by Heather McKimmie
Abstract: The Quileute
Independent began publication in 1908 in La Push, Washington. Its
editor, W.H. Hudson was a member of the Quileute tribe who had attended Chemawa
Indian School, near Salem, Oregon. The next year the newspaper changed
its name to the Quileute Chieftain with Hudson continuing as
editor. Six issues of the combined newspaper are available on microfilm
at the University of Washington Library
* * *
that time [the 1840’s] the Pacific was never known to get too rough,
but, since the coming of the white man, the ocean appears to be rough
most of the time.” These words, printed in The Quileute
Chieftain newspaper in 1910, show just one of the perceived
effects that the coming of white settlers had on Native Americans during
the era of manifest destiny in the United States. However, the water
being a “little rough” seems to be a gross understatement; the
compounded effects of white influence on the natives is better equated
to the devastating terror of a tsunami. After being uprooted and
relocated to a one-square mile reservation and introduced to
“civilization” by white settlers, the Quileute tribe lost much of its
previous way of life. The Quileutes, like other tribes of the United
States, saw many of its members drowning in the undertow of government
dependence. These natives of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state
discovered that their best chance for surviving the oppressive wave of
white culture was to embrace the ways of those who sought to assimilate
them. As is evident by the views expressed in The Quileute
Independent and its later counterpart The Quileute Chieftain
(published 1908-1910,) many Quileutes altered their traditional
religious beliefs and accepted the white man’s education in pursuit of a
contact between the Quileutes and the whites is best expressed in a
popular story among the members of the tribe. According to Quileute
folklore, in the 1850’s a large steamship full of white settlers ran
into a rock at James Island, near La Push, where the Quileute
Reservation is now located. The Quileutes entertained and took good
care of the men who had wrecked in exchange for some of the strange
items the whites had onboard: flour, dried fruit, and gold coins. Then,
according to the oral accounts of Quileute lore taken by Leo J.
Frachtenberg in 1915 and 1916, “one White man came to Quileute-land. . .
. All the Quileute knew the name of the good white man” (Andrade, 209).
This man was Isaac I. Stevens, governor of Washington Territory, who was
sent to make a treaty with the Quileutes in the mid 1850’s. Because the
Quileute land was so remote, the natives were not forced to move, and in
1889 President Cleveland set up the reservation at La Push that still
the Quileutes were confined to their reservation, the tribe felt the
effects of the influx of settlers. As told by Hallie George, a
half-blood Quileute, to Frachtenberg: “Then not many years afterward
[after Steven’s visit] the White people came to where the Quileute used
to live. They drove away the Indians forbidding them to live where they
used to live. . . .They were deprived of all their land by the White
people” (Andrade, 211). Not only were the settlers taking land from the
Quileutes, they were also starting to take away the language and
traditions of the tribe. Seven years prior to the creation of
reservation boundaries, a school was set up in La Push by Mr. and Mrs.
A.W. Smith, who sought to anglicize and educate their pupils. The
Quileutes were given names from the Bible and American history. Many
names that appear throughout The Quileute Chieftain and
Quileute Independent prove this: the editor’s name is W.H. Hudson,
and employees and frequently mentioned names of the paper have names
such as William Penn and Robert E. Lee.
paper was printed from 1908-1910, the editor was probably a member of
the first generation of Quileutes to be educated in the Indian schools
run by whites. Along with the reservation education at the Quileute
school, which is described as “the good influence Mr. Smith had over the
Indians” (Chieftain 2 Feb. 1910, p2), W.H. Hudson also attended
Chemawa Indian School, near Salem, Oregon. Because there are very few
bylines in the paper, the reader must assume that the editor is writing
the majority of the articles. The views presented in the articles are
obviously based on the type of education Hudson had. At Chemawa, like
many other Indian schools of the time, Native Americans were sent away
from their families to remove the child “from the hindering influences
of his home” (Chieftain n1, p4). The children were dressed and
taught to look and act white, often spending time with white families to
learn customs first-hand. Thus, it is not surprising that throughout
the papers, the white culture is the standard to which the success of
the Native Americans was measured. This is not to say that Hudson did
not have pride in his people; he sincerely wanted to see his race
furthered in society. However, the only way he saw to accomplish this
goal was to promote white education and religion. To do this, he used
two strategies; he constantly labeled Native American traditions and
culture as being detrimental to the advancement of his people, and he
promoted the acceptance of white education and religion.
views of past traditions are clearly shown in an article entitled “Our
Christmas:” “Mr. Web. Jones began the ceremonies by singing his ever
favorite primitive songs which our ancestors used to entertain their
host and host[e]ss in the past days. It is interesting more than
astonishing to watch the festivities of these older class of Indians and
note the difference between the ‘old and new’” (Independent 21
Jan. 1909, p1). With these words, the reader comes away with the sense
that the Quileute songs and traditions were nothing more than
entertainment to the younger generations; the editor portrayed the past
as having little relevance to the educated, modern Quileutes.
generations were also depicted as being against the furthering of the
education, and therefore against the societal advancement, of the
Quileutes: “However, unlike the past generations of Indians the present
ones believe in the education of our pale-face brothers and are sending
pupils to school at home or abroad” (Chieftain 27 Jan 1910, p2).
