The Flathead Reservation, home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai
Tribes, is located in western Montana on the western slope of the Rocky
Mountains. Topography includes Flathead Lake and other lakes and reservoirs,
as well as forests, all of which offer ample recreational opportunities. The
reservation is 75 miles south of Glacier National Park.
The reservation dates back to 1855, when representatives of the Salish, the
Kootenai and the Pend díOrielles Indians signed a treaty ceding some 20
million acres of ancestral land to the U.S. government, while retaining
approximately 1.3 million acres as their homeland. In 1904, land parcels
within the reservation were allotted to Indians and others. Since the 1940s,
the resident tribes have been buying back reservation lands, with more than
51 percent tribally owned by the mid-1990s.
Tribal enrollment is 6,800, and trust acreage of the reservation is 780,000.
The tribe is a developed business presence in the region, with tribal land
the dominant source of timber for the regionís lumber industry. Revenue is
derived from leasing fees from the state of Montana for the tribally owned
Kerr Dam, which supplies hydroelectric power to 15,000 commercial and
residential customers. The Confederated Tribes also co-manage the Mission
Valley Power Electric Utility with the state of Montana. A tribally owned
electronics firm manufactures solid-state electronics items, and the tribe
also owns a leasing firm and a construction firm.
Tourism, and a large tribally owned resort, are a significant source
of revenue; fishing, hunting, and camping fees are an additional source.
Other tourist attractions include the National Bison Range, the Mission
Mountain Tribal Wilderness, a hot springs facility, a historic mission
church, an 18-hole golf course, several marinas, a summer cultural center
with courses and exhibits, an annual Fourth of July celebration, and an
annual July powwow.
Salish and Kootenai College and Two Eagle River High School are both
operated by tribal government.