Guest Author - Phyllis Doyle Burns
And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children's children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land.
Chief Seattle, published in the Seattle Sunday Star, October 29, 1887
Folklore often is based on true events and actual historical figures. The Pacific Northwest abounds with tales of this type and a lot of them include stories of Native Americans. Princess Angeline is one of these historical and beloved figures.
Kikisoblu (c. 1820 - May 31, 1896) was the eldest daughter of Chief Seattle (Sealth), 1786 - 1866, leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes of the Pacific Northwest. She was born at what is now known as Rainier Beach in Seattle, Washington. When the tribes were being forced to live on reservations, due to the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, Kikisoblu refused to leave her home and continued to live in a cabin down by the waterfront near what is now the famous Pike Place Market area.
Kikisoblu was given the name of Princess Angeline by Catherine Broshears Maynard, of an early Seattle settler family, and the name stuck with her the rest of her life.
To support herself, Princess Angeline took in laundry and sold her handwoven baskets on the streets. She was a familiar figure in Seattle's downtown area and loved by all who knew her.
In 1896, The Chronicle of Holy Names Academy reported:
Death of Princess Angeline. May 29, 1896. With the death of Angeline Seattle passed away the last of the direct descendants of the great Chief Seattle for whom this city was named. Angeline—Princess Angeline—as she was generally called, was famous all over the world… Angeline was a familiar figure of the streets, bent and wrinkled, a red handkerchief over her head, a shawl about her, walking slowly and painfully with the aid of a cane; it was no infrequent sight to see this poor old Indian woman seated on the sidewalk devoutly reciting her beads. The kindness and generosity of Seattle’s people toward the daughter of the chief… was shown in her funeral obsequies which took place from the Church of Our Lady of Good Help. The church was magnificently decorated; on the somber draped catafalque in a casket in the form of a canoe rested all that was mortal of Princess Angeline.
Yet, as with the forced removal of her people to reservations, Princess Angeline also refused to leave even after her physical death. She was spiritually bound to her homeland and there she would stay! - Treaty or no!
The ghost of Princess Angeline walks the streets of Seattle and is often sighted on the landing of the Seattle to Bainbridge Ferry dock.
Why is she trying to get on the ferry? Why does she never make it to the other side of the waters? Or is she even contemplating getting on the ferry? Maybe she is just watching the people scurry about. In Pike Place Market, Angeline is often seen walking around, carrying her woven baskets. She vanishes when anyone approaches her. Even in early morning rains, she can be seen walking down the hill to sell her baskets at the market place. Or, she may just stroll along the waterfront - whatever suits her fancy.
I have visited Pike Place Market many times and the spirits of the past are felt strongly throughout the area. I may even have seen Angeline myself as I looked for authentic Native American baskets and once saw an old woman who had some beautiful ones. Thinking I would catch her on my way back out of the market, I could not find her.
The Museum of History and Industry, 2700 24th Ave. E., Seattle, has a bust and an oil on canvas of Princess Angeline. Angeline was a close friend of many of Seattle's founding families and the very rare pieces were donated by a private collector to the museum. The painting was also exhibited in Seattle's first world fair. In 2001, the museum had "A Change of Worlds" exhibit, where they displayed a souvenir vase and two apple dolls of Angeline. As Chief Seattle had said: "... these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe..."
For her people, Princess Angeline keeps watch over their homeland. Princess Angeline was buried at Lake View Cemetery, on Capitol Hill, in Seattle, Washington.
There is no death, only a change of worlds.
Chief Seattle, 1786 - 1866
Editor's note: The quotations used in this article were attributed to Chief Seattle, but the words were written by a screenwriter in 1971, Ted Perry, the screenwriter for Home, a 1972 film about ecology. The words of the speech are still beautiful and indicative of the feelings of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes.
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