Timeline

Working draft of map showing resources and key locations in the San Juan Island.
Most village information taken from Coast Salish Villages of Puget Sound (http://coastsalishmap.org/start_page.htm).

Time Immemorial – It is important to acknowledge our rich history did not begin with European contact. Our elders teach we were always here, our people survived the great flood here, the Samish have been here since time immemorial.  Our stories from that time are not “legends,” they are real.  And the stories continue….

3000 years ago – Archaeological evidence shows people started living at Weaverling Spit at least this many years ago.

1792 – First documented Samish contact with Europeans during Spanish expedition.

1854 – Governor Isaac Stevens and George Gibbs completed a preliminary survey of the area for proposed reservations.  Samish reservation contemplated by the Treaty Commission.

1855 – Tribal leaders from thirteen tribes, including the Samish, gathered at Mukilteo to sign the Treaty of Point Elliott. There were 158 Samish present at the treaty grounds, and Samish were a signatory to the treaty, although Governor Stevens arbitrarily lumps tribes together for purposes of treaty signing.

1855-1857 – Indian Wars fought in southern Puget Sound and eastern Washington. The Samish remain at peace with settlement pressure and continue to use March’s Point for gathering traditional foods.

1859 – The Treaty of Point Elliott ratified by the U.S. government.  The reservation on Perry’s Island (today’s Fidalgo Island) that was set out in the treaty is established.  Originally called the Skagit or Skaget Reservation, later changed to Swinomish Reservation.

1860s – Many Samish continue to live in traditional territories; conflicts increase between natives and settlers for land and resources.

1876 – Under the Indian Homestead Act, many Samish moved from Samish Island to New Guemes Village on the westside of Guemes Island (now Potlatch Beach) on land owned by Bob Kithnolatch Edwards and Sam Watchoat.

1860-1900s – Guemes Village continues to hold traditional potlatches and other ceremonies, as a center of traditional cultural practices in northern Puget Sound.

1880s – Many Samish continue their traditional lifeways, but are increasingly working at the fish canneries and local hop fields as well. Some individual Samish acquire allotments as Samish Indians on the reservation on Fidalgo Island. Some join relatives there. Samish residents on the Swinomish reservation continue to identify as Samish and to participate in Samish tribal affairs.  No functioning tribal government on the Swinomish Reservation.

1890s – After his passing, Harry Samish was buried on Samish Island.

1900s – Canoe races held in Anacortes

1910s – Loss of New Guemes Village due to financial issues and social pressures.

1910s – Thomas Bishop, Snohomish, wrote Sacred Promises Made Fifty Years Ago to remind the U.S. government of its unfulfilled obligations. Local tribes began gathering support against the U.S. government for Indian claims regarding treaty promises.

1910s – Charles Roblin, Bureau of Indian Affairs, visited tribes in Washington to document unenrolled Indians.  Many Samish are listed on this roll, often misidentified as Skagit Indians.

1914 – The Samish Tribe becomes a founding member of the Northwest Federation of American Indians.

1920s – First Indian Claims Cases, including Duwamish et. al v. United States; Samish was one of the claimants.

1920s – Witnesses at the Duwamish et. al trial include Annie Lyons, Sarsfield Kavanaugh, Mary Blackinton, Charlie Edwards, and Billy Edwards.

1920s – Ship Harbor village, an identifiable Samish community, continued to thrive during this time.  Many Samish worked for the nearby Fidalgo Island Packing.

1926 – Samish Tribe adopts a written constitution and opens tribal enrollment.  Formal tribal roll established.

1930s – Canoe races held in Coupeville. Races were often held during local festivals and celebrations.

1934 – U.S. Court of Claims rules that the Samish are a party to the Point Elliot Treaty, but found that their claims are entirely offset by government expenditures made on their behalf.  Samish Tribe ruled to continue to exist.

1934 – Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) approved; Samish voted to endorse the IRA, but did not reorganize under the Act.  Samish Tribe met as a tribe to designate representatives to meet with local Bureau of Indian Affairs Agent to discuss tribal concerns and organization.

1940s – Samish members served the World War II effort; Samish meetings difficult to maintain during the war.  Samish continued to meet as necessary to address tribal and individual member concerns.

1950s – New Indian Claims Cases begin. Samish Tribe brings case for inadequate compensation for the loss of its lands.

1950s – Monthly Samish Council meetings again taking place.

1951 – New tribal constitution adopted to replace the 1926 constitution.

1951-1964 – Alfred “Buddy” Edwards tribal chair at this time.

1953 – Samish issued “blue cards” by the Bureau of Indian Affairs identifying them for treaty fishing.  Individual members exercise treaty fishing rights and obtain federal Indian benefits.

