Coeur d'Alene, Idaho


click an image to enlarge

Our Seahawkeye Book Tour is taking us to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho!!!

We'll add details as we figure them out, but if you are anywhere near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, in late July, be sure to stop by and listen to some Irish tales.

Coeur d'Alene is perhaps the neatest name of any city in North America. The syllables seem to flow together so nicely.

To English speakers, Coeur d'Alene sounds so much nicer than Schitsu'umsh, which is pronounced something like "Skits-wish". Schitsu-umsh is the name the Native-Americans in the region called themselves. It means "The People Who Are Found Here", which, when you think about it, could be used by people anywhere to describe themselves.

French fur traders had a difficult time with the name Schitsu-umsh, evidently. The French also thought the Native-Americans far too shrewd and heartless in their trading. And so they referred to the locals as having a "Heart of an Awl" which, in French, is "Coeur d'Alene". An awl, if you are unfamiliar with the term, is a sharp pointed tool used for making holes in wood, leather, and a variety of other things (and several awls are shown in the photograph on the right).

The lake in the center of Schitsu-umsh country became known as Lake Coeur d'Alene; the town which grew next to the lake likewise became the town of Coeur d'Alene.

Despite its somewhat evil meaning, it still is one of the nicest sounding town names anywhere.

Couer d'Alene moose

For some reason, Coeur d'Alene is associated with a moose. Here's a moose overlooking the lake. Photograph by Linda McDonnell.

Back