November 11: Fighting for the Colville Indians

books_004Washington became the 41st American state on this date in 1889. Among the Jewish residents of Washington Territory was Joseph Herman Friedlander, a trader who married Sken-What-Ux, a Colville Indian who was a direct descendant of the tribe’s female chief, Kar-Ne-Za, and the daughter of Standing Cloud, a Brule leader. Sken-What-Ux became known as “Grandma Elizabeth Friedlander.” President Grant established the original Colville Indian Reservation by Executive Order on July 2, 1872. In the 1950s, when Senator Henry Jackson was seeking to terminate the Colville tribe, a descendant of the Friedlanders, Lucy Friedlander Covington (1910-1982), successfully fought the bill and became a pioneer of modern Native American self-determination.

Covington “worked with characteristic determination to protect tribal rights and resources, develop tribal services, govern the reservation for the benefit of tribe members, and promote inter tribal cooperation.” —Susan Ware, in Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, Completing the Twentieth Century.

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Comments (5)

  1. Excuse me. “Terminate the Colville tribe”? Means what exactly? Put an end to? Administratively? Some other way? X-terminate, by any chance? Surely a little more specificity is needed here?

    • It meant abolishing the tribe’s status as a legal entity. Some in the tribe supported this, as a step towards fuller integration with America, but progressives in the tribe tended to be against the termination. —L.B.

  2. I am a native of Washington (Jewish leftist from Spokane–fancy that!). As that and as an attorney practicing Indian Law and Environmental law and policy for many years, I am familiar with much of Scoop Jackson’s history and of the Colville Tribe. However, the Jewish connection of Lucy Covington was news to me; I had never heard of Joseph Friedlander. I greatly appreciate your posting of this piece.

    I never cared for Scoop Jackson’s war mongering and neo-liberal policies. And his uncritical support for Israel was of a piece with his cold warrior persona. See

    As for the Colville Tribe, here are some informative links:

  3. This is another American Indian tribe that has been revealed to show the reverence of the feminine rather than the masculine in American Indian tradition and the crucial role of women in those traditions. I highly recommend reading THE SACRED HOOP by Paula Gunn Allen. It’s a very empowering book that shows there have been many versions of woman-based cultures, tribal cultures that were fully functioning in North America less than 500 years ago!

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