The Suquamish are a southern Coast Salish people; they spoke a dialect of Lushootseed, which belongs to the Salishan language family. Like many Northwest Coast natives, the Suquamish relied on fishing from local rivers and Puget Sound for food. They built plank longhouses to protect themselves from the wet winters west of the Cascade Mountains.
The Suquamish traditionally lived on the western shores of Puget Sound, from Apple Tree Cove in the north to Gig Harbor in the south, including Bainbridge Island and Blake Island. During the summer, the Suquamish were widely dispersed, but during the winter, they lived in a winter village centered around Old Man House, the largest longhouse on Puget Sound.
The first contact between the Suquamish and European explorers came in 1792 when George Vancouver explored Puget Sound and met with members of the Suquamish tribe, possibly including Schweabe and Kitsap. More regular contact with non-Indians came with the establishment of British trading posts in Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia in the early 19th century.
Once the Washington Territory was established in 1853, the U.S. government began signing treaties with area tribes to acquire their lands. The Suquamish people ceded most of their land to the United States when they signed the Point Elliott Treaty on January 22, 1855. They were able to retain some land, the Port Madison Indian Reservation, near their winter village site on Agate Pass.
Though the Puget Sound Salish peoples were not generally organized above the level of individual villages, the Suquamish had a central location on Puget Sound. Two members of the Suquamish came to be recognized across the region as great leaders. One was Kitsap, who led a coalition of Puget Sound tribes against the Cowichan Tribes of Vancouver Island around 1825. Another was Seattle (also spelled Sealth, See-ahth, and Seathl, pronounced [ˈsiʔaːɬ]), son of Schweabe, who was a great orator and peace-keeper during the turbulent times of the mid-19th century. Though both Kitsap and Sealth are often called "Chief", this is an attribution by English speakers; such designations were not used by the Puget Sound Indians themselves. However, the tribe's website refers to both "Chief Seattle" and "Chief Kitsap".
In 2011, the Suquamish tribal council voted unanimously to approve same-sex marriage.
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-  Website of the Suquamish Tribe, History and Culture section. Retrieved February 2013.
- "Notable Native American Women". Retrieved 2013-04-20.
- Yardley, William (August 12, 2011). "A Washington State Indian Tribe Approves Same-Sex Marriage". New York Times. Retrieved August 12, 2011.