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Colville Tribal members vote against changing name


Colville tribal members have voted 1630-296 in a recent referendum to keep the name “The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation,” a Feb. 8 press release stated.

The referendum vote is advisory, meaning the council could still change the name if they so choose.

During the past year, the Colville Business Council explored the idea of changing the name of the tribes, which derives from Andrew Colvile, governor of the Hudson Bay Company during the early part of the 19th century, and an Englishman who had never set foot in the local area.

“The local Fort was named after him,” Colville Tribal Chairman Michael Marchand said on Facebook back in July. “That ended up being our tribe’s name. It was common to name Indians after the local forts. The name has nothing to do with us really. The man was no special friend of ours but we did help make him rich. I always think it’s akin to naming yourself after Adolf Hitler or someone.”

In July, the CBC voted to start the process of changing the name to “The 12 Confederated Tribes of the Big Water Nation,” before opening up the topic to public discussion in meetings and on the internet.

“Big Water,” and the alternative “Big River,” were meant to convey the cultural significance for tribal peoples of the Columbia River and its tributaries. “12 Tribes” was another suggestion from the public.

“We encourage the participation of all eligible members in all elections,” Elections Chairman and CBC member Jack Ferguson said. “The process of considering this change has given us the opportunity to know more about the Tribes’ name and the history behind it. It has helped to build awareness and also determine what the majority of voters prefer.”

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