Columbia Indians

Columbia Indians or Sinkiuse-Columbia. So called because of their former prominent association with Columbia River, where some of the most important bands had their homes. Also called:

  • Bo’tcaced, by the Nez Percé, probably, meaning “arrows” or “arrow people.”
  • Isle-de-Pierre, a traders’ name, perhaps from a place in their country or for a band of the tribe.
  • Middle Columbia Salish, so called by Teit (1928) and Spier (1930 b).
  • Papspê’lu, Nez Perce name, meaning “firs,” or “fir-tree people.”
  • Sa’ładebc, probably the Snohomish name.
  • Sinkiuse, the name applied to themselves and most other neighboring Salish tribes, and said to have belonged originally and properly to a band which once inhabited Umatilla Valley.
  • Suwa’dabc, Snohomish name for all interior Indians, meaning “inland people,” or “interior people.”
  • .swā’dab.c, Twana name for all interior Indians, meaning “inland people.”
  • .swa’namc, Nootsak name for all interior Indians, meaning “inland people.”
  • Ti’attłuxa, Wasco Chinook name.
  • .tskowā’xtsEnux or .skowa’xtsEnEx, applied by themselves, meaning has something to do with “main valley.”

Columbia Connections. The Sinkiuse-Columbia belonged to the inland division of the Salishan linguistic stock, their nearest relatives being the Wenatchee and Methow.

Columbia Subdivisions or Bands (According to Teit, 1930)

  • .nkeē’us or .s.nkeiē’usox (Umatilla Valley).
  • Stata’ketux, around White Bluffs on the Columbia.
  • .tskowā’xtsEnux or .skowa’xtsFnEx, also called Moses-Columbia or Moses Band after a famous chief (Priest’s Rapids and neighboring country).

Curtis (1907-9) gives the following: “Near the mouth of the sink of Crab Creek were the Sǐnkŭmkŭnătkuh, and above them the SǐnkolkolumInuh. Then came in succession the Stapǐ’sknuh, the Skukulăt’kuh, the Skoáhchnuh, the Skǐhlkǐntnuh, and, finally, the Skultagchǐ’mh, a little above the mouth of Wenatchee River.”

Spier (1927) adds that the Sinkowarsin met by Thompson in 1811 might have been a band of this tribe.

Columbia Location and History. The Sinkiuse-Columbia lived on the east side of Columbia River from Fort Okanogan to the neighborhood of Point Eaton. Later a reservation was created for them known as Columbia Reservation. In 1870 Winans placed them “on the east and south sides of the Columbia River from the Grand Coulee down to Priest’s Rapids.” They are now under the jurisdiction of Colville Agency and one band, the Moses-Columbia Band, is in the southern part of Colville Reservation.

Columbia Population. The Sinkiuse-Columbia are estimated by Mooney (1928) to have numbered 800 in 1780, but were probably considerably more numerous as Teit (1927) considers that this tribe and the Pisquow together must have totaled something like 10,000 before the smallpox reached them. In 1905, 355 were reported; in 1908, 299; and in 1909, perhaps including some others, 540 were returned. The census of 1910 gave 52.

Columbia, Sinkiuse,

Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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