On January 22, 1855, near Mukilteo, among the signers of the Treaty of Point Elliott, the Duwamish Tribe was listed first. Chief Si’ahl’s name was placed at the very top of the treaty, reflecting his personal importance and that of his tribes. The Duwamish signers of the Point Elliott Treaty were Chief Si’ahl, and the Duwamish “sub-chiefs” Ts’huahntl, Now-a-chais, Ha-seh-doo-an.
The 1855 Treaty created a Government-to-Government relationship between the United States and the Dxʷdəwʔabš. The United States Senate ratified the Point Elliott Treaty in 1859. The Treaty of Point Elliott guaranteed hunting and fishing rights and reservations to all Tribes represented by the Native signers.
In return for the reservation and other benefits promised in the treaty by the United States government, the Duwamish Tribe exchanged over 54,000 acres of their homeland. Today those 54,000 acres include the cities of Seattle, Renton, Tukwila, Bellevue, and Mercer Island, and much of King County.
European-American immigrants soon violated the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855, triggering a series of Native rebellions from 1855 to 1858 known as “the Indian War”. Instigated by the European-Americans, this war set tribe against tribe, and brother against brother. Chief Si’ahl helped protect the small group of European-American settlers from attacks by other Native warriors in what became the City of Seattle during the rebellions.
DENIAL OF TREATY RIGHTS
In 1866, United States Indian Agent Thomas Paige recommended to the United States government that a reservation be established for the Dxʷdəwʔabš, the Duwamish. European-American immigrants – including Seattle civic leaders – petitioned against a Duwamish reservation near the City of Seattle. In their letter to Congress member Arthur Denny, the European-American immigrants protested that “such a reservation would do a great injustice”, claiming that the promised reservation would be “of little value to the Indians”. It is said that Denny’s life was threatened.
The European-Americans immigrants’ protest petition blocked any reservation being established for the Duwamish. Promises made by the United States United States government over 150 years ago to the Duwamish in the Treaty of Point Elliott have never been honored.
The promise of a Duwamish reservation and all of the other Treaty promises made by the United States government to the Duwamish over 150 years ago in the Treaty of Point Elliott have never been kept.