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
“…[A]t 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 QuileuteIndependent 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 better future.
The first 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 exists today.
Even before 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.
Since this 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.
Negative 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.
The older 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.
Although 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, 17 Dec.1908, p3). Hudson sought to reverse this process of degeneration; the first step in his plan was through education.
In every 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).
Hudson 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.
An example 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.
Although it 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).
Call to Assimilate
Because 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).
W.H. 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.
© Heather McKimmie
HSTAA 200 Winter 1999
Andrade, Manuel J… Quileute Texts. New York: Columbia University Press, 1931.
Quileute Independent vol 1.no 1. 17, Dec. 1908
Quileute Independent vol 1.no 2. 21 Jan. 1909.
Quileute Independent vol 1.no 3. 4 Feb. 1909.Quileute Chieftain vol 1.no 1. 27 Jan 1910.
Quileute Chieftain vol 1.no 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.