The Nisqually Indians roamed the interior woodlands and coastal waters from Mt. Rainier to Puget Sound. Their lifestyle and ceremonies revolved around different species of salmon and the red cedar. In 1853 Governor Isaac Stevens abolished Indian land rights leaving only the designated reservation land which was collectively owned by extended families. Under duress, the Nisqually, Puyallup, and other bands ceded most of Puget Sound and the Olympia Peninsula, (approx. 2,240,000 acres) to the government, by the Treaty of Medicine Creek. The Nisqually reservation included 5,105 acres, most of it east of the Nisqually River in Pierce County. Allotment of the land to individual tribal families began in 1884. In 1917 the US military, through condemnation proceedings, took 3,370 acres for the Fort Lewis Military Reserve. On September 30, 1884, land was set aside and divided into one-family allotments on both sides of the Nisqually River. The land did not include the river. The people lived in peace for a while harvesting fish from the river and growing potatoes on the prairie tracts. They also received few government rations. In the winter of 1917, the U.S. Army moved onto Nisqually lands and ordered them from their homes without any warning. Later, the Army reallocated 3,353 acres (13.6 km²) of their land to expand the Fort Lewis base. Today, nearly 300 Nisqually have returned to their homeland and have begun to re-establish their culture and community.
The tribe moved onto their reservation east of Olympia, Washington, in late 1854 with the signing of the Medicine Creek Treaty. As reaction to the unfairness of the treaty, many members of the tribe led by Chief Leschi engaged and were eventually defeated by the US Army in the conflict known as the Puget Sound War in 1855-56.
The Nisqually people have lived in the watershed for thousands of years. According to legend, the Squalli-absch (ancestors of the modern Nisqually Indian Tribe), came north from the Great Basin, crossed the Cascade Mountain Range and erected their first village in a basin now known as Skate Creek, just outside the Nisqually River Watershed’s southern boundary. Later, a major village would be located near the Mashel River.
On September 9, 1946, the tribe’s constitution and bylaws were approved. The constitution was amended in 1994.
The reservation is small and on lower Nisqually River east of Olympia adjacent to the (huge) Fort Lewis Military Reservation.
The tribe lives on a reservation in the Nisqually River valley near the river delta. The Nisqually Indian Reservation, at 47°01′12″N 122°39′27″W, comprises 20.602 km² (7.955 sq mi) of land area on both sides of the river, in western Pierce County and eastern Thurston County. In the 2000 census, it had a resident population of 588 persons, all in the Thurston County portion, on the southwest side of the Nisqually River.
The Nisqually (ˌnɪsˈkwɔːliː) is a Lushootseed-speaking Native American tribe in western Washington state in the United States. They are a Southern Coast Salish people. They are federally recognized as the Nisqually Indian Tribe, formerly known as the Nisqually Indian Tribe of the Nisqually Reservation and the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation. The Nisqually is a subdialect of the southern dialect of Lushootseed named Twalshootseed, which belongs to the Salishan family. The Nisqually call themselves the ‘Susqually’absh (sq̓ʷaliʼabš), which means “people of the grass” in Twalshootseed.
The Nisqually Planning and Economic Development Department provides community development planning, economic feasibility and coordination, transportation planning, land acquisition, environmental review, grantwriting, and newsletter/communications services in support of tribal community development efforts.
The Nisqually Tribal Council approved a $45 million expansion of its Nisqually Red Wind Casino including 42,700 square feet of new floor space and a new 600-space parking facility. The new facilities will be open by December 2014. The expanded space will also include a smoke-free casino.
About 70 new jobs will be created as a result of the expansion.
In addition to building a new tribal center, the tribe has also constructed new convenience/gasoline stores and is extending its waste water treatment system, and building a public safety complex.
The Nisqually Tribe also donates more than copy million from casino revenue to benefit community charitable and non-profit organizations, and local governments.
The Red Wind Casino is managed by the tribe’s Medicine Creek Enterprise Corporation.
The Nisqually have always been a fishing people. The salmon has not only been the mainstay of their diet, but the foundation of their culture as well. The Nisqually Tribe is the prime steward of the Nisqually River fisheries resources, and operate two fish hatcheries: one on Clear Creek and one on Kalama Creek.
Principal industries: state government, wood products, food products and agriculture.
The Tribe adopted a constitution in 1946, according to the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. An elected business council carries on most of the Tribe’s government affairs. The governing body of the Tribe is the General Council comprising all enrolled tribal members 18 years of age or older. The day-to-day business and economic affairs of the tribe are overseen by a tribal council composed of seven tribal members elected by the tribe’s voting membership.
The reservation is small and on lower Nisqually River east of Olympia adjacent to the (huge) Fort Lewis Military Reservation. The city of Olympia has a population of 29,600 with an elevation of 36 ft. County of Thurston, population 145,500, assessed value averages $9,763 per acre. Native American population approx. 2300, 14% of nonwhite, 1.5% of total population. 714 square miles. Precipitation 52.4 inches; average temperature 39-60.