Tiller's Guide to Indian Country - First Edition

Kootenai Idaho Montana. At the council, Stevens offered reserved lands and protection from further encroachment to the various bands of Salish and Kootenai in attendance. Several of the bands agreed and were placed on the Flathead Reservation, but the Idaho Kootenai had refused to even participate in or attend the council. After losing its land to allotment, the tribe was dealt a further series of blows. First, in 1930 the Grand Coulee Dam was constructed, destroying the salmon runs upon which the tribe had depended for centuries. Then, in the 1940s, non-Indian landowners refused to allow the tribe to work its traditional fishing areas along the Kootenai River. The third strike came later in that decade when the Idaho Department of Fish and Game forbade the Kootenai to hunt in their traditional areas. This decision was revised three decades later when in 1976 the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that the Hellgate Treaty of 1855 guaranteed the tribe’s hunting rights on state and federal lands. In 1947 the tribe setup its own government, though they had essentially no land base, After decades of frustration in 1974 the tribe declared war on the U.S. government in an attempt to and force the BIA to live up to its trust responsibilities provide a reservation. Tribal members turned the road through the minuscule reservation into a toll road, charging vehicles ten cents each, and demanded that the U.S. enter negotiations with them. Hostilities ceased when the tribe received assurances that negotiations would be forthcoming. Today the tribe is actively engaged in preserving its traditions and heritage which have been so integral to its survival. Elders continue to speak the native language, with some informal teaching of it to the young people. In summation, the Kootenai remain a small, tenacious band which continues to hold fast to its sovereignty and pursue its goal of expanding its land base. GOVERNMENT The Kootenai ratified their constitution on July 16, 1942, and established a tribal government in 1947. Both are structured according to the provisions of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. The five-member Tribal Council consists of a chief (elected for life), and a chairman, vice-chairman, secretary, and treasurer, all elected to staggered three-year terms. The general membership meets annually, while the Tribal Council meets weekly or as needed. The tribal government oversees health, housing, job training, and education programs for the Kootenai people. Additionally, the tribe maintains its own courts ystem. ECONOMY AGRICULTURE AND LIVESTOCK Most of the 250 acres of tribal lands are under agricultural use, primarily in wheat and barley cultivation. Additionally a number of individual tribal members lease land to outside agricultural interests. The tribe realizes approximately $20,000 annually from agriculture. CONSTRUCTION A number of tribal members find employment through the construction industry. The tribal gcvement has successfully created construction jobs for its members through development projects like the Kootenai River Im. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho are members of the Panhandle Lakes Resource Conservation & Development Area. A USDA project, the RC & D program facilitates community involvement in the resolution of environmental and economic problems. To date, over 300 projects have been completed in the area, with the emphasis shifting from traditional conservation practices to extensive involvement in rural economic development. FISHERIES The tribe is co-managing a project designed to repopulate the Kootenai River with sturgeon (another fish of spiritual significance to the tribe). The Idaho Fish and Game Commission currently employs about six tribal members and six non-lndians on this project. FORESTRY Thereis a fair amount of forested acreage on tribally affiliated land, though very little is presently under commercial development. GAMING The tribe’s show piece, the Kootenai River Inn, takes advantage of the tribe’s Class II and 111 gaming compact with the state by featuring slot machines, video poker, and other forms of gaming. They have plans for adding 100 additional gaming machines in the near future. Though still quite new, the Inn has already generated considerable tribal revenues, employing 60 people. Of these 60, only about a half-dozen are currently tribal members due to the tribe’s small size and workforce. GOVERNMENT AS EMPLOYER The tribal government remains the largest source of tribal employment at this time. It employs approximately 30 of its members through its departments of air and water, land acquisition, the clinic, and in other capacities. MANUFACTURING There are currently plans for a cogeneration power plant on tribal lands. This facility would generate electric power through the burning of various non-toxic wastes. Additionally, the tribe is negotiating witi the state of Idaho to have a tax plan approved that would attract industry to the reservation. SERVICES The Kootenai River Inn is not only a gaming facility, but also a Best Western Motel franchise which includes the Springs Restaurant and the Eagle Springs Gift Shop on its premises. The resort is situated on the scenic Kootenai River in Bonners Ferry and does a thriving, though largely seasonal, business. TOURISM AND RECREATION The Bonners Ferry region is extremely popular with outdoors enthusiasts year round, featuring excellent hiking, boating, fishing, swimming, skiing, snowmobiling, mountain climbing, and more. TRANSPORTATION The tribe owns a van for the transportation needs of its elderly members. Service is available 24 hours a day. INFRASTRUCTURE Theprimary road access to the reservation is provided by Highways 95 (rrmnin g north-south) and 2 (east-west). The nearest commercial air service may be found at the Coeur D’Alene municipal airport, 90 miles away, and at the Spokane International Airport, about 120 miles distant. Additionally, there is a small private airport in Bonners Ferry. Commercial truck, bus, and rail freight lines serve Bonners Ferry, while Amtrak passenger rail service is available 30 miles south of the reservation. COMMUNIW FACILITIES The tribe maintains a community center at its tribal headquarters, three miles west of Bomers Ferry. The Northern Lights Power Company provides electricity to the area. Water is furnished through the Bonners Ferry municipal system, while sewer service is provided through the reservation’s lagoon and by individual septic tanks. AT&T provides local telephone service. The tribe maintains its own health clinic at the tribal headquarters, while more serious 337