San Poil husband and wife 
named Joe and Christine
 Wilson, Washington

San Poil Literature

Chipmunk and meadowlark
(two children attacked by a monster)

Coyote becomes chief of the salmon
(adventures of coyote)

Coyote's Salmon
(Coyote teaches the Sanpoil to harvest salmon

Five wolves
(boy who turned into a chickadee)

How the cold lost its power
(origin of the seasons)

Origin of different languages
(quarrel between tribes)

Rolling stone
(coyote getting in trouble with a grasshopper family)

Tick and the deer
(origin of the wood tick)

Woodpecker and the Theft of Fire
(origin of fire)

While sanpoil is a native American word meaning "unknown," the San Poil tribe has flourished since 1600 in Washington State with a large number of villages along the Sanpoil River, and the Columbia River below Big Bend, Oregon. San Poils belong to the Salishan linguistic group. They are now one of 26 tribes living on the Colville reservation in Washington State.

Executive Order establishing Columbia Reservation, 1872

Record of the San Poil Indians
8 pages published in Spokane Spokesman-Review, July 8, 1917

Sanpoil Indian Tribe

San Poil Indians (ask dr. dig)

Sanpoil Vision Quest


San Poil chief Jim James 
in ceremonial dress stands 
with others by his tipi
Click photo for larger size.

San Poil chief Jim James in ceremonial dress stands with others by his tipi at the "Ceremony of tears", Kettle Falls, Washington, 1939

Men & women stand in front of painted tipi; man in center wears beaded vest, wristbands, belt & moccasins, and holds hat with beaded band; stands with men in western-style clothing, several women in beaded, fringed dresses and others in print dresses; almost all hold beaded bags.

Note from unidentified source: "Ceremony of tears" at Kettle Falls, 1939 [the commemoration for the salmon & salmon habitat to be lost when the area was flooded by the building of the Grand Coulee Dam] Chief Jim James, San Poil, holding hat in hand. Photo taken in front of Chief James lodge.

From American Indians of the Pacific Northwest, Library of Congress

Indigenous Peoples' Literature Return to Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Compiled by: Glenn Welker

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