Monday, February 06, 2006

History of the Chewelah Tribe

The Catholic Church in Chewelah with the
mountains in the background.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses

Driving through Chewelah, Washington three days a week carries my mind back to matters of personal family history. Many of my ancestors came from the Chewelah Band of Indians, which some historians claim was really an off-shoot from the Kalispel Tribe of Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho, and Western Montana. Alice Sherwood Abrahamson of the Chewelah Band gave a fascinating history of her tribe, with a direct connection to my family tree.

Alice Sherwood Abrahamson recounts the story of her grandfather Paul Sheshetah and his immediate family members. He lived with his parents, three brothers, and one sister on the banks of the Pend Orielle River near modern day Cusick, Washington. By the time she committed her story to writing, she had already forgotten the names of Sheshetah’s family; or perhaps she never knew the names to begin with. We may never know for sure.

Apparently one of Sheshetah’s brothers was mistaken as the offender in an incident involving a young woman, and the other young men of the tribe killed him before the family could bring the matter to council. The brothers intended to seek revenge, but Sheshetah’s father removed his family before the matter escalated into further violence. They left the Cusick area and settled in a swampy valley to the west, the site of present day Chewelah, Washington. They were among the first people to settle in the area.

Originally, Sheshetah was known only by his Indian name, but on September 24, 1841 Father Jean Pierre DeSmet established a mission nearby and baptized many of the local people. Sheshetah received the Christian name Paul. While he adopted the Catholic religion, he apparently continued to practice many of the ancient indigenous forms of spirituality. Alice said he had a song and held healing rituals at winter ceremonies. She said he was also a Blue Jay, but claimed no memory of the meaning behind the ritual.

Old Man Camille and Paul Sheshetah

The final resting place of Sophia and Paul Sheshetah.Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses

Alice went on to explain many other details of daily life among the Chewelah Indians, and even described many of the families living among her people. She mentioned my ancestors Steven and Joseph Moses, among others; however, she never explicitly offered a direct link between her family and mine.

I discovered the link between our families several years after I first read Alice’s family history.

The Spokane Agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs maintains a record of real estate transactions from the founding of the Spokane Indian Reservation in the 1880s to the present. It especially keeps track of the original allotments given under the Dawes Act. Most tribal members died without leaving any kind of last will and testament, so the real estate records almost always ended up in probate court to determine any and all eligible heirs to the original allotments. These records are an untapped genealogical treasure.

Some years ago, I spent the afternoon at the BIA looking up case files from those of my ancestors I had already identified. Many times I found nothing of interest in the files, but sometimes I found written documentation of “new” ancestral lines. The Ellen Moses file (#241) was perhaps the most exciting of all, and provided the missing link between Alice Abrahamson and my family line.

According to documents found in her file, Ellen Moses described her husband’s family tree through a translator to the probate judge (her husband was my ancestor Joseph Moses). Joseph’s grandfather was named Ch-oll-kin. He had five children: Sol-low-stew (Joseph’s father), Stutlemetz, Sheshetah (who married Sophia), Ch-a-sal-ea-wha, and Quil-quil-cha-a-nee.

It took a moment for this new information to really sink in. I knew from documents I had already received from Father Connolly that Joseph’s father was named Sulustu (Sol-low-stew). I also knew from Alice Abrahamson’s family record that Sheshetah indeed married a woman named Sophia. Suddenly I realized I found the link. The whole family Alice described in her paper was in fact MY family! Even the number and genders of the children match.

Of course, this new information explained why my family lived among the Chewelah Band of Indians. We were originally Kalispel and only later absorbed into the Spokane Tribe (this was common in those days).

As I put the pieces together, I realize my ancestor Sulustu most likely received baptism the same day as Paul Sheshetah and was named Moses by Father DeSmet.

So as I drive through Chewelah, I remember my family history, and I realize how much I still need to do to make this information available to my family. This entry is my first attempt in this direction.


Unknown said...

