Chief Seattle Statue

Seattle Waterfront Pathway

Arts, Entertainment & Sports Native American History

The statue of Chief Seattle was cast in bronze with gold leaf on a granite pedestal. The base of the statue includes two bear heads that spout water, one plaque depicting Chief Kitsap in 1792, another plaque depicting two salmon.

Sculpted by local artist James Wehn (1883–1973) in 1912, the bronze Chief Seattle statue pays homage to the city’s namesake. [1] Suquamish Chief Noah Sealth (c. 1790–1866) maintained a peaceful relationship with the area’s first white settlers, who mispronounced his name as “Seattle.” [2] In 1855, the American Indian Council led by Chief Sealth ceded the land that makes up current-day Seattle to the United States government. One of the settlers, Dr. David Maynard, pushed for the city to be named in honor of Sealth. [3]

To ensure accuracy and respect for the chief, Wehn paid painstaking attention to detail. Although commissioned in 1907, the sculpture took five years to complete due to When's diligent research and insistence on the highest quality of work. Knowing the significance the sculpture held, Wehn spent years with the Suquamish peoples studying and learning about their characteristics, culture and history to accurately design the piece. Ultimately, Wehn sculpted Chief Seattle in a pose he was widely remembered for—arm raised to greet—with his signature Hudson’s Bay four-point blanket. [4] Today the statue stands in Tilikum Place on the north side of Seattle. [5]



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