Politics

How I Learned About The History Of Seattle & Why It Matters To Me

*Disclaimer* This is not meant to be a detailed historical blog about Seattle. I’m just sharing snippets of what I’ve learned & read. My thoughts… that provoke more thought.

I was listening to the podcast LORE, when I was opened up to the history of Seattle.

It struck me as interesting because:

1)  I had never heard this version – the truth 

2) the irony of such historical happenings is never lost on me.

Especially right now.

Immigration is such a giant (and important) topic.

So this peek into our history of this city, which came as no real surprise, struck me harder than usual.

We really do have NO right to claim any piece of this country – based on origin, right, etc.

It’s for everyone or no one at this point.

And the thing is. The history of Seattle is not a standalone piece of America’s history.

This has happened everywhere.

When you Google “history of Seattle”, you’ll be lucky to find the actual history in the first page of articles, websites.

It’s laughable.

(the kind of laugh that happens so you don’t cry or lose your mind)

I found myself having to intentionally dig.

So shout out out to LORE for equipping me with enough knowledge to go down the right path.

History Podcast

Alright.

Main points.

Where Seattle stands was once “Little Crossing-Over Place” and was used by many to trail from the bay, the lake, and back.

On Puget Sound alone, there are approximately 10,000 proper names of places.

Today, 10,000 residents claim indigenous ancestry there.

You see….

The land surrounding Seattle wasn’t exactly up for grabs – surprise. It was already inhabited.

By

The Duwamish

The Muckleshoots.

The Suquamish.

And others.

Much like other parts of the countries history, that was totally cool at first.

Many of the tribes helped the early settlers.

They helped them make fields.

Taught them the benefits and how to use clam milk.

Guided them on building sustainable shelter.

The Natives helped them by selling game to them, cooking in their establishments, were lumbermen, etc.

Even mixed race unions were common.

The early settlers also originally fought federal efforts that were seeking to banish Natives to reservations.

But then. Well, settlers wanted more. They had used the Natives for what they needed.

The Northern Pacific Railroad was coming.

Natives were getting forced out.

As a way to adapt, many Natives began traveling into Seattle for employment.

In fields. Weaving & selling baskets, etc.

Do you think that earned them respect?
Naw.

It did earn them the right to watch one of their cherished & respected totem poles be cut down and placed in a damn park tho.

Settlers literally stole, desecrated, and put it up for their own entertainment.

Then, in the 19th century Natives were banned from the city.

Don’t worry though, the city kept its name… which is literally named after Chief Seattle.

Seattle
Chief Seattle

And if you think this is all over – think again.

During all of this “I’m literally going to take what isn’t mine because I want it” – said in my settlor voice – the Duwamish opposed the whole idea of a reservation.

(I mean, duh.)

And to this DAY (final decision made in 2015), they have been unsuccessful in obtaining federal tribal recognition.

This matters

But ya know.

Seattle still stands.

And apparently got its land and name from…. Thin air?!

All this to say.

It’s overwhelming to me that we aren’t taught the TRUE history of this country.

It’s overwhelming to me that this country came to be by sheer force and greed.

It’s overwhelming to me that, despite the above, citizens of this dark-historied country really think there is a leg to stand on when telling people from other countries that they can’t come & live here just because they want to.

Because THEY have no right to come live on our land and take our jobs.

But………………

*sigh*

Honestly. If you don’t see what’s ass-backwards with that, it’s simply because you’re choosing not to.

Blind ignorance has never looked good on anyone tho.

Remember that going forward.

 

 

 

Sources I learned from here & here  & here

 

2 Comments

  • Valarie Bunn

    There is a wonderful new book out, called Chief Seattle and the Town that Took His Name, by David Buerge. I have read the book and have heard the author speak about his research. Along with Native Seattle by Coll Thrush which you have cited, these are the two best book sources for looking at Seattle history from the native American point of view. It is always fascinating to get more insights on the motives and actions of these folks of early days of the city when white settlers and native Americans met and mixed.

    • hcmccall

      Thank you so much for letting me know about this book! I am definitely going to check it out – and I particularly like the title!
      I agree, it really is fascinating. I’m so wrapped up with the ins-and-outs of this history now. I’ve found myself trying to read anything I can get my hands on.

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