Native American tribes have shaped history

Guest Opinion

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Mike Crapo.U.S. Senator

A Haskett point from the Snake River is one of the historical items from Idaho on display in the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. The museum dates the point’s creation to a remarkable 10,000-6,000 BC. The Native American tribes of Idaho—the Coeur d’Alene, Kootenai, Nez Perce, Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute— are undoubtedly a deep and central part of Idaho’s history and development. Learning more about and celebrating this profound history can broaden our understanding of the role the tribes have in forming Idaho’s heritage.

There are many opportunities to learn more about the history of the Native American tribes of Idaho by visiting tribal museums and the tribes’ websites (www.cdatribe-nsn.gov, www.kootenai.org, www.nezperce.org, www.shoshonebannocktribes.com, and http://shopaitribes.org) that include information about the history of the tribes. For example, historic photos and artifacts of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes can be viewed at the Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Museum of Fort Hall. In addition to seeing historic objects there are many places to visit in Idaho with significant cultural importance. The Nez Perce Tribal website contains information about historic locations in the Nez Perce National Historical Park. These are just a few examples of the many locations and events across Idaho honoring tribal heritage. Additionally, pictures of some of the artifacts from Idaho at the National Museum of the American Indian can be viewed through the museum’s website.

On Nov. 17, 2016, the Senate passed by Unanimous Consent S.Res.619 to celebrate the heritages and cultures of Native Americans and the contributions of Native Americans to the United States. As a longtime supporter of this effort and Member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, I again co-sponsored this bipartisan resolution also co-sponsored by 31 fellow senators. The resolution includes the following recognitions:

• Native Americans maintain vibrant cultures and traditions and hold a deeply rooted sense of community;

• Native Americans have moving stories of tragedy, triumph and perseverance that need to be shared with future generations;

• Native Americans have made distinct and important contributions to the United States and the rest of the world in many fields, including the fields of agriculture, medicine, music language, and art;

• Native Americans have distinguished themselves as inventors, entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders and scholars;

• Native Americans have served with honor and distinction in the Armed Forces of the United States, and continue to serve in the Armed Forces in greater numbers per capita than any other group in the United States.

In addition to honoring the remarkable achievements of Native Americans and their ancestors, the resolution emphasizes Congress’ reaffirmation of tribal self-governance and its commitment to “strengthening the government-to-government relationship that the United States has maintained with the various Indian tribes.”

The Native American tribes of Idaho have helped shape our state and national history and their perspective helps guide advancements. Joining in celebrating the heritages and cultures of Native Americans and the contributions of Native Americans to the United States is an honor as we look to the future of our great state and nation.

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