Special Features & Articles
NCRSM Call To Action! - Salmon Savages High School, Salmon, ID (Current mascot issue)
Sacajawea Tribes Seeks Recognition - Pullman, Washington
Sho-Ban Tribes seek return of aboriginal homelands of the Agai Dika ( Sacajawea's People the Lemhi-Shoshone)
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in south eastern Idaho (Sho-Ban) seeks return of aboriginal lands of the Lemhi-Shoshone near Lemhi Pass that have significant religious, cultural and historical importance to the Shoshone-Bannock. The exact acreage will be determined by a survey conducted by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as directed by the Department of the interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) following a site visit and consultation with the elected leaders of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. The land will be located adjacent to the existing lands held by the Lemhi Band near Lemhi Pass and in the Lemhi River Valley. Lemhi-Shoshone Country Currently the Salmon-Challis National Forest covers over 4.3 million acres in east-central Idaho.
Included within the boundaries of the Forest is 1.3 million acres of the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness Area, the largest wilderness area in the Continental United States. Rugged and remote, this country offers adventure, solitude and breathtaking scenery. The Forest also contains Borah Peak, Idaho's tallest peak, the Wild & Scenic Salmon River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The area is a highly desired destination for hunting, fishing, white-water rafting and many other popular recreational pursuits. Straddling the Continental Divide and covering much of southwest Montana, the 3.3 million acre Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest came into existence on February 2, 1996, when the Forest Service merged the Beaverhead and the Deerlodge National Forests.
Reasons for return of Lemhi Pass Home Lands and Religious Sites:
Two centuries ago, in 1805 a 15-year-old Lemhi girl named Sacajawea a Lemhi Shoshone guided Meriwether Lewis and William Clark across the unknown American West to find easy passage to the Pacific Ocean. Sacajawea led Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery on an 8,000 mile Journey through the rugged Rocky Mountains. She was the Corps interpreter, having been kidnapped when she was ten years old. On August 17, 1805, Lewis, who had been traveling ahead of the main party, escorted a group of Lemhi Shoshone back to Camp Fortunate, which is now submerged under Clark Canyon Reservoir in the State of Montana. Clark recorded in his diary that Sacajawea "danced for the joyful sight," and she made signs to me that they were her nation." She had found her people, the Lemhi. One of them, Chief Cameahwait, was her brother and one of the primary leaders of this nation. Chief Cameahwait sold the expedition needed horses; lent them a guide named, Old Toby, and offered invaluable advice about proceeding west. The story is told at the Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural and Education Center in Salmon, Idaho in the Lemhi River Valley. This land has insurmountable historical significance to the Lemhi. Cultural. The Lemhi culture emanates from the Lemhi River Valley.
The high mountain Lemhi Pass, at 7,373 feet, and the mountains surrounding the pass are used extensively in the Lemhi cultural stories. Sacajawea's story and Chief Cameahwait's close collaboration with Lewis and Clark are used to instill cultural values in the tribal youth. Sacajawea is mythical almost, but the Lemhi Shoshone feel her strength comes from her Shoshone upbringing. The backbone for this upbringing was the land of the Lemhi River Valley much of which was taken from the Lemhi Shoshone in 1907 when the Fort Hall Indian Reservation was established.
The mountains of the Lemhi Pass and lands of the Lemhi River Valley continue to be revered and cloaked with religious significance. The lands are used for many Native American religious purposes. Many shrines and natural landmarks are used in religious teachings and for prayer. Getting in touch with nature, wild animals and Mother Earth are necessary elements of Shoshone-Bannock religion. The Shoshone-Bannock want to worship in private and not have to seek federal government permission to construct a new shrine. They want to preserve the existing shrines and landmarks without interference. They seek exclusive use and ownership of a small portion of this aboriginal land. There are many documented and undocumented historical, cultural and religious reasons that land near Lemhi pass should be returned to the people of Sacajawea. Articles from the March 2004 issue of the Sunset Magazine give the history and location of Lemhi Pass and the Lemhi Valley. The hardships of Sacajawea's people have been articulated and covered on the front pages of the New York Times, Idaho Statesman, Idaho Journal, Denver Post, Oregonian, etc.
Now, that the 200th Anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition has been concluded would be a wholly appropriate time to finally honor the Indian Nation to which Sacajawea belonged and to acknowledge the contributions she and the Lemhi-Shoshone made to the exploration and settlement of the West. Nothing could be more fitting than to return a significant amount of the aboriginal Lemhi Shoshone land along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail to its original owners. The land has been owned by the United States since the Fort Hall Indian reservation was established. The Shoshone-Bannock lands were diminished to the existing reservation boundaries. Returning federal lands near Lemhi Pass and the Lemhi River Valley to the Lemhi Shoshone is the right thing to do. This will not cost the United States any money. It recognizes the significant contributions of the Lemhi Shoshone and Sacajawea to exploration and settlement of the Western United States. Transferring a small amount of the vast federal lands in this area would give meaning to the accolades given to Sacajawea and the Shoshone-Bannock Nation. After all, it was theirs to start with.
Washington DC 20006 (202) 293-3040; (202) 2935430 (fax) Roderick Ariwite, Director of Sacajawea Foundation, P.O. Box 642, Fort Hall, Idaho 83203 (208) 791-7490 Leo T. Arriwite, Fort Lemhi Reservation Land Restoration and Development Committee P.O. Box 306, Fort Hall, Idaho 83203 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Wayne Mumford
For the future generations.