American Indian Sites Glacier National Park & Western Montana

American Indian Sites

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Native Culture: A Rich Past, Present and Future

Montana is home to seven Indian reservations and 12 tribal nations that call various areas of the state home. Within these seven reservations are rich strongholds of American Indian heritage and places where tradition is revered, landscapes are sacred and annual gatherings offer glimpses into the native way of life.

This cultural heritage is a rich, colorful tapestry sewn together through art, music, dance, storytelling, industry and leisure. Time-honored traditions like pow wows tell a story that dates back generations and emanates the spirit of American Indian history. Within Glacier Country, you'll find the Flathead Indian Reservation—home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Blackfeet Nation—home to the Blackfeet Tribe.

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Blackfeet Nation

Located in northwest Montana, the Blackfeet Indian Reservation sits along the eastern edge of Glacier National Park. Encompassing 1.5 million acres, the Blackfeet Nation encompasses both rolling plains and the Rocky Mountain Front. Located within its boundaries are the communities of Babb, Browning, East Glacier Park, Heart Butte and St. Mary. The Blackfeet Indian Reservation is also home to numerous outdoor recreational activities that include hiking, boating, trail rides and guided trips. When recreating on the Blackfeet Nation, 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.

The Blackfeet Nation has two major events that provide a look into 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, traditional games and rodeo.

The Heart Butte Celebration occurs every year during the second week of August in the community of Heart Butte and is a traditional festival and Pow Wow.

Points of interest include the Museum of the Plains Indian, Blackfeet Historic Trail and The Blackfeet Heritage Center. For more information, visit www.blackfeetcountry.com.

Flathead Indian Reservation

Encompassing 1.317 million acres in northwest Montana is the Flathead Indian Reservation, home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are comprised of Bitterroot Salish, Pend d'Oreille and Kootenai tribes. Located within the reservation's boundaries are parts of Flathead Lake and the National Bison Range, as well as numerous hiking trails and fishing options. Tribal permits are required when recreating on the reservation and can be picked up at area stores.

The Flathead Indian Reservation hosts annual events that provide a look into native traditions. 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.

Points of interest include The People's Center, National Bison Range, Flathead Lake, Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge and St. Ignatius Mission.

Notable American Indian Sites

While Western Montana is home to both the Blackfeet Nation and the Flathead Indian Reservation, the history of our First Nations extends beyond the borders of the reservations.

Prior to moving to the Flathead Indian Reservation, the Salish Tribe resided in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Today, the Historic St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville serves as a portal into the past. Visitors can take a guided tour of the mission and grounds, as well as Chief Victor’s cabin. The cabin houses an impressive photo gallery that helps tell the story of the convergence of two cultures.

Another notable location is Travelers’ Rest State Park in Lolo. While Travelers’ Rest is most well-known as the campsite of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through modern-day Montana, it was originally used as a campsite and trail junction by the Salish, Pend’Oreille and Nez Perce tribes.

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American Indian Sites in Western Montana & Glacier National Park

Western Montana's Glacier Country

News from Glacier National Park: Currently all of the Going-to-the-Sun Road is open for travel.

Bird Woman Falls

An icon in Glacier National Park, Bird Woman Falls is a glistening 492-foot-high waterfall that cascades down the side of Mt. Oberlin. From West Glacier, travel the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Bird Woman Falls Overlook, located on the west side of the Continental Divide.

Trail of the Cedars

This short boardwalk trail (ADA accessible) takes visitors through an old growth cedar forest. It’s also the beginning of the Avalanche Lake Trail (just over two miles long) that leads to Avalanche Lake—one of the most popular day hikes in Glacier National Park. Trail of the Cedars is located about five and a half miles north of Lake McDonald Lodge.

Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road

If your time in Glacier National Park is limited, one must-see attraction is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This 50-mile long road takes travelers between St. Mary and West Glacier through the heart of the park, crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. There are numerous pullouts along the road, ideal for taking photographs and enjoying the scenery.

See a Glacier

As you’re traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road, pull over at Jackson Glacier Overlook (located east of Logan Pass). The overlook offers the best opportunity to see a glacier from the road.

Many Glacier Valley

Home to incredible mountains, active glaciers, abundant wildlife and miles of hiking trails, Many Glacier is located in the northeast section of Glacier National Park. Trails leave from this valley in numerous directions, with popular hiking destinations including Iceberg Lake, Grinnell Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel.

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