Coeur D’Alene Tribe


Last Updated: 5 years

The Coeur D’Alene Tribe is a Salish speaking people located in Northern Idaho. They call themselves Schitsu’umsh, meaning “Those who were found here” or “The discovered people.”

Official Tribal Name: Coeur D’Alene Tribe

Address: 850 A.Street, Plummer, ID 83851
Phone: 208-686-1800

Official Website:

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning: Schitsu’umsh, meaning “Those who were found here” or “The discovered people.”

Common Name: Coeur d’Alene Tribe 

Meaning of Common Name:

Coeur d’Alene is a name given to this tribe by French fur traders, meaning “heart of the awl.” This was a reference to their skill as traders.

Alternate names: Formerly known as the  Coeur D’Alene Tribe of the Coeur D’Alene Reservation

Alternate spellings / Mispellings: Couer d’ Alene tribe 

Name in other languages:

Region: Plateau 

State(s) Today: Idaho 

Traditional Territory:

The place “where the old ones walked” included almost 5,000,000 acres of what is now north Idaho, eastern Washington and western Montana. Their reservation is on part of their traditional lands. Coeur d’Alene Indian villages were numerous and permanent, each village and the people there had a distinct name in the ancestral language.

Confederacy: Salish 

Treaties: The Coeur d’Alene were originally bound to their reservation by a treaty negotiated in 1855.  

Reservation: Coeur d’Alene Reservation

The Coeur d’Alene Reservation is near the town of Plummer, Idaho. Much of the land is now in non-Indian hands due to the after-effects of the Dawes Act. Less than 10% remains in individual or tribal trust.
Land Area:  69,299 acres
Tribal Headquarters:  Coeur d’Alene, ID
Time Zone:  Pacific

Population at Contact:

Registered Population Today: 1,216 Enrolled Members 

Tribal Enrollment Requirements:

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Charter:  The Coeur d’Alene constitution provides for a general council form of government. They operate under a constitution written subsequent to the Wheeler-Howard Act.
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The Coeur d’Alene people lived a hunting, fishing, and gathering existence among high plains and forested mountain regions, powerful rivers, and lakes. Coeur d’Alene Indian villages were established along the Coeur d’Alene, St. Joe, Clark Fork and Spokane Rivers. The homeland included numerous permanent sites on the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene, Lake Pend Orielle and Hayden Lake. They were not nomadic. They did their hunting and gathering in the areas surrounding their home village and did not travel with the seasons or animal migrations.

With the coming of horses, young Coeur d’Alene men journeyed east to hunt buffalo on the Plains. These journeys, however, were not necessary for survival. They were viewed as adventures, and even rites of passage.

Economy Today:

Forest products, tourism and mining (abrasive garnets in Benewah and silver, gold, copper, lead and sand and gravel in Kootenai) are the principal industries. 

The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has an 18,750 square foot health care facility built in two phases and named the Benewah Medical Center. It opened June 4, 1990 and is a well equipped outpatient facility that has an in-house pharmacy, laboratory and x-ray. There are 10 exam rooms and an urgent care treatment room.

The clinic provides comprehensive primary care services including dental, mental health services and community health outreach services to both the Native American population and general community.

The Tribe’s Medical Center employs 70 individuals on either a part-time or full-time basis and is supported partially under a PL 93-638 self -governance compact. There are 4 Board-Certified family practice physicians, 1 physician assistant, 6 registered nurses, 2 licensed practical nurses, and several other medical, dental and administrative support staff. These positions are direct tribal hires.

Through P.L. 93-638 contracts Community Health, Mental Health, Dental Health, Medical Services, Alcohol & Drug, Youth Shelter, and Indian Child Welfare services are offered.

The Tribal Clinic provides comprehensive primary care services including dental, mental health services and community health outreach services to both the Native American population and general community. Contract Health provides some ambulatory health care to this population as well as hospital care.

An excellent selection of primary and secondary medical specialties are available in Spokane, Washington and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and are an integral component of the health care system. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has had no IHS operated programs since January 1, 1990.

There are 20 other tribal buildings which house the following tribal programs: Forestry, Planning, Tribal Court, Substance Abuse Program, Veterans HQ, Youth Shelter, Food Distribution Center, Education Department (two buildings), Tribal School and gym, Community Hall, (two: Worley and DeSmet locations), Automotive Center (tribal business), Development Corporation Office, Senior Citizen’s Hall, Benewah Market Center on Main Street, Plummer ID (grocery, Post Office, beauty parlor, arts and crafts, laundry), HUD Complex, Tribal Farm Buildings. In all, the tribe employs about 250 people.

The Coeur D’Alene Resort Hotel located 30 minutes south of Coeur d’Alene offers bingo, slot machines, off-track betting, six restaurants, a golf course, and a day spa.

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Wedding Customs



People of Note:

Sherman Alexie (Spokane-Coeur d’Alene) – author and filmmaker

Mildred Bailey (1907–1951) – jazz singer

Janet Campbell Hale – writer

Paulette Jordan – Member of the Idaho House of Representatives

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Tribe History:

These tribes traded among themselves and with dozens of tribes far away on the Pacific coast. Ancient trade routes connected the Coeur d’Alene’s with the Nez Perce, the Shoshones and the Bannocks to the south and southeast. To the east were the tribes of the Great Plains and the vast herds of buffalo.

All ancient tribal trade routes and paths remain today and are where the Interstate highways were built in modern times.

The first white people to encounter the Coeur d’Alene’s were French trappers and traders. It was one of these Frenchmen who found the tribe to be vastly experienced and skilled at trading, thus the name “Coeur d’Alene,”meaning “heart of the awl.” The nickname stuck. One Frenchman described the tribe as “the greatest traders in the world.”

In the News:

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