The Bitter Waters of Medicine Creek: A Tragic Clash Between White and Native America

Richard Kluger, Knopf, $28.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-307-26889-1
In the mid–19th century, the rainy shores of Puget Sound were among America's last frontiers—and the site of a brief but fierce war fought in 1855–1856 between the Nisqually tribe and the territory's militia and army. With vivid detail, Kluger (Simple Justice) examines the encounter, beginning with the benchmark 1853 treaty of Medicine Creek and its ambitious architect, Gov. Isaac Stevens, who "bloodlessly wrested formal title to 100,000 square miles." Despite scant source materials, the author sketches a portrait of Leschi, the Nisqually chief, whose resistance to the treaty placed him in direct confrontation with Stevens. After Leschi's arrest for allegedly killing a militiaman, Stevens engineered the chief's 1856 prosecution—and ultimate conviction and execution. (Leschi's final statement is heartrending: "I do not know anything about your laws, I have supposed that the killing of armed men in war time was not murder. If it was, then soldiers who killed Indians were guilty of murder too.") The conclusion, the 2004 exoneration of Leschi's actions by an unofficial historical court, followed by the launch of the tribe's Red Wind casino, winds up being a redemptive postscript to an affecting chapter of regional history. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 11/15/2010
Release date: 03/01/2011
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-87931-8
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-87929-5
Open Ebook - 249 pages - 978-0-307-59534-8
Paperback - 330 pages - 978-0-307-38896-4
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