The large tree that stands before you, with its distinctive curve, once provided shade to a trading post for Native Americans and the Hudson Bay Company. Baptiste Peone, the chief of the Upper Spokane, chose the location in the 1840s, and it became known as Peone Prairie. The trading site was chosen for its proximity to Forts Colville and Coeur d’Alene, as well as with the various Native American tribes of the Inland Northwest. Just off Doak Road and Argonne you can see this majestic Ponderosa Pine and its peculiar south-leaning trunk.
A cabin for Chief Peone and his family also stood at the trading location. Legend has it that Chief Peone erected a truce flag at the top of the tree to honor agreements signed between the Spokane Tribe and the United States Government. This flag hung until the wind’s slow and steady gust turned it to tatters. In 1887 the Spokanes signed a treaty in which they were forced to give up their ancestral lands and move onto reservations.
After Native Americans were forced out of the area, their land and the treaty tree fell into private ownership. A Spokane Daily Chronicle article noted that in 1922 “lightning struck the treaty tree. A second bolt almost at the same instant found its mark in another forest monarch standing a mile to the east. This tree was split through and died, while the treaty tree, although the bark was scarred, was otherwise unharmed.” This tree has managed to survive many chances at destruction including a fire in 1908 where all of the other historic structures burned.
Legend has it there is a clause in the deed to the land stating, “no hand of man shall harm the treaty tree,” and the tree remains today as a testament to the past.