In 1895, Edward S Curtis, the prolific American photographer, took his first portrait of a Native American subject, a wrinkled elderly woman with a red handkerchief, paying her a dollar for the trouble. Later on, one of these portraits would make Curtis a widely decorated and internationally acclaimed photographer, but it his subject who has the most interesting story to tell. She was more than an old Native American woman with a weathered brow and downturned lips; she was Princes Angeline, the eldest daughter of Chief Seattle, and for many years a prominent link connecting Natives and settlers.
Born in 1820 in Lushootseed, near modern day Seattle, Kikisoblu (Kick-is-om-lo) was the first daughter of Chief Seattle, the leader of a Suquamish Tribe (Suquamish) and Dkhw’Duw’Absh (Duwamish). When American settlers arrived in Seattle, Chief Seattle befriended one of them, David Swinson “Doc” Maynard.
When the second wife of “Doc” Maynard, Catherine Maynard, saw the beautiful Kiksoblu, she said, “You are too good looking for a woman to carry around such a name as that, and I now christen you Angeline.”
In 1855, when Angeline was in her mid-30s, the U.S government, with the Treaty of Point Elliott, forced all the Suquamish Indians away from their land and onto a reservation. Rather than joining this exodus, Angeline refused to leave her home in Seattle and stayed in her waterfront cabin on Western Avenue, between Pike and Pine Streets, near what is now Pike Place Market. She gained the title “princess” because of her father, but also for her bold and dignified manner despite her situation.
Princess Angeline stayed true to her roots, but had to make a living, so she did laundry for the settlers and sold native handicrafts such as handwoven baskets that she made in the evening.
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