Boarding School Survivor Peg Deam shares her story

Healing requires restoration of culture, language – and land

When Suquamish Elder Peg Deam was approaching junior high school age, she was sent off to the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School in Newkirk, Oklahoma.

“Nothing prepares you for this experience,” she said. “You have no family. You’re just floating out there, trying to survive and get through each day.”

Peg’s life was regimented. Indian languages were forbidden. The food was poor quality. Any sign of Native culture or ceremony was forbidden.

According to the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS), the school was modeled after the Carlisle School in Pennsylvania, which used “rigorous military discipline and instructions in trades and manual and domestic labor.”

“I thought, this must be what a juvenile delinquency center is like,” said Peg. “Everyone was treated badly.”

Peg’s experience at Chilocco was much like many other Indian children who spent months or years in similar schools, supported by the U.S. government and often run by a church denomination. According to a new report by NABS, there were 523 such schools operating between 1801 and the present.

Children at many of the schools were treated poorly. Like at Chilocco, they were prohibited from speaking their language, and many were physically or sexually abused. Many children attended these schools against their parent’s wishes, brought there when parents were coerced or when children were simply kidnapped.

Many never returned. According to a recent report by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, marked and unmarked burial sites have been identified at 53 federal Indian schools, and many more are expected to be revealed as further research is conducted. Nineteen schools accounted for over 500 deaths of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian child deaths, according to the report.

Many Suquamish Tribal members attended the Tulalip Boarding School. (Photo courtesy of the Suquamish Museum.)

Peg recalled some of what she witnessed at Chilocco. Diné children, many of whom did not speak English, were punished for failing to immediately follow orders they did not understand, she said.

Some of the Sioux boys would pretend to be drunk, knowing they would be handcuffed to the cots in a room together, she said. While there, they were able to secretly speak their language and teach each other traditional songs.

One girl, having learned that her grandfather had died, wanted desperately to conduct the ceremonies necessary when a loved one passes. Her roommates, and girls throughout the dorm, came up with a plan to make that possible. They staged a fist fight on the other side of the building, distracting the matrons long enough to give the girl time to do the necessary rituals for her grandfather.

“We were so proud of each other and especially proud of her,” Peg said. “In an overwhelming situation, she carried on with her culture. I will never forget that.”

Boarding schools and land grabs

It’s long been known in Indian Country that the boarding school policies of the US government were cruel, destructive of Indian ways of life and of families, traumatizing, and did lasting damage to the language and ancestral knowledge of many diverse Native cultures of North America.

The Department of Interior report also demonstrates that the boarding school policy was aimed at taking the land of Indian people so it would be available for white settlers to farm and extract resources.

“Beginning with President Washington, the stated policy of the Federal Government was to replace the Indian’s culture with our own. This was considered ‘advisable’ as the cheapest and safest way of subduing the Indians, of providing a safe habitat for the country’s white inhabitants, of helping the whites acquire desirable land, and of changing the Indian’s economy so that he would be content with less land. Education was a weapon by which these goals were to be accomplished.”

The history of land grabs on the Port Madison Indian Reservation shows how the taking of land coincided with the forcible removal of Suquamish children from their families.

According to Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman:

  • In 1886: the approximately 8,000-acre reservation was divided into 51 allotments assigned to family “heads.”
    Beginning in 1900: Suquamish children were forced to attend Tulalip Boarding School.
  • In 1904: The U.S. military seized the Old Man House village site where Suquamish people had built their homes, school, church, after the military ordered the burning of Old Man House, former home of Chief Seattle and Chief Kitsap in 1870. The military seized approximately 70 acres of Suquamish waterfront, all in the name of building fortifications to protect the Bremerton shipyard. The fortifications were never built. Instead, the waterfront land was sold to developers who subdivided it for vacation homes for white people. (The deed to those homes prohibited their sale to anyone who was not Caucasian.)
  • Circa 1905: Federal government passed law allowing tribal allotments to be sold at auction on behalf of the allottee (resulting in checkerboard reservation)

The timing of these events was not a coincidence, according to Forsman. “Healing begins with a reckoning of what took place, and that means full disclosure, acknowledgment and reparations through land restoration,” Forsman said. As a result of action by Suquamish Tribal Government, more than half of the Port Madison Indian Reservation is now owned by the tribe or by tribal members. The tribe is also supporting the establishment of a national Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools.

Restoring culture and art


For Peg Deam, a main focus has been on restoring Suquamish culture and art.


