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Paul Kane: Falls at Colville, 1847 / Courtesy of: Royal Ontario Museum, (c) ROM, Toronto.


Oil painting by Canadian artist Paul Kane from his 1846 field sketches made of this 9,000 year-old 1 seasonal Interior Salish fishery culture during his visit to the Pacific Northeast's Oregon Country.

Note the indigenous seasonal fishing technologies depicted by Kane [L to R]:  

a/ Bludgeoning net-caught fish on poles platform extending out over edge of river

b/ Harpoon spear-fishing positions of three indigenous native fishermen

c/ In front of lie-down observer on face of falls the wicker basket to catch the leaping salmon fall-backs

d/ Note in painting's background of Shonitkwu (Interior Salish for: "roaring or noisy waters"2: the teeming and leaping salmon attempting to attain the 50' overall falls elevation--highest along course of natural Columbia River.

Paul Kane: INDIAN CAMP at FORT COLVILLE, 1847 / Courtesy of: Royal Ontario Museum,

(c) ROM, Toronto: 912.1.62 "Indian Camp, Colville."



Note particularly in the painting the indigenous native millennial time-worn fishery culture technology of smoking salmon steaks. Salmon were split in half and then dried over the fires; the fires' smoke rising to and throughout their flesh acted as a preservative. At the racks to the left in the painting, an indigenous native woman is painted as tending the fish smoking fires underneath the racks and/or packing layer-by-layergrass-woven baskets with smoked fish for the family's winter food supply--akin to contemporary preservation of agricultural produce by canning or freezing.


The poles seen in the painting were retained there at the Shonitkwu fishery village between seasonal fishing runs, were  re-assembled as needed again by each fishing season and replaced as needed.

Paul Kane: Game of Alcholoh, 1847 / Courtesy of: Royal Ontario Museum, (c) ROM, Toronto: 912.1.65 "Game of Alcholoh,".


Gambling and gaming were forms of intra-tribal entertainment between indigenous native tribal members who came to Shonitkwu for seasonal salmon fishing.  Kane describes the playing of the game as follows:

"The principal game played here is called Al-kol-lock, and requires considerable skill. A smooth level piece of ground is chosen, and a slight barrier of a couple of sticks placed lengthwise, is laid at each end of the chosen spot, being from forty to fifty feet apart and only a few inches high. The two players, stripped naked, are armed each with a very slight spear about three feet long, and finely pointed with bone; one of them takes a ring made of bone, or some heavy wood, and wound round with cord; this ring is about three inches in diameter, on the inner circumference of which are fastened six heads of different colours at equal distances, to each of which a separate numerical value is attached. The ring is then rolled along the ground to one of the barriers, and is followed at the distance of two or three yards by the players, and as the ring strikes the barrier and is falling on its side, the spears are thrown, so that the ring may fall on them. If only one of the spears should be covered by the ring, the owner of it counts according to the colored bead over it. But it generally happens, from the dexterity of the players, that the ring covers both spears, and each counts according to the colour of the beads above his spear; they then play towards the other barrier, and so on until one party has attained the number agreed upon for the game."3



1Chance, David H. , PEOPLE OF THE FALLS, Kettle Falls (WA) Historical Center, c1986, p. 1

2Kettle Falls - [web-page accessed 07/22/2021]

3Kane, Paul. WANDERINGS of an ARTIST among the Indians of North America,

Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1996. p. 217.

Name of tribes              Names in the            No. of    No. of        Children
as distinguished by      Spokan language     Men      Women   Boys/Girls    

the Indians

Lake Indians                         Sinaiteht                  34            38             25       41
Kettle Falls Indians              Whyelpie                 96           110            61       74
Sinapoilish                            Sinapoilish               91            77             24       26
Spokans                                Spokans                 222           241            111     130
Couer d Alens                      Schuchuis               157           112             60       75
Pendant d, Oreills               Callespellum          203           248          207     185
Kootanies                             Calle Souilk            182           215           118      115
Flat Heads                           Asellish                    150           180          164     169
                      TOTALs:                          3941   /   1135         1221          770     815 

Figure 4:  Indigenous Native Population of the Upper Columbia River watershed,

1829 Report of Fort Colvile, p.3.  Winnipeg: Hudson's Bay Company Archives,

Archives of the Province of Manitoba, Canada. 

Historic Way(s) of Living  

sx̌ʷýʔłpx (Colville) people

The sx̌ʷýʔłpx people, which means "sharp-pointed trees", speak the Northern Interior Salish nselxcin dialect.

 The sx̌ʷýʔłpx (Colville) lived around the Columbia River.  Their millennial territory went from the mouth of the Spokane River in the south, then north and up the Kettle River Valley, past and to the west of, Christina Lake in British Columbia. In the east, the sx̌ʷýʔłpx occupied the Colville River Valley down to today's Chewelah, and in the west, their boundaries extended to the Frosty Meadows area. 

  The sx̌ʷýʔłpx had some of the earliest consistent interaction with Euro-Americans in the Pacific Northwest:

>1811, the sx̌ʷýʔłpx met with David Thompson Columbia River expedition for the Montreal-based Northwest Company's.

>1825-26, the tribe agreed to titling the London-based Hudson's Bay Company to establishing Fort Colvile on a plain just above the Kettle Falls as a fur trading post as long as HBCo did not fish and allowed the tribes to trade with HBCo with fish as a means of trade.   Part of the entitlement grant was that HBCo would also be an agricultural trade repository to thereby improve the tribal diet.  The British firm left the Kettle Falls area after the settlement with the U.S. federal government of their last area land claims upon the end of the Civil War.

>1859, the US military built its Fort Colville some twelve miles east, lasting there until 1882. 

  The creation of the original Colville Reservation cut the sx̌ʷýʔłpx territory in half. When the North Half was returned to public domain, the sx̌ʷýʔłpx lost another quarter of their territory, including possession of Kettle Falls.

sńʕaýckstx - Lakes people

 The sńʕaýckstx  people, which means "speckled fish", also speak in a nselxcin dialect of the Northern Interior Salish.

The sńʕaýckstx (Lakes) territory centered around the upper Columbia River, possibly reaching as far north as the northern "big bend" of the Columbia, which is north of today's Revelstoke, British Columbia. The sńʕaýckstx territory also extended east to B.C.'s Trout Lake and the western edge of its Kootenay Lake. The southern limit of the sńʕaýckstx land is found near Northport, though many millennially also fished at the Kettle Falls. 

   Highly mobile, members of the sńʕaýckstx tribal people relied heavily on canoes for transportation--rather than walking or using horses. Their diet depended on game--especially the hunting of deer and bear.  The sourcing of their diet placed less emphasis on fishing and food gathering.  Pit houses were formed to provide shelter from weather and use for food storage.

After the creation of the United States-Canadian international border, most of the sńʕaýckstx members settled further south along the Columbia and Kettle Rivers, all the way to the Kettle Falls. Many of the sńʕaýckstx found themselves living on the Colville Reservation upon its creation in 1872. This changed, however, when gold was discovered in its original northern half which was then returned to U.S. public domain.   This event forced the sńʕaýckstx people in this north area to move south on to the remainder of the reservation or take land allotments. In addition to those sńʕaýckstx people living now in the United States, many other sńʕaýckstx people still live in Canada. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation continues to seek reaffirmation of the Lakes' tribal status with the Canadian government.

~above history paraphrased from:  "A Brief History: sx̌ʷýʔłpx (Colville) and sńʕaýckstx (Lakes)" website portion of Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, April 7-8, 2022.

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