Tribes mourn loss of tradition keeper

Local American Indians mourned the loss of a longtime keeper of traditions Thursday in a funeral held on the Tulalip Indian Reservation.

Charles Sneatlum died Sunday, near his home around the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation, at the age of 76. Friends and family members said he was a descendent of Chief Seattle, a Suquamish leader.

Sneatlum is remembered for his roles in the revival of Lushootseed, the ancient Coast Salish language, and in the Boldt decision, which helped win fishing rights for Indian tribes.

“He knew it all, all the old things,” said Ray Moses, who grew up on the Tulalip Indian Reservation with Sneatlum.

“He was an easy-going person, but he also was always about Indian tradition,” Tulalip Tribes boardmember Stan Jones said. “When we were losing our old culture, he kept it. He was involved with the longhouse traditions.”

Sneatlum was born at home on the reservation in 1931. He lived there until his senior year of high school, when he joined the Army and was sent to fight in Korea, Moses said.

“We joined the Army together,” Moses said. “He heard I was going to join, so he rode his bike all the way from Conway to join with me.”

The two young men stood in line with other friends from Tulalip and signed on for a tour of duty, Moses said. They had hoped to be stationed together, but they were separated and didn’t see each other for three years.

Sneatlum wasn’t injured in the war, but the things he saw scarred him for life, Moses said.

“He changed. We all changed,” Moses said.

When Sneatlum returned to the United States, he met and married a woman from the Muckleshoot tribe and lived on that reservation for the rest of his life, where he taught the tribe’s younger members pieces of Indian history.

Sneatlum will be buried near the Muckleshoot reservation, Moses said.

Reporter Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422 or kkapralos@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

A Democrat and ex-Republican team up to end two-party politics

Brian Baird and Chris Vance unveil a new organization called Washington Independents.

The beavers weren’t happy, either, about Mill Creek flooding

A tree fell on their dam, sending a rush of water into a neighborhood near Jackson High School.

Stranger offered candy to student walking home from school

The Granite Falls School District is warning families about… Continue reading

Coming together as family

Special-needs students and teachers at the Transition Center cooked up a Thanksgiving feast.

Lynnwood’s property tax promise to homeowners sort of true

They were told consolidation of fire departments would save, but new rates likely will be more.

Woman who died in 5-car crash identified

A car driven by Susan E. Sill rear-ended another vehicle Wednesday on Smokey Point Boulevard.

Man convicted of 4 counts of wire fraud, 1 count of embezzlement

He siphoned away more than $50,000 from the U.S. Naval Seat Cadet Corps.

Couple marries where they had their first date: the hospital

The Marysville couple had planned to be married twice before but their plans were waylaid.

Aerospace workers adjust to changing industry

The number of Boeing workers dropped almost 10 percent since last year

Most Read