Deam refused to return to Chilocco after her first year there, instead attending the Institute of American Indian Art (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There, the mostly Native American teachers taught students to embrace their cultural heritage and to learn all they could about their ancestral practices, adding their own creativity to bring their art, writing, theater, and crafts into the present. IAIA, in other words, was the opposite of the Indian boarding schools; instead of punishing children for practicing their culture, cultural practices were taught and encouraged.



Deam is just one of many who resisted boarding school efforts at assimilation, instead embracing her culture. And today, Suquamish is among the communities remembering the hardships of boarding schools; Orange T-Shirt Day will be remembered with a Coastal Jam at the Old Tribal Center on Sept. 29, 2023.
By Sarah van Gelder

Suquamish Tribe Boards & Commissions

Suquamish Tribal Council


Sept. 26, 2023


10:30AM Executive Session
Catherine Edwards
Devon Tiam
Scott Crowell
Scott Crowell/Vicki Cole
Scott Crowell/Chuck Deam/Shenowah Purser
Brenda George

12:15PM Special Guests/Reports
New Employee Introduction – Barb Santos

12:20PM New Business
Resolution 2023-217 OTA Litigation/Advocacy – Tim Woolsey
Resolution 2023-219 Green Power Solar Grant (ELC) – Crystal Purcell
Resolution 2023-220 Recompete Pilot Program Phase 1 Strategy Development Grant – Catherine Edwards
Resolution 2023-221 Sedgwick Road Fee-to-Trust Application – Devon Tiam
Resolution 2023-222 FY2023 Economic Development Initiative Community Project Funds – Scott/Eddie
Resolution 2023-223 BIA Year-End Carry Over Request – Angela Flemming/Nehreen Ayub
Resolution 2023-224 Approving Agreement Granting Permission to Use Property – Kendra Martinez
Resolution 2023-225 Administration Fix to Code Revisions – Ben Brueseke
Resolution 2023-226 L&I Provider Agreement – Kristine Ewing/Brenda George
Resolution 2023-227 Emergency Management Climate Planning Grant – Cherrie May

12:45PM Consent Agenda
Behavioral Health Stabilization Grant Acceptance
Coronavirus Capital Project Fund Grant Acceptance (Broadband IT Equipment)
Out of Cycle Tribal Side Appendix X Request for Toni Sullivan ($3,000)
Out of Cycle Tribal Side Appendix X Request for Hemeh Alexis ($5,000)
Resolution 2023-216 Smoking Cessation Payment
Resolution 2023-218 Allocation of 6391 Newton Street

12:55PM Comments from the floor

1:05PM Council Comments
Canoe Renaming (Fiberglass)

1:10PM Approval of Meeting Minutes

1:15PM Adjourn

Youth Emergency Preparedness Month

August is Youth Emergency Preparedness month and the Office of Emergency Management is here to help you and your family get prepared.

Emergency preparedness can start at any age. Here are some tips to help even the youngest family members learn about disaster readiness.

  • Talk it through
    • Write down family contact information
    • What is your address in case of a fire or an emergency?
    • What is your emergency plan?
    • Click Here for tips on how to get started
  • Play Games
  • Build an Emergency Kit
    • Click Here for a list of what should go in your kit
    • Once you created your list, go on a scavenger hunt mission as a family to find all your items

Have questions? We can help, the Office of Emergency Management is your resource for information to help you and your family be prepared.

PRESS ADVISORY — Canoe Journey 2023: Suquamish Tribe Hosts Last Stop Before Muckleshoot’s Alki Beach Landing


SUQUAMISH, July 2023 — Tribal Canoe Journey is back for the first time since COVID, and the Suquamish Tribe is hosting the last stop before the final landing at Alki Beach. An estimated 100 canoes from throughout the Northwest and Canada will be arriving on the beach in front of the House of Awakened Culture in Suquamish on July 28, 2023. About 9,000 people will spend two nights here before they make the final paddle on July 30 to Alki Beach and the Muckleshoot Tribe’s hosting.

Reporters, photographers, and filmmakers are invited to attend and report on this event. In order to prioritize the integrity of the ceremony and the safety of canoe families and hosts, media representatives are asked to follow the Tribe’s ground rules and obtain a press pass by filling out this form:


Highlights of the Suquamish hosting include:

Friday, July 28, 2023

Noon to 4pm: Canoes arrive and request permission to come ashore to rest, share stories, and share traditional foods. Suquamish hosts welcome them, and canoes are carried up the boat ramp to the lawn in front of the House of Awakened Culture, the Suquamish Tribe’s longhouse and community gathering space.

5pm: Seafood dinner is served to 9,000-plus people traveling on the water or supporting the canoe families.

