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Chief Seattle and the Town That Took His Name: The Change of Worlds for the Native People and Settlers on Puget Sound
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Chief Seattle and the Town That Took His Name: The Change of Worlds for the Native People and Settlers on Puget Sound

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  43 reviews
This is the first thorough account of Chief Seattle and his times--the story of a half-century of tremendous flux, turmoil, and violence, during which a Native American war leader became an advocate for peace and strove to create a successful hybrid racial community.
When the British, Spanish, and then Americans arrived in the Pacific Northwest, it may have appeared to the
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Sasquatch Books (first published 2017)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, seattle
A frank and honest look at the history of Washington and Oregon from about 1800-1900, specifically the Puget Sound area. I wasn’t sure how biased a book written by a white man about native Americans would be, and the author acknowledges up front that he might seem like an odd choice, but there just aren’t any other books out there about our local native tribes. Buerge seems to have done a good job acknowledging the bias of the “histories” of Chief Seattle previously written and heavily influence ...more
Ken Hunt
Aug 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Read late for church book club. Being a naturalized Seattleite (since 2002) I had always wondered about his story. This book certainly had interesting historical references filling in many of my knowledge gaps on local names, Denny, Bagley, Bell, Snohomish, etc...... The story of Seattle himself was not as interesting as I had hoped. He was a leader for sure, and adaptable. It struck me that Seattle is named for him in large part because he was a force in encouraging his people to live in harmon ...more
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, history, dnf
I picked up this book because I love reading about history and I currently live in the greater Seattle/Tacoma area. But after a couple of weeks picking up this book, reading a paragraph or two, then putting it back down, I’m finally calling it. I cannot keep reading this book—the writing is tedious and dry, and the story fails to engage the reader.

I appreciate that a lot of time and research went into this book. But apparently there’s actually little documented or known about Chief Seattle, and
Karin McCullough
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worth-rereading
This will be worth rereading. The author’s voice was not easy to listen to, but I was impressed with his speaking the Indian languages. I learned a lot more about the people who lived in the Seattle area before western civilization took over. I keep asking people my age who grew up in Seattle how much of this history they were taught in schools and the answer has been uniformly zip, nada, nothing, zero. Only a few of my students tell me they are taught about the tribes in this area. One teen tol ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
There is a lot of information there, but the detail is excessive for other than an academic. So much translation into the native language was admirable at first and proved that the author could do it, but then it became cumbersome. I love the title, being a resident of Seattle, and I love history of Chief Sealth (Seattle) but I found my mind losing focus while reading. I finally gave up.
Luke McCarnan
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: listened
Great historical survey with helpful insight into the place I call home and the Man who helped shape it.
Pamela Okano
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is billed as a biography--the first, for adults--of Chief Seattle. It isn't, at least not in the conventional sense, purely because there's not a lot of documentation out there that would allow a real biography to be written so many years after his death. Instead, this is more a book about the very early days of Seattle (the town), with a focus on the Native Americans who lived in Puget Sound, with what little is known about Chief Seattle thrown in. In that sense, it was fascinating, a ...more
Julia Donald
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Totally recommend for some scholarly reading on who Chief Seattle was and how Seattle the city was founded. I didn’t learn this history in schools, and spent a lot of my childhood reading books like “little house on the prairie”, so obviously this was overdue.
This book taught me so much - about the PNW and native culture before Vancouver explores the coat on his boat, what the initial contact looked like (so much disease, so much death), and Seattle’s ability to lead and try to build a hybrid ci
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the main joys of a public library is the new book area where one can peruse actual books (rather than thumbnail descriptions online) that may attract one's interest. I was surprised to find this book from a local Seattle publisher at my branch library in Arlington, Virginia, but am glad they chose to acquire it and that I serendipitously found it.

At it happens, I have a strong connection to the city of Seattle - although I grew up in the DC area, my parents were both from Seattle. And be
Jessica Anne
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
TL;DR: Well-researched, wildly boring, worth it.
or, Chief Seattle was a real person and you need to know this.

