Nooksack Tribe

The Nooksack are a tribe of about 2,000 members. After signing the Point Elliott Treaty in 1855, they lost ownership of much of their land in exchange for fishing and hunting rights. They were expected to move to the Lummi Reservation, but most refused, and they were eventually granted some homestead claims. Currently, around 2,400 acres remain in trust, administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. After the 1855 treaty, the tribe remained unrecognized until 1973. The tribe's name translates to "always bracken fern roots".

Nooksack Tribe Area of Concern:

The Nooksack watershed, part of WRIA 1, is 834 square miles. Restoration efforts have been challenged by declining water quality and loss of forest cover. Water use is dominated by agriculture, and low summer flows limit habitat availability for salmon. Economic growth in Whatcom County has come at a cost to environmental health, and shellfish harvest opportunity has declined by 70% since 2004. The tribe is working to protect remaining habitat and reduce contamination.

Natural Resource Management:

  • The Nooksack tribe has been working for over two decades to bring elk herds back to healthy numbers. In 2011, biologists counted between 800 and 850 elk, a significant improvement from a population of 300 in 2003. Restoration and relocation projects have contributed to the success of the recovery project.
  • In December of 2010, the tribe received over $700,000 to improve salmon habitat by building logjams on the north fork of the Nooksack River.
  • In 2009, Chinook salmon were spotted spawning in a channel of the Nooksack River restored by the tribe. Spring Chinook in the Nooksack are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Map of Tribal Lands

Nooksack Tribe
PO Box 157
Deming,WA 98244
Phone: (360) 592-5176
Fax: (360) 592-5753

Chairperson: Bob Kelly
Fisheries Contact: Gary MacWilliams

source: NWIFC