OCTOBER 28, 1855

BEGINNING OF THE PUGET SOUND WAR AND THE WHITE RIVER MASSACRE

The 1854 Treaty of Medicine Creek preserved Native fishing rights, but took away Nisqually farm land. Chief Leschi refused to give up this land. in October, after a citizen militia clashed with Nisqually, Governor Stevens ordered the capture of Leschi. The Puget Sound War began when Nisqually killed 8 settlers in what was called the “White River Massacre.” Americans then herded 4,000 tribal members onto Fox Island–many died from inadequate food & shelter. Leschi initially tried to unite the regional tribes; however, when the governor called for the killing of all “hostile Indians,” Leschi sent his brother, Quiemuth, to offer his surrender. Quiemuth was murdered. Stevens renewed his calls for Native leaders’ heads and offered a reward. Leschi’s nephew then revealed his location. He was captured, tried, found guilty of murder, and hung in 1858. In 2004, Chief Leschi was informally exonerated by a unanimous vote by a Historical Court of Inquiry. However, the exoneration was not legally binding. 

Sources:
  “The Puget Sound War,” Native American Netroots, 7/3/2011.  Retrieved 4/18/2022, The Puget Sound War | Native American Netroots
Drawing:  Lieutenant Thomas S. Phelps of the Decatur and photographed by an unknown photographer, 1855. Public Domain. Source: University of Washington Libraries. Special Collections Division. Seattle Photograph Collection. Website: http://content.lib.washington.edu/seattleweb/index.html  Image: http://content.lib.washington.edu/u?/seattle,328

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