Tiller's Guide to Indian Country - First Edition

Fort Hall Idaho ,--0 . Federal reservation Shoshone and 8onnock Bank, Bingham, Caribou, and Power counties, Idaho Shoshone-8annock Tribes P.O. BOX 306 Fort Hall, ID 83203 (208) 238-3700 FW 237-0797 Total area 544,000 acres High school graduate or higher 58.8% Bachelor’s degree or higher 2.4% Per capita income $4610 Tobl Iabr force 1,082 Unemployment rate 26.5% Total reservation population 5,114 Tribal enrollment 3,593 LOCATION AND LAND STATUS The Fort Hall Reservation spans approximately 544,000 acres in southeastern Idaho, comprised of two segments which lie just north and west of Pocatello. The reservation extends into four counties, forming the shape of an inverted “L.” It has natural boundaries on its north and northwest sides formed by the Snake River, Blackfoot River, and American Falls Reservoir. Topography ranges from relatively lush river valleys to rugged foothills and mountains. Elevations vary from 4,400 feet at the American Falls Reservoir to nearly 9,ooO feet in the southern mountain areas. The reservation was established by Executive Order under the terms of the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868. Another provision of the treaty called for the establishment of a separate Bamock people. Eventually, however, the Fort Hall Reservation was occupied by both the Shoshone and Bannocks. It originally contained 1.8 million acres, an amount which was reduced to 1,2 million acres in 1872 as a result of a survey error. The reservation was eventually further reduced to its present size through subsequent legislation and the allotment process. CULTURE AND HISTORY During the years before European contact, the Shoshone-speaking Indians inhabited most of what is now Idaho. During the 18th century, Northern Paiute Indians (now called Bannocks) migrated into southern Idaho from eastern Oregon. Both tribes descend from the Numic family of the Uto-Aztecan linguistic phylum. The tribes generally subsisted as hunters and gatherers, traveling during the spring and summer seasons, collecting foods for use during the winter months. They hunted wild game, fished the region’s abundant and bountiful streams and rivers (primarily for salmon), and collected native plants and roots. Buffalo served as the most significant source of food and raw material for the tribes. After the introduction of horses during the 1700s, hundreds of Idaho Indians of various tribal affiliations would ride into Montana on cooperative buffalo hunts. The last great hunt of this type occurred in 1864, signaling the end of a traditional way of life. The U.S. Government signed two treaties with the Shoshone and Bannock tribes. After the first, the Treaty of Soda Springs, failed to gain ratification, the 1868 Treaty of Fort Bridger was negotiated. This treaty established both the Fort Hall Reservation and the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The now-bustling city of Pocatello grew out of a railroad station on the Fort Hall Reservation. Around the turn of the century, the city had grown so dramatically that the tribes were forced to agree to the cession of about 420,000 acres to accommodate it. For this they received approximately $600,000. On June 17,1902, six thousand settlers took part in the “Day of the Run” landrush which resulted from the agreement. The 1887 Dawes Severalty Act initiated the allotment of the reservation. This process was completed by 1914, with over 347,000 acres having been distributed among 1,863 individual allotments between 1911 and 1913 alone. By the time this process was completed, nearly 36,~ acres had been alienated from Indian ownership through sales, patents in fee, or certificates of competency. The 1934 Indian Reorganization Act stepped in to remedy the excesses of allotment, and as of 1992, 96 percent of the Fort Hall Reservation was once again under Indian control, either through federal trust or ownership by individual tribal members. During the first half of the 20th century, the tribes’ main sources of income were agnctitural and livestock activities. After 1947, a major phosphate mining venture was established on the reservation by an outside contractor. This remained a significant source of tribal income and employment on through the late 1980’s, when the reserves began to dry up. In the meantime, the tribes had begun to establish a rather diverse economy of shops, industry, and gaming operations, all of which helped push the tribal govement’s annual operating budget to $13 million by 1991. Today, the major concerns of the ShoshoneBamock continue to be the health, education, and the dignified employment of their people, as well as the vitality of their customs, language, and natural resources. GOVERNMENT The tribes are organized under the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, and operate under a constitution approved on April 30, 1936. The charter was ratified the following year. The Fort Hall Business Council includes seven members elected by the general membership to twoyear terms. The council maintains authority over all normal business procedms, including the development of lands and resources, and all matters of self-government. ECONOMY AGRICULTURE AND LIVESTOCK The reservation lies in the heart of Idaho’s prime agriculture land; principle crops grown in the area are potatoes, small grain, alfalfa, and cattle. While the major portion of the tribe’s nearly 100,000 acres of irrigated land is leased to outside farming interests, the tribe, continues to operate about 2,000 acres on its own. The tribe currently receives about $150 per acre of irrigated farrrdand that it leases and somewhat less for grazing land. The tribe also maintains a buffalo herd, presently consisting of some 320 head of buffalo, 100 of that number being producing cows. In total, agricdture comprises one of the most significant sources of revenue on the reservation. CONSTRUCTION The tribe owns and operates a construction company which employs tribal members primarily. The company, founded during the 1970s, primarily does road work and builds commercial structures on the reservation. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS The Tribal Enterprise Board, a separate corporation from the Tribal Council, serves as the conduit for tribal commercial development. It coordinates all EDA projects and federal development grant applications. A current project under consideration by the board concerns the construction of a hotel on the reservation, a project that would be carried out by the tribal construction company. FISHERIES Although no fisheries exist on the reservation proper, there are several 335