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Katie Gale

A Coast Salish Woman's Life on Oyster Bay

LLyn De Danaan

Publication Year: 2013

A gravestone, a mention in local archives, stories still handed down around Oyster Bay: the outline of a woman begins to emerge and with her the world she inhabited, so rich in tradition, so shaken by violent change. Katie Kettle Gale was born into a Salish community in Puget Sound in the 1850s, just as settlers were migrating into what would become Washington State. With her people forced out of their accustomed hunting and fishing grounds into ill-provisioned island camps and reservations, Katie Gale sought her fortune in Oyster Bay. In that early outpost of multiculturalism—where Native Americans and immigrants from the eastern United States, Europe, and Asia vied for economic, social, political, and legal power—a woman like Gale could make her way.

As LLyn De Danaan mines the historical record, we begin to see Gale, a strong-willed Native woman who cofounded a successful oyster business, then wrested it away from her Euro-American husband, a man with whom she raised children and who ultimately made her life unbearable. Steeped in sadness—with a lost home and a broken marriage, children dying in their teens, and tuberculosis claiming her at forty-three—Katie Gale’s story is also one of remarkable pluck, a tale of hard work and ingenuity, gritty initiative and bad luck that is, ultimately, essentially American.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quotes

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pp. 4-9


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pp. ix-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xiv

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1. My Lodestone

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pp. 1-4

Katie Kettle Gale was born into violence in an era of violence. As a child, she was surrounded by people who had lost everything and to was close to Chief Kettle, a man whom her kin, James Tobin, said was wary of Indian women marrying white men. His words and warnings must have been repeated to her often as life with her husband, Joseph ...

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2. First Salmon

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pp. 5-14

August 11, 2010. A large, cedar, salt-water-worthy canoe, the sun dap-pling its bright-red gunwales, plows through Puget Sound waters near Arcadia Point, Totten Inlet, toward a waiting throng. Many standing on the beach are members of the Squaxin Island Tribe, the people who have for years conducted this First Salmon Ceremony and have invited ...

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3. Where You Come From

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pp. 15-17

...down the Lynch Road, looking across the water to Squaxin Island, someone is wearing a T-shirt that exhorts, ?Think about the Salish Sea ? What it is. Where you come from.? The Salish Sea is the new ?official? name for Puget Sound. Multitribal conferences are held these days to discuss the future of the Salish Sea. A new social and cultural ...

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4. Indian Policy during Katie Gale’s Time

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pp. 18-25

Long before the landmark fish and shellfish cases and even long before Indian religious freedoms were restored in 1978, Indian people in the Puget Sound area and beyond had been standing, or trying to stand, on the ever-shifting sands of U.S. Indian policy. Understanding the political context in which the colonized people of Indian Country ...

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5. Sometimes I See a Canoe

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pp. 26-30

Sometimes I see a canoe, or I think it is a canoe, edging up the sul-len, foggy bay. It is for a moment only a sliver of dark, floating silently, just a whisper of a line, barely discernible through the mists. There are no trees to be seen or sky or water, just that dark line of intention in the hazy, overcast landscape. Maybe it is only a needle from a fir ...

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6. Oyster Bay

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pp. 31-42

A dapper oyster barge cuts a jaunty path through the dark, choppy waters just a few waves? width from my neighbor?s home, formerly the Oyster Bay branch of the J. J. Brenner Oyster Company. My neighbor and longtime friend bought the structure and the property it sits on I watch the barge from my window, looking over what the locals call ...

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7. The Duties of a Woman

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pp. 43-60

Katie Gale is standing beside her house up the hill from the bay washing clothes in a seventeen-gallon wooden tub. Katie wears her everyday work clothes, a plain, checked calico cotton dress that has no shape at all. Someone offered her a bolt of this fabric at a giveaway last Fourth of July on Mud Bay, where many South Sound Indians gathered ...

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8. “Picking Grounds” and the Makingof Community

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pp. 61-66

O.sclympia oysters (Ostrea lurida) are thumb-sized delicacies native to the Pacific Northwest. They were an important food source for Indian people long before they became a commercial crop after the 1850s. They grow, uncultivated, on rocks and shells near estuaries. It?s been said that they were layered up to a foot deep on the flats of Oyster Bay. ...

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9. The People in Her World

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pp. 67-74

...another Indian woman from the Kamilche area married to a white man. Jennie was also a midwife and was known as a healer when Katie was raising her children. Jennie?s spouse, William, had a small house and oyster business for a while just in front of the Gale place. During that time Jennie and Katie may have seen each other every day. William ...

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10. Travels

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pp. 75-87

Th.scough.sc dressed for laborious, often harsh work most days on Oyster Bay, Katie Gale has some special clothes that she wears for travel, church, weddings, and school functions. She has one particularly fine outfit: a dark-green velvet dress that fits tight at the waist. It has a high, fitted collar and long sleeves that hug her forearms. Along one side of ...

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11. Katie Gale’s Early Life

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pp. 88-102

I w.sconder if Katie looked out from her home toward the east in the evening and admired the glowing pink cone of Mount Rainier. After a clear day, the bright glaciers that circle its peak reflect the sunset in the west. I wonder if she watched for the color of autumn sunrises as the dawn broke behind that mountain. I wonder if she walked up ...

