The Colville Indian Tribes

The Colville Indian Tribes


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The Colville Tribes' forebears subsisted along the eastern half of the Columbia River's tributaries. They communicated with similar Salishan languages and were nomadic until the mid-19th century, when fundamental changes to their way of life took hold.Before the advent of Europeans in the early 19th century, the Colville tribes differentiated among themselves according to traditional river valleys, language, and villages. To promote social cohesion, each band had a headman who consulted with a group of advisors about everyday concerns.The first change to have an impact on the traditional lifeways of the aborigines was the advent of the horse in the middle of the 18th century, traceable to 15th century European explorers on the other side of the continent. For numerous natives, exchanging furs and other Indian items for the white man's goods and services became a permanent alternative to traditional ways of subsistence.The middle of the 1800s ushered in a great and relentless wave of westward pioneers of various sorts, along such famous routes as the Oregon Trail. The river drainages became scenes of a drastic withering of indigenous populations.In 1855, agents of the American government induced numerous Washington tribes to sign land-ceding treaties in exchange for smaller parcels reserved for them, but the forebears of the modern Colville tribes did not become signatories and move onto a reservation. Nevertheless, in 1872 President Ulysses S. Grant established the Colville Indian Reservation by Executive Order. The famed Chief Joseph and the remnant of his Wallowa Nez Percé band joined the original tribes on the Colville Reservation in 1885.*In 1887, the Congress passed the General Allotment Act that granted small parcels of acreage to Indian individuals, including some of the Colville. Allotments were created with tribal lands, including the Colville Reservation.Over the next several decades, various societal and governmental pressures would chip away at the size of the Colville Reservation. In the 1930s, dams along the Columbia and increased American settlement further compromised Colville jurisdiction.In 1934, Congress commenced to close down the government's allotment policy that began 1887. A year later, the Secretary of the Interior signed an directive to terminate the withdrawal status of Colville reservation lands.On February 26, 1938, the American government endorsed the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation’s new constitution and bylaws. From this document, a governing unit and four voting districts were established.In 1995, each member of Washington’s Colville Confederated Tribes received a federal check in the amount of $5,989 to compensate for acreage confiscated to construct the Grand Coulee Dam in 1933.


*Chief Joseph and his band were supposed Nez Percé Nez Perce bands, but local whites leery of the notorious chief prevented it.
See also Indian Wars Time Table.
Native American Cultural Regions Map


Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation is the federally recognized tribe that controls the Colville Indian Reservation, which is located in northeastern Washington, United States. It is the government for its people.

The Confederate Tribes of the Colville Reservation consist of twelve individual tribes. Those tribes are:

The tribes' traditional territories in the Pacific Northwest once encompassed most of what is now known as eastern Washington state and extended into British Columbia, Idaho, and Oregon. Eight of these related bands are the names of rivers that flow off of the eastern slopes of the North Cascades or the Okanagon Highlands. Several of these rivers have small towns or communities where the rivers flow into the Columbia River. Beginning in the Southwest the rivers in order as you go north and then east are the: Wenatchee (Town of Wenatchee), Entiat (Town of Entiat), Chelan (Town of Chelan), Methow (Town of Methow, upstream of the confluence with the Columbia), Okanogan (Town of Okanogan, upstream of the Confluence), Nespelem (Tribal community of Nespelem, upstream of the confluence), Sanpoil (Tribal community of Sanpoil, on the Sanpoil arm of Lake Roosevelt), and Colville (Town of Colville, upstream of the confluence). The Arrow Lakes are upstream on the Columbia River a little ways above the border in British Columbia. The Moses Coulee, Moses-Columbia, is an Ice Age Canyon (coulee) just south of the Columbia River west of Coulee City on U.S. Highway 2. Not to be confused, Coulee City is located in the Grand Coulee, a similar and more famous Ice Age Canyon that lies east of the Moses Coulee.

