Local Historical Recordings

Helen "Nellie" Toulou

Helen "Nellie" Toulou was a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes Arrow Lakes Band. She grew up in the Kelly Hill area but was later relocated to Kewa, Wa. near Inchelium. She was a fluent speaker of salish and knowledge keeping as well as community leader. She began her work in language presentation when introduced to a then young graduate student from Italy named Tony “Anthony” Mattina. Her direct descendants still reside in the Inchelium area and continue to keep her teachings alive through a non profit dedicated to language revitalization.

The Inchelium Language and Culture Association (ILCA) was founded by her Great Grandaughters Shelly Boyd, Trudy Tonasket and Wendy Phillips in partnership with Salish School of Spokane, currently her Great Great Grandaughter Stevey Seymour is the Executive Director. ILCA is housed within the Inchelium Language House which ILCA started in 2012 as a “home” for language learners and language itself.

From 1968 to 1970 Helen Toulou recorded with Tony Mattina, who later earned his doctorate and has been an instrumental linguist for the nselxcin / nsyilxcn dialect also known as the Colville/Okanogan language. Dr. Mattina began his linguistic work with nselxcin in the 1960s where he affectionately refers to Helen as his “first teacher”. Dr. Mattina went on to record and transcribing fluent nselxcin elders such as, Pete Seymour, Madeline Desautel, Dora Desautel Of Inchelium and continues to this day to work with various Language Programs in both the United States and Canada to ensure our language and history are available to tribal members. Dr. Mattina helped establish the phonetic alphabet for nselxcin, and created the Okanogan Dictionary with fluent elders which he continues to update as an elder himself. The Inchelium Language Association and the descendants of Helen Toulou are very grateful for his life’s work and vision as a young man in doing this work.
Here in Inchelium we have a wealth of fluent speakers in our history. At ILCA we are fortunate to record and to have access to other sources for recordings.
We are proud of our ancestors and for their time and the language they lived and shared.
We are carrying on their legacy and will do all we can to keep our recordings going and to keep salish alive in our communities. 

K̓susús Tom Louie

Tom Louie was a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes Arrow Lakes Band and was known for his winter dance ceremonies he held at his long house at Inchelium. Also he had shared his knowledge and guidance at the first salmon ceremony that is held annually at Omak .