The Nisqually Tribe is located on the Nisqually River in rural Thurston County, 15 miles east of Olympia, Washington. Our people lived in the south Puget Sound watershed long before 1833, when Fort Nisqually was established as the first white settlement on Puget Sound. The Nisqually people came north from the Great Basin, across the Cascade Mountains, to settle near the Mashel River. We were a fishing people, living off of the rich bounty of the river, and sustaining life for our home and environment. The Nisqually Reservation, as it has become known today, was established by the Medicine Creek Treaty of December 26, 1854, although whether the great Nisqually Chief Leschi had agreed to the treaty was heavily disputed. Still, our people were re-established on a reservation consisting of 1,280 acres in what is now Thurston County.
On January 20, 1856 an executive order enlarged it to 4,717 acres on both sides of the Nisqually River. On September 30, 1884 acreage was set aside and divided into 30 family allotments on both sides of the Nisqually River. The acreage didn't include the river. The people lived in peace for a while, harvesting fish from the river and shellfish, crabs, oysters and other seafood from Puget Sound. In the winter of 1917 the U.S. Army moved onto Nisqually lands and ordered them from their homes without any warning. Later, Pierce County condemned 3,353 acres of Nisqually land and transfered it to the Army to expand the Fort Lewis base.
Today, our tribe has more than 650 enrolled members, the majority of whom live on or near the reservation. We are an entrepreneurial tribe that has grown to become one of the largest employers in Thurston County, while building a national reputation for our environmental stewardship programs protecting and enhancing our natural environment for decades.
The Nisqually Tribe’s mission is to perpetuate our home and our culture, by helping our people thrive. We administer a variety of programs to sustain the general welfare of the Nisqually people, as well as ensure the prosperity of future generations.