the cedar as a gift to serve
us throughout our lives. Our
ancestors, like our people today,
offered a prayer to honor the
spirit of the tree. We harvest
cedar roots, bark, wood, and
branches. Cedar is the perfect
resource, providing everything
from tools, baskets, and bowls
to long-lasting carvings
. I
has medicinal and spiritual
Every part of the tree
is used and nothing is wasted
t touches every part of our
ur ancestors taught
us the importance of having
respect and understanding
for how it is to be used
is to be protected for future
edar bark was so versatile
that our ancestors used it for
every part of their daily life
freshly pulled piece of bark could
be used to make a temporary
dwelling at a summer camping
place, folded into boxes or canoe
bailers, and cut for carving and
weaving templates
Women wove
cedar bark strips into baskets,
mats and hats, or twisted them
into rope
ey wove shredded
strips into capes, skirts, and
blankets or bundled them up for
babies’ diapers
Cedar bark is a
critical natural resource.
Why is your logo a
killer whale?
Long, long ago at Priest Point,
there were two brothers who
were famous seal hunters. ere
was some family trouble and
the brothers had to leave Priest
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Point and live elsewhere. ey
went to live in the ocean and
became killer whales, in our
language. People continued to
live at Priest Point, including
the descendants of the two
brothers. en something
happened. According to one
of our storytellers, in the fall
and winter of one year, there
were some unusual storms and
temperature changes, and the
people could not put food away
as they usually did. By early
spring, everything they had
stored was gone. ere was no
game to be found and the people
were starving. Just in time, the
early salmon run started and the
people thought their suffering
was at an end.
However, hordes of seals
invaded the waters around
Priest Point, chasing the salmon
and devouring them before
the people could catch any. e
people were in despair. It was
then that they remembered
their ancestors, the
e people called out to them
for help, remembering that the
two brothers had been expert at
getting food for the people. e
killer whales heard the peoples
call. ey arrived and caught
every seal. ey ate the seal
heads and then tossed the seal
bodies onto the beach for the
people. In that way, they saved
the people from starvation and
preserved the salmon run for
coming generations
. A
of our storytellers says that the
seals used to come frequently in
the spring, and that the killer
whales were called many times,
not just once
But both versions
of the story make it clear why
the killer whale is important
to the Tulalip Tribes
We have
been told that if you are in a
boat and killer whales come up
to you, you can greet them like
this: “killer whale, killer whale,
your ancestors were also my
or more history
and information visit
What is a boarding
In the late 1880s in the Pacific
Northwest, the Coast Salish
children were taken from their
homes to assimilate and civilize
them into American society.
Indian agents sent children,
as young as five years old, to
boarding schools across the
Teachers brutally punished
and ridiculed children for
speaking their native language
or breaking school rules.
e children were marched
everywhere they went
work and manual labor were
the way of life at the school
e children were forced to
garden, log, sew, cook and
Children lived in large
communal spaces with no
ey often did not
have enough food and endured
harsh working conditions
isease spread rampantly
and many children died at the
Others ran away to live
with distant relatives
remaining endured school but
faced a difficult life, haunted
by their memories of boarding
When did you become a
modern society?
rough the later part of the
19th century and the 20th
century, our community became
increasingly impoverished due
to corruption and greed on
the part of the Indian Agency
and others. Federal and state
governments had imposed laws
and regulations on how we were
to live and where we could fish,
gather and hunt.
In 1934, the federal
government passed the Indian
Reorganization Act, also known
as the Wheeler-Howard Act.
is legislation restored self-
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government and the ability to
manage our lands. We adopted
our first Constitution that
declared all the people living
at Tulalip would be known as
the Tulalip Tribes. Our elders
determined that adopting a
constitution was the best way to
serve all our people.
What is Quil Ceda
Quil Ceda Village, a multi–
million dollar commercial
development complete with a
resort casino, amphitheater and
shopping centers. Incorporated
as its own municipality, Quil
Ceda Village continues to grow,
attracting thousands of visitors
to its many amenities. Proceeds
from our operations continue
to support our community.
As the village continues to
grow, it attracts more than
6million visitors to its many
amenities. e village is
dedicated to preserving as much
of the natural environment as
possible. Within the 450 acres
of commercial land more than
60 acres has been set aside to
protect salmon spawning areas
and provide walking trails and
picnic areas.
We provide jobs for our
tribal members and our non-
Indian neighbors. We have
developed services to meet
our communitys housing,
education and healthcare
needs. We support charitable
organizations in our area with
gaming profits. Nearly three
quarters of the hundreds of
millions generated by the Quil
Ceda Village directly supports
the surrounding communities of
Marysville, Everett, Arlington,
and Snohomish. e Tulalip
Tribes is one of the largest
employers in Snohomish
County. Quil Ceda Village is the
first and only IRS-recognized
tribal city in the United States.
Chartered under tribal laws and
governed by a council-manager
form of government that
enacts local ordinances, builds
infrastructure, and manages the
tribes’ economic development