Donation to Colville Tribal History/Archaeology program includes cradleboard that once belonged to Cull White
Coulee Dam – As an earlier pioneer and settler in the area now known as Washington Flats, Nat Washington Sr. clearly envisioned the potential of harnessing the Columbia River as a source of power and irrigation for the Columbia Basin.
The family also experienced the mighty and extreme authority of the river when Nat Sr., his brother James and sister Peachy all drowned in the same event, witnessed by 12 year old, future state senator, Nat Washington Jr.
Washington Flats is located just north of Coulee Dam on the west side of the Columbia River, and from there Nat Washington Sr.’s family went on to become stewards and champions of the native people and the natural resources of the Columbia Basin.
The junior Washington formed long and lasting friendships with Colville tribal elders such as Billy Curlew, Herman Friedlander, Cleveland Kamiakin and George Nanamkin. They shared their knowledge with Washington, as they traveled to prehistoric, historic and traditional places in Central Washington.
Nat Washington III traveled with them as a young boy and carries on the generational devotion to this land, water and native people.
Nat Washington, Jr. taught archaeology at Gonzaga and maintained a lifelong interest in the local archaeology. Active in the early avocational archaeological societies, he conducted an excavation in downtown Ephrata.
Recently, the Washington family donated to Colville Tribal History/Archaeology archaeological material and associated records. Along with the donations was a cradleboard that was once owned by Cull White.
“The archaeological material and the records all help with protecting the cultural, history and sovereignty of the Colville Tribe. Such material provides us with tangible evidence that the tribe has been here for time immoral,” states a report from the tribal program.
Colville Business Council member Willie Womer attended the ceremony transferring the collection from the Washington Family to the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.
Womer said listening to Nat Washington III “talking about the area was amazing.”
Womer personally witnessed the transfer of 30 boxes of those materials noting that just “one of the boxes had old photographs, aerial photographs, notebooks, and books,” and he couldn’t imagine all the things in the other boxes, but knew among the items were arrowheads, other ancient artifacts, and records documenting where they were found.
Womer stated that he understood how much tribal documentation was out there, and “it is nice to get some of it back.”
“One of the intentions of the Colville Tribes in getting this back is that we can maintain the collection, analyze it, better understand our history, and hopefully share that with our youth and pass that heritage along,” said Womer.