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Chinook Indian Chiefs and Leaders

Comcomly

Comcomly was a Chinook chief. He received the Lewis and Clark expedition hospitably when it emerged at the mouth of Columbia river in 1805, and when the Astor expedition arrived to take possession of the country for the United States he cultivated close friendship with the pioneers, giving his daughter as wife to Duncan M’Dougal, the Canadian who was at their head. Yet he was probably an accomplice in a plot to massacre the garrison and seize the stores. When a British ship arrived in 1812 to capture the fort at Astoria, he offered to fight the enemy, with 800 warriors at his back. The American agents, however, had already made a peaceful transfer by bargain and sale, and gifts and promises from the new owners immediately made him their friend1. Writing in August, 1844, Father De Smet2 states that in the days of his glory Comcomly on his visits to Vancouver would be preceded by 300 slaves, “and he used to carpet the ground that he had to traverse, from the main entrance of the fort to the governor’s door, several hundred feet, with beaver and otter skins.”

Footnotes

  1. Bancroft, North West Coast; Irving, Astoria 

  2. Chittenden and Richardson, De Sinet, II, 443, 1905 

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