Our Leschi: The Making of a Martyr

Alexander Olson, Western Kentucky University


In1929, Nisqually Indians erected a tombstone over the grave of Leschi, a former tribal leader who had been executed in 1858 for the murder of a local white man. Leschi's remains were moved to the gravesite in 1917 after the federal government had condemned his previous resting place, on the Nisqually reservation, for an expansion of Fort Lewis. This was the second time that Leschi had been reburied. In 1895, his remains had been moved from his original gravesite just outside the reservation boundaries. His memorialists knew better than to inscribe "Rest in peace" on his tombstone.