Puget Sound is a part of a larger area that has been the traditional aboriginal territory of the Coast Salish peoples, who live around the Salish Sea in what is now Washington state and the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Puget Sound: Ancestral Lands of the Coast Salish
The Coast Salish Tribes have lived here since time immemorial and while each Tribe is unique, all share in having a deep historical connection and legacy of respect for the land and natural resources. These sovereign Tribal nations enrich the region through environmental stewardship, cultural heritage, and economic development, and collaborate with local governments to shape the region’s future.
Each Tribe has its own government with its own governing charter or constitution and set of general laws. The federal government currently recognizes nine Tribal nations in the region:
- Muckleshoot Indian Tribe*
- Nisqually Indian Tribe
- Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe
- Puyallup Tribe of Indians*
- Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe
- Snoqualmie Indian Tribe*
- Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians
- Suquamish Tribe*
- Tulalip Tribes*
* Formal members or associate members of the Puget Sound Regional Council. Tribes are regularly invited and encouraged to be PSRC members.
Federally recognized Tribes in the central Puget Sound region
Tribal Treaty Rights
Under treaties signed with the United States in the 1850s, many Tribes in the region ceded most of the state of Washington, but in exchange reserved fishing and hunting rights including off-reservation rights to fish in all usual and accustomed fishing grounds and the right to hunt and gather on open and unclaimed lands. Federal courts have interpreted the nature and extent of those retained rights and have ruled that sovereign Tribes, along with the state of Washington, have co-management responsibility and authority over fish and wildlife resources.
Tribes engage in land use planning and economic development to provide jobs, housing, and services, as well as the infrastructure to support and plan for growth. As sovereign nations, Tribes are not required to plan under the Growth Management Act but recognize the importance of coordination and cooperation with all governments to deal with challenges such as population growth and climate change facing the region. PSRC recognizes and respects the full sovereignty of each Tribe and their traditional lands located within the jurisdictional boundaries of PSRC members.
VISION 2050 supports meaningful, regular and ongoing exchange of information and opinions for better informed decision-making and mutual understanding between Indian Tribes as sovereign nations and PSRC member jurisdictions.
VISION 2050 policy, MPP-RC-4, directs the members of the Puget Sound region to coordinate with Tribes in regional and local planning, recognizing the mutual benefits and potential for impacts between growth occurring within and outside Tribal boundaries. In coordination with the Tribes in the region, PSRC has prepared a handout on coordination with Tribes in comprehensive planning (PDF).
Further, PSRC supports partnerships with Tribes on cultural and natural resource protection, fish and wildlife habitat restoration, economic development, climate change adaptation and mitigation actions, and other issues of Tribal interest.