Site founded September 1, 2000, passing 300,000 page views in January 2005
These home pages remain free of any charge. We need donations or subscriptions/gifts for students, military and family. Please pass on this website link to your family, relatives, friends and clients.

(Seattle & Northern 1890)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition Stories & Photos
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit.

Covers from British Columbia to Puget sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan. An evolving history dedicated to the principle of committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

(Click to send email)

Chief Wawitkin of the Sauk-Suiattle tribe

      : you will find many spelling of the chief's name in different sources: Wawitkin or Wawetkin ?? the most used, along with Wawatkin or Wahwahkin, all with hyphens in various places. All choices are attempts to anglicize the Lushootseed name that was nearly unpronounceable by anyone outside his tribe. We also do not know what his actual age was at his death. The age of 120 is accepted by some and others estimate that this number is exaggerated by at least 20 years. The Sauk-Suiattle tribe was best known for its goat clan, which depended on the North Cascades mountain goat for sustenance and its wool for clothing.
      In 1886, white surveyors were mapping the upper Skagit with some regularity. As June McCormick Collins recounts in her comprehensive book on Skagit Indians, Valley of the Spirits, Indians upper Skagits began protesting the work of the surveyors. "By this time, Indians had come to recognize a pattern in which the surveyor appeared as a prelude to White homesteads. The object of their hatred was a surveyor named Henry and when he refused to leave the upper Skagit area that they felt were tribal lands, the Indians smashed his compass and chased him away." White settlers such as Amasa Everett and Frank Hamilton in the Baker river area left their homes and gathered at the ranch of Charles von Pressentin, on the south shore of the river near Birdsview. Indians soon arrived in 100 canoes for a council and the Indians protested formally about seizure of their lands, saying that they had neither signed a treaty [in 1855] with the United States Government to deed their lands nor received money for them. Settlers called for military protection and soon the steamer Josephine brought a company of soldiers from Vancouver headed by Colonel Simmons. The Whites and Indians again held a council at Baker river. The Indians backed down and soon many of them began moving to the Suiattle river area where Wawitkin's band was centered.
      Sometime in the next year, Wawitkin led a group of five Indian leaders who met with Roger S. Green, then the territorial judge for the district, and asked for relief. Green asked them to apply to Congress for relief. We are unsure how this was done but one of the results was Birdsey Minkler losing part of his homesteaded land just west of Birdsview on the north shore of the Skagit. Part of that land later became the site of the fish hatchery.
      When Wawitkin was a leader, the tribe numbered a few hundred, but by 1920, the numbers had dwindled to just 17. In recent years, the tribe has rebounded to total more than 200 members, but inversely the goat herd has dwindled to about 100. There are a number of websites that discuss the present status of the tribe and the goat clan: here", here", here and here.

Obituary of Chief Wawitkin
Arlington Times, March 23, 1912
      Blind Chief John Sauk, Indian name Wah-Wah-Kin, died last Saturday, March 16, at the home of his granddaughter, Mrs. James Smith. His age was about 120 years. For many years, he was blind and helpless. He leaves a widow, Mrs. John Sauk, and two daughters, Mrs. Bedal and Sally Sauk, ferry tender at Sauk prairie crossing. He was buried Tuesday in the Indian mound at Sauk prairie with befitting Indian ceremony in honor of a once powerful chief of the Sauk Indians. "Peace to his ashes, and may he meet his tribe in the great hunting ground around the great White Throne," is the wish of Harry Bedal, his descendant. Ed. note: See the story of Chief Wawitkin's daughter, Susie, who married white settler James Bedal, at this Journalwebsite.

Obituary of Chief Wawitkin
      The 1941 Metsker map still shows the location of a parcel owned by Susie Bedal in Section 32, Township 33 North, Range 10 East, on the east shore of the Sauk river, south of the bend and the junction of the Suiattle river. The later town of Mansford was due east of that parcel and the Mansford Grange was on the west shore of the river just below the junction. That parcel may have been part of the land that Chief Wawitkin called home at the time of the 1886-87 dispute with the U.S. government.

    For more information about the settlement of the region during the time of Sauk City and Monte Cristo, you can read our three-part Journal website

Story posted on Dec. 30, 2004
Please report any broken links or files that do not open and we will send you the correct link. Thank you.

You can read about our prime sponsors:
Read the history websites of our sponsors and supporters, who help fund research of local history:
Heirloom Gardens Natural Foods at 805B Metcalf street, the original home of Oliver Hammer.
Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 82 years.
Bus Jungquist Furniture at 829 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 36 years.
Schooner Tavern/Cocktails at 621 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, across from Hammer Square.
Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit river, just a short driver from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley.
DelNagro Masonry Brick, block, stone — See our work at the new Hammer Heritage Square
See our website

Would you like to buy a country church, pews, belfry, bell, pastor's quarters and all? Email us for details.
Looking for something special on our site? Enter name, town or subject, then press "Find"
Search this site powered by FreeFind
Did you find what you were looking for? If not, please email us and tell us what you seek and we will put it on our list to research. The more details, the better.
Please sign our guestbook so our readers will know where you found out about us, or share something you know about the Skagit River or your memories or those of your family. Share your reactions or suggestions or comment on our Journal. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to visit our site.
Sign Our Guestbook Get your own FREE Guestbook from htmlGEAR
View Our Guestbook
Remember, we welcome correction and criticism. Please click on the email slot at the right to report any problems with these pages or to suggest ideas for future stories. This is a completely free site. We fund it by providing an online magazine for paid subscribers. If you are not already a subscriber and you would like to help support our considerable research costs, you can subscribe for just $20.00 per year. As a paid subscriber, you will receive eight yearly issues plus many rare treats between times, including scans of photos and documents that illustrate local history, before they are shared with anyone else. You can go here for Subscription details and you can read the preview edition to see examples of our in-depth research. You may also order gift subscriptions for friends, family or clients who are interested in local history or students or military people who are away from home. Or you can email us for more details. Do you have scanned photos to share? Or you can mail us copies. See addresses to right.
Email us at:
(Click to send email)
Mail copies/documents to street address: Skagit River Journal, 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, WA, 98284.