I lived in Chewelah in the 80s for 9 yrs. and I truely think its a beautiful place. I support your efforts to find your ancestors. My ancestors founded a place called Kanosh in Utah. They worked with Chief Kanosh to settle it. I hope you find more. Good luck!

jamrev said...

Is Alice Abrahamson related to Dorothy Abrahamson? My mother Lila Bundy-Webb was very good friends with Dorothy (I believe she was known as Dulcie).

Anonymous said...

Hi, saw your blog. pretty cool. I am a McCrea, probalby heard of us. Anyway my ancester not sure wich great it is but Sophia lived her whole life in Chewelah, She is sometimes called McBane or Mcbean or Morrell or Brown. I am wondering if you can tell me if this is the same person? I have tons of docs of the Chewelah tribe as my grandfather has a alotment in Chewelah it is CH2, anyway if very interesting. The ancesters on my Grandmothers side are from the name Kin. I dont know if this will work but here is a sample of the stuf I have... here goes hope it works, if not do you have an email address? Elizabeth Plucker was called before the council.
Supt. J.M Johnson:
This woman claims to be half blood Indian. She says that her father was a mixed blood named McBean, and that he lived all his life in the Colville Valley and elsewhere in the state, around Whilule and Walla Walla. She says that her mother was Jane Bushet, and that she was of mixed Cree and Colville blood.

( Mrs. McCrea, of the Spokane Reservation here
volunteered a correction. )
Mrs. McCrea:
That is a mistake. Jane Bushet was Colville.
She was born at Colville. After she married, she went to live in ?????? (can not make out ) and Walla Walla. Her sister was Sophia McBean.

( Here questioned, Mrs. McCrea said that she did not know anything about the grandparents of the claim-ant Mrs. Plucker, but that Sophia McBean was the mother of herself, of John Morrell, and of other mixed bloods


Intersesting to note I think Mrs Plucker was her aunt and didn�t know it and Mrs Plucker is a enrolled Cayuse.

Barry Moses (Sulustu) said...

Hello Anonymous,

Off the top of my head, I'm not sure of any direct connection between your ancestors and mine. However, perhaps we could look at your documents together and find a link.

My email:

Anonymous said...

John McBean and Madeline Cloutier were the parents of william mcbean

Anonymous said...

william mcbean was a breed or metis and married to jane bouche whos parents were baptiste bouche and nancy mcdougall

Anonymous said...

sophie was one of the childern of william and jane bouche mcbean

Anonymous said...

i have one of my Great Grand mother's, my "two-pee" account of these events. It is very simular to the link you provided, but yours has "additions". I have been looking into the history my blood-line and found your site. I also have the Indian names of my familly tree told to my Father, by my Great Grandma Alice Sherwood. which I would like you to change her name on your site to. It is her given name, from her Father Robert Sherwood from New York BIA.

Barry Moses (Sulustu) said...

Hello Anonymous.... I am very happy to hear about your "two-pee." It is exciting that these connections are being made. If you contact me on my regular email, I am very happy to share the sources of my information.

As for the name, I certainly do not intend any disrespect. I received a copy of her story that was signed Abrahamson. At one time she published a portion of her story in the Inland Register, also under the name Abrahamson. I simply followed her lead, but I am certainly happy to add Sherwood to the name.

You can contact me at:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the addition of "Sherwood" into her name. I am going to photo copy some pictures my father still has, and some my sister has of Alice. She will always be my "Two-pee". I miss the smell of her house, the fire she always kept, the boxes of "TV guides" she let us rummage through to pick out our favorites to keep. The blanket she always wore to keep warm. To this day I can see the spirit in her eyes, defying the steady shaking of her old hands.

Micaela said...

Yes, Alice Abrahamson is related to Dorothy Abrahamson. I'm not sure how but I know that that they are. Alice Sherwood Abrahamson is my great-great grandmother.

Anonymous said...

