Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho


Sharen Stevens, Lewis and Clark bicentennial coordinator for the tribe, told an Idaho Governor's Recreation and Tourism Conference she is concerned about the possible 10 million visitors expected to travel through her tribe's homeland during the three-year celebration. Tribes along the historic route fear visitors could take artifacts as souvenirs or disturb sacred sites. She also expressed concern about the inclusion of tribal members during event planning. "We don't want to be a silent partner," Stevens said. "Don't call and say we need some Indians here at 10:30 to dance." She said the tribe is interested in diversifying its economy through tourism, but added that it is difficult for people living below the poverty level to devote all of their time to making beaded items for sale to tourists in the future. "They are worried about buying baseball shoes, spring proms and graduation right now," Stevens said. Tribal leaders believe the time has come to share stories that haven't made it into the history books with people passing through Indian country, and to create camaraderie. "I look at the bicentennial as all of us coming together in friendship," Stevens added.

"This is a tragic loss," said Executive Committee Chairman Samuel N. Penney of the May 1 accidental blockage of the Kooskia National Fish Hatchery which cost the tribe 250,000 coho smolts being held there for acclimation. Likely cause was an unusual amount of rainfall the previous day which caused Clear Creek to rise. Silt and debris accumulated on the screens causing the coho ponds to drain. "This was an unfortunate act of nature," says Bill Miller, manager at the Dworshak Fisheries Complex, adding that an alarm system "simply failed to activate." The tribe has been acclimating coho at the hatchery for the last four years. The coho smolts were the 1999 brood year and would have provided the 2003 adult return. They were to be released May 15. "Fortunately we also reared and released coho in other locations," said tribal fisheries manager Jaime A. Pinkham. "This will ensure strong future coho returns for Idaho." Penney said the tribe is committed to salmon recovery. "This is only a temporary setback."