The Nez Perce are the descendants of Chief Joseph band which came from Northeast Oregon. As part of the conditions of surrender Chief Joseph and his band were not allowed to return to their home in Oregon and were eventually re-located to the Colville reservation after the so called "Flight of the Nez Perce" in 1877. The Nez Perce (not including the small group re-located to Colville) are located on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation in West central Idaho along the Clearwater River.

In 1872, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation was formed by executive order under President Ulysses S. Grant for the purpose of occupying the Colville Reservation. It was a large area encompassing a wide variety of habitats and resources. Later the reservation was reduced, and some of the best lands were excluded, made available for settlement by European Americans.


Contents

The Colville tribe was originally located in eastern Washington on the Colville River and the area of the Columbia River between Kettle Falls and the town of Hunters. [1]

The tribe's history is tied with Kettle Falls, an important salmon fishing resource, [2] and an important post of the Hudson's Bay Company, which brought the advantages and disadvantages of contact with people of European heritage. In 1846, the Jesuit St. Paul's Mission was established. Through its influence nearly all the upper Columbia tribes were Christianized. [2]

In 1872, the Colville tribe was relocated to an Indian reservation in eastern Washington the named after them. [2] It is inhabited and managed by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, which is a federally recognized tribe comprising twelve bands. The twelve bands are the Methow, Okanogan, Arrow Lakes, Sanpoil, Colville, Nespelem, Chelan, Entiat, Moses-Columbia, Wenatchi, Nez Perce, and Palus.

Eight of these related bands are the names of rivers that flow off of the eastern slopes of the North Cascades or the Okanagon Highlands of eastern Washington. Several of these rivers have small towns or communities where the rivers flow into the Columbia River. Beginning in the Southwest the rivers in order as you go north and then east are the: Wenatchee (Town of Wenatchee), Entiat (Town of Entiat), Chelan (Town of Chelan), Methow (Town of Methow, upstream of the confluence with the Columbia), Okanogan (Town of Okanogan, upstream of the Confluence), Nespelem (Tribal community of Nespelem, upstream of the confluence), Sanpoil (Tribal community of Sanpoil, on the Sanpoil arm of Lake Roosevelt), and Colville (Town of Colville, upstream of the confluence). The Arrow Lakes are upstream on the Columbia River a little ways above the border in British Columbia. The Moses Coulee, Moses-Columbia, is an Ice Age Canyon (coulee) just south of the Columbia River west of Coulee City on U.S. Highway 2. Not to be confused, Coulee City is located in the Grand Coulee, a similar and more famous Ice Age Canyon that lies east of the Moses Coulee.

The Nez Perce are the descendants of Chief Joseph band which came from Northeast Oregon. As part of the conditions of surrender Chief Joseph and his band were not allowed to return to their home in Oregon and were eventually re-located to the Colville reservation after the so called "Flight of the Nez Perce" in 1877. The Nez Perce (not including the small group re-located to Colville) are located on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation in West central Idaho along the Clearwater River.

Mooney (1928) estimated the number of the Colville at 1,000 as of 1780, but Lewis and Clark placed it at 2,500, a figure also fixed upon by Teit (1930). In 1870, there were 616 in 1900, 298 [2] in 1904, 321 in 1907, 334 and in 1937, 322. [ citation needed ]

The Colville language or N̓x̌ʷʔiłpcən is a one of six dialects of Colville-Okanagan historically spoken by the "Syilx peoples" including Northern Okanagan and Southern/Lower Okanagan (Sinkaietk), Methow, Sanpoil (Nesilextcl'n), Nespelem (sometimes considered a Sanpoil subtribe), Colville, and Sinixt (Senijextee/Arrow Lakes Band) peoples. Syilx is the historic autonym of the Okanagan peoples and today a political term for land and cultural claims for all Colville-Okanagan-speaking peoples.

Together with Wenatchee-Columbian, Spokane-Kalispel-Bitterroot, and Coeur d'Alene, Colville-Okanagan belong to the four Southern Interior Salishan languages of the Plateau.