Alice Sherwood married Thomas Abrahamson. that is how the families became intertwined.

Anonymous said...

i cant believe this, lol Alice Sherwood is my Great grandmother, her daughter Marie Grant is my grandmother, im the youngest son of Butch Castillo. we have the history of the Chewelahs that my great grandmother wrote down. its just as this site explains. im so honored reading this site. that my Tupiye is still heard. and the Chewelah bands history is still there. and seeing a picture of my ancester Paul She-she-tah. Thankyou for Honoring my Family.

Anonymous said...

i am the Great grand son of Alice Sherwood-Abrahamson, her oldest daughter Marie Grant is my grandmother, we have the history of She-she-tah, and all the Chewelah band at our home. i am so proud to see this web site honoring my Tupiye Alice's recall of our history. this is so cool. its just as our reads and more, and its so cool to see a pic of my Ancestor Paul She-she-tah. thank you for this. you honor my family. im Butch Castillo's youngest son, Joseph don Castillo. thank you all

Unknown said...

My name is Shelly Castillo-Wilson and I am a great granddaughter of Alice Sherwood-Abrahamson known to us as lovingly as, Tupiye. Thank you for sharing this Barry!

Anonymous said...

Yes my Aunty Dulcie is her daughter. My mother is Sis (antoinette)

Anonymous said...

Your dad is my 1st cousin. Aunty Marie is my mothers sister. I spent alot of summers in Chewelah with Grandma and Grandpa.

Anonymous said...

Dorothy is her daughter. My Aunt. My mother "Sis" Antoinette and their eldest sister, Marie Grant are still living.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother was married her name is Alice Sherwood Abrahamson. She loved my grandfather very much and would NOT approve of the omission of her married name.
Thank you. Judy Lawson for Alice's daughter, Antoinette Abrahamson Bruno

Barry Moses (Sulustu) said...

Hello again everyone. I am so happy to see the interest in this post. As you can see, Alice Sherwood Abrahamson is also my relative, so I suppose we're all family.

Some folks have expressed concern about the omission of Alice's married name. Please know that I never intended any disrespect whatsoever; I was simply unaware of her married name until several of the comments made that clear.

Years ago, I received an old typescript copy of Alice's story, and it was signed "Alice Abrahamson." I simply based my report on that signature.

This is the nature of genealogical research. We often work with incomplete information until other members of the family come forward with the missing pieces. Thanks to everyone for making this information richer and fuller.

Anonymous said...

Sampson Moses told me that he was of the Kalispe, and Chewelah Bands, he told me that story about the killing of the brother. Good work nephew, I love reading what you post.

Anonymous said...

would love to share info about William McBean and wife Jane Bouchet; Joseph Morrell and wife Sophie McBean; Edward McCrea & wife Eliza Morrell. Contact

Carrie Gibbs said...

I am really enjoying the thread of comments. I own a house that from what we have learned was one of the first built by white-men in Chewelah..,newHome,auction,&pricingFrequency=once&propertyTypes=house,divided,condo,townhouse,medium,large,garden,&dupeGrouping=building

Mark Challender said...

Alice Abrahamson is my great, great Aunt. Her daughter Antoinette married Bob Bruno. Bob is my great uncle and the brother of my grandma Fern Bruno. My father Jack Challender is the son of Fern and her first husband Joe Challender.

I am a member of and would be willing to give you viewing right to the tree and let you see the living people in exchange for more info on this line of he family.

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure what happened to my first comment but I wanted to make point that some of those leaving messages claiming to be relatives of my grandma's Alice and Marie are in fact not relatives. This gets confusing when it comes to bloodline because those claiming to be grandchildren are not. Please identify your true bloodline and not one that you associate with. Although you may feel that you are a grandchild and in their eyes you might have been, this causes confusion when looking up true bloodlines. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Abrahamson was her married name. Her real name was Alice Sherwood. She was Alex Sherwood sister. She was a Sherwood from chewelah. And my great grandmother