The Chehalis Tribe is a Northwest Indian Tribe located in modern-day Washington state. Sometimes, folks get the Chehalis tribe confused with the similarly named Chehalis First Nation located in British Columbia.
Early European explorers pronounced the word "Chehalis" and gave this name to the river and the people living upriver who later became the "Chehalis people" or "People of the Sands."
Chehalis Tribe History
Despite the Chehalis tribe still residing in the state of Washington, there is not much written about them.
The Chehalis live along the Chehalis River. They spoke the Salish language and lived in cedar longhouses.
The Chehalis lived primarily off of the fish provided by the river. This would include salmon, which was a primary staple in their diet.
There were two groups of Chehalis. These were called Upper and Lower Chehalis, and the two of them thrived on the land for many years. This would begin to end when European settlers began to encroach on the land of the tribe.
When the Europeans arrived, they brought diseases with them, which devastated all Native Americans, and the Chehalis were no exception. Smallpox ravaged their population as they did not have any immunity to it.
The tribe was also considered a "non-treaty" tribe as they did not like the terms that were offered by the United States government. Unfortunately with a lack of significant allies and an inability to stop the progress of settlers coming west, the Chehalis tribe would eventually be placed on a reservation. They did not fight wars against America and understood that in order to survive as a people, they needed to accept the terms of the United States.
The tribe eventually settled on their current lands in 1860. A year prior to the Civil War.