Chief Seattle

Chief Seattle

Seattle is the only major city named for a Native American leader. Recognized as a leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish people, Chief Seattle was known as a peace maker, and as a great speaker in his native Lushootseed language. This 1864 studio portrait is the only known photograph of the famous Indian leader.

The Chief's name was pronounced "See-Ahlth," which was difficult for English speaking settlers to say, so they smoothed it out by changing it to "Seattle," and it is sometimes written as "Sealth."

In addition to the city which bears his name, Chief Seattle's most enduring legacy is his 1854 speech which includes the famous statement,

"Every part of this country is sacred to my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove has been hallowed by some fond memory or some sad experience of my tribe."

In 1887, more than 30 years later, the speech was first printed in a Seattle newspaper, based on notes by Seattle pioneer Henry Smith. How well the speech truly captured the Chief's words, originally spoken in Lushootseed and translated into Chinook jargon and then into English, and how much reflected Smith's flourishes of Victorian oratory can't be determined with any certainty. But the speech is known throughout the world as a powerful statement from an Indian leader about his people's deep attachment to their native lands.

To read Chief Seattle's speech, visit www.suquamish.org and to learn more about his life, visit www.historylink.org, essay #5071.



Did You Know?

Doc Maynard, Seattle pioneer and sub-Indian Agent, became good friends with Chief Seattle and convinced his fellow settlers to change the name of their new town from Duwamps to Seattle in 1852, a year after it was founded.

brochure pdf

Seattle Native American Heritage Brochure
Download the guide here.