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The Colville Indian Reservation is an Indian reservation in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Washingtonmarker, inhabited and managed by Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, which is recognized by the United States of Americamarker as an American Indian Tribe. The reservation is located in the southeastern section of Okanogan Countymarker and the southern half of Ferry Countymarker, but there are pieces of trust land out Eastern Washington, including lands located in Chelan Countymarker, just to the northwest of the city of Chelanmarker. The reservation's name is adapted from that of Fort Colvillemarker, which was named for Andrew Colville, a London governor of the Hudson's Bay Company and had been founded before the region became part of the United States.

The Confederated Tribes have 8,700 descendants from 12 aboriginal tribes. The tribes are known in English as: the Colville, the Nespelem, the Sanpoil, the Lake (Sinixt), the Palus, the Wenatchi, the Chelan, the Entiat, the Methow, the southern Okanagan, the Sinkiuse-Columbia, and the Nez Perce of Chief Joseph's Band. Some members of the Spokane tribe also settled the Colville reservation later on. The full origin of the adoption of the name "Colville" tribe are unknown since the name only goes back to the foundings of the resevation (should also be noted that certain tribal members find it offensive to be called Colville). The spoken language of the tribe is a variation of Salishan with the exception of the Nez Perce and Palus who belong to a separate language family, most common dialect used by the tribe is Okanogan, though tribal members use try to their own dialects.

Outsiders often named the Colville Scheulpi or Chualpay; the French traders called them Les Chaudières ("the kettles") in reference to Kettle Fallsmarker.


Prior to the influx of British and Americans in the mid-1850s the ancestors of the 12 aboriginal tribes followed seasonal cycles of food availability; moving to the rivers for fish runs, mountain meadows for berries and deer, or the plateau for roots. Their traditional territories were grouped primarily around waterways such as the Columbia, San Poil, Nespelem, Okanogan, Snake, and Wallowa rivers.

Many tribal ancestors ranged throughout their aboriginal territories and other areas in the Northwest (including Canada), gathering with other native peoples for traditional activities such as food harvesting, feasting, trading, and celebrations that included sports and gambling. Their lives were tied to the cycles of nature both spiritually and traditionally [79308].

In the mid-1800s, when the settlers, squatters and trespassers began competing for trade with the indigenous native people, the tribes began to migrate westward. Trading became a bigger part of their lives.

Finally an ownership dispute began between Britain and the U.S. over what the latter called the Oregon Country and the former the Columbia District. Both claimed the territory until the Oregon Treaty of 1846 established American title south of the 49th Parallel; all of the indigenous people living in those territories were not considered citizens and were not regarded as entitled to the lands. However, according to the religion of the indigenous people, this territory had been their home land since the time of creation.

President Fillmore signed a bill creating the Washington Territory, and a Commissioner of Indian Affairs (Major Isaac Stevens of the United States Army Corps of Engineers) was appointed to meet with the "Indians" during his exploration for railroad routes. Stevens wrote a report recommending the creation of "reservation" for the people in the Washington Territory; stating "contrary to natural rights and usage," the United States should grant lands that would become reservations to the Indians without purchasing from them.

In 1854 "negotiations" were conducted, "particularly in the vicinity of white settlements, toward extinguishment of the Indian claims to the lands and the concentration of the tribes and fragments of tribes on a few reservations naturally suited to the requirement of the Indians, and located, so far as practicable, so as not to interfere with the settlement of the country."

During this time, continued settlement resulted in the Yakima War, which was fought from 1856 to 1859. Negotiations were unsuccessful until 1865, at which time Superintendent McKenny commented:

"From this report, the necessity of trading with these Indians can scarcely fail to be obvious. They now occupy the best agricultural lands in the whole country and they claim an undisputed right to these lands. White squatters are constantly making claims in their territory and not infrequently invading the actual improvements of the Indians. The state of things cannot but prove disastrous to the peace of the country unless forestalled by a treaty fixing the rights of the Indians and limiting the aggressions of the white man. The fact that a portion of the Indians refused all gratuitous presents shows a determination to hold possession of the country here until the government makes satisfactory overtures to open the way of actual purchase."

