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Life in the Tulalip Indian Boarding School

From the 1857 to 1932, Tulalip youngsters were expected to attend school in the boarding school on the Tulalip Reservation with students from the other reservations on northern Puget Sound. School officials would take the children from their parents, and they would live at the school except during the summer when they returned home. The children missed their families and could be heard crying after the lights were out. In addition, at that time, U.S. policy stated that Native American students were to stop using their language and practicing their culture and religion and to learn English, American culture and Christianity.

At the boarding school, the students spent half a day in classes. Their classes covered subjects, such as reading and writing English, mathematics, geography, nature and penmanship. The first years must have been difficult because many students arrived at the school speaking their native language and did not understand English. They were forbidden to speak their own language and could be punished if they did use it.

Students spent the other half of their day doing manual labor. This was to teach the students how to do new types of work and to do the work of the school. Because there was not enough government money to operate the school, student work was needed to keep it running. In the early days of the mission school, the students helped to clear the land, so that they could plant crops. Later, the work of the boys included chopping wood, farming, fishing and keeping farm animals. They were expected to work in the shoe repair shop, the harness shop, the machine shop, the carpentry shop, the laundry and the bakery. The boys kept the buildings and water heated by bringing the wood or coal for the furnaces. They also were trained to watch the gauges in the powerhouse, which supplied electricity to the school. Both boys and girls did the cleaning. The work of the girls included cooking, serving, cleaning, laundry, mending and sewing. They also worked in the hospital.

Each pupil at the Tulalip School must put in a half day in one of the industrial departments and a half day in the classroom or academic work daily. In order that the school may be run on a regular program, the enrollment is divided into two divisions, one division working in the industrial departments while the other is doing classroom or academic work.

Saturday evenings are set aside for moving picture entertainments and school socials. Otherwise, the Saturday program is the same as for other days.

The Sunday program makes provision for church during the forenoon and religious instruction for a period during the afternoon. General assembly was held in the evening. The only labor performed on Sundays was essential for the maintenance of the school.

There was discipline and punishment at the school, which included extra work, such as sweeping the walks. Sometimes, students would be strapped.

The Tulalip Indian Boarding School went through the eighth grade, and often there were not many students in the eighth grade. One year, when there were enough students, there was a ninth grade. Few of the male students graduated. When the boys were old enough to work in the woods, in logging, they left school. This could happen as early as 13 or 14 years old.

In this regimented way, Native American students at the Tulalip Boarding School were being taught to live in the culture of the United States. The U.S. government believed that Native American students would need to learn new things to live in the newly expanded United States with settlers arriving. The school was set up to separate the students from their parents. Being required to stay at the school was very hard for some of the children. Many of students, especially the younger ones, were homesick and were comforted by the older students. Having the students work at the school was hard, but this was a time before there were U.S. laws against child labor and many children at the time worked. The boarding school was a hard experience for many Tulalip students.

Tulalip History Since World War I

By Wayne Williams, George Williams, Bernice Williams and Arnold McKay

The Tulalip Tribes formed during World War I when tribal elders picked Wilfred (Bill) Steve and Sebastian Williams to go to meetings of Indians, listen to what was being discussed and bring back the information to them. This was possible because Bill and Sebastian had gone to high school and could speak, read and write English. Before this, Indians from different tribes that had different languages could not communicate easily with each other. The tribal elders trusted these young men, who were just out of high school, and placed this responsibility on them.

During World War I, there was a review of the treaty and what the United States government had promised to the Tulalips. These young, educated Tulalips felt that in the treaty the government had said it would do certain things and had not done these things. so, there emerged an organization of a wide range of Western Washington Indians that decided to bring a lawsuit against the U.S. for the parts of the treaty that were not fulfilled. At that time, the United States could not be sued, so this group got special legislation passed in 1925 to allow the Indians of western Washington to bring an action in the United states court of Claims for treaty shortcomings. The case was argued in this court, and, in 1934, the court ruled that the Indians were not entitled to anything. The U.S. government argued that the records showed that, beginning with the 1860's, the total expenses for education and supplies spent on the Tulalip Reservation amounted to more than was owed. The court said the loss to the Indians could not be calculated and rejected their claim. The Tulalips had contributed individually from their funds to join the other tribes to pay their attorney. This group had one last meeting. When their attorney reported that their appeal of this case had been denied he broke down and cried because he felt that justice had been denied.

