Samish Indian Nation

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Samish Indian Nation
Fidalgo Island 28245.JPG
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( Washington)
Samish, English[3]
traditional tribal religion
Related ethnic groups
Lummi, Saanich, Semiahmoo, Songhees, and Sooke peoples[4]

The Samish Indian Nation, formerly known as the Samish Indian Tribe, is a federally recognized tribe of Samish people. They are one of the Northern Straits branch Central Coast Salish peoples of indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest.[4] Their tribe is located on Puget Sound in Washington.

Other Samish people are enrolled in the Swinomish Indians of the Swinomish Reservation of Washington.


The Samish Indian Reservation is located on the Puget Sound, on the southeastern side of Fidalgo Island in Skagit County, Washington.[5] Although promised a reservation in the 19th century, the tribe never had one until they restored 78 acres of their traditional homelands in 2004.[2]


The tribe's headquarters is in Anacortes, Washington. The tribe is governed by a democratically-elected, General Council. The current officers of the tribal council are as follows:

  • Chairman: Thomas Wooten
  • Vice Chairman: Tim King
  • Secretary: Dana Matthews
  • Treasurer: Tamara Rogers
  • Council Member: David Blackinton
  • Council Member: Gary D. Hatch
  • Council Member: Jenna Strand.[6]


English is commonly spoken on by the tribe. Their traditional language is Samish, a dialect of Straits Salish, a Central Salish language. The tribe is developing a second-language program to revive the language.[3] The tribe's language preservation program has recorded over 60 hours of interviews with fluent speakers.[1]


The tribe signed the Point Elliot Treaty of 1855 as the "Samish Tribe." Ravaged by introduced diseases, only 150 Samish people remained of the earlier 2,000 tribal members.[2] They were removed to the Bellingham Bay Agency. They stayed in their coastal and islands villages, despite encroachment by non-native homesteaders. The US government failed to provide the reservation promised in the treaty.[1]

In 1967, the Bureau of Indian Affairs omitted the Samish from the list of federally recognized tribes. The tribe had to fight for 27 years to restore their recognition.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Samish Indian Nation." Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board. Retrieved 17 Sept 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Johnson, Jean. "Homeless No More: Samish Land Restored." Indian Country Today. 8 Dec 2004. Retrieved 17 Sept 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Salish, Straits." Ethnologue. Retrieved 17 Sept 2013.
  4. ^ a b Pritzker 189
  5. ^ Pritzker 202
  6. ^ "Tribal Government." Samish Indian Nation. Retrieved 17 Sept 2013.


  • Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1.

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