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Skokomish Tribe

The Skokomish Indian Reservation, encompassing a total of almost 5,000 acres, is located on the delta of the Skokomish River where it empties into what is called the Great Bend of the Hood Canal on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. It is largely wooded and marshy, and is located in Mason County, ten miles north of the County seat in the City of Shelton. The Skokomish Indian Reservation was created by the Point-No-Point Treaty, concluded on January 26, 1855, ratified by Congress on April 29, 1859, and subsequently enlarged by Executive Order on February 25, 1874.

The aboriginal name for Skokomish Tribal members is Twana, which refers to the people who lived in the Hood Canal drainage basin pre-contact and the establishment of the Skokomish Reservation. The Twana lived in several communities united by their culture, language and territory. Skokomish refers to not only the largest Twana group at
treaty times, but to the Skokomish River, the Reservation and the people who were required to move here after the treaty was signed.

The Twana language, or tuwaduqutSid, is a member of the Salish language family. The Salish language dominated a large territory, which stretched from the Pacific Ocean to Montana and from British Columbia to Oregon. Twana is a Southern Puget Sound dialect of Salish. The traditional domain of the tuwaduq istuwaduqhL si'dakW (Hood Canal), which is a sixty-mile long inlet of the Puget Sound waters east of the Olympic Peninsula. The primary social groups for the Twana were extended families. They lived in village communities consisting of one or more households; or with relatives in other Twana villages and other groups outside of Twana territory.

The governing body of the Skokomish Indian Tribe is the Skokomish General Council, composed of all enrolled Skokomish Tribal members 18 years of age and older. The General Council meets quarterly, convening for additional meetings as necessary. A General Council President is elected annually by enrolled Tribal members 18 and older. The administrative affairs of the Tribe are under the direction of the Skokomish Tribal Council, which meets weekly. The Tribal Council is a seven-member body elected by the General Council membership to represent their interests and concerns in matters of Tribal governance, and oversee the Tribe's administration and business activities on their behalf. The Tribal Council is composed of the Tribal Chairman, Vice Chair, Secretary, and four Council Member positions.

Located in a rural area of northern Mason County on the Olympic Peninsula, the Skokomish Indian Reservation is surrounded on the south by the Skokomish River and on the east by the Hood Canal. It is served by U.S. Highway 101 originating south of the Reservation near the City of Olympia, and State Route 106 from the east. Olympia, the state capitol, is located south of the Reservation lands about 35 miles away. Seattle and Tacoma are accessible within about 1 and 1½ to 2 hours driving time, respectively.

The Skokomish Indian Reservation, due to its location and geological features in primarily a rural area of the Olympic Peninsula, is significantly vulnerable and has been drastically impacted by the damaging effects of major natural and man-made hazards. Extensive flooding events and severe weather conditions continually impact the local region and Tribal lands. A significant impact of the flooding and loss of valuable land for its future development by the Skokomish Tribe has been failing septic systems and increasing non-point source pollution from agricultural and forest land runoff in the upper Skokomish Valley watershed, adjacent to and northwest of the Reservation?s boundaries.

For the past three decades Skokomish Tribal members have come together to develop a proactive government for its People and forge ahead with the necessary efforts and visions to provide a diversified mix of services for its youth, seniors and adults. The Skokomish Tribal government today provides a comprehensive array of community-based health, social, cultural and community services to 884 enrolled Skokomish Indians as of May 2003, in addition to their spouses and other family members living within and near the Reservation?s boundaries.

Concurrent with the major governmental and community service responsibilities during the last 30 years have been the ongoing and expanding economic and business development efforts undertaken by the Skokomish Indian Tribe. The Skokomish Indian Tribe has invested a large degree of their resources toward the protection of their natural resources, acquisition of commercial development sites on the Reservation as well as adequate land for the development of community facilities and new infrastructure systems.

Historically and currently, the Skokomish people harvest salmon, shellfish species and other fish from the Skokomish River and Hood Canal area and rely on this catch as a source of subsistence and income. At Treaty Time, the Skokomish River supported large fish runs including all species of Pacific Salmon and Steelhead. This broad range of species and fish runs returned to the Skokomish River during almost every month of the year and provided a stable and diverse fishery for the Tribe. The Tribe's Twana Trade Center, adjacent to U.S. Highway 101, is a multi-purpose commercial site; traversing the Skokomish Reservation and serving as a major link to the most frequently traveled tourist destinations for Washington State residents and out-of-state visitors. The commercial site currently includes the following Tribal businesses: Twin Totems Grocery & Deli and the Lucky Dog Casino.

During 2003, The Tribe will implement a major community planning effort to design a new community facility and housing area on a 338-acre parcel of land. The new economic and community development efforts are in response to the historical and cumulative impacts from years of flooding that have damaged many Tribal community facilities, houses, local businesses as well as highways and small arterial roadways on Tribal lands.

With a growing community and increasing population, the Tribe's major development efforts will be directed towards the construction of new housing, infrastructure systems and feasible new business ventures to enhance the quality of life for Skokomish Community members. This will be attained through the creation of new employment and educational opportunities, and preservation and protection of its cultural identity, natural resources and cultural resources.