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The Flathead Indian Reservation is a federally-recognized reservation, located north of Interstate 90 between Missoula and Kalispell,[1] mostly within the boundaries of Lake County. Small portions of the reservation are also located in Sanders, Missoula, and Flathead Counties.

Established -- 16 July 1855
Agency (BIA) -- Flathead Indian Agency at Pablo, Montana[2]
Principal tribes -- Flathead Indians (the Flathead are the Flathead, Kalispel Indians, Pend_d'Oreille_Indians and Spokane Indians - all spoke the same language which is an admixture of Chippewa Algonquin and non Algonquin - and Kootenai  who are a mixture of Chippewa Algonquin and non Algonquin - and the Nez Perce Indians who are the Amikwa Chippewas who originally lived between Lakes Superior, Huron, and Nipissing in Ontario. Amikwa Chippewas are also known as the Nez Perce. And the Chippewa Indians who are known in Montana as the Little Shell Tribe, Nez Perce, and Swan Creek and Black River Chippewas. They are properly called the (Confederated Salish and Kootenai).[3]
Population -- 2010 census is 7,042 but when including mixed bloods it's 9,328 - Does not include non Indians[4].
Approx. 7,042 live on the Flathead Reservation in 2010.[5]  1969: Tribal enrollment 5,296.



The Flathead Reservation Historical Society has compiled a time line of historical events, which lists important happenings from pre-contact to the year 2000.

The reservation was originally named the Jocko Reservation, as it was located on the Jocko River. It was created by a Treaty of July 16, 1855 (XII, 975). Some of reservation land has been allotted to individual Indians under acts of Apr. 23, 1904 (XXIII, 302), Feb. 8, 1887 (XXIV, 388), and Feb. 28,1891(XXVI, 791). Historical evidence indicates the Flathead Reservation may have extended into the Bitterroot Valley. It is clearly stated in the July 16, 1855 Hell Gate Treaty, that the Bitterroot Valley was wanted to be included as a Reservation. In fact, Indians were still living in the Bitterroot Valley until October 1891. United States soldiers forced them to relocate to the Flathead Reservation in that year.

They may have been the subjects of chief Aeneas or Ignace Paul. It is widely accepted that chief Charlo was the principle leader of the Bitterroot Valley Indians. However, chief Paul's father settled down to live in the Bitterroot Valley about 1816, after moving from Michigan. Chief Charlo had to be forced to gather his people together for the trek to the Flathead Reservation. He had great resentment against the whites.

In the early 1880s, the United States wanted to negotiate a treaty in which a railroad would be built across the Reservation. Chief Arlee jumped at the chance to receive the $1 million. Chief Paul had other worries to tend to because many of his subjects were living north and east of the Flathead Reservation. Supposedly a negotiator for the railroad and government of the United States, promised to negotiate on behalf of the Flathead Reservation about having the Reservation enlarged on the north. If land was added on to Flathead Reservation, it extends from the northeast part of the Reservation, up to the Canadian border.

Frank Linderman wrote in one of his books that the region north of the Flathead Reservation was still occupied by chief Paul's subjects in the 1880s. Linderman described the region as a dangerous one in which every now and then Indians killed some whites. The Indians were Chippewas who white historians have named the Kootenai. The canoes of the Kootenai look identical to the canoes of the Chippewas. Western Montana has some lakes but not as many as found in the Great Lakes region where some of today's Kootenai claim they originally lived. That is Michigan.

1882, September 2, the Flathead, Kootenay and the Upper Pend d'Oreille Indians of the Flathead reservation in Montana Territory sold a portion of their reservation for the use of the Northern Pacific Railroad.  (Senate Ex. Doc. #15, 48th Congress, 1st session).

