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Lemhi Pass > Culture > Sovereignty & Tribal Government

Excerpts from article copyright 2002 Sho-Ban News. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Produced in collaboration with the University of Idaho's Native Journalism Project. Read entire article at the Sho-Ban News Online site:

Sovereignty Exists
because of Land Base

FORT HALL - Exercising tribal sovereignty in all areas will perpetuate the Shoshone-Bannock image -Blaine Edmo Tribes way of life for the future said Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Blaine J. Edmo.
Blaine Edmo, Fort Hall Business Council Chairman
Sho-Ban News photo

Protecting the remaining 544,000 acres of reservation land in southeastern Idaho of which 96 percent is tribally or individually owned is especially significant because, "You can't have sovereignty unless you have land," Edmo said.

Fort Hall Bottoms
Sho-Ban News photo

Water (whether potable, irrigation or recreational,) both on and off reservation, treaty hunting and fishing rights, tribal culture, along with environmental protection are other important elements.

Jurisdiction has recently simmered to a boiling point (according to the local media) between the tribe and local counties. Edmo believes it's a matter of state and county officials recognizing and abiding by the tribes procedures within the reservation boundaries that has portions of four counties within its borders.

Full understanding and adherence to Public Law 280 that gave concurrent jurisdiction to both the tribe and the state is important, he said because it doesn't give sole authority to either party. "They have to work with us and it's not absolute jurisdiction" for the state or counties on roads maintained by their crews within reservation boundaries he continued. "This is a major issue of contention between the tribe and counties."

Youth & Tribal Government
Edmo believes teaching the youth about tribal government is also vital. "If we don't have examples or role models from the past (former tribal leaders,) how does one know to model his or her behavior."

Offering community education classes at night to those interested in being tribal leaders or teaching it in schools are options. Learning about the treaty, Constitution and by-laws, tribal, state and federal laws would be the curriculum.

Tribal Fish and Game Director Chad Colter said it's important to maintain every opportunity for tribal members to exercise treaty rights. "Culture is broader than most people think - fish, wildlife, water, land," are all an integral part he said. "We lose bit by bit because of the loss of resources."

He said the tribe needs to get the state of Idaho to provide minimum water flows for fish and wildlife. "A big problem is irrigation takes all the water and there is no water for the fish," he continued.
An example is the Lemhi River in central Idaho where Shoshone-Bannock exercise treaty rights. The river is 70 miles long and has 70 diversions on one stream. There is no water for salmon and the tribes want to get water back into the stream because it is one of the main spawning grounds for salmon.
"The numbers of wild fish are still declining," Colter said. "I don't believe we will ever have self sustaining populations until we get rid of the dams." The tribe is in support of breaching the lower four dams on the Snake River.
Edmo said whatever position the tribe takes on issues, it benefits non-Indians as well and "we do it all on a shoestring budget."

Website Referral

Articles on sovereignty, salmon recovery, housing, and more.
Sho-Ban News and the University of Idaho's Native American Journalism Project present excellent coverage on sovereignty issues on the reservation today.

Article about the discovery and reburial of 10,000 year old remains found on Shoshone lands.
by Samantha Silva, High Country News, March 08, 1993 (Vol.25 No. 4)

DOE, Shoshone-Bannock tribes to collaborate on INEEL environmental investigation
Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory news

Governmental Issues
Index to Health and Human Services, Budgets, Reports and other issues that concern the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council. Also has links to other Native American websites and contact information for officers.

Eastern Shoshone Tribe Community Environmental Profile
Tribal government, land, history, community services, and other information about the Wind River land base including statistics.