New book features a collection of old-timers’ recollections
OROVILLE – Arnie Marchand has put together a collection of stories he has heard from the Okanogan Country in “The Way I Heard It: A Three Nation Reading Vacation,” a new book recently published by Xlibris books.
“I’ve been collecting stories and talking to people for a long time,” said Marchand. “I needed to get them all together and get them out in a book. You can only go and give so many talks.”
Marchand, an Okanogan with the Colville Confederated Tribes, said even though the book covers a region in his traditional territory stretching from Wenatchee north to lower British Columbia, many stories were “left sitting on the table.” But he wasn’t ready to say if there was a volume number two in his future.
“I didn’t want these stories to be lost. Many of our elder people told me the stories years ago and before I wrote the book I spoke with them or their families and they’d say ‘that’s the way I heard it’ and that’s the way I’ve told it,” said the author, recalling a specific conversation he had with an elder named Isabella, who is now 102-years-old.
Marchand received help in his efforts from the Borderlands Historical Society, especially from Kay and Mike Sibley.
“Not all of these are native stories… they’re stories told by the old timers in the area,” explains Mike Sibley.
“A lot of the stories they had forgotten that the last person they had told was me,” said Marchand.
Marchand said some of the stories are from those he was told by his mother and father.
“I thought jeez it would be neat if everyone knew this or if anyone knew that,” he said.
There are tales of cowboys and Indians, pioneers and paddle wheelers.
“There’s still a lot of issues that are unresolved, even after 100 years,” Marchand said.
“I think it was good you included McLaughlin Canyon,” said Kay Sibley, about the area southeast of Tonasket where Indians planned an ambush of the military and white settlers in 1873.
The author said that not everyone who witnessed the battle would agree about what happened.
“A GI wrote it this way and civilian wrote it that way. McLaughlin told how it all started with a horse and an accident. I have a story about an Okanogan who sat up… that guy caused it to be a battle when it was planned to be a massacre,” said the author.
“If he had just stayed hidden… McLaughlin saw something because one guy didn’t do something right,” said Marchand, who heard it all from Charlie Thorp, who had the whole battle explained to him when he was a child.
“All day his dad and Sarsop talked about it. He learned how the chief had a different perspective,” he said.
Marchand said the stories kind of thinned out when he got to the Canadian border. The Sibleys are hoping he will take them further in another book.
“I’ve been collecting stories since I went to work for the Tribe in 1977,” said Marchand, who retired from the Colville Confederated Tribe a few years back.
He will be having an author talk and book signing in Oroville on Wednesday, April 17 at the Oroville Public Library starting at 7 p.m. He will have a similar event at the Omak Visitor Information Center at noon and again at 1 p.m. on Friday, April 19. Marchand will also be available to sign books at the Oroville Depot Museum during May Festival.
Right now the books are available at Oroville Pharmacy and the Oroville Museum and Visitor Information Center (which opens May Festival Weekend). The books are $20 including tax. Marchand and the Sibleys say they are working on additional outlets and author talk and book signing venues.