Fort Belknap Indian Reservation (Montana)

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United States Gotoarrow.png Indigenous Peoples of the US Gotoarrow.png Montana, United States Genealogy Gotoarrow.png Indigenous Peoples of Montana Gotoarrow.png Fort Belknap Indian Reservation (Montana)

The Fort Belknap Indian Reservation is a federally-recognized reservation, located in north-central Montana, between Havre and Glasgow. It is primarily in Blaine County, with a smaller portion in Phillips County.

Established -- September 17, 1851 and 17 Oct. 1855
Agency (BIA) -- Fort Belknap Indian Agency at Harlem, Montana
Principal tribes -- Assiniboine and the Gros Ventre (Atsina), Blackfeet Nation, Flathead Tribes, Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians of MontanaNez Perce Tribe, Pend d'Oreilles, and Spokane Tribe
Population --  2010 census is 2,704 - Does not include non Indians[1] 1969: Tribal enrollment 3,557.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

Fort Belknap Reservation was established by Treaty of Oct. 17, 1855; unratified treaties of July 18, 1866, and July 13, and 15 and Sept. 1, 1868; Executive orders, July 5, 1873, and Aug. 19,1874; an act of Apr. 15, 1874; Executive orders, Apr. 13, 1875, and July 13,1880; agreement made Jan. 21, 1887, approved by Congress May 1, 1888; and an agreement made Oct. 9, 1895, approved by act of June 10, 1896.

The area of the reservation in 1908 was 497,600 acres. In 1900, the Reservation covered 537,600 acres. Later in the 1930s, more land was added on to the Fort Belknap Reservation with the support of Joseph Dussome and other Little Shell Chippewa leaders. Read more about that below. Today, Fort Belknap Reservation covers 648,920 acres or 1,014 sq. mi.[3].

Land records: Tribally-owned 162,932.63 adres.  Allotted land: 427,579.93.

Communities[edit | edit source]

Fort Belknap Agency:

2010 population is 1,293. Indians make up 96.6% of the population of Fort Belknap Agency. There are three distinct communities which make up Fort Belknap Agency.

Middle Fort Belknap Agency:

About a half a mile south of the main community of Fort Belknap Agency, is a cluster of housing units. It's population is a part of Fort Belknap Agency.

South Fort Belknap Agency:

About a half a mile south of Central Fort Belknap Agency, is another cluster of housing units. It's population is also a part of Fort Belknap Agency. It covers 45.76 sq. mi. Fort Belknap Agency covers a large area.

Hays:

2010 population is 843. Indians make up 93.2% of the population of Hays. Like Fort Belknap Agency, Hays is made up of at least five distinct communities.

South Hays:

About 0.9 miles to the southeast of the main area of Hays, is a cluster of housing units. It's population is a part of Hays. It is also located near the western slopes of the Little Rocky Mountains.

North Hays:

About 0.8 miles to the northeast of the main area of Hays, is another cluster of housing units. It's population is a part of Hays. It is also situated very near the Little Rocky Mountains.

Old Hays:

About 3.9 miles north of the main area of Hays, is another cluster of housing units. It's population is a part of Hays. It is not as close to the Little Rocky Mountains as the other communities. I named the small settlement after a street in the settlement.

Star Hill:

It is located in a narrow mountain valley over a half a mile southeast of South Hays. It's population is included with that of Hays. It is the only community located around Hays, that is in the mountains.

Hays covers 27.05 sq. mi. It covers a large area.The Little Shell Blackfeet Chippewas had a minor district at Hays. In 1939, the Hays district representative was probably Joseph Azure.

Lodge Pole: 2010 population is 265. Indians make up 97% of the population. Like both Fort Belknap Agency and Hays, Lodge Pole is made up of three distinct communities.

South Lodge Pole:

About 0.4 miles southeast of the main area of Lodge Pole, is a cluster of housing units. It's population is a part of Lodge Pole. It is located near the northeastern slopes of the Little Rocky Mountains.

North Lodge Pole:

About 0.8 miles north of the main area of Lodge Pole, is a new cluster of housing units or a new settlement. It is also located near the northeastern slopes of the Little Rocky Mountains. It's population is a part of Lodge Pole.

There are at least 11 distinct communities on the Fort Belknap Reservation. However, Reservation leaders follow County and State laws. Reservation leaders should have full authority over the 11 communities. They should issue each distinct community it's own community name and define each communities borders or village limits. They should also give each community the power of jurisdiction, or allow the citizens of each community to elect their community leaders.

In addition to the communities located on Fort Belknap Reservation, two others almost adjacent to the northern border of the Reservation are predominantly Indian. They are Dodson and Harlem. Dodson has a population of 124 according to the 2010 census. Indians make up over half of the population. Harlem has a population of 808 according to the 2010 census. Indians make up over 60% of the city's population. When including the Indian population of Dodson and Harlem, along with the Indian population south of Fort Belknap Reservation and Landusky and Zortman, the Reservations population is closer to 3,300.

Population Growth History[edit | edit source]

Between 1900, when the Reservation population was around 1,290, to around the time of the vote on the IRA, the population of Fort Belknap Reservation increased by only 75.

Since 1935, the population of Fort Belknap Reservation has increased from around 1,350 in 1935, to 2,738 in 2010. It has taken around 6 decades for the population to double. However, the predominantly Indian communities adjacent to Fort Belknap Reservation, bring the total Reservation population to over 3,300. It has actually nearly tripled in population since 1935.

Records[edit | edit source]

Many of the records of individual Indians living on the Fort Belknap Reservation were kept by the Fort Belknap Agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Others are kept by the Tribal Office.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Census 2000 Tribal Entity Counts for American Indian Reservations and Off-Reservation Trust Lands. U.S. Census Bureau, Geography Division. Available online. {Note: This census figure only accounts for tribal members living on the reservation or trust lands. Other enrolled tribal members may live off-reservation.)
  2. Indian Reservations A State and Federal Handbook. Compiled by The Confederation of American Indians, New York, N.Y. McFarland and Co. Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina, c. 1986. FHL book 970.1 In2
  3. "Montana Indian Reservations," Handbook of Indians North of Mexico, by Frederick Webb Hodge Available online.

3. The Confederation of American Indians.Indian Reservations A State and Federal Handbook c. 1986

ISBN 0-89950-200-8

Bibliography[edit | edit source]