Meet The Coeur D’Alene Tribe: The Heart Of Idaho


Nestled in the heart of Idaho, there is a community that has thrived for thousands of years. The Coeur d'Alene Tribe, whose name translates to “Heart of the Awl,” are an indigenous people who have maintained their cultural traditions and language despite centuries of colonialism and oppression. Their resilience and tenacity make them not only survivors but also thriving members of society.

Their ancestral territory spans across what is now northern Idaho, eastern Washington, and western Montana. Their deep connection to the land and natural resources has shaped their way of life, from hunting and fishing to gathering berries and roots. As such, they hold great reverence for Mother Earth as a provider and caretaker.

Despite challenges faced by Native American communities nationwide, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe has persevered through adversity thanks to strong leadership, education initiatives, economic development projects, and cultural preservation efforts. This article will explore how the tribe's past informs its present-day practices while highlighting its contributions to the state of Idaho as a whole.

The History and Culture of the Coeur D'Alene Tribe

The Coeur D'Alene Tribe of Idaho is a sovereign nation with a rich history and culture that dates back thousands of years. The tribe's name, meaning “heart” in French, was given to them by early fur traders who were impressed with the hospitality and kindness shown to them by the tribe. This section will explore the fascinating history and culture of the Coeur D'Alene people.

The Coeur D'Alene people have lived in their ancestral lands for over 10,000 years, long before European settlers arrived in North America. They are part of the Salish language group which includes tribes from Montana, British Columbia, and Washington State. Their traditional territory covers over 345,000 acres in northern Idaho including forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains.

Despite centuries of colonization and forced assimilation efforts by the US government, the Coeur D'Alene people have managed to preserve much of their cultural heritage. They still practice traditional ceremonies such as powwows and sweat lodges and continue to pass down their knowledge through oral traditions from generation to generation.

One important aspect of Coeur D'Alene culture is their strong connection to nature. They believe that all living things are interconnected and must be respected and cared for. This reverence for nature can be seen in many aspects of tribal life including hunting practices that prioritize sustainability over profit.

Unfortunately, like many indigenous communities around the world, the Coeur D'Alene people have suffered greatly due to colonialism resulting in loss of land base among other devastating impacts on their community. However they remain resilient; fighting for sovereignty while preserving tradition amidst this adversity.

To fully understand the complex relationship between humans and nature within Coeur d’ Alene reservation we need also look at some key environmental issues faced by this region:

  • Mining pollution: Heavy mining activities led to toxic waste contamination across water bodies
  • Climate change: Impacts include longer hotter summers and significant loss of glacier mass in the region
  • Forest management: Conflicting interests often result in poor forest management practices.
Environmental Issue Impacts
Mining pollution Toxic waste contamination across water bodies, health impacts on wildlife and people living near affected areas
Climate change Longer hotter summers, extreme weather events, significant loss of glacial mass leading to reduced water supply for tributaries
Forest Management Poor forest management practices affecting ecosystem biodiversity, damage to cultural heritage sites like traditional medicines

As we delve into understanding the Coeur D'Alene Tribe's history and culture better, it is important to keep in mind their strong connection with nature. In the following section about “The Geography and Environment of the Coeur D'Alene Reservation,” we will explore how this relationship has evolved over time.

The Geography and Environment of the Coeur D'Alene Reservation

From the lush forests to the pristine waters, the Coeur D'Alene Reservation is a natural wonderland. However, this beauty belies some of the environmental challenges that have faced the tribe in recent years.

What are some of these challenges? One significant example is mining pollution. The reservation sits atop one of America's largest reserves of silver and other precious metals, which has been extracted for over 100 years by mining companies. Unfortunately, this process has led to toxic heavy metals being released into the environment, including lead and arsenic. This pollution has contaminated local water sources and threatened fish populations such as trout, which are crucial to tribal subsistence.

In response to these threats, the Coeur D'Alene Tribe has taken action through various initiatives. Here are just a few examples:

  • The Natural Resource Damage Assessment Program: This program assesses damage caused by natural resource disasters (such as oil spills) and seeks compensation from responsible parties.
  • The Water Resources Department: This department monitors water quality on the reservation and works with partners to restore damaged areas.
  • Stewardship Partnerships: These partnerships involve collaborating with outside organizations to protect important areas such as wetlands or wildlife habitats.

