PLUMMER, Idaho – Idaho’s newly elected legislators were given a brief tour of the Coeur d’Alene Reservation just a week after the Nov. 7 midterm elections. It was an opportunity for the tribe to introduce them to tribal activities and businesses, and to acquaint many of them with changes made in recent years and plans for the future. Upwards of 40 legislators were in attendance from throughout the state, and for many it was their first introduction to the reservation.
Tribal Chairman Chief Allan greeted them at Berg Integrated Systems, one of the businesses the tribe purchased in the past year. Allan explained this purchase is an example of plans to diversify the tribe’s economic base. The company arrived with 15 employees, is interviewing for five more positions immediately, and expects to have 50 employed within a year, with 300 – 400 total employees anticipated in time. “They will be good jobs, good-paying jobs,” he emphasized. Allan also stressed the fact he doesn’t look at things from a racial perspective and that many employees on the reservation are non-Native people.
The group moved on to the Wellness Center for an elaborate luncheon and for further opportunities to provide information on a variety of activities on the reservation. Displays were arranged throughout the room, highlighting numerous tribal functions ranging from environmental concerns and actions being taken to medical facilities, enforcement functions and others.
Tribal Council Member Valerie Fast Horse, director of the Technology Center, spoke to the assembled legislators about technology on the reservation. “We keep raising the bar. We’re really diversifying. We now have a broadband system on the reservation that covers the entire reservation. If we hadn’t done it, it wouldn’t have been done and it’s one of the best with high-end technology.” She was the first of a staff which now numbers 17.
Council members Leta Campbell and Norma Peone spoke about different phases of the Wellness Center, which has six doctors and two dentists plus a large staff. Campbell pointed out that 15 years ago, only 25 people were employed in the center and now the staff numbers 120. Peone explained how diabetes is a major concern among Indian people and that the center had been selected for one of five grants in the nation to work on
Vice Chairman Francis SiJohn ended the visit by thanking the legislators for coming and reiterating the tribe’s goals of building a strong and diversified economy.