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Chief Si'ahl and His Family

 

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Chief Si’ahl

The name “Seattle” is an Anglicization of Si'ahl (1780-1866), the most famous Dkhw’Duw’Absh chief. Si’ahl's mother Sholeetsa was Dkhw’Duw’Absh and his father Shweabe was chief of the Dkhw’Suqw'Absh (the Suquamish Tribe). It is said that Si’ahl was born at his mother's Dkhw’Duw’Absh village of Stukw on the Black River, in what is now the city of Kent.

As a boy, Si'ahl saw British Captain George Vancouver's ships passing through the Khwulch (Puget Sound) in 1792. Vancouver anchored the ships HMS Discovery and HMS Chatham at the Dkhw’Suqw'Absh summer village at Restoration Point, near the southeast corner of Bainbridge Island. Si'ahl and his father Shweabe saw the British visitors to Puget Sound.

 In the late 1700s and early 1800s, Si'ahl witnessed epidemics of new diseases introduced by British and American traders, decimating Puget Sound’s Native population.  Experts estimate that 12,000 Puget Sound Salish - over 30% of the Native population - died from smallpox, measles, influenza and other diseases introduced by Europeans during the first 80 years of contact.

 

Si'ahl’s Leadership

It is said that Si'ahl grew up speaking both the Dkhw’Duw’Absh and Dkhw’Suqw'Absh dialects of Lushootseed. Because Native descent was derived from both parent’s lineage, Si'ahl inherited his position as chief of the Dkhw’Duw’Absh Tribe from his maternal uncle. He built a strong alliance between the two Nations of his parents.

As a young warrior, Si'ahl was known for his courage, daring, and leadership in battle.  In the 1820s, thirty years before European-American immigrants landed on the shores of Elliott Bay, local tribes waited uneasily for a threatened invasion. Rumors had reached Si'ahl that a large force of warriors from the White River tribes was on its way downriver to make a night attack on the Dkhw’Duw’Absh.

Si'ahl set up a night ambush at a strategic bend in the Black River, defeating over 100 warriors in 5 large war canoes.  When word of the victory reached Old Man House, the important Suquamish longhouse on Agate Pass, a council of six tribes chose Si'ahl as the leader of a 6-tribe confederation in central Puget Sound. As leader of six local tribes of central Puget Sound, Chief Si'ahl continued the friendly relations with European-American immigrants that his father began in 1792.

 

Protector and Benefactor

By 1851, Chief Si'ahl was a venerable leader respected for his peaceful ways, not his prowess at war. Chief Si'ahl and other members of the Dkhw’Duw’Absh Nation greeted the first European-American immigrants when they arrived at Alki Point, near Duwamish Head in what is now West Seattle.

From the early years of European-American settlement, Chief Si'ahl and the Dkhw’Duw’Absh worked hard to be protectors and benefactors of the immigrants.  European-American immigrants perceived that Chief Si'ahl was an intelligent man striving to live amicably and peacefully with the newcomers.

Under Chief Si’ahl’s leadership, the Dkhw’Duw’Absh provided guides, transportation by canoe, and other tangible assistance, including labor for Henry Yesler's first sawmill, and potatoes from the Dkhw’Duw’Absh cultivated fields near Renton, enabling the new immigrants to survive and to thrive. The Dkhw’Duw’Absh Tribe burned sections of forest to promote clearings for their crops, and felled trees for canoes and lumber for their longhouses, sharing their skills and knowledge with the immigrants.

Chief Si'ahl and his tribes were helpful in times of distress. With no cows available, the new European-American immigrants lacked milk for their children.  The Dkhw’Duw’Absh showed them how to substitute clam juice.  The Dkhw’Duw’Absh helped to shelter the newcomers, teaching them how long boards could be split from straight-grained cedar.  The Dkhw’Duw’Absh also traded salmon, venison, furs, and even potatoes from Dkhw’Duw’Absh gardens, to the new arrivals.

 

Denial of a Reservation and Promised Goods and Services

In 1866, United States Indian Agent Thomas Paige recommended to the United States government that a reservation be established for the Dkhw’Duw’Absh.  European-American immigrants - including Seattle civic leaders - petitioned against a Dkhw’Duw’Absh reservation near the City of Seattle. In their letter to Congress member Arthur Denny, the European-American immigrants protested that “such a reservation would do a great injustice”, claiming that the promised reservation would be “of little value to the Indians”. It is said that Denny’s life was threatened.

The European-Americans immigrants' protest petition blocked any reservation being established for the Dkhw’Duw’Absh.  Promises made by the United States United States government over 150 years ago to the Dkhw’Duw’Absh in the Point Elliott Treaty have never been honored.

The promise of a Duwamish reservation and all of the other Treaty promises made by the United States government to the Dkhw’Duw’Absh over 150 years ago in the Point Elliott Treaty have never been kept.

For an Indepth, 20 page article written by Thomas Speer of the DTS Council on the Life of Si’ahl, click here

From article entitled “Dkhw’Duw’Absh, "People of the Inside"”

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Chief Si’ahl’s Family

Taken from “Chief Seattle’s Wives and Children,” compiled by Tom Speer, Duwamish Tribal Services Board of Directors

Si’ahl, otherwise known as Chief Sealth or Seattle, was a paramount chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish. He had two wives and sired seven children, notably Princess Angeline (Kikisoblu in Lushootseed) and Jim Seattle.

His first wife, a Duwamish woman by blood, was called Ladaila, a French-Canadian slang for “Girly,” an affectionate nickname. Her Lushootseed name is unknown. Lalaida gave birth to two daughters, Princess Angeline (Kikisoblu) and Mary.

 

First Daughter:  Kikisoblu, Princess Angeline

First Husband:  Dokub Cud (Skagit and Cowchan)

Second Husband: Talisha (Duwamish Chief)

 Lizzie, Also called Betsy

 Husband:  Joe Foster

 Child: Joe Foster, Jr. (Raised by Kikisoblu)

 

 Kikisoblu’s Daughters: Mary, also called Mary Talisa and Enie Marie

 Husband: William DeShaw

 First Husband:  Seth McPhee

 Second Husband: J.C. Thompson

 

With his second wife, named Owiyahl, Chief Si’ahl two sons and three daughters, whose names are today unknown.  According to Sca’la, Lummi Elder Pauline Hillaire, the second wife of Si’ahl was daughter of Sakhumkun the Older. Sca’la is a descendant of  Sakhumkun.

 

First Son: Jim Seattle

Married (unknown)

 Son: Moses Seattle (Moses Seattle was a dwarf)

Second Son:  George Seattle, also called Sakhumkun the Younger

Daughters: Si’ahl and Owiyahl had three daughters (unknown)