There were many chiefs, but three of them saw one prophecy.
The old chief, Chief Ileeum Spokanee, and Chief Gary were the three. The
prophecy came about like this.
The old chief was highly respected until the day that his
favorite son accidently died. This death hurt the old chief more than anything
ever had. The chief felt his heart. It felt like a piece had been cut out.
He could not stand this pain. There was no way to get away from the pain,
though he tried. Finally all he could do was to cry out to try to ease the
pain. He yelled at God, "Why have you allowed my son's death?" "How could
you be a good God and allow this to happen?"
He repeated this until his tribe could stand it no longer.
They didn't want the children to hear this. They worked hard to love God
and now it was even harder. They had to quiet the main chief. They went to
the other chiefs and told them to challenge the old chief. Tell him to decide
whether God is good or not, and whether they should go back to be like the
animals again or still try to be like God. The chiefs confronted the old
chief. You must decide whether to go forward with God or go back to the animals
where we came from, and not make your people feel bad about their God any
more. "You are right." said the old chief, "I will go away until I can decide."
He ran with little clothing or supplies up into the foothills until reaching
the snowy top of the mountain that is called Mount Spokane today. He was
the only human there. He was not cold. He started a fire and sat before it
thinking about his God and his son. When he looked down he saw only the green
of many trees. He sat without moving for three days. No food. Just some snow
he drank. He prayed over and over, "Why did you do this, God?"
Suddenly a vision came as big as the whole sky and trees together.
God's voice was visibly flying across his entire sight saying, "Your son
is happy here with me, so you should have faith." The old chief's heart was
whole again as immediately as he saw his son smiling and sitting next to
God. God spoke again. "This world will not go away until people with white
flesh come and bring a book with them." "This book will have many words about
me in it." Do not kill these people even if they harm you, for there is no
use to it." This was all that was spoken, but it inspired the old chief.
He had had visions as a child, but this truly was the clearest vision of
Now he ran down the moutain fast, thinking how happy his people
would be to know that God is good. And he wanted very much to tell them
everything that God said. The further down the mountain and the closer to
his camp the less sure he was about how his people would understand the part
of his vision about the white people. So by the time he arrived in his camp
he only told them the good news and thought he should wait about the rest
of the story until some other day.
The old chief never told the rest of the story to anyone,
but became older and older until almost no one in his camp remembered that
he had been a highly respected chief of his tribe. Most of his day was spent
sitting in camp by the fire daydreaming about his youth. One day in the very
midst of tribal activity, the mountain known as Helena today erupted and
blew ash into winds that carried the ash and dumped it on the camp, making
it night in the middle of the day. This frightened everyone so much that
all they could do was jump up and down and scream, "This is the end of the
world!" There was a dark confusion all around.
The old chief pushed his way up to a standing position as
he now remembered the rest of the story, and lifted his mouth up. "This is
not the end of the world!" "God told me this world will not go away until
many white skinned people will come here with a book holding many words about
God in it." "This has not happened yet, so the world could not be
Everyone was quiet now to listen to this voice of authority.
They looked around. It was still dark but now it was peaceful and did not
seem like it could be an end, but just a quiet time. Most people went to
their lodges and slept. Some of the braves huddled around the old chief to
ask him more about what God had told him. One of these was the currently
most respected chief. Illeeum Spokanee was his name and he was the father
of a 5 year old boy who later would take the name Garry chief of the Spokanes.
The young chief listened with interest, but Garry listened with awe. This
vision seemed to be somehow, his vision. Garry was thinking about the old
chief, "I'm glad this man can remember things so well." Garry decided that
day to watch carefully for the day when the white people came with the book.
He wanted to learn these words about God.
The first white people that came to Garry's camp when he was
nine years old did not know many words about God. They did not even know
how to hunt and cook their own food. These whites asked where is the chief.
Everyone pointed towards a teepee, "Illeeum Spokanee!" This may be how the
city of Spokane found its name. In a few years though some priests with white
skin came with a book and they asked Chief Illeeum Spokanee if they could
take his son with two other chiefs' sons to a place called Red River to learn
the words about God. The chief wondered how they could take a piece out of
his heart, and refused them. Garry reminded his father about the prophecy
and said that he must go with these men now. This made the chiefs agree.
Hangman creek enters Spokane river. Is this where the prophecy was transferred
This new place was not an easy place for Garry to live in
because it was so different from the sandy beach with Ponderosa Pines scattered
around the riverside, but he loved the words and learned more about them
each day. Once he broke a rule and was punished in the usual way of being
held by one of the white upper classmen while the teacher whipped his behind
with a willow twig. It scared Garry so much that he bit down hard before
it started, and only afterward realized he bit into blood of the upper classmen's
ear. He looked up at the student in fear of reprisal. The student told him
to not worry for he understood. This is the moment when Garry realized that
these white people had a lot of good in them. He also realized that there
probably was no use in fighting with them even though he knew there was going
to be trouble if too many of them came to his camp.
After only half the schooling time was complete, two of the
three sons of chiefs died of measles. The priests were very afraid that this
would cause a war, and they didn't know what to do. Garry told them that
he would talk to his father and make his people understand so that there
would be no trouble. The priests readily accepted Garry's offer.
When Illeeum Spokanee's tribe heard that Garry was bringing
the words about God to them so they could understand, they could not wait.
They all walked the seventy mile way to the confluence of the Spokane River
with the Columbia river to wait for the ship to arrive. Garry was received
well and there was no blame made regarding the two deaths.
The young Chief Spokane Garry
(The name in the lower left was written by Garry himself)
The tribe was so interested in Garry's words that they did
not even go back to their usual camp for one month. For one month, they listened
to him, and learned. Prayer became so important to them that if a horseman
came upon a group in prayer, he would not ride past, but stop his riding
and join the prayer until its completion. The tribe wanted to know God so
much, and it changed them quickly. It was said in that area in that time,
"If you drop a twenty dollar gold piece in a crowd, hope that it is a crowd
of Spokane indians."
All the tribes in this area noticed that this Spokane tribe
had something rich in them. They wanted to know how they could also have
it. They sent representatives that would learn and then bring the knowledge
back to their tribe. In this way the knowledge and prayer went in four
directions. Up into Canada, down past Yakima into northern California, West
to the coast, and East to the Blackfoot tribes. And thus when the first
missionaries settled near Spokane they wondered how the indians seemed to
know so much about God here.
Indian Canyon falls
Garry taught and taught. He taught at the first school in
the area near Drumheller Springs for Indian children. So here the Indian
children had a school before the whites. He lead his people as he became
older and advised them well before, during, and after the wars in this area.
The Spokane tribal language was especially rich in ridicule and sarcasm.
The Indian people gave Garry a hard time about the local boy that kept trying
to save them all from themselves and their old medicines. Garry could not
stand this treatment and finally gave in to activities like gambling instead
of teaching. He always advised to not fight against the whites. He rode a
white horse and said that inside us humans there is the same colored blood,
so we should treat each other equally under this God of ours. The whites
should have listened to this. He lived in his teepee all his life. At one
location near Hangman Creek bridge, young white boys rolled boulders down
on his tent while he tried to move the teepee out of the way. He then found
his final teepee site in Indian Canyon in a fairly remote area. When he died
in it most citizens of Spokane did not know how great a chief he had
been. Now his monument is at the head of the beautiful Greenwood Cemetery.
This was only one prophecy. There were many.
The inscription reads: His life spanned the unfolding
of the Spokane
Country from the days of the fur traders at Spokane
House to the activities of a modern city
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