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Tribal Gathering on the Colville Reservation

Tribal Gathering on the Colville Reservation, Spokane City Historic Preservation Office Photographic Collection.

The bands that make up the Colville Reservation signed their Executive Order in 1872 reducing their homelands to a 1.4 million acres reservation, just a fraction of their ancestral lands.This image of a gathering of Indians reveals a lot about the people and their larger culture. The mixture of traditional and western garments suggests that this photograph was taken in the late nineteenth century at the peak of transformation in Indian Country when, Indigenous people in the Northwest were dealing with the effects of reservations, allotments, relocation, and the significant population and cultural losses from the diseases that devastated tribal communities in the previous decades. One man in the background is holding an American flag, despite the fact the Natives were not legally citizens until 1924. In the left center you can see a group of people playing Stick Game, a traditional Indian pastime, with dozens of onlookers.

To find other related collections, check out our Research Guide for American Indians in the Digital Archives. To view more photographs like this one see the Spokane City Historic Preservation Office’s Photograph Collection here.

Written by Brianna Humphreys