More than 150 years ago, Native tribes from across the Puget Sound region signed a treaty in Mukilteo giving up their land in exchange for reservations, cash and tribal fishing and hunting rights.
Since then, the Tulalip Tribes have held events at the historic site of the signing of the 1855 Point Elliott Treaty.
But none of them has been as large and included as many tribes as the ceremony that will take place there Thursday.
About 20 different tribes from across Washington will descend on Mukilteo Lighthouse Park as part of a spiritual canoe journey that will take them on to Lummi Island 15 miles west of Bellingham on Monday.
In sharp contrast to the events of a century and a half ago, when the tribes’ ancestors “gave away a lot of who we were,” this gathering at Mukilteo will be one of healing and happiness, said Marie Zackuse, vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes.
About 40 canoes will arrive on the shores of the park starting around 3 p.m., and the tribal celebration — featuring traditional dancing and singing — will last into the evening. Tribes will set up tents and sleep at the park overnight, then continue on to their next destination the following day.
Mukilteo is expecting about 2,500 people, and the general public is invited.
For the first time since the signing of the Treaty of Point Elliott, a flotilla of tribal canoes will return Thursday to the spot of land where nearly all Puget Sound tribes came to terms with the U.S. government 152 years ago.
The landing will be the only gathering of its kind at Point Elliott since territorial Gov. Isaac Stevens signed a treaty with 82 chiefs and sub-chiefs representing most northwest Washington tribes.
For more about the canoe journey, visit Paddle to Lummi.