Celebrating 125 Years of Survival (1872-1997)
By Honorable Joseph A. Pakootas
Former Chairman of the Colville Business Council
We, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, a nation of First Americans, have survived many trials and tribulations since the creation of the original Colville Indian Reservation in 1872 when 12 bands or tribes of indigenous native people were ordered to live within the boundaries of tract of land located in what was then called Washington Territory.
At its inception by a Presidential Executive Order on April 9, 1872, the former Colville Indian Reservation was in a different location and covered several million acres of our aboriginal territory. Another Presidential Executive Order issued on July 2, 1872, moved the Colville Indian Reservation to its present location on the west side of the Columbia River and diminished its size to less than three million acres.
On July 1, 1892, the north half of the Colville Indian Reservation was ceded to the United States by an Act of Congress. The 1892 cession of the north half reduced the reservation to 1.4 million acres, the acreage that is located within its boundaries today, 125 years later.
The Colville Indian negotiators of 1892 were able to reserve the right for members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation to hunt and fish on the former north half of the reservation for time immemorial.
Other significant Congressional Acts and federal policies have directly influenced the destiny of the Colville Indian Reservation such as the Reservation Allotment Act of 1887, the McLaughlin Agreement of 1905, two Presidential Proclamations in 1900 and 1916 and further federal decisions in 1935 and 1956.
Today, the Colville Indian Reservation covers 2,100 square miles of tribal government and tribal member owned lands held in federal trust and thousands of non-trust status acres owned by others. Our reservation homelands are diverse with natural resources such as standing timber, varied terrain, streams, rivers and lakes plus native plants, fish and wildlife.
We are proud to be one of 26 American Indian Tribes located within the State of Washington. With over 8,000 members in our tribal society, we are the second largest tribe in the Northwest. We are the descendants of the First Americans who came before us and lived in harmony with their natural surroundings more than 125 years ago.
As we celebrate the survival of the Colville Indian Reservation this year, we thank the Creator for our sovereign nation and the diverse resources of our tribal confederation including Colville Indian People, the strength of our civilization, the land and its bounty.
NOW, THEREFORE I, JOSEPH A. PAKOOTAS, Chairman of the Colville Business Council, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and By-Laws of the Confederation of the Colville Reservation, do hereby proclaim the year of 1997 for recognition and celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the Colville Indian Reservation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty sixth day of September, also known in the United States of America as American Indian Day, in the year of our Creator nineteen hundred and ninety seven, and of the creation of the Colville Indian Reservation the one hundred and twenty fifth.
The Honorable Joseph A. Pakootas
Colville Business Council