Benton County Pioneer Life

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Pioneer life in the Benton Co. WA area

Indian Johnny Escaped/Chief Al-la-hie Murdered

Tri-City Pioneer
Tri-City Herald, Sunday, February 19, 1961, page 7

Chief Al-la-hie, in his youth, was a very broad shouldered, powerful Indian. He was fleet of foot, an expert with the bow and arrow, the paddle and canoe; a wild game hunter of renown. He was a noted wrestler among his tribesmen and a horseman without a peer.

Chief Al-la-hie had a brilliant mind. He was a great Indian orator. He was called upon to speak at many council meetings of the different tribes in the northwest. In his younger days he was considered by the great Ka-Mi-Akin Chief of the Yakimas as an outstanding young chief who would make a name for himself in the councils of all the Northwestern tribes. Regardless of his youth he rose rapidly in prestige among the Indian chiefs of the northwest.

His marriage to “Katy,” his young wife was celebrated by potlatches and Indian social affairs throughout the Northwestern tribes. They were a stunning couple. He was six-feet-two and she was five-feet-ten. They were both handsome of face and limb. They were exceptionally intelligent. They both bore their natural charms without show of pride, but with humility and dignity.

Al-la-hie’s rapid rise to distinction was abruptly ended. Without warning or known cause of any kind, he was suddenly stricken with palsy. His faithful wife “Katy” with the stoical affection of an Indian wife, cared for her stricken spouse year after year. She knew that her ailing Chief Al-la-hie would not live long if taken to an Indian Reservation where his freedom would be curbed. She, therefore, took the remnants of their tribe and they became renegades on their old haunts near the mouth of the Yakima River; there to live in the manner of by-gone days, catching salmon in their fish traps, digging couse and camas in season, taking trips to the mountains to pick huckleberries, and to hunt for deer and elk.

Al-la-hie was aged when I knew him. It was heart rending to see him stooped and bent, partially blind, with quivering hands and shaking legs, slowly and painfully shuffle along on the arm of his faithful wife “Katy.”

His life came to a ghastly and sudden end. He was brutally beaten and his head crushed with a stone, wielded by the hands of a young, drink-crazed tribesman, “Indian Johnnie,” who broke into Al-la-hie’s tepee and killed him.

Al-la-hie and the remnants of his tribe, a mere 20 teepes, were now camped at their fish-fence site, about four miles above the Yakima River on Bull Island. Al-la-hie was buried on Bull Island, above the high water mark in a deep grave. His casket was made from a portion of a cedar canoe in which was placed his belongings for the trip to the “Happy Hunting Grounds.” After the Indian burial rights, this casket was placed in a deep grave and stones were packed tight around it to keep coyotes from digging it up.

“Katy” then notified the Yakima County sheriff’s office. A deputy sheriff came and secured the facts. “Katy” had a group photographed (the U.S. Land Surveyors took many such photographs) that gave a good likeness of “Indian Johnnie.” A wealthy, local cattleman, a personal friend and admirer of Chief Al-la-hie, told the deputy that he would donate any amount of money necessary to pay the expense of getting out a poster and also a hundred-dollar reward for capture. A poster was prepared and sent to the U.S. Marshall’s office and to all law-inforcing agencies in the entire northwest. For many years lawmen and bounty hunters searched for “Indian Johnnie”. He was sighted once in British Columbia but escaped his pursuers. Al-la-hie was killed in September, 1899.

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