The flag of the Spokane Tribe of Indians was flying high over sn̓xʷméneʔ island in Riverfront Park on Wednesday, as it has since it was first raised at a ceremony late last month.
The tribal flag was added to the island in the Spokane River in recognition of not only the sacred land but also what Spokane Mayor David Condon called the “shared history” between the city and the tribe.
“This is a great time for all our peoples,” said Tiger Peone, Spokane Tribal Business Councilman, at the flag-raising ceremony. “This is an opportunistic time to accept the hands that are reaching out to us and to work together.”
“Riverfront Park and the Spokane Falls have transcended time from the beginning as a gathering place for the Spokane Tribe,” Condon said at the ceremony. “And a gathering place for all nations during Expo ‘74 and, through extensive revitalization efforts, will remain a gathering place for Spokane’s residents, the Spokane Tribe and for visitors for generations to come.”
Former tribal Councilman David Brown Eagle was recognized at the event for his work on the re-dedication of the island.
“He was one of the key drivers making this happen with Mayor Condon,” Peone said.
For Peone, a first-term tribal councilman, the event was an opportunity to continue “being good neighbors” with the city and part of a “sweeping movement” to recognize indigenous peoples.
Peone cited work he has done recently with Spokane Arts and the park board to continue to bring the tribal perspective to light.
Events like the flag raising only inspire more collaboration, Peone said.
At the flag raising, for example, Peone said he took part in discussions about youth program opportunities.
Sn̓xʷméneʔ – pronounced sin-HOO-men-huh – was named Canada Island in preparation for hosting the Canadian exhibits during Expo ‘74. It was renamed in 2017 to honor the Spokane Tribe and the history of the Spokane River’s role in bringing the tribe together to catch salmon.
The name is Salish for “salmon people” and is part of a continuing effort by the city to include and honor the tribe in many facets of city government.
“That is the heart of the ancestral land of the Spokane Tribe,” Peone said. “It’s where we did our fishing, where other tribes came and paraded for our fish.”
During Riverfront Park’s recent redevelopment, the island was set aside as a place to recognize the tribe and provide educational experiences and public art for visitors.
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