Klahowya Tillicum! Bonvenon!Welcome!–to my blog on Civil War General Phil Sheridan and his beautiful Indian lover, Sidnayah. At least, that is how it started; in many publications, her name was associated (circa 1853) with him, but with little other information. So I had to find out: how could a man who is credited with the line: “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” have a Native American, Oregonian at that, for a lover? I did find out, as I sorted facts, falsehoods, and arcane memoirs that I found strewn along the native and pioneer trails of the coastal Northwest. There was only one Sidnayah, only one person who ever carried the name Sidnayah, and she never had a relationship with Phil Sheridan. She was a Klickitat child, 14 years of age, when she died of measles, near Pedee Creek, nine years before Lt. Sheridan (barely out of West Point) came to Oregon. Only one person, a pioneer white woman, childhood friend, and witness to Sidnayah’s death, spoke of it through interviews with historians. Other than that, Sidnayah’s story and fate would have been lost to time, a faint hieroglyph on some boulder, covered by lichen, perhaps unrecognizable even to the Klickitat tribe. Yet something melodious resonated in her name, enough to lift her from the dead, so to speak, and give her romantic and historical import–with the most powerful of people.
Philip H Sheridan (1831-1888) was a career Army officer and General in the Civil War, who spent his formative years (1856-1861) supervising (suppressing) Native Americans in Oregon’s Coast Indian Reservation.
Indian legend has it (oral tradition and more recent tribal scribing), along with various white man mercurial memoirs, tattered diaries, burgeoning biographies, not to mention embellished novellas, governor decrees, campfire capellas, and perhaps even the nasal minuets of lovelorn snow geese passing high above, of Philip Sheridan’s storied Oregon romance with an incredibly beautiful Indian maiden, surely a chief’s daughter, and likely a princess. Continue reading
Grand Ronde’s Tribal magazine Smoke Signals (Mystery of Harriet Lindsay) 2004, asserts that Oregon pioneer woman, Elizabeth Collins (Reminiscences of Elizabeth Collins) described Harriet Lindsay (1839- 1933) as:
“one of the prettiest Indians girls I ever saw…graceful as a deer…and slender as a fawn. She loved Sheridan devotedly. Her brother was a fine looking Indian, too. He was named Harney, after an army officer. He was a teamster for the troops. When the Civil War broke out and Sheridan was called east, Frances was almost broken hearted.” Continue reading