The Role of the Puyallup Natives in the Fife Schools

A long time ago an Indian chief of a large tribe that made its home in northern California sent the tribe's animal spirit, the guardian fox, to find a new land where his tribe could live in peace and safety from his warring neighbors. The fox discovered the land between the Columbia River and Puget Sound. The fox advised the chief to move to the new land. The tribe migrated north and became known as the Nisqually people, of which the Puyallup's were a branch. Is Henery Sicade's version of the Puyallup Tribe's story of origin.
The Puyallup Tribe has occupied the region for thousands of years. They refer to Mount Tacoma as their Mother who provides the water that supplies the salmon. The Puyallup's lived in cedar houses along the rivers and creeks of Pierce County. The land that is now known as "Fife" was originally a prime hunting and fishing area for the Tribe.
In 1854 the tribes of Puget Sound signed the Medicine Creek Treaty. The result of this treaty was the allocation of three reservations. The Puyallup Reservation was too small and poorly situated. As a result the natives went to war. In 1856, the government renegotiated the treaty and the Puyallup Reservation was expanded. However, the increased acreage was never recognized by the government and in 1886 allotments assigned to specific areas to specific families. Only one small piece of property was designated as common land.
One of the provisions of the Medicine Creek Treaty was to provide a free school. The location of the school and the lack of real education prompted Henry Sicade to consider alternatives. Mr. Sicade spent his early life in the Fife area, attended the Cushman School, and traveled extensively in the U.S. He returned to the family allotment in Fife. He was known for his interest in public education and was instrumental in the founding of the Fife School District. He served on the Puyallup Indian Council, served on the State Board of Education and served on the Fife School Board for 25 years. Mr. Sicade was a respected member of the community. He was involved in the purchase of the "Fountain of Fife" a landmark still in existence today.
Henry married the daughter of the last chief of the Puyallup Tribe. He was also elected chief, but did not serve. His children all graduated from Fife High School. He died at home on December 14, 1938.
In 1929 a stone marker was unveiled to commemorate the Puyallup's. The marker also honors two men known best to the white residents of Fife for their readiness to lead their people into the white man's way of living and urging education for their children. Henry Sicade and Thomas Lane are the two men specifically honored. Thomas Lane was the last chief of the Puyallup's. The Natives knew Mr. Lane as Chief Inoyoupkin.
The inscription on the stone reads: "The Puyallup tribe of Indians took residence on this reservation in 1857, became citizens of the United States in 1908. Tom Lane, Chief Iudyoupkin, last chief of the Puyallup tribe, was born 1852, died 1909. Henry Sicade, born Feb. 12, 1866, elected to the Indian council in 1883, which he has served continuously since. These men advanced education as a means of civilized achievement for their tribe. This stone erected by the Woman's Club of Tacoma May 9, 1929."
Sally Sicade, daughter of Henry, unveiled the marker. After Henry's death Sally carried on his interest in education. Today, the Fife High School Library houses several books donated by the Sicade's. These books have been invaluable in the teaching of Washington State history. Several of the books are no longer in print and serve as a special insight into the times.
Prior to 1874 the Puyallup tribe held the reservation land in common. However, the government under pressure from white settlers passed the Allotment Act, which opened the land. The native population could lease or even sell their land allotments. Since many Puyallup's did not take to farming (which was what the government subsidized), they were willing to sell to the whites.
Many of the tribal elders worked with the white community. Jim Cross, Willy Wilton and George Sloan owned cultivated land and proved that agriculture was the only economic resource left to the tribe. Many whites leased land from the natives and worked out arrangements to share the harvest. The economic depression of the 1890's did slow some of the sale of reservation land.
During this period the annual Pow-Wow was promoted as a time to gather to receive the yearly stipend from the U.S. government. Traditionally Pow-Wows were celebrations where tribes and sub-tribes came together to trade goods and form alliances. Today the tradition still exists. One of Fife's schools is used for the Pow-Wow. Native dances are performed, local art is sold, music is played, and stories are told. The event is open to the public.

Among the early activists was Satiacum, a Puyallup who challenged the state's right to regulate steelhead gillnetting on the Puyallup River. The 1954 arrest of Satiacum and James Young for illegal fishing became a test case, leading to a Washington Supreme Court decision prohibiting state restrictions on Indian off-reservation fishing unless necessary for conservation. Satiacum, always controversial, continued his protests, becoming, as one Times reporter called him, "the greatest thorn in the side of state game officials." Satiacum was a resident of Fife and his children attended Fife schools.