Located on the southernmost point of Salish Sea, the peninsula known as Olympia was “bus-chut-hwud” (pronunciation in Lushootseed) meaning (place of) black bears and Stci-hwun (in Chehalis) (Olympia) to the Coastal Salish who occupied the site for many generations before the American settlement was established.
The end of what we now know as Budd Inlet was a favorite shellfish gathering site for many Coastal Salish tribes, including the Nisqually, Duwamish and Squaxin. Evidence exists that potlatches, the Northwest tribal custom in which tribal leaders shared their wealth with neighboring tribal groups, were held both east and west of the Inlet near Olympia.
The falls of the Deschutes River at Tumwater called “Stehtsasamish” by the Nisqually Indians may have been occupied as a permanent village site for shellfish and salmon harvesting for 500 years or more before the coming of white settlers.
Chehalis Tribe – “People of the Sand”
Nisqually Indian Tribe – Squally-Absch – ”People of the river, people of the grass”
Squaxin Island Tribe – Noo-Seh-Chatl of Henderson Inlet, Steh Chass of Budd Inlet, Squi-Aitl of Eld Inlet, Sawamish/T’Peeksin of Totten Inlet, Sa-Heh-Wa-Mish of Hammersley Inlet, Squawksin of Case Inlet and S’Hotle-Ma-Mish of Carr Inlet
Skokomish Tribal Nation – SqWuqWu’b3sH – “People of the River”
Duwamish Tribe – Dkhw’Duw’Absh – “The People of the Inside”