Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nov 8: Coeur d’Alene Reservation, Montana Statehood

On November 8, 1873, President Ulysses S. Grant issued an Executive Order that established the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation. The Order set aside around 400 thousand acres for the Indians, but opened nearly four times that amount to white settlement.

Traders for the British-Canadian North West Company made the first significant contact with the Coeur d’Alenes in 1808-1812. Like the Nez Perce further south, they maintained reasonably friendly relations with whites until miners began to intrude onto their lands in the 1850’s.

The tribe became embroiled in the latter phases of the Yakima War, and suffered along with their allies in the final defeat at the Battle of Four Lakes. Subsequent claims took away much of the area the tribe considered their homelands in western Montana, Idaho, and eastern Washington.

After the 1873 Order, edits in the 1890s further reduced the reservation lands. Finally, the tribe managed to adapt, and after much pain, has managed to prosper. The official Coeur d’Alene web site notes “Tribal traditions includes a respect and reverence for natural law, and creates a powerful voice for responsible environmental stewardship.”

Also on November 8, in 1889, Montana was granted statehood, becoming the nation’s 41st. Three days later, Washington became number 42.  Idaho had to wait another 8 months to join them.

Encyclopedia Britannica from Encyclopedia Britannica 2007 Ultimate Reference Suite (2008).

James H. Hawley, History of Idaho : The Gem of the Mountains, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago (1920).

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