A Vision, A Reality, of ALL Tribes Working Together for Justice
United Indians of All Tribes Foundation is a private, non-profit corporation that was founded in Seattle, Washington in 1970. The Foundation began as a small group of Northwest Native Americans and their supporters, led by the late Bernie Whitebear, who engaged in an occupation at Fort Lawton to reclaim a land base for the urban Indians living in and around Seattle. A twenty-acre site was eventually secured for this purpose in what is now Discovery Park. The Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center was completed in 1977 and has become a hub of activity for Native peoples and their supporters locally, nationally and internationally. The Foundation now provides a variety of social, education and economic development opportunities and cultural activities for the Native American community and also operates the Daybreak Gallery of Native American Art.
Occupying Ft. Lawton
On March 8, 1970, about 100 members and sympathizers of United Indian People’s Council (later United Indians of All Tribes) confront the 392nd Military Police Company, who are armed with riot gear, while attempting to claim part of Fort Lawton, a 1,100-acre army post in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood. The United Indians, who are armed with sandwiches, sleeping bags, and cooking utensils, want to create a cultural center for Indians and Alaska natives.
More information, including interviews University of Washington’s Seattle Civil Rights Project has a great writeup.
By Right of Discovery
The group’s leader, Bob Satiacum, a Puyallup, began to read a proclamation explaining the action, but was drowned out by a sergeant barking orders. The proclamation was addressed to “The Great White Father and all of his people” and read:
We the native Americans reclaim the land known as Ft. Lawton in the name of all American Indians by right of discovery.
We feel that this land of Ft. Lawton is more suitable to pursue an Indian way of life, as determined by our own standards. By this we mean — this place does not resemble most Indian reservations. It has potential for modern facilities, adequate sanitation facilities, health care facilities, fresh running water, educational facilities, and transportation facilities.
The proclamation went on to explain that the Indians planned to use Fort Lawton to create a center for Native American studies, an Indian university, a center for ecology, a school, and a restaurant. The claim to Fort Lawton was based on rights under U.S.-Indian treaties promising reversion of surplus military lands to their original owners.
Randy Lewis on the Planning of Taking Over Ft. Lawton
Recorded 3/25/14 by Ramona Ridgewell at Daybreak Star.
UIATF History LInks
Please explore the links below to learn about the Foundation’s storied history:
- A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE, written in 1994 by Bernie Whitebear, Colville Confederated Tribes, Founder of the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation
- “United Indians of All Tribes Meets the Press: News Coverage of the 1970 Occupation of Fort Lawton,” by Karen Smith