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Spokane House to celebrate bicentennial

On Friday and Saturday Karie Riley will cook, sew and tan leather hide as the wife of a mechanic in a fur-trading encampment in 1803. Wearing a traditional Metis Indian outfit, she will answer questions about life in the first white settlement in the state of Washington, the Spokane House.

The Living History Fur Trade Encampment is a part of the 200th anniversary celebration of the house. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, visitors can interact with historical actors as travelers, traders, and Indians.

The Spokane House was built in 1810 by order of famed geographer David Thompson; Jaco Finlay and Finan McDonald constructed the house.

It was the North West Company’s fur-trading post, a competitor of the Pacific Fur Company.

“It started commerce,” said Riley, 54, a member of Friends of the Spokane House, a nonprofit that aims to restore the site and educate the public about the importance of the fur trade to Northwest history.

The two-day event will include reenactments of camping, cooking, and fire-starting techniques, using historical artifacts.

To prepare for the reenactment, participants spend months reading historical accounts, journals, and studying the time period, Riley said. She has been acting in the Fur Trade living history for 10 years, although she has been performing historical reenactments for 30 years.

“The event is on the original site. The descendants (of Finlay) are here. We love talking about the Spokane area,” Riley said.