In order to make your visit as enjoyable and respectful as possible, the following briefly outlines some general rules of thumb when visiting Indian Country.
- Remember you're a guest. Unless you're an enrolled member of the Tribe, you are visiting land that has been reserved for Indians. Behave like a respectful guest with the common courtesy you would expect in return.
- You do not need a state license to hunt or fish, but you must buy tribal permits for those sports and others such as camping. Check in advance with tribal fish and game departments, tourism offices or police to see what activities are allowed and which one require permits.
- Don't lump all Indians together. Tribes have many similar characteristics, but they're not the same. Each is unique with a distinct culture and society. Don't assume that what you see on one reservation is typical of others.
- Forget what you saw in the old western movies. Although films have improved in recent years, Hollywood has a history of romanticizing, denigrating, or otherwise distorting Indian societies. Discard those stereotypes of tribes as primitive or warlike before you venture on to Indian land. Especially if you have a mullet.
- Please leave artifacts untouched. The ancestors of today's tribes left a lot behind. Archaeological sites are protected by tribal, state and federal laws that carry stiff penalties.
- Polite, attentive listening, particularly when an elder is speaking, is considered a traditional virtue in many communities
In addition to common etiquette for visitors in Indian Country, there are also many events and ceremonies where a separate, but equally important, code of etiquette exists. On the Colville Indian Reservation this would include the 4th of July Powwow, the Indian Encampment at the Omak Stampede and other various powwows and ceremonies throughout the reservation. The following describes events etiquette to those interested in viewing traditional ceremonies.
- American Indian Communities contain a diversity of tribal members who practice varying degrees of tradition. Traditionalists expect tribal members and visitors alike to conduct themselves in a manner that is respectful of tribal religion and ceremonies. With this in mind, it must be recognized that a code of conduit practiced at one community or event may not be appropriate at another.
- At public ceremonies, check in advance on whether the Tribe lets visitors take photographs or record video or audio tapes. If you'd like to photograph an individual, ask the person prior. If he or she says no or doesn't answer, respect their wish to not be photographed.
- Behaviors that are frowned upon include excessive questioning regarding ceremonial events, excessive talking or laughing, demanding or sneaking photographs or sketches, demanding preferential seating or viewing of the ceremony or event.
- Always stand during special songs including Grand Entry, Flag Songs, Veteran Songs, Memorial Songs, Prayer songs or any other song that the M.C. designates. It is also customary to remove any hats that you have on for the duration of that song.
By adhering to these common courtesies, your visit to the Colville Indian Reservation will be enjoyable and respectful. As the desire for cultural education increases, so does the need for people traveling to reservations to learn native people's traditions from the past. We want to accommodate your learning and help pave a roadway that will help you enjoy your experience to the fullest extent by informing you of the proper information regarding etiquette on the Colville Indian Reservation. This is etiquette unique to Indian Country; common courtesy should also be followed.