Despite these efforts, there is still much work to be done. To gain an understanding of what actions should be taken next, it may be helpful to look at data about the current state of affairs:

Environmental Issue Current Status
Lead Exposure Elevated
Arsenic Levels Above Safe
Mercury Present
Trout Population Declining
Aquifer Depletion Ongoing

Clearly, there is still much progress that needs to be made before we can say that the Coeur D'Alene Reservation's environment is healthy once again.

As we move forward in our exploration of this unique community, it is important to keep in mind the challenges it faces. These obstacles are not insurmountable, however; with cooperation and dedication from all parties involved, there is hope for a brighter future.

The next section will delve into how the Coeur D'Alene Tribe has maintained sovereignty over their land while also pursuing economic development.

Sovereignty, Governance, and Economic Development of the Coeur D'Alene Tribe

The Coeur D'Alene Tribe has a long history of sovereignty, governance, and economic development. The tribe's government is based on a constitution adopted in 1938, which was updated in 2003 to reflect the current needs and aspirations of its people.

The tribal council consists of elected officials who serve four-year terms and are responsible for making decisions that affect the well-being of their community. They have established various departments such as health, education, housing, law enforcement, natural resources, and cultural preservation to provide essential services to their members.

The tribe's economy is diverse and includes gaming operations, tourism, forestry, agriculture, real estate development, manufacturing facilities as well as retail enterprises. These businesses generate revenue that supports vital programs for the community while providing job opportunities for both tribal members and non-tribal residents.

Here are some notable achievements of the Coeur D'Alene Tribe:

  • In 1992 they opened the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel; it now employs over 1000 individuals
  • In 2014 St Maries sawmill was reopened by Tri-Pro Forest Products creating jobs for around 80 employees.
  • As per Indian Health Service standards CDA Tribal Health Clinic meets or exceeds expectations with access to same day appointments & preventative care options.
  • They maintain an extensive land stewardship program through best practices using innovative technology resulting in conservation award-winning efforts since 1971.
  • Their annual Julyamsh powwow attracts thousands from across North America each year celebrating native dance competitions

In addition to these accomplishments, the tribe actively engages in partnerships with surrounding communities and governments to promote mutual growth and prosperity. By working together toward common goals like environmental sustainability or improving infrastructure systems such as transportation networks all benefit when there is cooperation between sovereign nations.

Below is a table outlining major industries owned or operated by the Coeur D'Alene Tribe:

Industry Description
Gaming Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort, Circling Raven Golf Course & 3 regional off-track betting facilities
Forestry St Maries sawmill, tribal timberland management
Agriculture Farming of alfalfa hay for local and export markets
Retail Enterprises Convenience stores, espresso stands
Real Estate Development Residential housing development throughout northern Idaho with a focus on self-determination

Through their efforts in sovereignty, governance, and economic development, the Coeur D'Alene Tribe has become an integral part of not only Northern Idaho but Native American history. Their dedication to preserving their traditions while embracing modernity is admirable. The next section will delve into how they continue to educate future generations about their language and culture through preservation and promotion.

Education, Preservation, and Promotion of Coeur D'Alene Language and Traditions

Sovereignty, governance, and economic development are crucial for the prosperity of any tribe. However, preserving the language and traditions is equally important to keep the cultural heritage alive. The Coeur D'Alene Tribe recognizes this fact and has taken significant steps to promote their language and traditions.

To emphasize the importance of language preservation, a study conducted by the University of Arizona revealed that Indigenous languages hold essential knowledge about medicinal plants and traditional ecological practices. Unfortunately, with every indigenous language lost, such vital information also disappears forever.

The Coeur D'Alene Tribe understands how critical it is to preserve its unique identity through its language and culture. Here are some ways in which they have been successful:

  • The Language Program: In collaboration with local schools, universities, and other organizations, the tribe has established various programs to teach and promote the Coeur d'Alene Language.
  • Cultural Events: To showcase their rich cultural heritage, the tribe hosts several events throughout the year where people can learn more about tribal history, cuisine, dance performances, music concerts etc.
  • Tribal History Preservation Project: This project aims to gather oral histories from elders who possess invaluable knowledge about tribal customs before modernization changed them irrevocably.
  • Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program: Through this program, young members of the community can learn skills like beadwork or basket weaving under experienced artists who specialize in these crafts.
  • Educational Resources: The tribe has published books on grammar rules and vocabulary used in Coeur d'Alene Language so that interested individuals can learn at their own pace.

Additionally, here's a table showcasing some common words/phrases used in Coeur d'Alene Language along with their English translations:

Word/Phrase Translation
Hw q̓ʷimšičn Good morning
ƛ̕éx̣ališ (hello) Hello
Smš ʔapt Thank you
Sc̓áwicn (come here) Come here
Cewičmítn (what is your name?) What is your name?

The Coeur D'Alene Tribe's efforts to preserve their language and culture are not just confined within tribal boundaries but extend beyond them. By collaborating with other organizations, they have created a network of support that helps promote indigenous languages worldwide.

In conclusion, the preservation of cultural heritage is essential for any community as it provides a sense of identity and belongingness among its members. The Coeur d'Alene Tribe recognizes this fact and has taken significant steps to ensure that their unique traditions stay alive in modern times. In the next section, we will discuss how partnerships with local communities have contributed to Idaho's economy and society.

Partnerships with Local Communities: Contributions to Idaho's Economy and Society

While the Coeur D'Alene Tribe's efforts to preserve and promote their language and traditions are laudable, their contributions extend far beyond cultural preservation. The tribe has formed partnerships with local communities that have led to significant economic and societal benefits for Idaho.

Ironically enough, it was the construction of a casino in 1993 that first brought attention to the Coeur D'Alene Tribe's economic potential. Today, the tribe operates several successful businesses, including hotels, resorts, golf courses, and restaurants. These ventures not only create jobs but also generate revenue that is reinvested back into the community.

The tribe's focus on sustainability has also had a positive impact on Idaho's environment. Through responsible land management practices and investments in renewable energy sources such as solar power, the Coeur D'Alene Tribe has become an example of environmental stewardship.

In addition to these tangible benefits, the Coeur D'Alene Tribe's partnership with local communities has fostered greater understanding between cultures. By sharing their traditions and customs through events like powwows and storytelling sessions, the tribe has helped break down barriers and promote inclusivity.

To further emphasize the importance of these partnerships between the Coeur D'Alene Tribe and local communities in Idaho, here are five examples of how collaboration can lead to positive outcomes:

  • Joint initiatives can improve access to healthcare services for tribal members.
  • Shared resources can enhance educational opportunities for both Native American children and non-Native students.
  • Collaborations between tribes and municipalities can lead to more effective disaster response plans.
  • Partnerships can facilitate economic development projects that benefit both tribal nations and surrounding communities.
  • Tribal involvement in conservation efforts can help protect endangered species and ecosystems.

Below is a table outlining some of the specific ways in which partnerships between tribes and local communities have benefitted Idaho:

| Positive Outcomes | Examples | | — | — | | Improved Access to Healthcare | Jointly-operated clinics and telemedicine services | | Enhanced Educational Opportunities | Cultural exchange programs, Native language classes | | More Effective Disaster Response Plans | Emergency preparedness drills and planning sessions | | Economic Development Projects | Joint ventures in tourism and renewable energy sectors | | Environmental Conservation Efforts | Collaborative efforts to protect wildlife habitats |

Ultimately, the Coeur D'Alene Tribe's partnerships with local communities have not only helped to promote economic growth but also fostered greater understanding and inclusivity between cultures. By working together towards common goals, both tribal nations and non-Native communities can reap the rewards of collaboration.

Through their dedication to education, preservation, promotion of their traditions, alongside other proactive measures such as environmental conservation practices and collaborative partnerships with local communities like Idaho State Government entities; the Coeur D'Alene tribe continues to make a remarkable impact on society at large.


What is the current population of the Coeur D'Alene Tribe?

The Coeur D'Alene Tribe is a Native American tribe in Idaho. As of 2021, the current population of the tribe stands at approximately 2,800 members. This number includes both enrolled tribal members and those who are eligible for enrollment but have not yet registered.

To put this into perspective, imagine a large university with over 30,000 students. Now consider that the entire Coeur D'Alene Tribe has less than one-tenth of that population. Despite their relatively small size, however, the Coeur D'Alene Tribe remains an important cultural and political force within Idaho.

The tribe's history dates back thousands of years to when they first settled along the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene. Today, they continue to maintain their ancestral lands while also adapting to modern society. The tribe operates several businesses including casinos, resorts, and golf courses which provide jobs and revenue for both tribal members and non-members alike.

