Son of a chief, with memory running far back into the early history of the Sound, aged Indian is now a blind ward of the county. Tacoma Daily News. September 9, 1905.

Blind, crippled with rheumatism and deserted by his people, Jim Squallie, believed to be the oldest Indian on Puget Sound, has for more than a year found a comfortable home in the county hospital.

Just how old the man is no one knows, but other Indians who themselves are old say he was an old man when they were boys. In his own language too, it is said he tells of incidents that must have happened long before any white man lived on Puget Sound. 

The hospital authorities say he is certainly more than a hundred years old, and judging from the way his health has improved since he came, he is good for many years to come.

Readers of the News will remember that something more than a year ago an old Indian was picked up by the police and for a time was given shelter in the jail. He was nearly starved and was then going blind. He could talk no English, but through interpreters he claimed the Puget Sound country as his home.

There was no provision made in any of the laws for such a person. There was no institution in which he belonged but humanity protested against driving a blind and dying man out into the world alone. So finally he was sent to the county hospital in the hope that he might become well.

There is little hope now that the old Indian will ever be well again, but he may live for years under his present kind treatment.

Steward Rigney knows and is able to converse in several Indian languages and though he and the old warrior cannot understand all each other say, he has managed to pick up some of the Indian's story.


Jim says his home was on Squakson Island, down near Olympia. His father was tyee among his people, and was a great man, though Jim, himself, professes to have inherited none of his father's power. He talks much of the time when the white men came, and always protests that he and his tyee father were friends of the white men.

Of the Sockly Tyee Leschi (Great Chief Leschi) he has much to tell, but he becomes so excited when talking on the subject that but little of his story is intelligible. He says his father refused to join Leschi in his war against the whites in 1856, because his father loved the white men. 

He says that he and his father stayed on Squakson Island during the war and fished. Still, he seems to know of much that took place during that terrible struggle of the early settlers.


Jim remembers many of the officers who were stationed at Fort Steilacoom, but as he knew none of them by name, little is to be gained from his knowledge. Some of them were good men, he says and some bad; but he and his tyee papa were always friendly.

Of his own family Jim can tell but little. He had eleven children but all are dead.

If one could talk his language there certainly would be many interesting hunting stories, for when Steward Rigney gets him started about hunting, he becomes so excited that the steward has to throw up his hands.

Jim seems perfectly content with his home at the hospital. Mr. Rigney assisted him to walk bout on to the porch of the hospital to have his picture taken. The old Indian seems to adore Rigney and will pow wow with him as long as the steward will stay within the sound of his voice.


When Mr. Rigney attempted to introduce the reporter, Jim evidently thought it was some new doctor who wanted to treat his eyes. His great hope in life is that he may see once more. He eagerly began to undo the bandage with one hand while with the other he pointed to his legs and feet. Mr. Rigney explained that he was trying to tell what was the matter with him.

When finally made to understand that his caller was not a physician, Jim seemed somewhat disappointed, but soon cheered up and did not complain when his bandage was taken off for his picture.

As will be noticed by a glance at the portrait Jim is a "flathead" and he himself explained how the bandages were applied to a child's head to make it grow into the shape that was fashionable when he was a boy.

(Jim Squallie, one of the ancients. Tacoma Daily News. September 9, 1905)