When the British, Spanish, and then Americans arrived in the Pacific Northwest, it may have appeared to them as an untamed wilderness. In fact it was a fully settled and populated land. Chief Seattle was a powerful representative from this very ancient world. Historian David M. Buerge has been researching and writing this book about the world of Chief Seattle for the past 20 years. Buerge has threaded together disparate accounts of the time from the 1780s to the 1860s--including native oral histories, Hudson Bay Company records, pioneer diaries, French Catholic church records, and historic newspaper reporting. Chief Seattle had gained power and prominence on Puget Sound as a war leader, but the arrival of American settlers caused him to reconsider his actions. He came to embrace white settlement and, following traditional native practice, encouraged intermarriage between native people and the settlers, offering his own daughter and granddaughters as brides, in the hopes that both peoples would prosper. Included in this account are the treaty signings that would remove the natives from their historic lands, the roles of such figures as Governor Isaac Stevens and Chiefs Leschi and Patkanim, the Battle at Seattle that threatened the existence of the settlement, and the controversial Chief Seattle speech that haunts the city that bears his name to this day.
DAVID M. BUERGE has been a teacher, historian, and writer. He is an alum of the University of Washington and the Peace Corps. He has been researching the pre- and early history of the city of Seattle since the mid 1970s. He has published 14 books of history and biography.