• Dennis McCaslin

Duwamish native tradition led to lifetime compensation for Washington state Chief Seattle


By the mid 1850’s the Pacific Northwest was becoming heavily settled by whites. The area had traditionally been occupied by the Duwamish and Suquamish Indian tribes.


They were headed by a chief from both tribes by the name of Seattle. As the early settlers came to the area Seattle welcomed them, and the settlers treated his tribes with kindness.

Through the influence of Jesuit missionaries, Seattle became religious.


When in 1855 an Indian war broke out, Seattle was able to convince the warring factions that fighting the whites would only hasten their demise, and peace was had.

While Seattle was still alive the settlers named their major city after him. But Chief Seattle believed that if a man’s name is mentioned after his death it would disturb his eternal rest.


So, to compensate Seattle for any difficulties he would have in the next life, they taxed themselves and paid him for the rest of his life. And, on June 7, 1866 Seattle did move onto another life.


He was buried in the Duwamish cemetery. Twenty five years later, a monument was erected at his grave.

There’s another interesting story about early Seattle, the town. During the gold rush, to meet the building needs of California, Seattle’s lumber industry boomed.


They would cut the trees and “skid” them down to the lumber mill. The path they used became known as the “skid road,” and it became the main street in Seattle. Once the trees were cut in that area, the businesses moved and this area became a haven for drunks and derelicts.


Thus creating the term we use today for the bad part of any town, “skid row.”



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