The Spokane people began to be changed by the outside world starting in the 13th century. The Spokanes constructed permanent villages for the winter by the river for fishing and huts in the mountains for gathering. Other Indian people began to influence the Spokanes introducing them to plank houses and horses. The first white men to contact them Spokane were explorers and fur traders. A trading post known as Spokane House was constructed near the confluence of Spokane and Little Spokane Rivers around 1810. Samuel Johnson, the first missionary to visit the Spokane, arrived in 1836.
As with other tribes, the Spokanes suffered from introduced diseases (including smallpox, syphilis, influenza) and land-grabbing brought by white settlers and exacerbated by lack of legal controls to prevent injustice. By the 1860s homesteaders were driving into the west pushing off the original inhabitants, such as the Spokanes. Some consequences of the movement of the white men were the destruction of the burial grounds and ancient villages, the suppression of original Indian languages and cultures, and the raping of native women. The Spokane Indians, among many other Indians, were given English names. The Spokanes made a number of agreements with the federal governments in the late 1800’s. In 1877 the Lower Spokane relocated to the Spokane reservation which was declared a reservation in 1881. In 1887 the Upper and Middle Spokane agreed to move to the Colville Flathead Reservation.
The territory the Spokanes live on now consists of 154,000 acres (623 km²), of which they possess only ten percent of that territory; the rest is held by the government.
Uranium was discovered on the reservation and mined from an open pit 1956-1962 and 1969-1982, at the Midnite Mine. The remnants may require an expensive cleanup.