Salish Tribe

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Indigenous Peoples of Montana > Salish Tribe

Salish-men-4th of July- at Flathead Reservation, Montana1903.jpg
1990 10,246 [1]
1930 9,000 
??? ??? 

Regions with significant populations
Ancestral Homelands: Montana, Idaho. Oregon, Washington and Canada

Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.


Federally recognized

Linguistic Group


Cultural Group

not yet researched

Other Related Ethnic Groups

other tribes

Alternate Names and Spellings: Salish, Selis, Sqelix
See also: Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

Tribal Headquarters[edit | edit source]

The Salish in Montana are under the jurisdiction of:

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation
P. O. Box 278
Pablo, MT 59855
Phone: 406.675.2700
Fax: 406.675.2806

Other parts of the Salish are in Washington and British Columbia.

History[edit | edit source]

The Salish acquired horses in the 1700s, which made them a target of raiding parties of Blackfeet and other enemies.

The tribe assisted the Lewis and Clark Expedition with food and horses. The expedition was a catalyst for the fur trade which brought goods to make life easier, as well as diseases, alcohol and guns.

In the early 1840s one of their leaders had a "vision" of the "Blackrobes" who would come with spiritual teaching. The tribe was desirous to search out the "Blackrobes" and in 1840-1841 sent a group in search of them. At St. Joseph's Mission on the Potawatomi Reservation in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the group located Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet, who left with them for the Bitterroot Valley, where he established the St. Mary's Mission. Later the Catholics also established schools.

The Salish, along with many of their Indian neighbors, were in attendance at the Hellgate Treaty in 1855. Over twenty-two million acres of land was ceded to the U.S.

In 1872 many were forced from Bitterroot Valley to the Jocko Reservation. The last group was removed in 1891 to the Flathead Reservation.

The year 1935 marks the formation of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Montana.

** Salish and Kootenai intermarried with each other and with their white neighbors. Many have French or Scotch names, inherited from early-day traders and trappers who married Indian women.

Brief Timeline[edit | edit source]

1804-6: Lewis and Clark Expedition
1840-1841: A group traveled to St. Joseph's Mission on the Potawatomi Reservation at Council Bluffs, Iowa to meet the "Blackrobes" requesting they come and bring spiritual teaching. Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet left for the Bitteroot Valley, where he established the St. Mary's Mission
1855: Hellgate Treaty: ceded over 22 million acres to the U.S.
1864: Catholics established a boys and girls boarding school on the reservation
1872: The Salish were forced from their homeland in the Bitteroot Valley to the Jocko Reservation (later the Flathead Reservation)
1890: Ursuline nuns began a kindergarten which later grew into a grade school and then a high school.
1891: Forced removal of last few tribal members from the Bitteroot Valley to the Flathead Reservation

1904: Flathead Allotment Act.

1910: As result of the Dawes Act, homesteaders became the majority landholders on the Flathead Reservation
1935: The Salish and Kootenai tribes of Montana joined to become The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

Additional References to the History of the Tribe[edit | edit source]

Records[edit | edit source]

The majority of records of individuals were those created by the agencies. Some records may be available to tribal members through the tribal headquarters.They were (and are) the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and were charged with maintaining records of the activities of those under their responsibility. Among these records are:

Agencies[edit | edit source]

The following agencies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs had jurisdiction over the Salish for the time periods indicated. BIA agencies were responsible to keep such records as census rolls, allotment (land) records, annuity rolls, school records, correspondence, and other records of individual Indians under their jurisdiction. For details, see the page for the respective agency.

The agencies which had jurisdiction over the Bitterroot Salish in Montana were:

  • Flathead Agency, 1854-1935
  • Confederated Salish & Kootenai Agency, 1935-present

Census[edit | edit source]

The Bureau of Indian Affairs compiled annual Indian Census Rolls on many of the reservations from 1885 to 1940. They list the names of individuals, their age, and other details about each person enumerated. For more information about these records, click here.

Treaties[edit | edit source]

During the latter part of the 18th Century and most of the 19th Century, treaties were negotiated between the federal government and individual Indian tribes. The treaties provide helpful information about the history of the tribe, but usually only include the names of those persons who signed the treaty. For more information about treaties, click here.

Tribal Office Records[edit | edit source]

The Tribal Office is responsible for enrollment records, vital records, tribal police records, tribal court records, employment records and many others. They are an entirely different set of records from those kept by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Most of them remain in the Tribal Office. For details, contact that office at the address for the Tribal Headquarters listed above.

Important Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. U.S. Census, 1990

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

General[edit | edit source]

  • Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives; Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1906 Available online.
  • Klein, Barry T., ed. Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. Nyack, New York: Todd Publications, 2009. 10th ed. WorldCat 317923332; FHL 970.1 R259e; WorldCat 37475188; FHL book 970.1 R259e.
  • Malinowski, Sharon and Sheets, Anna, eds. The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1998. 4 volumes. Includes: Lists of Federally Recognized Tribes for U.S., Alaska, and Canada – pp. 513-529 Alphabetical Listing of Tribes, with reference to volume and page in this series Map of “Historic Locations of U.S. Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Canadian Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Mexican, Hawaiian and Caribbean Native Groups” Maps of “State and Federally Recognized U.S. Indian Reservations. WorldCat 37475188; FHL book 970.1 G131g.
Vol. 1 -- Northeast, Southeast, Caribbean
Vol. 2 -- Great Basin, Southwest, Middle America
Vol. 3 -- Arctic, Subarctic, Great Plains, Plateau
Vol. 4 -- California, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Islands
  • Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. 20 vols., some not yet published. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978– .