1882 Land Loss & Creation Of Flathead Reservation

In the last paragraph, leaders of Flathead Reservation were said to have sold to the United States, Flathead Reservation land for use for a railroad through the Reservation totaling 1,430 acres. It was 200 feet wide by 53 miles long. That may not have happened. A pdf book about the Paul chiefs of Flathead Reservation (they were not Iroquois), tells a similar but yet quite different account of what transpired. Northern Pacific Railroad petitioned for and were ceded the land they requested for. However, what makes this event very suspicious is what chief Arlee requested for.

Arlee demanded for one million dollars. Quite a bit of money for 1,430 acres. Good in todays market for buying land but not in 1882. At that time you could buy land for less than $5 an acre, and in many cases for less than $1 an acre. What chief Arlee was requesting for was the sell of land totaling far more than 1,430 acres. That pdf book claims that assistant attorney general, Joseph McCammon, promised Flathead Reservation leaders, he would urge the United States government to move the northern boundary of Flathead Reservation, from the north-south midpoint of Flathead Lake, to the Canadian border.

In 1895, chief Little Dog of the Blackfeet Reservation, reached an agreement with the United States in which the Blackfeet agreed to Lease (cede according to the United States) Blackfeet Reservation land. According to chief Little Dog, the land was located in the eastern part of Blackfeet Reservation. According to the United States, it was the western part of Blackfeet Reservation. Farm land is involved so chief Little Dogs version is the truth. Chief Little Dog originally requested for $3 million but received only $1.5 million. A total of several hundred thousand acres was Leased to the United States for 99 years.

Anyone who knows about how the United States robbed Indian Nations by buying Indian leaders, know something is very off about the September 2, 1882 sell of Flathead Reservation land to the United States. It is obvious chief Arlee and other Flathead Reservation leaders, were very willing to sell Flathead Reservation land if the price was agreeable to them. One million dollars for 1,430 acres is ludicrous.

Chief Arlee also told McCammon that "We Only Want A Fair Bargain." He claimed the leaders who signed the 1855 treaty, had no idea about their country (it's boundaries) when Governor Stevens arrived and commenced talking about Flathead country. Chief Arlee went on to claim the Flathead leaders who signed the 1855 treaty, were Stupid.

Either they sold the northern part of Flathead Reservation (from the midpoint of Flathead Lake to Crow Creek). The new Flathead Reservation follows Crow Creek to Flathead River then to the mouth of Bitterroot River then follows Bitterroot River west from where the Bitterroot River supposedly turns northwest but using google earth you can see Bitterroot River takes on a lighter color as it goes north from it's mouth and when it reaches the area where it supposedly goes northwest, the Bitterroot River keeps it's lighter color as it goes west towards Hot Springs but becomes much darker as it goes northwest, which leaves you thinking the real Bitterroot River goes west then to the southwest.

Just before reaching Prongua Road, it merges with another creek or river and either one then goes to the south towards Highway 28 where Camas Creek is alongside Highway 28 to Flathead River. So from where HIghway 28 enters Flathead Reservation, and all land west of Camas Creek to the Flathead River, is the northwestern part of Flathead Reservation.

So from where Highway 28 enters Flathead Reservation, to where Camas Creek begins to follow Highway 28, north along Highway 28 to where Baker Road merges with Highway 28, then to the creek or river which may be Bitterroot River, then to Bitterroot River, then to where the confluence of Bitterroot River and Crow Creek is, then following Crow Creek to N. Crow Creek Road then east to the Mission Mountains, is the northern boundary of the new Flathead Reservation.

Or it's the other way. Flathead Reservation possibly extends to the Canadian border. However, McCammon was not going to request that the United States government add land to Flathead Reservation. If anything, the United States was going to take Reservation land. Or there was not a Flathead Reservation in 1882 and Flathead Reservation was actually created in 1882. There is the July 16, 1855 Hell Gate Treaty we have to include. However, the leaders who signed that treaty probably didn't have the authority to cede Indian land. Click this link http://www.anishinabe-history.com/Paul.pdf to read about this event. It's on page 4 of the PDF book and page 5 of the acrobat reader.

