Tiller’s Guide to Indian Country - Third Edition

394 Kootenai Kootenai Reservation Federal reservation Kootenai Kootenai Boundary County, Idaho Kootenai Tribe of Idaho County Road 38A P.O. Box 1269 Bonners Ferry, ID 83805 208-267-3519 208-267-2960 Fax www.kootenai.org [See Map for Location] Total area (Tribal Source, 2014) 2,806 acres Tribally owned (Tribal Source, 2014) 906 acres Individually owned (Tribal Source, 2014) 1,900 Population (Tribal Source, 2014) 149 Tribal enrollment (Tribal Source, 2014) 149 Total labor force (Tribal Source, 2014) 60 LOCATIONAND LAND STATUS The Kootenai Reservation is located in the northern tip of the Idaho panhandle, about 30 miles from the Canadian border. The reservation has 906 acres in federal trust, with approximately 1,900 additional acres allotted to individual tribal members. The Kootenais refused to participate in the 1855 Hellgate Council called by Washington Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens. Throughout the next decade, the tribe resisted all attempts to move reunion of all Shoshonean/Numic speaking tribes each year at various locations throughout the west. In 2012 they initiated an ongoing holistic language preservation project and are collecting oral histories from tribal elders which are then transcribed and translated into written documents and preserved as audio archives. They are also developing language curricula for school classrooms and teach language classes on a regular basis. ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS Manyofthetribes’programswork inconcerttoassureenvironmental protections are in place.They conduct regu- lar water quality sampling at reservation springs and wells monitoring air quality in addition to overseeing cleanup of the Eastern Michaud Flats Superfund site east of Pocatello. Fort Hall Health Care. The Fort Hall Indian Health Service and the tribalhealth and human services department are jointly accredited through theAccreditationAssociation forAmbulatory Health Care, Inc., the only tribally operated health care system to be jointly accredited. Not-Tsoo Gah-Nee Health Center offers ambulatory health care and other services to members of the Shoshone- Bannock Tribes and other eligible federally recognized American Indian andAlaska Native tribal members. This includes medical, nursing, pharmacy, dental, optometry, radiology, lab services, including referrals to the tribes’ Purchased and Referred Care Program for specialty care. The facility is staffed with 47 full-time employees. Cultural Preservation. The tribes have a language and culture department to oversee protection of cultural heritage sites on the reservation. They coordinate their efforts with all tribal economic development initiatives and work in cooperation with federal, state, and private entities to conduct archaeological site surveys and monitoring. This office is directly involved with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and Archaeological Resources ProtectionAct projects. They also host language-oriented programs and cultural events throughout the year, both on and off the reservation. The tribes conduct the Shoshone-Bannock Festival annually in August in Fort Hall and participate in a to the Flathead Reservation in Montana. In the early 1900s the federal government finally set aside 8,000 acres for the Kootenais, with each recognized tribal member receiving a plot of 160 acres. Having little experience with farming, however, most tribal members failed to cultivate the land, and the majority of it was eventually leased to white settlers. Today, the Kootenais still have a very small community land base, consisting of little more than the tract upon which tribal headquarters, the community center, and a tribal housing project are situated. CLIMATE Annual rainfall on the Kootenai Reservation is 24.5 inches.Average temperatures range between 26ºF and 68ºF. The area receives approximately 65 inches of snowfall each year. CULTURE AND HISTORY The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho is one of six bands of the greater Kootenai Nation. Aside from the Idaho band, Kootenai people may be found in British Columbia and northwestern Montana. They traditionally relied on the region’s rivers, lakes, prairies, and mountain forests for sustenance. Fur traders were the first Euro-Americans to appear on Kootenai lands, arriving in the 1830s. Within a decade, Jesuit missionaries began arriving, and shortly thereafter, homesteaders began to appear, crossing through or settling on Kootenai lands. The ambitious Washington territorial governor, Isaac Stevens, was determined to open the Northwest to the railroad and to agricultural development. This ambition spurred him to call for the 1855 Council at Hellgate, 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 Kootenais had refused to even 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 salmon runs upon which the tribe had depended for centuries. Then in the 1940s non-Indian landowners refused to allow the tribe to fish in 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 Kootenais 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 had established its own government, though they had essentially no land base, and in 1974, after decades of frustration, the tribe declared war on the U.S. government in an attempt to force the BIA to fulfill its trust responsibilities and provide a reservation. Tribal members turned the road through the minuscule reservation into a toll road, charging vehicles 10 cents each, and demanded that the U.S. enter negotiations with them. Hostilities ceased when the tribe received assurances that negotiations would be forthcoming. The federal government finally fulfilled their obligations and deeded the tribe 12.5 acres. Today the tribe is actively engaged in preserving 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. The Kootenais remain a small, tenacious band that continues to hold fast to its sovereignty and pursue its goal of expanding its land base. GOVERNMENT Historically, the Kootenai Tribe was governed by a hereditary chief. The tribe’s existing constitution was ratified on July 16, 1947, and structured according to the provisions of the 1934 Indian ReorganizationAct, which established the tribal council as the tribe’s governing body. The nine-member tribal council consists of a chairman, a vice-chair, a secretary, a treasurer, three general tribal council members, and two alternate members. All serve four-year terms. The general membership meets annually; tribal council meets twice monthly or as needed. Voting membership legislates by initiative or referendum. The program directors, together with council guidance, oversee economic development, housing, social services, job training, environmental, fish and wildlife, health, education, and other programs. These directors also serve as liaisons with the gaming commission. The tribe has its own tribal court, which has exclusive jurisdiction over all judicial matters occurring on the reservation involving Indians and non-Indians to the full extent allowed by federal law.