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Finding Chief Kamiakin: The Life and Legacy of a Northwest Patriot Paperback – September 1, 2008
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Kamiakin's brother-in-law, Owhi, had asked some Catholic missionaries to establish a mission on his land near Ellensburg, WA in the late 1840's. Kamiakin saw the benefits Owhi's people were receiving through the missionaries so he asked them to put a mission on his land. So, St. Joseph's Mission was started in 1852. [...] It was was burned down by the settlers during the Indian Agent Bolan murder aftermath. But, it was rebuilt in 1870. [The chief could not be baptized because he refused to 'dump' four of his five wives, but by near his death he had only one still living so he sent for a priest for baptism. His children, however, were the first of the Yakima tribe to be baptized.] That very log church is still standing, and used for Mass, and we attended a special Indian Mass there this past weekend, and a picnic after. At that gathering I was able to get three of Chief Kamiakin's direct descendants to sign my copy of this book. One was a little girl who is his great, great, great, great, great, great granddaughter!
If you are interested in Pacific Northwest history, this book is a 'must.' If you are interested in the great chief, there is no better book so far written. It probably should be noted that there are MANY pictures in this book: paintings, drawings and photos. There are also family from all five of Kamiakin's wives, which were very carefully researched from living family members. You ceratinly can't do any better to learn about one of the greatest chiefs in The West.
One of the salient aspects throughout the work is a pervasive and bitter racist animus against non-Indians, past and present. After long thought, I find even this aspect of the book adds to its value. Even if we quite properly recoil from the literally murderous hatred that Kamiakin and his co-conspirators felt toward non-Indian immigrants during the late 1850's, this book helps us to understand it.
The book also tangentially vents much of the sullenness, disdain, and general pig-headedness that modern-day non-Indians are regarded and treated with by at least one of the authors and by most of the general Indian population of the Colville Reservation.. We cannot effectively deal with this dark energy if we do not understand it, and this book warns us of its existence and helps us to understand it.
I most highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the history of Washington or who needs, for whatever reason, to cope with Indians from tribes native to eastern Washington.
The comparison to Splawn's workKa-Mi-Akin: Last Hero Of The Yakimas is not a real comparison. Splawn's work is poor scholarship written by memory long after the fact and subject to the author's inherent bias. The two authors of "Finding Chief Kamiakin" made a real effort to produce an accurate and scholarly work.