Indigenous Affairs

Seattle to return nearly 300 artifacts to Upper Skagit Tribe

Seattle City Council voted to return the artifacts
March 18, 2022 at 8:06 a.m.

CDN wire services

SEATTLE — Hundreds of historic artifacts will soon be returned to the Upper Skagit Tribe from the city of Seattle.

The city has had the stone and bone artifacts since Seattle City Light crews excavated the Gorge Dam site in 2013 for a hotel project, KUOW reported. The Seattle City Council voted this week that the tribe should have ownership of them. It was a unanimous vote, 8-0.

The Upper Skagit Tribe formerly had a permanent winter village along the Skagit River. Part of the land, northeast of Seattle, is now considered city of Seattle property, as part of hydroelectric dam operations to generate hydropower for Seattle.

The artifacts are currently housed in Marblemount, Washington, at the North Cascades Visitor Center.

The new city ordinance says the tribe wants to reclaim them because the items hold historic and cultural significance. Among them are flaked cobble tools, scrapers, chopping and cutting devices, and hammerstones.

The Tribe historically carried out fishing, shellfishing, hunting and gathering activities from the saltwater areas all the way to the mountainous upper reaches of the Skagit River, according to tribal history.

When white settlers seized land in the 1880s, the Upper Skagit Tribe says more than one hundred canoes of people met with settlers to protest land takeover.

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