Seattle Now & Then: The Princess and the Chief, revisited

[A reminder from Paul, Jean and Clay: Signed and personally inscribed copies of our award-winning book, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred, are available for immediate delivery. Order now to receive your copy in time for the holidays!]

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN 1: Of the dozens of photos of Chief Seattle’s daughter, few are as candid as this one. It was taken probably around 1890, by an unknown photographer, on the boardwalk beside Pike Street and a half block west of Front Street, now First Avenue. The Pike Place Market would not be established for another 17 years. (courtesy Paul Dorpat)
THEN 2: A studio portrait of an elderly Chief Seattle, taken in 1864 by pioneer photographer E.L. Sammis. Thirty years earlier, William Fraser Tolmie, a young Hudson’s Bay Company doctor, wrote in his journals that Seattle was “a brawny Soquamish with a roman countenance & black curley hair, the handsomest Indian I have seen.” (Paul Dorpat)
NOW: Chief Seattle descendants Mary Lou Slaughter and Ken Workman pose in today’s Post Alley at Pike Place Market, just west of First Avenue, sporting Mary Lou’s woven cedar garments. Her exquisite design work can also be found in the intricate, inlaid cedar floor of the Duwamish Longhouse in West Seattle. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Dec. 12, 2019
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on Dec. 15, 2019)

From 12,000 years ago comes the nudge of native history
By Jean Sherrard

“For at least 12,000 years, the Duwamish people have been living here. They are buried under the streets and the sidewalks and houses of Seattle. Their DNA rises from the roots of the trees and when the wind blows through the leaves, those are the sounds of our ancestors.”
   – Ken Workman, descendant of Chief Seattle

For our recently published book, “Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred,” we chose 100 subjects from more than 1,800 columns that Paul Dorpat has contributed since he began in 1982. This week’s subject is one of our favorites. Originally appearing in March 2005, we present it afresh and updated with an amended cast of characters.

It features Kikisoblu (c. 1820-1896), eldest daughter of Chief Seattle, leader of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes. Catherine Maynard, the second wife of Doc Maynard, renamed her Angeline, and in time she became known as Princess Angeline because of her father’s status and her inherent dignity.

Refusing to be transported across Puget Sound to the Suquamish reservation, she lived for many years in a shack on Seattle’s waterfront. To survive, she worked hard, taking in laundry and selling her handmade baskets to settlers who displaced her people.

She lived in destitution but had her protectors. Late in her life, the Board of King County Commissioners instructed a grocer to give her whatever she needed and to send bills to the county.

For our “Now” photo, we enlisted the aid of two direct descendants of Chief Seattle. Mary Lou Slaughter, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Kikisoblu, is a master cedar weaver whose baskets and traditional clothing are prized for their artistry. Ken Workman, whose great-great-great-great-grandmother was Seattle’s second wife, is a Duwamish tribal council member and eloquent spokesman for his people – in both English and Coast Salish Lushootseed.

Mary Lou brought along several of her creations, including a cape for herself and a vest for Ken. During the 10 minutes we spent shooting the photo, both Clay Eals (column partner and our book’s editor) and I noted that Ken seemed uncomfortable, glancing over his shoulder several times.

Ken recalls: “I felt a couple little pushes on my elbow, as if someone was urging me to get out of the way – I said to myself, ‘Jean, take the picture’ — but when I looked around there was no one there.”

Skeptics may be wary, but Ken regards this insistent prod on his arm as yet another reminder of ancestors present, even in the oxygen we breathe. The nudge of history, I would accede (after pursuing many hundreds of photo repetitions), is strong in these parts and now and then gently urges that we step aside and pause to remember what came before.


To see Jean Sherrard’s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Jean, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below is a link to a video interview of Ken Workman.

VIDEO: Ken Workman is interviewed by Clay Eals on Aug. 21, 2016, for the SouthWest Stories series of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. 1:15:39.

Below is a link to a video interview of Mary Lou Slaughter.

VIDEO: Mary Lou Slaughter speaks of her life and work at her South Kitsap home in November 2019 to students of Hillside School Community. 14:17. (screen shot, Jean Sherrard)



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