Our Tribe

Puyallup Tribal History

In the old days, in our aboriginal language, we were known as the spuyaləpabš (Spoy-all-up-obsh), meaning "generous and welcoming behavior to all people (friends and strangers) who enter our lands."

Today we are known as the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. Our people lived here for thousands of years existing by the bountiful gifts provided by the Creator. Our Mother, Mount Tacoma, provided the water that supplied our salmon. We were fed by the abundance of natures gifts: Salmon, shellfish, wild game, roots and berries. The cedar trees provided our homes, utensils, clothing and transportation. All of these gifts are part of our rich cultural heritage we have today. Our environment was rich in the wealth of natural resources, providing all our needs, allowing us to live healthy, happy lives. There were no worries of where the next meal would come from, no rents to pay. There was the freedom to practice our religion, train our children, take care of our elders.

We are part of the Salish speaking people of the Pacific Northwest. Our particular dialect is called the "Lushootseed." Our relatives in the neighboring tribes all spoke the same stock language, but many had different dialects. Many were intimately related by marriage and we were connected by common religion observances, myths and traditions.

Our people lived in villages from the foothills of Mount Tacoma, along the rivers and creeks to the shores of Puget Sound. Our villages were scattered throughout the many islands, prairies and rich valley country of the Pacific Northwest. Historians often noted because of the abundance of salmon and shellfish that "When the tides were out, the table was spread."

Tribal Council

The Puyallup Tribal Council is the elected governing body over the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. The first council of five people was elected in 1936. In 1991 changes were made to council to increase from five to seven members. Our current council consists of Bill Sterud; our Chairman, Lawrence W. LaPointe; our Vice Chairman, David Z. Bean, Annette Bryan, Marguerite Edwards, Sylvia Miller, and Tim Reynon.

Tribal Court

Darwin Long Fox
Chief Judge

The Tribal Court and the Children's Court (hereinafter, "Court") are a part of the underpinnings of tribal sovereignty. As such, the mission of the Court is clear. The Court is committed to apply the written laws of its legislature, while recognizing the inherent customs and traditions of its people. The Court is stubbornly devoted to protecting people's due process rights, especially when those who own these rights are often without legal representation, or they are children or elders who are considered sacred. This Court is honored to serve the people to whom this Court ultimately belongs.

Click here to see our tribal laws.