The Reservation is home to a community of Coast Salish peoples that descended from tribes and bands that originally lived in the Skagit and Samish River Valleys, the coastal areas surrounding Skagit, Padilla and Fidalgo Bays and Saratoga Passage, and numerous islands, including Fidalgo, Camano, Whidbey and the San Juan Islands.
For thousands of years, these Coast Salish tribes maintained a culture centered around abundant salt water resources that included salmon, shellfish, and marine mammals, as well as upland resources such as cedar, camas, berries, and wild game.
They lived in large villages during the winter and in summer encampments that followed the seasonal cycle of resource gathering from the mouths of rivers and streams where salmon was taken, to coastal shorelines where shellfish and herring and other forage fish were taken, to marine waters where finfish and sea mammals were taken, and to inland forests where wild game and berries were taken.
Four major groups and their allied bands - the Aboriginal Swinomish, Lower Skagit, Kikiallus and Aboriginal Samish Tribes - signed the Treaty of Point Elliott with the United States in 1855 and reserved the southeast peninsula of Fidalgo Island for their Reservation and future use.
THE SWINOMISH HOMELAND
The Swinomish Reservation is located on the southeastern end of Fidalgo Island a few miles east of the City of Anacortes and a few miles west of the City of Mount Vernon in Skagit County. The Reservation is surrounded by 27 miles of salt water shoreline and is bounded on the west by Skagit Bay, on the east by Swinomish Channel and on the north by Padilla Bay. It's connected to the mainland by a 4-lane bridge and State Highway 20 on the north end of Swinomish Channel and by a 2-lane bridge on the south end. Tribal headquarters are located in the historic Swinomish Village on the southeast portion of the Reservation, across the Channel from the Town of LaConner.
The Reservation is about 15 square miles in size and includes 7,450 acres of upland and approximately 2,900 acres of tidelands. Today, the Tribe exercises jurisdictional authority over all lands within the Reservation boundaries, and provide governmental and other services to tribal members, non-member Indians and non-Indians, including 24 hour police protection, water and sewer service, and planning and permitting services that are available to all residents within the Reservation. The Tribe also provides services and programs for tribal members, including education, housing, senior services, and medical and dental services.