"The Alliance of the Quinault and Chinook Tribe"
ddr11 at UVIC.CA
Fri Jun 20 16:27:17 UTC 2008
"The Alliance of the Quinault and Chinook Tribe"
By Myrtle Johnson Woodcock
Editor's Note: Myrtle Johnson Woodcock was born April 13,1889, the
year Washington Territory became a state, and died February 27, 1973. She
was the youngest child of Pacific County pioneers James Johnson, Jr., and
lane Cecile Haguet. Captain Jimmy, as he was known to friends, carried mail
from Astoria to Willapa Valley for many years prior to his death by drowning
on Shoalwater Bay in January 1889. Jane (who married William Howard, South
Bend, after the death of lames) was a teacher in the pioneer schools of
Myrtle's family tree is firmly rooted in Pacific Northwest soil. She
was the proud descendent of Chinook and Quinault Indians and Hudson Bay
Company employees. Among her ancestors were Chief Uhlahnee of the Chinook
band living at Celilo Falls near the Dalles, Chief Hoqueem of the Quinault
tribe (after whom the town of Hoquiam is named), and Captain James Johnson,
Sr., retired HBC employee and holder of a 638 acre Donation Land Claim at
Ilwaco (settled claim in 1849).
Throughout her life, Myrtle wrote and published several poems
reflecting her deep love and understanding of her dual heritage. One of the
earliest, "The Chief of the Willapa Council", was printed in the South Bend
Journal, April 28, 1918. It is a stirring call to arms, imploring Native
Americans to fight the hated Kaiser because,
Those old braves who fought in darkness
They could scarcely see the right
But the message they would send you
"For your country go and fight!"
Most of Myrtle's poems retell Indian legends or invoke memories of
pioneer days on Shoalwater Bay. Three of her works ("The Plungers," "The
Pioneers" and "Legend of the Wild Blackberry") were printed in earlier
issues of The Sou'wester (Summer 1968, page 39, and Spring 1973, pages 10-12
& 20). "The Alliance of the Quinault and Chinook Tribes", presented below,
is taken from an autographed, privately printed copy of the poem found in
the museum history files. The copy contains definitions for the Chinook
words she uses: Shilthlo (lightning), Wecoma (the sea), Whul lah Kokumel
(Indian Summer or warm harvest time), Twah Alchee (moonlight), and Kawock
Myrtle, and her husband Fred (who died in 1967), were charter members
of Pacific County Historical Society (1950). Their daughters, Mrs. William
B. (Oma) Singer of Vancouver, and Mrs. Dude (Myrtle lean) Little of Eureka,
CA, are the current guardians of the family interest in the history of
Pacific County. Both have been members of the society for many years.
On these shores where now White Man
Roams at will unarmed and free
Going each his way indifferent
To our wealth of legendry,
Here the Red Men held their council,
Had their feasts upon the ground,
Beat upon their doleful tom-toms
And the peace-pipe went its round.
Each tribe different from another,
And the pale-face found it so,
When he sought to trade among them
Oft' he met with savage blow.
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Had no time to speak or reason,
Whence he came or what he sought,
Gave his life up for the vengeance
That another's deed had wrought.
But the Chinook Tribe was peaceful
'Tho powerful as well.
On both shores of the Columbia
Near its mouth these braves did dwell.
The Clatsops and Multhnomahs
Were of this good old stock,
On their old beloved surroundings,
Only mournful spirits mock.
To the North the mighty Quinaults
Were a cruel and haughty band,
Massacres of deadly terror
Were imputed to their hand.
But wild rumors rose among them
When the cunning White Men came,
When disease and fire-water
Spread like Shilthlo's mighty flame.
They were called to sit in council
With the wary Chinook Chiefs,
Venturing to calm and settle
All their vague disturbing griefs.
Soon our old homes shall be taken,
Our old haunts shall be denied,"
Spoke the Chinook with great fervor,
"Let our two tribes be allied."
"'Tis a simple boon you ask!"
Came the Quinault's cold reply.
We shall form a tribal union,
But the Chinook name must die:
White and red men know the Quinaults,
Know them with a deadly fear,
Let the Chinook merge within us
As the treaty day draws near."
Once your tribe was great, Oh Quinault,
Rightfully your records claim,
White and red men each have fallen
'Neath your cool steady aim.
But the white-man sits in council,
His last battle has been won,
He will keep the name of Chinook,
For the good that they have done."
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Quinault braves and Chinook maidens
Roaming on the river shore,
Saw no cloud to mar their vision
Nor dark shadows to deplore.
Heard the dull roar of Wecoma,
But no fear to them it gave,
Felt no sadness in the sighing
Of fate's cruel impelling wave.
For the time was Indian summer
Aye, the Whul lah Kokumel,
When the whispering winds of Autumn
Lend enchantment to the spell
And the moon-light-the Twa Allchee
Slyly beamed upon them too,
Mingled in their loving glances,
Ah, how well those young braves knew.
They defy me, cried the Quinault,
But the Chinook Chief benign
Silenced him with solemn gesture
This is Kawoks own design"
For he knew the words of mystery
Would the red man's awe incite.
" 'Tis Kawok, the guardian spirit
Bids our Tribes to thus unite."
Oh how well this thoughtful Chinook
Knew the simple savage mind
Could be moved by superstition,
More than all his pleas more kind.
Thus the Quinaults signed the treaty
Which gave the Chinooks part
Of his wealth of land and timber;
Yet this old tale stirs each heart.
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On these shores where roams the white-man
Never more these braves are found,
For their weary faltering footsteps
Sought the Happy Hunting Ground.
On that land where no resentment
And no battle-fires burn,
They at last shall find contentment
For which earthly spirits yearn.
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