Coeur d'Alene (tribe)

From Academic Kids

The Coeur d'Alene are a First Nations/Native American people who lived in villages along the Coeur d'Alene, St. Joe, Clark Fork and Spokane Rivers; as well as sites on the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene, Lake Pend Oreille and Hayden Lake, in what is now northern Idaho, eastern Washington and western Montana.

In their language, members call themselves, Schitsu'umsh (or Skitswish), meaning The Discovered People or Those Who Are Found Here. Early French fur traders in the late 18th or early 19th century gave them their non-native name. The name, Coeur d'Alene means Heart of an Awl, referring to the perceived shrewdness of the trading skills exhibited by the tribe.



The native language is Coeur d'Alene, a Salishan language.

Hear the language spoken (



Traditional lands

For thousands of years the Schitsu’umsh lived in what would become the Panhandle region of Idaho. Originally the tribe roamed an area of over 4 million acres (16,000 km²) of grass-covered hills, camas-prairie, forested mountains, lakes, marshes and river habitat in northern Idaho, eastern Washington and western Montana. The territory extended from the southern end of Lake Pend Oreille in the north running along the Bitterroot Range of Montana in the east to the Palouse and North Fork of the Clearwater Rivers in the south to Steptoe Butte and up to just east of Spokane Falls in the west. At the center of this region was Lake Coeur d’Alene. The Coeur d’Alene lived in areas of abundance that included trout, salmon, and whitefish. The tribe supplemented hunting and gathering activities by fishing the St. Joe River and the Spokane River. They used gaff hooks, spears, nets, and traps and angled for fish.

Reservation lands

That Coeur d'Alene lands were reduced to approximately 600,000 acres (2,400 km²) in 1873 when U.S. President Ulysses Grant established the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation by Executive Order. Successive government acts cut their property to 345,000 acres (1,400 km²) near Plummer, south of the town of Coeur d’Alene.


Neighboring tribes


The early tribal economy was based upon hunting, fishing, and gathering. Dissatisfaction with treaties being negotiated for tribal lands led to battles with federal troops in 1858.



Population statistics

Economic status


  • Tribal businesses include The Coeur d'Alene Casino, Hotel, and Circling Ravens Golf Course facilities north of Worley, Idaho. Tribal gaming employs about 500 and generates about $20 million in profits annually, funding programs and creating economic development and diversity.
  • The tribe operates the Benewah Automotive Center, the Benewah Market, and Ace Hardware located in Plummer, Idaho.


Tribal services

Health and wellness

The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has a health care facility which opened in 1998 named the Benewah Medical Center ( The center was recognized as a national model for Indian Health Care and rural health care. The clinic provides comprehensive primary care services including dental, mental health services and community health outreach services to both the Native American population and general community.

Indian Health Service (


Coeur d’Alene tribal School (

Natural Resource Management

Tribal traditions include a respect and reverence for natural law, and for responsible environmental stewardship. The tribe is active in the protection, conservation and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources; as well as conservation issues that impact tribal resources. U.S. courts recently ruled that the tribe has jurisdiction over the lower third of Lake Coeur d’Alene, as well as 20 miles of the St. Joe River. The State of Idaho is appealing that decision.

