An incredibly rare Chinese export porcelain American market commemorative ‘Chief Seattle’ plate, bearing the central image of Chief Seattle (178?-1866) seated within a prunus and bamboo roundel, his name inscribed above on a small banner, all within a blue enameled interlocking ring cavetto border, the rim with gilded branches of peony. Chief Seattle led the Duwamish and Suquamish Tribes as the first Euro-American settlers arrived in the greater Seattle area in the 1850s. Baptized Noah by Catholic missionaries, Chief Seattle was regarded as a firm friend of the white settlers who named the region’s future central city in his honor. He was a respected leader among the Salish tribes, signing the Point Elliot Treaty of 1855 which relinquished tribal claims to most of the area, and opposing Native American attempts to dislodge settlers during the “Indian wars” of 1855-1856.¬† He retired to the Suquamish Reservation at Port Madison, and died there on June 7 1866. It is most likely that this plate was a commemorative piece on the 50th anniversary of his death.

Chief Seattle, though, is most famous for a speech he made around 1854 when the United States government aggressively offered to buy two million acres of land¬† then occupied by native people in the Northwest. The speech was Seattle’s reply to President Franklin Pierce’s “offer” to buy the land and it has been described as one of the most beautiful and prophetic statements on the environment ever made.

Measuring 6″ in diameter with two very small line s to the reverse sealed. A remarkably rare image and tribute to a great Native American to be found on Chinese export, or anywhere for that matter.