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Spokane House to relive history

Thu., June 17, 2010

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 actors portraying 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 fur-trading post of the North West Company, a competitor of the Pacific Fur Company.

“It started commerce,” said Riley, 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 studying the time period by reading historical accounts and journals, Riley said. She has been acting in the fur trade living history for 10 years, although she has been performing in 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.

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