Chief Spokane Garry was a member of the Spokan Indians, a tribe that had lived along the Spokane River for centuries. The Spokan people are believed to be of the original hunter-gatherers that settled the region, descendants of tribes from the Great Plains.
In 1810, the North West Company sent fur trappers to establish a small trading post. Missionaries, settlers, and miners followed, cutting a path of disease, displacement, and cultural change for the Indians. Smallpox and measles ravaged the tribes in multiple outbreaks in the early and middle 19th century.
The Washington Territory was established in 1853. After a failed treaty effort with the Spokans, Colonel George Wright was sent with 700 men to contain the tribe, and in an 1858 battle at Four Lakes, the native alliance was defeated and the Indians subjugated to white authority.
Chief Garry, whose Spokan name was Slough-Keetcha, was born in 1811 and sent at age 14 to one of the first Indian boarding schools in southern Manitoba. His name, like the name of other Indian children taken into the white system, was a combination of their tribal name and the last name of a prominent Hudson's Bay Company officer. On his return, Chief Garry instructed area Indians in Protestant ways, taught farming, and acted as interpreter between white settlers and natives. Chief Garry survived the Indian wars of the 1850s, the dislocations of the 1860s and later, and quietly farmed until his death in January, 1892, dying of "congestion of the lungs" in his teepee in Indian Canyon.
Slough Keetcha was originally buried in the untended portion of the cemetery, and the city paid for burial costs. In 1925, this memorial was erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Today the name of Spokane Garry appears on city parks, various memorials, and a middle school.