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Native Voices

Squalli Absch (Nistqually Indian Tribe)

The Squalli Absch (Nisqually) have been on the lands from the foothills of Mt. Rainier to the Salish Sea for 10,000 years, lands that now include the cities of Olympia, Lacey, Tenino, Dupont, including the university itself.  Their name for themselves, Squalli Absch, translates as "People of the river, people of the grass."  

One of the most important things those of us who are non-Indigenous can do is to unlearn the idea that Native peoples are only part of our past.  They are part of our present and respecting them requires that we better understand their place in the world and understand how we impact them even today.  

Below are links to resources to learn more about the tribe.

Resources from the tribal website


Current affairs

One of the most significant ways to reconceptualize Native peoples is to understand their current concerns and have a sense of their tribal government.  Below are links to the Nisqually Tribal Council page and to Squalli Absch News, the tribal newsletter.  

Tribal Heritage

Below are links that teach about the tribe's heritage, stories (recordings in both English and Lashootseed, the tribal language), language, and music.

Selected library resources



Books and background information sources

Selected web resources

The fish-in protests/fish wars

During the 1960s and mid-1970s, the Nisqually and Puyallup Tribes led a prolonged set of actions to defend their rights to fish in traditional places and with traditional methods.  The protests garnered international attention and culminated in the Boldt Decision (named after the federal judge, George H. Boldt) in 1974 which upheld the treaty rights of the tribes and has since been used to fight for other tribes' rights.

Below is a short video about the fish-in protests

Below is a short video put out by the Washington Department of Ecology, celebrating Billy Frank, Jr.

Below is a short biographical sketch of Billy Frank, Jr., featuring his son Willie Frank III

Below is a Q13 News story about Billy Frank, Jr. and the fish-in protests


The Medicine Creek Treaty (1854) and Chief Leschi

The Medicine Creek Treaty of 1854 is the document that ceded land from tribes to the federal government in what is now known as Pierce, Thurston, and Mason Counties.  The treaty, the first of four presided over by Gov. Isac Stevens, outlined reservations and basic rights of Indigenous peoples in the area.

Chief Leschi was the designated Chief for the treaty "negotiation" (the process really did not involve real negotiation).  Leschi and his half-brother Queimuth, as well as other Native representatives, strongly objected to the treaty and refused to sign it.  Later, an X for these representatives were forged on the document to give the impression that they accepted the terms of the treaty.

Below are resources about the treaty and Chief Leschi.

Cynthia Iyall, a member of the Nisqually Tribe, a former tribal council member, and administrator for the tribe, did a segment for C-SPAN on the treaty and Leschi.

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