Introduction - Nooksack IndiansThis page contains interesting facts and information about the Nooksack Indian Tribe. This Northwest Coast American Indian tribe has lived in and around the Nooksack River Valley near Deming, Washington (western Whatcom County) for thousands of years. This is where they now have their reservation. Read the list of facts below which includes such information as the difficulty the tribe had in obtaining federal recognition from the U.S. government. This information is written for kids and adults.
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Nooksack Early History
- These Native American People have lived in what is now Washington state for thousands of years. There is no record of them having migrated from anywhere else.
- How these people survived was by hunting, fishing, digging for clams, digging up roots, and gathering herbs.
- In the spring and summer the Indians within each village would split up into groups. Certain groups would hunt, fish, gather clams, and gather roots and herbs. Where as other groups would trade with neighboring villages.
- The Nooksack Indian reservation is in Whatcom County Washington. Whatcom was the name of a Nooksack chief and means "noisy water" in the Nooksack language.
- The Nooksack language became extinct around 1988. It belonged to the Coast Salishan family of languages spoken by Native Americans living in what is now the southwest coast of British Columbia and around the Puget Sound in what is now Washington state.
- In 1855 the Point Elliott Treaty between the United States government and several Native American Indian tribes residing in the western Washington Territory (now Washington State) was signed. The Nooksack took part in this treaty. The Indians gave title to the land in exchange for hunting, fishing, and gathering rights. The treaty established the Lummi Reservation. The reservation was established for several tribes; they were the Samish, Semiahmoo, Lummi, and the Nooksack. Some of the Nooksack people did settle there but the majority did not.
- In 1873 and 1874 the U.S. Government attempted to move the tribe to the Lummi Reservation in Whatcom County Washington. The Nooksack Indians resisted this attempt and fortunately the U.S. abandoned their attempt and the Indians were allowed to remain on their homelands.
Nooksack Recent History
- In 1934 the U.S. passed the Wheeler-Howard Act (also referred to as the Indian Reorganization Act). Before this act the United States policy was to attempt to integrate Native Americans into United States society. This act changed that policy and recognizes the right of American Indians to self-determination. Included in the act were the rights of tribes to form their own governments. The Nooksack Indian Tribe accepted this act and created a tribal constitution. However the Tribe still lacked federal tribal recognition.
- In the 1960s, the Nooksack people began a major effort to gain federal recognition.
- In 1970 the Nooksack Tribe was able to obtain an acre of land with 4 buildings but still lacked federal recognition.
- It took a long time but finally in 1973 the Nooksack Tribe received full Federal tribal recognition from the United States government. With this recognition came several benefits including the rights to a reservation of their own.
- Their reservation is approximately 2,700 acres and has 547 residents (according to the 2000 U.S. census).