The original natives of the Eatonville area were the Me-Schal or Upper Mountain Nisqually. While the villages closer to the Puget Sound had a greater population, the Me-Schal and other Nisqually villages closer to mountain had fewer members. According to Nisqually historian Cecilia Carpenter, these villages were among the earliest as the majority of people made their way across the Natchez Pass to the other side of Mt. Rainier and on down to the Puget Sound.
Often, the Me-Schal would visit other villages. The Nisqually traveled mostly by horse or on foot. When they used canoes, they were not large, sea faring ones rather small shovelnose canoes using long poles not oars. These vessels were flatter and lighter to handle the shallower waters for travel through the Ohop, Mashel, and Nisqually rivers.
|Cat Tail Mat Shelter|
|Little Mashel meets the Mashel River|
Wherever it was, the village was close the mountain the Me-Schal loved and called Ta-co-bud. The word carries the idea of life giving waters. They never felt the need to climb Mt. Rainier but respected it as the place where a great spirit dwelled. It waters supplied the abundant salmon the people thrived on.
One reason the Me-Schal village is significant and why the Eatonville area is scared to the Nisqually was that it was the birthplace of Chief Leschi. The village was still in existence up to the Territorial Wars of 1855-56. B.F. Shaw and Governor Stevens wanted the Nisqually to sign a treaty to surrender and leave their land, which included the Eatonville area. Leschi refused to sign and lead many who also would not leave. Tensions escalated and blood was shed among both settlers and native people. Though Leschi spoke against fighting or attacking non-combatants such as farmers, women, and children, other natives went on rampages against innocent settlers. Leschi tried to create talks with Stevens but had to go on the run as soldiers were sent to capture him. In the panic and rising fear, Leschi was accused of starting attacks and killing a man named Moses. After his capture and two trials, Leschi was put to death by hanging on February 19, 1858. Because of the questionable second trial, Leschi was acquitted by a historical court in 2004.