top of page


  Metis [pronounced, "meh-Teese"] were the semi-indigenous children of fur trapping fathers and indigenous native mothers.  As adults, they became a multi-cultural bridge between indigenous tribal peoples and the inculcative on-slot of Euro-American settler colonialism, as it expanded upon and spread over the North American West.  From 1805-07, these Euro-American-indigenous [male] adult forerunners crossed over the Rocky Mountain's Continental Divide, via the upper forks of the Saskatchewan River and upper Missouri River.  They encountered indigenous native individuals while out and about conducting their winter fur-trappings.   Sometimes they asked these native individuals to seek permission for the trappers to over-winter with their tribes.  As a result, they oft-times found wives of their own from these tribal stays and thereby obtained permission to access the watershed regions of upper Columbia River tributaries.  This region provided fresh, new territories to trap for the fur from beaver and other animals. 

In doing so, the Metis preceded the on-set of the fur-trading commerce of the La Chine, Lower Canada-based Northwest Company. 

  NC's commercial fur trappers and traders first arrived west of the Rockies in the Kootenay region of today's southeast British Columbia province beginning in 1807.  At the behest of NWC's trapper-explorer-geographer David Thompson, over the four years of 1807-1810, his Northwest Company men established four (4) fur trade houses west of the Rockies along the Upper Columbia Rivers watershed in the interior region of the global Pacific Northeast.  Over the winter of 1810, Thompson left behind two of his men to establish the fourth NWC fur trade post, Spokane House.  Canadian Finan McDonald and a Metis man, Jaco Finley.   Finley became such a noteworthy gunsmith, that David Douglas, for whom the Douglas Fir tree is named, came out of his way to Spokane House for Jaco's gun repair ability while on his botanical specimen tour of the Pacific Northeast--then historically better known as the Oregon Country.

  Upon its establishment, Spokane House operated as a key interior fur depot operation center for NWCo's Columbia District.  By 1813, it had taken control of John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company trading posts and monopolized the entirety of fur-trapping and trading in the Oregon Country as well.  In 1821, the British Parliament merged the Northwest Company into the Hudson's Bay Company.  HBCo subsequently reorganized NWC's Columbia Department interior operation by re-locating in 1825-6 to a new site this latter interior fur depot and trade center.  The falls just below the more readily accessible new upper Columbia River location had before then been named by NWC's French-Canadian canoe voyageurs, le Chaudiere ["boiling cauldron"] which became then anglicized as, "kettle falls".

bottom of page