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Idaho Territory and State

Idaho State Area Command

Indian Tribes

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Idaho was one of the last areas in the lower 48 states of the US to be explored by people of European descent. The Lewis and Clark expedition entered present-day Idaho on August 12, 1805, at Lemhi Pass. It is believed that the first expedition of Europeans to enter southern Idaho was by a group led in 1811 and 1812 by Wilson Price Hunt, which navigated the Snake River while attempting to blaze an all-water trail westward from St. Louis, Missouri, to Astoria, Oregon. At that time, approximately 8,000 Native Americans lived in the region.

Andrew Henry of the Missouri Fur Company first entered the Snake River plateau in 1810. He built Fort Henry on Henry’s Fork on the upper Snake River, near modern St. Anthony, Idaho. However, this first American fur post west of the Rocky Mountains was abandoned the following spring.

The British-owned Hudson's Bay Company next entered Idaho and controlled the trade in the Snake River area by the 1820s.

The North West Company's interior department of the Columbia was created in June 1816, and Donald Mackenzie was assigned as its head. Mackenzie had previously been employed by Hudson's Bay and had been a partner in the Pacific Fur Company, financed principally by John Jacob Astor.

Despite their efforts, early American fur companies in this region had difficulty maintaining the long-distance supply lines from the Missouri River system into the Intermountain West. However, the Americans William H. Ashley and Jedediah Smith expanded the Saint Louis fur trade into Idaho in 1824.

During this time, the region which became Idaho was part of an unorganized territory known as Oregon Country, claimed by both the United States and Great Britain. The United States gained undisputed jurisdiction over the region in the Oregon Treaty of 1846, although the area was under the de facto jurisdiction of the Provisional Government of Oregon from 1843 to 1849. The original boundaries of Oregon Territory in 1848 included all three of the present-day Pacific Northwest states and extended eastward to the  Continental Divide. In 1853, areas north of the 46th Parallel became Washington Territory, splitting what is now Idaho in two. The future state was reunited in 1859 after Oregon became a state and the boundaries of Washington Territory were redrawn.


The territory of Idaho was officially organized on March 3, 1863, by Act of Congress. It existed from March 3, 1863, until July 3, 1890, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as Idaho.







Coat of Arms 1863

Seal 1863


No official record remains of the adoption of the first Great Seal of Idaho when it became a territory in 1863. The design is attributed to Silas D. Cochran, a clerk in the office of the Secretary of State.

The arms on the seal are derived from the arms of the State of Oregon from which they differ on minor points.

They are:

Arms: Per fess, the first a landscape with mountains in the distanceover which a sun rises, and a covered wagon drawn by four horses, riding to the dexter, in front of it a rider; the second a field  with a plow and a sheaf of grain, all proper. Between the the chief and the base a ribbon inscribed THE UNION.

Crest: The American eagle with arrows and branches of olive, hovering, proper

Exterior decoration: 30 five-pointed stars Or


Seal of the Territory of Idaho, 15.03.1866


The territorial seal of Idaho was adopted on the 15th of March 1866, and is described as follows:

“ Shield. Aview of the Shoshone River, with the mountains of Owyhee at the left; and a distant view of the mountains of Pannock and Bannock on the right, with a new moon in the sky, and a steamer on the river.

Supporters. Liberty with her sword at the right, and Peace with her palm branch on the left.

Crest. An elk’s head to the neck, with full antlers.

Motto. “Salve”. (Welcome) to the miner, to the farmer, to the merchant).

Around the seal is the legend SEAL OF THE TERRITORY OF IDAHO.’[1]


Achievement of  the State of Idaho,

A farmer and a miner added. On a print, 1904


The State seal of the State of Idaho, adopted March 14, 1891, by the First State Legislature of Idaho, was designed  by Miss Emma Edwards, of Stockton, California, a daughter of Hon. John C. Edwards, a pioneer of San Joaquin County, California, and formerly Governor of the State of Missouri. [2]

The law says that “the design drawn and executed by Miss Emma Edwards, of Boise City, and reported and recommended by the select joint committee to devise a great seal for the state with the Latin motto ‘Esto Perpetua,’ be adopted, and is hereby made the great seal of the State of Idaho.”[3]

Miss Edwards’ description of the design is as follows:

“’The question of Woman Suffrage was being agitated somewhat, and as leading men and politicians agreed that Idaho would eventuall give women the right  to vote, and as mining was the chief industry, and the mining man the largest financial factor of the state at the time, I made the figure of the man the most prominent figure in the design, while that of the woman, signifying justice, as denoted by the scales, liberty, as denoted by the liberty cap on the end of the spear, and equality with man as denoted by her position at his side, also signifies freedom. The pick and shovel held by the miner, and the ledge of rock beside which he stands, as well as the pieces of ore scattered about his feet, all indicate the chief occupation of the State. The stamp mille in the distance, which you can see by using [a] magnifying glass, is also typical of the mining interests of Idaho. The shield between the man and woman is emblematic of the protection they unite in giving the State. The large fir or pine tree in the foreground in the shield refers to Idaho’s immense timber interests. The husbandmanplowing on the left side of the shield, together with te sheaf of grain beneath the shield, are emblematic of Idaho’s agricultural resources, while the cornucopias, or horns of plenty, refer to the horticultural. Idaho has a game law, whicj protects the elk and moose. The elk’s head, therefore rises above the shield. The State flower, the wild syringa or mock orange, grows at the woman’s feet, while the ripenen wheat grown as high as her shoulder. The state signifies a new light in the galaxy of states. The translation of the Latin motto is, ‘It is perpetuated.’ or, ‘It is forever.’ The river depicted in the shield is out mighty Snake or Shoshoe river, a stream of great majesty.’”  [4]