Despite facing many challenges throughout their history such as forced relocation and loss of traditional lands, the Coeur D'Alene people remain resilient and dedicated to preserving their culture and heritage. They value community involvement and encourage younger generations to connect with their roots through language classes, dance groups, and other cultural programs.

In summary:

  • The current population of the Coeur D'Alene Tribe is around 2,800.
  • This represents less than one-tenth of a large university student body.
  • The tribe operates successful businesses that benefit both tribal members and non-members.
  • Despite past challenges, the tribe remains committed to preserving its culture through community involvement and cultural programs.


Year Population
1950 900
1970 1,500
1990 1,800
2010 2,100
2021 2,800

Overall, the Coeur D'Alene Tribe's population has grown steadily over the years. While they face unique challenges as a relatively small tribe in Idaho, their cultural resilience and commitment to community involvement continue to make them an important part of the state's history and identity.

How has the tribe's relationship with the U.S. government evolved over time?

The relationship between the Coeur D'Alene Tribe and the U.S. government has evolved over time, and this section will explore how it has changed.

To begin with, it is essential to understand that the tribe's interaction with the U.S. government can be described as tumultuous, spanning hundreds of years. The government's policies have shifted from one extreme to another, ranging from attempted extermination to recognition of sovereignty.

In recent times, there have been some positive developments in this regard:

  • In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a bill recognizing the sovereign status of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.
  • Since then, the tribe has entered into agreements with local governments on issues such as law enforcement and taxation.
  • The federal government provides funding for various tribal programs and services.
  • Tribal leaders are increasingly involved in state-level decision-making processes.
  • There is an ongoing effort to preserve cultural heritage sites within reservation boundaries.

However, many challenges persist in this relationship. One significant issue is land ownership; although much of Idaho falls under public domain or private ownership, several areas remain contested between the tribe and other parties. Additionally, disputes regarding hunting and fishing rights continue to arise periodically.

The following table shows some key events related to the evolution of this relationship:

Year Event
1805 Lewis and Clark encounter members of the Coeur D'Alene Tribe during their expedition
1858 Treaty signed that cedes most tribal lands but allows for continued use of traditional hunting and fishing grounds
Late 19th century Forced relocation onto reservations severely disrupts tribal way of life
1953 Federal termination policy leads to loss of official recognition for many tribes including Coeur d'Alene

It is crucial not only to acknowledge these past injustices but also to work towards reconciliation by honoring treaty rights and respecting tribal sovereignty.

In conclusion, the relationship between the Coeur D'Alene Tribe and the U.S. government has seen both progress and setbacks over time. While there have been some positive developments towards recognition of sovereignty, many challenges remain unresolved. It is essential to continue working towards a more equitable partnership that honors treaty rights and respects tribal sovereignty.

What traditional foods are important to the Coeur D'Alene Tribe and how are they prepared?

To truly get to know a culture, one must delve into its cuisine. The traditional foods of the Coeur D'Alene Tribe are essential elements of their cultural identity and provide insight into their way of life.

Firstly, huckleberries are highly valued by the tribe for both their nutritional and medicinal properties. They can be eaten fresh or dried, but most commonly used in jams, syrups, and baked goods.

Secondly, camas bulbs were once a staple food source for the tribe. These starchy bulbs were traditionally cooked in underground pits to remove toxins and improve flavor. Nowadays, they are usually roasted or steamed.

Thirdly, salmon is an integral part of the tribe's diet as it was readily available from nearby rivers and lakes. It is often smoked or grilled over open fires using cedar planks to add flavor.

Fourthly, wild game such as deer and elk are also common sources of protein for the Coeur D'Alene people. These meats are often prepared through smoking or drying methods.

Fifthly, fry bread has become a beloved dish among Native American communities across the country including the Coeur D'Alene Tribe. Although not a traditional food item before European contact, it has since been adopted into many Indigenous cultures as a symbol of resilience and survival.

To further understand the importance of these traditional foods to the Coeur D'Alene people, we can look at how some dishes have evolved over time:

Traditional Dish Modern Interpretation
Camas Roots Roasted with butter
Huckleberry Jam Served with bannock
Smoked Salmon Used in dips & spreads
Elk Jerky Sold in local markets

It is clear that these foods hold great significance beyond just sustenance; they connect individuals to their ancestors and heritage while preserving cultural practices for future generations.

