Skull Island, Massacre Bay

Skull Island, Massacre Bay

by | Oct 30, 2018

Skull Island is an uninhabited island of 2.5 acres (1.0 ha)  in Massacre Bay, off the coast of Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Archipelago in Washington State. It was named for skulls and bones found from a band of Lummi Natives.

The native tribes of the Salish Sea, particularly the Lummi tribe, inhabited Orcas Island for thousands of years. The island provided abundant food including salmon and deer, and the Lummi built large fish traps that supplied the bulk of their diet. Communal longhouses, mainly used in the winter months, were built at a number of places around the island.

Contact with Spanish, British, and American explorers came in the 1790s and the first wave of smallpox swept through the region. This was exacerbated by raiding northern tribes of Haida and began a time of trouble and decline for the Lummi tribe and other Coast Salish peoples in the 19th century. This culminated in 1858 with a devastating raid by a band of Haida that wiped out a Lummi village at a place now known as Massacre Bay at the head of West Sound. The names Victim Island and Skull Island in Massacre Bay also commemorate the event. Read more here and here. Explore more of Massacre Bay here:

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