Cemeteries are an important feature of Washington's diverse heritage.

In addition to marking the final resting places of our ancestors, they provide a unique perspective on the history of Okanogan Country. On the headstones you can often read of an entire family’s history, the undignified end of some outlaw, or the tale of a now-unknown hero.

Some famous graves in the area are:

The grave of Ranald McDonald, an intrepid adventurer and important figure in world history, is located 18 miles northwest of Curlew Lake State Park. Japan’s isolationist policy of the mid-1800s decreed death or imprisonment for foreigners who set foot on Japanese soil, Ranald McDonald pretended to shipwreck himself on the island of Rishiri and became the first man to teach the English language in Japan. One of the Samurai he educated was the chief interpreter to handle the negotiations between Commodore Perry and the Tokugawa Shogunate a few years later. Those negotiations led to the “flowering” of Japan, the opening of its borders for trade and emigration. Today there are memorials to him in Rishiri and Nagasaki, Japan.

During the “flowering” of Japan (the opening of its borders in the late 1800’s) Frank Matsura, a member of the upper class Shogunate, immigrated to Washington State in 1903. He soon became a beloved member of the community and world-renowned photographer. His funeral in 1913 drew more than 300 American Indian and white mourners. His photographs are a significant legacy both artistically and historically.

The grave of the Nez Perce’s great chief, Chief Joseph, is located in Nespelem on the Colville Indian Reservation. In spite of never wanting to go to war, Chief Joseph is considered a master military tactician and his strategies during the Nez Perce War of 1877 are still studied today.

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