What Flag Is That 11.23.21

The Chinook Indian Nation. The Chinook Indian Nation is made up of the five western-most Chinookan speaking tribes at the mouth of the Columbia River. Their nearly 70-year-old constitution codifies who they are and identifies their five constituent tribes – the Clatsop and Cathlamet (Kathlamet) of present-day Oregon and the Lower Chinook, Wahkiakum (Waukikum) and Willapa (Weelappa) of what is now Washington State.

The Chinook Nation was recognized in the mid 1800s and ‘codified’ by five treaties known as the Anson Dart treaties. Mr. Dart was the Oregon Indian treaty commissioner who determined that a treaty with this group would be expedient.

“It will be impossible to remove the Indians of the Willamette and Lower Columbia valleys, without a resort to force, nor do we think it very desirable to do so. As before stated they are friendly and well disposed, they live almost entirely by fishing, and the wages they receive from the whites for their labor…To remove them from their fisheries and means of procuring labor from the whites would in our opinion insure their annihilation in a short time either by want or from the hands of their more warlike neighbors.” Anson Dart, February 8, 1851

Anson Dart was from Wisconsin and was appointed Oregon Indian Treaty commissioner in 1851. He came and camped on the Tansey Point with the express instructions to secure as much of the land held by the Chinookan people as possible. In all he ‘negotiated’ (forced) 19 treaties and ended up with millions of acres of land formerly known as home to the Chinooks.

Signature page of one of the Anson Dart ‘Treaty’s’

With a common tongue and ancestry but little land, The Chinooks continue to struggle for official recognition as a Tribe. Finally at the end of the Bill Clinton administration they were ‘granted’ official status as a Tribal Nation. In a highly controversial move, shortly after George W. Bush came into office, he revoked the decision and stripped the Chinooks of any tribal status. The struggle continues to this day.

Tribal Home Office in Bay Center, Washington
Chinook protesters demonstrating
“It was my great-great-great grandfather, Thomas Huckswelt, that signed that 1851 Anson Dart Treaties over here which would have us [at] Willapa Bay as our reservation. They took the treaty back to Washington DC, and they basically told the senators not to worry, that we would be gone–they [the Chinook] were so infected by smallpox and malaria.”
Sam Robinson, Vice Chairman, Chinook Nation

The flag is a stylized Chinook salmon in the style of Northwest Coast Indian art appears in black and red on a field of white. Centered on its stomach are the contours of a human face. The Chinook salmon denotes the eponymous Chinook tribe. The human face denotes the close and vital association between the Chinook people and their historic source of sustenance. (Information from Ted Kay of NAVA).

From a Vexillological point of view, it is an excellent flag.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: