Indigenous peoples that live in the area now known as the Northwestern US have relied on water resources for physical, cultural, and spiritual sustenance since time immemorial. Hunting, gathering, and fishing are central subsistence activities of the Couer d’Alene Tribe (Schitsu’umsh), whose homeland spanned ~3.5 million acres in present-day northern Idaho, eastern Washington and western Montana. The Lake Couer d’Alene Basin was at the heart of their homeland. Today, the CdA Reservation is a fraction of that their homeland.
Having recently returned from over a month on the CdA Reservation – working with the CdA Tribe on issues related to water quantity and water rights – I have a renewed appreciation for the history of the CdA people, their intimate relationship with the landscape, and the role science can play in environmental-justice issues.