President Grant issued an Executive Order on April 9, 1872, to create an "Indian Reservation" consisting of several million acres of land, containing rivers, streams, timbered forests, grass lands, minerals, plants and animals. People from 11 tribes, including the Colville, the Nespelem, the San Poil, Lakes, Palus, Wenatchi, Chelan, Entiat, Methow, southern Okanogan, and the Moses Columbia, were "designated" to live on the newly created Colville Indian Reservation.

The Presidential Executive Order issued on July 2, 1872 moved the Colville Indian Reservation west of the Columbia River, and reduced the size from several million to 2,852,000 acres (11,540 km²). Ironically, the tribes' native lands of the Okanogan River, Methow Valley, and other large areas of the Columbia and Pend d'Orielle Rivers, along with the Colville Valley, were excluded. The areas removed from the reservation were some of the richest.

Twenty years later Congress ceded the north half of the reservation under the Dawes Act. The government paid only $1.00 an acre ($247/km²). Later (October 10, 1900) 1,449,268 acres (5,865 km²) were opened to homesteading. Finally, in 1914, the south half of the Reservation was ceded.


The reservation encompasses 5,482.493 km² (2,116.802 sq mi) in land area, consisting of: tribally owned lands held in federal trust status for the Confederated Tribes, land owned by individual Colville tribal members (most of which is held in federal trust status), and land owned by other tribal or non-Indians, described as fee property and taxable by counties.

The reservation is occupied by 7,587 residents (2000 census), both Colville tribal members and their families and other non-Colville members, living either in small communities or in rural settings. Approximately fifty percent of the Confederated Tribes membership live on or adjacent to the reservation.

Major towns include Omakmarker, Nespelemmarker, Incheliummarker, Kellermarker, and Coulee Dammarker.

The legislative districts of the reservation are divided up and named as such:

Omak District: The largest district population wise, which makes up the western portion of the reservation the Omak Okanogan Valley and half the town of Omak.

Nespelem District: Making up the west-central portion of the reservation including part of the city of Coulee Dam and the Nespelem Valley. The Reservation Headquarters is located here.

Keller District: The district making up the east-central region of the reservation namely the San Poil Valley to the edge of Lake Roosevelt.

Inchelium District: Makes up the Eastern most region of the reservation.

In 1997 and 1998, the Colville Confederation celebrated its 125th year.



The Confederated Tribes and the Colville Indian Reservation are governed by the Colville Business Council From its administrative headquarters located at the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Agency at Nespelem, the Colville Business Council oversees a diverse, multi-million dollar administration that employs from 800 to 1,200 individuals in permanent, part-time, and seasonal positions. The Colville Business Council is composed of members who are elected to a renewable two-year term of office. There are four council members for each district, except for the Keller District (which has two). Each year, half the council seats in each district are up for election. Elections are held mid-June, with votes cast in person at polling sites at a predesignated location (usually the local community center) or by absentee ballot.


The current education system set for the Colville Indian Reservation is that each town on the reservation has its own K-6 school either directly or partially affiliated by the tribes. Only the Inchelium School is the only Public School district on the reservation with close ties to the tribe. Omak and Okanogan School districts serve the students of that area from K-12. Nespelem School district has a K-8 system and currently most Nespelem students attend high school at nearby Coulee Dams Lake Roosevelt High School. The Keller School district serves students from k-6 and gives students the option of attending school at nearby Wilbur, Lake Roosevelt or Republic (though Republic is rarely chosen due to a historically negative perception between the largely Native American town of Keller and the predominately White town of Republic). Pascal Sherman Indian School located outside of Omak at St. Mary's Mission is the only Indian Residential School on the reservation currently serving grades PreK-9 although plans have been talked about including a high school have been in the works for sometime. Inchelium School district and Lake Roosevelt High School are the only public k-12 schools in the physical boundaries of the reservation.

There is currently only a few options for one to pursue a post secondary education on the reservation with Community Colleges of Spokane having an outreach campus in Inchelium, and Big Bend Community College having a similar campus in Grand Coulee as well as attending Northwest Indian College's Nespelem Campus (a joint venture with Spokane Tribal College appears to have replaced NWIC), and Wenatchee Valley College North Campus in Omak. Historically many students from the reservation have attended four year college at Eastern Washington Universitymarker, Washington State Universitymarker, Central Washington Universitymarker, Gonzaga Universitymarker (which was first opened to service native americans) or University of Washingtonmarker. Heritage College also offers some courses and degrees in Omak at the WVC North Campus building.

Colville legends and stories


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