For my research project I chose to study the Chewelah Band of Indians and how they have been largely excluded from history and show how their origin stories are provable. I was able to pull in research from many resources including historic, ethnographic, and governmental documents to support the oral history of the Chewelah Band of Indians.
Allan H. Smith was researching this group but did not end up publishing his research. Other ethnologists and Indian agents had made very short references to this group but have not discussed this group at length. So this research hopefully helps fill a gap in the record.
In my approach, I chose to combine oral histories and Allan H. Smith’s hypothesis that disease epidemics of the late 18th century resulted in the Colville Tribe leaving the valley and concentrating their population up at Kettle Falls. The Kalispel then moved into the Colville River Valley followed by a group of Spokane and then other tribes began to mix in with the Chewelah. Bob Sherwood and Antoine Andrews told two oral history accounts, with first account telling of conflict, and the second account told of a time of starvation. I then chose to revolve the ethnographic research around the oral history, thereby making this history the foci. In this respect, it really helped to ground the research in a different light. By combining Smith’s hypothesis with the oral history, it seemed as though both perspectives fit together perfectly. I then filled in the gap with ethnographic and historic references to support each perspective. This has been a fascinating project for me. I am currently continuing this research and hope to get an article published on this in the near future.