Some Seattle Residents Pay Rent to Duwamish Tribe, Recognizing Colonization

The Duwamish tribe has long resided along the shores of Seattle’s Puget Sound. The city is named for a Duwamish ancestor, Chief Si’ahl. Today, over 600 members live in Seattle, and these members organize and operate out of the Duwamish Longhouse, located on ancestral lands in what is now an industrial district just west of the city center.

Yet the Duwamish isn’t federally acknowledged as a Native American tribe by the U.S. government.

Since 1978, Duwamish tribal members have filed numerous petitions and appeals for federal recognition, a title that’s been granted to 562 Native American tribes. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Interior gave a final decision denying the Duwamish recognition.

Seattleites have started contributing to the Duwamish’s fight for acknowledgment through a program called Real Rent Duwamish. The project encourages Seattleites to pay rent to the Duwamish as a form of restitution and recognition for these peoples as the original inhabitants of the land.

Real Rent Duwamish began in 2018 by members of the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites. While the monthly payments act as a form of restitution, the tribe sees it as a valuable way to educate more people about the Duwamish and their battle for federal recognition.

Chandra Farlow, a representative for the coalition, said Real Rent is their way of showing solidarity in this fight for federal recognition. The project launched on Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2018 and has since gained over 2,500 renters.

Author: Sydney Worth, YES! Magazine

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Duwamish tribal members paddle aboard a tribal canoe called The Raven.

Duwamish tribal members paddle aboard a tribal canoe called The Raven.