On Friday I enjoyed the privilege of attending a grand opening ceremony at the Kalispel Tribe's Wellness Center in Usk, Washington. I tagged along with the delegation from Eastern Washington University.
The Kalispel (the French dubbed them the Pend O'Reilles, and they often appear in the historical record under that name) once lived across a wide swath of the inland Northwest. They were not party to any of the 19th-century treaties however and only gained a reservation in 1914--a nine by one mile strip of land along the Columbia River. In 2001 the Kalispel opened the Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights near Spokane and their fortunes began to improve.
The Wellness Center is the most visible sign on the Kalispel Reservation of the tribe's new wealth. The center includes health care facilities, a dentists office, daycare and after-school facilities, an astonishing set of indoor pools including a therapy pool, exercise center, and much more. The opening ceremony included welcomes from various tribal officials and elders and a wonderful performance of traditional music from the Frog Island Singers. Later Joe Pakootas, Executive Director of the Camas Institute gave us a tour of the Wellness Center. A few pictures below: