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Photo: Letter WPhoto: the lemhis ithout a home of its own and a chance to govern its affairs, some fear that the tribe of Sacajawea will become a memory.
"We´ll be exterminated if we don´t go back to our valley," Ariwite said. "The Lemhi people will no longer exist."
A few are finding ways back to their valley by renting homes there and working at the recently dedicated Sacajawea Interpretive Cultural and Education Center. And the Ariwites are drafting a bill to recreate the original Lemhi reservation, now mostly federal land. They envision a community that would provide jobs through light industry, a gaming casino and the tourism they say would result from Sacajawea´s people returning to the valley of her birth.
They also are working for federal recognition of the Lemhi Shoshonis as a tribe. Recognition gives tribes sovereignty similar to that of nations. It allows their reservation land to be placed in trust and federally protected from being acquired by non-Indians. Recognition would give the Lemhis autonomy from other tribes at Fort Hall, the right to govern themselves and a better chance of reestablishing themselves in their homeland.
"Hundreds of tribes are trying to get recognized," Darrell Tendoy said. "We should move to the top of the list because of what our grandmother and grandfather did for this country - Sacajawea and Chief Tendoy."
Spokesmen for Sens. Larry Craig and Mike Crapo said both would consider sponsoring the reservation bill and supporting federal recognition, but have not received proposals from the tribe. Ariwite says he hopes to submit them early in 2004.


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