Historical Overview


Looking across the flats from A Street, 1887.

Photo Courtesy of Washington State Historical Society

In the old days, in our aboriginal language, we were known as the S’Puyalupubsh, meaning “generous and welcoming behavior to all people (friends and strangers) who enter our lands.”

Today we are known as the Puyallup Tribe of Indians.Our people lived here for thousands of years existing by the bountiful gifts provided by the Creator. Our Mother, Mount Tacoma, provided the water that supplied our salmon. We were fed by the abundance of natures gifts: Salmon, shellfish, wild game, roots and berries. The cedar trees provided our homes, utensils, clothing and transportation. All of these gifts are part of our rich cultural heritage we have today. Our environment was rich in the wealth of natural resources, providing all our needs, allowing us to live healthy, happy lives. There were no worries of where the next meal would come from, no rents to pay. There was the freedom to practice our religion, train our children, take care of our elders.

We are part of the Salish speaking people of the Pacific Northwest. Our particular dialect is called the “Lushootseed.” Our relatives in the neighboring tribes all spoke the same stock language, but many had different dialects. Many were intimately related by marriage and we were connected by common religion observances, myths and traditions.

Our people lived in villages from the foothills of Mount Tacoma, along the rivers and creeks to the shores of Puget Sound. Our villages were scattered throughout the many islands, prairies and rich valley country of the Pacific Northwest. Historians often noted because of the abundance of salmon and shellfish that “When the tides were out, the table was spread.”