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Cowlitz Tribal History
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t.he Cowlitz Tribe has lived in Southwest Washington from time immemorial, "beyond the limits of memory, tradition, or recorded history." Radiocarbon dating of artifacts at an ancient village site near Cowlitz Falls shows our presence at least 4,000 years ago. But, we have likely been here much longer.

john eyle.In the 1880's, our villages — comprised primarily of cedar plank longhouses — were concentrated along the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers, and many tribal members still live in this area. Although divided into two main groups, the Upper and Lower Cowlitz, our Tribe was more cohesive than many of the coastal Tribes.

cowlitz basket.In 1919, Special U.S. Indian Agent Charles E. Roblin described the Cowlitz as "a powerful tribe" that "in the early days constituted the 'blue blood' of western Washington." The Tribe was unique in the area for its mastery of horsemanship and its intricately woven baskets.

One of the earliest historic records came from fur traders from Fort Astoria who, in 1811, encountered a group of Cowlitz in canoes. In 1855, the Cowlitz Chief Umtux was murdered in Clark County, giving the town of Battle Ground its name.

mary kiona.Because of the need to work directly with the United States government, the Upper and Lower Cowlitz bands formed the Cowlitz Tribal Organization in 1912. Over the years they patiently and steadfastly fought for official *acknowledgement and for settlement concerning lands taken from them in southwest Washington. In 1978, the government set new rules for acknowledgement. The Cowlitz secured formal acknowledgement on February 14, 2000.

jim yoke.Today, our Tribe has 3,000 enrolled members with administrative offices in Longview, Washington. We've come a long way — but we've always been here.

*Federal "acknowledgement" differs from federal "recognition" in that the federal government is acknowledging the fact that the Cowlitz Indian Tribe has officially existed as a federally recognized Indian tribe since time immemorial.

(Pictured on this page are (top to bottom) John Eyle, a Cowlitz basket, Mary Kiona, and Jim Yoke)

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