Native Tribes

Coeur d'Alene Tribe

Translated from French, the name "Coeur d'Alene" came from the French fur traders and trappers who first encountered the Schitsu'umish Indians. The term actually means "heart of the awl" referring to the sharpness of tribal member trading skills exhibited in their dealings with fur traders. The nickname stuck. One Frenchman even described the tribe as "the greatest traders in the world."

The Coeur d'Alene's tribal homeland includes almost five million acres of what are now northern Idaho, eastern Washington and western Montana. Unlike the tribes of the plains, the Coeur d'Alenes were not nomadic. Coeur d'Alene Indian villages were established along the Coeur d'Alene, St. Joe, Clark Fork and Spokane rivers. These tribes traded with neighboring tribes and with many tribes far away on the Pacific coast.

Ancient trade routes connected the Coeur d'Alenes with the Nez Perce, the Shoshones and the Bannocks to the south and southeast. To the east were the tribes of the Great Plains and the vast herds of buffalo. With the coming of horses, young Coeur d'Alene men journeyed east to hunt buffalo. However these journeys were not necessary for survival. They were viewed as adventures and even rites of passage for youth who would emerge into manhood and into leadership roles. All ancient tribal trade routes and paths remain today. In fact, those very same routes are still used all across the country and are called interstate highways.

Duck Valley Shoshone-Paiute Tribes

P.O. Box 21
Owyhee, NV
Tel: (702) 757-3161

The Duck Valley Indian Reservation is home to approximately 900 of 1,700 tribal members of the Shoshone-Paiute. Located 96 miles north of Elko on the high desert in northeastern Nevada and southwestern Idaho, a mix of Western Shoshone, Northern and Malheur Paiute Indians represent the tribe. Total acreage includes 289,819 acres of tribal land; 144,274 acres in Elko County, Nev. and 145,545 acres in Owyhee County, Idaho. There are also 3,981.68 acres of public land at Wildhorse Reservoir.

While a large portion of land is dedicated to agriculture, the tribe's primary source of income is from the sale of fishing permits in its two large reservoirs. The operation of a marina on one of its lakes and the sale of grazing permits for its 260,000 acres of range land provide additional income for the tribe. Other limited employment available for residents can be found at several small, tribal-owned businesses including a laundromat, general store, café, and gas station.

Nez Perce Tribe


Nez Perce is a misnomer given to the tribe by French-Canadian fur trappers. The French translate it as "pierced nose." Even though the Nez Perce didn't pierce their noses, the name remained and today it is pronounced "Nezz Purse". Ni Mii Pu (Ni-MEE-Poo) is what tribal members call themselves. It means "The People."

When the weary and hungry Lewis and Clark Expedition encountered the Nez Perce on the Weippe Prairie in 1805, the Ni Mii Pu chose to help the explorers survive. They fed and refreshed them, helped build canoes and provided directions to the Pacific Ocean.

Today the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho totals about 138,000 acres. Approximately 1,800 of the 3,100 enrolled tribal members live on the reservation itself. The nine-member Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee is the governing body for the reservation.

Learn more about the Nez Perce Tribe at the Nez Perce National Historical Park in Spalding, Idaho or contact the tribal tourism office at (208) 843-2253 or visit

Shoshone and Bannock Tribe


In eastern Idaho along Interstate 1-15 and 1-86 lies the 544,000-acre Fort Hall Indian Reservation on a small part of the land that the Shoshone and Bannock Indians have lived on for more than 10,000 years.

Before recorded history, the Shoshone and Bannock originally roamed the areas of what are now the states of Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Idaho. In their search for food they hunted, gathered and fished for salmon. Horses introduced in the early 1700's allowed some groups to travel great distances in pursuit of buffalo.

A Presidential Executive Order established the 1.8 million acre reservation in 1867 but a survey error reduced the size of the Reservation to 1.2 million acres in 1872. Later, encroachments reduced the reservation to its present size.

The first white men to explore the West were the trappers and explorers. Sacajawea, a Lemhi Shoshone, accompanied Lewis and Clark to the Pacific Ocean in 1805 and back in 2006. Visit the Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural and Education Center in Salmon ( and the Fort Hall Museum in Fort Hall, ID (

Salish Tribe


The Flathead Indian Reservation (1,244,000 acres) is home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. In this confederation the Salish and Pend d'Oreille members formed one tribe and the Kootenai another. The tribal headquarters are in Pablo, Montana.

The traditional Salish and Kootenai hunted buffalo on the Great Plains as well as deer, elk and other wild game in western Mont. A variety of plant foods such as bitterroot, camas, moss, wild onions, Indian potatoes and serviceberries were gathered during their seasons and preserved for later use.