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12. The Kettle Connection

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pp. 103-114

I can only speculate that the woman who was in all likelihood Katie?s mother died during Katie?s childhood, even, perhaps, on Fox Island. Or perhaps she was already domiciled in South Puget Sound and living on Oyster Bay with kin who invited her to join them after the war. The evidence shows that when Katie was still quite young she was in the ...

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13. No Crops of Any Consequence

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pp. 115-125

Th.scere w.scere good reasons not to live on the reservations and to choose, instead, to try one?s luck elsewhere. From the beginning, the appalling conditions that reigned on these hapless, cramped colonies were no secret. The Indians of Puget Sound had been through a cata-strophic, culture-killing period in their history that included disease, ...

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14. Relationships

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pp. 126-145

F.scebruary 2, 2011, Oyster Bay. The sun rose behind Mt. Rainier this morning. It was one of those stunning dawns when the eastern sky glows pink and red through wispy clouds and Rainier is a dark silhouette. The outdoor temperature is twenty-six degrees Fahrenheit. It?s a killing frost. My chard and collards will survive. If I stand up at my desk I can ...

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15. Joseph Gale Was an Enterprising Man

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pp. 146-156

Joseph.sc Gale, at his death, was well known throughout the state of Washington. He had forty acres of ?most excellent oyster lands,? so ?especially well located? that they did not ?require artificial culture to make them profitable.? He had ?direct telephone communication with Shelton, Olympia and outside points,? and was hailed as one of Mason ...

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16. The Marks upon Her Body

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pp. 157-167

...the body and soul of those on whom that power is exercised.1 These marks made by power can be as deep and damaging as those inflicted by a bludgeon. I understood from what I studied that physical consequences come from authority and control misdirected or abused. I also learned firsthand, as many of us have, the regretful agony one experiences in a ...

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17. Katie Gale Goes to Court

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pp. 168-188

Katie Gale had a loud voice, the record says. I recognize that voice as a voice of resistance. Case records from 1893 say that she quite liter-ally raised a roaring cry ? a furious protest ? against this European American man and his domination over her, her work, her children, and her life. It was an angry shout heard up and down the bay, across ...

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18. Turn Around

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pp. 189-193

O.scn September 6, 1893, Joseph Gale filed an astonishing sworn statement with the clerk of courts in Mason County. In it he says that the ?plaintiff and defendant have settled their property differences as shown by the annexed exhibit,? the plaintiff has ?entered into possession of the property granted to her,? and that there is ?no necessity for the ...

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19. Joseph’s Complaints

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pp. 194-202

In 1889 much of the downtown business district of Seattle had burned to the ground. But undaunted, leaders of the city rallied and immedi-ately began rebuilding. Mainstays of Seattle retail commerce for years to come, such as Bartell?s drugstore, Frederick and Nelson department store, and the Bon March? department store, opened their doors for ...

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20. The Oyster Bay School

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pp. 203-209

It w.scas not only her father who would exhort Maud to leave her mother and mother?s people behind and attach herself to a European American worldview. Maud?s books, the readers used in that time by children all across the United States, were full of moralistic teaching tales such as ?The Boy Who Cried Wolf,? ?The Goose That Laid the ...

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21. Katie Gale Died under a Full Moon

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pp. 210-217

Wh.scat does a woman who is dying dream about? What goes through her mind as it muddles through the mists of a high fever? What does a woman who has set things right, made certain her children are to be cared for, and settled all her accounts think about as she prepares for a final sleep? I can only imagine how those last hours must have ...

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22. A “Broad and Liberal Man” Meets His Death

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pp. 218-225

It w.scas four o?clock on the morning of September 23, 1901. Lillian and Joseph Gale, still newlyweds, having exchanged vows in November 1899, had been partying all night with other Kamilche-area folk at Carr?s hall, up the road from Old Kamilche and a short buggy ride from the Gale house on the bay. These not-infrequent gatherings were always ...

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23. The End of an Era

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pp. 226-239

A sh.scort, sad notice appeared in the April 25, 1905, Morning Olympian.Mrs. Maud Fanchier, wife of Burt Fanchier, of 216 Plum street, died Wednesday night of cancer of the stomach. She will be buried at 2 o?clock on Saturday at the Masonic cemetery. The funeral will be from the Fanchier residence and the Rev. S. Crockett of Christian ...

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24. Winter Sister

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pp. 240-244

Katie Gale kept me company all through one winter.1 She has not been far from my mind over the past several years, as I?ve spent many hours studying archived materials and photographs. I?ve watched world events unfold with her by my side; she?s witnessed, with me, Arab spring and economic collapse. We?ve worked through earthquakes and ...

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pp. 245-254

History, Bernard Bailyn tells us, is an imaginative construction. However, historical imagination cannot run willy-nilly. It is something to be cultivated and paid attention to because imagination and one?s intuitive impulses generate and guide good research questions. Still, the answers divined from imaginative queries must be bound by documen-...

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pp. 255-264

O.scn May 31, 2011, I paid a visit to David Whitener, a man who filled many leadership roles with the Squaxin Island Tribe during his life-time. David was a colleague of mine at the Evergreen State College. And David is a direct descendant of people who are part of the Katie Gale story. Notably, he is a descendant of William and Jennie Krise....


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pp. 265-272


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pp. 273-290


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pp. 291-304

E-ISBN-13: 9780803246980
E-ISBN-10: 0803246986
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803237872

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2013