Chief Seattle's daughter was nicknamed Princess Angeline. She lived into her late 80's in a wood shack at the base of Pike, where present day Western Avenue is. She would dig for clams in the day and traverse up the hillside to sell baskets on Pike and 1st. She enjoyed having her picture taken, it's said, and she became an icon for Seattle. Her image was used to advertise this city through the early 1960's.
In 2005, I was struggling with delivering the ghost tour in the Market, something just wasn't right, like a vital bolt was missing. One afternoon, on my way to give the ghost tour I stopped in a coffee shop on 12th. There was a woman with a sign placed on the table before her advertising tarot and psychic readings. Her name was Suma. I am curious about psychics but I don't trust anyone who claims to know the future. Maybe I spend to much time combing through the past. I had been so stumped by what was missing in the tour so I sat down and asked her. Her answer was simple, "Go sit with the Princess"..
It took me a few days to understand the answer and I took it to mean that I was to go and sit at Angeline's grave. So I went. She is buried at Lakeview Cemetery, on a hill, next to Henry Yesler.
The sky was very clear but the grass and leaves on the trees held small beads of water. It had rained the night before so there was a bitter damp cold to the ground and I could feel the chill in my bones. It reminded me of how close we are to the Sound and to the open waters beyond. I sat at the base of Angeline's grave and I asked her for guidance. Quiet. I was a bit nervous. As I sat there I began to question in my own mind why her grave was there, in the settlers cemetery. As far as I knew she was the only Native American from the late 1800's buried in a settlers graveyard. I started to think why was she permitted to live as the base of Pike when Native Americans had been forcibly moved to reservations after 1855 and often required a pass or permit of sorts to enter the city named after their own Chief? And what really happened?
The problem with history, it's written by the victors so one can never really know the answers, especially if you want to know what happened to the victims. After that day I started to look.
Native Americans in this region could have numbered easily in the 100 thousands before settlers arrived here in 1851. In Pioneer Reminiscences of Puget Sound, Ezra Meeker describes the lodges along the shores of Puget Sound, the many encampments and people that populated the region on his journey to Seattle in 1853. He continues to write about the relationships between settlers and the Native populations. His book is one that details the injustice of the United States government as they forced people on to inhospitable land.
Sitting with Angline what I felt most was that what really happened in this region is not easy to know. Native Americans in this region were adept fishers, tradesmen, hunters, men and women very much like the settlers who were coming here. The one thing they did not have in common was unquenchable personal greed. Perhaps a few did, but I see that as that biggest division between the cultures. The settlers wanted land, fish, trees, gold, animals, they wanted everything. They brought with them disease. They brought cholera, typhoid, influenza, smallpox, alcohol. In 1852, in 4 months, 12,000 Native Americans in this region died from those diseases. By 1855 when a new territorial governor was placed in charge of Indian Affairs, there was a fraction of the original Native population alive. The governor, Issac Stevens was a man who new war. He signed the name of Chiefs onto treatys without them present and then rounded up people and forced them onto reservations. He placed rivals tribes together, he forced coastal Indians to remote rocky regions far from the Sound. It's hard to understand the brutality and the viscousness of the time period, even when we are exposed to such viscousness in entertainment today. Ezra Meeker writing about the years 1855-1859, "During that period, treaties were made with Indians, the war with them was fought; massacres horrid to contemplate were perpetrated by the Indians and the whites, murders were committed, martial law proclaimed,.."
Princess Angeline is credited as saving the settlers from an attack on the city. Myth has it that she swam across Puget Sound to warn people that the attack was imminent. This is the reason she was so loved and lived her last days in a city growing at tremendous rates around her. There is more to this story...much more..but I have to go to work now.