One-hundred fifty years ago, Native Americans were expelled from their home; land named after the leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish peoples. On February 7, 1865 the Seattle Board of Trustees approved an ordinance that called for the expulsion of all Native Americans from the region.
In remembrance of this action that forced the removal of an entire group of people, and the continuing impact it has on the indigenous people of this region, the Metropolitan King County Council at its February 2 meeting proclaimed February 7, 2015 as “Native American Expulsion Remembrance Day.”
“The expulsion of the Coast Salish Indigenous People from this region is just one of countless acts of bigotry, genocide, broken treaties and forced removal our Indigenous brothers and sisters suffered here, and across this nation throughout its history,” stated Councilmember Larry Gossett. “It is extremely important that we’re honest with ourselves and each other by documenting all aspects of our American story from a multicultural perspective, including the forced marginalization of the proud Indigenous People, who’ve contributed as much as anyone to this nation, and on whose land we currently live. Yet these acts of inhumanity are still difficult to locate in many of our history books. Our nation cannot continue to heal until we acknowledge the inhumane acts that have been perpetrated against so many of our brothers and sisters.”
“I’m honored to join in friendship with leaders from our Native American communities throughout our region to remember this important time in history and pledge to make sure we honor and respect the First Peoples of King County in our work today, ” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski.
The land that has become Seattle has been home to indigenous populations for generations, but starting with the Treaty of Medicine Creek, the rights of these communities were taken along with most of their lands. Ten years after local tribes signed the Treaty of Point Elliott, forcing cession of most of their land to non-Indian settlers, the Seattle Board of Trustees adopted Ordinance No. 5, calling for the removal of Indians from the city. After its adoption, indigenous tribes, who a generation before had lived on this land, could only enter Seattle if they had the permission of a non-native and only for the purpose of work.
The proclamation, urges the county and all county residents to join together in bringing attention to, and connecting these historical events to their continuing impact on the lives of Coast Salish Indigenous Peoples and other Native Americans in our region.
WHEREAS, 150 years ago on February 7, 1865, the Seattle Board of Trustees passed Ordinance No. 5 calling for the expulsion of all Native Americans from the City of Seattle; and
WHEREAS, beginning with the 1854 Treaty of Medicine Creek, the Indigenous Peoples of the Salish Sea region were forced to cede millions of acres of land as well as various aboriginal rights to the United States government amidst the establishment of King County; and
WHEREAS, expulsion policies restricted Coast Salish Indigenous Peoples’ access to sacred lands and places, homes, traditional fishing, hunting, gathering and trading grounds, trade routes, and even the final resting place of many Coast Salish Indigenous Peoples and other Native Americans; and
WHEREAS, these policies forced many Coast Salish Indigenous Peoples to move from their ancestral homelands to reservations that generally lacked cultural connection and access to employment or other economic opportunities; and
WHEREAS, the 1865 Ordinance was one of a series of actions by Seattle’s city government and residents that made it difficult for Coast Salish Indigenous Peoples and other Native Americans to live according to their cultures and traditions and still be part of city society; and
WHEREAS, King County is committed to wider awareness of this history of intolerance and persecution, to recognizing the many contributions and rich cultural heritage that have tied Coast Salish Indigenous Peoples and other Native Americans to the Pacific Northwest region since time immemorial, and to strengthening our relationship with Native American people and tribes; and
WHEREAS, through that shared understanding, our society will be stronger, more informed, and less susceptible to ignorance, fear, and prejudice toward Coast Salish Indigenous Peoples and other Native Americans and other ethnic minorities;
NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, proclaim February 7, 2015, as
|NATIVE AMERICAN EXPULSION
in King County and urge all county residents to join us in bringing attention to and connecting these historical events to their continuing impact on the lives of Coast Salish Indigenous Peoples and other Native Americans in our region.
DATED this second day of February, 2015.