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 d’Orielles 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 region’s 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.