Tribe Name

The name Lummi (Lha’qtemish) means People of the Sea. They are Coast Salish people. They are skilled fishers, hunters, gatherers, and harvesters of nature’s abundances. Fishing is a major part of their lifestyle and culture


  • 1850: The tribe moved to the Puget Sound islands in an effort to avoid smallpox epidemics and inter tribal warfare
  • 1855, the Lummi Nation signed the Treaty of Point Elliot with the U.S., which called for the natives to relinquish much of their homeland in western Washington Territory. In return they were assigned land reserved for them that initially consisted of 15,000 acres.
  • 1857: Reverend Eugene Casimir Chirouse, a Roman Catholic arrived in the area
  • 1858: Gold was discoverd near Fraser River bringing more settlers
  • 1859: Lummi Reservation is established
  • In 1948 the Lummi Nation adopted a tribal constitution, amended and ratified in 1970, which created the present government structure, which is an 11 member tribal business council elected by tribal members.
  • 1970: To help ease the unemployment problems, the Lummi Business Council, in cooperation with other government agencies, instituted its Aquacultural Project to cultivate and harvest food from nearby coastal waters.
  • 1974, U.S. Federal District Court judge George Boldt handed down a decision that defined Indian fishing rights and guaranteed treaty Indians 50 percent of the allowable salmon harvest.
  • 1999: Twenty-Eight burials of Lummi ancestors were unearthed near Blain. When city officials failed to properly notify tribal authorities of the discovery, the Lummis brought suit and the city eventually paid damages of 1.2 million.
  • 2007: The Lummis hosted their first potlatch since 1937.


The Lummi lived in a large area that included much of today’s Puget Sound area in Washington State and British Columbia, Canada. They established villages near the sea and in the forests, and moved according to the seasons.


The original Lummi spoke the Songish dialect of the Salish language. Their language is the same as that spoken, with dialectic variations, by the Samish and Klalam to the south, the Semiamu on the north, in British Columbia, and the Songish, Sanetch, and Sooke of Vancouver Island, B. C. The Salish language is still spoken by many people today.

Social Organization and Government

The Lummi social structure was family centered and village oriented, marked by complex interrelationships. Leaders earned their status by their wits and demonstrated ability. Marriages were often arranged to facilitate trade relationships. The Lummi were accomplished artisans in the crafting of boats, seine nets, houses and numerous other artifacts, and they were part of a sophisticated regional political network.
Describe how tribal society was governed.
Analyze the social implications of the tribe's method of government.


Include a description with visual evidence of the tribe's clothing prior to European contact.
Describe what, if any, change occurred to their mode of dress following European contact.

Diet and Food Sources

Their protein-rich diet consisted principally of salmon, followed by trout, shellfish, elk, deer, other small wildlife, starchy camas bulbs and sun-dried berries. Most of their meat and seafood were smoke dried for preservation. They used carefully calibrated burning to prepare fields where they cultivated camas, tiger lilies, onions, and other edible plants.


The Lummi tribe would return to their longhouses after a day of hard work. Longhouses are Native American homes. They are similarly built to wigwams, with pole frames and elm bark covering. The main difference is that longhouses are much, much larger than wigwams. Longhouses could be 200 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 20 feet high. They lived in multi‐family cedar‐plank longhouses.



The Lummi tribe would get around with Canoes, by foot, and by horse

Tools and Weapons

The Lummi tribe created the first "Reef net" fishing net

The Lummi didn't begin to experience European influences until about 1800. Then the Lummi Nation traded for half a century with Russians, Spaniards, Japanese and Englishmen prior to contact with traders from the United States. By 1850, the Americans took up where the others left off. Like their predecessors, the United States traders didn't desire what the Lummi economy produced; rather, they aggressively wanted their raw materials and land.

(Reef Net)

Economic Activities and Trade

Like most Northwest Coast peoples, they lived in winter villages of large cedar plank longhouses, dispersing in the warmer months to fish, hunt, and maintain and harvest shellfish beds and upland gardens. They weaved wool blankets from dog and goat hair. Baskets were woven from cedar bark, limbs, and roots; wild cherry bark, rye grass, bear grass, and nettle fibers. They designed the commonly used fishing methods of the reef net, the weir, and the purse seine. They expressed their language and religious traditions through elaborate carvings on totems and ceremonies.

Religious Beliefs

If the Lummi people had a church, it would be the ancient cedar, hemlock, and Douglas fir forest of Arlecho Creek near Mt. Baker, Washington. Members of seyown, the Lummi Spirit Dancing Society, have worshiped here for millennia, fasting, taking purifying dips in the ice-cold creek, and bringing back special songs to sing for the rest of their lives. Over the years, much of the surrounding forest has been clearcut, leaving 672 acres of unprotected old growth. Should that remainder be cut as well, the Lummi believe that their songs would no longer be valid because they would lose their connection to specific animals of the forest.

Recreation and Games

Lummi Sticks, or Maori Rhythm Sticks, is a game played with any number of people, usually in partners. Each player holds a pair of sticks, about one inch in diameter and about 1-4 foot long (usually one foot). Players begin tapping out a slow rhythm on the ground, a table or the floor. Once the group has established a rhythm, you can begin adding variations. There are a number of musical chants you can sing as you work through the various levels of motions. You can make up your own motions and music as you learn the basic skills. Chanting holds the action together and gives it order, as well as influencing the atmosphere of the game. There are two commonly accepted versions of where ‘Lummi Sticks’ originated. One is that the game came from the Lummi Indians, a Native American Tribe from the Pacific Northwest. The other more widely accepted, and better documented, theory is that the game originated among the Maori Tribe in New Zealand. If you wish to use this game for World Friendship and the country of New Zealand, the appropriate name for the game would be ‘Maori Rhythm Sticks’. This game teaches and encourages cooperation and coordination which are characteristics of the Maori people. The Lummi tribe would also partake in Canoe Races. BellaBella.gif

Works Cited