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. The full origins of the Colville Indians are unknown. The spoken language of the tribe is a relatively modern creole made up of the several languages shared within the community since the various tribes were gathered into the Reservation.
Outsiders often named the Colville Scheulpi or Chualpay; the French traders called them Les Chaudières ("the kettles") in reference to Kettle Falls.
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
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 "reservations" 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:
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 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.
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.
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 and Wenatchee Valley College North Campus in Omak. Historically many students from the reservation have attended four year college at Eastern Washington University, Washington State University, Central Washington University, Gonzaga University or University of Washington. Heritage College also offers some courses and degrees in Omak at the WVC North Campus building.
Crews draw line to save homes from fire ; Blaze on Colville Indian Reservation grows; to 10,600 acres, burns six more outbuildings
Jul 10, 2003; The Rattlesnake Canyon fire raced another three miles north Wednesday, but fire crews stopped it just short of a complex of...