In the beginning, all animals were people, along with fierce spirits. The animals suffered in the cold and in the dark, and The Changer took pity on them. They changed the animals into people and taught them many things. The Changer taught them how to hunt with bows and arrows, and the ritual of bringing salmon bones back to the river so the salmon will return. The people held a big feast for The Changer and his companion, The Raven. After the feast, The Raven stole the sun from Grey Eagle's bag, and carried it into the sky, giving people light.


The Suquamish Tribe lived in Central Puget Sound for approximately 10,000 years. Currently, they live on the Port Madison Indian Reservation, which is located in northern Kitsap County, Washington. The Indian Reservation occupies 11.7 square miles on the western and northern shores of Port Madison. The reservation was authorized by the Point Elliott Treaty of January 22, 1855.

Major Languages

The Suquamish are a Lushootseed speaking tribe. Lushootseed comes from two words, one meaning "salt water" and the other "language". Lushootseed is the language of several Salish and Native American groups in Washington. It is one of the two major divisions of the Salishan language group. The other division is Coast Salish.

Personal Clothing

Cedar was the most popular weaving material among northwestern tribes, which deem attributes to its versatility. They used cedar fiber for weaving clothing such as dresses, vests and headbands. They scraped the inside of the bark for the fiber material. They also mixed goat wool with cedar bark. They used leather and woven hats in rainy weather.


Diet and/or Food Sources

They ate deer, elk, salmon berry sprouts, dried salmon eggs, the roots of tiger lillies and wild carrots, dog silver and king salmon, huckleberries, and snaring ducks. Choice game were fish and plants, which were plentiful in the Puget Sound. They developed an elaborate system for harvesting this abundance of food. Before white settlement, fishing was the most important source of food.

Types of Shelter

Suquamish people lived in cedar plank houses during the months of winter. During spring and summer, they traveled by canoe to temporary camping grounds for fishing, hunting and berrying. At those camps, the shelter consisted of portable frames made of tree saplings, covered with woven cat tail mats.

Modes of Transportation

The Suquamish people traveled by dugout cedar canoes. The canoe was the most important tool of the Suquamish people. They also walked on many trails leading from their winter villages to camping areas and other tribal villages.


Economic Activities

The Suquamish people made baskets, leather goods, woven mats, and canoes. They were experts in animal husbandry and horsemanship. They mainly gathered things like berries and nuts, as well as hunted for game such as mountain sheep, deer, goat bear, and sea mammals. The Suquamish also fished for salmon, herring and halibut, and collected shellfish.

Religious Beliefs

They believed that the number of spirits in the world was limitless. There were career spirits that helped with everyday work, such the Clam and Duck for hunting,or the Grizzly and Loon for warriors. To obtain spirit powers, people underwent great sacrifices. Spirit powers were most evident during the ceremonies held in December and January when spirits visited towns and assisted in rituals that bound communities together.

Special Ceremonies

The Suquamish Tribe holds a gravesite ceremony at Chief Seattle's grave in Suquamish, Port Madison, Washington.

Thanks from Clearwater- 2012 Canoe Journey Update from Longhouse Media on Vimeo.

Unique Customs

Tribal elders passed on their knowledge of language, skills, religious and other customs to the children of the tribe.

Tools and Implements

They made hard baskets from coiled cedar roots and those were used for gathering berries. The baskets were waterproof, which made them good for carrying water and cooking.

Recreation and Games

For entertainment, the Suquamish people had canoe races, foot races, they had wrestling contests, played tug of war and gambling. For the one who won the wrestling match, sometimes they were given power and prestige. They also spent time performing plays, dancing and singing. These activities were mostly focused on their ancestors, and trying to keep their memories and traditions alive.


They used bows and arrows, harpoons, spears, knives, and rocks as weapons. They also used snares, deadfalls, seal clubs and sledgehammers.

Unique Characteristics

The Suquamish people had reddish-brown skin, and straight black hair. Some of them had big, round noses


Social Organization

The Suquamish tribe had 950 members and half of them lived on the reservation. There were four ranks of people, the highest being the wealthiest members claimed by heredity and the build up and "sales" of fish, food, and other things deemed as valuable. The secondary rank were respected members of the community but didn't necessarily have much wealth. The lowest status is people who used to be slaves, and you didn't have a status if you were a slave or war captive.

Attitude Toward Child Rearing

Children were shown much love and care by their parents and grandparents. Kids were seldom punished, and if they were punished, children did not get physically punished. Elders of the tribe threatened them with evil spirits, which usually made the kids behave.

Governmental Structure

The Suquamish Tribe was a communal social system where tribal chiefs and shamans maintained their positions with wealth and mutual respect.Traditions were shared orally by example from old persons to young. Elders held great respect and had traditional leadership. Many leaders were born into it, hereditarily.

Trade and Commerce

They traded fish, clothing, jewelry and weapons.


Official Website of Suquamish Tribe