The pdf book is about the Paul chiefs of Flathead Reservation. They were Chippewas who originally lived in the Great Lakes region and in Quebec. Read the Seven Fires Prophecy. Chief Paul was reported to have not signed the July 16, 1855 treaty. Nor were chiefs Victor and his son Charlo, who remained in the Bitterroot Valley until 1891. What happened on September 2, 1882, may be related to the Turtle Mountain Reservation which was supposedly created in 1882.

Rocky Boys Reservations

Chief Rocky Boy was very aware of what the United States was going to do about Reservation land. After the 1887 Dawes Act was passed by the United States, it would take well over a decade for most Reservations to have their farm land stolen. That includes Flathead Reservation. Either the larger or smaller one. In any case the United States was not going to honor treaty. They were going to allot land to individual Indians and allow them to sell their land to non Indians. Even if Chippewa leaders protested.

In early March of 1902, chief Rocky Boy hired an Anaconda lawyer then sent a letter to President Roosevelt requesting for Reservation. That information was printed in the March 8, 1902 Butte Inter Mountain. In the May 14, 1902 Butte Inter Mountain, it was reported that chief Rocky Boys request for Reservation was denied. However, it was also reported in that same May 14, 1902 article, that chief Rocky Boy intended to ask for the privilege of allowing members of his band who wish to do so to settle upon surveyed or unsurveyed land.

Then in the June 5, 1902 Butte Inter Mountain, it was reported that the Chippewas had received word that each of their number was entitled to 160 acres of land somewhere in this vast country. Flathead Reservation of course.You must remember that during those times several thousand Chippewas were living throughout the promised Reservation the United States promised the Chippewas through treaty agreements. That includes in the Swan Valley, north Flathead Valley, southwest Montana, what is now the Bob Marshall Wilderness Region, north central Montana, and eastern Montana including the Crow-Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

Chippewa land surveyors were supposedly sent out to look for land. In the June 5, 1902 article, they claimed the Chippewa land surveyors were sent to northern Idaho, Tobacco Plains (it's near Eureka, Montana), and the St. Mary River region in the Blackfeet Reservation. However, Flathead Reservation is the location.Chief Rocky Boy was at home at Flathead Reservation. He was from western Montana.

Thomas Downs Recommendation

On October 3, 1903, Indian Agent Thomas Downs reported that it was difficult to ascertain the identity and character of the Indians because of their migratory habits. He recommended that arrangements be made with Flathead Reservation, to allow the Chippewas led by chief Rocky Boy who numbered over 400 (many reports claim a little over 100 but even 400 is too low) to settle on the Flathead Reservation.

Senator Gibson was advised of Downs report and introduced a bill (S. 2705, Fifty-eighth Congress, first session). On January 8, 1904, the department reporting on the bill promoted the bill should be enacted. They claim the bill failed but that is incorrect. Later in 1904, the McCumber Agreement (aka 10¢ An Acre Treaty) was to be voted on. They needed chief Rocky Boys support.

In the August 5, 1904 Billings Gazette, it was reported that chief Rocky Boy traveled to Missoula to meet with congressman Dixon. Chippewas were living adjacent to Mount Jumbo then. Chief Rocky Boy knew congressman Dixon had the power to grant chief Rocky Boy Chippewa Reservations within Flathead Reservation. It was reported that congressman Dixon told chief Rocky Boy he did not have the power to help the Chippewas which is incorrect. You must remember that the Flathead Reservation Land Allotment Act was passed by the United States in 1904. It is no coincidence that chief Rocky Boy was negotiating to have new Chippewa Reservations set aside within Flathead Reservation at that time.

They were preparing for the eventual settlement of Flathead Reservation by white settlers and to prevent violence when the allotment process was conducted. That happened in 1908 which is when the first round of allotments happened and also the same year as the Swan Valley Massacre.

Where Are Rocky Boys Reservations Located?

