Chief Seattle (c. 1780–1866)

Native American leader. A fierce young man, Seattle (also Seathl or Sealth) was chief of the Suquamish, Duwamish, and allied Salish tribes of the Pacific Northwest. He was baptized a Roman Catholic in 1848 and, foreseeing the unstoppable influx of whites, became an advocate of peace. Local settlers honored him and his work by naming their town Seattle, an Anglicization of Si’ahl (his name in his native language, Lushootseed). His famous “Address” is a reply to an offer to buy over two million acres of Indian land around Puget Sound, proffered in 1854 by Isaac Stevens, governor of the newly created Washington Territory. (No authenticated translation of the speech exists; the most common version was first published thirty-three years after the fact.) Because of Seattle’s example, his people avoided the bloody warfare that afflicted the territory from 1855 until 1870. See also chiefseattle.com.