Native Americans rebury Chief Leschi on tribal land on July 4, 1895.

  • By Staff
  • Posted 7/03/2003
  • Essay 5480
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On July 4, 1895, the body of Nisqually Chief Leschi (1808-1858) is reburied on the Nisqually Reservation in Pierce County south of Tacoma. One thousand people, mostly Native Americans representing the Nisqually, Puyallup, Muckleshoot, Black River, Green River, and White River tribes attend the ceremony.

Chief Leschi had been friendly to American settlers but he objected to the terms of the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1854, and was a leader on the Indian side of the Indian wars of 1855-1856. He was charged with murder (falsely, in the opinion of many pioneers), and hanged in 1858.

Chief Leschi had been buried at the mouth of Muck Creek near where he had been hanged in 1858. The remains of Leschi's brother Quiemuth, who was buried on the Huggin's Ranch in Pierce County, were also moved to the Nisqually cemetery. A settler murdered Quiemuth in 1858 in the office of Governor Isaac Stevens.

Ezra Meeker (1830-1928), who in 1858 had voted to acquit Leschi but then refused to block his execution, chartered a train to escort white Tacomans to the ceremony. To him, according to Alexandra Harmon in Indians in the Making, Leschi was "a patriotic martyr to [Governor Isaac] Steven's political ambition and ill-conceived policies." The Northern Pacific Railroad ran an excursion train to Maxfield, two miles from the burial site. Tribal members with wagons met visitors to carry them to the ceremony.


"Chief Leschi's body: Dust of the Warrior Chief to Be Reinterred Tomorrow, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 3, 1895, p. 1; "Leschi's New Grave," Ibid., July 4, 1895, p. 2; Alexandra Harmon, Indians in the Making: Ethnic Relations and Indian Identities around Puget Sound (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 147-149.

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