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The Souvenir of Western Women/Sealth and Angeline

< The Souvenir of Western Women

Sealth and Angeline

By MISS E. I. DENNY, of Seattle

ACCUSTOMED as we are to hear these two famous names prefixed by "old," it may require a little effort to think of them as once having been young,

"In a far-off time,
That golden mist of distance doth enfolden,
They were in their prime."

In such a time Sealth was a young "tyee" of the Soljampsh Indians of Puget Sound, possessed of a vigorous physique, a keen eye, an unerring hand. In common with other Indian lads, he had learned wood, water and hunting craft. He became an important figure in his world of wild nature and wild men. As time went on he married, obtained slaves, became rich, a "hyas tyee" (big chief). Sealth had more than one wife, and three sons and five daughters. Schweabe, a tall Soljampsh chief, was Sealth's father. Woodsholitza, a Duwampsh woman, was his mother. Of them but little is known. In his dealings with the white race, Chief Sealth was just, peaceable and generous. He was known to the pioneers as the chief of a number of tribes, and as exercising considerable influence, mainly by his oratory. When the roving bands drew up their long, dark canoes to the pebbled beach, Sealth's majestic voice rang out in power and convincing argument on the listening ears of warrior braves gathered about the council fire. He was not a great fighter, although he made several war expeditions upon his enemies in which he was successful.

During the Indian war of 1855-6 Sealth was friendly to the whites, and counseled his people to keep the peace.

The pioneers modified the name of Sealth to Seattle, generally speaking of him as "Old Seattle." The honor and esteem in which he was held found expression in the naming of the newly platted "town" of Seattle in 1852. Chief Sealth, baptized Noah Sealth, died and was buried at Port Madison reservation, being of the (supposed) age of 80 years. A beautiful monument of Italian marble, provided by A. A. Denny and other prominent pioneers of Seattle, marks his resting place.

Of Chief Sealth's descendants, his daughter, Ka-ki-is-il-ma, called Angeline by the whites, is the best known. Her mother was the first wife of Sealth. There is only a meager account of her mother, who must have died some time previous to the coming of the white people. And the grown-up young Ka-ki-is-il-ma, with smooth brown cheeks, round limbs, bright, full eyes, abundant hair, sound white teeth; how different from the one we have known! Wrinkled, leathery, lame, poor old Angeline!

Do-kub-kun, the Skagit chief, came from the northward, to place the courtship poles against her father's wigwam at Sma-qua-mox (Alki Point) on a mild September day, ankuti (long ago). Sealth consented, for what price, if any, we know not. She stepped, as a princess would, into the big canoe of the "tyee" from the Skagit and went a proud and willing bride to dwell with his tribe for a time. Doubtless she wore, as she described to the writer, her newest robe of deerskin and collar of shells. Left a widow ("Taliska"), a Duwampsh chief took her to wife, and he in turn departed to the spirit land. Her two daughters, Che-wat-tum, or "Betsy" and "Mamie," were married to white men.

Unlike her father, Sealth, who remained quietly on the reservation allotted to him, Angeline persisted in living near the white people in Seattle. For a long time in her old age she lived in a little shack on the water front with Joe Foster, her grandson. She was a Catholic, and a good woman according to her light. She worked for white people until too old, and was then provided for by the pioneers. I believe neither she nor Sealth ever partook of the white man's intoxicants; the natives never made an alcoholic beverage.

Angeline died on May 31, 1896, probably near 90 years of age. She was buried with honors by the pioneers and others, reposing in a canoe-shaped coffin as though voyaging to unknown shores. Rev. X. Prefontaine conducted the services, which were attended by a great concourse of white people. According to a wish she had expressed, she was buried near her old pioneer friends in Lakeview cemetery, Seattle, and the children of the city of Seattle placed a stone at her grave.

Angeline was industrious and honest; showed courage and determination; had affection for her children; had faith; said she "knew God saw her all the time," and in failing years that she never lay down to sleep without saying her prayers. "For," said she, "I might die in the night."