Chief Rocky Boy was granted several Chippewa Reservations within Flathead Reservation. They may have become official in 1908 or 1909. We know at least 400 Chippewas were to be granted 160 acres of land. That's close to 65,000 acres. We just don't know where these small Chippewa Reservations within Flathead Reservation, are located at. The State of Montana was granted over 69,000 acres of Flathead Reservation land, for school purposes. That is where the Chippewa Reservations within Flathead Reservation are located. At least most of them. Remember chief Rocky Boy requested to allow Chippewas who wish to do so to settle on surveyed or unsurveyed land. And you must also remember that Flathead Reservation may have been south of Crow Creek at that time. At issue was Mission Valley and the refusal of the Unites States to not honor treaty.

Wild Horse Island is one location. However, the United States later recanted. Today, the island is known as Flathead Lake - Wild Horse Island State Park. Big Arm and Elmo are located very near Wild Horse Island. Another is Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge (it covers 4,027 acres) and the region to the east and northeast. Clarice Paul Homesite, Kicking Horse, Pache Homesite, and Woodcock Homesite are located in that area. However, if Flathead Reservation was actually created in 1882, it's a part of that Reservation. Another very small area is located where Turtle Lake is. And the National Bison Range is another location. Old Agency is located on it's west side, while St. Ignatius is located on it's east side. However, if Flathead Reservation was actually created in 1882, it's a part of that Reservation.

Another possible location is located very near Mission Reservoir  Mission Dam Homesite is located there. However, if Flathead Reservation was actually created in 1882, it's a part of that Reservation. And another region is Pablo National Wildlife Refuge (it covers 2,473 acres). Pablo, which is the capiltal of Flathead Reservation, is adjacent to Pablo National Wildlife Refuge on the extreme southeast. Including the 4.9 sq. mi. Pablo covers, the size is 5,609 acres. Nearly all these areas are protected. And all are connected to the mountains which are owned by Flathead Reservation. That depends on if you agree that all of Flathead Reservation is intact, or if you agree that the northern part of Flathead Reservation north of Crow Creek was ceded. Since the current Flathead Reservation is depicted on maps as being the Reservation set aside on July 16, 1855, most will accept that.

However, the Chippewas of Flathead Reservation rather think of these areas as the Flathead Reservation. Some do know chief Rocky Boy is very important to Flathead Reservation.


Flathead Reservation has at least 24 communities. Most are predomonantly white. However, throughout the Reservation are numerous other areas which have clusters of housing units which are not categorized as a cdp, city, town, or village. They are Homesites. All are probably predominantly Indian. The total number of these clusters of housing units is near 15. Flathead Reservation may have around 20 communities which are predominantly Indian. Besides the communities listed below, there are several others which are not incorporated as a cdp, city, town, or homesite.

