Who We Are

The Tulalip Tribes is a federally-recognized Indian tribe located on the Tulalip Reservation in the mid-Puget Sound area bordered on the east by Interstate 5 and the city of Marysville, Washington; on the south by the Snohomish River; on the north by the Fire Trail Road (140th); and on the west by the waters of Puget Sound. The Tulalip Reservation exterior boundaries enclose a land-base of 22,000 acres, more than 50 percent of which is in federal trust status. The Reservation is rich with natural resources: marine waters, tidelands, fresh water creeks and lakes, wetlands, forests and developable land. The Tulalip Reservation was reserved for the use and benefit of Indian tribes and bands signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott of January 22, 1855. Its boundaries were established by the 1855 Treaty and by Executive Order of President U.S. Grant dated December 23, 1873. It was created to provide a permanent home for the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skagit, Suiattle, Samish and Stillaguamish Tribes and allied bands living in the region.

Below are answers to commonly asked questions about The Tulalip Tribes:

Which tribes live at Tulalip?

Tulalip is a place where the government set up a reservation for the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, and other allied tribes and bands signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott. We are one of the Coast Salish Tribes of Puget Sound.

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Where did the name Tulalip come from?

The Salish word for Tulalip is dxʷlilap, which means "small-mouthed bay" and refers to the nearly landlocked nature of the cove. History books credit Captain Vancouver with discovering Tulalip Bay in 1794, almost by accident when his ship "Discovery" ran aground on a sand bar. According to his own journals on June 4, 1792 when he came ashore he found these first settlers "...helpful and non-threatening."

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Where is the reservation located?

We are located 30 miles north of Seattle right off of I-5, and west of Marysville, Washington. Link to Google map

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Do you observe customs from your past?

We observe the following customs:

  • Treaty Days: Usually in January and everyone gets together to celebrate the signing of the 1-22-1855 Point Elliott Treaty. There is spiritual dancing and a feast, and it usually lasts until early the next morning.

  • Salmon Ceremony: This is in summer when we bless the fishermen before the fishing season begins. This is a ceremony and a feast.

  • Winter Dancing: All tribes get together and have a dinner, and then the spiritual dancers dance.

  • Veteran's Pow wow: First weekend in June, summer fancy dance and traditional dance pow wow, honors the veterans.

  • Funeral: When someone passes away, after the funeral there is a dinner for that person and a give away to thank the people who helped with the funeral and also during the person's lifetime.

  • Spiritual Work: If someone needs spiritual help, we will get an Indian Doctor to help them.

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What type of houses did you live in?

Nowadays we live in modern houses, but in the old days we had both gable roof and shed roof houses.

The gable roof house is more like our longhouse here at Tulalip. It was for the wealthy and the shed roof was for the common people. We now only use the longhouse for our ceremonies - we do not live there.

We still have a longhouse at Tulalip Bay that we use for our ceremonies. The current longhouse was built by: Lawrence Williams, Tom Reeves, Herman Williams, Sr., Francis Sheldon, Bernard Gobin, Ralph Jones, Clyde Williams, Sr., Myron Fryberg, Sr., Leroy Fryberg, Sr. and Arley Williams, all tribal members. They were assisted by Marvin Turk who donated his bulldozer and time to lift the poles into place, and PUD who dug the holes for the poles. Ace Wester consulted for the roof.

In the old days the Indian people lived in longhouses, but during warm weather the Coastal Salish tribes of Puget Sound followed the game and fish runs erecting temporary encampments that could be moved quickly. They made these temporary house out of cattail or tulle mats.

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What was your method of travel?

A long time ago our ancestors traveled by canoe, and these canoes were built by hand out of cedar. The big sister canoe was carved by Jerry Jones, Master Carver and Joe Gobin. The little sister was carved by Jerry Jones. This canoe has gone on journeys for the past four years to other reservations, and nations in Canada. 

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What is your language?

Our language language here at Tulalip is Lushootseed - Coastal Salish. At Tulalip Cultural Resources we have one Master Language teacher and 8 language teachers. They go into our schools here at Tulalip to help teach the children Lushootseed. They also offer college level courses for adults. You can visit the Lushootseed Language homepage here.

Our Rediscovery Coordinator has basket, beading, art, carving, etc., classes to try to bring back our culture. Our language and our crafts were almost lost when our children were forced to go to the government's boarding school. Our children that were at boarding school were punished if they talked the language or did anything that involved our culture.

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