To cite another example, in a later article, to be uneducated was to
fall “back to the customs of the old Indians. We hope that this will
not continue to be so” (Chieftain 9 Feb. 1910, p2). The ways of
the older Indians were thought of as important only for posterity’s
sake. “Over fifty years ago before civilization was known to the
Indians, many interesting events were going on annually, which were not
kept on record. . . .If there were any historian in our midst a long
article could be made. . .” (Chieftain, 9 Feb. 1910, p1). The
events of the past are merely thought of as “interesting” and worthy
only to be remembered for historical purposes.
the papers have quite a few references to the past, the main aim of The
Quileute Independent and the Chieftain was to prepare Native
Americans for the future, “to open the eyes of the Indian population in
the great Western country so that they will realize their opportunities
are equal to that of the white man” (Chieftain 2 Feb. 1910, p2).
Not only was the paper aimed towards Indians, it was also aimed toward
“those who do not believe that the Indian is capable of ability and
capacity” (Chieftain 2 Feb. 1910, p1). This refers to the white
population in general, those who put the Indians on the reservations,
“where they instead of advancing, were miserable paupers.” (Independent,
p3). Hudson sought to reverse this process of degeneration; the first
step in his plan was through education.
edition of the newspaper (there are six available in the University of
Washington library system), articles on the importance of education are
featured multiple times. Along with lengthy advertisements and
descriptions of out-of-state Indian schools, such as Chemawa in Oregon
and Carlisle in Pennsylvania, The Quileute Independent /
Chieftain explained in detail about the benefits of a good
education. One of the most persuasive articles related education
directly to future earnings. By comparing the wages of educated and
uneducated men, the editor calculated that every day a child stays in
school is “equal to the gain of ten dollars” (Independent 17
Dec.1908, p1). He claimed that an educated man will make 22,000 dollars
more in his lifetime than his uneducated counterpart. By publishing
schoolchildren’s work in the paper and praising those children who were
accepted to Indian schools, Hudson was showing the public how Indians
can learn, as well as positively reinforcing the children with publicity
of their accomplishments. He also proposed academic activities, such as
the formation of a debate club by the young men of La Push, because “it
develops the brain” (Chieftain 27 Jan 1910, p3).
called for education, not only for children, but for Quileutes of all
ages. He believed that “Book[s] of vast knowledge [were] needed in
every home where one is able to read at all” (Independent, 17 Dec.1908,
p2). One article, entitled “Getting an Education,” discussed the
process of learning as continual throughout life: “One’s real education
begins before he ever sees or hears of a school, and never ends while he
lives” (Chieftain, 9 Feb. 1910, p1). Hudson argued that his
people could learn something every day, even if they were not in a
formal school setting. Classroom facilities were not available to the
older Quileutes who desired to learn, and this was a significant
hindrance to their opportunities for education. Even if all the Native
Americans in La Push desired to learn to read, there simply was not
enough room in the small school house to instruct them. For this
reason, Hudson offered a solution: “. . .a church is where we can
receive our education, even if it is the house of worship, if we are
above school age” (Chieftain, 9 Feb. 1910, p2). Although this
quote does not directly call for worship in the church, many other
articles in the Chieftain and the Independent display the
pervading underlying sentiment in the paper that encourages Christianity
among the Quileutes.
of this religious encouragement, evident in the very first article in
the inaugural edition of the Independent, was titled “Shaker
Religion Among Indians” (Independent, 17 Dec.1908,
p1). This was a detailed description about the origin of the Shakers
(not to be confused with the religious group on the East Coast) and an
overview of their beliefs. This religious sect originated near Olympia
where an Indian man named John Slocum claimed to die and arise to tell
his friends that he had been to heaven. He was sent back by God to tell
his fellow Indians how to be good Christians. John’s wife became a
follower of Christianity and when John suddenly became ill again, she
began shaking when she approached him and he improved dramatically.
