In the 1950’s, an Act of Congress, at the behest of the Eisenhower Administration, issued a resolution concerning lands belonging to American Indian Nations across the Country. The federal government concluded that vast areas of reservation lands had exceptional commercial value in oil, gas, water, uranium and other precious metals for it to be wasted on American Indians.
The end result of that Act was the removal of tens of thousands of America’s aboriginal people from their reservations under the ruse of assimilation them into America’s “melting pot.” American Indians were abruptly and systematically forced from their homes and literally “dumped” into cities across the nation and once there, they were abandoned.
Cut off from their families, their culture and traditions, they were forced to live in an alien society that was unprepared and unwilling to help them.
They came to the cities with nothing…no education, no training or job skills, no opportunities and no resources. They had nothing but a bleak future of relocation, illiteracy and degradation…a proud people whose secure future was again taken away only to be replaced with hopelessness and abject poverty.
In 1958, a small group of American Indian women came together, sharing their concerns over the living conditions their people faced. Out of these meetings the American Indian Women’s Service League was born.
The opening of the small, storefront office of AIWSL in Seattle’s Belltown district was the beginning of what would officially become the Seattle Indian Center in 1972. Over the years, our agency has had many homes, from the Belltown storefront to the church at Boren and Stewart streets in the 1960’s. Now in its permanent home at the Leschi Center since 1988, Seattle Indian Center staff annually provide over 108,000 units of service covering a wide range of vital human needs for over 22,000 people from all parts of the world.
These services are available to all people and provide assistance for every age group, from infants to the elderly.
Our philosophy is to provide an intensive wraparound case management approach to the needs of the community. Beyond just feeding people, we help care for and educate children. We supply short term services in an emergency. We provide ling term hope through employment, education, and childcare. If we are not able to provide services at the Seattle Indian Center, referrals are provided at no cost to our clients.