  1. Pablo: It is the capital of Flathead Reservation. Pablo is a census designated place or cdp. The 2010 population is 2,254. Indians make up 1,237 of the cdp's population. Mixed bloods make up 170 of Pablo's population.
  2. Arlee: It is located in the southern part of the Reservation. The 2010 population is 636. Indians make up 304 of the cdp's population. Mixed bloods make up 39 of Arlee's population. Arlee was the 2nd Flathead Reservation Agency.
  3. Old Agency: It is located on the west side of the National Bison Range. The 2010 population is 107. Indians make up 81 of the community's population. Mixed bloods make up 4 of Old Agency's population. Old Agency was the 1st Flathead Reservation Agency.
  4. Elmo: It is located in the northwestern part of the Reservation. Elmo is 4 miles west of Wild Horse Island. The 2010 population is 180. Indians make up 134 of the cdp's population. Mixed bloods make of 4 of Elmo's population.
  5. Turtle Lake: it is located in the northeastern part of the Reservation. The 2010 population is 209. Indians make up 150 of the cdp's population. Mixed bloods make up of 17 of the community's population.
  6. St. Ignatius: It is located in the southern part of Flathead Valley or southern Mission Valley. It is on the east side of the National Bison Range. The 2010 population is 842. Indians make up 357 of the city's population. Mixed bloods make up 73 of the population of St. Ignatius.
  7. Evaro: It is located in the extreme southern part of the Reservation. Evaro is a cdp which covers a large area. The 2010 population is 322. Indians make up 145 of Evaro's population. Mixed bloods make up 30 of the community's population.
  8. Alexander Lane Homesite: It is located in the northwestern part of the Reservation. It is about a third of a mile south of Elmo. It's population is probably included with Elmo's.
  9. Arlee Homesite: It is located a few blocks north of Arlee. The population of Arlee Homesite is included with the population of Arlee.
  10. Clarice Paul Homesite: It is located 1.6 miles southeast of Ronan. The population of Clarice Paul Homesite is probably included with Ronan's zip code area population.
  11. Dayton Homesite: It is located in the northwestern part of the Reservation. It's population may be included with nearby Dayton.
  12. Mission Dam Homesite: It is located 2.9 miles east of St. Ignatius. It is almost adjacent to Mission Reservoir. It's population is probably included with the population of the zip code area of St. Ignatius.
  13. Pache Homesite: It is located a half a mile east of Ronan. It's population is included with the population of Ronan's zip code area.
  14. Salish Homesite: It is located adjacent to St. Ignatius on the south side of Mission Creek. It's population is included with the zip code area population of St. Ignatius
  15. Schley Homesite: It is located in the southern part of the Reservation, a few miles south of Arlee. It's population is either included with Evaro's zip code area population, or Arlee's zip code area's population.
  16. Woodcock Homesite: It is located 2.5 miles southeast of Ronan and 1 mile east of Clarice Paul Homesite. It's population is probably included with Ronan's zip code area population.


Among their historical leaders are chief Ignace Paul and several other Paul chiefs, chief Victor, his son chief Charlo, chief Arlee, and chief Rocky Boy of course. Interestingly, a chief named Moses signed both the July 16, 1855 Hell Gate and the October 17, 1855 Blackfeet Stevens Treaties. He may be the same chief Moses of Washington State who refused to sign the Stevens Treaty involving his land around the Yakima Reservation region in Washington State.

For more information about the Chippewas (aka the Anishinabe) who live in the Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Alberta, and British Columbia region, click this www.wilkesweb.us/algonquin/nations.htm link. It will help you learn more about the Flathead Reservation.


Many of the records of individual Indians living on the Flathead Reservation were kept by the Flathead Agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, located in Pablo, Montana. Others are kept by the Tribal Office.

In 1905, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs assigned Special Agent Thomas Downs to investigate the enrollment of the Indians of the Flathead Reservation. The National Archives has microfilmed the resulting documents as their Microcopy M1350, consisting of 3 rolls of microfilm. These records are available at the National Archives and their Regional Archives, and at other research institutions, including the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The records include census rolls for 1903, 1905, and 1908, as well as applications for enrollment and Agent Downs' field notes. It includes members of all tribes then living on the Flathead Reservation, including the Flathead, Kootenai, Pend d'Oreille, Kalispel, and Spokane tribes.

Land records: Tribally-owned land: 558,216.44 Allotted land: 56,869.08. [6]

Important Websites

Flathead Reservation Historical Society

http://thorpe.ou.edu/IRA/IRAbook/tribalgovpt1tblA.htm IRA population estimates for Indian Reservation Agencies 1930s

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/Kappler/Vol1/HTML_files/APP1027.html 1902 population of Indian Reservation Agencies


  1. Montana Official State Travel Information Site, Flathead Reservation
  2. Montana Official State Travel Information Site, Flathead Reservation
  3. Montana Official State Travel Information Site, Flathead Reservation
  4. 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.)
  5. Montana Official State Travel Information Site, Flathead Reservation
  6. 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


