Waiting for the Indians

After completing his purchase of the land around Spokane Falls, Glover settled in the new town and started a store. There were few settlers in the region, so he was depending on trade with the Native American inhabitants of the region to support his business. While the falls were admired for their beauty and power by white visitors, they had a much deeper significance for the Indians who developed stories to explain their origins. The Native Americans and white settlers in the Spokane region enjoyed a relatively peaceful relationship -- with the exception of the slaughter of Indian horses by Col. George Wright in 1858 and the Nez Perce War in 1877.

"Frontier trade"

"With the store built and stocked, the milling done for the season, and winter coming on, the town planners hunkered down in their cabins beside the falls and waited for the Indians -- a common occurrence in frontier trade. Waiting in Spokane Falls, Glover had no way of attracting customers with newspaper advertisements. He and his companions announced their presence in the only way possible, by word of mouth. Traveling among the local tribes, particularly the Spokane and the Coeur d'Alene, mail carrier Harvey Brown undoubtedly mentioned the new store by the falls. Then, too, the Indians themselves were constantly on the move throughout the region. They were accustomed to trading with whites and would be curious about the new store."

"A place difficult to imagine"

"In native life, the Spokane River occupied a place difficult to imagine today when the falls are surrounded by an urban park and a city. One must walk in the forested countryside outside of Spokane to encounter the essential ingredient of the earlier scene, silence. In such a setting, one can imagine the impression the falls must have had on Indians traveling through the wilderness by horseback or on foot. Mile after mile, the only sound was the chirp of birds and the wind in the trees. Then far in the distance came a new sound, first no more discernible than a gentle breeze, but growing louder and more insistent until at last the falls appeared. Now eyes and ears witnessed the most impressive site in all that vast region, a tumult of water dropping down, smashing past rocks and islands, sending spray high into the air."

"Two Spokanes"

"There were really two Spokanes during the 1870s: the tiny community of a few whites with their dreams of becoming a real town, even a real city, and the traditional Spokane Falls of the Indians, where some natives still lived and many others visited, especially when the salmon were running. For the first four years of Glover's settlement, Indians remained his primary customers, trading furs for his goods. Regional news was often carried to town by Indians, and in an emergency -- as when a doctor had to be summoned from far away -- an Indian would likely carry the message."

Return to the Part I contents.

Go on to Chapter Three.