I must confess I am a non-native living on an Indian Reservation; to be exact, the Colville Confederated Reservation in Northeast Washington State. We have been here for two and one-half decades. I followed my husband to the home of his father’s family after we completed collage at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA.
My husband and son’s band is the Sinyekst or Sinixt people. This translates to the “Speckled Fish” people or Place of the Bull Trout. They are currently referred to as the Lakes People. Here are five quick facts of the Lakes people:
1. They originated from British Columbia.
2. The line was drawn between Canada and United Stated, extending to the Pacific Ocean, in 1849 and divided the upper and lower Lakes people.
3. The Lakes people on the lower end of the 49th Parallel were added to the Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington State in 1872.
4. These were nomadic people: hunters, fishermen, and gatherers.
5. The Lakes people spoke a dialect of the Interior Salish that is closely related to the Okanogan people, which is what is taught today.
In the weeks to come, I will share with you the life of the Lakes people as it has been taught to me before cell phones and video games. When children roamed the mountains and shores of the Columbia River learning to hunt and gather roots and berries. A simple life. A life fulfilled.
Haiku Poem of the Speckled Fish People
To the Creator they pray
Life: hunt, fish, gather
Lakes Language as taught to me by Elder Marguerite Ensminger as seen in Change of Heart by Carmen Peone.
Sinixt or Sinyekst Bull Trout or Speckled Fish People
Hamis-hamis Morning Dove
huh miss -huh miss