In 1930, the Bureau of Indian Affairs superintendent on the Tulalip Reservation called a meeting of all Tulalip residents. They had an interpreter there because English was a second language for many Tulalip people. The Superintendent wanted the Tulalips to have a council that could transact business. The Tulalips elected Bill Steve, Sebastian Williams and three other men to be on the first Tulalip Council. One of the first items of business the superintendent wanted them to discuss was approval of tideland leases. The court had changed the policy of ownership of tidelands by upland owners, and the tidelands now belonged to the Tulalip Tribes.

In 1928, a report titled, "The Problem of Indian Administration," also called the Meriam report, came out. It said that Indian communities on reservations did not have a voice in what was happening on their reservation because U.S. policy from treaty time had been to destroy tribal governments. Following this, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934. It granted a new degree of autonomy to Native Americans in the United States, giving them greater control over their lands and allowing them to form legally recognized tribal governments. Additionally, it empowered tribes to make decisions regarding their own economic development and natural resource management.

In 1930, the Tulalip Council drafted the Tulalip Tribes Constitution. This constitution has been amended, but much remains the same although it was written over 80 years ago. The Tulalips approved this constitution in 1935 and elected the first Tulalip Board of Directors of seven members in 1936. The Tulalips again elected Bill Steve as Chairman and Sebastian Williams as Secretary. The five-man Tulalip Council voted to disband and transfer their $25 funds to the new Tulalip Board of Directors. Therefore, The Tulalip Tribes started with $25 in their budget. This happened during the Depression when there was no funding for tribes. There was no support from the BIA, which offered no help in reorganizing the Tulalip Tribes. At the early meetings, when they did not have enough money for stamps or stationery, the Board of Directors used to pass the hat to buy these things. As elected Secretary, Sebastian Williams wrote his letters in longhand and typed for the tribe.

The Tulalip Tribes had been leasing their tidelands since the early 1930's. Logging was very important then, so the tidelands were leased to American Tug and Weyerhaeuser for logging booming grounds. At this time, Tulalip Bay was full of logs. In 1939, the Board decided to try to lease land on Tulalip Bay because it felt there would be a market for people who would like to lease for vacation or summer cottages. For this, the Tribe needed a water system. It had a well dug, but it was too close to salt water and the water was too brackish to drink or even use in a local sawmill. So, the Tribe bought some property at the head of Jimicum Springs and went to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for the $15,000 needed to buy pipe and materials to install a three to four mile waterline. The BIA said it was not practical and would be a waste of money. The Tulalips told the superintendent at Tulalip, Mr. Upchurch, that they wanted this project and thought it would be successful, and he got the BIA to approve the loan. Putting in the waterline was very hard manual work because the soil was very hard, but it was completed. After the line was put in, the Tribe began to lease lands at the head of Tulalip Bay and below the cemetery. Each lease was for between $15 and $25 a year. This provided some stable income for the Tribe to do a few things. One of the first things the Tribe did was to hire a waterman. As a result, in 1939, the Tulalip Tribes had one employee. They leased land to a man named Eddie Sierers, who built a resort, and subleased parcels to others. When his lease was up for renewal, the Tribe returned the parcels to lease out directly.

The Tulalip Tribes established in 1935 only owning the tidelands. The BIA allowed the tribe to use the 325 acres around Tulalip Bay. When the BIA moved its Western Washington Agency, operations from Tulalip to Everett the Tulalip Tribes set out to get this land. They sent three men to Washington, D.C. to meet with the Secretary of the Interior. That is how the Tulalip Tribes got these 325 acres. In the early years of the Tulalip Tribes, their funds went to the BIA. To get their money, the Board of Directors had to request it from the BIA. Finally, tribal leaders went to Washington, D.C. and asked to handle its own funds. This ended a situation in which the BIA had control of tribal money.

Sebastian Williams felt very strongly that the tribe should save money and keep it for future use. Out of the money that was saved, the tribe began a planned acquisition program to buy additional property. When World War II began, the U.S. Army bought 2,200 acres from individual Tulalips for ammunition storage. When the war ended, the Tulalip Board of Directors decided to get back this land, which had been declared a surplus. Bill Steve and Sebastian Williams paid their way to meet with government officials to discuss this land. They found out the starting price for it was $45,000. The tribe did not have this much money but got $30,000 from Washington, D.C., and $15,000 from a Marysville bank. The original intention was to give this land to tribal members without land. The Army wanted to lease the land again when the Korean War broke out. The tribe then bought back the land and leased it to the Army. Later, when the Army gave up the land again, the tribe leased it to Boeing for a test site for $25,000 year for twenty-five years. This was a good price initially, but land prices went up and, after 25 years, it was a very small price. Boeing had to negotiate a new lease, making it a major contributor to tribal revenue. The Tulalip Tribes' income has increased as land values have increased.

The tribe also acquired other land. The tribe could buy land between Hermosa Beach and Tulalip Shores from Union Oil if it did not build there within ten years. Union Oil had planned to build an oil refinery. When Union Oil did not build, it bought out this option by transferring 900 acres of land to the Tulalip Tribes. Since 1970, the Tulalip Tribes have focused its development near Interstate 5. It bought the property where the Quil Ceda Creek Casino, McDonalds and Tulalip Gas Station are located. The Tulalip Tribes have come a long way, and tribal members are proud of what the tribe has accomplished.

