AUGUST 8, 1936


Born near Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho, circa 1884, Christal spent her life mostly on the Colville Reservation, Washington, but also was connected to the South Okanagan at Kettle Falls, British Columbia (B.C.).  She thought her given name meant “Mourning Dove” and it became her pen name.   Her writings portrayed Indians as people.  Co-ge-wea: The Half Blood (1927) was likely the 1st novel by a North American native writer, though Coyote Stories (1933) brought her international fame.  Her Autobiography, Tales of the Okanagans, and Mourning Dove’s Stories, were published after her death.  Speaking Okanagan and English, she interpreted meetings with the Royal Commission on Indian Affairs for B.C. in 1913 over native land rights grievances.  Later, on behalf of the Colville Tribe, she urged companies to hire Indian labor and assisted the Federal Government implement its “Fair Deal for Indians.”  In 1935, she became the first woman elected to the Colville Tribal Council.  Mourning Dove died at Medical Lake, Washington.

Source:  John Brent Musgrave. "Mourning Dove: Chronicler and Champion of the Okanagan People," Class Acts: Influential women of the South Okanagan.  Retrieved 7/9/2019,
Photo:  Author unknown, 1915.  Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 100 years or less.  

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