Hats off to David M. Buerge for his acknowledgement that he shouldn't be the one writing this, but no one else has done it yet, and damn it, we're running out of time. There's one section where he focuses on the early 1900s and is generally pissed that no one sat down to talk to the people who were still alive to get a history of the guy they named the town after. Now it's 100 years late
David Hirning
Feb 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Most people (me included) can't quite believe that this is the first biography ever written about the man for whom my home city is named. (Seattle is the largest city in the the U.S. named after a Native American.) That obviously reflects our society's complete neglect of Native American history and culture, preferring to let what happened to the people who were here before the Europeans arrived fade into nothingness. Now, in 2021, there's a bill in the Washington state legislature that is going ...more
David Clemens
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i am one of the white people who have moved on, leaving the ashes and spirits of their fathers, just as my father before me moved and left his fathers ashes behind. Americans of two hundred years ago drove my ancestors off their land, forcing them to leave the United States and move to Canada to re-settle. My cynical nature suspects that during their re-settlement, they displaced the First Nation peoples living in southern Ontario, but thats another story. the author does a good job of exploring ...more
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's really easy to just say "oh yeah we live on stolen land" but that glosses over both the horror and the specificity of how Seattle was founded. I appreciated that the author took the time to balance out the frank racism of settler's accounts with careful sharing of native perspectives and sources. I feel like I learned a lot and understand the city I live in a lot better. It also recontextualizes a lot of the "underground tours", even the "adult at night" ones, a whole lot better than the to ...more
Maggie Moore
Feb 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting first chapter, interesting last chapter... the middle was like reading an expository essay that never ends, so I guess this would be good if you were writing an essay. As a native Seattlite currently living on the Kitsap peninsula, I think the only thing that kept me going was the familiar locations. There is a much more interesting story hiding among the tedious details, but then again, the author warns us early on that he “won’t be romanticizing anything.” He was not kidding. I don ...more
Lucy Chaffin
Sep 04, 2020 rated it liked it
A long, detailed history. Besides learning a little about Chief Seattle, I learned there were at least 37 different Indigenous peoples living in Washington, mostly on Puget Sound, before the Hudson Bay Company and the “Bostons” (as American settlers were called) came and ran them off their lands. One of the larger clans, the Duwamish who lived on land that is now downtown Seattle, are still trying to be be recognized as a people. US government keeps denying them their recognition, mainly because ...more
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This book interested me in part because it referred to familiar localities, focusing on the twenty years 1846-1866 when whites first started settling on native lands in the Seattle area. The details may be better suited to a textbook than a biography, but I learned quite a bit even though I'd read other Seattle histories. I recommend it to locals who want to understand this part of Seattle's history better. ...more
Corrie Beebe
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
A great history of the tribes of my homeland, the Puget Sound. I learned a great deal. Names of places came to life with the story of their name sake, from Priest Point, New Market, Tolmie and more. The author does an astounding job of piecing together the life and times of Chief Seattle, despite so little information available about him. It seems the Chief was a visionary and it is reprehensible that the "Americans" continue to deny the tribe their rights. ...more
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting read. As much as someone can find on Chief Seattle, but not really a biography. More of a history lesson in an easier read. I compliment the author on including versions on the same speech and stating that it may or may not have been accurate in any form. He "saw" the change coming and tried to make a place for his people live on in land that was their home as best as he was able. ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it liked it
A vital book thoroughly researched. The author makes a compelling case for Federal and local recognition of the Duwamish tribe.

This information is so important, but reading it was a slog. All we can hope is that someday someone will write a hiphop musical about this compelling, forward-thinking man.
Mary Keen
May 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-overdrive
It was amazing to hear the names of towns and areas i'm familiar with, all throughout this book, and I recommended it to a friend who's always lived in this area.
Some parts hard to read --a lot of violence between various tribes of Native Americans and between them and the white people.

Overdrive @ 1.25 and normal speeds

theGraveyard Librarian
It was ok, the organization didn't quite flow, and the ending seemed a little off with trying to touch on too many topics of his legacy. However, a great and fascinating story about Chief Seattle adapting to changing times. ...more
Dennis Gunnarson
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found this book inspiring while enormously unsettling. The generosity of Chief Seattle and the cruelness he endured from the Caucasian Americans is unnerving. David Buerge paints a very real flawed depiction of Chief Seattle and his contemporaries.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read this book with a map that would show me each area Buerge talked about but in order to keep it all straight but aside from that...I really appreciated leaning more of the Native history of where I live as well as learning how colonial settlers changed things
Randy Nelson
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The subtitle is significant. Buerge's approach both honors Chief Seattle and contrasts the change of worlds not only for Chief Seattle but for the whole environment.

This is a must read for all Washingtonians. Yes, even for you Yakimaniacs!
Dec 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really appreciated this in depth look at Chief Seattle and my hometown. I learned a great deal. Listening to it was a huge advantage as the author spoke names and places using the original dialect. Well worth the time.
Josephine Ensign
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
A frustratingly tedious and poorly written book that nevertheless does include fascinating details about Chief Seattle's life. ...more
Karin Ertl
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found the first 50 pages or so to be difficult to get through and I almost stopped reading the book entirely. However, I'm glad that I stuck with it because the rest of the book was well worth it. ...more
Katharine Grubb
Meh. Wonderful subject and I really wanted to like it. Got about 75 pages in and just was not interested enough to finish.
Anne McGill
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I learned so much about the history of my home. Chief Seattle was an amazing man and the life and times he lived in continue to influence those who reside in and around the Salish Sea.
Nicole Buettner
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Should be retitled to An Exhaustive History of Every Person Who Ever Lived in the Pacific Northwest before 1900. Also Every Place Within 300 Miles.
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