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Photo: Letter SPhoto: Darrell Tendoyeven years passed before they got their wish. The Lemhi Valley Indian Reservation, created in 1875 by executive order of President Ulysses S. Grant, was roughly 100 square miles south of Salmon. Its mountains and wooded river valleys had been home to Sacajawea and generations of her people. The tribe settled in and began the transition from nomads to farmers, but circumstances combined to make the reservation temporary.
The times were edgy. The Nez Perce, Bannock and Sheepeater wars of the late 1870s made whites fear an attack by the Lemhis. The government responded with inducements to move them to Fort Hall, some 200 miles away. The fears were unfounded, as Tendoy kept the tribe at peace. When its aggressive elements argued for war, he led them on extended buffalo hunts that doubled as cooling-off periods. But the pressure to move to Fort Hall remained.
A more urgent concern for the Indians was their hand-to-mouth existence at the tiny Lemhi reservation. Much of its land was too mountainous for farming, the ground that could be farmed was insufficient for the 1,050 Lemhis and other Indians living there, and the government had difficulty delivering on its promises of assistance. Its position was that the Lemhis would be better off at Fort Hall. The Lemhis remained adamant that they wouldn´t go.
"In 2006, it won't be right for the Corps of Discovery people from St. Louis to come start coming on the Lewis and Clark Trail to reach my grandfather and our tribal homeland and we're not there. They put the wolf back in our homeland. Are we less than the wolves?"  Darrell TendoyIn his preface to a history of the Lemhi, late Idaho Historian Emeritus Merle Wells wrote that the "impasse was solved for a time when, in 1880, the chief, a few of his sub-chiefs and a delegation of leading Indians from Fort Hall traveled to Washington, D.C., where they were cajoled into signing an agreement which would have moved the Lemhi to Fort Hall."
The agreement relinquished the Lemhis´ claim to their reservation. In return, the government promised to pay them $4,000 a year for 20 years. The eastern Shoshonis and Bannocks living at Fort Hall agreed to give the government part of their reservation land for the Lemhis´ use in return for annual payments of $6,000 for 20 years.

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The Idaho Statesman - Always Idaho -
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