BITTERROOT SALISH

JOE LAMOOSE

Joe LaMoose was a famous member of the Flathead tribe in Western Montana. In 1877, Chief Victor Charlo commanded LaMoose, with scout Alex Matt and Chief Victor's son, Martin Charlo, to meet Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce in Lolo Pass and guide them through the Bitterroot Valley. Chief Joseph was informed that if he or any of his braves harmed any person or property of any white man in the Bitterroot Valley, the Nez Perce would have to answer to the Salish and their allies.

 

Joe LaMoose guided the Nez Perce for 32 days down Lolo Canyon, south through the Bitterroot without trouble.

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BITTERROOT SALISH

SAM

In 1911, 20 years after the Salish were forced from their homeland in the Bitterroot Valley, 300 tribal members with their friends returned to Stevensville, traveling 70 miles by horse and wagon, making their way through Missoula. Among those taking the journey was Big Sam. He was accompanied by Chief Martin Charlo, Antoine Moiese and Mary Arlee. Each would have been able to remember with sadness how they were forced to leave the Bitterroot Valley,

accompanied by soldiers. 

 

The tribal council in Arlee made arrangements with the local Chamber of  Commerce for a three-day celebration. Alex Matt, from Arlee, is seen in the picture on the right with Sam..

In July 1855, Sam was present when the Hellgate Treaty was negotiated between the US government and the Salish (“Flathead”), Ql̓ispé (“Upper Pend d’Oreille”), and Ksanka (Kootenai). Under the terms of the treaty, the Tribes ceded to the United States title to much of their ancestral territories, while reserving from cession certain areas as sovereign homelands, including the current 1.3-million-acre Flathead Reservation and a reservation in the Bitterroot Valley for the Salish. 

In 1871, however, President U.S. Grant ordered the Salish to move north to the Flathead Reservation. The next year, Congressman (and future president) James Garfield was sent to the Bitterroot with an “agreement” in hand. In 1855, Chief Victor refused to relinquish the Bitterroot, and in 1872, his son and successor, Chief Charlo, refused to put his “x” mark on Garfield’s paper. Two sub-chiefs, Arlee and Joseph Nine Pipes, did agree to leave, but the majority of the Salish remained with Chief Charlo in their homeland.

Above copy authorship: Séliš-Ql̓ispé Culture Committee. 

In November 1889, Chief Charlot finally signed an agreement to leave the Bitterroot Valley. By then, most Salish people relied on gardening to 

supplement their hunting, fishing, and gathering. Expecting to be moved at any moment, they saved their seeds for replanting in the Jocko. During the winter of 1890-91, according to some observers, some Salish were pushed to the brink of starvation. 

In October 1891, a contingent of troops from Fort Missoula marched Chief Charlot and 40 families over 70 miles to the Flathead Reservation in Arlee. 

Above copy authorship: Séliš-Ql̓ispé Culture Committee. 

WARRIORS AND FAMILIES PREPARING FOR CAMP IN THEIR ANCESTRAL HOMELAND IN THE  BITTERROOT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 20 YEARS. CHIEF CHARLO AND 300 TRIBE MEMBERS WERE FORCED MARCHED BY TROOPS FROM FORT MISSOULA TO THE FLATHEAD RESERVATION IN 1891.

Stay Connected

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You can hopefully see this exhibit sometime in the Fall, 2020

at the new Missoula Public Library. We will try to keep you informed about the opening date as soon as we get more information. In the meantime, please be safe.

 

For details:

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