Chronology of Tulalip History

1792 Snohomish tribes meet explorer Captain George Vancouver, who concludes that they had not met Europeans or Americans before.
1820 Fur trade routes established though Puget Sound region.
1833 Possible date of Camano Head falling and burying a Snohomish village below it, causing a large number of deaths.
1841 Captain Charles Wilkes is the first American to chart the waters of Puget Sound.
1842 Settlers start to move into the Puget Sound region. U.S. Government starts to sell land and open areas for homesteads without having title to the land.
1848 The Oregon Territory is created with the provision that Indian lands and property cannot be taken without Indian consent.
1853 The Washington Territory is created as a separate entity from the Oregon Territory with the provision that the United States has the right to regulate Indian land, property and other rights.
1853 Several Americans build a sawmill and homesteads on Tulalip Bay. After the Treaty of Point Elliott is signed, the U.S. Government pays these settlers for their improvements.
1855 On January 22nd, Governor Isaac Stevens concludes the Treaty of Point Elliott at Mukilteo, which establishes the Tulalip Reservation.
1855 Hostilities erupt between Native Americans and whites in the Puget Sound Region, but the people in the area around the Tulalip Reservation are not involved.
1857-1863 Father E.C. Chirouse, a French Roman Catholic of the Oblates of Mary the Immaculate, establishes and conducts a school for boys on the Tulalip Reservation.
1859 Treaty ratified by U.S. Congress, and soon, the Tribes that agreed to the treaty begin to settle in the vicinity of Tulalip Bay.
1860 More than 200 Indians have settled near Father Chirouse and he has 15 pupils. At Tulalip, an agency is established under the Washington Superintendence and an agent is assigned.
1859-1869 Political appointees serve as Tulalip agents, followed by military officers.
1861 Revenue cutter Jeff Davis disembarks a detachment of troops to supervise the disposition of supplies to the Indians. In August, Growler arrives with first cargo of annuity goods promised by the treaty. The following month goods are unloaded and distributed to approximately 2,300 Indian people.
1861 Snohomish County is created.
1863 Father Chirouse opens a new school on the Tulalip Reservation.
1868 Sisters of Charity of Montreal begin the education of Indian girls on the Tulalip Reservation.
1869 Father Chirouse receives a contract with U.S. Government to support the Tulalip Mission School of St. Anne.
1875 Congress extends the homestead laws to Indians willing to abandon their tribal affiliation.
1875 Canning process improves and a large commercial fishery begins to develop.
1878 Oblate fathers lease Tulalip Mission School and the U.S. Government transfers boys to Sisters of Charity school in the same location.
1883 John Slocum founds the Indian Shaker Church near Olympia, a form of religion that some Tulalip people will join.
1884 Allotment of Tulalip Reservation begins.
1887 Congress passes the General Allotment Act, also called the Dawes Severalty Act, which allots land on reservations to individual Indians. Remaining reservation lands are then sold. The Tulalip Reservation will be completely allotted to tribal members.
1889 Washington becomes a state.
1891 Seattle and Montana Railway is completed through Marysville. This rail service is the first in the vicinity of the Tulalip Reservation.
1896 Congress objects to federal support of sectarian schools and reduces financial support to the Tulalip Mission School. The Catholic Bureau of Indian Missions increases its contributions to the boarding school on the Tulalip Reservation.
1900 Government assumes possession of school buildings and begins conducting its own school.
1901 Position of Tulalip Indian agent abolished in favor of a school superintendent. The first superintendent is Dr. Charles M. Buchanan.
1902 A new school is built on Tulalip Reservation, called the Tulalip Indian Boarding School.
1915 A Tulalip Indian is jailed for hunting on contested reservation land. Buchanan writes to Washington State Legislature urging recognition of Indians’ treaty rights.
1920 Dr. Buchanan serves until his death.
1912 First Tulalip Treaty Days celebration is held through the efforts of William Shelton to preserve the songs and dances.
1916 Destruction of fish habitat begins through logging, dredging, agriculture, industry and the creation of dams, sewage systems and housing developments.
1924 Indian Citizenship Act passed by Congress. Indians become citizens and can now vote.
1924 Steelhead becomes a game fish.
1928 The Problem of Indian Administration, also called the Meriam Report, is presented and is highly critical of U.S. Indian policy and urges reforms. Improvement in Indian welfare follows.
1930 Beginning of fish ladders being installed on dams.
1933 Steelhead becomes a sport fish.
1934 Indian Reorganization Act is passed by Congress, enabling tribes to organize in local self government and elect leaders.
1935 Indians of the Tulalip Reservation write a constitution and vote to approve it.
1936 The secretary of the Interior approves the Tulalip Constitution, and Tulalips elect their first Board of Directors.
1939 Tulalips begin to lease land for homes on Tulalip Bay.
1946 Congress creates Indian Claims Commission to settle disputes between Indians and the Federal Government.
1950 Tulalip Agency of the BIA is moved from Tulalip Reservation and the new Western Agency is located in Everett, Washington.
1968 Puyallup Tribes v. Washington Department of Game (U.S. Supreme Court) allows the state to regulate Indian fishing for conservation purposes.
1973 Washington Department of Game v. Puyallup (U.S. Supreme Court) gives Indians the right to fish steelhead.
1974 U.S. v. Washington State (the Boldt decision) gives Washington Indian Tribes the right to co-manage fishing resources and take 50 percent of the harvestable fish.
1975 The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act is passed, allowing Tribes to assume responsibilities formerly reserved to the BIA.
1978 The American Indian Religious Freedom Act passed, which protects the traditional religious practices of Native Americans.
1979 U.S. Supreme Court upholds the 1974 decision of U.S. v. Washington (the Boldt decision).
1979 Tulalip revives the First Salmon Ceremony, which continues to be held annually.
1985 Pacific Salmon Treaty signed between the United States and Canada.
1985 Puget Sound Salmon Management Plan adopted by the Washington Department of Fisheries and the Indian Tribes with the Puget Sound Region.
1985 Puget Sound Water Quality Authority is created by Gov. Booth Gardner, with Tribal representatives being appointed to it.
1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act passed by U.S. Congress.