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  • Philip Goldenman


Updated: Sep 21, 2021

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

Oil painting by Canadian artist Paul Kane from his field sketches made of this 9,000 year-old* seasonal Interior Salish fishery culture during his visit to the Pacific Northeast's Oregon Country in 1847.

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

a/ Bludgeoning net caught fish with large stick while on woven sticks platform into river

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

c/ Observer overlooking [shallow shoreline pooling] fish availability by using stomach lie down position stomach

d/ Note in painting's background of Shonitkwu (Interior Salish for "roaring or noisy waters"**): jumping and leaping salmon to overcome 50' falls height--highest on Columbia River--and wicker baskets suspended from rocks to catch gravity fall-backs of fish leaps.

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

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

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

Note in the painting particularly the indigenous native fishery technology of smoking salmon steaks. Salmon were split in half and then dried over the fires; the fires' smoke rising to and throughout them 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 woven baskets layer-by-layer with smoked fish for the family's winter food supply--akin to western culture's canning of agricultural produce.

The poles were retained there at the fishery village between seasonal fishing runs and/or replaced as needed and re-assembled again for each fishing season.

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 son on until one party has attained the number agreed upon for the game."

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

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

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