Glinda, the Good Witch, told Dorothy to tap her heels together three time and say, “There’s no place like home”. Glinda was right.
One of my history buff friends suggested our next guest, Chief Slugamus Koquilton, formerly of Muckleshoot, Washington, USA. It is this blogger’s humble opinion that Chief Slugamus epitomizes the Funny Names Theory: the Outerbridge Horsey Certainty Principle, where we celebrate great people with greater names.
Chief Slugamus holds an unusual distinction in U.S. history. He was the last living person to have seen the Charles Wilkes US EX EX (Exploration Expedition) at the first ever 4th of July celebration held west of the Mississippi in 1841, in the Oregon Territory north of the Columbia River. Try saying that three times fast.
The Wilkes expeditions for those of you not in the know, was the largest scientific undertaking of its time sponsored by the United States. Wilkes reported directly to Congress. Congress only printed 100 copies of his completed findings at the time and kept the knowledge (including extensive maps of the west coast) to themselves. Commodore Wilkes brought back so many specimens from around the world, they created the Smithsonian Institute to house it all. He even weathered a storm in the harbor of my home town during a survey expedition, giving it it’s name, and putting it on the map, literally.
Sixty-five years later in 1906, when the celebration was planned, Chief Slugamus took the party planners to the original site where they erected a monument marking the location near Sequalitchew Lake. (Thank you copy and paste.)
At the celebration, Chief Slugamus was an honored guest and presenter. He described the Wilkes celebration, “They fired the big guns many times . . . . The soldiers marched all step as one man . . . . They carried flags, and had music with fifes and drums and horns . . . . They roast ox . . . . Big dinner . . . . Race horses . . . . A great many Indians from country all about . . . .”
It must have been a sight to see.
Chief Slugamus’s even made it into the “The Fourth of July Encyclopedia”. How many of us can say that?
Imagine becoming famous because you crashed a party at the right time, and lived long enough to tell about it. And all this before social media.
Sources: Washington, West of the Cascades, 1917, authors Hunt, Herbert, Floyd C. Taylor; includes photo credit.
The Conquerors, 1907, author Atwood, A.
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