portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting oregon & cascadia

indigenous issues

Help return Old Man House to the Suquamish

We of the Tacoma LPSG ask all of our friends and supporters
To please support the appeal below, It speaks of the "anti-Indian Activists" and we would like you to know that those people are well organized and funded in the state of Washington and they should not be underestimated. Thank you.
Tacoma LPSG
From: "Suquamish Olalla Neighbors"
Subject: Chief Seattle's home--help return it to the Suquamish Tribe
Date: Thu, 1 Jan 2004 10:57:45 -0700

Dear Friends,

We need your help. The Washington state Parks and Recreation Commission will be hearing the Suquamish Tribe's request for the return of Old Man Park on January 22, and they need to hear from you before that date. This park, a small part of the historic home of the Suquamish people and of Chief Seattle, is a vital cultural and historic resource for the Tribe (see historical chronology below). The Tribe has made clear that the land will continue to function as a park, accessible to all.

The Suquamish Tribe and Suquamish Olalla Neighbors have spent months eliciting community input and drafting a management plan for the park. This plan, which incorporated hundreds of comments, is now available on the
Suquamish Olalla website (www.soneighbors.org), along with more background
information and other letters of support.

Unfortunately, there continues to be opposition from anti-Indian activists across the state and others who oppose this transfer and are circulating a petition opposing the transfer. We need to make sure the state Parks
Commission hears from those who are seeking healing and seeking to right an
historic wrong.

Here's what you can do:

** Send an email or letter with your support asking that the land be
returned to the Tribe (addresses below). Make sure to say where you live,
as the commission is especially concerned with the views of Washington
state residents. A sample email is below.

** Pass this email or a print-out to anyone you know who might be willing
to also send their views to the addresses below.

** If you are part of an organization or faith group, send a letter of
support on letterhead to the mailing addresses below.

The main thing is to make sure the commission hears from you before January
22 - the sooner the better.

With your help, this culturally and historically vital piece of land will
be returned to the Suquamish Tribe 100 years after it was taken away--in 2004.

your friends at Suquamish Olalla Neighbors and the
Suquamish Tribe.


(Please personalize as you like.)

Dear members of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission,

I'm writing to ask you to transfer Old Man House State Park to the
Suquamish Tribe. The park, which is the historic home to the Suquamish
people, has deep historic and cultural significance to the Tribe.

The Tribe has agreed that the land will remain a park, open to all. The
Tribe recently completed an extensive community involvement process, in
which all members of the community were given opportunities to comment on
how they would like the park managed. The resulting Park Management Plan,
which incorporates hundreds of comments from all parts of the community,
demonstrates that under Tribal administration the park will continue to
provide a valuable amenity to the larger community while also returning
this important cultural and historic site to its rightful owners.

You have the opportunity to return this land in 2004, 100 years after it
was taken from the Tribe. Please right an historic wrong by taking action
on this small but significant piece of land.


[your city and state]


Rex Derr, Director
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
P.O. Box 42650
Olympia, WA 98504-2669
Phone: (360) 902-8500
FAX: (360) 753-1594
Telephone Device for the Deaf (360) 664-3133
or email:  al.wolslegel@parks.wa.gov


Governor Gary Locke
Office of the Governor
P.O Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Governor's Office (360) 902-4111
Fax # (360) 753-4110
To contact relay operators for the deaf or hearing
impaired, please dial

Rich Brooks
The Suquamish Tribe
PO Box 498
Suquamish, WA 98392


Suquamish Olalla Neighbors
P.O. Box 504
Suquamish, WA 98392


* Old Man House was the "mother village" of the
Suquamish Tribe, and home
of Chief Seattle and other Suquamish people.

* D'Suq'Wub, or "place of clear salt water" was a
Suquamish winter village
site long before the Old Man House was constructed
at the site.
Archaeological investigations show at least 2,000
years of occupation at
the village site.

* The Old Man House was an approximately 600-foot
long Suquamish Indian
longhouse built around 1815 and dismantled and
burned in about 1870.

* The 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott promulgated
articles of agreement
between the United States and the Suquamish Tribe.
Under the articles of
the Treaty, the Tribe ceded certain areas of its
aboriginal lands to the
United States, but reserved for its use and
occupation certain lands,
rights, and privileges. The Treaty-reserved lands
are the Port Madison
Indian Reservation, which is comprised of
approximately 7,800 acres of the
Tribe's aboriginal lands.

* In 1885 most of the families of the Port Madison
Indian Reservation
(PMIR) were living in the Old Man House Village.

* In 1886, the federal government divided the
Reservation into individual
allotments and assigned them to individual
Suquamish families.

* In 1904 the War Department completed its
activities to acquire Old Man
House Village and other land within the PMIR
reportedly for fortifications
to protect the Navy Yard at Bremerton from any
foreign ships that might
attempt to approach through Agate Pass.

* The Suquamish Indians were given no real option
as to whether they would
relinquish the lands. They were advised that their
land and improvements
had been appraised and that the appraised values
were not subject for

* The Congress enacted legislation in 1905
authorizing the transfer of the
land to the War Department

* The 1905 Transfer had at least two important
consequences to the
Suquamish people:
The principal village of the Suquamish Indians
was dismantled and the
people dispersed elsewhere on and off the PMIR.
After dispossessing the Suquamish of their
ancient village site on the
grounds that it was vital for national defense, the
War Department never
built any fortifications and eventually the land
was sold to a private
buyer in 1937 (General Construction Company).

* Washington State Parks purchased a small parcel
containing a portion of
the former Old Man House building footprint for a
state park in 1950.

Suquamish Olalla Neighbors
P O Box 504
Suquamish, WA 98392