|The aftermath of repeated epidemics, missionary zeal, war and retribution by the U.S. military, and land confiscation and imposition of federal paternalistic controls have continued to reverberate in the lives of the Schitsu’umsh. The health and well-being of all the peoples of this land and these waters have suffered greatly as a result of these ill winds. Life expectancies and the quality of life are far below that of other Americans, while suicide rates, and alcohol and drug addictions are far above what is acceptable. Adequate housing, health and dental care, and employment opportunities have traditionally only been dreams. While much improved, the Schitsu’umsh still face the slurs and affronts of prejudicial and discriminatory behaviors directed at them by some suyepmsh.
|| Ernie Stensgar, Former Coeur d'Alene Tribal Chairman, considers the importance of retaining Shitsu'umsh culture and language, and how there is too much "civilization" - TV, the Internet - and not enough root digging, berrying, hunting and storytelling, not enough sharing. We must "dust off the dances and learn them." (interviewed and edited by Rodney Frey, September 2002)|
Since 1884 mining activities in the Coeur d’Alene river basin have resulted in the world's largest silver production, with over a billion ounces of silver extracted from the land. And the mining continues. But in the wake of these activities streams, rivers and lakes have been polluted with such contaminants as lead, cadmium, zinc, mercury and arsenic. A few suyepmsh have been greatly enriched at the expense of the original, dislocated inhabitants, as well as the varied plant and animal populations which still attempt to survive here.
Imagine not being able to control your own money. It wasn’t that long ago that the Bureau of Indian Affairs required tribal members to keep their money in Individual Indian Money accounts. When tribal members wanted to sell land, purchase items, etc., they had to first get permission from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. That began to change in the 1920s through the bravery of Julia Nicodemus and her son, Lawrence. Tribal elder, Lawrence Nicodemus, tells this account of what happened (recorded October 2002).
"When the BIA told my mother, Julia, that she could not keep the money she earned from her crops, she refused to turn it over to them. For this, they arrested her. I was a young adolescent at the time. Julia was afraid and asked me to stay with her in the jail. When the police saw I was refusing to leave my mother, they clubbed me over the head. It created a huge gash - lost of bleeding. The BIA agent was afraid, scared there would be an Indian uprising, so he let my mother go free and keep her money."
Julia and Lawrence paved the way for Indians all across America to gain greater control over their money.
During the 1950s, the United States Federal Government enacted a Termination Policy, which sought to suspend all previous treaty agreements and resulting obligations with Tribes. Reservations were to be "terminated," the trust status of Indian land removed, and federally-sponsored schools and hospitals closed. In addition, Public Law 280 was enacted in 1954, which gave state governments the option of assuming civil and criminal jurisdictional authority over reservations. These blantantly unilateral abrogations of treaty rights were typically objected to by Indian communities. In those instances where termination and P.L. 280 were imposed, the local communities soon found themselves "penniless, homeless, and in disorder," ill-equipped with the resources needed to provide for the welfare of the people. Over one hundred Indian Nations were dissolved by congressional action between 1953 and 1958.
|| Alfred Nomee, Director of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's Department of Natural Resources, considers some of the background history and current efforts in the Tribe's Natural Resource Damage Assessment and the mining-related clean-up efforts in Lake Coeur d'Alene as well as the ceded aboriginal territory. (interviewed and edited by Rodney Frey, September 2002)
|| Listen as Cliff SiJohn discusses how some Shitsu'umsh are making "new shirts" for themselves - learning how to survive in "two worlds," in the classroom setting and from the family, and how to "feel who they are." |
Part 5 of Interview; To begin the SiJohn Interview. (interviewed and edited by Rodney Frey, August 2002)
The human and animal peoples who have in the past and who continue to suffer from these tides of ill wind are the "wounded." These are winds that pierce the physical bodies - the flesh and soil - and chill the souls and spirits of the various peoples and of the land.
We are not going to point fingers, nor place blame; we are not looking to the past. But with the skills and resources of our own family and of our friends, we seek to still these winds, meeting these challenges and looking after the welfare of the future generations. We seek to heal the wounded ones in all the families of this land.
|| Cliff SiJohn discusses the struggles of the "wounded" Shitsu'umsh and how to maintain your Indian identity. |
Part 6 of Interview.
Under the leadership of such individuals as Joe Garry, the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Chairman during the tumultuous period of the 1950s and 60s, the U.S. governement's termination policy was successfully resisted on the Coeur d’Alene and other area reservations. The living heritage of leadership and vision from such former chiefs and chairman as Vincent and Andrew Seltice, and Joe Garry, Ozzy George and Happy LaSarte, have continued to inspire Schitsu’umsh decision makers of today.
|| Cliff SiJohn continues discussing the challenges faced by the "wounded" Shitsu'umsh and how to heal the wounds. He also addresses the word, "squaw," and the role of teachers in helping the "wounded." |
Part 7 of Interview; To continue the SiJohn Interview.
In 1968 the U.S. Congress amended P.L. 280 requiring the consent of Indian Nations before states could assume jurisdiction. In 1975 the Self-Determination Act as passed, followed in 1995 with the Self-Governance Act, allowing tribes to reassert their previous role as policy-makers. By 1986 congress had reversed its termination policy and renewed its nation-to-nation relationship with previously terminated Tribes. Nevertheless, the threats to Tribal sovereignty remain. Alliances of local white community leaders and others seeking negation of tribal sovereignty continues. As new federal and state legislative bodies are elected to office each year there is the never-ending need to educate these officials so often ignorant or openly adverse to Tribal status and rights.
© Coeur d'Alene Tribe 2002
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