  • Confederation of American Indians. Indian Reservations: A State and Federal Handbook. Jefferson, North Caroline: McFarland & Co., c1986. WorldCat 14098308; FHL book 970.1 In2.
  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #30, 1906. This publication lists the 22 states which had reservations in 1908. Available online.
  • Kappler, Charles J. Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1902. 7 volumes. WorldCat 74490963; FHL book 970.1 K142iAvailable online.
  • Klein, Barry T., ed. Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. Nyack, New York: Todd Publications, 2009. 10th ed. WorldCat 317923332; FHL book 970.1 R259e.
  • Prucha, Francis Paul. Atlas of American Indian Affairs. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1991 WorldCat 257331735; FHL book 970.1 P95aa
  • Prucha, Francis Paul, ed. Documents of United States Indian Policy. 3rd Edition. Lincoln, Nebraska: Univeresity of Nebraska Press, 2000. WorldCat 50416280; FHL book 970.1 P95d.
  • Prucha, Francis Paul. Guide to the Military Posts of the United States, 1789-1895. Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, c1964. WorldCat 522839; FHL book 973 M2pf.
  • Schmeckebier, Laurance F. The Office of Indian Affairs: Its History, Activities, and Organization. Service Monographs of the United States Government; no. 48. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1927. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, 1972.  WorldCat 257893; FHL book 973 B4b v. 48.
  • Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. 20 vols., some not yet published. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978– .
Volume 1 -- Not yet published
Volume 2 -- Indians in Contemporary Society (pub. 2008) -- WorldCat 234303751
Volume 3 -- Environment, Origins, and Population (pub. 2006) -- WorldCat 255572371
Volume 4 -- History of Indian-White Relations (pub. 1988) -- WorldCat 19331914; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.4.
Volume 5 -- Arctic (pub. 1984) -- WorldCat 299653808; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.5.
Volume 6 -- Subarctic (pub. 1981) -- WorldCat 247493742; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.6.
Volume 7 -- Northwest Coast (pub. 1990) -- WorldCat 247493311
Volume 8 -- California (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 13240086; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.8.
Volume 9 -- Southwest (pub. 1979) -- WorldCat 26140053; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.9.
Volume 10 -- Southwest (pub. 1983) -- WorldCat 301504096; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.10.
Volume 11 -- Great Basin (pub. 1986) -- WorldCat 256516416; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.11.
Volume 12 -- Plateau (pub. 1998) -- WorldCat 39401371; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.12.
Volume 13 -- Plains, 2 vols. (pub. 2001) -- WorldCat 48209643
Volume 14 -- Southeast (pub. 2004) -- WorldCat 254277176
Volume 15 -- Northwest (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 356517503; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.15.
Volume 16 -- Not yet published
Volume 17 -- Languages (pub. 1996) -- WorldCat 43957746
Volume 18 -- Not yet published
Volume 19 -- Not yet published
Volume 20 -- Not yet published
  • Tiller, Veronica E. Velarde. American Indian Reservations and Trust Areas. [Washington, DC]: Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1996. WorldCat 35209517; FHL book 970.1 T463a.
  • United States Department of Commerce, Frederick B. Dent, Secretary. Federal and State Reservations and Trust Areas. 1974. FHL book 970.1 Un3fe/1974.
  • United States Department of the Interior. Executive Orders Relating to Indian Reservations. Washington: [United States] Government Printing Office, 1912 (v. 1), 1922 (v. 2). Vol. 1 – May 14, 1855 to July 1, 1912. Vol. 2 – July 1, 1912 to July 1, 1922. FHL film 1440543 Items 8-9.
  • United States Federal and State Indian Reservations, Map. Available online.
  • Waldman, Carl. Atlas of the North American Indian. New York: Facts on File, 2009. 3rd ed. WorldCat 244771132; FHL book 970.1 W146a 2009.
  • Waldman, Carl. Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. New York, New York: Facts on File, 2006. 3rd ed. WorldCat 14718193; FHL book 970.1 W146e 2006.


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