Canku Ota


(Many Paths)


An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 10, 2001 - Issue 29



Sharing and Caring Important Indian Tradition


by Jeanne Givens Spokesman-Review Special to Handle Extra Report

Jeanne Givens says the Coeur d'Alene Tribe is spreading the wealth through donations for education.

Nothing has the same feel as cash. Just ask the school superintendents, principals and parent groups who received hard, cold, no-strings-attached cash gifts from the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.

The Coeur d'Alenes have given an unprecedented $980,000 for education to North Idaho schools. This is the largest amount donated in the three years of tribal giving.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to assess the region and quickly see the dire needs of local schools. From decaying buildings, to teachers leaving the state for better wages, to an outflow of Idaho's best and brightest graduating students to other states, the educational system is in need of some serious fixing.

But the tribe is not in the business of directing or mandating any form of education policy. That's the job of others. However, through Indian gaming, they have brought a new spirit of goodwill and appreciation toward educational institutions.

Tribal gaming revenue is the goose laying the golden egg. The Coeur d'Alene Tribal Casino is enjoying success which allows prosperity for tribal members with jobs and a portion to be shared in charitable giving to local schools.

David Matheson, gaming director, explains the Indian tradition of giving. "All children are precious. We want all our children to be included in this prosperity. This is our opportunity to stand up and hold together the ways of our ancestors to sharing and caring."

Ernie Stensgar, tribal chairman has lived on the Coeur d'Alene Reservation all his life. He views the non-Indians living on the reservation as neighbors. "Our tribe has a commitment to youth, education and the future. Our success allows us to reach out to our neighbors, work with them and to help."

For the first time the University of Idaho was given $10,000 for a scholarship for an Idaho Indian student.

North Idaho College was given $50,000 for the building of a cultural center on campus.

Even small little Sorenson Elementary School received a gift of $5,000 to replace an aging copy machine.

Both Kellogg and Kootenai School Districts received $10,000 each and Coeur d'Alene $15,000. Last year the Kootenai School District bought 2,000 books for its literacy program.

Post Falls Superintendent Dick Harris gave a pitch to the tribe to once again host the Julyamsh Powwow after getting a $15,000 check. "I would like to have the powwow back."

Troy School District was given $25,000. A parent group from Troy wrote the tribe requesting money for repair for a leaking roof for the worst building in the state.

The Plummer-Worley School District and Coeur d'Alene Tribal School received the greatest portion of the money: $290,000 and $513,000.

From fixing leaky roofs, to stocking a library with good reading material for children, to creating a scholarship for Indian students, without question the money makes a tangible difference.

The ritual of giving, as the Coeur d'Alenes have done to local schools in January of each year, is a festive day for many. In Idaho, the talk about education by public officials is clouded by good intentions, pats on the back, and proclamations of doing the best we can with what we've got.

But for one day, in the midst of a snowstorm, people devoted to education came together in Worley to celebrate the tribe's success and humbly accept the cash benefits of being a good neighbor.

Handle Extra columnist Jeanne Givens is a tribal member and lives in Coeur d'Alene.

Coeur d'Alene Tribal Home Page




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