Canoe Journey. Photo: Steve Zugschwerdt
Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow. Photo: Joe Mabel

Native AmericanCultural Heritage

Photo: David Newman

Seattle is Built on Native Land

We acknowledge that we live and work on the unceded, traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples, whose ancestors have lived here and cared for these lands and waters since time immemorial. This acknowledgement does not take the place of authentic relationships with Indigenous communities, but serves as a first step in honoring the land we are on. These communities are still here, and many indigenous people are strong and thriving. We honor the people past and present who belong to this place.

SEATTLE IS INDIAN COUNTRY.  The city is named for a hereditary chief of the Suquamish and Duwamish people, and many of our communities and landscape features have Indian names from the Lushootseed, or Puget Sound Salish, language. A cultural revival is taking place in Native communities, based on renewing such traditions as canoe carving, preparation of traditional foods, and the revitalization of Lushootseed as a spoken language.

The totem pole, the most visible example of Native artwork in Seattle, actually comes from Southeast Alaska and British Columbia. Ever since the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897, Seattle has had close ties to the Northwest Coast,  and monumental works from that region can be seen in Pioneer Square, at Victor Steinbrueck Park, and other locations around the city.


Coast Salish artwork, the traditional style of the Puget Sound region, features subtle and personal designs. Local traditions include carved objects such as house posts, twined baskets made from pounded cedar bark, woven blankets, and other items both functional and decorative.

Contemporary native artists are drawing on traditional styles and incorporating new materials such as glass and metal to create work that is increasingly visible. You can see traditional and contemporary artwork at the Burke Museum and Seattle Art Museum, as well as at Stonington Gallery and Steinbrueck Native Gallery, and in public art installations around the region, including outside the new Seattle Convention Center. Eighth Generation is owned by the Snoqualmie Tribe, and offers 100% Native designed art, home goods and clothing, just steps from the Pike Place Market.


The Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center, a cedar post and beam structure opened in 2009, was the first new tribal longhouse constructed in Seattle in more than 150 years. Regional tribal cultural facilities include the Suquamish Museum and the Tulalip Tribes’ Hibulb Cultural Center. Annual special events including the Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow (July), Canoe Journey (July and August) and Chief Seattle Days (August) celebrate the resilience of Native cultures.

We invite you to download the entire Native American Heritage Guide to Seattle for more information about history, special events, heritage sites, museums and arts.



“We have always been here, we are still here, we will always be here.”

Upper Skagit Elder Vi Hilbert (1918-2008)

Get the Guide to Seattle’s Native American Cultural Heritage

Discover More of Seattle's Rich Cultural Heritage

Jimi Hendrix Memorial Jimi Hendrix Memorial. Photo: David Newman

African American Heritage

Dragon Mural in Seattle's International District Photo: Tracey Hunter

Asian American Heritage

South Park Bridge Mural Photo: South Park Neighborhood Association

Latino Heritage

Rosemaling Rosemaling by Betty Edwards.

Nordic Heritage


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