The Nisqually tribe is a Native American tribe living in western Washington state at the Nisqually Indian Reservation, in the Nisqually River valley. The Nisqually tribe has over 650 enrolled members, most of whom live on the reservation. The Nisqually tribe originally lived on the coast and in the interior woodlands, ranging from Puget sound to Mount Ranier, and their lifestyle focused on salmon fishing and the red cedar, like other indigenous people of the Northwest Coast.
The Nisqually tribe traditionally harvested shellfish and gathered camas root, berries, grasses, and bark to supplement their salmon fishing. They also raised horses and hunted wildlife. The first white settlement in Puget Sound was Fort Nisqally, established in 1833. The Nisqually remained peaceful with white settlers through the 1840s, even when other tribes of the area were advocating war.
The Nisqually Indian Reservation was established in 1854 through the Treaty of Medicine Creek between the United States and a group of Indian tribes. The treaty also guaranteed the rights of the Native Americans to fish in their traditional waters, even though they were not pat of their allotted territory, though these rights were regularly violated in the decades to come. Nisqually Chief Leschi and his brother Quiemuth did not sign the treaty because of its unfairness; it allotted about four acres of undesirable land to each Indian, while white settlers were being given 160 acres each. The Nisqually tribe were not satisfied with their allotted land, as it was rocky and not accessible to fishing, and went to war with the United States the next year in the Puget Sound War. Fighting on the side of the Nisqually tribe were the Klickitat, Muckleshoot, and Puyallup tribes.
In the aftermath of the war, won by the United States Army in 1856, Chief Leschi and his brother Quiemuth were arrested. Quiemuth was murdered by an unknown party while in police custody, and Chief Leschi was convicted of the murder of Colonel Moses in 1858 and hanged. He was exonerated in 2004.
The Nisqually tribe's constitution was approved on 1946 and amended in 1994. The tribe continues to make their living through fishing, operating fish hatcheries in Clear Creek and Kalama Creek, with a focus on protecting the natural environment. The Nisqually language is the Southern dialect of the Salish language Lushootseed, which has at most 200 speakers. The Nisqually Culture Program seeks to maintain and revitalize tribal traditions, with plans to develop native art programs, oral history, fishing and hunting instruction, and the construction of native buildings.