Nisqually Chief Leschi Captured

Nisqually Chief Leschi

Nisqually Chief Leschi

By the summer of 1856, the conflict in Western Washington had mostly subsided and Governor Stevens held the Fox Island Council with representatives of the Nisqually, Puyallup, White, and Green River Indians. At the meeting, Stevens agreed to changes in the Puyallup and Nisqually Reservations and the establishment of an additional reservation at Muckleshoot. After making the concessions, Stevens asked for the capture of Chief Leschi. In the meantime, Leschi had made peace with the federal troops, and in return, he had been promised amnesty. However, Governor Stevens still wanted him brought in, and Leschi’s nephew, Sluggia helped to bring him in for a reward. Sluggia promised Leschi that he would receive a fair hearing, and the chief was taken into custody by Indian agent Sidney Ford Jr. On November 14, 1856, the Indian agent turned him over to Governor Stevens, who promptly imprisoned him at Fort Steilacoom. Sluggia was given 50 blankets as payment for his treachery.

There were several reasons given for his betrayal, one of which was that Sluggia was in love with his uncle Leschi’s youngest wife, Mary. Another, told by a friend of Leschi’s, Nisqually warrior, Wa he lut, was that  Sluggia had quarreled with Leschi because the chief would not allow him to kill women and children during the war.

Chief Leschi would be forced to stand trial for the murder of Abram Benton Moses and was hanged on February 19, 1858. In the meantime, Leschi’s loyal friend Wa he lut would hunt down Sluggia, finding him in October 1857. He shot Sluggia and rolled his body over the bluff near where Leschi would later be buried. Ironically, Leschi outlived his betrayer by five months.

Compiled by Kathy Alexander, December 2020.

Also See:

Index of Tribes

Indian Conflicts of Washington

Indian Wars, Battles & Massacres Across America

Washington Main Page