Native American tribal leaders and Territorial Gov. Stevens sign treaty at Medicine Creek on December 26, 1854.

  • By Walt Crowley
  • Posted 2/20/2003
  • Essay 5254

On December 26, 1854, at a meeting at Medicine Creek in present-day Thurston County, 62 leaders of major Western Washington tribes, including the Nisqually and Puyallup, sign a treaty with Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens (1818-1862). The tribes cede most of their lands in exchange for $32,500, designated reservations, and the permanent right of access to traditional hunting and fishing grounds.

This pact was followed in January 1855 with the signing of treaties at Point Elliott (now Mukilteo) and Point No Point (near Hansville on the Kitsap Peninsula), which relocated the balance of Puget Sound tribes to reservations. The agreements did not secure a durable peace, however, and the new Territory experienced several bloody clashes over the next four years.

Nisqually Chief Leschi (d. 1858) later claimed not to have signed the treaty and fiercely resisted confinement on a reservation. He allegedly led an attack on Seattle on January 26, 1856, and was hanged in 1858 on unrelated (and, in the opinion of many pioneers, false) charges of murder and rebellion.


Clarence Bagley, History of Seattle (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1916); Bagley, History of King County, Washington (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1929); Edmond Meany, History of the State of Washington (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1909).

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