For ten thousand years, a Nation of people lived and prospered on the lands of what is now known as the Olympic Peninsula in the State of Washington. These strong people of the S'Klallam Tribes had a system of governance, engaged in commerce, managed natural and human resources, and exercised power over their homelands. The S'Klallams created a rich culture of art, song, spirituality, traditional knowledge and social structure. The S'Klallam culture promoted leadership, self-sufficiency, self reliance, and a code of conduct within their community that served as a basis for strength, pride and survival,. This was a Nation, a government and a community...
independent and interdependent.
It still is.
Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe has evolved directly from several constituent communities of the S'Klallam Tribe. The S'Klallam Tribe (meaning "strong people"), a Salish cultural and linguistic group were mostly related to the Sook and other Tribes of British Columbia, but also related to most of the Tribes of the Puget Sound Area. The S'Klallam Tribe was a clearly defined social and cultural unit, whose component villages were closely linked by inter-marriage and other cooperative social ties. This Tribe, first contacted in 1790, was signatory to the Point No Point Treaty with the U.S. in 1855.
The present-day division of the S'Klallam Tribe into three parts, the Jamestown Tribe, the Lower Elwha Reservation and the Port Gamble Reservation -- the latter two established in 1930, is the result of a realignment of the original villages. With the signing of the Treaty of Point No Point in 1855, came provisions for a payment of $60,000 to the signatory Tribes payable over 20 years (with no indicated means of distribution), and the right to fish at their "usual and accustomed places." A reservation was established at Skokomish, however the Tribes did not have a friendly relationship and the S'Klallams attempted to remain near their traditional fishing areas.
After 1870, white settlers in Washington Territory began to bring pressure upon the Bureau of Indian Affairs to move all treaty Indians to reservations. Many of the Indians merely squatted on the land, and without a clear title, were easily and frequently dispossessed. By 1874, a band of S'Klallams under the leadership of Lord James Balch, whose father had signed the 1855 treaty, raised enough money to pay $500 in gold coin for a one, 210-acre tract near Dungeness, Washington Territory; thus began the Jamestown S'Klallam community. The Jamestown's population at that time was about one hundred. The Tribe supported itself by gardening, fishing and working in the surrounding pulp mills.
During the Indian Reorganization Act period (1935-1939), the Jamestown S'Klallams were nearly organized as part of a larger S'Klallam Tribe. Since land had already been purchased for two other S'Klallam Tribes, the Jamestown S'Klallams were given the choice of moving to another reservation or staying where they were and remaining unrecognized. They chose the latter rather than giving up the land they purchased themselves and losing a great deal of the independence they worked so hard to preserve. The Jamestown S'Klallams received services from the Federal government until 1953, when the government no longer "recognized" them. However, the Tribe maintained a considerable cohesion, and have been recognized as a distinct community by other S'Klallam groups and other Washington Indians. Characterized as a "progressive" Indian community, Tribal citizens sought new educational opportunities and aggressively integrated into the non-Indian community and its economy. A major factor in the stability and continuity of the Tribe was the land base purchased when it was formed in 1874. This provided a geographical center for group identity and independence.
In the 1970's, the mood of the Jamestown Tribal membership changed as it saw that fishing and hunting rights were denied them due to the lack of federal recognition. Because of overall economic conditions, the membership also became aware of the difficulty in providing for health and educational care. The Tribe soon realized that only through Federal recognition would they be able to provide for these basic needs. This effort began around 1974 and was established after a long struggle on February 10, 1981.
One of the first Tribal goals upon federal recognition was to acquire additional land. Blyn was targeted due to its central location for citizens between Clallam and Jefferson Counties.
Since achieving federal recognition, the Tribe has worked hard to set up stable, professional operational structures for the Council and staff, which has created many programs, services, and activities to assist Tribal citizens, and has begun building an economic base for the future. In 1981, the Tribe began operations with a full-time staff of two individuals and only two grant-funded programs. The tribal staff now consists of one hundred forty-seven individuals. Since 1988, the Tribe has been involved in a national Self-Governance Demonstration Project which allows the Tribe more autonomy and control over Bureau of Indian Affairs funding. The Project has resulted in the Tribe being able to provide more Tribally-specific programs, services, and activities to better meet the needs of the membership and help to maintain the government-to-government relation between the Tribe and the United States.