Ć See representation of this achievement in the head of this article


The Motto

The State motto of Idaho, Esto Perpetua, meaning Mayest thou endure forever!, is “the supposed dying apastrophe of Pietro Sarpi (Fra Paolo) in speaking of his beloved Venice.” [5] Miss Emma Edwards of Boise [now] Mrs. Emma Edwards-Greene, who designed the State seal, says that the words Esto Perpetua “’breathe the prayer that the bounty and blessing of this land may forever benefit its people.’”[6]


Seal of the State of Idaho, 14.03.1891

Coloured version


Idaho State Area Command





That for the regiments and separate battalions of the Idaho Army National Guard:  From a wreath of colors, an elk's head caboshed Proper.


The elk's head with full antlers is the crest which appeared on the first territorial seal of Idaho adopted on 5 March 1866.


The crest was approved for color bearing organizations of the State of Idaho on 31 December 1923


Distinctive Unit Insignia




A gold color metal and enamel device 1 3/16 inches (3.02 cm) in height overall consisting of, at top a gold demi-sun between two blue snow-capped (white) mountain peaks bearing at the center a white elk's head and neck (front view) with antlers extending out in front of two green pine trees, one on each side, below the elk's head and between the trees a gold area charged with a stylized white syringa blossom, in base three wavy bars (blue, white, blue) all above a gold semi-circular scroll folded back at each end and inscribed "PROFESSIONAL FIRST" in blue letters.



The elk's head was suggested by the Idaho Army National Guard's shoulder sleeve insignia.  The pines symbolize Idaho's state tree (White Pine) and also allude to Boise, the capitol, known as the "The City of Trees."  The sun and mountain peaks refer to the scenic Rocky Mountains and the vast mining industry in the state.  The blossom on the gold background symbolizes the syringa (Idaho's state flower), and the plateaus of the southwestern part of the state, while the wavy bars in base allude to the many rivers and waterways of Idaho.



The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and noncolor bearing units of the Idaho Army National Guard on 19 March 1971.  The insignia was redesignated and amended to update the symbolism, effective 1 October 1982, for Headquarters, State Area Command, Idaho Army National Guard.


Shoulder Sleeve Insignia




On a blue (ultramarine) shield 3 inches (7.62 cm) in width and 2 15/16 (7.56 cm) in height overall, a gold elk shaded and detailed gold brown, facing to the front with head turned slightly to the right, couped at the shoulder issuing from a wreath of six twists alternating yellow and blue (grotto) all within a 1/8 inch (.32 cm) yellow border.



The elk's head to the neck with full antlers is the crest which appeared on the first territorial seal of Idaho adopted on 5 March 1866.  Idaho is a part of the "Oregon Territory" whose American title was established in 1846.  As the territory is purely American, the twists of the wreath are white and blue.



The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Idaho Army National Guard on 28 July 1975.  It was redesignated with description amended for Headquarters, State Area Command, Idaho Army National Guard on 30 December 1983.  (TIOH Dwg. No. A-1-586)


Indian Tribes


Coeur D'Alene Tribe of the Coeur D'Alene Reservation, Idaho



Kootenai Tribe of Idaho


Coat of Arms


Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho


Flag with coat of arms


Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation of Idaho  





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 © Hubert de Vries 2017-02-12




[1] Zieber, Eugene: Heraldry in America. Published by the Department of Heraldry of the Bailey, Banks and Biddle Company. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1895.P. 127-128. Citing: Hough’s “American Constitutions.”

[2] The following section from: Shankle, Georg Earlie:State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and other Symbols. The H.W. Wilson Comp.. New York, 1951.

[3] Idaho Laws, 1890-91: General Laws of the State of Idaho, Passes at the First Session of the State Legislature, Convened on the Eighth Day of December, A.D. 1890, and Adjourned on the Fourteenth Day of March, A.D. 1891, at Boise City, published by authority (Statesman Printing Company, Boise City, Idaho, 18901) p. 215-1

[4] Idaho State Historical Society Bulletin, Admission Nomber (Published Quarterly by the State Historical Si=ociety at Boise, Idaho) vol. 1, no 2, July 1, 1908, p. 15-16

[5] Classical and Foreign Quotations. W. Francius H. King (J. Whitaker ansd Sons, Limited, London, 1904), p. 90.

[6] History of Idaho: The Gem of the Mountains, James H. Hawley, Editor (The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1920) vol. 1, p. 229

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