Chief Seattle and the Town That Took His Name

Chief Seattle and the Town That Took His Name

The Change of Worlds for the Native People and Settlers on Puget Sound

Book - 2017
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This is the first thorough account of Chief Seattle and his times--the story of a half-century of tremendous flux, turmoil, and violence, during which a Native American war leader became an advocate for peace and strove to create a successful hybrid racial community.When the British, Spanish, and then Americans arrived in the Pacific Northwest, it may have appeared to them as an untamed wilderness. In fact it was a fully settled and populated land. Chief Seattle was a powerful representative from this very ancient world. Historian David M. Buerge has been researching and writing this book about the world of Chief Seattle for the past 20 years. Buerge has threaded together disparate accounts of the time from the 1780s to the 1860s--including native oral histories, Hudson Bay Company records, pioneer diaries, French Catholic church records, and historic newspaper reporting. Chief Seattle had gained power and prominence on Puget Sound as a war leader, but the arrival of American settlers caused him to reconsider his actions. He came to embrace white settlement and, following traditional native practice, encouraged intermarriage between native people and the settlers, offering his own daughter and granddaughters as brides, in the hopes that both peoples would prosper. Included in this account are the treaty signings that would remove the natives from their historic lands, the roles of such figures as Governor Isaac Stevens and Chiefs Leschi and Patkanim, the Battle at Seattle that threatened the existence of the settlement, and the controversial Chief Seattle speech that haunts the city that bears his name to this day.
Publisher: Seattle, WA : Sasquatch Books, [2017]
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781632171351
Branch Call Number: 979.70049 Se18B 2017
Characteristics: xxv, 325 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm


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May 11, 2018

This book is billed as a biography--the first, for adults--of Chief Seattle. It isn't, at least not in the conventional sense, purely because there's not a lot of documentation out there that would allow a real biography to be written so many years after his death. Instead, this is more a book about the very early days of Seattle (the town), with a focus on the Native Americans who lived in Puget Sound, with what little is known about Chief Seattle thrown in. In that sense, it was fascinating, although I found it a somewhat difficult read because of the author's style. By the time the Denny Party arrived in Seattle, Native American society in this area was already in turmoil, since English and American ships had been visiting the area for some time, spreading alien culture as well as disease that wiped out large portions of the population. Although getting enough food was rarely a problem, wars between the tribes often broke out, ranging at least as far as what would become Central Washington and up to British Columbia.. In this backdrop, Chief Seattle eventually came to favor peace with the white settlers, promoting Native American employment in the mills and intermarriage, a tactic that tribes had previously used to bring intertribal peace. Of course, it wasn't until the Boldt decision that Native Americans were able to secure a significant part of what the Treaty of Point Elliott had promised them.

Apr 24, 2018

I was particularly interested in this book, however I was severely disappointed when I could not get past the patronizing, elementary teacher tone of it, particularly when the author was dismissive of Angeline's tales and kept referring to Chief Seattle simply as 'the Boy' for the entire first third. He didn't have to refer to him that way, he chose to, and it came off as a bit racist. I didn't finish the book.


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