James Wehn
Chief Seattle Fountain
1909

LOCATION
Tilikum Place Park
Fifth Avenue and Denny Way

FUNDING SOURCE
Seattle Street Improvement Budget


A near-life-size historic bronze statue of Chief Seattle, the city's namesake, is the centerpiece of Tilikum Place Park. The artwork stands atop a roughly hewn stone pedestal inset with bear heads that spout water from their mouths into a pool below. The chief of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes raises his hand in a gesture of greeting recalling the amicable relationship he established with early pioneers and explorers. The sculptor James Wehn, who later established the University of Washington's sculpture department, based his original plaster cast on the only surviving photographic portrait of the chief taken in 1865. After a lengthy dispute about which foundry would cast the sculpture in bronze, it was finally unveiled on Founders' Day, Nov. 13, 1912, by Chief Seattle's great-great-granddaughter.