Chief Seattle

Chief Seattle

Kitsap County, Washington, USA
Death 7 Jun 1866 (aged 79)
Suquamish, Kitsap County, Washington, USA
Burial Suquamish, Kitsap County, Washington, USA
Memorial ID 2541 · View Source
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Native American Leader. Chief Seattle's name in his native Lushshootseed language was si al, interpreted and written variously as: See-ahth, Seathl, See-Yahtlh or Sealth. His native name was so hard to pronounce by whitemen that it was Anglicized to Seattle. When he was baptized as a Catholic, he was given the first name Noah. His father was a Suquamish chief and his mother the daughter of a Duwamish chief. But Seattle was considered a member of the Duwamish tribe since descent traditionally runs through the mother. According to tradition, as a boy he was in one of the canoes that met Captain George Vancouver's ships when they sailed into Puget Sound in May of 1792. At a young age Seattle earned a reputation as a leader and a warrior, ambushing and defeating enemy raiders coming up from the Green River and the Cascade foothills. Shortly after this victory over the Green River tribe he became chief of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes. He was widely respected among the native peoples for leading successful attacks on Puget Sound tribes. He stood at nearly 6 feet tall, which was very tall for a Puget Sound native. He was also known as an orator and his voice is said to have carried a half a mile or so. Catholic Missionaries converted him to Catholicism and he was baptised into the Roman Catholic Church about 1848. By the time American settlers began arriving in the area, Seattle had been accepted as headman or chief by most of the Native Americans from the Cedar River and Shilshole Bay to Bainbridge Island and Port Madison. In the early 1850s, he welcomed the first parties of settlers to the Puget Sound area. In 1852, he reportedly persuaded David S. "Doc" Maynard to move his general store from Olympia to the village of Duwumps. Doc Maynard named his new store the "Seattle Exchange" and convinced settlers to rename Duwumps after the chief, when they filed the first plats on May 23, 1853. It was then that the village of Duwumps became Seattle. In January 1854, newly appointed Territorial Governor Isaac I. Stevens made his first visit to the village of Seattle to try and get the Suquamish and Duwamish to move to a reservation. On that occasion, Chief Seattle is alleged to have made a long speech to the Governor. A pioneer, Dr. Henry A. Smith published the speech "from notes" in a Seattle newspaper on October 29, 1887, nearly 35 years after it was supposedly given. As told by Smith, Seattle made an eloquent plea, both melancholy and cautionary, to Stevens and other settlers: "Let him (the white man) be just and kindly with my people, for the dead are not altogether powerless". On January 21 to 23, 1855, Territorial Governor Stevens summoned all tribal leaders to a conference at Point Elliot (now Mukilteo). Chief Seattle was the first tribal chief to place his mark on a document that ceded the ownership of most of the Puget Sound Basin. Those tribal leaders who signed also promised not to engage in revenge murder. The Treaties of 1854 and 1855 were not ratified by Congress for more than 3 years and many of the benefits promised to the tribes were not delivered. Many tribal leaders were so dissatisfied that they took up arms to force a better agreement or expulsion of whites from their native lands. Chief Seattle kept his promise and did not fight during the "Treaty War" of 1856. He stayed across Puget Sound at Port Madison and persuaded many of his people to come with him. Following the 1856 Battle of Seattle, he was not willing for his tribe to go to the established reservation, since mixing the Duwamish and Snohomish tribes was likely to lead to blood shed. Doc Maynard persuaded the government to allow Seattle to move to his father's longhouse, Old Man House on Agate Passage. He spent his time leading prayers or petitioning the reservation agent for the people's needs. He also acted as judge in tribal councils. Noah Seattle died of a severe fever and was buried with Catholic and native rites in the native cemetery at Suquamish, Port Madison, Washington.

Bio by: Priscilla

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2541
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Chief Seattle (Aug 1786–7 Jun 1866), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2541, citing Suquamish Memorial Cemetery, Suquamish, Kitsap County, Washington, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .