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Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe

S'Klallam in the Salish Language means "Strong People"

The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe has evolved directly from several constituent communities of the S'Klallam people. The S'Klallam Tribe, whose name means the "Strong People," belong to a Salish cultural and linguistic group related to British Columbia Tribes as well as to most Tribes in the Puget Sound area. The present day S'Klallam Tribe is distinctly divided into three separate bands - the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe. Although the Jamestown S'Klallams were signatories to the Treaty of Point No Point in 1855, they did not establish a formal reservation. Their refusal to move to the Skokomish Reservation, as called for in the treaty, was the result of unfriendly relations with these southern neighbors. The S'Klallams were determined to remain at their traditional fishing areas on the Olympic Peninsula near present day Sequim, Washington.

After 1870, white settlers in the Washington Territory began to bring pressure upon the Bureau of Indian Affairs to move all treaty Indians to reservations. Without clear title to the land they lived on, many Indians were easily and frequently dispossessed. By 1874, a band of S'Klallams under the leadership of Lord Jim Balch (whose father was a signatory to the 1855 treaty) raised enough money to pay $500 for a 210-acre tract near Dungeness, Washington Territory. This was the start of the Jamestown S'Klallam community. During the Indian Reorganization Act period (1935-1939), the Jamestown S'Klallams were given the choice of moving to a reservation or remaining on the land they had purchased. They chose to keep their land and the independence they had worked hard to obtain.

The federal government provided services to the Jamestown S'Klallams until 1953 when all services and programs to "unrecognized" Tribes were discontinued. The Jamestown S'Klallams maintained a cohesive societal structure and continued to demonstrate a progressive nature by integrating into the non-Indian community and economy. The hub around which they centered their Tribal spirit was the Jamestown land base, purchased independent of federal government assistance. By the 1970's, it was evident to the Tribe that fishing and hunting rights were being denied them due to lack of recognition from the federal government. Another major concern was adequate health services and educational opportunities for its members. The Tribe realized that only through federal recognition would they be able to provide for these basic needs. The campaign for formal federal recognition began in 1974 and ended with successfully regaining recognition on February 10, 1981.

The area known as "Jamestown" is not an incorporated village, nor does it have a commercial center. Located approximately seven miles from Sequim, along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Jamestown is the historic settlement of the ancestors of this S'Klallam Tribe. Jamestown is located near the mouth of the Dungeness River, traditionally the major fishery for the local S'Klallam people.

The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribal offices are located in Blyn, Washington at the head of Sequim Bay (approximately 6 miles southeast of the city of Sequim). The Tribe has 375 enrolled Tribal members. Members must possess 1/8 Jamestown S'Klallam blood to be eligible for enrollment. The Tribal government sets overall goals to meet the needs of its members but also serves other Indian people, including Jamestown S'Klallam descendants, living within the designated service area. The Tribe is governed by a Tribal Council made up of five members elected to two-year terms on a staggered basis. All enrolled Tribal members over 18 years old are eligible to vote and may run for office at age 21. The Tribal constitution was drafted and adopted in 1975. Tribal governmental programs receive overall direction from the Tribal Council. The Council sets policy, considers community input and relies upon the administrative staff to effectively carry out its policies.

Since achieving recognition, the Tribe has worked hard to set up basic operational structures to administer governmental policies and provide services, programs and activities for the Tribal membership. This structure has allowed the Tribe to create programs to assist Tribal members as well as begin building a strong economic base for future needs. The Tribe has steadily expanded its economic base by establishing a variety of Tribal business ventures. From the inception of the first corporation, JKT Development, Inc., additional Tribal corporate boards have been formed to help manage the Tribal businesses. To date these businesses include the following: an oyster processing/sales plant, an excavating company, three art galleries, a Tribal fireworks stand, two apartment buildings, a business park building and a gaming casino.