Spokane is Native Country

A spate of articles in the local papers this week reminds us that Spokane is in Indian Country, and that some of the local tribes are experiencing both economic and cultural renaissances.

This interesting article at the Inlander details the efforts of the Spokane Tribe to establish a cultural center at a site adjacent to Riverfront Park: " 'We’re just trying to get a presence back on the riverbanks, where we originated from,' says Glenn Ford, vice chairman of the Spokane Tribal Business Council. Tribal elders don’t plan on simply parking their cars there. They envision a large mixed-use structure housing a living history and cultural center, classrooms for young tribal members, retail shops to help support the endeavor and maybe some office space up above."

The thought of a really good native living history center and museum right in downtown Spokane takes my breath away. It would be a great addition to our community and could serve to educate the entire region about native culture and history. (Of course this was exactly what MONAC, the Museum of Native American Cultures, was supposed to do. I'll have to create a post about MONAC one day...)

The Inlander and the Spokesman Review have had a spate of articles in the last week about native stories and issues. The Inlander also featured an appreciate obituary of Spokan leader Gerald Nicodemus. A moving detail from the story is the origin of a song that a Spokan drumming group performed at the funeral: "The Hangman Song is what they played. When Col. George Wright hung three Indians during his punitive campaign against area tribes, the doomed men were allowed time for last words. One sang this song as his death song. It has been passed down ever since."

The Spokesman had a front-page story about how the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are breaking ground on a $41-million-dollar salmon hatchery, meant to restore some of the fish runs that were destroyed by the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam in 1941. At the time of the construction the federal government promised that four fish hatcheries would be built--this will be the fourth. Apparently Joe Peone, director of the Colville tribes’ Fish and Wildlife Program, found a record of the promise ten years ago and realized that his people were owed a hatchery! The Bonneville Power Administration is paying for the construction.

Finally the Spokesman had a nice article about the Julyamsh Pow Wow in Post Falls, one of the larger regional pow wows. The picture above is by Spokesman photographer Colin Mulvaney and is taken from this short photo display of the pow wow. The Julyamsh tag at Flickr will bring you to hundreds of additional photographs of this colorful event.