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Coeur d'Alene
Expedition Culture Geography People Maps Nature

We are Schitsu'umsh - Coeur d'Alene Indians
Coeur d’Alene Indians

From our perspective what does it mean today to be a Schitsu'umsh, or, as we are also known, a Coeur d'Alene Indian? This is the overriding question addressed in this module. To help you answer this question, the continuing cultural ...

Essential Questions

Geographical Location:
Date: May 6, 1806
City: At the confluence of the Clearwater and Potlatch Rivers (Idaho)

Essential Questions

Lake Coeur d'Alene and the Landscape

  • Identify and consider the various ways Lake Coeur d'Alene is integrated into the Schitsu'umsh way of life - through the oral traditions, food gathering, family ties, gaining spiritual strength, etc. What sorts of meanings does Lake Coeur d'Alene hold for the Schitsu'umsh?

  • How is nature and the natural environment, such as plants and animals, mountains and lakes, approached and understood by the Schitsu'umsh. How might these understandings be similar to and different from a Euro-American approach to nature?

Heart Knowledge: Epistemology, Pedagogy and Language

  • Identify and consider the ways the Schitsu’umsh conceptualize and acquire knowledge. As you consider the Schitsu’umsh approach, contrast it with a Euro-American approach to knowledge and, based upon the journals of Lewis and Clark, identify and discuss the nature of 19th century knowledge.

  • What is the connection between the way a people define knowledge and the way they define their relationship with the environment? Discuss the implications of these connections for the Schitsu’umsh, for Lewis and Clark, and for your own community today.

  • What are some of the ways a language, such as the Schitsu'umsh language, contribute to knowing, understanding and communicating what it means to be Schitsu'umsh? What is the role of language in teaching about and knowing the world?

  • What are some of the skills and teaching methods introduced in this module that can assist one in better approaching an appreciation and understanding of Schitsu'umsh culture and history?

Oral Traditions: Stories and Songs

  • What is to be learned from the oral traditions, both the stories and the songs, of the Schitsu'umsh? How are they used by elders (for what purposes), and what is contained within them (what is revealed)?

  • In listening to the stories, what techniques of storytelling did you observe from the storytellers? How do those techniques of telling influence the listeners of the story?

  • Contrast the stories and songs of the Schitsu'umsh, including the ways they are told/sung, and their purposes, with their equivalent forms of expression in Euro-American Society. Are their equivalents?

Lewis and Clark, and Those Who Followed

  • Despite the brief encounter, from the perspective of the Schitsu'umsh, what is the significance of the meeting on May 6, 1806 between three "Skeets-so-mish" [Schitsu'umsh] and Lewis and Clark? What is it that the Corps of Discovery generally symbolize for the Schitsu'umsh, and for other Indian peoples elsewhere in the country?

  • What are among the long-term consequences for the Schitsu'umsh of the encounter with Lewis and Clark and those who followed in their wake?