Ethics and the

    Columbia River Treaty

    Righting Historic Wrongs

  1. -

     Ron Abraham

     Tribal Councilman, Tribal Elder

     Kootenai Tribe of Idaho

My name is Ronald Abraham.  I was born on January 21, 1954 at the Kootenai Tribal Mission.  I lived the first 7 years of my life there.  At that time, the Kootenai Mission was a very violent place to live.  I didn’t realize this until years later.  Alcoholism was extremely rampant.  Other children were being placed in children homes, foster homes and boarding schools and other off-reservation places.  My siblings, 2 younger brothers and 2 older sisters were, I’ve always said, fortunate to continue to live with our mother, our parents were separated.  Our grandparents lived next door and we went there often.  They were limited in their English vocabulary and spoke the Native tongue fluently and we communicated with them in that way.  This was to be important in later years.  We are still fluent in the language.

At 7 years old, we moved into town:  Bonners Ferry.  We went to the local schools to be taught.  Our mother ended up in the hospital which left us alone as teenagers and young adults we all separated and went our own ways.

1974 was a year that changed many things in our lives.  The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho declared war on the United States Government due to neglect and other conditions of the Tribe.  That seemed to be the first time I got involved in Tribal Affairs.  Later in 1976 I started working in construction and helped to rebuild our “mission” community.  I helped in building several projects in the next few years. 

At 32 years old, I was asked to run for Tribal Council.  I did and was voted in.  I served as the Chairman for 6 months to complete a vacant spot.  After that, I ran again and serve as Vice-Chairman for several terms I now serve as an alternate on the Tribal Council.  During my terms, I was appointed numerous duties, assignments and positions.  Some are:  construction, tree planter, tree thinner, says operator, heavy equipment operator and other positions that were for the benefit of Kootenai Tribal Members. 

I was involved in Indian Realty, Tribal Rights Protection, Natural Resources, Forestry and other positions as needed.  I still do these activities as needed.  I have held several positions through the years for the Tribes benefit.  Some of my held positions:  Chairman Kootenai Tribal Council. Vice-Chairman Kootenai Tribal Council, Chairman of the Kootenai Tribal Development Corporation, Vice-Chairman of the Kootenai Tribal Development Corporation, Vice-Chairman of the Kootenai Tribal Gaming Commission, and member of the Kootenai Tribal Gaming Commission.  I was also involved in writing our Law & Order code along with my brother and sisters and several attorneys.  Several years passed and the Law & Order Code was completed, approved and implemented.

I am an artist as I’ve been told.  I started to be interested in art at the age of 7.  I was recognized by the Local Art Club as Artist of the Month in 1985.  The Boundary County Historical Society Commissioned me to do the Boundary County History Book front Cover.  I’ve done logos, posters, letterhead, murals and different paintings throughout the years. 

I am still involved in many tribal endeavors:  The Kootenai River Habitat Restoration Program, Sturgeon Recovery Efforts, Burbot Recovery Program, Grizzly Bear Recovery efforts, Hunting and Fishing Rights issues as well as a variety of fisheries issues and other efforts.

I have studied the past of the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and am very knowledgeable of how things happened, what impacts were sustained and looking into the future with wonder.

The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho has made many positive strides in the last 45 or 50 years, I was a part of that and am very pleased at what has been done.  But of all the activities that have been going on, I have always said:  now that we got that done, the work can now start.  All we have done is to smoothen out the rough road where we came from, and it is up to the future generations to pave the way for a better future which I have all the confidence that they will.  Many details have been left out to due space of things that I have done.  I have written some highlights of things I have done for this Tribe in my lifetime.