Thursday, August 11, 2016

Death of Jeremiah, 1904

I continue poking around in the history of Indians in the Spokane area in the decades before and after 1900. This period, after the Indian Wars but before the regular confinement of Indians to reservations, seems understudied, yet with a rich set of primary resources. I hope to eventually write something substantial on the period, but until then, I will use this blog to record the little nuggets of information I discover.

Today, I was looking for something else, and came across this story in the November 21, 1904 issue of the Spokane Press:

Obviously, the story is condescending and borderline racist, but it has a lot of information as well. Jeremiah lived "in his teepee up on the hill at the end of North Monroe Street." I could not easily find a 1910 map of Spokane online, but this detail from a 1920 map show North Monroe ending around Cora. This is just a few blocks east of Drumheller Springs, a traditional native campsite into the 1920s.

     The end of Monroe Street circled in red. Drumheller Springs
      is the 
blank area to the left.

The funeral ceremony took place at "Smith & Co.'s undertaking rooms." I don't know where this was located, but presumably downtown. City directories would show the location. In 1912 the firm built a Baroque Revival building at 1124 W. Riverside that still stands today. After the Presbyterian funeral service--including the 30-40 Spokane Indians present singing "Nearer My God to Thee"--the coffin was loaded in a hearse and take to Greenwood Cemetery, where the natives conducted a ceremony in Salish. One wonders what they said. This page from local genealogist Maggie Rail shows the Jeremiah was in fact interred at Greenwood. This is notable as well, since Indian burials were not normally allowed at that cemetery.

 This newspaper article caught my eye because I had read of Jeremiah before. The Washington State Archives, Digital Archives has Jeremiah's burial return, which includes additional information. Jeremiah's father was Polition (a well-known leader in his own right) and his mother was Albri. It is unusual that an Indian death record for this period to list the parents, and that itself might have been a sign of respect for Jeremia. The main revelation from this record, though, is the cause of death:

"Chief Cause: accident. Contributing Cause: fell from a cliff." The death return also notes that Jeremiah died "at his camp North Monroe Street" and that his late residence was the Spokane Reservation.

Together these two documents tell us a fair amount--they show a group of Spokane Indians who were Presbyterian but who still practiced some native rituals, who moved back and forth between the Spokane Indian reservation and the city of Spokane, and who had a regular campsite on the northern edge of town.

No comments: