ETHNONYMS: Snoqualmu, Snoqualmoo, Snoqualmick, Snoqualamuke, Snuqualmi
Traditionally, the Snoqualmie, speakers of a Coast Salishan language, were called "Sduk-al-bixw," meaning "strong people of status." Today there are about fifteen hundred Snoqualmie many of whom reside in their aboriginal territory within the Snoqualmie River drainage system between Monroe and North Bend, in northwestern Washington. Ab-originally, they inhabitated some fifty-eight longhouses in about sixteen villages with a total population of from three thousand to four thousand persons.
During the 1850s the Snoqualmie chiefdom consisted of four districts: Monroe, Tolt (the administrative center), Fall City (the military center), and North Bend. An impenetrable fort on a hill overlooking the confluence of the Tolt and Snoqualmie rivers secured the valley from outsiders. Head Chief Pat Kanin, perhaps the most powerful Indian in the Puget Sound area in the mid-nineteenth century, along with an assistant chief and district chiefs served as the tribal government. Wealth derived from the trade route over Snoqualmie Pass enabled the Snoqualmie to support full-time wood carvers, toolmakers, weapons specialists, and military leaders.
In 1916 the Snoqualmie changed their political system to one based on majority rule through elections, largely to conform to the standards of White society. Four councils form the current tribal organization: General Council of the People, the Council of Elders, the Representative Tribal Council, and the Council of Chiefs.
Haeberlin, Herman K., and Erna Gunther (1930). The Indians of Puget Sound. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Tollefson, Kenneth D. (1987). "The Snoqualmie: A Puget Sound Chiefdom." Ethnology 26:121-136.
KENNETH D. TOLLEFSON