Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 12, 2020

Breaking news fire update by Yvonne Swan on Colville Nation

Breaking news fire update from Yvonne Swan on Colville Indian Nation in Washington State

By Yvonne Swan, Colville
Censored News

Yes, we are safe. A lot of fire crews came in and several planes flying over Kewa (20+ miles south of Inchelium) dropping stuff to put out the fire. Helicopters dipping water from the river to help douse the smouldering underbrush. 

The wind calmed down and the temperature dropped which helped. Fire crews brought in all kinds of equipment. (And, oh yes, talk about candy to the eyes!  I saw three dark-haired  handsome firefighters standing by a big pumper truck keeping watch on the smouldering fire spots up the river road) 🧐 👀 🥰

We have massive help now.

Inchelium is a busy place. Fire crews set up tents down below the school, trucks and equipment are parked there and up in front by the school annex buildings. Campers and and equipment and sanicans are n the area by the baseball field by the Community Center. 

Cooks are awesome. Lots of donated food, water, all kinds of stuff for evacuees and those who lost their homes. The bulk of donations came from area Interior Salish-speaking relative tribes--Spokane, Kalispel, Coeur d'Alene.  Colville tribal members and friends brought donations. 

Fortunately, not as many homes were lost as we first thought earlier. At first people were more concerned about saving homes than trying to put iut the fire.  It happened so fast. Happy there were no injuries. Animals were saved. Loads of hay was donated and brought in. Almost brings tears to witness the kindness.

I asked a friend on the west side near Omak Washington to send me a report for Censored News. She told me the fire over there was set by one or more people and it is under investigation.

My daughter, Chante and family witnessed the start of this one on the eastside of the Rez. A horrible windstorm threw a tree across an electric power line and ignited. 

My family and I are so very grateful to all those individual men and women volunteers who immediately risked their health and lives saving homes. It was second nature and amazing.

The literal meaning of Inchelium is "the sound of the water as it hits the bank" and our ancestors described its location that way. That was before the 1930s when the US began building the Grand Coulee Dam at the southern border of our Reservation.  Today the backed up waters are a larger manmade lake they named after one if its presidents and the natural sound is gone.  Old Inchelium is under Lake Roosevelt and we cross over it now on a huge ferryboat to go to Spokane and other places.

 If the fire came toward our home, we had some things in the trunk of my car and were going to go down to the ferryboat landing in hopea there would be enough room. We don't have a boat.

Yvonne Swan 9-12-20

Copyright Yvonne Swan

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