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Native American

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What is the Lummi Tribe?

By Christine Hudson
Updated: May 17, 2024

The Lummi Nation is a Native American tribe located in the western region of Washington state in the US. This tribe primarily resides on and near the established Lummi Indian Reservation, and identify themselves as hunters, fishers, gatherers, and harvesters of nature. The Lummi tribe is a nation of people who are proud of their long and rich history.

The original language of the Lummi tribe is the Songish dialect of the Salish language, and many in the tribe still maintain the speech. For nearly 12,000 years, the Lummi tribe built their villages near the sea and throughout the mountainous areas of Washington. Living this close to the water allowed them a rich diet of trout, salmon, and other seasonal marine and land wildlife such as elk. The community of Lummi was closely centered around family and spiritual guidance, while leaders were chosen for their wisdom and strength.

Today many in the Lummi tribe continue the traditions revolving around family and respect for nature, but most of the tribe has converted to Christianity. Although the tribe did not experience foreign influences until around 1800, they have successfully integrated themselves into American society while maintaining their roots. Trade between the Lummi tribe and countries like Japan, Spain, and the British allowed the tribe to develop an international economy, but unfortunately most traders did not want the goods produced by the Lummi as much as they wanted their land.

Efforts have been made to maintain the salmon population which the tribe depends on, including a salmon hatchery on their reservation. This particular fish has been especially important not only to the Lummi diet, but also in their culture, and its preservation is an important goal for the tribe. The responsibility taken by the Lummi tribe to re-grow the salmon population and only take what is needed from the population stems from their ancient legend of the Great Salmon Woman. This practice has been passed down through generations, and has aided wildlife conservationists in their ongoing efforts to save several endangered species of the fish.

Obtaining their status and protected land through the US government was a long road, but the future for the Lummi tribe now looks very bright. The tribe artisans create works of art both in clothing and decor form, which are used to trade, along with other products, with the world outside their reservation. Open policies and adaptation to change has allowed the tribe to survive and will likely continue their success.

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Discussion Comments
By anon225058 — On Oct 25, 2011

Sorry to correct your statement, but the lummi are not the only successful tribe in the north america. You didn't look anywhere else like Pala California, the San Manuel band of indians, the agua caliente tribe from palm springs. All these tribes leave lummi in the dust with being successful in integrated businesses. Those indians down in california are all millionaires.

By B707 — On Oct 12, 2011

The Lummi Tribe has done a very good job of fitting into the mainstream of American life. At the same time, they have kept many of their traditions from the past.

They have a way of providing for their people by fishing, hunting and gathering from nature. They have the benefits of having the Christian religion. But their old traditional stories and beliefs are still a part of them.

It's too bad that more of the Native American tribes don't have as bright a future as the Lummi.

By Esther11 — On Oct 11, 2011

The Lummi Tribe living along the ocean in Washington State has had some good luck along with using good practices, that have helped them become a successful Indian Tribe.

It was fortunate that they were able to remain on their native land when so many tribes were displaced from their territory and put on reservations in some of the worst locations.

They were also not confronted by Americans moving westward until a lot later than most tribes. They were way ahead of their time in taking from the land and ocean only what they needed. They really respect the environment. And how long has it taken for us to start being aware of protecting our environment?

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