Members of Idaho’s redistricting commission receive training Sept. 2 at the Statehouse. (Photo by Jim Max/For the Idaho Capital Sun.)
Members of Idaho’s bipartisan redistricting commission met with leaders of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe as part of a three-day series of public meetings staged last week in North Idaho and North Central Idaho.
During Thursday’s meeting at the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Marimn Health center in Plummer, commissioners asked tribal leaders if they had a preference for how they wanted the tribe to be represented in newly drawn districts.
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Redistricting commission co-chairman Bart Davis asked whether commissioners should attempt to place the tribe into a single legislative district or split it between multiple districts, as the case has been for the previous decade.
Chief Allan, chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, said things have been working well with the way their representation is set up now — split between districts. He said if it’s not broken, commissioners shouldn’t try to fix it.
“This is our homeland, we have a tight connection with Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls, our reservation used to stretch all the way up there, and the city of Coeur d’Alene is named after our namesake,” Allan said during the meeting, which was streamed online.
“We have a lot of our tribal members that live in Coeur d’Alene and the Post Falls area,” Allan added. “That’s kind of always been our homeland historically, and we’ve got a lot of kids going to school up there.”
Davis said he was glad commissioners met with tribal leaders because the visit helped him understand what is important to them.
“If I take nothing else from this visit, that explanation helps me,” Davis told Allan. “I would have gone in a different direction.”
Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls are located in Kootenai County. Plummer, the largest city within the Coeur d’Alene Reservation, is in Benewah County. For the previous decade, Kootenai County has been split between legislative districts two, three and four, while Benewah County was combined with Latah County in legislative district five.
One of the factors redistricting commissioners must follow is splitting as few of Idaho’s 44 counties as possible.
Last month, leaders from Idaho’s Native American tribes asked legislators to be included in the state’s redistricting process. They made their request during the Aug. 17 meeting of the Idaho Council on Indian Affairs, which includes legislators and tribal leaders and members.
“It is important to look at the underserved and the counties that have very few representatives at this highest level of the state,” Ladd Edmo, secretary of the Fort Hall Business Council that governs the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, said at the meeting.
Redistricting is the process of using new U.S. Census Bureau data to redraw Idaho’s 35 legislative and two congressional districts. The process takes place every 10 years and is required by the U.S. Constitution and the Idaho Constitution to ensure political representation is equal.
Idaho was the second fastest growing state in the country over the previous 10 years according to the 2020 census. But that growth was uneven and divided, which is why the state’s political boundaries need to be withdrawn.
Commissioners last week also held meetings in Lewiston, Moscow, Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint.
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Commissioners head back to southern and central Idaho for three more days of public hearings, beginning Wednesday night in Hailey.
Meeting agendas and proposed maps are available on the redistricting commission’s website. Meetings are streamed live online using Idaho Public Television’s free Idaho In Session service. The quality of the stream has varied depending on meeting locations.
This week’s public hearing schedule:
- 7 p.m. Wednesday, Hailey Community Campus, Minnie Moore Room, 1050 Fox Acres Road, Hailey.
- 1 p.m. Thursday, location to be determined, redistricting commission business meeting.
- 6 p.m. Thursday, College of Southern Idaho Fine Arts Center, 315 Falls Ave., Twin Falls.
- 1 p.m. Friday, Burley City Hall Council Chambers, 1401 Overland Ave., Burley.
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