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The Lummi governed by the Lummi Nation, are a Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 tribe of the Coast Salish
Coast Salish
Coast Salish languages are a subgroup of the Salishan language family. These languages are spoken by First Nations or Native American peoples inhabiting the territory that is now the southwest coast of British Columbia around the Strait of Georgia and Washington state around Puget Sound...

 ethnolinguistic group in western Washington state in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The Tribe primarily resides on and around the Lummi Indian Reservation, at 48°45′59"N 122°38′20"W to the west of Bellingham
Bellingham, Washington
Bellingham is the largest city in, and the county seat of, Whatcom County in the U.S. state of Washington. It is the twelfth-largest city in the state. Situated on Bellingham Bay, Bellingham is protected by Lummi Island, Portage Island, and the Lummi Peninsula, and opens onto the Strait of Georgia...

 and 20 miles (32 km) south of the Canadian border, in western Whatcom County
Whatcom County, Washington
Whatcom County is a county located in the U.S. state of Washington. Its name ultimately derives from the Lummi word Xwotʼqom, meaning "noisy water." As of 2010, the population was 201,140. The county seat is at Bellingham, which is also the county's largest city...



The Lummi were forcibly moved to reservation lands after the signing of the Point Elliott Treaty in 1855. The reservation has a land area of 54.378 km² (20.996 sq mi), that includes the Lummi Peninsula, and uninhabited Portage Island
Portage Island
Portage Island is an island in the western part of Bellingham Bay in Whatcom County, Washington, USA. It is separated from the Lummi Peninsula by Portage Bay and from the central part of Lummi Island by Hale Passage, in Whatcom County. Portage Island has a land area of 3.803 km² . There was no...


In pre-Colonial times, the Tribe migrated seasonally between many sites including Point Roberts, Washington
Point Roberts, Washington
Point Roberts is an unincorporated community in Whatcom County, Washington, United States. It has a post office, with the ZIP code of 98281, whose ZIP Code Tabulation Area had a population of 1,314 at the 2010 census.A geopolitical oddity, Point Roberts is a part of the United States that is not...

, Lummi Peninsula, Portage Island
Portage Island
Portage Island is an island in the western part of Bellingham Bay in Whatcom County, Washington, USA. It is separated from the Lummi Peninsula by Portage Bay and from the central part of Lummi Island by Hale Passage, in Whatcom County. Portage Island has a land area of 3.803 km² . There was no...

, as well as sites in the San Juan Islands
San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands are an archipelago in the northwest corner of the contiguous United States between the US mainland and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The San Juan Islands are part of the U.S...

, including Sucia Island
Sucia Island
Sucia Island is located north of Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands, San Juan County, Washington, USA. It is the largest of an archipelago of ten islands including Sucia Island, Little Sucia, Ewing, Justice, Herndon, the Cluster Islands islets, and several smaller, unnamed islands. The group of...


Many Tribal members were Christianized in the late nineteenth century by the Catholic Oblate order.

The traditional lifestyle of the Lummi, like many Northwest Coast tribes, consisted of the collecting of shellfish, gathering of plants such as Camas
Camassia is a genus of six species native to western North America, from southern British Columbia to northern California, and east to Utah, Wyoming and Montana...

 and different species of berries, and most importantly involved the fishing of salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

. The Lummi developed a fishing technique known as "reef netting". Reef netting was used for taking large quantities of fish in salt water. Lummi had reef net sets on Orcas Island, San Juan Island, Lummi Island
Lummi Island, Washington
Lummi Island is an unincorporated community in Whatcom County, Washington, United States. Lummi Island is located on the east side of Lummi Island in Puget Sound. Lummi Island has a post office with ZIP code 98262....

 and Fidalgo Island, Portage Island and near Point Roberts and Sandy Point.

From July 30 to August 4, 2007, the Lummi hosted their first potlatch
A potlatch is a gift-giving festival and primary economic system practiced by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada and United States. This includes Heiltsuk Nation, Haida, Nuxalk, Tlingit, Makah, Tsimshian, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw, and Coast Salish cultures...

 since the 1930s, the Paddle to Lummi. 68 canoeing families paddled hand-made canoes to the Lummi Reservation from parts of Washington and British Columbia.


The Lummi language (Xwlemi Chosen, xʷləmi tʃɔsən) is more precisely a dialect of a language called North Straits Salish
North Straits Salish language
North Straits Salish is a Salish language which includes the dialects of Lummi, Samish, Saanich, Semiahmoo, Songish, and Sooke. Although they are mutually intelligible, each dialect is traditionally referred to as if they were separate languages, and there is no native term to encompass them...


Population Living on the Reservation

It is estimated that there are 6,590 people living on the Lummi Reservation. Roughly 2,564 of these people are enrolled Tribal members, 665 are either related to or live with an enrolled Tribal member, and 3,361 are not Tribal members nor are they affiliated with the Lummi Nation.

There are approximately 1,864 homes located on the reservation. Approximately 697 of these have an enrolled Lummi living in the home; thus, roughly 1,167 homes on the reservation do not house a Tribal member. The 2000 census
United States Census, 2000
The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 persons enumerated during the 1990 Census...

official numbers were 4,193 persons residing on its territory, of whom 1,828 (43.6 percent) were whites, and only 2,114 (50.4 percent) were of solely Native American heritage.

Enrollment Information

As of April 2010 there are 4,483 enrolled Tribal members. 49.6% of the enrolled population is female; 50.4% of the population being male

Age Distribution

The median age of Tribal members is 29. 31.8% of the enrolled population is 18 or younger. 11.6% of the enrolled population is 55 or older.

Location of Enrolled Members

According to current studies conducted by the Lummi Nation approximately 78% of the enrolled Lummi Tribal members live either on or near the reservation boundaries. Enrolled Lummi Tribal members have an average household size of approximately 4.5 persons.

Workforce Information

A recent collaborative study conducted by the Lummi Nation and Northern Economics Inc. found the following information pertaining to the Lummi Nation Workforce.

Highest Educational Attainment

For the adult population (ages 25–64): 15.1% of the enrolled population does not have a High school Diploma or a GED; 33.8% of the population has either a High School or GED degree; 27.1% of the population has some college experience; 14.9% of the Tribal population has either an AA/AS Degree; 7.5% of Lummi’s population has a Bachelors degree; and 1.6% of the population has attained a Graduate or Professional degree.


61% of the adult population (ages 18–64) is employed—moreover, the Labor Workforce Participation Rate is 74%. The unemployment rate of Lummi’s workforce is 15.9%. The Median monthly income for employed Lummi Tribal members is approximately $2,000.

Further reading

Available online through the Washington State Library's Classics in Washington History collection

External links