My school teachers used to insist that “the only stupid question is the question that you do not ask.” I sure hope they were right! It pains me to admit that I am unclear on the names of native groups in my area. Yet this lack of awareness is widespread among ‘white folks’ like me . . . and the best time to get informed is NOW.
According to various web sites, the Puget Sound region that I call ‘home’ is also ‘home’ to the Salish cluster of people groups. These include the Skagit, Swinomish, Snohomish/Tulalip, Sauk-Suiattle, Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Sahewamish, Skykomish, Snoqualmie, Suquamish, Stillaguamish, and Squaxin. They arrived here an estimated 11-12,000 years ago via land bridge from Siberia to Alaska. Their languages are variants of Lushootseed (or Whulshootseed).
Of course, web sites can mislead, and I’m eager to learn history from some living human beings. In the meantime, I can’t help but notice that most of the tribal names listed above are now used to refer to geographic places. For example, I recently drove across the Nisqually River bridge, and I shopped for cars at ‘Kia of Puyallup.’ Yet how much thought did I give to the destiny of the Nisqually and Puyallup peoples?