7pm: Protocol begins during which visiting canoe families share songs, dances, stories from their travels, and gifts inside the House of Awakened Culture. The tribes that travelled the longest distances are the first on the floor.


Saturday, July 29, 2023

Noon: Protocol continues, dinner is served at 5pm, and protocol resumes at 6pm.


Sunday, July 30, 2023

Morning: Canoe families are released for the final stage of the journey to Alki Beach. Canoes are packed down the boat ramp by paddlers and volunteers. Suquamish canoes, which joined other canoe families in Bellingham, on Lummi land, continue with all the other canoes paddling the last leg of the 2023 journey to Alki Beach, where the Muckleshoot Tribe will welcome the paddlers.



The Suquamish Tribe will make photos, press releases, and drone footage available to the media. Contact us at the link below, or include a request in the press form linked to above.





Sarah van Gelder
Suquamish Tribe Communications Manager
Cell: (206) 491-0196


Jon Anderson
Suquamish Tribe Communications Coordinator
Cell: (206) 999-3912




2023 Suquamish Canoe Journey Route & Timeline

This is the latest draft of the route the Suquamish Canoe Family will take during the Tribal Journey.


Nation/Village/Place Landing Day Departure Day # Days
Lummi/Stommish Grounds (by Barge/vehicles)

(arriving Lummi Stommish Grounds 2295 Lummi View Dr. Bellingham WA 98226)

Sunday, July 23, 2023 Monday, July 24, 2023 1

(Landing: Seafarers Memorial Park, 601 Seafarers Way, Anacortes, WA 98221)

(Camping 17275 Reservation Road La Conner WA 9825)

Monday, July 24, 2023 Tuesday, July 25, 2023 1
Swinomish Youth Center

(Landing: 16969 Reservation Road, La Conner, WA 98257)

(Camping: 17275 Reservation Road La Conner WA 98257)

Tuesday, July 25, 2023 Wednesday, July 26, 2023 1
Cama Beach

(2269 Lowell Point Rd, Camano Island, WA 98282)

Wednesday, July 26, 2023 Thursday, July 27, 2023 1
Tulalip Gym

(Landing: 6722 Totem Beach RD Tulalip WA 98271)

Thursday, July 27, 2023 Friday, July 28, 2023 1

(7235 NE Parkway Suquamish WA 98392) (7/21/19 Suquamish leave on TCJ)

Friday, July 28 2023 Sunday, July 30, 2023 2

(Landing: Alki Beach 2665 Alki Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116)

(Camping: Pow Wow Grounds 17300 SE 392nd St. Auburn WA 98092)

Sunday, July 30, 2023 Sunday, August 6, 2023 7
Ground Crew return – Suquamish/HOAC

(7235 NE Parkway Suquamish WA 98392)

Monday, August 7, 2023 1
Suquamish Canoe Family – Suquamish/HOAC pick up gear/clean-up equipment, UHaul truck, barge, canoe shed, bring gear to storage unit Tuesday, August 8, 2023 12:00 pm 1
Whole Journey 16


2023 Suquamish Tribal Journey Registration


This agreement explains how to represent the Suquamish Tribe (who sponsors this trip) and Suquamish People, the following conduct will help ensure a peaceful time for everyone:

