First Peoples, Two Countries

Despite an international line and national policies that divided families and toppled traditional governance, the first peoples of the Crown of the Continent have maintained cultural ties, languages, and inter-tribal cooperation across borders.

Historically, tribal territories shifted and overlapped, but at European contact the region was dominated by three linguistic groups. Long the great warriors of the eastern slopes, the Blackfoot Confederacy includes the Piikani, Siksiska and Blood/Kainai Nations in Alberta and the Blackfeet Nation in Montana.

On the west side are the mountain bands of the Ktunaxa Nation in British Columbia and the Ksanka/Kootenai in Montana. Farther south, the Interior Salish people, including the Bitterroot Salish and Pend d’Oreille, are closely related to other Salish-speaking nations in British Columbia, Washington, and Idaho. All of these nations and tribes invite visitors to their pow wows, museums, and interpretive centers.
 

Read more

Location

Collapse
Nearby
Latitude: 49.001842499 Longitude: -112.818603516 Elevation: 4344 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Steve Thompson

Community Highlights

Blackfoot Confederacy / Niitsitapi Selis (Salish) / Qlispe (Pend d’Oreille)

Our tribes, the easternmost in the Salish language family, occupied most of central and western Montana, northern Idaho, and eastern Washington. In the traditional way of life, we moved across this vast area gathering, hunting, and fishing the abundant and varied plants and animals. We still practice these traditional ways as we strive to keep our critically endangered language alive.

Today, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes integrate our cultural values and heritage into an advanced program of environmental and natural resource management on the Flathead Reservation and throughout our aboriginal territories for the benefit of future generations. — Tony Incashola, Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee and Clayton Matt, Natural Resource Director and Member of Salish Tribe

These are the traditional territories of the Blackfoot, going back thousands of years. All of this is sacred: lakes and rivers, the forest, the prairie, the mountains where our people go for vision quests. The water starts from this place and flows to the ocean from our land. Today, the biggest issue for the Blackfoot nations is clean drinking water and our legal water rights. We continue to negotiate with the government to protect our water. We understand that we ultimately are responsible for the protection of our territory, water, and the retention of our language and culture. — Earl Old Person, Chief of the Blackfeet Nation, MT

Ktunaxa / Ksanka / Kootenai

Our language is unrelated to any language in the world. Maybe that’s because our traditional territory in these mountains is so remote. Fewer than 50 people still speak fluent Ktunaxa. We made a dictionary and work with Kootenai elders in Montana to save our language from extinction. At the time of Creation, we were given our language and this territory to care for. We are still negotiating a treaty with Canada and British Columbia for rights to our ancestral homeland and to protect the water. Our language and our land go together. — Liz Gravelle, Ktunaxa Elder, Tobacco Plains, BC

Selis (Salish) / Qlispe (Pend d’Oreille)

Our tribes, the easternmost in the Salish language family, occupied most of central and western Montana, northern Idaho, and eastern Washington. In the traditional way of life, we moved across this vast area gathering, hunting, and fishing the abundant and varied plants and animals. We still practice these traditional ways as we strive to keep our critically endangered language alive. Today, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes integrate our cultural values and heritage into an advanced program of environmental and natural resource management on the Flathead Reservation and throughout our aboriginal territories for the benefit of future generations. — Tony Incashola, Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee and Clayton Matt, Natural Resource Director and Member of Salish Tribe.

Leave a Comment

Submit