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Title: The S'Klallam
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Autumn_Heather
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Registered: 11/21/2008

(Date Posted:02/09/2009 21:45 PM)
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Early History

By Jerry Gorsline

The S'Klallam were called the Nux Sklai Yem, Strong People. Historically, they belonged to the Salish speaking people who lived from the central British Columbia Coast to northwestern Oregon and the interior Fraser and Columbia River basins. The Salish people were well established in the Puget Sound basin by 1400 A.D, having arrived from the interior by way of the Skagit and Fraser rivers.

For centuries, the Salish occupied the shores of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound, adapting their lives to the natural bounty of the land, rivers and sea. Permanent villages of plank and pole houses provided shelter for groups of extended families through the wet winters, which was a time of ceremonial and religious activities. In the spring, individual families made their seasonal rounds and camping at traditional fishing, hunting and gathering sites throughout their territory. Rush mats and notched cedar poles provided temporary shelter.

The S'Klallams were gathered in at least 15 villages stretching along the south shore of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. They enjoyed friendly relations with their Salish-speaking neighbors the Twana, and shared fishing sites with them in Hood Canal. The first contact between the S'Klallams and Europeans occurred in the last year of the 18th century, when English and Spanish explorers penetrated the Straits of Juan de Fuca, seeking the legendary Northwest Passage. After the explorers came fur traders, missionaries, gold seekers, then the settlers

Jamestown S'Klallam History
[A steam-bent halibut hook, and how it was employed - Artist: Dale Faulstich] Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe has evolved directly from several constituent communities of the S'Klallam Tribe. The S'Klallam Tribe (meaning "strong people"), a Salish cultural and linguistic group were mostly related to the Sook and other Tribes of British Columbia, but also related to most of the Tribes of the Puget Sound Area. The S'Klallam Tribe was a clearly defined social and cultural unit, whose component villages were closely linked by inter-marriage and other cooperative social ties. This Tribe, first contacted in 1790, was signatory to the Point No Point Treaty with the U.S. in 1855.
The present-day division of the S'Klallam Tribe into three parts, the Jamestown Tribe, the Lower Elwha Reservation and the Port Gamble Reservation -- the latter two established in 1930, is the result of a realignment of the original villages. With the signing of the Treaty of Point No Point in 1855, came provisions for a payment of $60,000 to the signatory Tribes payable over 20 years (with no indicated means of distribution), and the right to fish at their "usual and accustomed places." A reservation was established at Skokomish, however the Tribes did not have a friendly relationship and the S'Klallams attempted to remain near their traditional fishing areas.
After 1870, white settlers in Washington Territory began to bring pressure upon the Bureau of Indian Affairs to move all treaty Indians to reservations. Many of the Indians merely squatted on the land, and without a clear title, were easily and frequently dispossessed. By 1874, a band of S'Klallams under the leadership of Lord James Balch, whose father had signed the 1855 treaty, raised enough money to pay $500 in gold coin for a one, 210-acre tract near Dungeness, Washington Territory; thus began the Jamestown S'Klallam community. The Jamestown's population at that time was about one hundred. The Tribe supported itself by gardening, fishing and working in the surrounding pulp mills.
During the Indian Reorganization Act period (1935-1939), the Jamestown S'Klallams were nearly organized as part of a larger S'Klallam Tribe. Since land had already been purchased for two other S'Klallam Tribes, the Jamestown S'Klallams were given the choice of moving to another reservation or staying where they were and remaining unrecognized. They chose the latter rather than giving up the land they purchased themselves and losing a great deal of the independence they worked so hard to preserve. The Jamestown S'Klallams received services from the Federal government until 1953, when the government no longer "recognized" them. However, the Tribe maintained a considerable cohesion, and have been recognized as a distinct community by other S'Klallam groups and other Washington Indians. Characterized as a "progressive" Indian community, Tribal members sought new educational opportunities and aggressively integrated into the non-Indian community and its economy. A major factor in the stability and continuity of the Tribe was the land base purchased when it was formed in 1874. This provided a geographical center for group identity and independence.
In the 1970's, the mood of the Jamestown Tribal membership changed as it saw that fishing and hunting rights were denied them due to the lack of federal recognition. Because of overall economic conditions, the membership also became aware of the difficulty in providing for health and educational care. The Tribe soon realized that only through Federal recognition would they be able to provide for these basic needs. This effort began around 1974 and was established after a long struggle on February 10, 1981.
One of the first Tribal goals upon federal recognition was to acquire additional land. Blyn was targeted due to its central location for members between Clallam and Jefferson Counties.

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