Beginning in the early 1800s, Indian tribes in the area began coming in to regular contact with European-American cultures.

Fur traders, explorers and missionaries brought people of vastly different cultures to this area for the first time.

David Thompson, who was active in the fur trade, is the most well known early “explorer.” He arrived in Kettle Falls during salmon fishing season in 1811. He writes of tribal members with their “big woven baskets at the bottom of the falls (Kettle) … capturing fish.” His diaries talk of well constructed houses and he describes the village area as “a kind of general rendezvous for news, trade, and settling disputes, in which these villagers acted as arbitrators, never joining any war party.” By the beginning of July he was on his way down the Columbia looking for a trade route to the Pacific Ocean. He succeeded by making it to Fort Astoria and the Pacific Ocean.

A year before Thompson, two men built a small trading post in 1810 at the confluence of the Spokane and Little Spokane Rivers. It was a small, crude cabin which they named Spokane House. This was the first permanent white settlement in what would become the state of Washington.

By 1821, two of the largest trading companies, Hudson's Bay Company and the Northwest Company, combined. The merged companies decided to build Fort Colvile near Kettle Falls in 1826. Fort Colvile was named after the British director of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Andrew Colvile.

As the influx of peoples continued, missionaries established themselves as well. Father DeSmet first visited Kettle Falls in 1841. By 1845, St. Paul’s Mission was built on a high point overlooking the falls. St. Paul’s Mission, which has an interpretive center, is open to the public.

The second half of the 1800s saw changes and influences to the area of ever increasing magnitude. Gold and other precious metals were discovered, the transcontinental railroad was built, and advertisements to farm the land brought more settlement. And with further settlement came new opportunities and increased conflict, struggle and sickness.

In 1853, the Washington territory was created. The first treaties between the U.S. government and Indian tribes came shortly after. As lands became more valuable, history saw the development of reservations where Indian tribes were often forcibly sent to live. By 1872, the Colville Indian Reservation was first created on its present location. In 1881, the Spokane Indian Reservation was created. Conflict and struggle was continuous for many.

Fort Spokane, with some success, was established in 1880 to protect the rights of both Indians and settlers on the Northern Columbia plateau. Because the Indians of the area were peaceful, no battles ever broke out between Indians and settlers.

Between war, movement to reservations and epidemics such as small pox, however, the populations of many Indian tribes in the region were decimated. Twelve distinct Indian tribes spanning distances from the Cascade mountains to Idaho were sent to live on the Colville reservation. They included the Colville, Lakes, San Poil-Nespelem, Southern Okanogan, Moses/Columbia, Wenatchi, Entiat, Chelan, Methow, Palus and the Chief Joseph band of the Nez Perce. Each had distinct cultures and were accustomed to a way of life that included migrating through thousands of square miles. In 1892, an act of Congress resulted in the north half of the Colville reservation being ceded and opened to settlement by non-Indians. Not until 1934 did Congress act to fully stop withdrawing of lands from the Colville Reservation.