This shaking became an important part of the Shaker religious
ceremonies, especially when praying for the sick or dead. The goal of
the Christian group was purported to be, “to follow the footsteps of our
Christian brethren of the white race, even though [the Shakers] are
worshipping in different manner. . .” (Independent, 17 Dec.1908,
p1). Another article in the same paper was a reprint from a newspaper
from New York called The Indian’s Friend. Along with education,
it states that “the Indian must have [C]hristian training and influence
for his hard fight in character-building” (Independent, 17 Dec.1908,
p2). This choice of articles by Hudson definitely shows his bias
towards Christianity, as other religions, even native ones, are very
rarely portrayed in the newspaper.
appears that Hudson supports Christianity, his specific allegiance to
the Shakers was probably due to the fact that they were the only
organized religious group in La Push. He wrote an editorial entitled
“Do We Need a Church?” that almost begged religious officials to set up
a Protestant building of worship on the reservation. Hudson states:
“Not a single missionary has ever been sent here to make an attempt to
Christianize the Quileutes” (Chieftain, 27 Jan 1910, p3). He
continued by asserting that the Indians believe in Jesus, even if their
mode of worship is odd. “A visitor will come in the Shaker Church and
look upon it as foolishness, but to the members it is a blessing. . .
They say they do not pray to any false god, but to whom our white
brothers call Jesus.” At the end of the article he assured any pastor
interested in starting a congregation in La Push that the community was
very willing to pay money to keep the church running. In another piece,
Hudson showed the societal value of a church: “One thing we believe
which is needed most, is the Church, where we can receive proper
religious training, so that we can learn to attend churches when we are
out in the civilized world an[d] be respected . . .” (Independent,
4 Feb. 1909, p2). This is not so much a call for the teachings of Jesus
Christ, but for the teachings of white society. He went on to say about
the Shakers: “. . . this would be an ideal society [one with a church]
for the Indians did they adhere to their creed and omit the shaking and
excitement.” Hudson clearly agreed with the white authorities of the
time that shaking was not civilized. These authorities posted
regulations regarding appropriate times to hold Shaker meetings in order
to control the people who shook day and night (Powell, 42).
Hudson was trying to convince his people to assimilate to the dominant
white culture, he made an effort to show examples of Indians who had
become important members of white society. In several issues he
highlighted local businessmen and wrote about their educational and
business achievements. One such article about Indian advancement,
“Another Indian Honored,” described a young man who returned to his
Indian school as a teacher and was elected “by the Prohibition party as
a presidential elector” (Independent 17 Dec.1908,
p1). Not only did this man have a prestigious position, he was clearly
against the use of intoxicating beverages, consumption of which has been
a problem to Native Americans since their introduction. Hudson also
took an active part in helping his fellow Native Americans, especially
children. In the January 21, 1909 issue of the Independent, he
announced his intention to “visit nearly every Indian agency and the
work printing among the Quileute boys will be introduced to other people
who like to see the Indian rise to higher stage of civilization” (Independent
21 Jan. 1909, p2).
Hudson’s papers were an attempt to help his Quileute brothers and
sisters advance and assimilate to the dominant wave of white culture.
He truly believed that his race was just as capable as the white race
and that his people were making slow steps toward progress. His view
was also held by members of the community who contributed pieces to the
paper. Jim Ward, a Quileute, sums up the assimilated native views of
Indian advancement well:
A few generations ago
the Indians could not do much of anything. They could not do one thing
which the white people could do. . . .But today they can do just
as well as any white man. . . .The progress of the Indian is growing
very rapidly . . . .We are desirous to learn white people’s ways. We do
not desire to do what our Indian friends used to do long ago.
As is evidenced in this
quote, other Quileutes shared in Hudson’s views of the Indian’s adoption
of the white man’s ways. However, the power that Hudson held over his
tribe is unclear. He may have been a leader of these people, convincing
his readers that by receiving white education and practicing
Christianity, Native Americans could become equal to the white man. On
the other hand, Hudson could have been just a vocal member of his tribe,
a voice through which the views of the majority of the community spoke.
In either case, these newspapers show the importance to some Quileutes
of assimilation for survival -- the importance of letting the waves of
white religion and education wash the Native Americans clean of their
traditional beliefs and values.
HSTAA 200 Winter 1999
Andrade, Manuel J..
Quileute Texts. New York: Columbia University Press, 1931.
Independent vol 1.no 1. 17, Dec. 1908
2. 21 Jan. 1909.
3. 4 Feb. 1909.
Chieftain vol 1.no 1. 27 Jan 1910.
2. 2 Feb. 1910.
Quileute Chieftain vol 1.no
3. 9 Feb. 1910.
Powell, Jay and Vickie
Jensen. Quileute: An Introduction to the Indians of La Push.
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1976.
Here are selected
pages from the Quileute Independent and Chieftain.
to open readable images, then double click in lower right corner.