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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.

For more information about the regions, funding, and other such resources visit

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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 purchase a tribal permit from one of the local area stores.

Glacier National Park, 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, Blackfeet Historic Trail and The Blackfeet Heritage Center. For more information, visit

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

Recreate Responsibly Plan Ahead, Play it Safe, and Leave No Trace.
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