Puyallup Tribal History

In the old days, in our aboriginal language, we were known as the spuyaləpabš, 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."


Tribal Council

The Puyallup Tribal Council is the Tribe’s elected governing body. The first council of five people was elected in 1936. In 1991, the council increased from five to seven members.


Tribal Council Vision

Adopted December 2018

The Puyallup Tribe is accountable and effective in communication and generous in meeting the needs of our members and involves membership in the planning process. Our community is unified in protecting sovereignty and preserving our history, culture, natural resources and environment. Our tribal membership is educated, healthy, safe, stable and self-sufficient. Our members love and respect one another and we honor our ancestors and elders with gratitude for their sacrifices. Our tribal economy is vibrant and our tribal businesses are thriving, providing adequate resources to support tribal membership needs for generations to come.


Tribal Council Mission

Adopted December 2018

To oversee the Puyallup tribal government operations, economic priorities and overall community wellness while ensuring financial resources are available now and for future generations. To build upon what our ancestors and elders fought for by continuing to protect and preserve our tribal sovereignty, natural resources, environment, heritage, culture and our families by providing equitable programs and services that help our membership succeed and grow.



Click here to see the Puyallup Tribal Climate Change Report and Here to see the Climate Change Video.