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Chief Seattle

AKA Chief Sealth

Born: c. 1786
Birthplace: Blake Island, WA
Died: 7-Jun-1866
Location of death: Port Madison, WA
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Suquamish Tribal Cemetery, Suquamish, WA

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: American Aborigine
Occupation: Military, Diplomat

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Namesake of the city of Seattle

Chief Seattle, namesake of the city in the American northwest, was a 19th century leader of the Duwamish tribe in what is now Washington state, who befriended white settlers and protected them from attack by other native tribes. His father was of the Suquamish tribe, his mother was Duwamish, and as a young warrior he led battles against other local tribes, and kept slaves chosen from among the conquered.

The Chief is best known for an eloquent speech on peace and environmentalism which he almost certainly did not deliver. He did address settlers at the visit of an Indian Affairs official in 1848, but realistically, no-one now alive knows what he said. He gave the speech in his native language, Lushootseed, which only the natives understood well; it was transcribed in a pidgin hybrid and later translated into English, but the eloquent, much-quoted version was not published until almost four decades later, in 1887, and subsequent versions of the speech have included major revisions and insertions that serve various political interests.

The city is pronounced See-at-ul, but the Chief's name was almost impossible for English-speakers to vocalize. Experts say the closest approximate pronunciation would be "See-ahlsh", and spelling variants include Sealth, See-atch, Seathle, Seathl, and Seeahth. According to folklore, he was ill at ease with having the white settlers' community named for him, since his people believed that the dead could not rest in peace if the living spoke their names frequently. Still, after the town took his name he visited often, and was seen as a well-liked community character. His eldest daughter, Kikisoblu (called "Princess Angeline" by settlers), was also a respected local fixture, selling hand-woven baskets in the town's Pioneer Square until her death in 1896.

Father: Schweabe (Suquamish Chief)
Mother: Scholitza (of the Duwamish tribe)
Wife: La-Dalia
Wife: Olahl
Daughter: Kikisoblu ("Princess Angeline", b. circa 1820, d. 1896)

    Converted to Catholicism 1848
    Slaveowners


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