Spokane Tribe

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Alternate names: Spokan

Spokan Indians on-the-move.jpg
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Regions with significant populations
Ancestral Homelands: The Spokane Tribe is primarily associated with eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

Colville Reservation and the Spokane Reservation


Federally recognized

Linguistic Group

not yet researched

Cultural Group

not yet researched

Other Related Ethnic Groups

Palouse and others

Tribal Headquarters[edit | edit source]

Spokane Tribe
6195 Ford-Wellpinit Road / P.O. BOX 100
Wellpinit, WA 99040
Ph. 509-458-6500

History[edit | edit source]

The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions sent missionaries to the tribe in the mid 1800s. They established the Tshimakain Mission.

Smallpox and measles epidemics depopulated the tribes in the years 1782 and in 1847.

Emigration on the Oregon Trail caused conflict with the tribe as the trail went through their lands.

At the battle at Te-hots-Ne-Mah, in which U.S. troops under the command of Colonel Steptoe battled the Spokane, Palouse, Coeur d'Alene, Columbia River, Colville Calispel and Spokane tribes, the tribes were defeated.

The Lower Spokanes moved to the Spokane Reservation in 1877.

The Spokane Reservation was established in 1881, and when the army abanded Fort Spokane, the tribe utilized the old fort as a school.

The tribe has divided into Upper, Middle, and Lower Spokane bands/groups. The Upper and Middle Spokanes moved to the Colville Flathead Reservation in 1887.

Brief Timeline[edit | edit source]

  • 1782: Smallpox epidemic
  • 1838-1848: The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions sent missionaries among the tribe. The Tshimakain Mission was established
  • 1843- ----: Oregon Trail
  • 1847: Measles epidemic
  • 1858: Colonel Steptoe battled the Spokane, Palouse, Coeur d'Alene, Yakama and other tribes at Te-hots-Ne-Mah
  • 1858: Battle of Four Lakes, Colonel Wright fought with the Coeur d'Alene, Columbia River, Colville, Kalispel and Spokane; the tribes were defeated
  • 1881: Spokane Reservation is established
  • 1896: U.S. Army abandoned Fort Spokane; the tribe established a boarding school there.
  • 1906: Indian Agents allotted land to 651 Spokane tribal members
  • 1951: 1st constitution and bylaws for the Spokane Tribe of Spokane Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington
  • 1980: The Commissioner of Indian Affairs ratified a constitution and bylaws for the Spokane Tribe of the Spokane Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington

Additional References to the History of the Tribe[edit | edit source]

Records[edit | edit source]

The majority of records of individuals were those created by the agencies. Some records may be available to tribal members through the tribal headquarters.They were (and are) the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and were charged with maintaining records of the activities of those under their responsibility. Among these records are:

Agencies:[edit | edit source]

The following agencies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs had jurisdiction over the Spokane for the time periods indicated. BIA agencies were responsible to keep such records as census rolls, allotment (land) records, annuity rolls, school records, correspondence, and other records of individual Indians under their jurisdiction. For details, see the page for the respective agency.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

The Bureau of Indian Affairs compiled annual Indian Census Rolls on many of the reservations from 1885 to 1940. They list the names of individuals, their age, and other details about each person enumerated. For more information about these records, click here.

The following table lists the census rolls for the Spokanes:


Location of

Original Records

Post-1885 Census

M595 RG 75 Rolls -- 692 Rolls

Roll Number




Colville Agency, 1865-1952 Seattle - FHL Films: 574208-574215
Spokane Agency, 1885-1950 Seattle 49-56, 546 FHL Film 583005

Enrollment Records[edit | edit source]

In 1905, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs assigned Special Agent Thomas Downs to investigate the enrollment of the Indians of the Flathead Reservation. The National Archives has microfilmed the resulting documents as their Microcopy M1350, consisting of 3 rolls of microfilm. These records are available at the National Archives and their Regional Archives, and at other research institutions, including the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The records include census rolls for 1903, 1905, and 1908, as well as applications for enrollment and Agent Downs' field notes. It includes members of all tribes then living on the Flathead Reservation, including the Flathead, Kootenai, Pend d'Oreille, Kalispel, and Spokane tribes.

Tribal Office Records[edit | edit source]

The Tribal Office is responsible for enrollment records, vital records, tribal police records, tribal court records, employment records and many others. They are an entirely different set of records from those kept by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Most of them remain in the Tribal Office. For details, contact that office at the address for the Tribal Headquarters listed above.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Prior to the Indian Reorganization Act, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, through their agencies, may have recorded some vital events. Some were recorded on health forms, such as the "Sanitary Record of Sick, Injured, Births, Deaths, etc." Others were recorded as supplements to the "Indian Census Rolls." Some were included in the unindexed reports and other correspondence of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Some vital records for the Spokanes include:

Important Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

Spokane[edit | edit source]

General[edit | edit source]