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When stories are told about the American Indian it is usually the Indians that are looked upon as the heathens. They are portrayed as savages who spent most of their time raiding wagon trains and scalping the white settlers just for fun. The media has lead us to believe that the American government was forced to take the land from these savage Indians. We should put the blame where it belongs, on the U.S. Government who lied, cheated, and stole from the Indians forcing many Indian leaders to surrender not only their tribes but their nation in order to save the lives of their people.
Among the Indians of the Pacific Northwest, perhaps the best known may be Chief Seattle. Chief Seattle (more correctly known as Seathl or Sealth) was born sometime between 1786-1790 on Blake Island at the campsite of his ancestors. Blake Island lies south and a little east of Bainbridge Island and west and a little south of Seattle. Seattle was the son of Suquamish leader named Schweabe and a Duwamish woman named Scholitza. He became Chief of the Suquamish, Duwamish, and allied Salish speaking tribes by proving his leadership qualities in a war that pitted his and other saltwater tribes against those of the Green and White Rivers. (1) He was considered to be Duwamish since his mother was the daughter of a Duwamish chief and the line of descent passed matrilineally. This was sometimes the case when fathers died while their son's were was still young and the mother would return to her tribe to raise the children. The Duwamish lived on the Duwamish River and various islands across the Puget Sound. Seattle was married twice, his first wife Ladaila, died after bearing one daughter, Kiksomlo, known as "Angeline". His second wife, Oiahl, had three daughters all of whom died young and two boys, George and Seeanumpkin. (2)
In 1792, Captain George Vancouver anchored off Restoration Point on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound. Seattle, according to the recollections of various old-timers, often spoke of seeing the ship and being impressed with the guns, steel, and other goods. Seattle was known for his courage, daring and leadership during his youth. Throughout the violent periods, Seattle remained a steadfast and loyal friend of the settlers and encouraged the Indians to remain peaceful. He gained control of six of the local tribes and continued the friendly relations with the local whites that had been established by his father. Seattle learned early in his life that peace was preferable to war. Seattle moved to Port Madison Reservation and lived in Old Man House, just across from Bainbridge Island; "This was a community house measuring some 60' x 900' feet easily the largest Indian made wooden structure in the region". (4) When settlers first came to America they were meet by Indians. Once the settlers were able to make it on there own, they no longer needed Indian help. Then they began to try to change the ways and beliefs of the Indian. One of the aspects that the settlers spent much time on trying to change of the Indians was their religion. Influenced by missionaries, Seattle decided to convert to Christianity and was later baptized in 1838 by Father Modest Demers, at which time Seattle adopted the Christian name "Noah". One of the major differences I noticed while researching information about Chief Seattle is that in Catholicism there is one book, I'm sure that we all have heard of it, the Bible. In Catholicism it is made up of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is made up of scriptures before the coming of Jesus. The New Testament is made up of scriptures written up after the coming of Jesus. These scriptures are written up pretty straight forward and they are read year in and year out. There is no room for individual interpretation by the reader, it is set in structure. In the Indian religion everything is told through myths and legends. Because of this everything is passed down from chief to chief and person to person. By this exchange of information and story telling there is great room for individual interpretation. Every generation these tales will change and the myths will be told in a different tone, style or version. When white settlers came to the Northwest after the California Gold Rush, the Indians gave them
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