White Grizzly Bear’s Legacy
Learning to be Indian
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Washington Press
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During her lifetime, my mother, Mary, traveled often to the Colville Reservation and to different parts of the country. She looked up old friends who were members of the Lakes Tribe. My mother taped her talks with them. They sometimes exchanged words in Sin-Aikst, the language of...
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While I was working on the first draft of my manuscript, I knew I had a story. The information collected by my mother proved most important. The stories she shared with me of the Sin-Aikst/Lakes, and our family were invaluable. I learned, however, while working...
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Poco and I arrived at Twin Lakes in the late afternoon. We drove the winding dirt road through the heavy forest of pine and fir, stirring a fine cloud of dust. We were en route to my grandfather’s property, which bordered the North Twin. As we approached the lake, I remembered the smell...
2. The Sin-Aikst
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During my early years and later, after I was grown, my mother shared with me stories of the Sin-Aikst, before they were known as Lakes. She told me they were a tribe of about 3,000 people, spread across a large land area in British Columbia along the Columbia River. This area included the northeastern part of Washington State around Kettle River and...
3. The Lakes
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The Colville Confederated Tribes were established in 1872. President Ulysses S. Grant signed an executive order setting aside land east of the Columbia River to form the Colville Indian Reservation. The Colville Confederated Tribes included the Colvilles, Lakes, Okanogans, Sanpoils, Nespelems...
4. Kettle Falls
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My first clear awareness of life occurred while I was walking on a railroad bridge. The bridge crossed the Columbia River to the little town of Marcus, Washington. I was two years old, and the date was July 4, 1933. My mother was carrying Luana, my younger sister. I was walking beside her. Halfway across the bridge, I heard explosions that sounded...
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After the bands dispersed from their traditional areas, our family spent time in areas north and south of Kettle Falls. We and many others tried to live the Way of the People and carry on our traditions, but it was becoming impossible to do. The salmon runs were all but finished, and we were...
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Grand Coulee was located in the arid plateau country. The weather was usually dry. During the winter, it was very cold, and during the summer, it was very hot. There were no trees, only sagebrush, tumbleweeds, and large rock cli¤s bordering the river. When construction began on Grand Coulee Dam, life in Inchelium became very hard. Everyone...
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We arrived at Chemawa Indian School sometime in the early morning, when it was still dark. A person came out of a building and separated us according to sex. I could see the fear and uncertainty in Luana’s eyes. I did not know how to help or comfort her. We were led to di¤erent buildings. Once inside, we were assigned to rooms that had four cots...
8. Chemawa II
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My dad and Brownie were waiting for us as we got o¤ the bus. Brownie was beside himself and was barking and running around in circles. He finally came to me, jumping up and planting his forepaws on my chest, and I embraced him. I had not seen Brownie for nine months, and I was anxious to get home and see Bernard, who was being cared...
9. Manila Creek
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The Model T never seemed to change. It had its usual coat of dust, and the motor sounded good as we cruised at a speed of about 25–30 miles per hour. My dad told Luana and me that we were going to live in the Keller area of the reservation, where the Sanpoil River drains into...
10. Moving On
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We finally arrived in the Inchelium area about five hours later. We drove another six miles to reach the Lincoln Lumber Company camp. The company manager had reserved a two-room cabin for us. It was next to a large pond, and when I learned that the pond was full of eastern brook trout, I was excited. I had never before caught an eastern...
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After our family left Tonasket, we traveled to Okanogan. I was thirteen, Luana eleven, and Bernard six years old. We crossed a masonry bridge over the Okanogan River to reach the town of Okanogan. The bridge connected the Colville Indian Reservation to Okanogan. I thought of the di¤erences that existed at each end of the bridge. The bridge separated...
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Powerful Kettle Falls blurred and began to fade away. I tried to maintain my focus on the wondrous scene that had been before me. The roar of the falls and the echoes of people shouting and talking also passed. It was as if the spirits had gone. In their place was a large lake and then nothing but quiet. An immense body of water covered the falls. It did not move, and it was lifeless. My drifting thoughts returned to the present. I...
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Luana, Bernard, and I graduated from Okanogan High School and moved west of the mountains to live in Tacoma with our mother. We had no idea of the roles we would play in the future. After I left Okanogan, I was able to work my way through college. During those years, I met Joyce Meachem, and we became friends. She was a Yakama and Warm Springs...
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Publication Year: 2012