The original reservation was established by the Medicine Creek Treaty of December 26, 1854 with Governor Stevens. The reservation consisted of 1,280 acres on Puget Sound. On January 20, 1856 an executive order enlarged it to 4,717 acres on both sides of the Nisqually River. On September 30, 1884 acreage was set aside and divided into 30 family allotments on both sides of the Nisqually River. The acreage didn't 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 on the army condemned 3,353 acres of their land to expand the Fort Lewis base. The Nisquallis were paid $75,840 for land and improvements. Then on April 28, 1924 they were awarded $85,000.
On September 9, 1946 the constitution and bylaws was approved. The tribe filed a claim with the Indian Claims Commission and received a final award of $80,013.07 for which funds were given on September 30, 1976 and set aside for land acquisition. The award didn't include compensation for land within the Fort Lewis Reservation.