UPDATE: Duwamish Tribe’s bid for federal recognition rejected again; tribe’s chair vows to ‘prevail after all’

ORIGINAL THURSDAY REPORT: The U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs has again told the West Seattle-headquartered Duwamish Tribe that it does not qualify for federal recognition. The decision (first reported locally by KUOW) was announced in this BIA news release and spelled out in this 95-page document that accompanied a letter to Duwamish chair Cecile Hansen. This means that the tribe has now been denied recognition under 1978 and 1994 rules; while Interior declares its decision final, it coincidentally has just announced another change in the recognition rules. Today’s decision traces back to a federal judge’s ruling in 2013, telling Interior to re-review the Duwamish Tribe’s petition. We contacted the tribe for comment and were told they’re waiting to review the decision before commenting; a media briefing is expected next week. (WSB file photo of Duwamish Tribe chair Cecile Hansen, from April 2015 Duwamish Alive! event)

ADDED FRIDAY: We did hear back from Cecile Hansen via e-mail today. Her reaction: “It is a major shock, but after 40 years of proving our case, and why, when I was attacked for trying to defend all Duwamish people in this country, we will prevail after all – does the city of Seattle remember that our tribe welcomed the settlers before treaty times. It is our history and no one in DC can change that part!”

17 Replies to "UPDATE: Duwamish Tribe's bid for federal recognition rejected again; tribe's chair vows to 'prevail after all'"

  • Diane July 2, 2015 (3:47 pm)


  • B July 2, 2015 (4:20 pm)

    Apparently there are 7 criteria the tribe must meet to be considered. Reading the 95 page document isn’t very fun, but the first criteria is that the tribe must be recognized as such going back to 1900. It looks like the Duwamish were not a single ‘tribe’ but spread around other tribes (at least in 1919 with the evidence they submitted).

  • miws July 2, 2015 (4:20 pm)

    I agree with Diane.


    If the GW Bush Administration had left the Clinton Admin’s recognition of the Duwamish Tribe well enough alone, they would have had this recognition for over a decade now…



  • Ray July 2, 2015 (4:22 pm)

    It seems the link is just to the cover letter. “Enclosed please find copies of the Summary under the Criteria and the Description and Analysis of the Evidence for the final decision on judicial remand.”

    Here are the details behind the decision:

    • WSB July 2, 2015 (4:27 pm)

      UPDATE: I just checked. They are all the correct links and are labeled correctly … first link is to the news release, second to the full document, third to the letter.
      Sorry, I have all the correct links, I wound up with four drafts open on my desktop and apparently refiled the wrong one. Fixing … was adding file photo of Chair Hansen anyway. – TR

  • Jeannie July 2, 2015 (5:02 pm)

    Very disappointing decision by bureaucrats. A 95-page document written in virtually indecipherable legalese: Your tax dollars at work. I just they have to cover their derrieres by justifying/hiding an unfair decision.

  • Silly Goose July 2, 2015 (5:57 pm)

    Let me guess the interior department Bureau of Indian Affairs is run by white folk, this is a digrace, they should be ashamed of themselves. BOO to them!!

  • Mike July 2, 2015 (6:52 pm)

    The Port of Seattle, Muckleshoot and Tulalip benefit most from this decision.

  • Ron Swanson July 2, 2015 (7:18 pm)

    I think it’s a little irresponsible to accuse the BIA of racism. The simple fact is that there are a limited number of federal dollars to go around. As such, the existing recognized tribes have a strong incentive to lobby against recognition. And even though there is no right to operate gaming attached to recognition, anything a possible step closer to a rival casino in Seattle proper would obviously be anathema to them as well. They have a lot of influence, and some control over the historical record so important to the process.

  • Marty July 3, 2015 (6:17 am)

    Mike: Still blaming Bush? Really?

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 3, 2015 (8:46 am)

    “This means that the tribe has now been denied recognition under 1978 and 1994 rules…”
    IIRC, in 1978 the President was Carter and in 1994 it was Clinton, BOTH Democrats.
    Some research needs to be done by those here commenting on the establishment of the the two major tribes in the Puget Sound area; the Muckleshoot and Tulalip tribes. Yes you need to go back to the 18th Century.
    Last November during “Native American Heritage Month” during a “Lunch and Learn” at work, the guests were from the Muckleshoot Tribe and this question was asked. According to the presenter, when the treaty was signed, the various tribes were asked to move to two areas, one north and and one south. The south area was centered around the Muckleshoot Army Base. The NAs that moved south adopted/were given the name the Muckleshoot tribe. Those that didn’t move adopted/took the name of the area they stayed in, i.e. Duwamish, Puyallup…etc. Up to that point there was never a tribe named Duwamish.
    The issue is more complicated than most think, and unless you have studied ALL the reasons there are basically only two tribes recognized, Tulalip and Muckleshoot, you should calm your rhetoric about racism, favoritism, conspiracies…ect to a minimum.

  • Kara July 3, 2015 (12:52 pm)

    If the Duwamish is not a tribe, was Chief Sealth a chief…if not them, then…as history stands there was a duwamish people/tribe before 1900, its the treaty that broke up the tribe and forced the Duwamish to join and take on the muckleshoot and tulalip name instead. Those that didn’t move to the reservation became nothing. Cecile is working to bring them back to what they once were. The US government and the city of Seattle has hurt these people numerous times throughout history, has denied them prommises over and over again…why can’t they now make it right.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 3, 2015 (6:12 pm)

    Chief Sealth/Seattle was not a Duwamish. He was the leader of the Suquamish Tribe.
    Until contact with Europeans the people of the Puget Sound were known as “People of the Inside” and “People of the Large Lake” because of that contact they became unified under the heading of the Duwamish Tribe.
    Chief Seattle was an ancestral leader of the Suquamish Tribe born in 1786 at the Old-Man-House village in Suquamish. His father was Schweabe, a Suquamish Chief, and his was mother Scholitza, a Duwamish from a village near present Kent.
    You can also read here:
    Bare in mind that I am NOT against the Duwamish tribe being recognized, just pointing somethings that may be keeping it from happening.
    And I was wrong about the Federally recognized tribes in WA. Seems there are 29 tribes that are federally recognized.

  • Tracy Elise July 3, 2015 (7:37 pm)

    i’m probably not the best person to make a qualified statement here. I wrote a history of the city of Seattle back in 1997 in honor of the states 100th centennial. My research discovered that Chief Sealth was the son of two tribal leaders. The Suquamish were led by a male chief, and the Duwamish was a matriarchy. It’s my understanding that the Duwamish got no recognition because they did not have male leadership. Any comments on that?

  • Janet Detwiler July 5, 2015 (8:06 am)

    I think this is a terrible decision. I still have hopes for seeing this rectified in the near future. But regarding the Duwamish people; Wasn’t Kikisoblu [“Princess Angeline”] Duwamish? ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Angeline

  • Kara July 9, 2015 (5:06 pm)

    Then someone is getting it wrong cause this is what I’ve read: “Because Native descent among the Salish peoples was not solely patrilineal, Si’ahl (Chief Seattle) inherited his position as chief of the Dkhw’Duw’Absh or Duwamish Tribe from his maternal uncle.”
    Also there were chiefs after him… and the Duwamish tribe was included in the Treaty of Point Elliott. I’m super confused how after all that the government can deny their existance.

Sorry, comment time is over.