Tribal Nations in Western Montana and Glacier National Park

Tribal Nations

History and Culture of American Indians in Western Montana

History and Culture of American Indians in Western Montana

Montana is home to seven Indian reservations and the federally recognized Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, all rich strongholds of American Indian heritage and places where tradition is revered, landscapes are sacred and annual gatherings offer glimpses into the way of life of the Indian people.

This cultural heritage is a rich, colorful tapestry of art, music, dance, storytelling, industry and leisure. Time-honored traditions like pow wows honor the spirit of the American Indian while telling an imperative story that dates back generations. Within Glacier Country, you'll find the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation and the Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Reservation.

Blackfeet Nation

For thousands of years, the Blackfeet have occupied the Rocky Mountain region. Originally nomads following the buffalo migration, the Blackfeet are made up of four bands—North Piegan, South Piegan, Blood and Siksika, though members of the Blackfeet Nation in the U.S. primarily descend from the South Piegan. The Blackfeet people honor the land and utilize it for cultural and spiritual purposes.

The Blackfeet Nation has two major events that display the tribe's native traditions and customs. North American Indian Days—held every year during the second week of July—is one of the largest gatherings of North American tribes from throughout the United States and Canada. Festivities include a parade, traditional and fancy dancing, drumming, customary games and a rodeo.

The Heart Butte Celebration—a time-honored festival and pow wow—occurs every year during the second week of August in the community of Heart Butte.

In northwest Montana, the Blackfeet Reservation sits along the eastern edge of Glacier National Park encompassing nearly 1.5 million acres of rolling plains and Rocky Mountain Front. Located within reservation boundaries are the communities of Babb, Browning, East Glacier Park, Heart Butte and St. Mary. Recreational activities include hiking, boating, trail rides and guided trips. When recreating on the Blackfeet Reservation, be sure to first purchase a tribal permit.

Glacier National Park, part of a region called the “Backbone of the World” by the Blackfeet Tribe, plays an important role in the history of the Blackfeet Nation. To learn about the park from the perspective of the Blackfeet Tribe, book a guided tour with Sun Tours.

Points of interest include the Museum of the Plains Indian and Blackfeet Historic Trail. Please note, access to some areas on reservations may be prohibited to non-tribal members. Please respect and obey these areas, which should be marked with signage.

Flathead Indian Reservation

The Flathead Indian Reservation is home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, comprised of the Bitterroot Salish, Pend d'Oreille and Kootenai tribes. A rich oral history and a spiritual tradition of respect for the natural environment sustains the way of life for the tribes today.

Annual events on the Flathead Indian Reservation honor the traditions of the Indian people. The Annual Arlee 4th of July Celebration has been held consecutively for more than 100 years and includes an encampment, competition dancing, drumming and traditional games. The Standing Arrow Pow Wow is held annually during the 3rd weekend in July and includes drumming, dancing and traditional dance and food.

The reservation encompasses 1.317 million acres in northwest Montana. Parts of Flathead Lake and the CSKT Bison Range are located within the reservation's boundaries, as well as many hiking trails and fishing options. Tribal permits are required when recreating on the reservation and can be picked up at area stores.

Points of interest include Three Chiefs Cultural Center, CSKT Bison Range, Flathead Lake, Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge and St. Ignatius Mission.

Take Home a Treasure From the Tribal Nations in Western Montana

Buy Authentic Montana American Indian Arts and Crafts

While visiting the Indian Nations in Western Montana, purchasing authentic American Indian arts and crafts helps preserve tradition, and gives you something meaningful to remember and appreciate your time spent in Montana's Glacier Country. The following link offers important information about buying authentic Montana America Indian art and craftwork (rather than misrepresentations) from certified American Indian artisans.

Spend Two Days Exploring the Blackfeet Indian Reservation

Spend Two Days Exploring the Flathead Indian Reservation

Beyond the Reservations

Featured Listings

Big Arm Resort
44297 A St.
Big Arm, MT 59910
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Gray Wolf Peak Casino
20750 U.S. Highway 93. N.
Missoula, MT 59808
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Iron Shield Creative
PO Box 2241
Browning, MT 59417
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Kwataqnuk Resort & Casino
49708 U.S. Highway 93 E.
Polson, MT 59860
406.883.3636 | 800.882.6363
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Museum of the Plains Indian
19 Museum Loop
Browning, MT 59417
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Sun Tours
408 Lindhe Ave.
East Glacier Park, MT 59434
406.732.9220 | 800.786.9220
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Sun Water Boat Tours
146 W. Shore Road
St. Mary, MT 59417
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Backpacker's Ferry
Alt. Phone: 406.890.5847
East Glacier Park, MT 59434
CSKT Bison Range
58355 Bison Range Road
Moiese, MT 59824
Camp Kapapa
27885 Old U.S. Highway 93
Elmo, MT 59915
Cattle Baron Supper Club
3990 U.S. Highway 89
Babb, MT 59411
Eastside Glacier Park RV
3876 U.S. Highway 89 W.
Babb, MT 59411
Glacier Peaks Hotel
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Indigenous Made Montana

Missoula, MT 59801
Native Fish Keepers, INC
408 Sixth Ave. E.
Polson, MT 59860
Native Life
414 Central Ave. W.
Browning, MT 59417
Qene's Catering

Arlee, MT 59821
Simply 406 Bakery, Jams & Jerky

Polson, MT 59860
The Clarke Gallery
900 State Highway 49
East Glacier Park, MT 59434
Three Chiefs Cultural Center
36042 Major Houle Road
Pablo, MT 59855
Tsiikaa" tiyiikiitsii’p: People’s Market
20722 U.S. Highway 2 W.
East Glacier Park, MT 59434