Coeur d'alene Indian Tribe
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" I was born upon the prairie where the wind blew free, and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures, and where everything drew free breath. I want to die there, and not within walls." - Ten Bears, Comanche Chief


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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.

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 kmē) 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.

That Coeur d'Alene lands were reduced to approximately 600,000 acres (2,400 kmē) 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 kmē) near Plummer, south of the town of Coeur d'Alene.