1954 – Samish becomes a member of Intertribal Council, an advocacy group for northwest tribes.

1958 – Indian Claims Commission ruled in favor of Samish claims for inadequate compensation and awarded a small amount of compensation to the Tribe.  Court ruled that the Samish Tribe has continuously existed from the time of the Treaty of Point Elliott up to the date of its decision.

1960s – Off-reservation fishing becomes not only discouraged, but contentious. Tribes, Samish included, start to pursue their treaty rights.

1964-1966– Harold C. Hatch tribal chair at this time.

1966 – The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued its first official list of recognized Indian tribes; Samish Tribe is on the list.

1966-1971 – Thomas McDowell tribal chair at this time.

1967 – Tribal Council attempts to acquire the Ozette Reservation.

1968 – Lake Samish and Samish Park officially named after the Tribe.

1969 – The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) revises its list of recognized Indian tribes. BIA clerk drops Samish Tribe off the list, for no reason. Based on the list, BIA starts treating the Samish Tribe as unrecognized and starts denying federal Indian benefits to tribal members.

1970s – The federal government becomes concerned that it if gives Indian Claims Commission award to Tribe, it will constitute official recognition of the Tribe, so it creates a plan to distribute claims award only to individuals. The Tribe refuses award, and asks that the award be given to the Tribe.

1971-1974 – Margaret Greene tribal chair at this time.

1971 – Samish Tribe accepted as a member of the Small Tribes Organization of Western Washington (STOWW).

1971 – Indian Health Services determines that the Samish were eligible for services.

1974 – Samish Tribe files to intervene in U.S. v. Washington, after initial decision upholding fishing rights is issued. Magistrate and federal judge ensue.

1974 – The Bureau of Indian Affairs approves the new tribal constitution but suggested deletion of a blood-quantum requirement.

1975 – First petition for recognition submitted, attaching the new tribal constitution and membership roll.

1975-1979 – Robert Wooten, Sr. tribal chair at this time.

1979 – Samish Tribe resubmits its petition for re-recognition under newly established Federal Acknowledgment Process.

1979 – Judge Boldt, in his last action as judge in U.S. v. Washington, denies the Samish Tribe’s petition to exercise off-reservation treaty fishing rights. Judge Boldt adopts U.S.’s proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law without any changes.

1979-1987 – Ken Hansen tribal chair at this time.

1981 – U.S. Court of Appeals denies Samish off-reservation treaty fishing rights on appeal.  U.S. Supreme Court denies review of decision in 1982.

1982 – First decision against Samish petition for federal re-recognition. Samish asks for opportunity to submit additional evidence, but final decision rejecting Samish re-recognition is issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in February 1987.

1983 – The story pole of Ko Kwal Al Woot, the Maiden of Deception Pass, carved by Tracy Powell, is dedicated at Deception Pass State Park.

1987 – Samish petitions for listing as an “endangered species.”

1987-1996 – Margaret Greene tribal chair at this time.

1989 – Samish files suit in federal court to overturn the Bureau of Indian Affairs denial of federal re-recognition.

1990s – The Torbett (1995) and Zilly (1996) decisions find Samish to be a tribe and require the Bureau of Indian Affairs to reexamine the recognition criteria regarding Samish petition.

1992 – Federal court overturns Bureau of Indian Affairs denial of Samish federal recognition and orders new hearing.

1996 – Samish Tribe re-recognition was listed in the Federal Register on April 26.

1996 – First contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

1997-2005 – Ken Hansen tribal chair at this time.

1999 – Samish purchase the Longhouse and adjoining lot and renovate to add the kitchen and dining room.

1999 – First contract with Indian Health Services.

2000-2002 – The bulk of the Lake Campbell Homeland properties are purchased for low-income housing development.

2000-2006 – Samish purchase the current Administration Building in 2000, and gradually acquire the other buildings in the complex.

2001 – Samish co-host with Swinomish and Upper Skagit for the Canoe Journey landing at Swinomish.

2001 – As part of the celebration of five years’ federal re-recognition, Samish adopt a second logo, created by William Bailey.

2002 – First Head Start grant awarded to the Tribe.

2002 – Samish begin travelling on Canoe Journey.

2004 – The Samish are bequeathed the 47 acre Thomas Creek property.

2005 – Current tribal chair, Tom Wooten, starts his term.

2006 – The Campbell Lake Homeland property is the first Samish property to be put into trust.

2008 – Samish gain 3.4 acres of oyster beds at Mud Bay on Lopez Island

2009 – The first year of Camp Samish, held at Camp Kirby on Samish Island.

2010 – Washington State Parks transfers ownership of Huckleberry Island to Samish.