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Twin Peaks Falls Are Sacred to Local Tribe – But Still Open to Public

Twin Peaks Falls

The Snoqualmie Falls, on the Snoqualmie River near Seattle, have long been a major tourist attraction in the area. However, they gained international fame when they appeared in David Lynch’s TV series ‘Twin Peaks‘. The so-called Twin Peaks Falls, in fact, now attract an average of one and a half million visitors each year.

The Sacrality of Twin Peaks Falls

Twin Peaks Falls bear the name of the Native American tribe Snoqualmie. For centuries they have lived along the banks of the river sustaining themselves with hunting, fishing and collecting fruit and roots. However, everything changed in 1855, when they signed the Treaty of Point Elliott with the U.S.

government. In fact, they relinquished control of their land in exchange for a promise to obtain a reserve. Unfortunately, however, the United States did not keep its promise. As a result, in 1953, deprived of everything, the Snoqualmie also lost their federal recognition of tribe status.

Now, fortunately, the situation is changing for the better. After long efforts and battles, in fact, the Snoqualmie have finally managed to regain possession of what is a sacred place for their culture.

Falls play a central role in the spirituality and traditions of Snoqualmie. According to their beliefs, the first man and woman were created here. The cloud of steam generated by the impact of water connects the earth and the sky. As a result, it transports the prayers of the natives to the creative divinity and the spirits of the ancestors.

The Agreement Between Tribes

In 1999 the Snoqualmie regained federal recognition and the right to a small reserve (also one of the ‘Twin Peaks‘ sets). Here they opened a casino with which they finance services for the tribe.

Meanwhile, however, the area around the waterfalls and the Salish Lodge & Spa hotel above them were bought in 2007 by the Muckleshoot tribe. The same tribe also obtained the permission for a massive building development plan in 2018.

The Snoqualmie could not wait any longer to safeguard the sacred places of their ancestors. The two tribes sat down at a table and the Muckleshoots were sensitive to the issue and willing to find a solution. Finally, the agreement was signed last October. By paying their neighbours $125 million, the Snoqualmie officially became the owners of the hotel and 45 acres of their ancient land. After more than 150 years the waterfall has returned under their protection – as it had been for centuries and centuries.

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