Inland Northwest History and Culture  >  Indian-White Encounters  >  Spokane: 1877-1890

Indians have had a precarious history of being cited as a “usual suspect” in crime in Spokane during the 1880s. Its focus is primarily on the suspicion of Indians in crime, regardless of the evidence and how the newspapers, authorities and local white population dealt with it. This can be evidenced by how newspaper coverage can slant, dominate or corrupt a subject by exhibiting a bias within the news writing context.

Also included are news accounts depicting whites as sound-shot riflemen with an eye for justice, while Indians involved are lucky to hit anything with their bullets. It is the demeaning way in which Indians are portrayed, via suspicions the native population and protections of the mythic Anglo-Saxon ideal, which this project is more interested in examine. The best way to do that, is through criminal actions and suspects involved.

Essays 

“Ordinary White Men”: Ordinary White Men deals with the examination of how the white population of 1885-86 perceived themselves and their neighbors within the mythic Anglo-Saxon ideal. This ideal was promoted through newspaper accounts, especially when dealing with stories that included confrontation or situations with Indians.

“Scare Tactics”: Scare Tactics deals with the examination of how the newspaper promoted fear in the white population of Indians through news accounts and its slanted coverage.

Documents 

Overview: These documents cover various Indian-white encounters when dealing with crime. The murder of Charles Geiger, the coverage of Baldy’s Battle and other stories are listed as examples of how white society viewed Indians when suspected of a crime. Take special note of how the newspaper coverage frames the narrative of the whites encountering Indians, commonly suggesting that out of self-defense, as Baldy Huff did when he was forced to murder " three crazy drunk red devils. 

- Charles Geiger Murder -

 “KILLED,” The Spokane Falls Evening Review, June 22, 1885, page 3 - Geiger’s Murder First Reported.

 “Coroner’s Inquest,” The Spokane Falls Evening Review, June 22, 1885, page 4 - Coroner’s Inquest into Geiger Murder.

 “Hunt Him Out,” The Spokane Falls Evening Review, June 22, 1885, page 2 - Editorial on Chas. Gieger Shooting.

 “Local Jottings,” The Spokane Falls Evening Review, June 23, 1885, page 4 - Indian Witness to Geiger Murder Escapes Jail.

 “Blurb,” The Spokane Falls Evening Review, June 26, 1885, page 4 - Reward in Geiger Murder Offered.

 “Local Jottings,” The Spokane Falls Evening Review, June 27, 1885, page 3 - Two Blurbs About Geiger Murder. 

 “Editorial on Mob Law,” The Spokane Falls Evening Review, June 27, 1885, page 2 - Editorial on Portland News Coverage of Geiger Murder.

 “Local Jottings,” The Spokane Falls Evening Review, July 4, 1885, page 4 - Reward for Indian Suspect.

 “Local Jottings,” The Spokane Falls Morning Review, Nov. 26, 1885, page 3 - Reported Sighting of Sam the Indian in Sand Point.

 “After Many Days,” The Spokane Falls Morning Review, Jan. 10, 1886, page 3 - The Indian allegedly accused of Charles Gieger’s murder is caught by the Kootenai County Sheriff.

- Baldy Huff -

"Lively Skirmish," The Spokane Falls Morning Review, April 13, 1886, page 3 - an Indian attack involving alcohol and a man named Baldy.

"Baldy's Battle," The Spokane Falls Morning Review, May 8, 1886, page 1 - “Baldy Huff” kills three Indians by candlelight.

- Other Articles -

"Crazy Act," The Spokane Falls Morning Review, Nov. 20, 1885, page 3 - A fire involving Indians in jail.

"Fatal Affray," The Spokane Falls Morning Review, Jan. 12, 1886, page 4 - Fort Spokane Soldier Shoots Two Indians.

"A Dastardly Crime," The Spokane Falls Morning Review, March 16, 1886, page 4 - Two white men shoot at Indians, injuring one.