The First Inhabitants of the Silver Valley

Often the "discovery" of the Silver Valley is attributed to fur traders, or John Mullan, or Andrew Pritchard, or Noah Kellogg, along with other white men who passed through this area. But they were not the first to enjoy the beautiful mountain, rivers and meadows of the area in North Idaho. No, like most of the United States, it was the Native Americans who first inhabited this land. And it is with the Schitsu'umsh that the history of the Silver Valley and her stories begin.

To find out more about the Schitsu'umsh, or the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, and they are more now commonly known, to to their official website at

On this website you can find out the past, present and future of the tribe. Right now my interests are in the past. Here is an excerpt from the website:

Because there was always a commitment to the future, so will there always be a commitment to the past. The modern Coeur d' Alene Tribe is the sum of uncounted centuries and of untold generations. In the tribe's own ancient language, it is called Schitsu'umsh, meaning "Those who are found here," or "The discovered people." In this remains a land abundant in beauty and resources, a legacy of leadership, and a lineage that continues from time immemorial. The Coeur d' Alene's are who they always were and who they will always be.

Below is a map of the original Aboriginal Territory that spanned more than 5 million acres of todays Washington, Oregon and Montana. As you can see, the Silver Valley is right in the middle.

There is a book titled "Red Thunder" by David Matheson that is a fictional account of the Schitsu'umsh. It is a good story, and gives a good perspective on the tribal life before encounters with the white man. I enjoyed looking at the maps and figuring out where places were they he wrote about when the tribe was in the land that is now the Silver Valley. If I remember correctly, they had had summer camp in what is now Kingston. And what is now I-90 was simliar to the trail they used to travel to what is now Montana to hunt buffalo.

I often like to let my imagination wander, and think about what it must have been like when the Schitsu'umsh roamed the hills, creeks, meadows and rivers of this valley. When I am around Coeur d'Alene Lake I often like to "listen" to the Schitsu'umsh rowing their canoes across the lake and singing their songs. How beautiful the lake must have been in those days.

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