Spokane is the economic and cultural center of the Spokane metropolitan area, the Spokane –Coeur d’Alene combined statistical area, and the Inland Northwest. It is known as the birthplace of Father’s Day, and its official nickname is the “Lilac City”.

Pow Wows are the Native American people’s way of meeting together, to join in dancing, singing, visiting, renewing old friendships, and making new ones. This is a time method to renew Native American culture and preserve the rich heritage of American Indians.


As in the past, natural resources are protected by the Spokane Indians. The Spokane Indian Reservation consists of 108,874 acres of forest, 8,552 acres of agricultural land, and 10,328 acres of lakes. The town of Wellpinit is the main population center and the seat of Tribal government.

The Nimiipuu people have always resided and subsisted on lands that included the present-day Nez Perce Reservation in north-central Idaho. Today, the Nez Perce Tribe is a federally recognized tribal nation with more than 3,500 citizens.


Colville Indians

Colville Indians. The name is derived from Fort Colville, a post of the Hudson’s Bay Company at Kettle Falls, which was in turn named for the London governor of the company at the time when the post was founded, i. e., in 1825. Also called:

  • Basket People, by Hale (1846).
  • Chaudière, French name derived from the popular term applied to them,
  • Kettle Falls Indians.
  • Kettle Falls Indians, as above.
  • Salsxuyilp, Okanagon name.
  • Skuyelpi, by other Salish tribes.
  • Whe-el-po, by Lewis and Clark, shortened from above.

Connections. The Colville belonged to the inland division of the Salishan linguistic stock and to that branch of the latter which included the Okanagon, Sanpoil, and Senijextee.

Colville Location. On Colville River and that part of the Columbia between Kettle Falls and Hunters.

Colville Villages and Subdivisions. (From Ray, 1932)

  • Kakalapia, home of the Skakalapiak (across from the present town of Harvey, at the point where the ferry now crosses).
  • Kilumaak, home of the Skilumaak (opposite the present town of Kettle Falls, about 1½ miles above Nchumutastum).
  • Nchaliam, home of the Snchalik (about 1½ miles above the present town of Inchelium).
  • Nchumutastum, home of the Snchumutast (about 6 miles above Nilamin).
  • Nilamin, home of the Snilaminak (about 15 miles above Kakalapia).
  • Nkuasiam, home of the Snkuasik (slightly above the present town of Daisy, on the opposite side of the river).
  • Smichunulau, home of the Smichunulauk (at the site of the present State bridge at Kettle Falls).

Colville History. The history of the Colville was similar to that of the neighboring tribes except that Kettle Falls was early fixed upon as the site of an important post by the Hudson Bay Company and brought with it the usual advantages and disadvantages of White contact.

Colville Population. Mooney (1928) estimated the number of the Colville at 1,000 as of 1780, but Lewis and Clark placed it at 2,500, a figure also fixed upon by Teit (1930). In 1904 there were 321 in 1907, 334 and in 1937, 322.

Connections in which the Colville Indians have become noted. The name Colville was applied to an important Indian Reservation and later to a town, the county seat of Stevens County, Wash., but the original, of course, was not Indian.


The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (Colville Confederated Tribes History/Archaeology Program presents the following compilation of legends. They represent events associated with Traditional Cultural Properties within the Grand Coulee Dam Project Area, in the traditional territory of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. The events described and the list of informants who supplied the actual stories or legends are key elements in the fifty-eight compiled legends. This book of Legends augments our oral traditions. Most of these Legends are from the Columbia River, Sanpoil River, and Kettle River between Grand Coulee Dam and the Canadian Border. In order to show continuity with the surrounding areas one legend from Omak Lake and one from the Nespelem River are included as well.

The Book of Legends reinforces the historical value of Salish place names and the validity of the legends, many of which can be mapped. No corrections were made to the original printed material. The legends are presented as originally published with the single exception being that Matilda “Tillie” George added and corrected (proper spellings and translations) Indian names associated with the legends.


