Fort Spokane

Tour curated by: The Lake Roosevelt Partnership

Fort Spokane feature layers of fascinating and often heart-breaking history. The site, now administered by the National Park Service and Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, began life as the last Army Fort built on the American frontier. It later became an Boarding School for the forced assimilation of Native American children. After that is served as a tuberculosis sanatorium for native men and women with that often deadly disease.

This virtual tour shares some of the stories embedded in the very bricks of this historic site. And if you would like to plan a visit, Fort Spokane is about an hour north west of downtown Spokane, and would make an excellent day trip.

The Lake Roosevelt Partnership is a collaboration between Lake Roosevelt National Recreation area and the History Department at Eastern Washington University. Since 2012 these partners have worked together to tell the stories of the park to a wider audience while training the next generation of park interpreters in digital storytelling.

Locations for Tour

As Washington Territory began to grow and attract more settlers looking to make a better life, conflicts between settlers and Indian tribes escalated. Unlike the fixed settlements of pioneers, who viewed land as private property, tribal communities…

You are now standing in front of the foundation of what once was an officers house. The officers and enlisted men of Fort Spokane were divided by a wide social gulf, as evident with the differences in their living quarters. Officers lived in houses…

Fort Spokane, established in the fall of 1880 was the last "frontier" fort to be constructed in the Pacific Northwest. White settlers began moving into the area as farming overtook mining as the local industry. The Native American…

Like most Army posts on the western frontier, Fort Spokane relied on native scouts. Indian scouts interpreted, guided soldiers through the wilderness of eastern Washington, and brought back vital intelligence to the Army. At Fort Spokane, being an…

The Quartermaster Stable was used to house wagon teams that traveled the 55 miles from the Northern Pacific Railroad depot at Sprague to Fort Spokane. Although the teamsters were usually civilians, a contingent of military personnel accompanied the…

The workshop building was originally built in 1885 and cost the government $1,013.78. The 136 foot by 24 foot structure housed the blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, paint shop, tanner and wheelwright shop. All of these shops provided the means to…

Soldiers need weapons, and in the era of combustible black powder, a safe place to store weapons and ammunition was especially important. Powder magazines like this one were present on every military base. Black powder is inherently dangerous and…

In 1880, Fort Spokane was a long way from the centers of white population. The fort was situated on the edge of the Indian reservation to keep Indians on the reservation and keep white encroachment off. Fifty-five miles from the nearest railroad, and…

This jail cell has harbored many a man; frontiersmen, troublesome soldiers, and defiant Indians. One of the most infamous prisoners was the shama q,olá’ skin, known in English as Skolaskin, who founded a new religion among his native…

What you see in front of you is where the barracks would have stood. While the ground floor was used to contain the kitchen, mess hall, wash room, library and non-commissioned officer's rooms, the upper floor was devoted to the enlisted…

Starting in 1902, the Indian children at the Fort Spokane boarding school tended this orchard. As part of “civilizing” the natives, the school taught native children to farm. The children, some as young as six years old, had to grow potatoes,…

“Everything you need to know about life is in the Coyote stories- if you just listen carefully.” Flathead elder, Joe Cullooyah The Salish-speaking Spokane Indians occupied a wide territory, much of it along the drainages of the Spokane and…

In the early 1900s, tuberculosis was known as the “great white plague,” and at the turn of the century it killed around 450 Americans every day. An infectious disease of the lungs, tuberculosis spreads through the air, usually via coughing fits.…

In 1915 tuberculosis struck the Spokane Indians. Four died and fifty more were suspected of having the disease. In response to the outbreak, the Indian Service used the site of the former boarding school to create a sanitarium for local Indians…

Bertha Finley Brisbois was born in 1890, on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Her father, John Finley, was a Flathead from Montana and her mother, Annie Lafleur, was Spokane. Bertha was one of the children taken to the Fort Spokane Indian Boarding…

Fort Spokane, like any other military fort at the time, was a structured place where officers and enlisted men practiced drills and kept the peace. During their time off, the soldiers were free to get in trouble, and with a brewery just up the hill,…

For years, the term "Indian Agent" was synonymous with corruption, and Albert M. Anderson made a perfect example. At the turn of the century, the “spoil system” was in full effect: the Bureau of Indian Affairs turned a blind eye to…