By Joanna Bastian
Arnie Marchand, Okanogan storyteller and Indian activist, has published his second book, “Stim an S Kwist” – “What is your name?” – a continuation of Marchand’s activist work to provide context and understanding of Okanagan/Okanogan country and people.
The book is published by Heritage Productions of Oroville, and is available through NCW Libraries. The book may be purchased locally for $20 at Valley Goods and the Methow Valley Interpretive Center, both located on the TwispWorks campus.
Marchand began his education and activist work early in life, with Job Corps and the Civil Rights Action Group in the Pacific Northwest Region for the U.S. Forest Service, and with the Confederated Colville Tribes. He is the featured guest speaker in a wide variety of educational settings: schools, colleges, military, communities and government agencies.
After writing his first book, “The Way I Heard It,” about places and events in the Indian country of Okanogan, Marchand said to himself, “Well, you didn’t put everything in there.” In his second book, Marchand provides a deeper context in hopes of connecting people.
He answers numerous questions asked by students, explains the spelling of Okanagan/Okanogan, provides a Native American ,perspective of significant events in the region, celebrates outstanding Indians who made contributions to their country, and unravels some of the misconceptions of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.
Marchand begins by introducing himself in the traditional manner, stating the names of his father and mother, and where they came from. “In the old ways you would be asked, ‘who are your people,’” Marchand said, explaining this was how people would know who they were talking to, with a context of where they came from.
BC and AD
Marchand divides time into BC – before Caucasian, and AD – after the dam, when the Grand Coulee Dam was built. “Two times the world of the Okanagan Indian stopped, and everybody had to change,” he explains in the book.
Marchand maps the traditional territory of his people that include the Chelan, Entiat, Sinixt (Lakes), Methow, Okanogan, Nespelem, San Poil and Wenatchi bands. He provides anthropological details of a society: architecture, political structure, and day-to-day practices.
Marchand introduces people that made significant achievements in their community and country. “Some are gone, some you know, some you’ll never meet,” he says. “There is a diversity of people in my country.”
Marchand recalls his high school coach, Dan Iyall, who dedicated his entire life to helping students reach new heights. Marchand shares his admiration of his friend, Eddie Palmenteer Jr., one of the founders of the Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation, and his vast knowledge of tribal history. He talks about being an assistant to tribal leader Lucy Covington, and her warm reception in Washington, D.C. Covington stopped the efforts to terminate the Colville reservation in the 1950s.
The stories for each person are told in different styles. In this manner, Marchand gives each person a unique voice. Some historical first-hand accounts of warriors are interspersed with annotated notes from historians providing another simultaneous perspective. For his mother Sophia’s story, Marchand included the Okanogan translation. “That is something most people do not see, our [oral] language in print,” Marchand explained.
Marchand includes a section of the book which features “stories we never tell white people.” He begins by saying, “I want to go to a place that I really don’t want to go.” With this introduction, Marchand exposes a vulnerability, as the stories of his people have not always been received with respect they deserve.
In writing the book, Marchand hopes that the more knowledge people have about one another – the more personal introductions we present to one another – “the less hate, less division, and less distrust” we will have for one another.