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
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
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."