All You Need to Know About Central and Northeastern Washington

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he central and Northeastern region of Washington has an interesting past, present and future. There are plenty of fascinating topics relevant to this region including: geologic history, soil composition, flora and fauna, Native Americans and Europeans influence. All these subjects have affected the present and will affect the future of this region.

Much of the landscape in this region was carved out by glaciers. When the glaciers melted the water formed glacial lakes. Other forces that helped shape the land include: earthquakes, streams, rivers, and volcanoes. The soil of the region contains large deposits of basalt, a dark dense igneous rock that contains silica. Silica is composed of quartz sand, flint and agate. Loess, a windblown soil containing silt, rests on top of volcanic soil which is high in nutrients. The land ages from 570 million years ago to the Quaternary period which dates from 1.7 million years ago to present time. The land in the Okanogan Valley is from over 66 million years and is from the Precambrian Era. Rocks in the region date from the pre-Tertiary epoch, a time period older than 66 million years, and the Holocene epoch, a period of time from 10,000 years ago to present time.

The Central and Northeastern region of Washington extends from the eastern side of the mountains near Ellensburg across the main body of the state to Spokane and up through the Okanogan to the Canadian Border. This area contains many important land and water forms such as the Okanogan Valley which is the lowest point in the region at 200m below sea level and the Selkirk Mountains which have an altitude of 7500-9000ft. Other major land and waters forms include: the Okanogan River, Columbia River, and the Coulee River. Inhabiting these areas are plants and animals. Types of trees include: Fir, Willows, Maple, Cherry Trees, hazel trees, Oak, and Birch. Berries include: blackberries, strawberries, and salmon berries. Other plants and bushes include: ferns, cattail, iris and nettle. Some animals in the region are: black bears, coyotes, deer, porcupine, quail, skunk, pheasant, and turkey.

“For hundreds of years before explorers and settlers reached the lands of the Columbia Plateau, numerous tribes of native people occupied the territory of Eastern Washington.” Ghost Towns USA. Some of the Native American tribes that lived in the region were the Colville Confederate tribes, Spokane Tribes, and Kalispel Tribes. They were nomadic because they moved around the area as the seasons changed to obtain food. During the winter, the different bands and tribes of Indians would eat deer, other big game, and dried salmon. In the mountains, small groups of natives lived and hunted abundant game. They would gather in slightly bigger groups in lower valleys to collect roots such as camas during the spring. The Natives would travel to the Columbia River in the summer and fall. They would amass there because of the abundance of salmon and other fish.

Europeans first arrived in the region in 1800. Their arrival changed the Native way of life. In 1820 Fort Colville was established to trade with the local Natives. By the mid 1850’s the Colville were no longer nomadic because of Fur Trappers and settlers. There was less game to hunt in the region because of the trappers. There was less space for the Native Americans to migrate because settlers inhabited portions of the region. By 1914 all the Native Americans in the region had been put on reservations.

The region of Central and Eastern Washington has a fascinating history which affected the present and will affect the future. If the Europeans never entered the region then the natives would probably still thrive there. The Earthquakes and Glaciers formed the landscape which will affect building and agriculture in the future. Because the past affects the future it shows that our actions will affect the future and later generations so we should be responsible in what we do.


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