Mary A. Miller Marchand died in the presence of her family on March 9, 2013; she is now at peace and with the Creator. A member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Mary was born March 21, 1927, and raised on the Iswald Allotment on the Columbia River north of Wenatchee at the town of Azwell. The Iswald Allotment is Moses Columbia Reservation Allotment #20. Mary’s people were from the Wenatchee, Entiat, Chelan, Methow and San Poil Tribes.
Mary and her brother, Lewis, were taught the traditional ways by their great-grandmother. They learned the importance of listening. She and Lewis fondly remember growing up on the river, playing along the shore, swimming, and hauling driftwood from the Columbia by horse and line. Mary’s father Jerome Miller operated an orchard on the allotment. Mary spent many years working on the orchard, operating equipment and ultimately becoming the foreman running operations.
When Dr. Dale Kinkade, linguist at the University of British Columbia, began his work with the Wenatchee language, Jerome Miller was his main informant. Mary and her dad worked for over five years with Dr. Kinkade documenting their language using the International Phonetic Alphabet. Mary and Dr. Kinkade worked closely throughout the years until his death.
Mary had a deep spiritual relationship to the land, her people and the Creator. When Mary’s father was in his final days, he told Mary that she was to serve her people, no matter if they were white, red, yellow, brown or polka-dotted. That is what Mary did ever since.
Her first tribal job was driving the seniors’ bus. She worked her way up to running a community center and eventually was appointed as head of all five community centers for the Colville Reservation. Mary successfully ran for the Colville Business Council and served with distinction. Mary was often called upon to represent the Colville Tribes at meetings and on committees. Her people looked to her for spiritual guidance. She actively participated in church and religious functions. Her prayers blessed many high-level conferences and consultations between the Colville Tribes and federal, state, and local agencies.
Over 15 years ago, Mary began her work at the Colville History/Archaeology Department. Until then, she thought her favorite job and her best service to her community was her time on the Colville Business Council. However, her the years with the History Program were her most productive and happiest.
She interviewed and recorded tribal elders about their lives along the Columbia River and its tributaries. Mary documented the joys and heartaches of many lifetimes. She captured the true history of the Indian people, the way things were, and how the encroachment of the modern world forever changed tribal life. It was often sad work; Mary had to listen to the damage brought on her people by dams and other “improvements”. She recorded the taking of land, the break up of families, the changing environment, and the individual tragedies in people’s lives.
In addition to serving on the Colville Business Council, Mary received many awards and honors including the Washington State “Peace and Friendship Medal”, Native Women’s Leadership “Enduring Spirit Award”, Salish Language Conference “Language Hero Award”, an article in the book “Kennewick Man: Perspectives on the Ancient One”, and Omak Stampede Grand Marshall.
Mary had 15 children (fostered children are true family by tribal tradition), 144 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren, and 15 great great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by four daughters and a son, Mary Lou and Jerry Wippel, Virginia, Gloria, and Lorraine Marchand.