A local woman’s efforts to preserve Coeur d’Alene Tribal culture was honored with a state award July 3.
Worley resident Leanne Campbell was one of more than a dozen Idaho residents honored by the society for its work in preserving and promoting Idaho’s history. She was recognized for her body of work helping to preserve and promote the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s history and culture.
“They’re things that I practice in my everyday life so that I can share them, not only with my fellow tribal members but also with our visitors,” she said.
A 40-year resident of Worley, Ms. Campbell left work at the Coeur d’Alene Casino in 2002 to pursue education in tribal culture. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in museum studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and returned to work for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe as their historic programs manager and director.
“I had an opportunity to work with the Idaho Historic Society on their museum, providing Coeur d’Alene Tribal Content and History for their displays,” she said.
She also worked to preserve tribal culture within the tribe itself, teaching historic tribal arts and crafts that were in danger of becoming extinct. She has also worked to preserve the Coeur d’Alene language, which she said was also in danger of vanishing.
“Our language is pretty endangered,” she said. “We’ve lost Felix Aripa, who was one of our speakers, and Irene Lowly recently passed away at over 100 years old. We have younger educated tribal members coming back and working to get that language spread out more through local schools and classes in the community.”
Ms. Campbell now heads a cultural tourism program through the Coeur d’Alene Casino to introduce tribal history to a wider audience. The public can tour cultural sites and take part in programs to learn about the area’s tribal culture. Sites of interest include sites of the tribe’s battles with the U.S. Government, as well as the Cataldo mission, which the Coeur d’Alene Tribe helped build.
The Idaho State Historical Society presented Ms. Campbell with their Esto Perpetua award for her work at a ceremony June 3 in Boise. Present at the event were the board of trustees and executive director for the ISHS, as well as aCoeur d’Alene Tribal delegation of tribal council member Gene James, tribe member Jennifer Fletcher – who nominated her for the position – and Ms. Campbell’s family.
Also in attendance were Gov. Brad Little and First Lady Teresa Little – for whom Ms. Campbell had a special gift.
“I brought a gift for the First Lady, a small beaded pouch that I made for her and presented to her during the ceremony,” she said. “I felt that need to recognize them as well.”