what does coeur d'alene mean?

How did that Idaho town get its name? (Coeur d’Alene Meaning)

What does Coeur d’Alene mean?

Coeur d’Alene means, “Heart of the Awl”. The french word referred to the tribe’s special talent for bargaining and making good deals. They knew how to get what they wanted and not be ripped off. According to some of the French, they were the best traders in the entire world.

It is a name that was given to the Coeur d’Alene tribe in the late 1700’s or early 1800’s by the French traders and trappers who were working in the North Idaho region.

According to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Official Website:

The original name of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe was Schitsu’umsh, meaning “Those who were found here” or “The discovered people”. This has been our name since time immemorial. Before U.S. expansion into the area, the Schitsu’umsh would trade with French fur traders, who referred to the Schitsu’umsh as Coeur d’Alene’s, meaning “Heart of the Awl”. This too is our name and was received due to the sharp and disciplined trading practices of the Schitsu’umsh people.

Source: https://www.cdatribe-nsn.gov/our-tribe/

Is Coeur d’Alene French or Native American?

Coeur d’Alene is the French name given to the self named Schitsu’umsh tribe by French traders and explorers. This name was later officially received by the tribe due to its significance. French explorers gave this name to the tribe due to their sharp and disciplined trading practices.

Who are the Coeur d’Alene?

The earliest written account of the Coeur d’Alene people was recorded by Alexander Henry known as “The Younger”. He was a fur trader who worked for the North West Company. Along with British explorer David Thompson, Henry traded and traveled in the region between 1810 and 1814. In his journal, Henry wrote about the Coeur d’Alene people and their way of life. This primary source provides valuable insight into the culture and customs of the Coeur d’Alene people during this time period. In one of his writings he said,

The Skeetshue [Skitsuish] or Pointed Hearts [Coeur d’Alene] Indians dwell further southward, about Skeetshue [Coeur d’Alene] Lake and [Spokane] River; they are a distinct nation, and have a different language [Salish] from the Flat Heads. They are very numerous, and have a vast number of horses, as their country is open and admits of breeding them in great abundance.

Alexander Henry

In modern times, the Coeur d’Alene tribe is based in northern Idaho and has a population of over 2,190 members. The tribe has worked to preserve its culture and history through education and community programs, and it operates several successful businesses, including a casino resort, and medical center which provide economic stability and support for its community. Despite the challenges of the past, the Coeur d’Alene people continue to thrive and celebrate their rich heritage.

More information can be read directly from the source at the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s website.

How do you pronounce Coeur d’Alene?

Coeur d’Alene might be one of those words that you’ve only ever said inside your head as your reading it. Don’t stress out about saying it out loud however, it really is not as difficult as it looks.

It sounds like:

kor duh·layn

Before the 1930s it was pronounced differently. This article: How to pronounce Coeur d’Alene talks about that and the French pronunciation.

The video below shows clips of people using the word Coeur d’Alene in normal speech so you can get a good feel of how it is pronounced.

How to pronounce Coeur d’Alene

Schitsu’umsh meaning (Original Name)

Schitsu’umsh means, “Those who were found here” or “The discovered people”.

Schitsuúmsh was the original name for the Coeur d’Alene tribe in their own language. This was their name before the United States was explored by white people and before the U.S. expanded into their area.

Next time you see a “Heart of the Awl” sticker or slogan displayed in the city of Coeur d’Alene or on bumper stickers in North Idaho you’ll know what it means.

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