Skip to Content
All About South Park
duwamish tribe Banner photo

Duwamish Tribe History

A Closer Look at the Duwamish Tribe

Chief Seattle’s niece at her Shilshole home, 1901

Chief Seattle’s niece at her Shilshole home, 1901

The first residents of South Park were Native Americans of the Duwamish tribe. For thousands of years, they took fish from the river, grew potatoes, gathered bulbs and berries, and hunted game.

In 1851, when the first European-Americans arrived at Alki Point, the Dkhw’Duw’Absh occupied at least 17 villages, living in over 90 longhouses, along Elliott Bay, the Duwamish River, the Cedar River, the Black River (which no longer exists), Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Lake Sammamish.

The name “Duwamish” is an Anglicization of Dkhw’Duw’Absh. In the Puget Sound Salish language Lushootseed, Dkhw’Duw’Absh means “The People of the Inside”. This name refers to Elliott Bay, the Duwamish River, and the other rivers, lakes, and waterways that connect our Dkhw’Duw’Abshancestral homeland.

Go to the Duwamish Tribe website


Life on the Duwamish: Rediscovering Seattle’s Dirty South (audio series)

By Jessica Partnow, Common Language Project

Explore the interactive map

Take this great Audio Tour produced by the Common Language Project which includes segments on:

First Peoples of the Duwamish

South Seattle’s history starts long before the city was founded. For generations, Native American villages dotted the banks of the Duwamish River. In this segment of “Life on the Duwamish,” Jessica Partnow explores the Native history of Seattle that is right under our feet.

Listen now to First Peoples of the Duwamish


Tribal canoes landing at Alki during Paddle to Squaxin 2012

West Seattle Blog

Duwamish Tribe in Canoe heading for Squaxin Island in the South Sound

Click here to read more