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Kalispel Indian Community, Washington

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Long before fur traders established Kullyspell House in Hope, Idaho, American Indian bands gathered regularly nearby on the Clark Fork River delta. Indian Meadows, as the federal land is called, has played host in recent years to ceremonial gatherings drawing hundreds of people. Some locals were upset the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to build a half-acre pad of gravel in the meadows. In spite of opposition at a public meeting, Sept. 20, there soon will be heavy equipment removing debris and driftwood from the water. The work, which could cost up to $500,000, caught the Kalispel Tribe unaware as well. Although it only recently learned of the project, tribal archaeologist Bob Betts and his counterpart in the corps could find no artifacts. That does not diminish its cultural value, Betts acknowledged. In past years the drift yard was allowed to fill up with logs and debris which had to be burned periodically, with difficulty. Heavy equipment tore up the muddy delta bottom. With a firm work surface, the materials can be hauled onto the pad for drying, chipping or burning. The corps also will restore five acres of the 50-acre drift yard to wetlands and eventually restore 30 acres.