We are still here.
I was born and raised here in the Wenatchee Valley & now deeply rooted. We have chose to raise our family here and have launched several businesses. It was not uncommon to be singled out as the only Native American in school. Curiosity about the Indigenous culture and if there are any Native Americans still alive, are common questions I am asked.
Yes, we are still here.
I am a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes – from the Wenatchi, Moses and Entiat bands as well as from the Blackfoot Tribe in Brocket, Alberta, Canada. The Twelve Bands compose the Confederate Tribes of the Colville Reservation: Chelan, Chief Joseph Band of Nez Perce, Colville, Entiat, Lakes, Methow, Moses-Columbia,
Nespelem, Okanogan, Palus, San Poil, Wenatchi. Growing up in Wenatchee, I have recognized a lack of Native American history being taught in our public schools. While reservations are fairly close (same distance as a quick trip to Seattle), there is still a disconnection. My grandma was very influential in my upbringing, and although she is not my biological grandma, she raised
us as her own. She was very religious, and would take us to church every Saturday and feed us vegetarian meals. So, the traditional teachings were not a huge part of my childhood. I always felt something was missing & yearned for connection to my heritage. Over these past few years, I have made contact with the Wenatchi
Advisory Board and look forward to working with this board on future projects. I have also made some really great connections & I am thankful for the friendships I have made with tribal members and the knowledge they have shared with me. I have participated in women’s sweat lodges and learned how to prepare for a sweat. I want my son to know the native language, history, culture and stories of our people.
My family loves to hike all your round. We will likely be seen on the trails with our pups. The Dry-Gulch/ Saddlerock area is one of our favorite local trails. The trailhead is 10 minutes from our home & offers multiple trails to hike along. I have participated in several national hiking groups over the past 5 years: some with challenges to hike a new trail every week for the whole year, other groups are to simply share my hiking journeys, and women based hiking groups that organize hikes.
The Wenatchi Tribal members are the original people of this land. They called this home. After 150 years of failed attempts to regain the treaty rights promised to them by the United States Government, the Wenatchi people of the Colville Indian Reservation, are now taking their case to the public for support. The land is full of nutrients for growing crops as well as the Icicle River is their fishing ground. The Wenatchi Tribe lost their fishing rights for 50+ years. They were able to regain their rights in 2010. There are many treaties that were signed and not upheld.
We are unable to remedy the past if we do not know the history. Knowledge is powerful!
My heritage, my past & what I hope to accomplish in the future, is where the idea for Wenatchi Wear came from. I want to share local Native American history & culture with everyone, while bringing the community together and representing our valley with pride. It is important to create a platform that can reach & speak to all. Art is
a huge part of my husband & my life, so we are excited to be able to create designs that represent this beautiful land while continuing to share Indigenous history. We currently operate a graphic design business, so launching an apparel company with custom designs works hand in hand with our current business. With each purchase
of our merchandise, we include an informational card that has the history and/or story of the design. We also include the information on our website & on our social media platforms. Our first design, Two Bears, was inspired by the local hiking hill – Saddlerock. Two Bears is a Wenatchi Tribal tale about the Brown Bear & Black Bear that would argue constantly. The Coyote warned them many times. He finally grew tired of the bears fighting and turned them into stone. The bears are forever seen squaring off over Wenatchee.
We hear people referring to it as Two Bears now, because of our Two Bears design. It is heartwarming to know that people are listening & learning.
Yes, Indigenous people are still here. Alive, proud & resilient.
by Mary Big Bull Lewis