Plummer Wind Energy Project (


Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes (



  • Chalfant, Stuart A; Bischoff, William N. Historical material relative to Coeur d'Alene Indian aboriginal distribution. New York: Garland Pub. Inc, 1974
  • Cody, Edmund R. History of the Coeur d'Alene Mission of the Sacred Heart : Old Mission, Cataldo, Idaho : on the Union Pacific between Spokane and Wallace and on the Yellowstone Trail between Coeur d'Alene and Kellogg. Caldwell, Idaho : Caxton Printers, 1930
  • The Coeur D'Alene Indian Reservation. Fairfield, Wash.: Ye Galleon Press, 1970.
  • Diomedi, Alexander. Sketches of modern Indian life. Woodstock, Md., 1894 (A photocopy of the original is available for viewing in Manuscripts Archives and Special Collections at Washington State University in Pullman, WA.)
  • Fahey, John. Saving the reservation: Joe Garry and the battle to be Indian. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001.
  • Fortier, Ted. Religion and resistance in the encounter between the Coeur d'Alene Indians and Jesuit missionaries. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2002.
  • Frey, Rodney, edited. Stories that Make the World: Oral Literature of the Indian Peoples of the Inland Northwest as told by Lawrence Aripa, Tom Yellowtail and other Elders. Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.
  • Hale, Janet Campbell. Bloodlines: odyssey of a native daughter. New York: Random House, 1993.
  • Johnson, Lawrence and Peterson, Jacqueline The People today - Closing the circle. Pullman, Wash.: Washington State Univ., c1993. (This is a videorecording by Lawrence Johnson Productions and the De Smet Project "Sacred encounters.")
  • Johnson, Robert Erik. The Role of phonetic detail in Coeur d'Alene phonology. Pullman, Washington: Washington State University, 1975. Thesis (Ph.D.)
  • Kowrach, Edward and Thomas Connolly, edited. Saga of the Coeur d’Alene Indians: An Account of Chief Joseph Seltice. Fairfield, Washington: Ye Galleon Press, 1990.
  • Mainstream (videorecording). Spokane School District #81. Spokane, Wash.: KSPS-TV ; distributed by GPN Films, 1977. (From an essay 'Beyond mainstream America' by Janet Campbell-Hale. Featuring Diana Abrahamson, Torry Abrahamson, Lorena Abrahamson, Cecilia Abrahamson, Louie Andrews, Dave Edinger, Tillie Mommee. This segment explores the resurgence of pride in tribal values and identities as it looks at the life-styles, culture and lore of the Colville, Flathead, Cour d'Alene, Kalispel, Kootenai, Nez Perce, and Spokane Indians.)
  • Manring, Benjamin Franklin. The Conquest of the Coeur d'Alenes, Spokanes and Palouses - the expeditions of Colonels E.J. Steptoe and George Wright against the "northern Indians" in 1858. Spokane, Wash.: Printed by Inland Printing Company, 1912.
  • Nicodemus, Lawrence G. Snchitsuumshtsn : the Coeur d'Alene language : a modern course. Plummer, Idaho : Coeur d'Alene Tribe, l975.
  • The Old Mission Church of the Coeur d'Alene Indians. Spokane: Gonzaga College Press.
  • Palladino, Lawrence B. The Coeur d'Alene Reservation and Our friends the Coeur d'Aleine Indians. Fairfield, Wash.: Galleon Press, 1967.
  • Peterson, Jacqueline. Sacred Encounters: Father DeSmet and the Indians of the Rocky Mountain West. Pullman: The DeSmet Project, Washington State University in association with the Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.
  • Peltier, Jerome. Manners and Customs of the Coeur d’Alene Indians. Spokane: Peltier: Publications, 1975.
  • Peltier, Jerome. A Brief History of the Coeur d’Alene Indians: 1806-1909. Fairfield, Washington: Ye Galleon Press, 1981.
  • Point, Nicolas, Wilderness Kingdom. Indian Life in the Rocky Mountains: 1840-1847; The Journal and Paintings of Nicolas Point. S.J. Translated by Joseph Donnelly. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967.
  • Ray, Verne. Cultural Relations in the Plateau of Northwestern America. Los Angeles: Publications of the Frederick Webb Hodge Anniversary Publication Fund, Vol. 3., 1939.
  • Reichard, Gladys. An Analysis of Coeur d’Alene Indian Myths. Philadelphia: American Folklore Society, 1947. New York: Kraus Reprint, 1969.
  • Teit, James and Franz Boas. Coeur d’Alene, Flathead and Okanogan Indians. Fairfield, Washington: Ye Galleon Press, 1985. (Originally published in 1930 as part of the Forty-Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology.)
  • Teit, James and Franz Boas. Folk-Tales of Salish and Sahaptin Tribes. Lancaster, Pennsylvania: American Folklore Society, 1917.
  • Teit, James and Franz Boas. The Salishan tribes of the western plateaus. Washington : U.S. G.P.O., 1930.
  • Wagner, Jill Maria. Language, power, and ethnicity on the Coeur d'Alene Reservation. Pullman, Wash.: Washington State University, 1997. Thesis (Ph. D.)--Washington State University, 1997.


  • Hale, Janet Campbell. The Owl's song. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday 1974
  • Matheson, David. Red Thunder. Portland, Oregon: Media Weavers, 2001

External links


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