Duwamish history in Duwamish voices: weaving our family stories since colonization




Allain, Julia Anne

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Duwamish people are “the People of the Inside,” “the Salmon People”—Coast Salish people who occupied a large territory inside the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade range. Ninety Longhouses were situated where Seattle and several neighbouring cities now stand. Today, over six hundred Duwamish are urban Indigenous people without legal recognition as an American Indian tribe, still battling for rights promised by the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855. Portrayals of Duwamish history since the time of colonization are often incomplete or incorrect. A tribe member myself, I set out to record and present family stories concerning the period 1850 to the present from participants from six Duwamish families. I gathered histories told in the words of the people whose family experiences they are. It is history from a Duwamish perspective, in Duwamish voices. Collected family stories are recorded in the appendices to my dissertation. In my ethnographic study, I inquire as to what strengths have carried Duwamish people through their experiences since colonization. The stories reveal beliefs and practices which have supported the Duwamish people, and hopes for the future. Data was gathered using multiple methods, including fieldwork—visiting a master weaver; attending tribal meetings; and visiting historic sites—reading existing documents by Duwamish authors and by settlers, and interviewing, including looking at photos to elicit information. Five themes emerged from the data: Finding a True History; What Made Them Strong; Intermarriage; Working for the People; and Working with the Youth. These themes together constitute what I term the Indigenous Star of Resilience (see Figure One in Chapter Six). For me, this study has truly been swit ulis uyayus—“work that the Creator has wrapped around me” (Vi Hilbert, quoted in Yoder, 2004); work that is a gift.



Duwamish, oral history, social justice, ethnography, decolonize, history, resilience, education, hidden curriculum, Coast Salish, family history, curriculum, indigenous leadership, aboriginal, indigenous, First Nations, racism, Silent generation, Indigenous Star of Resilience, Triangle of Oppression, weaving, colonization, critical ethnography, culture, American Indian