There were many chiefs, but three of them saw one prophecy.
The old chief, Chief Ileeum Spokanee, and Chief Gary were the three. The prophecy came
about like this.
The old chief was highly respected until the day that his
favorite son accidently died. This death hurt the old chief more than anything ever had.
The chief felt his heart. It felt like a piece had been cut out. He could not stand this
pain. There was no way to get away from the pain, though he tried. Finally all he could do
was to cry out to try to ease the pain. He yelled at God, "Why have you allowed my
son's death?" "How could you be a good God and allow this to happen?"
He repeated this until his tribe could stand it no longer.
They didn't want the children to hear this. They worked hard to love God and now it was
even harder. They had to quiet the main chief. They went to the other chiefs and told them
to challenge the old chief. Tell him to decide whether God is good or not, and whether
they should go back to be like the animals again or still try to be like God. The chiefs
confronted the old chief. You must decide whether to go forward with God or go back to the
animals where we came from, and not make your people feel bad about their God any more.
"You are right." said the old chief, "I will go away until I can
decide." He ran with little clothing or supplies up into the foothills until reaching
the snowy top of the mountain that is called Mount Spokane today. He was the only human
there. He was not cold. He started a fire and sat before it thinking about his God and his
son. When he looked down he saw only the green of many trees. He sat without moving for
three days. No food. Just some snow he drank. He prayed over and over, "Why did you
do this, God?"
Suddenly a vision came as big as the whole sky and trees
together. God's voice was visibly flying across his entire sight saying, "Your son is
happy here with me, so you should have faith." The old chief's heart was whole again
as immediately as he saw his son smiling and sitting next to God. God spoke again.
"This world will not go away until people with white flesh come and bring a book with
them." "This book will have many words about me in it." Do not kill these
people even if they harm you, for there is no use to it." This was all that was
spoken, but it inspired the old chief. He had had visions as a child, but this truly was
the clearest vision of them all.
Now he ran down the moutain fast, thinking how happy his
people would be to know that God is good. And he wanted very much to tell them everything
that God said. The further down the mountain and the closer to his camp the less sure he was about how his people would understand the part of his vision about the white people. So by the time he arrived in his camp he only told them
the good news and thought he should wait about the rest of the story until some other day.
The old chief never told the rest of the story to anyone, but became older and
older until almost no one in his camp remembered that he had been a highly respected chief
of his tribe. Most of his day was spent sitting in camp by the fire daydreaming about his
youth. One day in the very midst of tribal activity, the mountain known as Helena today
erupted and blew ash into winds that carried the ash and dumped it on the camp, making it
night in the middle of the day. This frightened everyone so much that all they could do
was jump up and down and scream, "This is the end of the world!" There was a
dark confusion all around.
The old chief pushed his way up to a standing position as he now remembered the rest of the story, and
lifted his mouth up. "This is not the end of the world!" "God told me this
world will not go away until many white skinned people will come here with a book holding
many words about God in it." "This has not happened yet, so the world could not
Everyone was quiet now to listen to this voice of
authority. They looked around. It was still dark but now it was peaceful and did not seem
like it could be an end, but just a quiet time. Most people went to their lodges and
slept. Some of the braves huddled around the old chief to ask him more about what God had
told him. One of these was the currently most respected chief. Illeeum Spokanee was his
name and he was the father of a 5 year old boy who later would take the name Garry chief
of the Spokanes. The young chief listened with interest, but Garry listened with awe. This
vision seemed to be somehow, his vision. Garry was thinking about the old chief, "I'm
glad this man can remember things so well." Garry decided that day to watch carefully
for the day when the white people came with the book. He wanted to learn these words about
The first white people that came to Garry's camp when he
was nine years old did not know many words about God. They did not even know how to hunt
and cook their own food. These whites asked where is the chief. Everyone pointed towards a
teepee, "Illeeum Spokanee!" This may be how the city of Spokane found its name.
In a few years though some priests with white skin came with a book and they asked Chief Illeeum Spokanee
if they could take his son with two other chiefs' sons to a place called Red River to
learn the words about God. The chief wondered how they could take a piece out of his
heart, and refused them. Garry reminded his father about the prophecy and said that he
must go with these men now. This made the chiefs agree.
Hangman creek enters Spokane river. Is this where the prophecy was transferred to Garry?
This new place was not an easy place for Garry to live in
because it was so different from the sandy beach with Ponderosa Pines scattered around the
riverside, but he loved the words and learned more about them each day. Once he broke a
rule and was punished in the usual way of being held by one of the white upper classmen
while the teacher whipped his behind with a willow twig. It scared Garry so much that he
bit down hard before it started, and only afterward realized he bit into blood of the
upper classmen's ear. He looked up at the student in fear of reprisal. The student told
him to not worry for he understood. This is the moment when Garry realized that these
white people had a lot of good in them. He also realized that there probably was no use in
fighting with them even though he knew there was going to be trouble if too many of them
came to his camp.
After only half the schooling time was complete, two of the
three sons of chiefs died of measles. The priests were very afraid that this would cause a
war, and they didn't know what to do. Garry told them that he would talk to his father and
make his people understand so that there would be no trouble. The priests readily accepted
When Illeeum Spokanee's tribe heard that Garry was bringing
the words about God to them so they could understand, they could not wait. They all walked
the seventy mile way to the confluence of the Spokane River with the Columbia river to
wait for the ship to arrive. Garry was received well and there was no blame made regarding
the two deaths.
The young Chief Spokane Garry
(The name in the lower left was written by Garry himself)
The tribe was so interested in Garry's words that they did
not even go back to their usual camp for one month. For one month, they listened to him,
and learned. Prayer became so important to them that if a horseman came upon a group in
prayer, he would not ride past, but stop his riding and join the prayer until its
completion. The tribe wanted to know God so much, and it changed them quickly. It was said
in that area in that time, "If you drop a twenty dollar gold piece in a crowd, hope
that it is a crowd of Spokane indians."
All the tribes in this area noticed that this Spokane tribe
had something rich in them. They wanted to know how they could also have it. They sent
representatives that would learn and then bring the knowledge back to their tribe. In this
way the knowledge and prayer went in four directions. Up into Canada, down past Yakima
into northern California, West to the coast, and East to the Blackfoot tribes. And thus
when the first missionaries settled near Spokane they wondered how the indians seemed to
know so much about God here.
Indian Canyon falls
Garry taught and taught. He taught at the first school in
the area near Drumheller Springs for Indian children. So here the Indian children had a
school before the whites. He lead his people as he became older and advised them well
before, during, and after the wars in this area. The Spokane tribal language was
especially rich in ridicule and sarcasm. The Indian people gave Garry a hard
time about the local boy that kept trying to save them all from themselves and
their old medicines. Garry could not stand this treatment and finally gave in to
activities like gambling instead of teaching. He always advised to not fight against the
whites. He rode a white horse and said that inside us humans there is the same colored
blood, so we should treat each other equally under this God of ours. The whites should
have listened to this. He lived in his teepee all his life. At one location near
Hangman Creek bridge, young white boys rolled boulders down on his tent while he
tried to move the teepee out of the way. He then found his final teepee site in
Indian Canyon in a fairly remote area. When he died in it most citizens of Spokane did not know how great a chief he had been.
Now his monument is at the head of the beautiful Greenwood Cemetery. This was only one
prophecy. There were many.
The inscription reads: His life spanned the
unfolding of the Spokane
Country from the days of the fur traders at Spokane
House to the activities of a modern city