History of Indian Henry
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A man mired in mystery, Indian Henry was said to have spoken English, in addition to at least three Native American dialects. He knew the forested slopes SW of Mount Rainier, and was sought out as a guide by early climbers.
Stories differ on what tribe Indian Henry was affiliated with, whether
Klickitat, Cowlitz or Nisqually. Even Indian Henry's real name, Sotolick, is uncertain. As the story goes, James Longmire & fellow
pioneers James Packwood and Henry Winsor first encountered Indian Henry
near Mount Rainier in 1862.
When they asked him his name, he came out with a tongue-twister that the
pioneers remembered as "Sotolick." Winsor told him that the name was too
hard to pronounce and that he should take his name - Henry.
Others theorized later that Indian Henry had misunderstood the question and
had said, "Catholic," having had earlier contact with Jesuit missionaries.
Indian Henry was relatively well off, and white settlers did a great deal of speculating about how he got that way. Some said that he had salvaged gold from a wreaked Spanish ship, and that he had packed his fortune off to a secret cache on Mount Rainier.
Others said that he had a gold mine on the mountain, or that he had found
gold that once belonged to Chief Leschi, the great leader of the Nisqually
Indian Henry's neighbors were curious enough about his wealth to follow
him to his secret summer goat-hunting area on the slopes of Mount Rainier.
They found NO gold there, but a luxurious, flower-filled valley that
rivaled Paradise for beauty.
The place, in the southwest corner of what is now the national park, is
known as Indian Henry's Hunting Ground.
Here's a photo taken from Indian Henry's Hunting Ground, looking in the
direction of Rainier's Sunset Amphitheater to the left, and 14,153' Point
Success and South Tahoma Glacier in the center right.
July 6, 1985