Friday, September 23, 2011

Making up for history

Tacoma expelled Chinese residents in 1885, so Tacoma dedicates a park and a Ting:
“This has been a long, long time in coming,” said Gregory Youtz, who chairs the Tacoma-Fuzhou Sister City Committee and emceed the event. “We hope this helps Tacoma tell its story to the world.”

...

“This will become an icon in the community,” project manager Lihuang Wung said. “This is where people can get together, get married, think about our history and think about the future of our community.”

Lewis and Clark stole a canoe, so the decedents of Captain William Clark gave one back:
More than 200 years later, William Clark's descendants will make amends by presenting a 36-foot replica of the canoe to the Chinook Indian Nation during a ceremony here Saturday.

"We talked about what happened 205 years ago, and we believed that things could be restored if something like this were done," said Carlota Clark Holton of St. Louis, Mo., seven generations removed from William Clark.

"I think everyone acknowledges that it was wrong, and we wanted to right a wrong," she said. "The family was very much behind it."

And, of course, we put Leschi on trial again and exonerated him:
The reason it is so important to exonerate Chief Leschi is for the multiple generations of tribal ancestors who have lived a lifetime with the frustration and anger of knowing what happened to the last Chief of Nisqually.
I like this idea of returning to history, pulling back how the people came before us acted, and attempting to recognize and repair. Its a short-sighted point of view to say that none of us alive today were responsible for expelling the Chinese, stealing a canoe or killing Leschi, so why should we go through the process of honoring the better choices our ancestors could have made?

We do because history matters and its worth pointing out in a very deliberate (a ceremony or historic trial) and long lasting (a park) manner that something bad happened and we'd like not to repeat it.

That said, Olympia has some very dark acts near our founding that we should deal with. Olympia in the 1850s wasn't a very nice place at all:


Also worth noting is that Thurston County was named for a person who once said this:
[It] is a question of life or death to us in Oregon. The negroes associate with the Indians and intermarry, and, if their free ingress is encouraged or allowed, there would a relationship spring up between them and the different tribes, and a mixed race would ensure inimical to the whites; and the Indians being led on by the negro who is better acquainted with the customs, language, and manners of the whites, than the Indian, these savages would become much more formidable than they otherwise would, and long bloody wars would be the fruits of the comingling of the races. It is the principle of self preservation that justifies the actions of the Oregon legislature.

King County changed its name to elegantly avoid being named for a historic racist, might be worth an effort in Olympia.

6 comments:

Sarah said...

According to "Ka-mi-akin, the last hero of the Yakimas" by A. J. Splawn - Joseph Bunting did state that he had killed Quiemuth. Book also says that Bunting moved to Arizona, some say he died there, I haven't found location of his grave yet.

His wife Martha remarried, she and family buried in Yakima. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=74474977

I assume some Bunting descendents are still alive in Washington state. I wonder if any of them are interested in doing something similar to what the Clark family did with canoe.

Kathryn Brenner said...

Isn't it interesting that a hundred or so years ago, the white man pushed the Native American on to small confined spaces called reservations after taking away everything they considered precious. Today the Native Americans are doing the same thing to the White Man, pushing them into small confined spaces called Casinos and taking all of his gold... A fair exchange I think!

Emmett said...

From the Splawn book:

"The reason Bunting gave for the (killing Quiemuth)..."

Wow, I've been over that passage a few times, and I never really got that phrase. It does seem, at least according to Splawn, that Bunting did admit to killing Quiemuth.

That said, I don't think we really need to dig up any Bunting decedents. All Olympians are decedents of the community decision not to seek justice for Quiemuth's murder.

Sarah said...

"That said, I don't think we really need to dig up any Bunting decedents. All Olympians are decedents of the community decision not to seek justice for Quiemuth's murder."

Very well stated Emmett, thank you. I was wondering if somehow the Bunting family needed to be contacted or to participate - but you are right, we are all community and all involved.

Tom said...

The treaty with the Indian Tribes was signed on James McAllister’s farm at Medicine Creek in late 1854, as the family had very good relations with the local Indians at the time.

My GG Grandmother Martha McAllister Bunting, who came to the Thurston, WA area as a 5-year old in 1845, was a newlywed when Indians killed her father James McAllister in 1855. Her husband Joseph Bunting subsequently killed Quiemuth while he was in Gov. Steven's home. As you also mention, Martha's brother was later among the party that killed another Indian who was thought to have actually been part of killing James McAllister.

A little over 20 years later (1878) Joseph's and Martha Bunting oldest child Blanche (also a newly wed) was killed with her husband by Indians near Yakima. One of Martha’s sons was then involved in tracking down and killing one of the Indians accused in those killings.

Indians in Arizona Territory almost exactly 30 years after all these killings started, killed Joseph Bunting (1885).

There is certainly some Karma or something involved in all this…

Emmett said...

@Tom: Holy cow, that is some amazing history. Thank you so much for the comment.

Here are some quick links I was able to come up with about the continuing troubles of the Bunting clan.

Death of Bunting's daughter in 1878:
http://tinyurl.com/8oxaxte

Bunting's own death in Arizona in 1885:
http://tinyurl.com/8mllhfd