IPR is featuring some of the many Native American and Indigenous pioneers and modern-day heroes to celebrate Native American Heritage Month. This post appears courtesy of The Seattle Times and The History Channel.
Chief Seattle, or Sealth, was a leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes in what is now Washington State. He is well-known for a famous speech he made in 1854 that was resurrected in the 1970s during the environmental movement and noted as the “embodiment of all environmental ideals.” Chief Seattle was well-known for being a warrior, orator, and diplomat. According to Historynet:
[Chief Seattle] worked to increase cooperation within the 42 recognized divisions of Salish people occupying Puget Sound, including his own Suquamish. In later years it was remembered that the old chief had a resonant voice that carried half a mile and that eloquent sentences rolled from his lips like the ceaseless thunders of cataracts flowing from exhaustless fountains.
When white settlers came to Washington in the 1850s, he welcomed them, arguing that resistance would hasten the tribes’ demise. According to biographer David Buerge, Chief Seattle was strategic and encouraged one of the area’s first pioneers to move their fishing business to Seattle. The Duwamish saved the settlers’ lives that first winter. To honor his leadership, the settlers named Seattle after him. His decisions and intercession paved the way for Seattle to be the city it is today.