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Idaho State History

Native people have lived in the area of what is known today as Idaho for thousands of years.

Two tribes were prominent in the area, namely the Nez Perce in the north and the Shoshone tribe in the south.

Seal Of Idaho

Related: Idaho State Facts

They were fishermen and hunters but they also planted corn and bean. They traveled to follow the herds of buffalo and deer and could dismantle their teepees easily to take with them.


Europeans Arrive

The explorers, Lewis and Clark, arrived in Idaho in 1805, on their trek to the Pacific Ocean. Fur traders soon followed in their footsteps.

In 1810, Andrew Henry built Fort Henry as a fur trading post. More people arrived following the Oregon Trail, such as missionaries, fur traders, and settlers.

Mormons came to Idaho and established the settlement of Franklin.

Lewis And Clark

Nez Perce and Chief Joseph

In 1877, Chief Joseph led his people on a 1400-mile trek to escape the U.S. troops who were trying to remove the Nez Perce from their ancestral lands to a small reservation in Idaho Territory.

The fleeing Nez Perce had violent clashes with settlers as they fled Idaho. They were heading for Canada to claim political asylum and wanted to join the Lakota tribe who had done the same thing earlier.

The Lakota tribe, led by Sitting Bull, had migrated to Canada seeking refuge as they, too, resisted being forced onto a reservation.

Chief Joseph
Chief Joseph

Chief Joseph with about 700 men, women, and children were pursued by the U.S. Army.

After many months of resistance, the Nez Perce, or what was left of the tribe, were cornered in Montana, just 40 miles from the Canadian border.

Chief Joseph surrendered but asked that his people be allowed to return to the reservation in western Idaho. They were instead moved to the Colville Reservation in Washington.

Chief Joseph died in 1904. He became famous for his strategies in holding out against horrendous hardships and his courage in the face of adversity.

Colville Reservation Map Outline

Idaho – the 43rd State

Both the United States and Britain claimed the area that included Oregon, Idaho, and Washington Territories. The Oregon Treaty made the area part of the United States.

Flag Of Idaho

Gold was discovered in Idaho in 1860 and three years later Idaho became known as the Idaho Territory with its capital at Lewiston.

It wasn’t until 1890 that Idaho joined the Union as the 43rd state of the United States. In 1896, Idaho gave women the right to vote.

Oregon Country

Quiz Time!



What two tribes lived thousands of years in the area of what is known today as Idaho?

Who were the explorers who passed through Idaho in 1805?

Why was Fort Henry built?

Why did Chief Joseph lead his Nez Perce tribe north toward Canada?

When did the Idaho Territory become the 43rdstate of the United States?

Carte Lewis And Clark Expedition


The Shoshone and the Nez Perce tribes lived in the area of Idaho for thousands of years.

Lewis and Clark were explorers who passed through Idaho in 1805.

Fort Henry was built as a fur trading post.

Chief Joseph led his Nez Perce tribe north toward Canada to resist being restricted to a reservation.

Idaho Territory became the 43rdstate of the United States in 1890.

US State HistorySpori Building

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