Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Legal Codes and Talking TreesIndigenous Women's Sovereignty in the Sonoran and Puget Sound Borderlands, 1854-1946$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Katrina Jagodinsky

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300211689

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300211689.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 12 April 2021

Rebecca Lena Graham and “The Old Question of Common Law Marriage Raised by a Half-Breed”

Rebecca Lena Graham and “The Old Question of Common Law Marriage Raised by a Half-Breed”

Washington, 1859–1946

Chapter:
(p.131) Chapter 5 Rebecca Lena Graham and “The Old Question of Common Law Marriage Raised by a Half-Breed”
Source:
Legal Codes and Talking Trees
Author(s):

Katrina Jagodinsky

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300211689.003.0005

This chapter examines how the children of Indigenous women sought to claim and retain family ties and land rights by focusing on the case of Rebecca Lena Graham in Washington Territory during the period 1859–1946. Graham was described by the press as “the half-breed daughter of Frank Matthias” and a “squaw named Rebecca.” In 1894, Rebecca Lena Graham filed an inheritance claim as the only daughter of Frank Matthias, a prominent territorial settler who was fondly remembered by Seattle's founding fathers, but who died intestate and unmarried. Despite her respectability and legal prowess, Rebecca enjoyed no privileges of whiteness once the press seized her claim and reduced the case to “the old question of common law marriage” that had perplexed Washington's state and territorial courts for nearly half a century. This chapter explains why Graham won her case and was acknowledged in a federal court as the rightful mixed-race heir to a white man's estate.

Keywords:   inheritance claim, Indigenous women, land rights, Rebecca Lena Graham, Washington Territory, Frank Matthias, Seattle, whiteness, common law marriage

Yale Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.