Thursday, March 20, 2008

Drifters


SW WIND 15 KT WITH GUSTS TO 20 KT...BECOMING S 20 TO 25 KT WITH GUSTS TO 35 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 FT...BUILDING TO 6 FT IN THE AFTERNOON. W SWELL 8 FT AT 11 SECONDS.
In about 1725, Clatsop Indians discovered shipwrecked sailors, whom they called "tlohonnipts"---meaning "those who float (or drift) ashore.", on a beach near Satsop Spit, which was located on the Oregon side of the mouth of the Columbia River. Another word, "passissiuks"---meaning "those who wear clothes", was also used in describing these men. The Clatsop themselves, wore few if any articles of clothing. They astounded the Clatsops by building a fire on the beach and then began popping kernels of corn in a copper pot.
Clatsop oral tradition records that an old woman from the village of Ne-Ahkstow, about two miles south of Clatsop Spit, spied a whale or an giant canoe that had trees growing out of it. A bear-like creature emerged and so frightened the woman that she rushed home to alert the village. The Clatsops found two men with beards who possessed metals unknown to them. Somehow the ship caught fire, but the Indians recovered iron, copper, and brass fittings.
Word spread quickly among the tribes of the coast and interior and all wanted possession of these strangers as slaves. Ultimately, the Clatsops yielded up one man to the Willapas on the north side of the Columbia River, he lived with them near Willapa Bay and later disappeared, his fate unknown.
The remaining Clatsop slave was put to work converting metals into useful tools and earned the name Konapee the Iron Maker. As he demonstrated his abilities to the tribe, he was granted more and more freedom. The very area where he worked was referred to as Konapee and was a village site near present day Astoria.
The explorer James Cook, noticed in 1778 that the natives seemed familiar with iron implements and weapons. In 1811, Gabriele Franchere recorded meeting a man of 80 named Soto, who claimed to be the son of Konapee, one of the original sailors stranded on the Oregon beach. According to the old man, Konapee requested permission to travel to the east and was allowed to travel as far as the Cascades, where he met and married the man's mother. Konapee reputedly lived in the vicinity of Vancouver Lake, and later left the area again heading to the east. He was not heard from again, although his son, Soto, remained in the area.
Soto was highly regarded, a Tyee or Chief; the village where he either lived became known as Sotos Village. When Lewis & Clark were returning east in 1806, they came upon a lone old Indian, presumably Soto, sitting in a canoe among many vacant canoes, near Vancouver Lake at The Great Falls of the Columbia. They asked him where he was from, and the name of "Shoto Village" is recorded in their journals.
Konapee and the other "Bear-Men" survivor of the shipwreck have generally been considered to be the first European men to live in the Pacific Northwest, likely Spaniards plying the waters between Manilla and the New World. However. Konapee's naming of his son, Soto, indicates a possible alternate origin. Soto is also the largest Zen sect of the Far East. But Soto may simply be a derivation of the name Spanish name DeSoto. Lewis and Clark were told that Soto was indeed the son of a "Spaniard" named Konapee,

6 comments:

J said...

very interesting.

Anonymous said...

nice doc, thanks

Anonymous said...

you said Satsop spit...its Clatsop Spit. You should check out what Peacock Spit has to offer, maybe so even a little in-river from there...

Doc said...

Actually, Satsop was an older descriptor for Clatsop...

Anonymous said...

Growing up on that beach I've heard this story several times, but how anyone put a date of 1725 on it is a mystery. Natives here didnt have calendars. Also, according to the Indian legend, the drifters were lured up away from the ship in the hope of getting some fresh drinking water. Unfortunately for them, they were set upon by the native men and quickly killed. The Indians then burned the ship to get the metal they coveted.

Anonymous said...

I think there's a melding or combining of different stories here.

Konapee was probably whom we know today as Cullaby-a red haired freckled faced mixed blooded Indian and who is remembered by the name Cullaby Lake on Clatsop Plains.