CHIEF WHITE SWAN AKA JOE STWIRE
Like Chief Spencer, White Swan was a Klickitat.
Title: Yakama Chief White Swan, Washington, 1900
Photographer: Rutter, Thomas H.
Studio Location: United States--Washington (State)--Yakima
Notes Studio portrait of older Yakama man, 1900. He wears a wide sash with rosette over western-style suit, and a hat decorated with feathers. Caption on image: 'White Swan'. Head chief of Yakima's. Copyrighted by Rutter. 1900. Hand colored photograph.
CHIEF WHITE SWAN HUNTING ON VANCOUVER LAKE
―Information by Chief Stwire Waters: CHIEF WHITE SWAN. About eight miles west of Vancouver, Wash. is Weé-kas, a lake of considerable size [Vancouver Lake?]. It was a great resort of the white swan, as well as of geese and ducks. In 1852, according to Chief Waters, the Klikitats sold these water fowls to the small town of Portland, by the canoe load. For a swan they received $1-50, the geese bringing $1-00 each, while a duck was worth only 50 cents. The Indians exchanging for flour, sugar, coffee and other
household commodities. A small Klikitat boy was sent at night to the shores of Weé-kas for the purpose of obtaining tahmahnawis. He ̳fell down‘ and the swans came in a circle about him and sang. The boy received the swan tah, and he said: ̳I have seen the white swan and heard their song. From this time I will take the name of White Swan.‘ This lad afterward was Chief White Swan of the of the Yakimas. Chief Stwire G. Waters, brother of White Swan said: ̳I have heard the swans singing. They begin all together just like girl-singers. It is nice music; fine to hear. They sing different times of day.‘ Weé-kas appears to have no particular deffinition, no meaning‖ (McWhorter n.d.); Silverstein maps two Multnomah villages at Vancouver Lake (1990:).
Sinkiuse -Columbia Chief Moses, Agent J.T. Ewin and Yakima Chief White Swan 1895
BY JON SHELLENBERGER
MARCH 01, 2017
".....In my research, one person stuck out to me the most: Chief White Swan, aka Joe Stwyre. Chief White Swan was the Klickitat band who lived near Vancouver, WA at the time the Yakama Treaty of 1855 was signed. As a boy, like Yakama boys do, he went out on a vision quest from which he nearly died. In a near-death state, he fell into a lake from which he was brought back to life by the song of Swans who were swimming in the lake. From then on he was known as White Swan and this body of water was Vancouver Lake. Chief White Swan would become one of the principal chiefs of the Vancouver Klickitat, who were removed to the White Salmon Reservation in 1856 after the commencement of the Yakama Wars. Isaac I. Stevens promised the Vancouver Klickitat a treaty the following year and recognized that they controlled this area. Isaac I. Stevens never followed through on his word to extinguish the land title of the Vancouver Klickitat which was known to go deep into the Umpqua Valley. Two court case decisions in the Willamette Valley support the existence of the Vancouver Klickitat land title.
Chief White Swan would go on to serve as the second principal chief of the Yakama after Chief Spencer in 1868. Later, he was a lead plaintiff in the most significant fishing cases in history known as the US. v. Winans. His testimony was key to the success of the Supreme Court decision that established what is known as the “reserved rights doctrine” which Judge McKenna stated...."
Chief White Swan speaks at the 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition. He says he is 86.
He talks about meeting Jason Lee and being baptized.
White Swan, chief of the Yakimas in an address before the Methodist Congress held in Portland during the Lewis & Clark Exposition, 1905, said:
"If you ask me question, 'Have you seen Jason Lee, the first missionary?' I answer, 'Yes, I saw him.' Some ask, 'How old are you, White Swan?' and I answer, 'I am 86. I was old enough to understand everything, and this missionary he baptize me at that time,' and from that time I join the church camp meeting at Wascopam--The Dalles.
"When he started to work, he sent ten Indians from place to place to ask other Indians to come to camp meeting, and all the different tribes came together. Then he buy dry salmon and other things for the camp meeting and put them in one tent forty feet or more. That was the first time we saw wheel cart; he sent two men to haul wood for the Indians came all around, different tribes and they make seats to have the different tribes together.
"In the middle he make a place for himself to preach and read the Bible on a little table. He spoke through three interpreters for each tribe at that time, while he was preaching. It seems to me the missionary spoke strong words when he opened the Bible to speak to the Indians.
"While Lee was preaching the Indian chiefs sat smoking, not caring to hear the gospel. Three or four days while he was preaching all women and chiefs felt different just like something had melted and hot had come down, and they throw away their tomahawks and caps--war bonnets--and fall down and ask God to forgive them. People were surprised to see what kind of spirit came down, and then they look at each other and all see the tears run down each other's faces, and then all fall down and worship God. They used to feel all right but found now that they were not right inside. The would look at one another, and after awhile they would join the church, and then raise up as one nation. At that time Jason Lee learn first the Indian language and after a few months he never used an interpreter, he just preached himself. After the camp meeting closed he showed them how Christ used to do and sent them two by two among the rocks to pray, and the Indians used to pray just like birds singing among the trees.
"That is the way this first missionary worked for the Indians. White Swan is true witness. I saw and heard him myself.
"Truly this missionary brought light to the dark place for the Indian. He stops the fire (fight). After that all the Indian tribes never fall together against the white people, they were friendly after that, but the Indians who had not heard the gospel were unfriendly."
FROM 1880 YAKIMA RESERVATION CENSUS. IF HE HAS BEEN ON THE RESERVATION FOR 21 YEARS, HE CAME 1869. REMEMBER HE WAS PREVIOUSLY ON THE WHITE SALMON RESERVATION
FROM THE BOOK "INDIANS OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST: A HISTORY BY ROBERT H. RUBY, JOHN ARTHUR BROWN PAGE 230
Joe Stwire, or White Swan, who assumed for the Yakima chieftaincy, January 1, 1868.