Treaty Rock and ‘Little Falls’
| September 2, 2020 1:00 AM
Saturday’s edition of The Coeur d’Alene Press, Aug. 22, published my short history of Treaty Rock. Mark Weadick raised the question, “… which falls on the Spokane River were actually purchased from Chief Seltice?” He points out that there is a “Little Falls” on the Spokane River, but 60 miles west of Post Falls in Lincoln County, Wash.
My source for the information relating to this question comes from a walking-tour interpretive sign at the Treaty Rock site:
“The Little Falls of the Spokane River was eventually changed to Post Falls in honor of Fredrick Post.”
These two Little Falls are not to be conflated. In 1871, when Post and Seltice made their agreement, Idaho was a fairly new Territory with few settlers. Place names came about either by designation of the Post Office, political agreement or habituation by a newspaper. Post Falls did not have a post office until 1887. However, as late as 1886, the Spokesman-Review had been referring to the location as Little Falls. For instance, a Sept. 2, 1886, article about the construction of the Spokane-Idaho railway across the prairie says, “At some future time a spur will be run down to Little Falls.”
As to proof of purchase, the interpretive description at Treaty Rock states, “There is no record that money changed hands between Post and Seltice.” However, it should be noted that an agreement on the transfer of this land on June 1, 1871 was included in a treaty between the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the U.S. Government signed in 1889 and ratified in 1891.” The final treaty recognized that Post had rights to develop water power on both sides of the Spokane River.
An accurate retelling of history can be confounded by a lack of accurate documentation, or research not being complete enough. I can be challenged on lack of thorough research and am delighted to gain more information. Credit and appreciation goes to Museum volunteer Deborah Akers Mitchell for her research and explanation of local place names.