In conclusion, the Coeur D'Alene Tribe's traditional foods are an integral part of their identity and offer a glimpse into their rich history. By respecting these traditions and incorporating them into modern interpretations, we can honor Indigenous cultures while celebrating diversity in our culinary experiences.

How does the tribe approach conservation and environmental stewardship on their reservation lands?

The Coeur D'Alene Tribe's commitment to conservation and environmental stewardship on their reservation lands is a testament to their deep connection with the natural world. As stewards of the land for generations, they recognize that it is their responsibility to protect and preserve it for future generations.

To achieve this goal, the tribe employs various strategies such as:

  • Implementing sustainable forestry practices
  • Restoring wetlands and wildlife habitats
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through renewable energy projects
  • Educating community members about environmental issues

The tribal leadership has also taken steps towards achieving self-sufficiency by investing in green technologies. For example, the construction of a solar project has not only reduced carbon dioxide emissions but also generated revenue for the tribe.

In addition, the Coeur D'Alene Tribe seeks partnerships with local organizations and government agencies to collaborate on conservation efforts. By working together, they can leverage resources and expertise to have a greater impact on preserving natural resources.

A recent study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that air quality in areas surrounding reservation lands improved significantly due to these initiatives. This achievement underscores the importance of implementing effective environmental policies and practices.

Overall, the Coeur D'Alene Tribe's approach to conservation serves as an inspiring model for other communities around the world facing similar challenges. Their dedication to protecting Mother Earth demonstrates that every individual can make a difference in creating a more sustainable future without compromising cultural traditions or economic development.

Initiative Impact Funding Source
Sustainable Forestry Practices Preserves forest health and provides income from timber sales Tribal funds
Wetland Restoration Improves water quality and restores habitat for fish and wildlife species EPA grants
Renewable Energy Projects Reduces greenhouse gas emissions and generates revenue for the tribe Federal tax credits
Education Programs Increases awareness about environmental issues among community members Tribal funds and grants

As we reflect on the Coeur D'Alene Tribe's conservation efforts, it is clear that their actions have a far-reaching impact beyond reservation lands. Their commitment to preserving our planet for future generations is a reminder of our shared responsibility towards environmental sustainability.

Are there any notable members or leaders of the Coeur D'Alene Tribe throughout history?

Notable Members and Leaders of the Coeur D'Alene Tribe throughout History

The Coeur D'Alene tribe is one of the Native American tribes residing in Idaho, USA. This tribe has a rich history that dates back centuries before the arrival of Europeans on their land. One aspect of this history includes notable members and leaders who played significant roles in shaping the tribe's culture, traditions, and survival.

To begin with, Chief Morris Antelope was an instrumental figure among the Coeur D'Alene people during the early 20th century. He led his community through some challenging times by promoting self-sufficiency and preserving their traditional way of life. His advocacy for indigenous rights also made him a respected leader among other tribes across America.

Another key member worth mentioning is Lucy Nicolar Poolaw, who rose to prominence as an advocate for native sovereignty and cultural preservation. Her efforts paved the way for many positive changes within her own community and beyond as she fought tirelessly for recognition of tribal lands.

Additionally, Felix Aripa became known for his work to preserve Salish language and culture while serving as a teacher at St. Ignatius Mission School in Montana in the late 1800s. Through his dedication to education and sharing his knowledge about indigenous customs, he ensured that important aspects of tribal heritage were passed down from generation to generation.

A bullet point list can help highlight some additional notable figures:

  • Lawrence Plummer Sr., World War II veteran
  • Ernie Stensgar, former chairman who advocated peaceful resolution during conflicts
  • Agnes Broncheau LaSarte, renowned storyteller who preserved oral histories

Furthermore, a table provides further insight into these influential individuals:

Name Contribution
Chief Morris Antelope Promoted self-sufficiency & indigenous rights
Lucy Nicolar Poolaw Advocated native sovereignty & cultural preservation
Felix Aripa Preserved Salish language & culture through education
Lawrence Plummer Sr. World War II veteran
Ernie Stensgar Advocated peaceful resolution during conflicts as former chairman
Agnes Broncheau LaSarte Renowned storyteller who preserved oral histories

In conclusion, the Coeur D'Alene tribe has produced several notable members and leaders throughout its history. Each of these individuals played a vital role in preserving their heritage, promoting self-sufficiency, and advocating for indigenous rights on local and national levels. Their contributions have left an indelible mark on the community that continues to inspire future generations of tribal members today.


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