Indigenous Mothers of Salish Coast Communities
Griffin Bay Bookstore and the San Juan Island Library are thrilled that Candace Wellman is returning to San Juan Island to present her latest book, Interwoven Lives, on Wednesday, June 26, 7:00 pm at the Library. Those of you who attended her splendid program on Peace Weavers, don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the indigenous women important to the early settlement of Bellingham Bay.
Companion volume to award-winning Peace Weavers, Wellman’s Interwoven Lives depicts the lives of four more 19th century indigenous women who influenced Bellingham Bay area settlement—Jenny Wynn, Elizabeth Patterson, Mary Allen and Mrs. George Pickett. It reveals new details about the Northwest life of future Confederate brigadier general George E. Pickett. Interwoven Lives is Candace Wellman’s second book about cross-cultural marriages in Northwestern Washington. The first, Peace Weavers won a national WILLA literary award for nonfiction.
In this companion work to Peace Weavers, author Candace Wellman depicts the lives of four additional intermarried indigenous women who influenced mid-1800s settlement in the Bellingham Bay area. She describes each wife’s native culture, details ancestral history and traits for both spouses, and traces descendants’ destinies, highlighting the families’ contributions to new communities.
Jenny Wynn was the daughter of an elite Lummi and his Songhees wife, and was a strong voice for justice for her people. She and her husband Thomas owned a farm and donated land and a cabin for the first local school. Several descendants became teachers. Snoqualmie Elizabeth Patterson, daughter of the most powerful native leader in western Washington married a cattleman. After her death from tuberculosis, kind foster parents raised her daughters, who ultimately grew up to enhance Lynden’s literary and business growth. Resilient and strong, Mary Allen was the daughter of an Nkla’pamux leader on British Columbia’s Fraser River. The village of Marietta arose from her long marriage. Later, her sons played important roles in Southeast Alaska’s early history. The indigenous wife of Fort Bellingham commander Captain George W. Pickett (later a brigadier general in the Civil War) left no personal name to history after her early death, but Mrs. Pickett gifted the West with one of its most important early artists, James Tilton Pickett
About the Author
Peace Weavers is the winner of the 2018 WILLA Award for scholarly nonfiction from the national organization, Women Writing the West. The WWW's members are librarians, academic and independent scholars, novelists, poets, and essayists.
While helping researchers at the Washington State Archives, Candace Wellman discovered that about 90 percent of all marriages in Whatcom County’s early decades were cross-cultural. The husbands included nearly every community founder and official. Yet when she studied the written chronicles, only white women were mentioned as founding mothers. It seemed many historians considered the indigenous women to be unknowable, unimportant, and uninteresting. She became determined to illuminate the hidden history surrounding these relationships. Producing her manuscript required eighteen years and close to two hundred collaborators.
An expert in research methods, sociology, history, and genealogy, Wellman began by re-scrutinizing old sources and searching for new ones, particularly legal cases. Focusing on cross-cultural couples, she found evidence that, except in rare cases, local and regional historians stereotyped and ignored the Frontier West’s intermarried women. Peace Weavers challenges their viewpoint and Wellman hopes that her efforts will inspire others to re-examine the historical role played by these relationships.
Wellman holds a B.A. in Sociology from Washington State University and a B.Ed. in History/Secondary Education from Western Washington University, and has pursued graduate work in sociology. Born and raised in Washington, the Bellingham resident is a local history consultant and speaks regularly about women’s history and regional settlement.