Sauk-Suiattle, or Sah-Ku-Me-Hu, is a federally recognized Native American tribe in western Washington state in the United States.
The reservation was created by the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855. A sub-chief signed this treaty after the chief refused to cede historical territory to the European Americans. In 1884, their village at Sauk Prairie, which had eight traditional cedar longhouses was destroyed by European settlers seeking homestead land. Some tribe members moved to the Swinomish Indian Reservation; like the Tulalip Reservation, it had people from many neighboring Coast Salish tribes.
An executive order of September 9, 1873 clarified the northern boundary and added 59.73 acres establishing the 7,448.80-acre reservation. Under the Point Elliot Treaty, the Sauk-Suiattle has fishing rights on the rivers. They are a member of the Skagit River System Cooperative together with the Swinomish. Many of the people moved around various areas in Puget Sound seeking employment. They came into conflict with white settlers because of land. In 1884 three quarters of Indians on the reservation were engaged in farming, logging, and milling.
In the mid-19th century, the tribe clustered in a nearby village alongside the confluence of the Sauk and Suiattle rivers that boasted eight cedar longhouses and 4,000 members. Like that of many tribes of the region, its life revolved around the water. Its members fished and plied the rivers in hand-built canoes. And also as with so many tribes, white settlers confiscated their land. The Sah-ku-mehu people, as they were then called, scattered, some fleeing to other tribes’ reservations. By 1924, the tribe could count only 18 members. In 1946, the Sauk-Suiattle established a separate tribal entity; they applied through the administrative process with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (US Department of the Interior) and was federally recognized as a tribe in 1973. Their written constitution was approved by the Secretary of the Interior in 1975.
Tribal membership numbered around 4,000 before 1855, and by 1924 the numbers had dwindled to 18 members. Residents in the Sauk Suiattle Indian Reservation are the surviving descendents of the original peoples who lived in this special valley. The current membership numbers approximately 200 individuals.
They lived along the Sauk and Suiattle rivers, tributaries of the Skagit River. The Tribe fished for salmon, a staple in their diet, in the Sauk, Suiattle, and Cascade Rivers by using gaff hooks, spears, and net and fish weirs. The Tribe also hunted game and gathered wild berries and roots. Like many of the coastal tribes the Sauk-Suiattle built permanent winter homes from split red cedar planks. The Tribe elects a seven member Tribal Council to staggered three-year terms. The Sauk-Suiattle Tribe has a constitution, by-laws, fishing, and election ordinance and law and order code. The Reservation consists of two parcels in Skagit and Snohomish Counties with a total of 23 acres.
The tribe historically lived along the banks of the Sauk, Suiattle, Cascade, Stillaguamish, and Skagit rivers, in the area known as Sauk Prairie at the foot of Whitehorse Mountain in the North Cascade Range.
The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Reservation is in this area, centered near the present-day town of Darrington. It lies in two non-contiguous sections: the largest (48°19′16″N 121°32′59″W) is in southern Skagit County, comprising 33.5 acres, or 73.5 percent of the reservation’s total land area and all of its resident population of 45 persons (2000 census); the smaller section (48°17′25″N 121°32′36″W), in northern Snohomish County, has a land area of 12.1 acres and no resident population.
Their historic territory was from as far north as the Fraser River, as far south as what nowadays is Highway 2, as far east as the Salish Sea, and well in to Eastern Washington. Whitehorse Mountain of the North Cascades. Homestead land where most of the houses were is in Sauk Prairie, there were four(4) houses near what is now Rockport area, and some houses near what is now known as Trafton, near Arlington. A few houses are near what is now known as Granite Falls. They made their livelihood in the mountains and had trading relations with tribes east of the Cascades, as well as making trips downriver to other communities on Puget Sound.
The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe is a Puget Sound Salish speaking group. The Sauk-Suiattle language (Lushootseed) belongs to the Salishan family of Native American languages; dialects of Lushotseed have traditionally been spoken by several Salishan groups. Several of these languages are endangered, as speakers are a decreasing number of elders.
The tribe stands as one of the area’s biggest employers. The reservation despite its small size boasts a multi-million dollar budget.
The tribe also operates a smokeshop and a country store through its economic development group.
Principal industries: Transportation equipment (Boeing), wood products, food processing, electronics.
They elect seven Tribal Council members for three-year terms on an alternating schedule. They also elect the chairman and vice-chairman.
The enrolled tribal population is 183 and the Indian population living on or near the reservation is 273. Tribal membership has today risen to about 200. The tribe sets the requirements for membership: individuals seeking to enroll must have at least 1/4 blood descent (equivalent to one grandparent) from one or more Native American ancestors recorded in this valley in the 1942 federal census.
County: Skagit, population 69,500, Native American 1,484, 32% of non-white or 2% of total population. 1,735 square miles. (County extends inland to the Cascades from Rosario Strait at Anacortes and Mt. Vernon.) Assessed value of Skagit County averages $2,463
City: Darrington, population 11,020, elevation 527 ft. County: Snohomish, population 393,600, Native American 4,412, 15% of non-white population, 1% of total. 2,098 square miles extending from Puget Sound to Cascades. Rainfall (Everett) 45.2 inches, temperatures 42-59. Assessed value of Snohomish County averages $10,922 an acre.
Rainfall (Mt. Vernon) 32.2 inches. Average Temperatures 41-60.