Native History: the Epic Termination Battle on the Colville Indian Reservation

The word “termination” is enough to make any knowledgeable Indian cringe. One of the federal government’s all-time biggest policy failures, it is recent enough to be in the lived experience of many Indians still alive today. Many will recall the devastation of the Menominee and Klamath Indians, whose stories are two of the most prominent𠅊nd heartbreaking𠅊mong those of more than 100 tribes that were terminated in the 1950s and �s. The Colville’s termination story, while less known, is of a tribe that narrowly averted a vote by tribal membership to terminate the reservation. It was a highly contentious battle that lasted 20 years, a complex tale of the triumph of self-determination and a pulling together of diverse interests for the preservation of land and culture.

Indian Country Today Media Network spoke with Colville tribal member Laurie Arnold, professor and Native American Studies Program Director at Gonzaga University. She is the author of the only complete history of Colville termination, Bartering with the Bones of Their Dead: The Colville Confederated Tribes and Termination(University of Washington Press, 2012).

Termination is seen by many today as another in a long line of genocidal policies by the U.S. government to solve its so-called Indian problem. But what distinguished the Colville’s termination was the tribes’ strong pro-termination sentiment. Could you explain what termination meant to them?

The Colville bands never viewed themselves as “one tribe.” We were a confederation of tribes with different (but complementary) interests. Beginning in the nineteen-teens, Colville band members were already organizing against the U.S. government and white immigrants [to the reservation], allotment and citizenship. They were pushing back against the infrastructure. When they learned about termination from their senator, they said, “We’ll do that. If it means we don’t have to be part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs anymore, we’ll do that.” For the reservation people it was about regaining autonomy and managing their own lives. For the urban people it was more about the money.

What did the Colvilles learn from the experience of the Klamath and Menominee?

They certainly met with the Klamath more. The anti-terminationists used [the experience of the Klamath] to point out what happened to them. They had been a strong and proud community with all of these forest resources, and suddenly they’re no longer Indians. They𠆝 burned through the cash that many had carried around in brown paper bags, and they had nothing left. The Klamath vote happened so quickly and with so little tribal input, context or discussion that no one fully understood what was happening. The Colvilles had almost 20 years of conversation, and it still wasn’t really clear, because it was an incredibly complicated policy and process. They saw the same thing happen to the Menominee.

The Colville experience with termination has been written about by other scholars like Vine Deloria and Charles Wilkinson. Wilkinson wrote that in 1963, pro-terminationist Senator Henry Jackson 𠇌ontrolled the fortunes of the Colvilles.” What do you think he meant, given that from your perspective the Colvilles themselves controlled it through their vigorous internal debates? How much influence did congress actually have on Colville termination?

Realistically, congress holds the fate of Indians in their hands every day because it has plenary power. But I think Wilkinson overstated it. By 1963 congress was already turning away from termination. The Colvilles never had a bill fully approved by the House and the Senate. It might have been true in 1960 or 1962, but by 1963 congress was turning away from it. One of the interesting things about Colville termination is that the Colvilles still pursued it for five years after congress had lost interest. Because the tribes couldn’t agree, they exerted a great deal of authority.

One of the things that makes the Colvilles’ termination story unique was that it included a negotiation to have land returned in exchange for their agreement to terminate, but instead all they got was hunting and fishing rights. Did this not seem like a bad omen? Given that all they really got from the federal government was crumbs, why did they continue entertaining the idea of terminating the reservation?

I think the tribal council believed they would lose all the land and thought they𠆝 have to terminate anyway. The rights to the space were restored, which was very dear to them. It made a huge social and cultural difference, even if they couldn’t build houses on that land. I think that with the ways tribes continue to restore land and assert tribal authority, that land might yet be restored, because there are tribal members who still have it on their radar.

Why does the Colville termination story matter? What do Native people today have to learn from it?


In historic ruling, court says US Indigenous tribe has right to lands in Canada

Sixty years later, an Indigenous community can now hunt in British Columbia, Canada.

  • Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington state are ruled successors of the Sinixt tribe.
    • The Canadian supreme court case of hunting rights started with a fine back in 2010.
    • Sinixts were told to leave Canada in the '50s and were then labelled extinct.

    The Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington state, confirmed as successors to the Sinixt, have constitutionally protected Indigenous rights to hunt their traditional lands in Canada, The Guardian reported .

    Four years ago, the tribe won the case that their tribe still exists after being considered considered extinct by Canada since 1955 when the group got pushed down into Washington state.

    America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.

    On Friday, 4,000 members of the Colville Confederated Tribes were relieved by the Supreme Court of Canada's decision that will not only secure their hunting rights as a tribe, but may have implications for tens of thousands for other Native Americans who got pushed out of Canada and into America hundreds of years ago.

    “I was so nervous before the decision. I don’t think I slept more than an hour the night before,” Rick Desautel, one of the descendants of the Sinixt tribe who has been fighting in this case for decades, said. “When the decision came through I just let out a huge sigh of relief.”

    Desautel challenged the Canadian government by crossing country lines and hunted for elk without a permit in 2010, and the government of British Columbia issued him a fine. Desautel then challenged the fine, making it all the way to the Canadian supreme court.

    The recognition of the treaty rights of “Aboriginal peoples of Canada" was problematic for the court to interpret. But in the end, the court found for modern-day successors of Indigenous societies that occupied Canadian territory during European contact, including communities that are now located outside Canada.

    “Excluding Aboriginal peoples who moved or were forced to move, or whose territory was divided by a border, would add to the injustice of colonialism,” the court wrote on Friday .

    “Today was an indescribable moment for us,” said Rodney Cawston, chairman of the Colville Confederated Tribes. Ahead of the judgment, he said, members had gathered at Kettle Falls, a historic Sinixt fishing site, for early morning prayers. “Everyone was just absolutely elated when we got the news . It’s been a very long battle for our people. Many of our people and our ancestors have been working on it for a very long time.”

    Ancestral territory in Canada is now in question amongst other tribes, especially those affected after the Canadian border was drawn and how it displaced Indigenous peoples from hunting and fishing.


    ‘etweyé·wise—A new sculpture at the Josephy Center

    On Saturday, June 22, 2019, we dedicated a new sculpture at the Josephy Center on Main Street in Joseph, Oregon. Two years of preparation and the artisanship of Doug Hyde gave us a work he calls ‘etweyé·wise—which is an old word meaning “I return from a hard journey” in the Nez Perce language.

    Sculptor Doug Hyde and the Returning Nez Perce Woman

    The walwa’ma band of the Nez Perce was forced out of this country in 1877, leading to a war in which the Indians fended off government armies for almost 1400 miles through some of the most rugged country in the West. They were within 40 miles of Canada when the armies caught the cold and hungry people. A promised return to the West became eight years in exile in Kansas and Indian Territory—what the Nez Perce still call the “hot country.”

    The Nez Perce War survivors were allowed to return to the West in 1885, Read The Article


    Colville: Book of Legends

    The Book of Legends is from the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, which Confluence has permission to share on our Library.

    The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (Colville Confederated Tribes History/Archaeology Program presents the following compilation of legends. They represent events associated with Traditional Cultural Properties within the Grand Coulee Dam Project Area, in the traditional territory of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. The events described and the list of informants who supplied the actual stories or legends are key elements in the fifty-eight compiled legends. This book of Legends augments our oral traditions. Most of these Legends are from the Columbia River, Sanpoil River, and Kettle River between Grand Coulee Dam and the Canadian Border. In order to show continuity with the surrounding areas one legend from Omak Lake and one from the Nespelem River are included as well.

    The Book of Legends reinforces the historical value of Salish place names and the validity of the legends, many of which can be mapped. No corrections were made to the original printed material. The legends are presented as originally published with the single exception being that Matilda “Tillie” George added and corrected (proper spellings and translations) Indian names associated with the legends.


    Watch the video: Oldest Native American footage ever


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