Chief Seattle

Duwamish Tribe

A small body of Salish near Seattle, Washington, which city was named from a chief of these and the Suquamish Indians.  Their proper seat, according to Gibbs, was at the outlet of Lake Washington.  In 1856 they were removed to the east shore of Bainbridge Island, but owing to the absence of a fishing ground were shortly afterwards taken to Holderness point, on the west side of Elliot Bay, which was already a favorite place for fishing.

The name, being well known, has been improperly applied collectively to a number of distinct bands in this neighborhood.  Their population about 1856 is variously given from 64 to 312. The remnant is incorporated with the Snohomish and others under the Tulalip School, north west Washington altogether numbering 465 in 1904.

Chief Seattle

Chief Seattle
Chief Seattle

Without doubt this chief was the most conspicuous member of that portion of his race inhabiting Puget Sound. He was the ruler of the Duwamish tribe from the time of the earliest settlement of the territory to his death. He was always the firm friend of the Whites, never heeding, but to refuse, the frequent importunities of his people to join the hostile bands. When taunted for this as cowardice, he replied that when there was cause for shedding blood they would find him on the war path night and day. In after years his traducers expressed their gratification that his hand had not been stained with the blood of the Whites.

In personal appearance Seattle was short, spare, round-shouldered, with a large head adorned with masses of long, black hair. His dress was usually neat and clean, consisting of shirt, pantaloons, and blanket loosely thrown over his shoulder. He commonly wore a high peaked hat of native manufacture. The death of this good-hearted old man occurred in 1866, at an unknown though doubtless great age. He was buried in accordance with the rites of the Catholic church in a cemetery near his village of “Old-man House.” His grave is well kept by his descendants, while all the early white settlers join with his own people in revering his memory. As may be readily surmised, the name of the Queen City of the Sound is derived from that of this chief.


Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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