The Kootenai Tribe

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 1269
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805

Contact Information




Cultural History

The Kootenai Tribeís beginning include a supernatural folklore stating that their tribe was created by Quilxka Nupika, who was the supreme being and guardian of the Creatorís Spirit and Covenant, the earth. This folklore has been handed down for generations and was said to have come from the Kootenai elders.

The Kootenai Tribe is known to have lived peacefully in Idaho until the American settlers invaded their land. Upon their arrival, the Kootenai people were influenced and were forcefully moved into reservations by making them sign a treaty. The Kootenai people however kept their Covenant and not a single member signed the treaty thus retaining their properties. However, it was not as easy as that. When the US-Canadian border was declared, it split the Kootenai people into seven communities. Their lands were taken away, epidemics killed several members and their struggle to keep their homeland as part of their property went on. 

The 67 surviving Kootenais decided to go at war against the United States government. This was after their extreme agony in fighting for their land that led to nowhere. The declaration of was took place on September 20, 1974. The war was neither quiet nor too morbid. It was just enough to catch the publicís eye. They finally succeeded in their desire to gain 12.5 acres of land. This was their turning point as their lives only became better.

The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho ventured into their very own business in 1986 upon the opening of the Kootenai River Inn. The Inn is solely owned and operated by the tribesmen. If there is one thing that the Kootenai people are most proud of, it is the retention of their tradition as many elder Kootenais still speak their native tongue.  

Their government is composed of a nine-member tribal council including a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer as well as three general tribal council members. The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho is separated into three major districts which are based on the family groups. From these three districts, the members of the Tribal Council will be picked.

Their health projects are very much visible in the community. They have taken steps in making their health services superb, finding ways to gain funding. They opened a health building in 1993 where several health services were offered. The facility has grown to what it is today and it now has several departments that cater to the health needs.

Nowadays, the tribe is busy in taking care of their major business which is the Kootenai River Inn, Casino and Spa opened in 1986. The Inn has 47 rooms, a gift shop, a restaurant and a recreation center. The tribe signed a gaming compact with the State of Idaho in 1996 which led to the opening of the casino and in 2005, the Inn went under a major renovation to improve its facilities. It is now the main reason why the Kootenai students achieve higher education.

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