  1. Everyone is expected to be ready, and capable of doing their share of work involved with setting up, cooking, cleaning, and breaking down camp, clean up on support boats, canoes, and vehicles while participating in Tribal Canoe Journey.
    • Each person participating will be assigned a random team number that will be your number throughout the journey. Each team will be assigned a camp duty to be performed for the day.  This duty will change each day. Not listening or participating in duties will not be tolerated, if persistent you will be sent home.  Team leads assignments are made prior to leaving. Barge Captain, Head Cook and Ground Crew Lead will not be assigned a team.
    • Everyone is on kitchen duty. You must help with cooking, cleaning, dishes and packing up the kitchen every day. You will also be responsible for purchasing, cleaning and storing your own mess kit (i.e. plates, bowls, silverware, water bottle, and hot cup), we will have some for canoe family members unable to purchase their own.
  2. Every morning, we will have a canoe family circle (meeting).  Additional circles can be scheduled at any time.  It is your responsibility to be at all circles, on time, and ready to participate.
  3. Before heading out on the last morning, your tent, sleeping bag, and totes will be packed and brought to the U-Haul Truck in a timely manner.
  4. For ceremonial purposes and safety, absolutely no use of alcohol, drugs, (THC) marijuana or misuse of prescription medications. Any person involved with and/or under the influence of a substance, will not be permitted to continue to participate in the Tribal Canoe Journey and will be sent home.  Weapons are prohibited. If over the age of 18, cigarette smoking is only permitted 25ft outside of camp.
  5. Physical violence, verbal abuse, bullying, and intimidation WILL NOT BE tolerated.
  6. Be respectful of others.  Be mindful of your language, remember camp is for everyone’s use. Be respectful while using technology, including social media platforms as well as individual communications (no bullying, posts of inappropriate behavior, etc.). This includes all social media platforms. Be mindful of time, volume, etc.
  7. If you see that someone needs help, help them out. All participants are required to help around camp, with the barge, and around canoes. Journey is not a “vacation,” even if you use your vacation to attend and even if your mother is there, you will pick up after yourself. If you see garbage or other items don’t walk over them, pick them up and place where they belong.
  8. Elders are to be respected. If you see an elder in need of help, or struggling to do something, jump in and help. If you’re near an elder, Suquamish or otherwise, offer to assist them.  If you’re sitting somewhere and space is limited, give your space to an elder. If you’re at a meal and you see an elder without food, ask if you could get them some.
  9. Visiting the tents of participants of your sexual/romantic preference is strictly prohibited. No public displays of affection. (PDA)
  10. Remember to be respectful of other people’s belongings. You don’t want your stuff messed with and no one else does either. You are responsible for your own possessions. If you bring things of value (i.e. phones, iPods, games, jewelry, regalia or money) you are responsible for lost or stolen objects. If something is lost or broken notify Staff/Chaperone as soon as possible. If possible, we can repair or replace said item.
  11. Stealing or shoplifting is illegal and if you are caught, you will not be permitted to continue to participate in Tribal Canoe Journeys.
  12. All minors (anyone under 18) will be in camp, or with an approved chaperone.

For community care, we advise that you report any illness and take necessary precautions. Hand sanitizers, masks, and COVID tests will be available at camp.



If you have not yet signed up for SUN Alerts please do so here.

If you already get SUN Alerts but need to update your information, you can do that here.

For the current draft timeline and route Suquamish Canoe Family will be taking click here.



2023 Suquamish Canoe Family Registration

Participant Information


For minors not traveling with Family & Friends Center

Parent/Guardian Name

Emergency Contact (Must be someone NOT on Journey)

Eg, spouse, parent, friend, etc.
By typing your name here, you affirm all the information entered above is true and accurate.

Justice Gorsuch opinion in ICWA ruling is worth reading

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch offers a masterclass on tribal sovereignty in his concurring opinion offered in the court’s recent decision to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act.

“In affirming the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), the Court safeguards the ability of tribal members to raise their children free from interference by state authorities and other outside parties. In the process, the Court also goes a long way toward restoring the original balance between federal, state, and tribal powers the Constitution envisioned,” he writes in a 43-page opinion.

“I write separately to add some historical context. To appreciate fully the significance of today’s decision requires an understanding of the long line of policies that drove Congress to adopt ICWA. And to appreciate why that law surely comports with the Constitution requires a bird’s-eye view of how our founding document mediates between competing federal, state, and tribal claims of sovereignty.”

Click here to read his analysis in full.

‘Brown water’ advisory for tribal housing neighborhoods

How to get your clear water back on tap

The Suquamish Tribe maintains a well that provides water to homes in several tribal housing neighborhoods, as well as the Marion Forsman-Boushie Early Learning Center, Family & Friends Center, Fitness Center, and Ball Field sprinkler system. The water is treated with chlorine to protect public health.

When the water runs with a brownish tint it usually means water flow has been briefly disturbed, lifting up water sediment. Traces of manganese, a naturally occurring metal in the sediment, causes the brown hue. The water clears when the sediment settles.

Manganese does not pose a threat to public health.

Still, we know it doesn’t look good. That’s why the Suquamish Water Utility Program periodically flushes the mains to minimize these occurrences. However, due to increased water usage during summer months, including use of the ball field’s sprinklers and activated fire hydrants, brown water can still show up.

Clearing it out: Dos and Don’ts

If brown water occurs at your location, there are some things you can do to help clear it out. Here are some dos & don’ts to keep in mind:

Do run your water on cold – You can speed this by up by also flushing toilets and running spigots. If the water does not clear after a few minutes, turn off water, wait an hour, and then try again.

Don’t run hot water – Running hot water will empty clear water from your hot water tank and fill it with discolored water.

Don’t do laundry – Manganese-tinted water can stain clothes, so wait until it clears before starting your next load.

If you have run cold water a few times and it still does not clear, please contact our staff for additional assistance:

James Old Coyote, Water Utility Operator (360) 394-8509
William Lawrence, Water Utility Manager (360) 394-8506