The Confluence of Rivers: The Indigenous Tribes of Idaho

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Like the confluence of the great rivers, the histories of the indigenous tribes of Idaho represent the intermingling of the waters of distinct rivers. Among the many rivers, there are two pivotal rivers that are essential to understanding these rich histories. One carries the waters of each tribe's particular oral traditions, its indigenous culture. These waters are rich with languages, songs, and aesthetics, with family, kinship, and ecological orientations, and with stories of creation, such as those of Coyote, Grizzly Bear, and other Animal Peoples. This is a river expressive of the unique heritage and dreams of sovereign peoples. Flowing between the banks of another, altogether different river are the waters of Euro-American contact history.1 These are waters expressive of the effects of the horse and smallpox, and of encounters with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, fur traders, missionaries, military generals, and treaty commissioners. This is the river of federal acts creating reservations and allotments, of federal acts of reorganization, self-determination, and gaming, of Euro- American influences continues into the present. Found here are the waters that have fortuitously, or more often by intent, sought to redefine, modify, destroy, or deny the sovereignty of the tribes.

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