Tribal rule in Tulalip tidelands

Native sovereignty over Tulalip tidelands


Tulalip Indian Reservation, United States

Located 45 miles north of Seattle, WA, the reservation of the Tulalip Tribes overlooks a marshy reach of the Puget Sound. Non-Natives have been living on the reservation for decades, but the tribal government has had a difficult time getting these residents from adhering to Tulalip law protecting the tribe-owned tidelands from environmental deterioration. 

As an intern in the Tulalip Tribes Legal Department, I developed the Tribes' case for sovereignty and rule over the tidelands – the land uncovered by low tide – allocated to the reservation. I researched historic documents apportioning the reservation and the case law that gives an American Indian government jurisdiction over tidal marshes.


Tulalip Tribes

The Tulalip Administration Building sits on a hill overlooking Tribally-owned land, including the tidelands I studied. It is an award-winning building designed by Mithun.

While working with the Tribes, I was responsible for building a case and ensuring that the local communities understood their rights and responsibilities. I combined archival research and community coalition-building to find an equitable solution that did not require a long legal process.