Princess Angeline: When the Settlers Arrived, She Refused to Leave Her Home and Lived There Until the Day She Died
In 1895, American photographer Edward S Curtis took his first portrait of a Native American subject - a wrinkled elderly woman with a red handkerchief; he paid her a dollar for the trouble. Later on, one of these portraits would make Curtis an internationally acclaimed photographer, but it his subject who has the most interesting story to tell. She was more than just an old Native American woman with downturned lips and a weathered brow; she was Princes Angeline, 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 and Dkhw’Duw’Absh (Duwamish). When American settlers first arrived in Seattle, Chief Seattle befriended one of them, David Swinson “Doc” Maynard.
When Catherine Maynard, Doc Maynard's second wife, 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, under the Treaty of Point Elliott, all the Suquamish Indians were pushed away from their land and onto a reservation. Rather than joining her people in the exodus, Angeline refused to leave her home in Seattle. She 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 she was the daughter of the Chief, 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 washed laundry for the settlers and sold native handicrafts that she made in the evening. Princess Angeline was living in two worlds; one that was slowly fading away, of which she was the ghost, and the other where she was alone barely getting by.
She became a recognizable figure on the streets of Seattle, with a shawl and a red handkerchief over her head, and the locals became attached to her.
Following the steps of her father, Princes Angeline became a Christian and remained in the Roman Catholic Church until her death on May 31st, 1896. Princess Angeline, upon her death, was given a decent funeral in Seattle’s Church of Our Lady of Good Help. Her coffin was in the shape of a canoe.
The Chronicle of Holy Names Academy reported:
May 29, 1896. With the death of Angeline Seattle died 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.
Years after the death of Princess Angeline, her cabin was torn down, and her place became a part of the waterfront until Pike Place Market was formed.