The Shoalwater Bay Tribe is a Sovereign Nation located in South Western Washington, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Descended from welcoming, resourceful, and fiercely determined ancestors, the Shoalwater Bay People strive to combine the cultural aspects of our heritage with challenges of the modern world to build a better environment for our children.
In ages past, our people were clam diggers and oyster schooners, hunters, canoe people, basket weavers, and above all traders who possessed powerful inter-tribal status and denoted their high rank by forehead binding and, in later days, other symbols of community standing.Tribal members inherit the rich tradition of Chinook and Lower Chehalis life, including an ancestral love of our land, fishing, cedar trees, drumming, singing, and cultural gatherings.
At present, about two thirds of our membership make their homes off reservation land, and there is a growing cultural awakening occurring among Shoalwater Bay members regardless of their location. Tribal artists contribute to our prosperity in many creative forms, including writing, photography, painting, wood-carving, bead-work, playing instruments, singing, and powwow dancing.
For both on and off-reservation members, the heart of the Tribe exists in its history-language-culture, and the regality of our ancestors flows through the veins of all members with no distinction.
Though the tribe faced near decimation through disease, residential schools, and dispossession, our ancestors stood firm, refusing to budge from tribal land, which led to the September 22, 1866 executive order to set aside the Naahps Chaahts community village site (also called Georgetown) for “miscellaneous Indian purposes.” Later, the tribe was among the few Federally Recognized Reservations in the United States which did not treaty with the Federal Government.
It took until 1971 for the Shoalwater Bay Tribe to be recognized as a Sovereign Nation. However, in the face of many trials and pressures to relocate, our ancestors preserved our Native land for future generations, allowing us to practice our culture in our homeland as we have done for countless centuries.