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Seattle Center

Seattle Center

Since the last glacial period on earth ended 10,000 years ago, the Indigenous people of the Duwamish tribe have lived in the area known as Seattle/Greater King County. The advent of the maritime fur trade in the 1800s, the establishment of Fort Langley and Fort Nisqually, and white settlements at Alki and what is now Pioneer Square, brought European immigrants to the Puget Sound. By 1855, when the Treaty of Point Elliott was signed, the United States had assumed regional sovereignty and native lands were occupied by whites.

The legitimacy of the Treaty of Point Elliott was questionable, but it resulted in the Duwamish tribe being forced to move off their lands and onto reservations established for other tribes. Lives were loss due to diseases introduced into native tribes, including a smallpox epidemic in 1862. Additionally, governmental policies were established that furthered the spread of smallpox and other epidemics.

Tribe members still live in Duwamish aboriginal territories which include Seattle, Burien, Tukwila, Renton and Redmond. But the Duwamish tribe is not federally acknowledged by the U.S. government – a title that has been granted to 562 other tribes. The Duwamish’s fight for recognition as a Native American tribe has been ongoing since 1978 and continues today.

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