The Promise and the Price of Contact: Puyallup Indian Acculturation, Federal Indian Policy and the City of Tacoma, 1832-1909
Schaefer, Kurt Kim
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History shows that Native American contact with Euro-Americans led to many Indians’ loss of land, resources, and independence. Between 1832 and 1909, numerous Puyallup Indians of the south Puget Sound suffered this fate as they dealt with newly imported Euro-American diseases and colonialism. As tragic as this era in history was to the Puyallup, it was also a time when many tribal members continued a long tradition of embracing outside influences into their lives and shaping them to fit their cultural needs. This study will show that prior to 1832, the Puyallup had a long, complex, and generally prosperous relationship with other communities in the Puget Sound region and cultural transformation was a normal part of their life. After 1832, change came more quickly and, unfortunately, was more destructive. Nevertheless, many Puyallup continued accepting change and some successfully shaped their new situation to fit their needs, just as their ancestors had done. A modest portion of the tribe employed aspects of the Medicine Creek Treaty, the nearby city of Tacoma, and assorted Euro-American legal and economic institutions to pursue numerous Puyallup customs. And, while transformation remained difficult for a majority of the tribe, I argue that their failures were the result of a restrictive government allotment policy as much as the Indians’ inability or unwillingness to adapt to their new conditions.
- History