Jan 30, 2015 - King County Council to Proclaim “Native American Expulsion Remembrance Day” by Matt Remle
For Immediate Release
Seattle– On February 2nd, the King County Council is set to proclaim February 7th as Native American Expulsion Remembrance Day.
On February 7th 1865, the newly formed Seattle Board of Trustees passed an ordinance to ban Native peoples from the cities limits. The passage of the ordinance came just ten years after area tribes signed the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot, which ceded most of their lands to non-Indian settlers.
After the signing of the treaty, many members of those tribes continued to live in their traditional homelands and in places other than the reservations. Anti-Indian racism drove immigrant settlers to demand that Native peoples be removed from the cities limits. In response the Seattle Board of Trustees passed Seattle Ordinance No. 5.
Section 1 of Seattle Ordinance No. 5 stated:
“Be it ordained by the Board of Trustees of the Town of Seattle, That no Indian or Indians shall be permitted to reside, or locate their residences on any street, highway, lane, or alley or any vacant lot in the town of Seattle, from a point known as the South side of Chas. Plummer’s ten acre lot to a point known as the South side of Bell’s land claim.”
Since the large majority of the labor force for businesses in Seattle was Indian laborers an additional section was written; Section 2 of Seattle Ordinance No. 5 stated:
“All persons having in their employ any Indian or Indians within the corporate limits of said town shall provide lodgements or suitable residences for the said Indians during the time of said employment, on, or immediately attached to their own place of residence.”
It is widely known that the first European settlers to the Seattle area in 1852 survived because of the support of Chief Si’ahl of the Duwamish. Settlers had first attempted to settle the area now known as West Seattle, where extreme weather patterns make winter settlement difficult. Having taken pity on the settlers, Chief Si’ahl helped the settlers relocate across the waters to the area that is now downtown Seattle.
Waves of European settlers to the region brought increased hostilities towards the Duwamish and other area tribes to the point where Duwamish longhouses and villages were burnt to the ground in effort to drive the Duwamish from their homelands. It is estimated that between the years 1855 to 1904, 94 Duwamish longhouses were burnt to the ground by white settlers. This accounted for all 17 known Duwamish villages.
The 1865 Seattle Ordinance No. 5 was a further attempt by white settlers to drive primarily Duwamish and other tribal peoples from the City of Seattle.
In effort to give remembrance to the horrific ordinance to expel Native peoples from the City of Seattle, the King County Council, the county Seattle is located in, has proposed a proclamation to name February 7th as “Native American Expulsion Remembrance Day.”
The proposed proclamation comes on the heels of the historic vote by the Seattle City Council to abolish Columbus Day in Seattle and replace it with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”.
The proclamation is scheduled to be read on February 2nd 1:30 PM at the King County Courthouse 516 3rd Ave, Seattle, 10th Floor in Seattle.
For more information contact:
Legislative Aide, Councilmember Rod Dembowski
The Metropolitan King County Council, District 1
Al Sanders, Communications Specialist
Metropolitan King County Council